Tigers' Ron Gardenhire Making the Best of a Tough Situation in Detroit
Most Tigers fans weren't expecting much coming into the 2018 season. The team had slowly started to decline the last few years under the woeful leadership of former manager Brad Ausmus - and it was time for a change.
From 2011 - 2013, under the Leyland regime, The Detroit Tigers were a well respected club throughout the league and had won the AL Central Division 3 years in a row. The team had a buzz around it, and summers in Michigan were filled with pools, boats, trips up north, and Tigers Baseball.
Fast forward 5 years, and only a handful of players from that 93 win team remain (Iglesias, Cabrera, Castellanos, and Victor Martinez). Memories of 2013 are fading quickly and have been replaced with the garbage we had to suffer through the last few seasons.
Last year ended about as horribly as it started and the Tigers finished with a 64-98 record. Thank God the organization finally decided to notice that Brad Ausmus was incapable of managing a baseball team and gave him his walking papers - because if he was still sitting in the dugout this year like the mannequin manager he was - I don't know if I could handle it.
A rebuild was inevitable, and so it began the second part of last season and into the winter. The 10-12 year window for a championship the Tigers and the fans had shared was closed with nothing to show for it aside from two World Series appearances that were less then competitive.
The main focus in the off-season turned to who could lead the rebuild and make the team worth watching throughout the process, and that question was answered when the Tigers hired Ron Gardenhire on October 20th, 2017.
Personally, I had been a fan of Ron Gardenhire ever since he managed in Minnesota. He always seemed to do more with less and his teams played the game the right way. They played with a certain discipline and fire that you respected whether they won or lost.
Gardy looks to have instilled that same work ethic and character into the 2018 Tigers as we sit 22 games into the season.
With a record of 10-12 people may wonder what I'm getting so excited about, and that's a valid question so i'll answer it.
It's not about the record this year - I wan't to be able to sit down and watch a team play baseball the right way.
Hit the cut off man, take an extra base, put the right people in positions to succeed. Half the time I check our lineup, I don't know two or three people in it, and I'm okay with that for now.
I like the athleticism a Niko Goodrum brings to the table, I like watching Candelario develop into a Major League player each and every day he steps on the field, I like watching the team show the ability to come back and rally when the game looks to be over.
People who diminish the value a good manager brings to an organization do not understand the game of baseball. Baseball may be the sport in which a coach or manager matter the most. It's a grueling season and keeping your team motivated and playing the game the way it should be played is a challenge.
You have to know when to let things go, when to get in someones shit, its all calculated strategy that great leaders possess.
Yes, it's to early to anoint Gardnhire to the Tigers Hall of Fame, I understand that.
However, its not to early to say thanks for making Tigers Baseball watchable again Ron!