They barely have the streets swept clean following the Kansas City Royals’ World Series parade, and the off-season intrigues have begun in earnest. OK, a couple began when it barely began sinking in that the New York Mets had blown a Series they actually could have won, or when Don Mattingly left the Los Angeles Dodgers and became the Miami Marlins’ new manager. But let’s start looking:
First, the Tigers all but threw the proverbial towel in on 2015 when they unloaded three otherwise key parts at the non-waiver trade deadline. Then, they showed they weren’t kidding by letting general manager Dave Dombrowski go just months before his current contract would expire.
“They basically told me they decided to change direction of leadership in the organization,” Dombrowski told the Detroit Free Press a day later. ”It’s kind of like an end of an era. You never like to see it end.” But he said he saw it end when his assistant GM Al Avila showed up at the ballpark Tuesday and looked as though something just wasn’t right.
“We could not find our game in the World Series,” Miguel Cabrera mourned, while the San Francisco Giants partied heartily in Comerica Park’s visiting clubhouse. Actually, the Detroit Tigers found their game in Game Four, when they needed it most. The problem was finding it against these San Francisco Giants, who were so accustomed to playing with elimination a game away they didn’t know how to get comfortable on the threshold of a sweep.
Now, this is a novel position for the San Francisco Giants to assume. They’re not used to being up two games to none in a postseason set this year. This could be the start of something . . . weird?
The way they got into this position was probably weird enough even by the standards of a Giants team that’s spent at least half this postseason benefitting from the transdimensional. Can you remember any team winning a World Series game with nothing but a double play and a sacrifice fly to score the only two runs they proved necessary?
CC Sabathia sat in the Yankee dugout gazing upon the field with a look, to an outsider, that seemed suspended between resignation and disbelief, moments after his day ended two thirds of the way through the bottom of the fourth. His Detroit counterpart, Max Scherzer, who had to get past late-season shoulder barking, would remain in the serious business of absolutely throttling a Yankee lineup for another inning and a third, doing to the Yankees what Sabathia once did to the other guys.
Even if you knew in your heart of hearts, you could only feel for the Oakland Athletics as they got pushed away from the postseason Thursday night. When Sean Smith pushed a meek grounder to second that Omar Infante fed to a Prince Fielder who must have felt as though it took forever for the final out to reach his mitt.
Whoever said losing hurt worse than winning felt good is probably going to be a grudgingly respected figure by Oakland’s half of the Bay Area.
So you thought the Cincinnati All-Star ballot box stuffing scandal was scandalous? Try explaining the San Francisco All-Star ballot box stuffing this year. Once you’ve done that, explain to me how and why a guy (Pablo Sandoval) who’s only played in 44 games with decent numbers gets the fan vote to start at third base over the arguable first-half National League most valuable player (David Wright, New York Mets) who’s carried a team with an injury and inconsistency-wracked offence into the thick of the pennant races. Unless you think a 1.013 OPS through this writing indicates a player worse than one with an .848 OPS.
Jim Leyland was emphatic enough. Seeing Justin Verlander on the mound again this postseason was going to be the best thing, he said, because it would come in the World Series. As for the rest of the American League Championship Series, Verlander wouldn’t even be a topic.
Not in the Detroit Tigers’ manager’s mind, anyway. And it proved a moot point after the game, gutsy, but gimpy Tigers took one of the worst elimination beatings in postseason history in Arlington Saturday night.