So much for that protest. Major league umpires took to white wristbands last Saturday, protesting Tigers infielder Ian Kinsler’s public rip of umpire Angel Hernandez, proclaiming they’d wear the white bands until baseball government addressed if not cracked down on verbal abuse from players. The protest lasted all of one day. The core issues won’t go away that fast.
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.
The one thing Detroit Tigers fans probably fear more than anything else happened Thursday night. The Baltimore Orioles got into the Tigers’ bullpen at all, never mind while holding a one-run lead.
The one thing Orioles fans knew above all else going in was that their power game was probably their most obvious asset, assuming they didn’t run into pitchers who could tie them up. Who knew the Orioles could perform any impression of the Kansas City Royals, never mind the one they performed in the bottom of the eighth, after homering their way for the most part to that one-run lead?
Don’t be surprised if the word “defiance” turns up on Baltimore Orioles’ caps or uniform sleeves somewhere during this postseason. Their very season seems to define it, and the way they pushed the Texas Rangers out of it seems to redefine it.
My God, the Rangers even managed to load the pads on Oriole closer Jim Johnson with two out in the bottom of the ninth and David Murphy coming up, and all they could do was watch in mute horror when Murphy’s fly settled into Baltimore left fielder Nate McLouth’s glove for the game, 5-1.
Nelson Cruz’s walkoff grand slam in Game Two of the American League Championship Series? Gone with his other eight postseason record-tying bombs. Ian Kinsler’s theft of second, channeling Dave Roberts, to spark a World Series-tying rally in the first place? You won’t even find it on the police blotter now. The Rally Squirrel? Who the hell needed him?
Albert Pujols channeling Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson in Game Three? Fuggedabouddit. Derek Holland’s masterpiece pitching in Game Four of the World Series? Prove it. (And those were the two events that helped turn this World Series from good to great in the first place.)
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.