Yesterday I watched the the Detroit Tigers take on the Chicago White Sox for the final regular season game. The game was not just any game, it had ramifications as far as the playoffs go. If Detriot won, the Minnesota Twins were in the playoffs, and Chicago was out. If Chicago won, Minnesota goes to Chicago for a one game playoff.
Chicago won, 8-2. Cuban rookie Alexei Ramirez hit a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning to insure that they would play the Twins today.
But here is what impressed me the most; what keeps me coming back for more baseball, over and over again. In this instance, it is Jim Leyland, manager of the Tigers. He managed the game with the upmost respect that can be given to the game of baseball. Although the Tigers season was over, with no chance going to the playoffs, he managed the game like a playoff game. He started almost all of his regulars, and left his September call ups on the bench. He put forth his best team that he could, to insure the integrity of the game. Chicago was not “given” the game, they had to earn the win straight up.
Now I am not saying that no other manager would not do the same, but following Jim Leyland’s managerial career since his Pirates days back in the early 1990’s, he has always been one of my favorite people in baseball. I love his competitiveness nature. Guys like him, Dusty baker, Tony LaRussa,Ozzie Guillen and newcomer Joe Girardi are guys that manage every game, every inning, the way it should be.
also, it was good to hear that Leyland will be back managing the Tigers next year.