I’ve lived in Michigan for 16 years and have attended Detroit Tigers games every year, but I can’t really say I’ve been a fan of the team. Until now.
Tuesday night’s spanking notwithstanding, we Mets fans must embrace all things Motown and get behind the Tigers.
It’s not just because they’re playing the Vile Ones. There’s more. We can offer moral support for suffering from the same malady: Kenny Bleeping Rogers.
Of course we remember what happened in Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS. How can we possibly forget? The image of Todd Pratt catching ball four way high and way outside then disgustedly dropping the ball as Andruw Jones could scarcely express his glee at driving in the winning run and sending his team to the World Series without even having to swing at a pitch, it’s all seared in the backs of our minds repressed with the deepest and darkest memories.
Flash forward to last Sunday. The Tigers were fighting to hang on to their division title, and already gagged away a 6-run lead against the worst team in baseball.
With the game tied in extra innings and first place on the line, who does Jim Leyland trot out there? The Gambler.
That decision right there is enough to make every writer dive into the mailbox to take back his Manager of the Year ballot before it could be counted.
The only thing I imagine Leyland was thinking is that there’s no way Rogers can have the ame meltdown twice. Surely, he must have thought, Rogers learned from his past.
Apparently not. I watched highlights late Sunday and saw bases loaded and ball four, way high and way outside. The exact same spot. The only thing missing was Gerald "Ice" Williams skipping home.
"He did it AGAIN?" I shouted to my wife. "How in the heck can he possibly do that twice? That ball wasn’t even close!"
As Yogi said, "It’s like deja vu all over again."
All the horrid details of that season-ending nightmare came back. I had just started here in Grand Rapids, and was commuting two hours each direction to Flint until our house sold.
I was working nights at the time, typically not leaving until after 11 p.m. But I was glued to the newsroom television until midnight when Ozzie Guillen tied it up again in the bottom of the 10th inning, then picked up the game on the radio.
There was a leadoff double from Ice, who moved on a sacrifice from Brett Boone, followed by intentional walks to Chipper Bleeping Jones and Brian Jordan. Then up stepped Jones, bat firmly on his shoulder.
There’s not a lot of things to see on the route between Grand Rapids and Flint. A lot of farms. Perhaps a cow was startled by the scream of agony coming from the cranberry-colored Plymouth Voyager speeding through the darkness at that late hour.
After roughing up the cameraman last year while a member of the Texas Rangers, Rogers he allegedly also got into a little spat with a Tigers fan on Sunday who has since filed a police complaint.
The Gambler, it seems, is nothing if not consistent.