Thursday, September 20, 2007

With a few jacks, Indians dispose of Tigers


It didn't dawn on me until Tuesday night just how frustrating watching baseball on television is. Especially when you can't watch with sound.

I was sitting in the office, watching the Tigers-Indians game, a contest Detroit absolutely needed to have any hope of stealing the Central Division.

And the teams looked very evenly matched. Both lineups appeared to be taking healthy swings at the baseball. The bat would meet the ball, sending it — on the TV screen — in the air toward left field.

But here's where the whole not-so-fun-to-watch-baseball-on-TV opinion grows its roots. While the camera caught every batter's swing, where the ball ended up was a guessing game. That is, until a theme became apparent:

— All the fly balls by Cleveland Indians found the stands (four home runs Tuesday; eight during the three-game sweep).

— All the fly balls by Detroit Tigers found the glove of whoever was playing left field for Cleveland (the Tigers hit one lousy home run the whole series).

Therein lies the difference between the soon-to-be division champs (seven and a half games up with 10 to play) and the soon-to-be-fishing/playing golf Tigers (nine games left; need food poisoning to invade Cleveland's locker room).

Cleveland's sweep of the Tigers — by scores of 6-5, 7-4 and 4-2 — was far from dominant. The Tigers led in the latter innings of every game. Cleveland's pitchers were far from unhittable.

But, honestly, Detroit's hitters compared to Cleveland's looked like high schoolers. The Indians were the big, muscular power hitters. The Tigers splayed high flies all over Jacobs Field's grass outfield (and made sure to direct them toward the men in the other team's uniforms).

After watching the Indians' three comeback wins, I'd like to add to the list of reasons for Detroit's demise this year after 2006's amazing World Series run: Injuries, starting pitching, injuries, bottom of the lineup...


Yeah, I realize I just made up a word. Webster's can decide if it wants it, but it sure is applicable when talking Tigers (and I'm not talking about the incredible 5-4 comeback win over Toronto a couple weeks back... seems so long ago now).

Detroit, simply, did not get hits when it needed them. Did not get outs when it was so close to victory.

And now it will not — barring a tsunami engulfing New York — reach the playoffs (hey, at least the Cardinals won't make it back either).

Marcus Thames had one final chance to salvage the season Wednesday afternoon. With the bases loaded and the Tigers down 4-2 in the eighth inning, he stepped to the plate. A single would have tied it. A double or better likely would have won it and postponed — at least until Friday night — the champagne orders in Cleveland.

Watching the game out of the corner of my eye on mute, I saw him connect on a fly ball to left field. For that split second, I turned my full attention to the 30-inch screen in front of me. But then I saw the left fielder camping out to make a routine play.

And I got back to my work.

It was clear the Tigers lacked the one attribute that the Indians displayed all series.


Yeah, that's another new one for Webster's.

1 comment:

Sportsattitude said...

Agreed. One thing you can say about the 2007 Tigers is they displayed a complete lack of clutchness.