My countdown of the best moments for the Detroit Tigers in 2013:
13. Jhonny Peralta making no excuses, accepting full responsibility, and not appealing his 50-game PED suspension — thereby forcing Dave Dombrowski to get a much better shortstop who has dramatically improved the team. Kudos to Jhonny too for coming back and being the best offensive performer the Tigers had in the postseason.
12. The record 4,115th use of the word “therefore” in a single season of telecasts by a broadcaster, set by Rod Allen on September 12, breaking the old mark of 4,114 set during the 2012 season — by Rod Allen.
11. Max Scherzer’s August 24th win over the New York Mets to run his record to an incredible 19-1.
10. Jose Valverde sent packing again — this time for good.
9. Miguel Cabrera’s game-tying ninth inning homer off Mariano Rivera after fouling two straight pitches off his legs, capping a lengthy at bat that was an absolutely mesmerizing confrontation between the best hitter in the major leagues today and the greatest closer in major league history pitching in his final season.
8. The trade that brought Jose Iglesias to Detroit.
7. Anibal Sanchez strikes out four batters in the first inning, and with four relievers combines on a one-hitter in the first game of the ALCS against Boston at Fenway Park.
6. On August 13th against the Chicago White Sox, Jose Iglesias runs in, dives for a ground ball, and, while airborne parallel to the ground, throws out the batter. See the play here.
5. The surprise (except to this guy) hiring of Brad Ausmus, a needed breath of fresh air in the often hidebound Tigers organization: a progressive young intelligent manager replacing a mumbling grizzled veteran with atrophied old-school strategies.
4. Justin Verlander beats the Oakland A’s in a decisive ALDS Game Five for the second straight season. He takes a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight innings of dominating shutout ball that helps erase memories of his subpar season.
3. Iglesias’ scoop catch of a short outfield fly in the ALCS, running backwards to the plate and diagonally across the field from his shifted position to the right of second base — a jaw-dropping play.
2. Miguel Cabrera’s gaudy stats on August 19: .360/.452/.689, 40 HRs, 120 RBI. If he’d kept up this pace for the rest of the season instead of turning into a limping singles hitter, his OPS of 1.141 would have been second all-time in Tiger history, just behind Norm Cash’s 1.148 in 1961, and the best of any non-steroid-user in the majors since Frank Thomas’s 1.216 in 1994; his slugging percentage would have topped Hank Greenberg’s .683 in 1938 as the best ever for a Tiger; his 56 homers would have been second only to Greenberg’s 58 in 1938; his 168 RBI third behind two other Greenberg seasons; his 224 hits seventh for a Tiger all-time; and his 430 total bases easily would have topped Greenberg’s Tiger record of 397 and been sixth-best all time in MLB history.
1. Prince Fielder grabs some nachos from a fan in the front row after chasing a foul pop fly. We’ll miss you, Clown Prince.
And now, starting with the most horrible, here are the worst moments for the Tigers during 2013:
1. David Ortiz’s crushing eighth-inning grand slam in Boston. Without it turning around a game Detroit should have won to take a commanding 2-0 ALCS lead on the road, the Tigers could very well have gone on to be world champions.
2. Jim Leyland’s bullpen shenanigans that created the dangerous situation and left no credible left-handed reliever available to face Ortiz.
3. Leyland allowing Miguel Cabrera to keep persuading him to be in the lineup while worsening his injuries during the last five to six weeks of the regular season, reducing him to a limping shadow of his former self (four homers, 17 RBI after August 19, and almost a non-factor in the playoffs).
4. The three-for-one trade of Doug Fister for much less than he was worth.
5. Justin Verlander’s too-frequent inexplicably terrible outings in the first four months of the season.
6. Prince Fielder’s post-season slump.
7. The brief but disastrous return of Jose Valverde and his ridiculous dance.
8. Joe Mauer breaks up Anibal Sanchez’s no-hitter with one out in the ninth on May 24.
9. Every time a grounder went between the range-challenged Cabrera and Peralta.
10. The puzzling re-signing of Don Kelly after another Triple-A season in the big leagues.
11. The moment when Boston’s David Ross collided brutally with Alex Avila, and the previous times the snake-bitten Tiger backstop kept being injured and concussed by face-mask-rattling foul tips — ouch!
12. The millionth anecdote by Jim Price recounting his glory days as a third-string catcher in the radio broadcast booth.
13. Kate Upton dumping Justin Verlander — big ouch!