SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tigers Don't Have "Eye of the Tiger"

Good piece in today's USA Today by Bob Nightengale on what's ailing the Detroit Tigers.

My assessment: you have a team built to draw 4 million, but not necessarily a team designed to win a championship.

The reason: there is no established leader on the club, and none of the 7 all-stars has shown a willingness to seize the leadership mantle and make the entire team accountable. Another take: there is no one person who sets the tone whom the other all-stars are willing to follow. Last take: the putative superstars don't have a sense of urgency about winning.

In other words, they've lost the "Eye of the Tiger."

But it doesn't look like they're going to listen to their version of Apollo Creed and go train in a decrepit, inter-Los Angeles gym with young minor leaguers who have the "Eye of the Tiger" any time soon.

Naturally, the Tigers' gruff old manager disagrees with any popular psychology, but, then again, old-school baseball people are among the most xenophobic people out there. Something is rotten in Detroit, and if Jimmy Leyland doesn't help fix it fast they'll ride him out of town in a foreign auto that they've set aflame.

The Tigers right now have the worst record in the American League and are on pace to lose 100 games. You really couldn't hit that number with a $138 million payroll if you tried. After all, the Tigers' ownership isn't baseball's version of "The Producers", and the 2008 Tigers aren't those owners' version of "Springtime for Hitler." The Motown ownership wants its local nine to win in the worst way.

Still, the Tigers are a foundering team right now, and they had better go on a streak of some sort soon before resignation sets in that the best they can do is finish .500. On paper, they have the whole package. The key is whether they can put it all together on the field.

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