Detroit Detours for Two Tigers
- Updated: August 12, 2008
He has been named an All-Star nine times and sits perched ten home runs away from 500. One could easily argue he is one of the most intimidating hitters of his era. His swing is undoubtedly one of the game’s most violent (if nothing else). Despite losing a metaphorical step, he still smacked 25 dingers and drove in 75 runs last year (he even swiped 22 bases). Prior to opening day, he was one of the central cogs in what was predicted by more than a few pundits to be the most vaunted lineup in baseball.
Gary Sheffield and “waived” were not supposed to accompany the same sentence this season in D-town. Yet, alas they may — and soon. Sheff and Skipper Jimmy Leyland are far from seeing eye-to-eye. More troubling though is how close Sheffield sits to the Mendoza line, coming into tonight’s action sporting a .219 average in 76 games.
He was the epitome of competitiveness. With a quirky motion, a come-after-you-mentality and an infectious smile, he was a magnetic figure on the mound. Bursting into the League at 21, he promptly snagged Rookie of the Year honors. Two years later in 2005 he finished second in the NL Cy Young race and threw up 22 “Ws.” It seemed a change of venue in 2008 would surely be cause to flourish and take the “next step,” not to mention provide the Tigers with one more arrow for the quiver as they prepared to take control of the American League.
It was not supposed to be news that Dontrelle Willis was being promoted…to Triple-A…in August. But such are the headlines on August 12. And while D-Train may be chugging on down the rails to Toledo, he may still be a ways from heading home to the big club after going 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA in Single-A Lakeland (prior to getting the Toledo call).
Willis and Sheffield are two stories that offered fairytale-like promise for the 2008 Tigers. Both, however, have taken the wrong turns. They are two Detroit detours illustrative of a team, and a season, that’s veered off its designated course.
I guess that’s why they play the game.