Tigers Baseball Outsider

a thinking fan's perspective

Sunday, October 9, 2011

ALCS Game 1 - Up To The Eye Of The Beholder

It is the best of times, and the worst of times.
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, it’s really only the best of times for Detroit Tiger fans this postseason.
But these close postseason games are killer on the emotional psyche.  We’re not even halfway through this run to winning the World Series and this fan is emotionally drained.
It’s easy to think that everyone is against us.
The weather.
The umpires.
The national media.
But it’s not really the case.
Weather does what weather does – seemingly following the Tigers from stadium to park to stadium.
Umpires simply do what umpires do. Their human eyes make mistakes.
And the National Media has been pretty kind to the Detroiters – despite the fact it’s a no-brainer that Fox television ratings would be higher if the Yankees were still in the postseason.
That’s why suddenly you see Terry Francona in the Fox Sports broadcaster’s box next to Joe Buck.
But the cards are not falling in perfect position for the Tiger’s “perfect storm” scenario this year.
Rain totally messed up the rotation of the ALDS with New York, cancelling out Verlander’s first appearance and leaving the weight of the series on Scherzer and Fister who both tackled the daunting challenge by holding off the Bronx Bombers with nail biting victories.
Home plate umpire Tim Welke seemingly having some yet undiagnosed issue with his right eye’s ability to judge a ball against the right side border of the strike zone – which seemingly cleared up between innings when the J.C. Wilson took the mound and pounded the same spot against Tiger batters. It kept coming back though as the Tigers took the field.
Perhaps it’s payback of some sort.
But that’s not really the case. I’m sure Welke was convinced at the time he made all those bad calls that they were pin point accurate.
But when Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck makes a point over and over again to point out that the little graphic of squares they show in the bottom corner of the screen charting where the pitch was in relation to the strike zone is only a best approximation – even though it uses the same technology of trianglulation from three different points to determine where the ball crosses the front of the plate exactly as is used in tennis to determine where the the ball lands on the base line down to the most minute speck of fibre spinning off the felted cover.
It would have been interesting to have heard Bud Selig’s call to the director of Major League Baseball’s broadcasting team.
Uhh … you know that little pitch-tracker square you guys show on TV?
Yeah, it’s accurate to within a millimeter – amazing eh?
Yeah, right – shut that thing off
We paid a lot of money for that thinga-ma-jiggy, Bud!” would say the director. “We got advertisers tag lines and everything for it – it makes us big money
Well, the umpires are complaining it’s showing them up
Oh yeah? Well we have contractual commitments to use it”.
Okay – then just say it’s unreliable”.
Like a human is actually pointing to where the ball lands?
Yeah, like that – say it’s just an approximation
Like an umpires vision?
Yeah, like that”.
Okay, you’re the boss, Bud. You got it”.
And the email was then sent to all broadcasters.
Did you notice how I digressed? I think I am suffering some post traumatic stress disorder after that amazing Game 5 of the ALDS. My right eyelid won’t stop twitching.
Add to this the offensive lack of confidence flaring out of control in both catcher Alex Avila’s and center fielder Austin Jackson. Avila is still catching a great game behind the plate. But Jackson’s now dropping easy catches in centerfield. Both are in need a good Dr. Phil session in the clubhouse to talk about their feelings and get their head straight at the plate. Both are great players who were huge parts of the Tigers getting to the post season. And both need to get it back into their heads that they are still great.
And it goes without saying this Tigers batting order only lines up well with Delmon Young in the two hole of the order.
The Tigers are limping a bit now. And down 0-1 to Texas after losing THE game that they were supposed to win on the road with Verlander pitching.
But for some reason I still feel good about our chances. I know we have at least four more games to be played. At least two in Detroit at Comerica.
It is indeed the best of times for Tigers fans. But the thought of the heartbreak to be felt should we not get to the World Series seems to cancel out all the enjoyment. The frustration of the bad breaks.
But I for one have to take a deep breath – and not wish this experience away.
We have to savor every moment of this great post season.
Because really, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

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