Reactions to Tigers’ fourth straight division title
Down the hallway from the celebration in the Tigers clubhouse, Alex Avila was talking with a scrum of reporters about the Tigers’ journey to their latest AL Central crown when Ian Kinsler crashed the interview with a bottle of champagne, telling Avila to open his eyes as he poured it over his head.
“Feel the burn,” Kinsler said.
The Tigers have celebrated a lot over the past few years, but they haven’t celebrated much at home. They hadn’t celebrated a division title at home since 1987. They made up for it with a playoff series clincher two years ago, and in 2006, but it’s been a while.
So as the Tigers celebrated, they were making up for lost time. They were also recognizing the struggle to make sure this wasn’t a lost season. It wasn’t a crazy celebration, but it was still a notable one.
“There’s not too many storybook seasons in this game,” Ian Kinsler said. “Baseball’s a game of adversity, and we faced a ton of it this year. There were lots of ups and downs. I remember early in May, our bullpen was shot. I mean, Brad didn’t really have a guy to go to. We were running guys in and out from Triple-A, just trying to fight through that long stretch that we had at the beginning of the season. You just remember a bunch of little things that happened that you try to overcome. It always tastes better when it’s hard-fought, for sure.”
Said Victor Martinez: “These four years, it’s been incredible to win. I understand that the fans were frustrated, but there was nobody more frustrated than ourselves, because we don’t want to go out there and strike out with a man on base. The pitcher doesn’t want to give up a run. We know what kind of talent we have here. We really were frustrated, and you know what, I’m really proud of this group today. We stayed together and here we are.”
More reactions …
Alex Avila: “I think everybody expects us every year to just run the table. We expect a lot out of ourselves as well. We had to make up for some bad play early on. We played really well for a long stretch, and then we played pretty poorly for a long stretch. You’re not going to make that up in a week. A lot of times in this game, patience is a virtue.”
Torii Hunter: “Look at Kansas City this year. Everybody said they were going to win the division, and they actually lived up to that. They played well, one game away from winning the division. This division is getting better every year. To win four in a row is tough.”
Dave Dombrowski: “There’s been some struggles at times, but people forget that other years have had struggles too. I was telling guys, ‘Don’t forget, in 2006, we thought we were going to win the division.’ Now, the wild card was different then, but we lost and ended up with the wild card. In 2009, when we went to Game 163, we were in a position where if we would’ve a couple more games won at the end, we would’ve been in. There are three clubs in the American League that won 90 games this year, and yesterday there were six scenarios where somebody could clinch something, and five of them lost. It’s hard. I don’t think people realize how hard it is. There’s a lot of good clubs out there.”
Brad Ausmus: “We were kind of envisioning this type of celebration for a few days now. Kansas City has played extremely well this last week, and really pushed us to the limit. We’re at the last game of the season. I think ultimately, the guys we have — they’ve been through this — didn’t panic, weren’t stressing. If you were in here earlier, there was music playing. Happy-go-lucky, but really with an underlying confidence, because of the experience that’s here, in terms of personnel.”