Cabrera quietly watches his team celebrate

To get an idea what this division title means for Miguel Cabrera, it’s best to think back to two years ago.

When the Tigers lost the tiebreaker that year, Cabrera sat in the clubhouse, his back hunched over, and cried openly. He felt like he had cost the team the division, a feeling more rooted in emotion than in fact. It took a bevy of teammates to console him.

As the Tigers celebrated Friday night, spraying champagne around the plastic-wrapped front half of the visiting clubhouse at Oakland Coliseum, Cabrera sat away from the crowd on the opposite side, watching it all as he puffed on a cigar and drank from a bottle of water. He had a look of pure contentment. He didn’t partake in the champagne, obviously, but he wasn’t partying regardless. He was soaking it all in.

“I have four years right now in Detroit,” he said. “Finally, we win the division. We’re here for this, man, to win. You have to give a lot of thanks to our owner, to our general manager. They put a lot of great guys here together. We finally made it, man.”

Just hours earlier, manager Jim Leyland said Cabrera was playing these days with more energy than he’s had all year. Cabrera didn’t argue. It’s the chance at the playoffs, he said, that brought it out of him. He hadn’t been to the postseason since he was a 20-year-old rookie with the 2003 Marlins. He badly wanted to get back, and he played like it.

When Cabrera caught Brandon Inge’s throw across the infield to retire Jose Willingham for the game’s final out Friday night, everyone was waiting to see how Jose Valverde would celebrate a title. Cabrera quietly made a sign and pointed to the sky to thank god.

“I feel great, man. I feel great. I’m happy,” Cabrera said. “We’re here for the fans, for the owner, for the general manager, for our manager. It feels awesome. It feels awesome we come through for our owner. We have a long way to go right now. We have to just keep playing hard. We have to keep winning and try to be ready for the playoffs.”

He was one of several already thinking to the playoffs. Justin Verlander was another. But he was one of many whose sustained intensity in September helped the Tigers get to this piont, clinching so soon.

Still, once they got here, he let everyone else act crazy. He just sat back and watched.

“We have a long way to go,” he said. “We know we have a good team. We battled all year. We know we can win the division, and we did it. We always play hard. It feels awesome, man.”

16 Comments

It was near the end of the telecast when Miggy was interviewed and he appeared overjoyed, talking with the press and seemed entirely at ease. Someone else mentioned his English was better and I’ve also noted that. Not perfect, but he’s improved alot over the last year. Of course the questions were fed to him but I do recall him saying something to the effect, Yes, of course we can do it, now we just to go out there and do it.
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Congratulations 2011 American League Central Division Champions!!!!!! Keep going!

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Kinda forgot how the party atmosphere might affect him.

CY Young: Justin Verlander
MVP: Justin Verlander
Manager of the year: JL
Now, wait for TB chasing down Bosox.

A little effort and Cabrera could be the batting champion

As I watched the celebration my thoughts were mostly on Miguel. I was trying to find him in the crowd and wondering how he was celebrating. Then mlb cut the telecast. I am very, very happy to hear that Miguel stayed away from that part of it. Really really happy. There is so much more joy to soak in after an accomplishment like this than a few bottles of champagne. Sounds like he is on the right path and desiring to play at the even higher level required to go all the way. Way to go Miguel, proud of you man.

First off, let’s give a nod to Jason who obviously had to do a lot of writing last night and is probably sleeping right now.
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The interview with JL was indeed touching, as I knew it would be. The man cares deeply about all this and it contributes to the often complicated relationship he has with the fans. I have attacked him, defended him, hated him, and liked him, sometimes all in the same day. And this will probably continue as we go forward.
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Dombrowski, on the other hand, is a totally different situation, as I’ve always thought he’s done a good job as CEO, President, and GM and at no point did I ever call for him to be fired. Some trades have backfired and were appropriately condemned by most of us, while others have been tremendous successes. I judge DD by looking back at the entire organization ten years ago; losing records, ballplayers who were absolute jerks, flight attendants being abused, etc. Compare that to what you see in TigerLand now. If I’m Mr. Ilitch, that’s what I’m looking at and Dave gets an A+ for his work here.
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I like what I’m hearing right now about continuing to seek after goals for the remainder of the season. Not only does it keep everyone sharp, but there are true rewards within reach. We have the second best record in the AL and are 3 games behind NY for best. May as well shoot for it all and grab all the postseason home games we can get.
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Regarding the postseason starting rotation, that’s not as simple as it sounds. There are a lot of variables yet to be decided, and even beyond that one can’t plan for every contingency. If, for example, Verlander pitched and won game 5 of the ALDS, he won’t be able to start in the ALCS until game 3. Right now, and with no real research into it, I’m leaning towards the way it’s set up right now; Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, and Porcello. That way Fister could start game 1 of the ALCS if it came to that, and that ain’t all bad.

