And Then There Was One

The Detroit Tigers began the season with everyone thinking they would be marginally better this year than last. Then Jim Leyland woke up the team and made them think they were winners. Suddenly the Tigers were one of the hottest teams in baseball and had the best record in baseball. Like many, I expected that they would come back to earth and I wondered whether they would even make the play-offs. In September this nearly became a self-fulfilling prophesy as the Tigers stumbled blowing games and having to settle for the American League wild card when they lost to Kansas City on the last day of the season. Surely they would not last more than 4 games in the first round as they were playing the immense line-up of the New York Yankees. It was just a matter of time before they would be sent packing. After the first game of the season I was very confident that my prediction was correct. Instead Detroit came storming back to beat the Yankees 3-1 moving on to the second round of the play-offs.

As I evaluated the Tigers and the Athletics I fully expected this to be a battle to the bitter end. Both teams had very good pitching staffs especially the starting rotations. There were also the unknowns such as Frank Thomas for the A’s and Magglio Ordonez for the Tigers. These two former teammates loomed large and I gave a slight edge to Detroit if for no other reason than the adrenaline rush they got by beating New York. I never would have imagined that Detroit would completely dominate Oakland in every aspect of the game. Each time it looked as if the Athletics would take charge of a game, the Tigers would slam the door and take another game. By the time game 4 came around the A’s were fighting for their lives. Early in the game it appeared that Oakland was prepared to take this game and at least force a game 5. Instead, in the bottom of the ninth Magglio Ordonez stepped to the plate and hit a three-run walk-off home run to clinch the game and the series. So only three years after losing 119 games in a season the Detroit Tigers are now in the World Series and are awaiting the winner of the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals series. Regardless of the National League opponent the Detroit Tigers look to be favored. Not only will they have home field advantage but they will also have a week’s rest before game one and a pitching staff that recorded the best ERA in the major leagues this season.

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