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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to defend their back-to-back American League Central titles.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Not everyone wants Leyland fired

There's definitively a vocal minority of Tigers fans who want the team's current manager, Jim Leyland, fired — willfully ignoring the fact that his contract is up at the end of the season, anyway, meaning that either party could simply walk away — based on the struggles of the team to live up to its woefully lofty expectations.

While it just SEEMS like that loud group represents everyone ... it doesn't.

And it doesn't represent the players on the team, who those vocal wags insist MUST be tired of Leyland's constant lineup machinations.

Here are a few quotes from a radio interview Alex Avila gave on MLBNetworkRadio's "Inside Pitch" last week that back that up:

"I mean, he’s tremendous. He’s been my only manager so far in my career, so I really don’t have anybody to compare him to. But it would be pretty hard to top Leyland there. He just knows the game, he has the experience," Avila said, when asked about Leyland's ability to form relationships with the players.

"The thing that’s a strength for him — whenever everybody thinks of Leyland, they think of old-school, really crusty, smokin’ Marlboro Reds, all that kind of stuff — but he’s a genuine character. You’re not going to ... he’s not going to beat around the bush. He’s going to tell you how it is, and that’s the way it is. There’s nothing more to it. I think that ‘matter of fact’ kind of style, players can appreciate that, because they’re not left wondering. I know that’s something that all of us, on our team, appreciate very much.

"He’s also a great motivator. He understands you’re not going to be in a groove all the team, people go through slumps, and just have to continue to be able to grind it out. And it’s nice to have a manager that understands that."

Mentioning how often their show gets calls from both disaffected Tigers fans, as well as P.O.ed Rays fans, host Casey Stern asked Avila if the players can feel the difference that at the end of the season, thanks to the manager making every effort to rest players by switching the lineup around.

"Players, you can definitely feel the difference. Another reason you might see different lineups, not only with our club, but like the Rays — like you said, people call about the Rays all the time. There’s been some some inconsistencies, and you’ve gotta be able to mix and match, and see who’s going to give you the best chance to win that day, according to who’s pitching and who’s hitting, and the matchups, and different things like that," Avila answered.

"Especially in this month, September, I know Skip likes to utilize his whole bench, not only to keep guys fresh, but it’s important ... to make sure that everybody is feeling part of the team, and has a chance to contribute. Because Miguel and Prince are not going to be able to do it all. We have to have a different hero every night. That’s the only way you can win consistently, and be able to get to the postseason."

He's not the only prominent player willing to visibly support the manager, either.

There's this YouTube video that made the rounds Friday, featuring a Tigers fan who brought a "Fire Leyland" sign to U.S. Cellular Field this week, and had Miguel Cabrera momentarily swipe it, while signing autographs. The fan, who shoots video while continuing to harangue Cabrera about his manager, finally gets Miggy to laugh when he calls him "a guy who steals signs." Cabrera, for his part, gives the sign to a security guard, then instructs the guard to return the sign to the fan at the end of the video.

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