When your favorite team cruises into the World Series playing great baseball, you don’t exactly expect a collapse of historical proportions. But, that’s what fans of the Detroit Tigers were treated to over the last week. I have never seen a more pathetic display of baseball played in the World Series in my lifetime. The Tigers weren’t just bad, they were record-breaking bad. No team in MLB had three hitters go 0-10 to start a World Series until the 2006 Tigers. No team since 1979 recorded at least one error in five straight World Series games until the 2006 Tigers. The Tigers also shattered the record for most errors by pitchers in a World Series. This wasn’t a case of one or two players having an off series. They sucked as a team. The coaching was terrible. The pitching was atrocious. The hitting was even worse. The fielding was even worse than that. The only question is whether the Tigers played worse in their Division-losing failure against the Kansas City Royals to end the regular season or their World Series-losing choke job against the Cardinals.
It’s easy to call someone out with the luxury of hindsight so I won’t go too much into this but I bet Jim Leyland and Co. are singing a different tune about having a week off before the World Series. To a man, the players and coaches said that the layoff would not affect the Tigers. Clearly, that was not the case. No team has ever been more obviously unprepared to play in the World Series than the 2006 Tigers. The hitters had no plate discipline whatsoever. The pitchers fell behind in the count so often it was almost as if that was the game-plan. They played miserably in every game of the series including their lone victory in which they almost lost in the 9th inning.
Ironically, the two best players in the World Series (on either team) played for the Tigers. Kenny Rogers and Sean Casey were fantastic. Rogers won the Tigers only game of the series in dominating fashion. He pitched eight innings of no-run ball to baffle the Cardinals. Casey kept the Tigers from getting embarrassed in the other games. He was an amazing 9 for 17 in the series accounting for more than a quarter of the Tigers’ hits. He also drove in almost half of the Tigers runs in the series. I feel bad for Rogers and Casey. They showed up on the biggest stage when none of their teammates did. They deserve to be recognized by Tigers fans. I knew Casey would help this team considerably when Dave Dombrowski hijacked him from the Pittsburgh Pirates. I had no idea that he would be the only hitter worth paying in the World Series.
The Tigers were not supposed to reach the World Series this season. My anger and frustration is simply a result of knowing that the Tigers “could” have won the World Series had they not choked. The reality is that it was amazing that the Tigers made it this far with such a young and undisciplined team. Next year was always supposed to be the year that the Tigers would contend. The fact that they did it a year early isn’t a bad thing. The goal of this post is to get all of my aggravation out of the way so I can focus on next season which I assure you is worth focusing on. There couldn’t have been a more disappointing end to the season but there also could not be more hope for next season. I’ll tackle that subject in my next Tigers post.