By: Kurt Snyder
In looking at the schedule heading into September, the Tigers, still within striking distance in the Central Race and squarely in the Wild Card race, had the luxury of being able to control their own destiny.
It’s another perhaps overused phrase in sports. Control your own destiny. But it’s a phrase that gives hope to teams looking to clinch a position in the post season. It’s supposed to make you feel more encouraged about your situation where regardless of how everyone else is doing, you can take care of your own business and earn your place at the table. You don’t need any help. You control your own destiny.
But as the schedule winds down, the Tigers are finding their destiny slipping away. They are giving up control. Losing a series to Baltimore, the team standing between them and a Wild Card spot begins to peck away at that control.
Falling 6 games behind Cleveland in the division with 7 more games to play against the Tribe is a situation closing in on destiny slipping away.
But we knew how many opportunities this September schedule provided for the Tigers. The Minnesota Twins have been served to the Tigers as some kind of blessing; 7 games worth of blessings to be exact, all in the month of September. The Twins represent an opportunity to string together a good stretch of winning. They were medicine for a team licking their wounds from the Baltimore beating.
But the Tigers are spinning their wheels against the Twins, barely pulling out a victory as the bats didn’t awaken until the late innings on Monday and then again Tuesday night as the Tigers made Kyle Gibson look like Cy Young, never really putting up a fight all night, losing 8-1.
This is a bad Minnesota team. But as usual, teams like the Twins have no issue playing the spoiler role. There is no pressure on them to win. They can play loose and aggressive. But these are all important games for Detroit. And all they are doing at this point during this month of opportunities is squander them.
They are now in a position where they are going to need help to get in. They didn’t need it before but they need it now. Failing to seize opportunities is filling us all full of doubt.
So Tuesday night, the Tigers celebrated something called Baseball Idol Night; at least I think that’s what it was called. It really doesn’t make any difference one way or another.
I don’t get to watch much of games on Tuesday night since I spend 2 ½ hours playing golf after work. So I catch the game at the bar until I go home and see the last few innings.
So without sound on the TV at the bar, I began to wonder what was going on as each player had identified a baseball idol and it was listed under their stats on the screen. Alan Trammell came to the TV booth, FSD showed a few Trammell and Whitaker highlights from what looked like the ’84 season, and on and on it went.
I am sure it was a nice promotional night for kids as they got to meet some of their Tiger idols. It’s always good to keep the kids involved with the game, so they realize that Comerica Park isn’t just about Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds. There is actual baseball being played on the field.
So that was the theme for the evening while the Tigers whimpered their way through a loss to the Twins. And as I watched Trammell and Whitaker turn 2 back in the 80’s and saw Alan in the booth, it made me wonder.
Every fan has a favorite player. Mine was Kirk Gibson. My dad loved Lou Whitaker. My brother Gary liked Trammell. And on and on it goes.
So I wondered. What would have been a good topper for this promotional evening? Well, for me, I’d like to know who Mike Ilitch’s baseball idols are. Wouldn’t that be interesting for people to know?
Well, if you look at the statues at Comerica Park, Willie Horton may be his baseball idol, or Al Kaline, or Hank Greenberg. Who knows? But we sure as heck know who isn’t.
It sure isn’t Lou Whitaker or Alan Trammell. In a few short weeks, another Tiger season will draw to a close without having honored these Tigers greats with statues or retired numbers.
Another season of disrespect. So who is your baseball idol, Mr. Ilitch? It makes me wonder if he had owned the Tigers in 1984 instead of the other pizza guy, maybe these players would get the honors they so desperately deserve. You might see a Bobby Higginson statue before these deserving Tiger idols.