Last night, the Chicago Bulls held a 35 point lead with eight minutes to go in the third quarter, but couldn’t hold off the Kings. In 1992, the Houston Oilers lead the Buffalo Bills 35-3 in the third, only to lose the playoff game(That one still hurts). And in 2009, the Tigers blew a three game lead with four to play. When these things happen, changes are coming.
And the changes continue in Detroit.
It began shortly after the end of the season, when Andy Van Slyke was not retained to the coaching staff. More changes followed when the Tigers allowed Jarrod Washburn, and Aubrey Huff to leave without an offer, then the same treatment for Placido Polanco. Clay Rapada was given away. Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson were traded, Brandon Lyon signed in Houston, then Freddy Dolsi was DFA’d. Now another chip has fallen, in catcher Dusty Ryan, who was dealt to San Diego in exchange for nothing of consequence.
For Ryan, its a fresh start. He was buried in the minor leagues with Detroit, and although he showed the ability to be a big league catcher, Jim Leyland was reluctant at best to use him behind the plate. Since Leyland is presumably going to be around for a couple more years, Ryan had no future in the organization. I don’t know why Leyland refused to play him, but he did, and now he’s gone. Another promising player is basically given away.
The Tigers’ mass exodus of players is not alarming when looked at individually. Each move has made some baseball sense, even if they haven’t been the most popular with fans. But the whole of the moves is a shift in eras for the Tigers, one which won’t be complete until after the upcoming season, but one that has begun, and will continue.
No, I’m not crying in my coffee over the loss of Dusty Ryan. I don’t even drink coffee. I am worried, though. I’m worried that another generation of Tigers fans will have to suffer the fate I did; 19 seasons without a playoff berth.
There are no guarantees in this game. Players get hurt, they have bad years, they get divorced, they have personal problems. Sometimes they get drunk hours before a crucial late season series. All you can do is try to put the best team together you can and hope for the best. And that’s the problem with trading away established players for unproven commodities; it’s scary.
By now you’re probably wondering why I would get all worked up over Dusty Ryan. I’m not. I recognize that Ryan wasn’t ever going to be the guy in Detroit. It’s the totality of the moves that have worn on me. It’s entirely possible that the 2011 or 2012 Tigers will again be a force to be reckoned with. But 2010 isn’t looking so good, and I was hoping to never have to watch meaningless baseball in June again.
The Tigers stand at a crossroads as an organization. If the moves Dave Dombrowski has been making pay dividends, the future could bring years of pennant races. If not, he could be setting back the franchise by years, and restoring all the hopelessness and misery of the regime before his.