As a baseball fan, I’m really trying to get into this year’s playoff’s. I would really like to tout the greatness of this season’s Final 4. I just can’t do it. I will always remember the 2006 Playoffs as the year without a great team. After the past 2 years, which culminated with the epic stories of the Red Sox and White Sox finally winning a world championship again, a letdown was apt to happen, but I had not expected it to go to this extreme.
Let’s start with the National League. Something needs to be done here, as the NL has been in free-fall for a few years now. Sure the Mets have an excellent offensive team, but it’s hard to fathom John Maine and Steve Traschel starting games in the LCS. The Cardinals have 3 former AL pitchers, Carpenter, Weaver, and Suppan fronting their rotation. Like many other former hurlers from the AL, these three have found success in the NL. It would be an interesting study to conduct on how pitchers fared over the past 5 years when they moved from one league to the next. I’ve got to think that this study would just expose even more how weak the National League has become.
No matter if they win or not, the Tigers will be the story of the 2006 season, with their revival taking place only 3 seasons after one of the worst clubs in basebll history were wearing the same uniforms. This team in no way matches the last Tiger world series team, though. The 1984 TIgers were great up the middle, with the greatest double play duo of all-time (Trammell and Whitaker), plus catcher Lance Parrish and center fielder Chet Lemon. Add to them Kirk Gibson and top-notch starting pitchers, Jack Morris and Dan Petry** and it’s amazing that the Tigers only won a single world title. Unlike Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez, who are not at their peak powers, every player I listed from the 1984 Tigers was between the ages of 26-29. The 2006 team does have a couple great young pitchers in Verlander and Bonderman, but the only place where the current Tigers outshine the 1984 team is in the bullpen.
(**In case you don’t think of Petry deserving to be on this list, keep in mind that he had 95 wins by the age of 26.)
The Tigers have been similar to the 2005 White Sox in winning 7 of 8 to get to the Series. I think it’s been a lot easier road, though, as the 2005 Red Sox and Angels were better clubs. I think this was the worst A’s team that qualified for the playoffs in the Billy Beane era. Yankees fans would probably echo that it was the worst team they have had since Joe Torre had taken over for Buck Showalter. Outside of Gane 4, we’ve had few moments of classic playoff intensity. A Tigers/Cardinals series is going to be big ratings loser not only because neither team is in a large-market, but also because they just don’t have much sizzle. FOX must be asking itself, where’s the “Cowboy Up” or “OzzieBall” for this year? I will watch the World Series as usual, but my mind has already wandered to next year.