April 21-27, 2010
Tigers off to a good start
By Leland Stein III
Opening Day is always a time for hope and op-
In the Game
By Leland Stein III
Tiger Woods survived
It is going to be a 15-round morality
fight for Tiger Woods in his quest for per- sonal redemption and a re-ascension as the world’s greatest golfer.
The Master is a week old, but Woods
fight is still on. Reports have just surfaced that Elin, his wife, is filing for divorce. He just endured round one of his long drawn out battle to get many in White America to just accept him as a person again.
As I watched the conclusion of the 74th
Masters Tournament I knew that the line have been drawn and Phil Mickelson’s win would be painted by many of my brethren in the media as good (Mickelson) versus evil (Woods). Which I think is a pile of gar- bage.
However, I have to give Mickelson credit
for the masterful showing he produced on golf’s biggest stage. Steadfast and match- less, he shot a final-round 67 to finish 16- under and win his third green jacket and fourth major championship.
Mickelson’s story was made more com-
pelling because his wife, Amy, is in a long protracted battle with breast cancer. Then it got emotional as his wife and their three children were standing near the 18th green as he claimed the valued green jacket.
Great story and I’m feeling it, but too
many used Mickelson’s triumph as con- demnation of Woods. The two do not have to go hand in hand. Mickelson won the tournament straight up with a magnificent display.
On the other hand, Woods’ showing
was distinctive indeed, especially when one looks at why he put himself in solitary confinement for five months to try to sal- vage his marriage and get his life back in order.
Showing he still has the competitive
fire, he finished fourth, shooting an 11- under par. Actually he still had a chance to win it until the 14th hole, where he three-putted from five feet. I thought he was dead at that point, and he was, but on the next hole he came right back with an eagle showing that he still could summon up that special it.
Woods told reporters at the conclusion
of his play that he was not happy: “I only enter events to win,” he said.
He cursed at himself a couple of times in
four days after making an erroneous shot and certain writers just lambasted him. My question is that all televised broadcasts are delayed a few seconds or more, but producers let Woods’ few expletives come through loud and clear on our television. What was that all about?
Woods now finds himself in the never-
never land of men of color who make mis- steps and as a result, a giant majority of White America, who appeared to support him, easily and gleefully turn into haters.
The following are a few retorts I’ve heard
or read over the last week or so: Said one: “I am happy for and proud of
Phil. He is a genuine role model. Tiger Woods is an extremely talented, hedonis- tic, arrogant, self-centered jerk.”
Wrote another: “I’m so happy he won! He
deserved it. Tiger was always ‘the golden boy’ but there are a lot of great players out there and Phil Mickelson is one of the true role models. I believe in karma and the man who may not be the better player, but the better person, won.”
Said another: “Phil Mickelson is a true,
genuine person whose family is so very important to him. He loves them so much and it shows and you compare this to Tiger Woods who cares nothing about anyone but himself. The proof was in the pudding today when Phil hugged his wife and Tiger Woods’ wife and children were not there. It shows what type of jerk he really is.”
Wrote someone else: “I’m just glad that
Woods didn’t win and was pleased that his play worsened as the tournament pro- gressed.”
Finally the real deal said: “I don’t know
anything about golf but I’m glad Tiger lost. Next up for the fall is our latest fearless leader, Nobel Prize winner BHO.”
Wow! The Tea Party conglomerate has
joined the PGA Tour. Woods now finds himself in the “I hate Obama” world of Americans. I’m not sure how these two get compared together . . . oh, on second thought, they are men of color so that is all too many need to denigrate them.
Round one is completed, but Woods
better put on his pachyderm skin to get ready for a 15-round battle to get his re- spectability back.
Leland Stein can be reached at lel- email@example.com
timism. So the start of the 2010 Major League Baseball season in Detroit was a celebration of what could be and what most hope will be.
Detroit came into Comerica Park with a 2-1
record after contesting the Kansas City Royals on the road and left the home cooking with a noteworthy 6-3 overall record.
The euphoria of opening day and the start of
Major League Baseball back in the Motor City is still fresh on the minds of many as the Tigers head out of town for a trying 11-game road trip against Seattle, Los Angels and Texas. If that was not tasking enough, when they return home they have to face rival Minnesota starting on April 27.
“We’re going to find out about mental tough-
ness,” Jim Leyland said, “because (on this) trip we have as brutal a schedule as you’ve got in baseball coming up in the next however many days.”
I still would like to just hold on to the past
few days at Comerica Park and reminisce about walking throughout the downtown area over the three-game home stand and seeing Detroit come together. Who can forget the largest opening day crowd in franchise history — 45,010. In fact, the huge gathering was the second largest audience overall for this storied organization.
I still think back to the Elmwood. There were
more revelers than the grill could house packed in. At the Detroit Athletic Club they set up tents outside that featured first-class food and a live band. At the parking lots that face Woodard there was family after family outside grilling every food one could imagine, and then I finally made my way over to the Fox Theatre where a private VIP function was being held.
Well, that was then and this is now. The great
start to the season is wonderful, but the next 11 days will go a long way in defining if this collec- tion of Tigers is for real.
