What Was Leyland Thinking?

I am a life long Detroit Tigers fan.  There are many times throughout the course of a 162 game season that I question manager Jim Leyland's decisions.  Last night's ALCS game #2 was one of those times.  The Tigers were up 5-1 at Boston at the end of 7 innings played with the probable Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer pitching brilliantly.  He showed no signs of being tired or losing his stuff, but had 106 pitches.  Leyland went to his bullpen in the beginning of the 8th inning, playing the numbers games with right-handers and left-handers.

As many Tigers fans did, I went to bed angry, disgusted and dumbfounded.

That strategy was failing and with the bases loaded Leyland brought in the closer Benoit.  1 pitch later the game was tied and 1 inning later the game was lost.  Throughout the game I was on interacting with friends on Facebook (bitching), who were also unanimously questioning Leyland's strategies of pulling Scherzer and the hottest hitter (Jhonny Peralta who is 9-20 this post season) out of the game in the same inning, while allowing lead-off hitter Austin Jackson to fail miserably another night (3-30 with 16 strikeouts in the post season).  As many Tigers fans did, I went to bed angry, disgusted and dumbfounded.

My Aha Moment

I woke up at 5:15am with a hangover caused by a lack of sleep, not too many Labatts.  I spent the better part of the next 50 minutes of my morning treadmill routine in a detoxing sweat thinking about the game.  Somewhere along the way I realized my behavior was similar to that which I've written about concerning problem softball parents.  Boy, talk about an aha moment.  Sure, it's a little different since I don't have a son on the team.  And yet it's really not all that different.  He's around his team all year and has his own philosophy that helps him form his decisions.  It's no different than the times I've had girls bunt with 2 strikes, fail to get it down fairly and have the peanut gallery question my sanity.

I've decided to take a dose of my own medicine.

I love the game of football and still catch a Detroit Lions game now and then, but have no problem turning the TV off when they're putting on another lack luster performance.  The difference between the Lions and Tigers is that the Tigers have had great teams with real chances of winning it all, while the Lions may never have any chance at winning it all in my lifetime.  Following the Tigers is fun.  Watching the Lions is borderline masochistic. 

And so after a little self-reflection this morning some 11 hours after the last night's debacle, I've decided to take a dose of my own medicine that I have prescribed to softball parents.  I'm not as irritated this morning after sleeping on it (24 hour rule before confronting a coach).  I'll give Leyland the benefit of the doubt, cheer for the team and let it go.  The Tigers will win or lose as a team, manager included.  If I can't do that, then I guess I'll have to turn off the TV.....and just turn my pretty head and walk away