A called strike three.
That is how this season will be remembered for generations.
Not the high expectations back that started on January 27th, when we signed Prince Fielder. Not the up-and-down regular season. Not the fight to catch the White Sox. Not Quintin Berry’s first ML hit, a bunt DOUBLE, back on May 23rd. Not Doug Fister’s record 9 consecutive strikeouts on September 27th. Not finally passing the White Sox and clinching the AL Central. Not Miguel Cabrera’s historic Triple Crown (and hopefully MVP award) run. Not the dominance of our pitchers, especially our starters, in the ALDS and ALCS. Not the annihilation of the Mighty Yankees in the ALCS.
No, Tigers fans will remember the team going cold in the World Series. They will remember Pablo Sandoval hitting two of his record-tying three homer runs in Game 1 off of Justin Verlander. They will remember Prince Fielder being sent home from first in Game 2, and being gunned down. They will remember the bullpen failing to hold the Giants in Games 2 and 3. They will remember the fight in Game 4, then the collapse, then, the end.
A called strike three on the Triple Crown winner.
NO ONE saw that coming.
The last time the World Series ended on a called third strike? 1925, when future Hall of Famer Goose Goslin of the Washington Senators did not take his bat off his shoulder for the final pitch, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates the title.
It is rarer than the Triple Crown itself.
The part that stings the most? It was an 89 mph fastball, if you can call that a fastball, right down the pipe.
There it is. That is the kind of pitch Cabrera loves. A slow fastball, not fading anywhere. It’s like his brain recognized it, then froze and crashed like an original Xbox 360 trying to play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The way our boys of summer had played in Game 4, it reminded me of the 04 Red Sox, the only team in MLB history to comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Then, it just ended.
The offseason leaves lots of questions: Will Victor Martinez really be back next year? What about our bullpen? Is Jim Leyland returning next year? Who will our big offseason purchase be this year? Will Mr. Illitch pursue Jeff Hamilton for another threat? Are we actually going to consider resigning Jose Valverde?
By February, when the pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland for the start of spring training, we should have most of those answered. They should be all answered by Monday, April 1st, when we open on the road against the Twins. hey HAVE to all be answered by Friday, April 5th, our home opener against New York.
We were expected to be this dominant team right out of the gates, nd we did start strong, winning 10 of our first 15. Then we started a slide, at one point 26-32 and in third place on June 8th. We dropped into third place on May 19th, and didn’t move back into 2nd place until July 15th. Then the battle of attrition started.
We regained a tie for first for one day on September 2nd, then dropped as far as 3 games back on September 18th. On September 25th, we moved back into a tie, and clinched the division on October 1st, behind a great performance by Rick Porcello. It was the first time since 1934-35 that the Tigers have had consecutive postseason appearances.
Everyone among the Tigers faithful felt that this year was “OUR year”. The feeling grew with every strikeout by our pitchers in the playoffs, every home run our batters hit. It was going to be our series. Then we swept the Yankees, and the Giants just wouldn’t die. The faithful who look at history and stats knew, as soon as the NLCS went seven games, and the Giants won, that the odds were stacked against us. We were reminded of that with every RBI by a Giant hiter, and every out made against a Tiger hitter. We batted .159 for the series, and didn’t lead until Game 4. We led 3 of the 37 innings of the series.
Now, it’s time for the long wait. Watch for free agent movement starting this Saturday, followed by the announcement of the major awards being announced:
November 12: Rookie of the Year award. Quintin Berry had a ROY season, but Mike Trout will take this, barring a failed drug test.
November 13: Manager of the Year award. Leyland might get this.
November 14: Cy Young award. Verlander and Scherzer could both win this.
November 15: MVP award is announced. Cabrera should win this, but we didn’t win the Series, and Triple Crown winners who didn’t win the Series usually get overlooked (Stan Musial, Ted Williams). With the called third strike being the last anyone saw of Cabrera, this could hurt him when the vote comes.
It’s going to be a long winter…