1968 and 2006: My Thoughts

The minute I found out St. Louis was in this World Series, I said, "Boy, that’s great." What’s your poison, the Mets or St. Louis? But because of the story of the franchise in St. Louis and ours, too, I thought that was great. I was fortunate enough to play on that 1968 team, so I thought it was great to get together again. I know they’re great fans in St. Louis.

St. Louis is one of the great baseball cities in the world. They always have been. When you look at their history, all the good teams they have, this is their 17th time in the World Series. That’s amazing. It’s a great, great baseball town. And anybody that has played there will tell you, they are great fans.

Seeing Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa managing in this World Series, I think it’s great respect for each other. Two baseball people. And when you say baseball people, to me it means so much. Because you know how I broadcast — I love the art of pitching, I love the art of the game within the game. Here are two guys who are big in that regard. These two guys are at the top of their craft, and communication is so important. I think Leyland, learning under La Russa and managing in the National League, has helped him in the American League. Because the AL, with the DH, there’s not a lot of moves. Leyland has brought that National League feel, in my opinion, to managing in the American League.

Detroit has home-field advantage in this World Series because of the AL winning the All-Star Game, and that home-field advantage is great. Our outfielders know how to play this ball field better than any other outfielders, and Leyland knows how to take advantage of it, also. We don’t have great speed, but he takes advantage of what speed we do have. I think it’s a great combination.

When I think back to that 1968 World Series, what we heard about St. Louis and the Cardinals when I was playing was, they were the highest payroll at that time. We weren’t paid a lot of money, and there was no Interleague Play at the time, so they didn’t know much about the Tigers. But we were really good. We were underdogs, but we didn’t think we were underdogs. I know the guys on the Tiger team right now, they have great respect for the Cardinals. They understand you gotta strap ’em on and play.

Now we’re seeing the teams meet again, and this World Series is all about pitching. If you’ve heard my broadcasts from Day One, it starts with pitching, the middle’s pitching, it ends with pitching. And good pitching makes good defense, good defense helps pitching, then you figure out a way to score some runs. But I think our offense, the pressure they put on the opposing pitcher — outside of Ramon Santiago, who’s a different type of hitter — anybody can hit the ball out at any time. That pressure, to me, wears down an opposing pitcher.

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