YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsAngels

Former Champs Roll With Punches : It Was Another One of Those Days for the Hapless Tigers

September 01, 1986|STEVE LOWERY | Times Staff Writer

What might have been expected, stepping into the visitors' clubhouse at Anaheim Stadium Sunday, was a large sign reading: Welcome to the Detroit Tigers' clubhouse. Now go home.

You wouldn't expect them to be too cordial after what they've been through this week. What did the Tigers ever do to deserve this?

Friday, a shortstop, Dick Schofield, hit a grand slam with two strikes and two outs in the ninth inning to give the Angels a 13-12 victory.

Saturday, Doug DeCinces hit a two-run homer in the ninth to give the Angels a 5-4 victory.

Sunday, after the Tigers thought Reggie Jackson had struck out on a called strike to end the eighth inning, George Hendrick hit a two-out, bases-loaded double to give the Angels a 5-3 victory and a sweep of the four-game series.

It's just this kind of bad slapstick that doomed vaudeville.

But was there panic for Detroit? Nope. The Tigers went about their postgame chores seemingly looking back without anger.

Oh sure, Kirk Gibson was pretty ticked off when someone misplaced his latest issue of 'Wing and Shot' magazine. But then, who wouldn't be?

Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson sat cross-legged in his office knowingly puffing on a pipe as he discussed the game with reporters. He looked every bit the college professor, except for the fact that he was clad only in his underwear.

It's not so much apathy as it is resignation--the product of three sledgehammer lessons on why baseball is grouped with other games of chance, like horse racing.

"Everything happened that could possibly happen this weekend," Anderson said, attempting no explanation.

A lot has happened to the Tigers in August. Most of it bad.

On Aug. 8, they had closed to within 4 1/2 games of Eastern Division-leading Boston. They had seven games against the Red Sox in the next 10 days, four at home.

By Aug. 10, they were 7 1/2 games out of first as the Red Sox took the first three games of the Detroit homestand. The Tigers ended up 2-5 in the seven games, and the season has never been the same.

They have lost six of their last seven, and are nine games behind the Red Sox.

Designated hitter Darnell Coles said: "So many weird things have happened the past few weeks, it borders on being ridiculous. I still think we have a chance in this division, but it's hard for a lot of the guys to keep believing when things like this keep happening."

Asked about the eighth inning and the 3-2 Walt Terrell pitch to Jackson that Anderson thought was a strike but home plate umpire Larry Young called a ball, Anderson sucked a little harder on his pipe.

"I'm not going to say anything. He (Young) knows what that pitch was."

He quickly polled reporters on whether they thought the pitch was a strike. The consensus was that the pitch may have crossed the plate but that catcher Mike Heath caught it outside.

"So you think it was outside?" Anderson asked, wearing the same smug smile that your history teacher did as he informed you that everyone missed the trick question. "That's funny, he said it was high."

There is the theory floating around that everything that went right in 1984 for the Tigers, their championship year, is now going wrong. That 1986 is a sort of cosmic payback.

An interesting theory, void of much baseball merit, but good enough to satisfy those fans who depend on their daily horoscope to decide which freeway they will take to work.

About all the Tigers can expect to do is show up for work. After that, well, use your imagination.

Los Angeles Times Articles