When the Yankees lost to the Tigers, Johnny Damon was quoted as saying: "I still think we’re the best team. Sometimes the best team doesn’t win." Today, I read this quote from Eric Chavez: â€˜â€˜Itâ€™s not always the best team who wins but the team who plays the best. You have to give credit to the Tigers. Bottom line is, we got beat by a pretty good team.â€
Now, he saves face a little by saying that the Tigers deserve ‘credit’ and that they are a ‘pretty good team’. But he is still implying that the ‘best’ team didn’t win. Just like Johnny Damon.
I’d like to know what the Tigers have to do to get a little respect, because, seemingly, winning the World Series isn’t going to do it. (I can hear David Wright or Jim Edmonds now, "We played hard, but sometimes that isn’t enough. The best team doesn’t always win.".)
For crying out loud, the Tigers were the team to watch this year. They faltered at the end, but had played well enough all season that it was still good enough to get them the Wild Card. They then won three straight games, after losing the first, to beat the Yankees…and they swept the A’s.
The Yankees finished the season with a 97-65 record; the A’s with a 93-69 record and the Tigers with a 95-67 record (point of interest, the Twins won the division with a 96-66 record). The Tigers had a better road record than the Yankees or the A’s – this is a fine team. I’m not sure what Chavez and Damon need to be shown to prove to them that the Tigers, in the long run, are a better team than either the Yankees or the A’s.
In the four games the Yankees played in the post-season, they scored 14 runs. 8 of those in the first game. In the four games the A’s played against the Tigers in the post-season, they scored 9 runs (the most coming in game 2 with 5).
We aren’t talking about an LDS or LCS that went the entire series. No five games in the ALDS, no 7 in the LCS. This wasn’t a matter of teams playing tough against each other and the luck of what happens in a game 5 or game 7 determining the outcome. I understand that there are some cases where the best team doesn’t win (the first two instances that come to mind for me are the 1997 Marlins winning the World Series and the 2003 Yankees winning the ALCS). but neither of the wins by the Tigers qualify.
I also understand that no one wants to be quoted as saying "we stunk", (Although, to be fair, that’s pretty much what ARod said after the LDS) but does that mean you have to take a cheap shot at the winning team while sounding like a complete sore sport? I’ll never get that.
I don’t buy into this ‘team of destiny’ stuff that Tigers fans (well, probably more accurately, the Detroit sports media) are trying to sell. This team has played well all year. They showed during the regular season that they were tough, could come up in tight spots and perform and that they had what it would take to make it through the post-season.
It isn’t destiny. Whether Chavez or Damon want to believe it, it’s because they’re the better team.
(Photo by Mandi Wright of the Detroit Free Press)