Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Last Goodbye

Congratulations St Louis. You deserved it. You played hard, and made the Tigers pay for all the mistakes they made. The Tigers had one hell of a year.

But it still hurts.

This feeling in the pit of my stomach will linger for days, as I'm sure many of the Tigers themselves have that feeling too. But the fact that while I have this feeling, the fact that people actually care about baseball in Detroit again dulls it slightly. This still sucks big time, the way that they lost, but for the first time in a long time there is hope. But it still hurts.

This year probably gave me more memories then all previous years combined, just in the games I attended this year. In May there was the 18-1 game vs. the Twins. Then Verlander and Santana's pitchers duel with Vance Wilson's home run in the 8th to put the Tigers up for good. Followed with he game against Cincinnati, where Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grand slam, and the Tigers fought back with Granderson tying it with a solo shot in the bottom of the 9th and Guillen wining it with an infield hit in the 10th. The Tigers scoring two runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Yankees in June. Pudge's walk-off homer in August to beat the Indians. I was at game 3 of the ALDS and game 2 of the World Series where Kenny Rogers pitched two of the best games I'd ever seen pitched. But the memory to end all memories was being there for game 4 when Magglio ended it. Thinking back on all those games helped ease the pain, but it still hurts.

This team is a winner. My only fear is that everyone will remember the 3 losses to Kansas City at the end of the year and not the 94 wins. The 8 errors in the World Series, not the seven wins that got them there. This team will get back there. Maybe not next year, or even the year after that, but soon. Because like this year, a team with 90 wins could finish third in the division. Though this team will be around in September playing meaningful games. Why you ask? Only three pitchers are over the age of 30. Pudge is the oldest position player at 34. Plus the days of "prospects" like Matt Anderson, Nate Cornejo, and Matt Wheatland, and Kenny Baugh are over. There are guys like Humberto Sanchez, Cameron Maybin, Jair Jurrjens, Kevin Whelan, Brent Clevelen, Andrew Miller, Ryan Raburn, that will allow the Tigers to reload instead of rebuild. So the future looks bright, but right now, it still hurts.

I've been trying to think of an analogy to sum up the ride that this season has been. The best I could come up with is this: You go to a restaurant expecting a hamburger, you sit down and get ready to order, but it turns out you're the lucky one millionth customer and you get a nice Filet Mignon instead. You eat and entire steak, and it's one of the best you've eaten, but the last few bites are all fat and gristle.

So we're left with a bad taste in our mouths, but what the Tigers did this season was simply remarkable. I would like to thank them for that. I foresee good things and celebrations in the future, but for right now it still hurts.

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