Now that the baseball season has entered the month of June, we can all probably scrap the “it’s early in the season” excuses when it comes to the Detroit Tigers performance.
And sure, there are plenty of other excuses to summarize what’s going wrong with the team: poor clutch hitting, terrible defense, mounting injuries. And one that’s becoming my favorite, scapegoating.
It seems the coaching staff, including Lloyd McClendon, Jeff Jones, and of course, Jim Leyland, have taken the most of the blame when it comes to the Tigers woes. Sure, it’s easy to put the blame on all of them, and as Leyland is the ultimate decision maker when it comes to the Tigers (interesting) lineups, he’s not the one poorly executing plays, not being clutch, mislocating a fastball, etc.
But a certain realm of Tigers fans don’t care about that. They want blood, and they want it to be Leyland’s.
I myself, have been caught up in that kind of talk in the past. But in the end, if you truly want to clean house… and right this instant, you might as well wave the white flag, and say “better luck next year, boys.”
If Jim Leyland is truly a “players manager”, then wiping him out of the mix would likely cause a rift in the clubhouse. Sudden changes in playing philosophy, different styles and approaches, things of that nature aren’t a solid recipe for instant reinvention or success. And changing all that in the middle of the season is the ultimate crap-shoot. If this baseball team is to right the ship, and do the ultimate recovery, they’ll need to do it with the staff they have. It’s a team built to “win now” not “give up because”.
Yes, the Tigers went 13-16 in May. Yes, they won more than 2 games in a row only once. Yes, they are 6 games out of first place (after June 1st last season, they were 5 out). This team is capable of getting things right, it’s just a matter of executing it on the field. Something Jim Leyland can’t do, but only watch. Injuries have mounted, forcing a few awkward lineups, but if you can’t fire (all) the players, you shouldn’t cut loose the skipper. At least not yet.
Leyland doesn’t have a contract or extension after this season. Make or don’t make your changes during the offseason. In the meantime, like it or lump it, and hope for the best. There’s still no reason to believe that all hope is lost.