I'm Not Playing the 2009 Detroit Tigers Blame Game

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I'm Not Playing the 2009 Detroit Tigers Blame Game
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

It's hard to see a season end like that.

This season seemed to be gift wrapped for the Tigers on several occasions down the stretch. There was the seven-game lead with only a month remaining, there was the three-game lead with only four games to play, and there was last night.

The Tigers jumped to a 3-0 lead and the division crown was only six innings away. But the Twins clawed back and forced extra innings.

The Tigers struck in the 10th, when an Inge double plated Don Kelly, and the division title was only three outs away. But, again, the Twins fought back and tied it up to force another frame.

The Tigers loaded the bases in the top of the 12th inning with only one out and Twins reliever Bobby Keppel, who seemingly couldn't find the strike zone. A win seemed to be only a base hit away. But Inge grounded into a fielder's choice and Laird struck out.

Threat over. Inning over. (And you could add in your mind) Game over. Season over.

It's easy to be emotional in a situation like this, to make a knee-jerk reaction, and to try to place the blame, but I'm not going to fall into that trap.

At the same time there's plenty of blame to go around, but none should be handed out.

You could try to blame the manager, Jim Leyland, for allowing the team to blow all those leads, but he's not the problem. Many experts picked his team to finish third or worse this season and he had them competing for a championship until the final out.

You could point a finger at Miguel Cabrera for his nighttime escapades during the season's final weekend, but Miguel was the only slugger the Tigers had for the duration of the season. He won more games than he lost.

One might try to blame General Manager Dave Dombrowski for adding Aubrey Huff and Jarrod Washburn, both of whom were worthless to the team in terms of production. But there's no way that Dombrowski could have predicted that both players would flame out—we all applauded both moves at the time.

You might try to finger someone outside the organization by blaming Randy Marsh, the game's home plate umpire. He missed the hit-by-pitch call that would have forced in a run and extended the inning for the Tigers in the top of the twelfth. But human error is part of the game; teams should't rely on officials to win or lose a game for them.

You could even think about blaming Brett Favre. He joined the Vikings, which prompted the NFL to schedule the Green Bay-Minnesota game for Monday Night Football, pushing the tie-break game to Tuesday. This extra day allowed the Twins to start Scott Baker instead of Brian Duensing, whom the Tigers touched up for five runs in 4.2 innings last week.

I care about this Tigers team—probably too much, but I won't go looking for a place to lay blame. Truth is, this team was flawed from the beginning. We saw them struggle to score runs all season and we saw them fail to take charge and extend the division lead from the moment the seized control on May 10.

So why should we be surprised that this team failed to score runs in important stretch games? Why are we surprised that they failed to put the Twins away at any of these opportunities?

I'm disappointed in the outcome of the game and I'm sad that there will be no playoffs, but I'm not going to play the blame game.

Let's get 'em next year.

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