(I know, I know. Late again. This time it isn’t my fault. I didn’t have internet.)
Hernan Perez. Matt Young. Quintin Berry. Luis Marte. Half of the James Mungro Memorial Award’s candidate list took part in the Tigers’ ridiculous comeback Sunday net against Cincinnati.
There were those* who laughed, who didn’t know how I could be following these scrubs, who instead of trying to understand opting instead to steal my chocolate milk in the lunch room and then push me into my own puddle of tears.
Today, as the Hustle benefitted from Tigers fans frantically searching to figure out who these people were, I got redemption. People stumbled upon my site. They became familiar with the James Mungro Memorial Award and all these players who they’ll forget about in a couple of weeks.
As I celebrate my fleeting moment in the sun, you can celebrate the Tigers victory. Just don’t expect anything but a bit of momentum going forward.
Yes the Tigers beat the seemingly unhittable Aroldis Chapman and rallied in the ninth to do so. But it wasn’t so much the team as it was a couple of Tigers and a few guys who aren’t going to be around much longer.
After Brennan Boesch, playing on one ankle, singled off Chapman to left, it was Matt Young who got hit by the pitch. After Austin Jackson’s double, it was pinch runner Hernan Perez who scored and Quintin Berry who walked as the next hitter. Young would score on a wild pitch to take the lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The win got closer. Terry Francona and Orel Hershiser talked about how this could be a turning point for a struggling Detroit team.
If a turning point is the first step in the right direction that’s followed by many more, maybe. If a turning point is an event that directly causes a sea change in the team and plays a major part in what comes after it, then maybe not.
Talk to every championship team and they’ll say the chemistry was different that year. They were a lot tighter. It was a relationship that was formed from adversity, from going facing battles together. Key moments where the team came together, and emerged on the other side built the character for the team as they headed into the postseason.
Against Cincinnati, Jhonny Peralta was missing. Alex Avila was missing. Nearly the entire bullpen didn’t play a part.
The win obviously helps and may have done something to change the psyche of those in the room, but key pieces were missing. As much as I love my James Mungro Memorial All-Stars, most won’t be playing a role in the stretch run. And against the Reds, it was as much an organizational win as it was a Tigers win. Minor leaguers combined with playoff-caliber big leaguers to do something special. But what follows will have a bigger impact.
Perez is already gone, making way for Peralta to return from paternity leave. Another win, one in a more conventional situation for the bullpen (no Rick Porcello warming up shenanigans), starts a streak. A sweep gets people excited, and maybe proves to the team that things are turning around.
Sunday was a day for the James Mungro Memorial All-Stars, a short time in the national spotlight before buses back to Erie and Lakeland and Toledo. It was a small battle and a bit of momentum. Was it a season changing outcome? Not quite.
*(They may have been non-existent, but they were there.)