Waiting to play

GrandersonNot knowing if we’re going to get a game in tonight, this is horrible. So much of the game is mental, especially in a short series like this. Here we are, the Tigers are down one game, and mentally, you try to relax during the day, but your mind keeps going to the ballgame — if you’re a hitter, who you’re going to be facing; if you’re the pitcher, going over the players all the time. And then you try to block it out, you try to get some rest, but then you try not to get too much rest where you’re lethargic when you get to the ballpark, so it’s really a tough deal.

And then you come to the ballpark and sit around awhile longer because of the rain — it’s a killer. Everybody has their own routine, what they do, when they get dressed, maybe when they get worked on at a certain time, when they put their pants on. I know it sounds funny, but maybe some guys will put their pants on at a certain time and their shoes and their socks and just a T-shirt, or vice-versa. So it messes up the whole routine and everything you do. It’s tough, it really is tough, because the mental part, especially in a short series, is even more important.

The worst weather we had in that ’68 Series was Game 4 in Detroit. It didn’t seem to be cold during that Series. I don’t remember being cold, like it is now. There’s normally rain, but now it’s cold. The World Series was done, I think, by Oct. 10, when we played. That’s a major difference. This is the end of October.

I don’t know what they’re going to do, but they have to start thinking about the fans and the quality of play. I know everybody wants all these games, but holy mackerel. What happens if the Minnesota Twins, who are going to have a new stadium outdoors with no roof, are playing in October? I mean, come on. I know revenue is important, but maybe the Players Association and the owners need to get together and say, "Look, we have to think about the quality of play and the fans here."

Look at it in April: Opening Day is packed. The day after Opening Day, you can have your own section. So in April, all around baseball, except maybe in a couple of major markets like Boston and so forth, April is not a big month for most of the clubs. We all know Spring Training is too long, we all know the season is too long, and here’s a perfect example of what’s happened because of those two situations. Here we are, we don’t know if we’re going to play tonight, and they’re saying it’s going to rain for three days. It’s horrible. I don’t know what they’re going to do.

As far as last night’s game, I think the problems the Tigers had had a lot to do with Chris Carpenter. He was good last night. I remember saying that I only saw one or two balls above the belt all night, and one was when he got Curtis Granderson to swing at one up and away. Carpenter’s one of the top five in baseball, and he had it all going. He was on a mission, and he hit his spots. When you have a sinker like he has, a power sinker and a power cutter, a straight-down curveball, a slider-type breaking ball, and you got it all going … yes, some of our guys are definitely not swinging, but he made it even worse for our guys. You expect your horse to do that, and he’s their horse.

He also doesn’t walk anybody. His last 79 innings or something, he walked 10 hitters in the regular season. There’s a power arm who’s not going to walk you, so from a hitter’s standpoint, do you say, "Work the count"? What count can you work? If you get a pitch that you think you can hit, in my opinion, against a guy like that, you’ve gotta swing.

Now, Suppan tonight is a different story. You’ve got to make him throw strikes, get the ball up and over the plate. But Carpenter, that’s a different animal. To a lot of Tiger fans, it might have looked like "here we go again, swinging early in the count, not working counts." But they couldn’t. Do you want to go behind in the count against a guy like that? That’s my thinking. He came close to walking Brandon Inge, fell behind 2-0, trying to pinpoint outside because the pitcher was up next. He ended up striking him out. I mean, that’s as close as he came. He was good.

Bonderman
If you’re Jeremy Bonderman, this start tonight is the next step in "getting" the playoffs. This is the World Series. The other one, that was great, that was a postseason game, but this is the World Series. And if I’m Jeremy Bonderman, I’m going to show them. And now the team even needs him more than the last game. Tonight’s a must-win. The Tigers can’t go down 3-1. We came back in ’68, but that doesn’t happen very often. You don’t want to take that chance. So to me, for this organization, this is right now, get a win.

You can’t think ahead to the possibility of facing Carpenter in Detroit in order to win the Series. You have to think about tonight. I think their focus is tonight, tonight, tonight, and a combination of Bonderman keeping them in the game and having the at-bats that we saw in the earlier stages of the postseason.

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