By: Jeff Riger
Jim Leyland speaks the truth. Like him or hate him, usually the skipper will tell you what’s on his mind, even when it’s not the best for him. Ask him a question and he will give a thoughtful, true answer which is more than most managers in the game will do.
But that doesn’t win the man a manager of the year award or even guarantee that he will have a shot to manage the Tigers in the 2013 season.
But you should still appreciate the honesty, especially considering it might not last much longer.
Over the last couple of days, Leyland has answered questions about this season, potential playoffs and how he believes the fans are reacting to what overwhelmingly is viewed as a disappointing season so far.
Below are some of the Skip’s more interesting responses…
Q: What has been the most surprising negative about this season thus far?
Leyland: “There are some pitchers this year that we have faced that I thought we would do a lot better against then we did. This is not with any disrespect, but some teams 4th and 5th starters, I assumed in spring training that we would wear that guy out, we really haven’t done that. With the type of offense we have, with 4th and 5th starters, I think we probably should have done better then we have, or I know we should have, so it’s been a little more confusing I think.”
Q: Are you surprised that you have not won more games this season?
Leyland: “I would say yes, with the standings, yes. I’m surprised that we haven’t won more games then we have because the team that is ahead of us hasn’t won that many games either. So I’m surprised that we haven’t won more games then we have, yes I would say that’s fair to say. Although if you won 8 out of 9 or something like that you would be at almost 90 games. I figured this team to win somewhere between 90 and 95 games.”
Q: Is the AL Central as bad as people say it is?
Leyland: “The Central division, there has been 3 teams, well 4 teams, well I would say 5 teams that are capable of doing better than we did.”
Q: What is the word that you would use to describe the season so far?
Leyland: “Our year up to this point has been disappointing; I don’t think that is a secret to anybody. But, it’s not over yet. 2 weeks from now we could be possibly playing in the second round of the playoffs and everybody would be pumped up and talking about how great the Tigers are. We might not make it and the whole story would be how disappointing of a season it would be. They both go hand and hand, that’s ok, that’s the way it should be.”
Q: What were your expectations for this team before the season started?
Leyland: “I can you if we got a good team; we got a good team that has not played up to this point, up to expectations. But what are expectations? A certain number of wins? Postseason? What is it? My expectations for this team is postseason, if we don’t get to the postseason I would be very disappointed.”
Q: Fans think the Tigers should win the division because they have an easier schedule the rest of the way then the White Sox do. Do you feel the same way?
Leyland: “I would say that’s nice if you are getting a haircut and you are BS’ing with your barber. But it was not too long ago that everybody thought that the White Sox had the advantage in the schedule. I don’t pay too much attention to that, I don’t! I know one thing, the Detroit Tigers nor do the Chicago White Sox take the Kansas City Royals or the Minnesota Twins lightly.”
Q: Do you think the majority of Tiger fans are enjoying this pennant race or are hesitant to buy in considering what a disappointing season it has been so far?
Leyland: “I would think the real baseball fans are enjoying the moment and the ones that aren’t the real baseball fans might not be enjoying it quite as much. I would think the real baseball fans would be enjoying this. I think most fans would have the attitude that in any sport, I don’t care how my team, gets there I just want them to get there because if they get there they have a chance. I don’t know if that’s the take here or not but that’s what I would think.”
No doubt it would be a downer if the Tigers miss out on the post season and it would probably also means the end of Leyland’s reign in Detroit. But there is still time to change a disappointing season into one for the ages. Will they? Who knows? But it’s going to be fun seeing if they can the rest of the way.