By Matt Durr
The baseball season is barely two weeks old and none of us have any idea what lies ahead for the boys of summer.
Odds are that the Tigers will run away with the Central Division and probably contend for a World Series. Should they falter, however, I know exactly where the blame will lie: Jim Leyland.
Since becoming manager prior to the 2006 season, Leyland, 67, has captured the hearts of diehard Tigers fans by leading the team to the playoffs twice. Because of those post-season appearances, Leyland has falsely earned the reputation of being a good manager.
Leyland has a history of giving players days off and essentially throwing in the towel for those games by not playing the best lineup possible. So far this season, he has not done that, but he has trotted out a different lineup in almost every game. Simply put, you never know what to expect from Leyland’s lineup card.
On Sunday, April 15, as the Tigers prepared to play the Chicago White Sox, Leyland filled out his lineup card for the day and at the designated hitter spot inserted Brandon Inge. The highly controversial third baseman has a staggering career batting average of .232, and last season hit a myopic .197. Yet Leyland saw fit to have him as the designated hitter.
Leyland in his career has won just as many games as he lost, and he has a history of mishandling talented teams. In 2008 the Tigers failed to make the playoffs after being the preseason favorites. In the early 1990s’, he led three straight Pittsburg Pirates teams to the National League Championship Series, but failed to win any of them.
Defenders will be quick to point out that he won a championship in 1997 with the then Florida Marlins. But to be fair, that team was in place before he got to Florida.
With all the money spent on this team, it shouldn’t fail. But based on the history of the manager, it will – and you can blame the skipper.