Time flies, even when you’re not having fun. It seems like only hours ago we were cramming Tiger Stadium for Opening Day. And tonight, with September winding down, the Tigers play their home finale.
The team never reached this city’s lofty expectations this season. But before we pull the curtain down, here are some ABC’s of the Tigers’ present and future . . .
A is for agency, as in free. This will be the story of the off-season. Who will be signed? Who will be let go? Who wants out? Who else is interested? Whoo, boy.
B is for back, the only weak link in Lance Parrish’s powerful body. Doctors admit his problem will never simply disappear. They are praying the rehab program will at least keep it in check. So is Lance.
C is for Coles, Darnell, one of the bright spots for the Tigers in ’86. Remember when the talk around here was about finding a third baseman?
D is for dough. Tom Monaghan better have as much in his pocket as he does in his pizzas or the Tigers are in trouble.
E is for Evans, Darrell, age 39, the toughest Tigers free agent to judge. He has always been a class individual, and he can still hit them out. But too many times this year, he didn’t deliver when the Tigers most needed it. If they must say no to one high-priced free agent, sadly, it should be him.
F is for five-year contracts, which is what free agents like Parrish and Jack Morris would like to sign. F is also for Forget It.
G is for Going to the Bullpen, something Sparky Anderson did too quickly too often this season.
H is for Hernandez, Willie, the man Sparky went to most. Hernandez can no longer be considered a reliable stopper. Reliable? He’s a time bomb.
I is for I don’t care who knows it, I thought Dave LaPoint was a good guy.
J is for Jack Morris, who likes to walk around with a bat these days whispering “National League, National League.” If any man has earned a fat free-agent contract it is Morris, hands down. 12-2 in the second half? Oh, my. Skip the road, Jack. Stay here.
K is for strikeout. Why is that?
L is for Lemon, as in Chet, who has taken more suggestive heat from his teammates than ever before. Several Tigers think Lemon doesn’t give 100 percent. With his long-term contract, the only way to make them shut up is to put up.
M is for Maywood, John Grubb’s middle name. Grubb, by the way, is the quietest surprise of the season, starting on the disabled list and finishing with a .337 average and a pocket full of game-winners. But . . . Maywood?
N is for Nelson Simmons, a bright prospect at season’s start, an ugly memory by season’s end.
O is for owners, the other 25, whose financial restraint will be tested with guys like Morris and Parrish out there for the signing.
P is for Petry, Dan, who quietly suffered through an injury-plagued worst season ever. No one will be happier to see a new spring than he.
Q is for quiet, the best thing you can say about Lou Whitaker’s personality.
R is for Raines, Tim, the free agent I would go after first if Monaghan drops his wallet in my lap.
S is for stolen bases, which the Tigers collected a lot more of this year than last. Dave Collins can’t go like he used to, but he, Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson, bum ankle and all, put a little juice into the base paths this year.
T is for Trammell, who deserves kudos for the way he came back in the second half of this season.
U is for urinalysis. We haven’t heard the last of it, either.
V is for . . . I don’t know what V is for.
W is for Walt, as in Terrell, who gave Tigers fans maybe their most memorable moment this season — an almost no-hitter against the California Angels in August. Terrell thinks he’ll be traded by next season. That would be a loss.
X is for X-rays, of Gibson’s ankle, Parrish’s back, Petry’s elbow, Lemon’s elbow, Mike Laga’s wrist. They tell a big part of the Tigers’ story this season. Betcha didn’t think I could get an X, did you?
Y is for You should have more faith.
Z is for . . . uh . . . fo . . . ze end. CUTLINE
Alan Trammell Jack Morris