Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on October 15, 2006 · 46
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · 46

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 15, 2006
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8D SUNDAY, OCT. 15, 2006 THE PLAYOFFS DETROIT FREE PRESS WWW.FREEP.COM How they called it FOX ON TV Thorn Brennaman: "Now Mag-glio Ordonez. He tied the game with a home run to leftfield in the sixth. And now Jason Kendall will come visit the mound. Dave Dombrowski, the president, getting one final stretch in, perhaps looking for divine intervention by that pose. Mike Hitch, the owner." Lou Piniella: "Here's where your Oakland outfield is gotta cheat just a little bit. They have got to give themselves an opportunity to throw Monroe out at the plate in case of a base hit, and Payton, where he's at right now in leftfield, I don't think he has that chance," Brennaman: "So here we go. Winning run at second base. We're in the bottom of the ninth inning. Ordonez looks at ball one inside." Jose Mota: "It seemed to me right there, Thommy, that he was aiming for one pitch, breaking ball away somewhere." Brennaman: "Ordonez is 0-for-2 in his career against Huston Street, In the air to leftfield! The Tigers march to the World Series! They celebrated 22 years ago today as World Series champions, and Oct. 14, 2006, the Detroit Tigers are American League champions!" WXYT-AM (1270) ON RADIO Dan Dickerson: "Swing and a fly ball, leftield, it's deep, it's way back ...the Tigers are going to the World Series. Three-run, walkoff home run! Ohhh man! Ordonez around third, he's into a mob scene at home! The Tigers have beaten the A's, 6-3, completing a four-game sweep in one of the greatest turn arounds in baseball history! The Tigers, three years after losing 119 games, are going to the World Series! Magglio Ordonez with his second home run of the game. What a sight at home plate! Polanco: Quiet MVP of ALCS Second baseman hit .529 vs. A's ByJONPAULMOROSI FRfcE PRESS SPORTS WRITKR He had been integral to Saturday's epic events, just as he had been throughout the season and this American League Championship Series. Once it ended, he was entitled to a quiet moment, removed from it all. So, Placido Polanco, the ballplayer's ballplayer, stood quietly in one corner of the moist Tigers clubhouse following the 6-3, series-clinching defeat of the Oakland Athletics. He had a bottle of G.H. Mumm in his hand, a cigar in his mouth and his wife at his side. He didn't say many words. He usually doesn't, and there was no great need to do so now. His performance had been sufficiently booming for all to hear, one that will reverberate in the years to come. Polanco hit .516 (16-for-31) against the A's during the regular season and was just as brilliant during the Tigers' sweeping ALCS triumph. He batted .529 (9-for-17) in the four games. He tied Oakland's Milton Bradley for the most hits in the series. And, as usual, he turned the double plays and fielded the routine grounders at second base. Polanco, a player long underappreciated by all but those who watch him closely, was vot ed the 2006 ALCS most valu able player. And he was, as al ways, a purist s delight, Go to Google and look up 'baseball player,'" suggested Andy Van Slyke, the Tigers first-base coach. 'His name 4f ? in i ' : ( rnamt .l.-,.-A..aa MANDI WRIGHTDetroit Free Press Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco, despite his shoulder injury, supplied good defense and timely hitting for the entire ALCS. to right-centerfield. Without Polanco, Ordonez doesn't bat in the ninth inning. ' Without Polanco, there's no game-winning home run, no celebration, no champagne. Without Polanco, Barry Zito might be pitching for the A's in Game 5 today. Instead, Polanco and the Tigers are headed to the World Series. "By far," Polanco said, "the best moment of my career." His performance was so stirring that it might have been easy to forget Polanco missed 5'A weeks with a separated shoulder, and returned with only a week left in the regular season. Some wondered whether he would return this season at all. In fact, in a moment of frustration last month, Polanco himself said he was finished for the season. Not quite. There he was Saturday night, thanking the training staff and hitting coach Don Slaught for helping him return to health. "It's just everybody," Polanco said. Polanco came to symbolize so much about these Tigers. His previous team, the Philadelphia Phillies, traded him because they wanted Chase Utley to play every day. Fine. Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers' president and general manager, was happy to take him. On the field, clutching the AL championship trophy, Dombrowski was asked how important the acquisition of Polanco for Ugueth Urbina and Ramon Martinez had been. The first word out of his mouth: "Huge." "We're sitting here, he's the MVP of the ALCS," Dombrow ski continued. "He's one of those guys you have to watch, AL playoff MVPs 2006 Placido Polanco, Detroit 2005 Paul Konerko, Chicago 2004 David Ortiz, Boston 2003 Mariano Rivera, New York 2002 Adam Kennedy, Anaheim 2001 Andy Pettitte, New York 2000 David Justice, New York 1999 Orlando Hernandez, New York 1998 David Wells, New York 1997 Marquis Gtissom, Cleveland 1996 Bernie Williams, New York 1995 Orel Hershiser, Cleveland 1994 strike 1993 Dave Stewart, Toronto 1992 Roberto Alomar, Toronto 1991 Kirby Puckett, Minnesota 1990 Dave Stewart, Oakland .1989 Rickey Henderson, Oakland 1988 Dennis Eckersiey, Oakland 1987 Gary Gaetti, Minnesota 1986 Marty Barrett, Boston 1985 George Brett, Kansas