By: Holly Horning
It is ironic that if you live in the hometown area of your favorite baseball team, you have less choice when it comes to watching the games and hearing the news about your team.
But if you live outside the region, there are a plethora of options. Even more if you have the right technology. And that is a godsend to me in so many ways as I live on the East Coast.
And wanting more options is just not for watching or listening to the games. It’s also for the multiple points of view you can hear. Because you see, some teams really try to control the message that is sent out to the fans.
Those who live within the Michigan area have little choice. You’ve got one tv broadcast team, unless the game goes national. You’ve also got one radio format. But it is typical that most baseball teams tend to have almost complete control over their immediate viewing area.
Add in the local reporters who are dependent upon clubhouse access, and whose employers like to receive a sports’ team perks and advertising dollars, and it makes for a very cautious and very limited point of view. Boats are not rocked as a result.
Despite the fact that I sorely miss those lovely Michigan summers, I appreciate dealing with the insane heat and humidity in the East simply for the cornucopia of information and game coverage I receive here. For I am a techno geek. I have satellite – both radio, internet and tv in the home, office and car. Then there’s the MLB apps, sports station apps and the options offered by streaming, regular and smart TVs.
And while my husband counts down the days until baseball season is over and I’ve once again returned to the living, I’ve made a game out of finding the best broadcasts and coverage of our team. On most nights, I have 2-3 tv options and I’ve developed a habit this year of trying to watch non-FSD broadcasts in order to garner more complete and non-biased viewpoints about our Tigers. That is, unless my only options are with Hawk Harrelson or Joe Buck in the booth.
But did you know, for example, that Cal Ripken and Ron Darling often cover the Tigers for other networks? And they are really, really good.
Today, I want to focus on an in-depth radio segment done on the Tigers after their 8-1 loss to the Twins the other day. A satellite program that featured former GMs and players who discuss and debate the hot stories. And how the Tigers lost that game was the big topic for the day. Stuff that will never be seen or heard if you live within earshot of Michigan. Or if your techie toys are more Amish than advanced.
They said this is the time when teams need to be in “playoff baseball” mode. A style and strategy different than the rest of the year. And it involves having a sense of urgency about winning and invoking a short leash on anyone who is not having a great day, week or month. Failure is no longer an option and you should be focused on the game at hand and not on the one tomorrow.
All 3 analysts pointed to leaving Boyd in the game too long as the major factor for the loss. They questioned Brad’s failure to pull him early when the Tigers still had a chance to come back. They wondered why someone would leave a pitcher in the game when it was obvious it wasn’t working. They also questioned Brad’s explanation of trying to save the bullpen for down the road as his rationale.
And in what many fans have long thought, these guys who have been in the game and experienced multiple playoffs stated that it’s a mistake to manage for the future. A future you may not have.
The former GM, Front Office guy and player questioned why there was that hesitation to pull a poorly-performing pitcher combined with a continuing reluctance to use all the bullpen resources. They pointed to the great success Buck Farmer had in the game for so many innings and thought that if he had come in earlier, the Tigers would have had a better chance to win.
While we will never know what goes on behind the clubhouse doors, it was also revealed that playoff baseball also involves a stepped-up effort by the manager to monitor the team’s levels of calm vs stress as well as ensuring that the team increases its cohesiveness on the field. They also mentioned it’s his job to maintain and boost energy levels – and how leaving a pitcher in for too long kills the energy and mindset of the rest of the team.
All 3 came to the conclusion that the Tigers are not playing “playoff baseball.” They are leaving pitchers in to get shelled, allowing the game to get away and not using pinch-hitters more often for players who are slumping. They also pointed out how many have identified the Tigers as having one of the top 5 offenses in the game (yet ranked 9th in hitting but 14th in bringing in runs) but struggling to score proves a lack of cohesiveness among the hitters, especially in September.
With yesterday’s game, we now have 2 clear examples demonstrating how the team is not playing “playoff baseball.” The analysts also mentioned that the team must take 3 out of the 4 games with the Twins to be considered serious contenders for October baseball. Rut roh.
And this is why, if you live within the Tigers broadcast range, you’ll never hear frank analysis like this.
While Brad took his lumps in this discussion, what was left unsaid is the question we’ve been asking frequently for the past 3 years. Why did the Tigers hire a man to take a team to the World Series without having managerial, let alone playoff, experience?
Is it really fair to lay the majority of blame at his feet for why the Tigers are not practicing “playoff baseball?” Is one series with Baltimore back in October 2014 enough experience for him to position the team successfully for a run this year?
Or should we really be analyzing the people who hired him?
And that’s a question for another day…..