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 This is too obvious

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laprimamirala
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PostSubject: This is too obvious   Tue May 20, 2008 8:24 am

TIGERS MELTDOWN REPORT
Leyland embarrassed as Tigers struggle: 'I really can't believe this is happening'
By Bob Nightengale USA TODAY May 20, 2008

The ashtray is filled with cigarette butts and the pack of Marlboros is sitting next to an empty bag of chips inside the visiting manager's office at Arizona's Chase Field, but Jim Leyland is just getting started.

The Detroit Tigers manager takes off his spikes, opens a new box of cigarettes, lights up to ease the pain of another defeat Sunday and starts to talk about the most exasperating season of his 17-year managerial career.

"I'm embarrassed. We all are," Leyland says. "I really can't believe this is happening, to be honest with you.

"I'm not going to throw any players under the bus, but at the same tine, I'm not going to b- them either. You have to tell it like it is.

"And we have played h. I say we, not them, because I'm responsible."

The Tigers approved a franchise-record $138 million payroll to bring a World Series championship back to Detroit, assembling a lineup designed to be among the greatest in baseball history, fielding seven All-Stars.

It is turning into a bust of epic proportions.

The Tigers' 17-27 record is the worst in the American League. And instead of showing signs of improvement, the Tigers have gotten worse, losing 12 of their last 15 games, and are on pace to lose 100.

Most stunning, they've been shut out a major league-leading seven times after being shut out three times last season.

"We shouldn't be getting shut out like this," says Leyland, who met Monday morning with general manager David Dombrowski to discuss their woes. "How this club can be shut out as many times as it has is beyond me."

The facts reveal that the Tigers have been outscored by 40 runs this season, the largest differential in the AL. They are last in the league in pitching. Fourth-to-last in errors.

"I'm so sick and tired of this," DH Gary Sheffield says. "Every single day. If we do one thing right, we do two things wrong.

"And when we don't play good defense, it turns ugly, which is happening now.

"We ain't done nothin' right."

The Tigers aren't pointing fingers toward one another, perhaps because the culpability is shared.

Miguel Cabrera, who signed an eight-year, $152.3 million contract extension this spring, is hitting .182 with runners in scoring position, going 12 days without an RBI until last weekend.

The pitching has been just as bad. Three starters have an ERA of at least 6.00. Ace Justin Verlander, who won 35 games the last two years, is 1-7. Jeremy Bonderman, the No. 2 pitcher, has two wins. Dontrelle Willis, acquired along with Cabrera from the Florida Marlins and given a three-year, $29 million extension, is having as many control problems on his rehab assignment as he did in his two starts (nine walks in five innings).

Says Rod Allen, the Tigers' TV analyst: "People back home are shocked. Everybody in baseball, not just Detroit, thought they would win this division. They're booing them at the ballpark. Hammering them on the radio. It's nasty out there."

But, oddly enough, eerily calm inside.

"It's so relaxed in here," says Sheffield, who is hitting .189 with two home runs and eight RBI as he struggles with right shoulder pain. "I don't know if that means that we don't have a killer instinct or we're just a real loose team. I've never seen anything like it."

'Stale and stagnant' atmosphere

Sheffield looks around the clubhouse. It is two hours before game time against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and video is being shown of Dan Haren, the opposing pitcher.

No one is watching.

Cabrera, who had never faced Haren, is asleep in a chair. Magglio Ordonez has his back turned to the TV and is reading a magazine. A handful are playing cards.

Detroit lost 4-3, with Ordonez getting three of the six hits. The loss provided a snapshot of the year.

Cabrera, who moved to first base in April after struggling defensively at third, halfheartedly attempted to catch a foul pop-up. It caromed off his glove for an error. Shortstop Edgar Renteria and third baseman Carlos Guillen, who moved from first to make room for Cabrera, let a foul pop-up drop when no one communicated. And closer Todd Jones was left stranded in the bullpen, with one save opportunity since April 29.

"We used to pride ourselves on beating those high-dollar teams," says utility man Brandon Inge, who lost his starting third-base job after Cabrera's arrival. "We wanted it more. We played hard. We hustled. We ran everything out. We fought for nine innings.

"Now we're that team we used to beat. I don't want to get into it, but it's just different now."

Weight of expectations

Leyland, a three-time manager of the year, scoffs at the theory that clubhouse chemistry is responsible for the Tigers' troubles.

He acknowledges his team could be more close-knit, but that's a byproduct of losing, he says.

"That's everybody's cop-out all the time," Leyland says, "that chemistry must not be good. No, the chemistry is not good right now because we're getting beat."

Some players suggested that the burden of expectations were too much. They were supposed to win 100 games, score 1,000 runs and laugh their way to the World Series.

"We never said we were going to win 100 games," Guillen says. "All we said was that we have a good team with good players. That was the (sports) media and fans doing the talking.

"You don't win games looking good on paper. You've got to do it on the field.

"That wasn't fair to us."

Yet, Leyland says, with seven All-Stars in the starting lineup and virtually everyone having postseason experience, he insists they should have welcomed the expectations.

"We should be able to handle it," Leyland says. "But for whatever reason, we're not playing like we welcomed it. We're not playing relaxed."

There's still time.

The Tigers are reminded that the New York Yankees were counted out after their 21-29 start last year and still reached the playoffs.

And no one has taken off in the AL Central, leaving the Tigers 6 1/2 games out of first place.

"If we were all flashes in the pan, it'd be different," Jones says. "But we all have long track records. I know we can do this.

"If we figure out what we're all about, we won't have to worry about anybody else in the league.

"And if we don't, we won't have to worry about anybody else, because we'll be buried."
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PostSubject: Re: This is too obvious   Tue May 20, 2008 8:28 am

I just posted this in another thread. :lol:
You're awake too early Lap! I have to post faster, haha.
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laprimamirala
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PostSubject: Re: This is too obvious   Tue May 20, 2008 8:29 am

I know! I wasn't aware you were posting so sorry for the duplicates.
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PostSubject: Re: This is too obvious   Tue May 20, 2008 8:31 am

No worries. This article is too important to be posted only once.. and too embarrassing....
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laprimamirala
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PostSubject: Re: This is too obvious   Tue May 20, 2008 8:33 am

Nothing will change until there are some major shake-downs in both management and line-ups. The high-cost payroll is going to ruin the team!
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