You are right as soon as they have field advantage: JV, MS, DF, RP. but If not it must be JV, DF, MS, RP. Scherzer pitch like Verlander at Copa but like Penny on the road. JV on games 1 and 4 would be old school but a must if the face elimination

Almost forgot. First of all you had to be watching when they showed Darth Vader trying his best to throw the first pitch to home plate. The “force” just wasn’t with him on that toss. My reference to Hans and Franz, in describing it as a “girly-boy” throw should have been “girly-man”. Sorry about that. Ya know you try to be PC but it just doesn’t always work out.

Okay, I had a catcher once who actually performed the Hans and Franz act with a co-worker, and they were really good at it. I convinced him to badger opposing hitters in that voice, saying things like “you swing like a girlie-man, we should get your mother to put the baby powder on your butt.” It was so funny that no one ever got mad.

Marty, the extended TV coverage did carry Miguel’s interview, and one could immediately see that he was sitting high and dry. All in all, it was a good party, one to be proud of. ;-)

Hey Rich. I just checked the Tigers site, because I know I was tired last night but I didn’t think I was that tired. I didn’t get to see any of those interviews. My MLB telecast just stopped. While I was somewhat disappointed, I didn’t expect to get any coverage after the game and was greatful for what I did get to see. I have a wireless feed from my computer to my TV. I thought about going back to my computer and checking the Tiger’s site to see if they were carrying anything in real time, but just went to bed as I had to get up early this morning anyway.
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That’s hilarious you guys did the Hans and Franz routine. We need to get Alex on board.

What an amazing night. I taped the final 30 minutes and go to see Miggy’s interview. I too was wondering where he was, I knew it would be a media frenzy if he was in the background with a few bottles in his hand but you wished he could have been dancing around with those guys, but he did seem entirely content as was pointed out – so happy to be there and it appeared all those guys could not get enough of it, celebrating however they felt best.

I was moved to tears with Leyland, he comes across so gruff and then he lets it all out – he was fighting back tears on the field, I figured he’d have a breakdown when he hugged Inge. good for every single one of those guys – I like that Papa Grande is ready to hit 50 saves this season – there is still things to play for – let’s get Miguel a batting title and JV the Cy Young. Gosh I am downright bubbly still the next day.

I’ve just sat back, read the blogs, reacted to a few comments, but mostly just watched the evolution of a team over the course of the season. Everyone is a contributor, even Dan’s favorite whipping boy, my man Inge. With all of the constant criticism of Leyland(he’s been immune over the last three weeks), I find it truly refreshing that he reveals just what he’s really made of. It’s so easy for the Blogs to crucify him, but by George, it appears to me that his players genuinely love the guy.
My heart is truly bleeding Tiger Pride today.
Greg

It was several years ago that I met Leyland in Seattle. That was the time I referred to him as a ‘Lovable Ol’ Coot”. I genuinely admired his demeanor and authority on the field.
With the passage of time (actually a relatively short time) he became my Stubborn Ol’ Coot.
Recently the SOC became an SSOC. The second S representing “Stinking” with arespect to the declaration of 2 week old underwear.
In truth, he is a LOC.
His emotions are real and his intent is pure. His methods and habits are a bit frustrating to me. The stubborn part is still a concern for me but he did get this team to click and to play with heart and soul. He deserves a whole lot of credit for making this happen.
Now, if we can only get him to realize that Penny’s season is over and to have the squad practice bunting and fielding bunts (pitchers included) I’ll be much happier.
Another thing that was a very good sign was the way the club has won their games in these last few weeks. And the number of different guys and role players who came big to make this all happen.

Inge included.

People who have been brainwashed by the AA (a cult) treated Cabby like a monster with a huge problem, the past few years. Even tho nobody outside of Cabby’s life/Tigers organization really knew the situation. I’m glad he handled it without excessive alcohol – but also sad he missed out on what the majority was doing. Such is life Cabby! On a side note, with carlos being back there too…..it kinda seemed like the old vets (besides maggs) were behind closed downs instead of splashing beers/champagne in the face of John Keating/Ryan Field.

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