By: Kurt Snyder
It hit me in Game 5 of the World Series. It hit me in the ninth. I finally understood. A couple of weeks ago, I professed the importance of luck in any team’s run for a championship.
And I’m still of the mind that luck plays an important role in sports, but the teams that create their own seem to be the ones standing at the end.
To support the argument in my post, I cited examples of bad luck that the Tigers have experienced; events that were instrumental in jeopardizing or ending another Tiger run for that still elusive title.
But I am always interested in reader comments. It means a lot to us to find out what questions our readers may have about the topics we discuss. We are genuinely interested in your opinions. We count on reader comments to expand on a discussion or open an avenue for a new one.
So it really hit me and hit me hard in the ninth inning of Game 5 when Eric Hosmer raced home after a slow dribbler to short. The subsequent throw to first somehow screamed ‘opportunity’ for Hosmer.
It seemed nuts for him to even chance it. A good throw would certainly nail him easily at home. But instead the throw was wild. The Mets had entered the ninth with a 2-0 lead and ended the ninth tied after Hosmer’s creation of luck.
That’s right, creation of luck. But this wasn’t the first time the Royals had pushed the envelope. They thrive on it. They force the issue. And today I have to issue yet another apology.
I need to quit making excuses for the Tigers. They are not the only team affected by key injuries to key players. In fact you only expose your lack of depth when you depend so heavily on one or two players to carry you. You expose a thin farm system that you spent years depleting with “all or nothing” and “go for broke” philosophies.
The Royals don’t want to hear about injuries. They lost Alex Gordon, one of their best hitters, one of their best outfielders and certainly one of their team leaders, when he hurt his groin early in the season, causing him to miss 48 games.
And how did that impact the Royals? They didn’t even blink as they won 31 of those 48 games. Was that bad luck? Oh you bet. But you can’t use it as an excuse. You have to adopt the “next man up” philosophy in response to injuries, and the Royals just kept on chuggin’.
In October, I spent an entire post talking about luck and hoping that it would someday find the Tigers. Well the Royals didn’t sit around and wait for a championship to find them, especially after coming so close in 2014. They made it their mission to go for the jugular. They pushed and scrapped and dug deep for that title. They would not be stopped. And their relentless pursuit and desire created their own luck.
The idea is not foreign to this Tiger organization. How soon we forget. Kirk Gibson is legendary for 2 memorable home runs in his career. The one he hit in Detroit in Game 5, to clinch the ’84 World Series and the historic home run with the Dodgers in ’88 in his only at bat of the Series.
But the Hosmer play reminded me of another Gibson moment that happened earlier in Game 5 of the ’84 World Series. Gibson tagged up from third on a pop up to shallow right field. He raced home when second baseman Alan Wiggins, back peddling on the play, caught the pop up and was in no position to even make the play close as Gibby raced home for what was at the time, a critical run.
Not a lot of players on that Tiger team could have scored on that play. But Gibson knew his speed and he could see that Wiggins was in no position to make a strong throw home. Gibson had created his own luck.
So, I am finished looking for excuses. Sometimes our readers help us come to our senses. Hopefully the Tigers will do the same and introduce an edge to their team. They need more players with the ability to force the issue and win games with plays no one expects.
Thanks for waking me up, Chuck!