The Detroit Tigers earned a trip to their second World Series in seven years on Oct. 18 when they completed a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees by a score of 8-1. The game was rained out the night before, much to the dismay of Tigers fans everywhere.
Despite the minor delay, the team kept their composure and starting pitcher Max Scherzer pitched tremendous baseball. Holding the Yankees to one run over 5 2/3 innings, he struck out ten of the 22 batters he faced, including taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
The story here might not be that the bats finally showed up, including American League Championship Series MVP Delmon Young. It might not even be that despite a late season injury to Scherzer, he was able to take a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The fact that the Yankees lost star shortstop Derek Jeter to a broken ankle in game two or that they hadn’t been swept in a playoff series since before most of you were born might not even play into this.
The simple fact is that more likely than not, team owner Mike Ilitch is probably watching the last Tigers series of his life from his suite atop Comerica Park. Watching the postgame ceremony on the field that gave Young his ALCS MVP trophy, it was clear that Ilitch is not well. Manager Jim Leyland and General Manager Dave Dombrowski had to physically hold the man up during the ceremony.
Dombrowski told The Detroit News in an Oct. 20 article, “He’s [Ilitch] told me all along, if there’s one thing he’d really love to have, it would be that World Series ring. We had that conversation 11 years ago when I joined the franchise, and hopefully we can get that for him. I’ve never seen a man more dedicated to a community than him. What he’s done for the franchise, for the city, he’s always there to give us whatever we need, whatever we want.”
Yes, Ilitch is 83 years old, but listening to him talk and just looking at him very clearly told me one thing: He is not in good health. He looked gaunt, and while the obvious emotion of the situation does allow for many things in this case, the simple fact was that he sounded sickly.
This Tigers team is very different from the one that lost the 2006 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. They are facing the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. The Tigers have obviously shown they can beat some questionably good teams in both the Division Series and the ALCS. The question is, how will they hold up against one of the scrappiest teams in all of baseball?
I think the Tigers will win their first World Series since 1984, but it will take six games to do it. The starting pitchers on the Giants have the ability to shut down the Tigers’ bats, however, I think the Tigers not only have a superior pitching rotation, but more in the way of offensive weapons, as the
Tigers showed in their sweep of the Yankees.
Tigers fans will be saying many things about the series, but I think most will agree they will win in six games.
Whether or not the Tigers win, however, the real concern is going to be about this being Ilitch’s last series. If it is, or even if it isn’t, Ilitch has done a fantastic job running this team, and I don’t think anyone will disagree with me on that.