I have to admit that I’m slightly biased towards the American League, simply because that’s the league my team plays in and is therefore the league I concentrate more on. Still, I don’t think anyone would begrudge me from posting about the Tigers’ victory last night.
Detroit’s 2006 season really is an incredible story, one that should be an inspiration to many organizations in the Majors. Years of futility have been overturned with some great young pitching, a few veterans and a whole host of honest players who work together as a team. Just like the A’s and the Twins, the Tigers have decided that sob stories and cries of poverty don’t get you anywhere. There are a bunch of organizations in the majors who bleat all day long about how they have no hope when teams can spend millions more than they do. If these teams put as much effort into using their draft picks wisely and making better personnel decisions as they do complaining about the injustice of it all, they would be far better off.
It’s easy to point the finger at the Yankees at times like this and, it has to be said, a lot of fun as well! Just like the Chelseas and Man Utds of this world, seeing the big-money spenders being humbled by the underdogs is one of the great pleasures of sport. The Yankees have all the star power you could ever wish for, but are they truly a team? And where does the blame lie for their failure? Reports are already suggesting that Joe Torre could be on his way and, with the massive demands and expectations placed on the Yankees, it doesn’t seem completely unreasonable for a man to fear for his job following six years of â€œrelativeâ€ failure. Yet the Yankees philosophy of spend, spend then spend some more has proved their undoing. The Yankees recent history is comparable with the â€œGalacticosâ€ experiment at Real Madrid. Rich teams can end up overdosing on the swill of success. When things go wrong, the natural reaction for them is just to throw more money at the problem. There are a lot of big egos in that Yankees clubhouse and whilst it is the managers job to bring everyone together, it may have been an impossible task for Torre.
Will the Yankees change? I doubt it. On the one hand, they still won the AL East by ten games (with the Red Sox finishing a distant third) and everyone knows that a break here or there could have dramatically changed their play-off fortunes. More importantly, the Yankees recent chasing of big free agent signings has left them with many contracts that they simply cannot shift on to anyone else. Not for the first time, it will be an interesting off-season for the Yankees.
The New York Mets are hardly hesitant when it comes to splashing the cash, but they are the toast of the town this time around following their sweep over the Dodgers. Despite spending big money on several marquee free-agents, the Mets have seemingly done a better job at surrounding those players with guys who give their all for the team. The Mets have been the NL’s best team from day one in 2006 and they are odds-on favourites to make it to the World Series, whoever they have to face in the NLCS. I’m sure either the A’s or the Tigers would fancy their chances against the Mets when it comes to starting pitcher match-ups, but neither AL team can really match the combined power of Beltran, Delgado, Wright et al.
Finally, my predictions yesterday didn’t turn out too badly. The Padres got back into their series with the Cardinals whilst the Dodgers fell by the wayside.Â Chris Young did pitch a gem to keep the series alive and Jeremy Bonderman had a great outing to take the Tigers through. Still, that doesn’t mean you can really label these play-offs as predictable. Far from it. There are plenty of twists and turns in store, as evidenced by Cliff Floyd’s left Achilles tendon.