City ' 1984 Kirk Gibson, Detroit 1983 Mike Boddicker, Baltimore 1982 Fred Lynn, California 1981 Graio Nettles, New York 1980 Frank White, Kansas City day in and day out, to appreciate. He's a professional. He does everything well." He batted third during the series, a result of an injury to Sean Casey. He's hardly an ideal, power-hitting No. 3 batter he hit four home runs in 461 at-bats this season but he rarely strikes out, gets big hits and never disappoints. He's not a perfect player, but he is perfect for the Tigers. His manager loves him. So do his teammates. They've seen how he makes the hidden plays that games. Now, so has everyone else. would be on the top Web page, leagues. "To me, baseball's not about Polanco was vital in every the big things. It's the little Detroit victory during this se- things that add up. Moving a ries. Sometimes his contribu- guy over. Getting the base hit tions were subtle. At other with two outs and a man on times sav. during Saturday's Tigers, three years after losing able player. And he was, as al- first. He's a consummate pro- decisive ninth inning they're The first word out of his w ih c i m i n li ways, a purist s delight. fessional. I never saw him give more obvious to all. mouth: Huge. With his SeCOnd home run Of vjuvgic cuiu luun. ujj mi aL-uai, away una wuuic ycai , ixcuicmuci , vvim iwu uul, vvc ic anting ucie, lie o me 1 the game What a sight at 'baseball player,'" suggested and I can't say that about too and Magglio Ordonez on deck, MVPoftheALCS,"Dombrow- Contact JON PAUL MOROSI at home plate!" ny Van Slyke, the Tigers' many guys who went to the Polanco dropped one of his ski continued. "He's one of 313-2234097 or first-base coach. "His name plate over 500 times in the big trademark, softly hit singles in- those guys you have to watch, .; : i . - , . , , .iv- - - - - - -f . .- ' rV !:' ' ' ' " ' ' .." . fc, - . -.,,., n, r. .. .. - ., r-.. --i.- . J ---j t .Jdi .ar-f 'jrtWil I - i -- ' JULIAN H. GONZALEZDetroit Magglio Ordonez is the center of attention after his three-run, two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Tigers a 6-3 victory over Oakland and the American League pennant. ROSENBERG I Street's pitch was right up Magglio's alley From Page ID can League Championship Series MVP Placido Polanco on first, Ordonez hit the biggest home run of pretty much anybody's life. With a 1-0 count and the game tied, 3-3, Athletics reliever Huston Street threw a fastball. Street later said he thought it was a good pitch, right where he wanted it, but as Ordonez said with a smile, "When they make a good pitch, you gotta hit it sometimes." The three-run shot was Ordonez's biggest home run as a Tiger. The second-biggest came three innings before, when he led off the sixth inning by hitting Dan Haren's first pitch over the leftfield fence. That tied the game. Ordonez's performance belongs in that same corner of your memory as Kirk Gibson's two-homer game in the 1984 World Series clincher. Until Saturday night,' what was Ordonez's greatest moment in baseball? "My first base hit in the big leagues," he said. "But this is wav, way higher." The date was Aug. 29, 1997. Ordonez was a rookie outfielder for the Chicago White Sox. The shortstop on that team was fellow Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen, Ordonez's hero growing up. Guillen had touted Ordonez so much that White Sox star Frank Thomas said the kid was "the next Willie Mays." Thomas was in the A's dugout Saturday when Ordonez ended his season. Guillen, now the White Sox manager, knows how Ordonez feels he and the Sox won the World Series last year. Ordonez could watch only a few minutes of that Series at a time. Tears kept getting in the way. He had left the White Sox for Detroit before the season, then missed time because of a hernia. "Last year was really frustrating for me with the injury, and I left Chicago and they won the World Series," Ordonez said. "I left one year early. But I felt this was going to happen sooner or later." They all want a moment like this, but Ordonez needed it more than most. He went more than a month this summer without any home runs. Nobody had to tell him he wasn't earning his millions. He knew. When Ordonez is slumping, his aggressive approach makes him frustrating to watch. He often has the hitting approach of a man who forgot to put change in the meter. Nobody likes a hitter who keeps grounding out on the first pitch, especially when that hitter has a five-year, $75-mil-lion contract For most of those five years, that contract will look like a mistake. But Saturday night, Marian Hitch stood behind her husband, Mike, and said, "I don't think he's paying him enough." The Ditches can expect a call from agent Scott Boras this morning. In the meantime, the Tigers are thrilled, not just by the home runs, but by who hit them. "You know what?" third baseman Brandon Inge said. "He's done great all year. No one gives him the respect that he deserves. He's had a lot of RBIs. I'm glad he was the guy that came through for us tonight" Backup catcher and serial goofball Vance Wilson hugged Ordonez and shouted, "Magglio's the best teammate ever!" A year ago, in a fractured clubhouse, nobody would have said that about anybody. But this is a different Tigers team. Monroe, who is mastering Spanish that so he can communicate more with his Latino teammates, hugged Ordonez and called him "el caballo "the horse," as in the one who carries a team. "Today he was the caballo" Monroe said. "He made a tremendous swing." Two. Contact MICHAEL ROSENBERG at 313-22-6052 or t V

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