It is kind of hyperbole to state that this early
season road trip could make or break a season. That may not be entirely true, but how the Tigers perform on this grueling and demanding road trip will tell us a lot about this team and where it is headed.
The way they have been winning thus far has
been exciting with all the come-from-behind vic- tories; however, all know that they cannot con- tinue to fall behind, especially against teams that have a strong starting rotation.
The fact of the matter is Detroit’s next 30
games, 27 of the opponents had wining records last season. So it is safe to say that being out- scored by a startling 26-16 margin in the first five innings, including 11-4 in the first two in- nings, will not bode well for the Tigers’ future efforts on this road trip. It will be almost impos- sible to match their 33-18 advantage from the
Tiger fan on opening day.
sixth inning on. “It’s been great getting the comeback wins,”
Leyland said, “but I know we cannot continue to win like that. We have to get in the game early and make it easier for our starting pitchers.”
ADAM EVERETT leaps over and Indian to complete a double play. – Dan Graschuck photos
Concurred outfielder Carlos Guillen: “Good
teams win ballgames when they come from behind, but it’s not going to happen every game. We have to produce better, score some runs in the early innings.”
All still remember last year when our beloved
Tigers led the Central Division all year until the last days of the season where they lost a one- game playoff to rival Minnesota, which knocked them out the MLB Playoffs.
Will the Tigers close the deal they could not
last season? The solid 6-3 start is encourag- ing, but over the next three weeks the reality of what this team is going to become will be in our faces.
“I know some people may disagree,” relief
pitcher Joel Zumaya said. “This team is much better than our ’06 team.”
That is a bold proclamation, especially when
one considers the 2006 team had Curtis Grand- erson, Placido Polanco and future Hall of Famer Pudge Rodriguez. This team has rookie starters at centerfield and second.
Zumaya said the reason he feels good about
this group is that they have a relief corps loaded with power arms: “Our whole bullpen throws 90 and above,” he said. “So you get us in the 7th inning with a lead, it’s gonna be kinda tough for the teams that come across us.” The men Zumaya is referring to are new closer Jose Val- verde, Phil Coke and himself.
I say it is better to believe than not believe!
Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@
Touch ’em all: Tigers review
By Michael Niziolek
“There’s no such thing as mo-
mentum in this game,” Jim Leyland said after the Tigers’ loss against the Royals on April 12, but Tigers fans have to be pleased with the team’s quick start.
They handled business within
their division, winning two of their three opening series against Cen- tral Division opponents (Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians and the Royals again) before hitting the road for an 11-game road trip. The main concern for Leyland early on? Getting his pitchers deeper into ball games…
Quality wins, not quality starts
– “We’ve got to pitch deeper and give our bullpen a rest,” Rick Por- cello said. “They can’t come out and pick the ball up in the sixth (inning) every game. The starters have to pitch deeper and give those guys a break.”
In the first nine games of the
season not a single Tigers’ starting pitcher made it into the 7th inning. Worse, in only three of those starts did a starter even make it into the sixth. Their heavy reliance on the bullpen is a bad sign and one that Jim Leyland hopes his staff can quickly reverse.
“Got to get quicker outs earlier
in the game. We had 20-35 pitches in the first inning and that’s usu- ally not good for anyone,” Leyland said after Porcello’s first loss of the year. “That seems kind of conta- gious around baseball right now, not just here.”
One thing he identified as a
must: pitchers throwing first pitch strikes. Porcello (1-1) struggled in his first two starts, giving up a com- bined 15 hits over 11 innings and agreed with Leyland.
“I never really got to that point
where I was consistently throwing first pitch strikes, but days like that are going to happen,” Porcello said after the home opener. “I just tried to battle through as best I could. I’d love to go out there and throw 9-10 pitches every inning, but real- istically that’s not going to happen every time out.”
Comeback kids – Detroit trailed
in five of their first six victories and
ONE WORD to describe this year’s Tigers? According to Brandon Inge, “scrappy.”
erased deficits of five runs or more twice. Last year the Tigers only had 10 victories when trailing after six innings, this season they already have four.
Detroit hitters are getting to re-
lievers late in games and Brandon Inge has an idea why.
“It’s similar to teams we’ve had
in the past, but more scrappy,” Inge said. “That’s important. I remember running across teams like Minne- sota and Anaheim. Where they’re going to bunt, slap the ball a little bit, run around and we’ve got the bombers in the middle in the lineup.
It makes for a good combination.”
Rounding the bases
• First: Austin Jackson made his major league debut starting in center field for the Tigers. Last time that happened? 1939, when Barney McCosky did it.
• Second: Improved defense? Check. In the first eight games the Tigers turned an American League leading 13 double plays.
JIM LEYLAND would like his start- ers to go deeper into ballgames to help keep the bullpen fresh.
• Third: Johnny Damon picked up his 1,000 career RBI on a fifth inning double against the Royals on April 14.
• Home: The Tigers home opener drew 45,010 fans to Comerica Park, the second largest crowd in team history and largest home opening crowd ever.
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