Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Go Tigers!

The Tigers have won two games in Oakland. The game now goes to Detroit, where the Tigers are in perfect position to clinch the pennant and move onto their first World Series since I was a freshman in high school.

I know, for all you suffering Cubs fans and Mariners fans and all the other teams, that 22 years doesn't seem like a long time. But the Tigers were a proud team, and they've had such a long road of despair. They had thirteen consecutive losing seasons before this year. They haven't been close to a contender since the '80s. They deserve to go back to the series.

This year, the Tigers seem to have suddenly become America's team. Many people I know who weren't Tigers fans before the last series have suddenly been charmed by the boys from Detroit. Their wildly exuberant celebration after beating the Yankees was one of the best things I've seen in sports: the champagne toasts to the fans, the victory lap, Leyland's emotions showing - briefly - on the field, the cheers that went on and on and on.

The Tigers don't have many superstar players. Pudge Rodriguez might count as one, although he's made himself into a cog in this team rather than a focal point. Their players are young, not experienced for the most part, and are often described with words like "scrappy" and "gritty." They have heroic young pitchers, one crafty veteran - Kenny Rogers - who's managed to transform from pariah to the mentor in the bullpen.

I love seeing the Tigers playing in October. I love hearing the announcers wax poetic about Kirk Gibson and Al Kaline, about Trammell and Sweet Lou, about Mickey Lolich and 30-game winner Denny McLain. I love hearing the stentorian tones of Ernie Harwell. Hopefully, by this weekend, we'll find out that the ride is going to go on for one more round.


Phil said...

How do you come to be a Tigers fan? I grew up near Toledo, and summer afternoons always seemed to have Ernie Harwell and George Kell as a soundtrack. My formative years included Kaline, Colavito, Cash, Lolich and even, sorry to say, Jim Bunning (yeah, that Jim Bunning. I went to Comerica Park for the first time over Labor Day weekend.

Backslash said...

Mr. Bluesky and I lived in the Detroit area until 1983. The Tigers were beginning to become a power then, although they wouldn't become unstoppable until the next year, of course. I remember how one of our local sportscasters, Al Ackerman of Channel 4, used to end his nightly wrapup of the latest Tigers' victory with, "Bless you, boys!" It's nice to be able to say that again.

Sky Bluesky said...

Uh, yeah, everything he said. Except I don't know he remembers details like Al Ackerman on Channel 4. I do have many fond memories of watching Tigers games with the sound turned down so I could hear Ernie Harwell on radio. I still refer to Detroit's baseball team as the Tigs in my head (long I), after Harwell.