By: Jeff Riger
As the Tigers were getting ready to start a 3 game set with the Cardinals, it was pretty apparent what was on the mind of skipper Jim Leyland; we need more “dirtbags.”
Leyland didn’t mix words saying “we got a wonderful clubhouse and a wonderful group of guys but I wish we had a little bit of more A**hole in us.” Of course the Tigers are getting better as they have won their last 3 series, but Leyland refused to get excited about the success, instead he continued to harp on what the team needed. “They are a bunch of great guys, they really are” Leyland said about his players but added “I wish they had a little meaner streak in them from 7 to 10pm.”
So what exactly is a “dirtball” or “dirtbag” you ask?
“They know how to win games” Leyland said. “That type of guy can hit .240 and be just as important as the guy hitting .310 because he got the guy over on a consistent basis, he got the squeeze down, he broke up a double play, he tagged up from first on a long fly to left centerfield, those are the dirt bags that I’m talking about.”
Once the manager started talking “dirtbags” the media went searching for a greater meaning.
Who are these people?
Does the team need to trade for a “dirtbag?”
Can the Tigers become the kind of team that Leyland envisions?
As for the answers to the above questions…
Leyland would not name the “dirtbags” that he has managed alluding that there are way too many of them, however he did mention Brandon Inge by name. The skipper also claimed that the Tigers don’t need to go out and get one of these types of guys because they are supposed to win and be good with the roster that is already here. And, yes this team can still be the kind of squad that Leyland envisions, he just wishes, well they were more like the 2006 team.
Leyland talked for quite some time about 2006 and how that team had plenty of “dirtbags” and talent but they just did not know how to win. “I preached to them all time saying watch the Yankees take the field, they look different than most teams. That’s what we want to look like; we want to go out there like we know we will win this game. We are not going out there, well we might, I might get a hit, I might pitch a shutout. All of sudden we went out there and people were saying you know this was a team to beat. We don’t have that just yet.”
Of course this team will never be the ’06 squad, it’s just not possible, however they can be better, they can go on and win the World Series instead of just getting there. I understand that last sentence sounds ridiculous, but look at how bad this team has played and the fact that they are just a game under .500 and less than 2 games out of first tells me that anything is possible once the Tigers start playing like they are capable of. And, I do believe they eventually will.
Check out the entire segment below as Leyland talks “dirtbags”, players that are way too nice and why he is confident that this team can be like the 2006 squad.