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DID YOU KNOW (first posted  OCTOBER 2013)
Posted on: 10-29-2013

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OF THE 1972 ALCS<<

    It's Halloween week and,
just like you and me, the Tigers
are watching the World Series
on television.
    The first time the Tigers
ever played in a World Series
semi-final American League
Championship Series was 1972.
That ALCS is best remembered
for the hit batsman/bat-throwing
incident which resulted in the
ejections/suspensions of Oakland
SStop Bert "Campy" Campaneris and
Tiger reliever Lerrin LaGrow.
    The 1972 ALCS, then a best-of-
five format, was the most exciting
post-season series the Tigers have ever competed in. There were
extra inning wins by both teams, shutout victories by both clubs
and a 2-1 deciding game where no runs were scored in the final
11 half-innings.  
    DID YOU KNOW there are haunting similarities between the 1972
ALCS loss by the Tigers and in Detroit's defeat of 2013 in their seventh
ALCS appearance?


    The 2013 Tigers had a 2.77 team ERA in the LCS, second only to
the NL Champion St.Louis Cardinals. Detroit's four starters in the
ALCS were Justin Verlander at 1.13, Doug Fister with 1.50, Anibal
Sanchez at 2.25 and Max Scherzer with 2.70.
    Detroit scored 18 runs in the six games with a .254 team batting
average, nearly 30 points below their MLB-leading .283-BA during the
regular season. Tiger fans may be surprised to learn that was easily
the best team average of the four LCS qualifiers with the other three
teams at .211, .211 and .202. However, key Tiger starters struggled
with slumps as Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter only came alive late.
Meantime, three starters failed to hit their weight including a .190-BA
by 2Bman Omar Infante, a .188 mark by CA Alex Avila and a .182 posting
by 1Bman Prince Fielder.

    The 1972 Tigers had an ALCS team ERA of 2.14, led by Joe Coleman
who pitched a game three shutout in his only appearance and a 1.42-ERA
by Mickey Lolich in his two outings, both of which went to extra innings.
    As a team the '72 Tigers hit just .198 and (in the last year before the DH)
it wasn't just because the pitchers combined to go 0-for-12 at the plate.
3Bman Aurelio Rodriguez went 0-for-16, LFielder Willie Horton 1-for-10
(his only safety a lead-off B-8th pinch-hit single in the game five finale) and
2Bman Tony Taylor 2-for-15 for a .133-BA.


    Scherzer led both the Tigers and the majors with a 21-3 record in 2013.
Super Max went 0-for-1 with 1-ND in the ALCS.

    Lolich topped the 1972 Tigers with a 22-14 record. Like Scherzer, Lolich
was 0-1 with a no-decision in the ALCS.


    Desperate for offense, the 2013 Tigers used career infielder Jhonny
Peralta a majority of the time in LField. Just off his MLB-imposed 50-game
suspension for the regular season's final three games, Peralta hit well in
post-season including a .286-BA in the ALCS with three of his six hits
doubles. However, Peralta's slow reaction to a Dustin Pedroia double off
the top of Fenway Park's 37-foot Green Monster wall let Shane Victorino
score all the way from 1Base in the B-6th to let Boston start its game two
comeback from a 5-0 deficit and get a 6-5 walkoff win to even the ALCS 1-1.

    Because of Horton's 1972 slump, MGR Billy Martin benched the unhappy
Tiger slugger and moved CA Duke Sims to LField for the last three games of
the ALCS at Tiger Stadium. Overall Sims hit just .214, although all three of his
hits were for extra bases (two doubles and a triple). However, Sims' slow
throw home allowed George Hendrick to score from 2Base in the T-4th for
the go-ahead/winning run in deciding game five.


    The 2013 Tigers had to deal with the lingering groin injury of star slugger
Miguel Cabrera, for which he had post-season surgery. Yes, Cabrera had
one of the two Tiger homers in the ALCS and led Detroit with 4-RBIs in the
six games, but his .273-BA was well below his standards and his 7-KOs led the
club as he was unable to swat at outside fastballs.

    The 1972 Tigers lost key SStop Eddie Brinkman to a back injury after
the first game of the the ALCS. Never an offensive threat, "Steady Eddie"
nevertheless was the glue of the Tiger infield and was voted "Tiger of the
Year" for his regular season defensive prowess.  


    The 2013 Red Sox ran at will against the Tigers, swiping five times in
six stolen base attempts.
    The Tigers will be remembered for two baserunning gaffes. Cabrera
ran through a too-late stop sign from Tiger 3Base coach Tom Brookens
and was easily gunned-down at the plate in the pivotal game five 4-3
Red Sox win. Scoring twice to go ahead 2-1 in the T-6th of what proved
to be the game six finale, the Tigers ran themselves out of a big inning
when Fielder was tagged out in an embarrassing belly-flop shy of 3Base
when caught in a rundown to complete a double play.  

    The 1972 A's  likewise sped their way past the turtle-like Tigers. Oakland
was 7-for-9 in stolen base attempts against Detroit, including a double steal
that produced the first run in the 2-1 A's victory in deciding game five.
Reggie Jackson came home from 3Base to tie the contest 1-1 in the T-2nd.
Mike Epstein was safe at 2Base on the double steal as Tiger SStop Dick
McAuliffe cut-off the throw from CA Bill Freehan and fired back to Freehan
at the plate. Jackson slid through Freehan's block of the plate and was safe,
but tore his left hamstring in the collision and would miss the World Series.
    Detroit was 0-for-2 in stolen base attempts during this series including
Jim Northrup getting caught in game two of a 3-hit & no walk 5-0 shutout by
Blue Moon Odom  when MGR Martin tried to manufacture a scoring chance.        
Instead, one of the few Tiger baserunners of that game was erased.


    In the decisive B-7th of Boston's 5-2 deciding game six 2013 win,
Detroit rookie SStop Jose Iglesias (obtained from Boston in a 3-team deal
at the trade deadline because of his defensive wizardry) bobbled a possible  
double play grounder behind 2Base. Batter Jacoby Ellsbury and the two
BoSox baserunners were all safe. Victorino followed with the game-winning
Grand Slam.

    In 1972 a rare miscue by 10 time Gold Glove OFielder Al Kaline allowed
the winning run to score in the B-11th of game one at Oakland. Pinch-hitter
Gonzalo Marquez 1-out singled to RField to score pinch-runner Mike Hegan
with the game-tying run. On that play, Kaline's throw across the diamond
skipped past 3Bman Rodriguez and Gene Tenace, running from first to third
on the single, scrambled home with the winning run on the error in a 3-2


    The 1972 ALCS was the first MLB baseball coverage assignment by this
humble reporter, then just 21 years old.

    Some 41 years separated the Tigers' first and seventh ALCS appearances,
both defeats when old ghosts spooked the current Tigers.



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