Monday, April 14, 2008

Jim Leyland loses his cool, but is it too calculated to have an effect?

After getting pasted by a total of 18-0 by the ChiSox over the weekend, nearly getting no-hit on Saturday, dropping their record to 2-10, Jim Leyland went postal/medieval/apeshit on the Tigers' collective asses yesterday. From all accounts, just as Roddy Piper skipped the bubblegum chewing, and went direct to the kicking of ass, so did the Marlboro Man.

But will it make a difference? For Leyland to go off on his underachieving team, in a weird way, is actually preaching to the choir.

Collectively, the Tigers have been saying all the right things, as they know they are playing with all the skill shown by an over 40 softball team in the middle of a kegger. They know the fans are beginning to turn on them. They know the media is making them out to be a laughingstock. They know that history is now fully against them. They know expectations were sky high, and if the season doesn't turn around soon, it's going to get real ugly, real quick, in Detroit.

Even though the fans have been clamoring for a Leyland explosion, harking back to his now legendary diatribe early in the '06 season, the situations are totally different. The only thing similar between '06 and '08 was Leyland believing his team apparently giving up in the late innings of a series ending game. What set off the Marlboro Man yesterday was the Tigers not taking a single called ball in the final 3 innings, after the Sox essentially put the game out of reach in 6th inning. In '06, it was their taking that same attitude during the late innings of a getaway day loss to the Tribe.

In 2006, Leyland was trying to turn around almost 2 decades of losing. He wanted to broom the acceptance of losing out of the clubhouse. In 2008, it comes off as much more calculated, as Leyland is grasping straws, trying something, anything, to shake the Tigers out of their early season lethargy.

When everyone is calling for, and expecting, the manager to give the "It's my way or the highway!" speech, how effective can it truly be? You can only go to the "I'm mad as Hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" well once. Only once. After that, it's just so much hot air, especially with an older group of highly paid professionals with guaranteed contracts.

To be honest, what else could Leyland do? Other than making a few personnel changes within the bullpen, there really isn't much he can do, other than hoping his players begin to play up to their quite good track records. That's it. There aren't going to be sweeping changes. PERIOD.

For all the fans screaming for change, for a blockbuster of some sort, and they are all over on sports talk radio, newspaper message boards and message boards, I've said it before, and I'll say it again...A trade isn't going to happen.

It bears repeating. Teams don't make trades 2 weeks into April, at least not the type irrational fans want. Any change is only going to come from within the organization, and even then, it'll be in regard to the bullpen (Such as the callup of Clay Rapata), or injury replacement (Bring up Ryan Raburn, and the soon to arrive starting pitcher, Armando Galarraga, with Dontrelle Willis going on the DL).

The Tigers have already made their moves, and gone all in. At this point, we can only hope Leyland is sitting on a full house, as he's already drawn all his cards. If he's not, all the yelling and screaming in the world won't make a difference.

Though I'm as pissed off and frustrated as any Tiger fan, as much as I hate to say it, , at this point we can only ride out this horrific, cringe inducing, , team-wide, season imperiling slump, hoping it ends before the rest of the season becomes moot. It's what Leyland and Dave Dombrowski are doing, in the anticipation their accumulated talent finally kicks into gear.

We all agree, the talent is there. As to why it hasn't shown on the field as of yet is a mystery to all. If it doesn't show up, and show up soon...Well, let's cross that bridge when we come to it.

Unfortunately, as it currently stands, I can see the bridge on the horizon.

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