We’ll get to the Tigers in a moment, but first…
The Detroit Red Wings’ two games to none lead over the Nashville Predators marks the 29th time the Wings have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series. This is, by the way, the 82nd best-of-seven series in Wings history. Detroit is 22-6 (.786) in series in which they’ve led 2-0. Detroit’s won the last three series in which they won the first two games. The most recent best-of-seven in which the Wings opened with back-to-back wins but failed to win the series came in 2001 when LA overcame Detroit’s lead with four straight wins, all by one goal, two in overtime. The most famous, or infamous, Wings collapse after taking a two-games-to-none lead came in 1966 when Detroit opened the Stanley Cup Final with back-to-back wins in Montreal before losing the next four. Unless you want to talk about 1942. That year, the Wings not only led the series two games to none, they led the series three games to none. But in that series, the 1942 Stanley Cup Final, Toronto came back to win four straight and best Detroit in seven. One other note. Of those 22 series won by Detroit after taking a two-games-to-none lead, ten (45%) wound up being four-game sweeps for Detroit, most recently in 2000 against the Kings which was, by the way, the last time Detroit swept any playoff series. The Wings led Nashville two games to none in their only previous playoff meeting in 2004 before taking that series in six games.
When the Detroit Tigers were 0-5, I wrote an article headlined: “Is It Time To Panic In Detroit? You Bet It Is!”
Many reacted, and I think quite understandably, by saying I was pulling the chute too early on the 2008 Tigers. Way too early.
Now, with the Tigers 2-10, do you still feel the same way? It’s okay if you do. I understand that not even 10% of the seasons been played. I understand that there is a long, long way to go.
But right now, this is a bad ball club. A very bad ball club. Touted during Spring Training as a potential, perhaps likely, World Series team, Detroit instead owns the worst record in the Major League Baseball. How have they managed to pull that off? In the words of the old Smith-Barney commercial, they’ve done it the old-fashioned way. They’ve earned it!
The Tigers are last in the league in hitting (.235) and last in the league in pitching (5.94 ERA) and, as I so presciently pointed out previously, when you don’t hit and you don’t pitch, you don’t win. Sparky Anderson told me that once and I’ve never forgotten it.
It’s little wonder Detroit’s been shut out four times in twelve games this season. In addition to being last in the American League in team Batting Average, Detroit’s at the bottom of the League in RBI (30) and Slugging Percentage (.335). They’ve hit a grand total of seven homers. That’s as many homers as the White Sox have hit this year — in Chicago’s 6 games against Detroit, that is.
With Runners In Scoring Position (RISP) Detroit is hitting .192. In 99 RISP at bats this season, Detroit hitters have been almost as likely to strike out (15) as they have been to get a hit (19). Additionally, in those 99 clutch at-bats, the Tigers have grounded into 8 double plays.
Of the Tigers who currently have enough Plate Appearances to qualify for the batting title, C[[arlos Guillen leads the way at .314. Brandon Inge (whose job was given away in the off-season) is next at .282. It’s a big drop-off after that. Edgar Renteria is hitting .245, Magglio Ordonez .234, Ivan Rodriguez .195, Gary Sheffield .179, Miguel Cabrera .175, and Placido Polanco .154.
As for the pitchers, Detroit starters are is 1-7 with an ERA of 6.38. The relief pitchers are 1-3, 5.36.
I read a story this morning on MLB.com in which the author wrote, “The question is not if the Tigers will live up to the billing, but when.” I wonder what his sourcing was.
If you followed the 2008 Masters on-line at Masters.org like I did, you may have noticed that not all of the masters were out on the golf course. There was at least one in the Press Tent. The bulk of the writing on the official Masters website carried the by-line of Vartan Kupelian, the great golf writer from the Detroit News. I was wondering this morning if Trevor Immelman’s 75 Sunday was the highest final round score ever posted by a Masters champion. Kupelianwas there to pick me up without my having to involve myself in deeper research on the topic. In his final round wrap-up, Kupelian noted that Immelman tied Arnold Palmer (1962), for the highest final round score by a Masters champ. Thanks, Vartan!
I heard a local sportscaster Saturday night say that Tiger Woods was “back in contention” at the Masters following his 68 in the third round. Which was good to know. Woods, you see, entered the third round seven shots off the lead, and when the round was over he was down to six shots out of first. Therefore, we now know that when you are seven shots off the lead you are not in contention, but when you are six shots back, you are!
My favorite Masters moment came during a visit to the Augusta Chronicle’s website. A while back, leaving Ford Field, I noticed the sign at the concession stand saying a beer was $8.50, a hot dog $4.50, a brat $5.50 and so on. I remember thinking to myself, at least in the case of the beer, that the $.50 seemed to be “piling on.” Well, the Augusta Chronicle posted concession prices at stands at the Augusta National. I hope you are sitting down because here they are:
- Sandwiches: $1.50-$2.50
- Beverages: $1
- Beer: $2 (Not available on the main course after 4 p.m.)
- Snacks: $1
- Fruit: $1
- Coffee: $1