March 28th, 2007

Leyland: I [messed] it up

It’ll be in a piece this weekend for the opening day package, but Jim Leyland put losing the AL Central last year on his shoulders when I asked about whether his team handles pressure better now. He wasn’t asked about finishing second in the division, but he went there himself.

"Basically, I [messed] it up at the end. We should’ve won the division. But they’ve been through a lot of stuff now. They’ve been to the World Series, been through blowing the division. When I say that, I say me. But we’ve been through a lot, so those things are all good. I mean, you learn from those things. Had a great start, looked like we should’ve walked away with the division. We didn’t even win it. But we also, at the same time, could’ve caved in, and we went and beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Played our [tails] off, got to the World Series."

When I asked why he places it on himself, he said:

"Well, I just think I probably didn’t get the focus back on the importance of finishing the deal, because I thought it was good to let them — they accomplished something. I mean, some of these guys got their [tails] beat to the tune of a hundred and some games."

Fan satisfaction rankings

In a surprising turnaround, the Tigers ranked second among Major League teams (behind the Angels) and 12th among all pro sports teams in a fan poll conducted by ESPN.com. The survey involved more categories than I care to explain, so I’ll just let you look at it for yourself. The Pistons are fifth, the Red Wings aren’t far back from the Tigers, and the Lions are dead last.

Interestingly, the Tigers placed in the top 10 for baseball teams in stadium experience with the same ballpark that used to draw low ratings. Winning makes any ballpark look good, and losing can make a lot of ballparks look bad.

Whatever happened to Urbina?

A prison sentence, and a long one at that. He was sentenced to 14 years for attempted murder, among other charges:

The 32-year-old free agent was accused of joining a group of men in attacking and injuring workers with machetes and pouring gasoline on them at his family’s ranch, located about 25 miles south of Caracas.

"The ruling was too severe," said Jose Antonio Baez, a former attorney who represented Urbina.

Urbina repeatedly has denied involvement with the violence, saying he was sleeping at the time of the attack.

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