Friday, September 7, 2007

Cleverly Conceding?

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press on Thursday, Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leland all but conceded the American League Central Division title to the Cleveland Indians.
Leyland said, "At this point, I tip my hat to them. They are winning the way division champions win. For the most part, to be realistic, we are playing for the wild card. I'm sorry if people look at that and get mad and say that's negative. It's not negative. It's a fact."
Cleveland Indians Manager Eric Wedge isn’t buying it and rightfully so. Wedge said in response, "If you don't focus on today, the game will kick you in the butt. Our entire focus is getting to the postseason and winning our division."
Not exactly words to go down in history but he has the right idea…cautious optimism with a strong dose of aggression. Thursday afternoon, the Tigers beat the White Sox and the Indians lost to the Angels. All of a sudden, that comfortable 7 game lead over the Tigers is down to 6 games with 3 games left with those same Tigers. Hmmmm… Clever, Jim!
It is a fact that the Indians have been the recipient of Jim’s cleverness and savvy exactly 10 years ago in October. His tongue in cheek pronouncement is premature by design. Is he trying to fire up his stumbling team? Is he trying to relax the Indians by lulling them into a false sense of security? Yes and yes!
The time is right to be cautious, but also aggressive in winning one game at a time. I like the swagger that this Indians team is displaying. During the 10 – 3 loss to the Angels last night/early this morning, it was impossible to turn the game off near 1 AM thinking that this never-back-down-team could rally with 7+ runs in the late innings. Well, it didn’t happen and the team was humbled by a very aggressive Angel’s team. However, tonight is a new game and a new situation. Westbrook ought to be able to keep the ball on the ground and the Indians offense has got to stick it to John Lackey early and often. If the Indians can leave Anaheim with two wins out of the four games, they will set themselves up for success vs. the White Sox and Royals prior to hosting the Tigers on September 17th, thus keeping the monkey on Leyland’s back!

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