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A SPECIAL HERO OF THE DAY!
Name: Jim Leyland
Occupation: former baseball manager
Last Seen: Detroit
Awarded For: making the Tigers a likeable team again
The Detroit Tigers of ten years ago was one to forget.
Under the aegis of Alan Trammell, the team tied the 1962 New York Mets for having the worst record in baseball: 43-119. The team was losing fans and even radio affiliates; here in Grand Rapids, they ended up on brokered R&B station WMFN 640, whose operator angered fans by pre-empting Sunday games for gospel music.
Hard to believe it, just a few years later, the Tigers were roaring again, thanks to Jim Leyland.
Leyland made baseball history by being the first manager ever to lead his team - the Florida Marlins - to a World Series win only to become the worst team in baseball the year after. Then again, it wasn't totally his fault; team owner Wayne Huizenga traded off the whole team in 1998. After years in semi-retirement, the Tigers gave him a chance in 2006. The gamble was worth it.
With Leyland, the team had winning records every year. He won over 700 games with the Tigers and 1,769 as a manager, making him the 15th-winningist-manager in all of baseball. The team even made it to the World Series twice, only losing to the Cardinals and the Giants.
This was yet another winning year for the Tigers, who won the AL Central with a champagne shower and Leyland talking to a reporter with tears and snot running down his nose. Even though the team won the ALDS against Oakland, they lost the AL title to the Red Sox. True, the Sox deserve it after their horrific bombing a few months ago, but Detroit is sad and bankrupt. A World Series win for the Tigers would have renewed some trust in the ailing Motor City.
It would have been cool for Leyland to retire on top, but now, it won't happen. As seen in the ALCS, the Tigers lost a lot of steam. Many criticized him for not allowing multi-run homers by having his better batters follow up with worse ones. He would retire a good pitcher like Max Sherzer or Justin Verlander and replace him with one of their crappy bullpen ones.
But, it's time to move on. Leyland is 68, burned out and already a winner. Not one with a World Series championship, but hey, he did save the Tigers. He is the best manager the team had since Sparky Anderson. I'd like to see a World Series win for the Tigers...
...but now, it's in the hands of another man.
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