For Tigers, Redemption Remains Elusive

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For Tigers, Redemption Remains Elusive

Did I use redemption to describe this team's season? 

I did? Well, shame on me for speaking too soon. Now I know how it's felt to be a Mets fan the last few years.

I'd be enraged were this not so predictable.

After all, epic collapses are nothing new to the Tigers and this one might be the worst of them all.

Blowing a three game lead with four games to play is normally inexplicable but not in this case; this team simply stopped swinging the bats after a 7-2 win over the Twins that should've been the nail in their coffin.

This team had their rivals from the North Star State on the ropes countless times but never delivered the knockout punch.

If you push a team to the brink that many times and don't finish the job, they're going to grow closer, rally, and make you pay eventually.

And the Twins did this without Justin Morneau, Francisco Liriano, and Kevin Slowey. With Slowey and Morneau coming back next year, I like Minnesota's chances of repeating as AL Central champions.

What I can't stop thinking about is how this fan base can ever trust this team again.

They had a share of first place every day since May 10 except the day they needed it most; the day their season ended. If a seven game lead with less than a month to go isn't enough, than what is?

This team should be sick to their stomachs for breaking the hearts of the city they play for at such an inconvenient time. 

Jim Leyland more than likely will not be fired, having the staunch support of GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Illitch. This will anger many fans but not me; Leyland didn't swing at ball four tonight, and didn't turn a single into a triple by trying to be a hero.

Leyland's fault was allowing this clubhouse to be so loose and complacent as they lost control in the last month of the season. I don't think he'll make that mistake again. 

Before September, Leyland had one of the finest managerial seasons of his career. I look over the names on the Tigers roster, and this team really had no business holding onto first place as long as they did. You can only milk so much out of a team.

If this team wants to put their horrific past behind them, it rests on overhauling the roster, not changing managers.

Releases of Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, and Zach Miner would be long overdue. Adam Everett should not be invited back either. Gerald Laird should be reduced to a backup catcher until he proves he can swing the bat.

Holes at DH, 2B, SS, the back end of the rotation, and the bullpen will have to be filled with well-rounded players and not one-trick ponies.

Bottom line, this organization needs to change the way they do things. As Albert Einstein said, doing the same thing multiple times and expecting new results is the definition insanity.

Dombrowski must find a middle ground between the exuberant, ineffective spending of the 2007 offseason and the unacceptable inactivity of the 2008 offseason. 

No matter what they do this offseason, it might not be enough to overtake the Twins, one of the best-run organizations in the game. The White Sox will be better too. That's what stings so much about 2009; the division was there for the taking and the Tigers couldn't take advantage.

For the third consecutive season, the Tigers will enter spring training seeking to put the failures of the past year behind them. Three years ago, 2006, feels like a millennia ago. In the time since then, no team in the American League has disappointed more. How much more can this fan base take?

While this will always be my team, I'm done living and dying with them. Just too emotionally taxing.

I will continue to wish the best for this team, I just won't ever expect the best. 

For now, the playoffs are only just beginning. The Tigers and their heartbroken fans have plenty of time to ponder what could've been. A division title thrown away. A long cold winter to think about it all.

Tragic.

Simply, impossibly tragic.

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