It’s turned into a special season
The last time, we touched on keeping things loose, especially down the stretch. Obviously this stretch we’re right in the thick of it, if not on the back end of it, and I think there’s a little less tension for the Tiger fans as far as thinking about October baseball because obviously today with a win for us we can put ourselves in a lock getting there.
The focus isn’t necessarily just on that. Obviously you want to get to the playoffs, but still, in this clubhouse there’s a division to win. Especially for the core group of guys that was here over the last several years and never had the chance to taste any of that, to come from where we were in 2003 to having a chance to win a division title three years later, it’s certainly can to some seem unbelievable. But that’s why baseball’s such a wonderful game. I don’t think there’s any other sport out there where you can turn the corner so quickly. Over the last couple years we’ve known we’ve been close. We’ve known we’ve been capable of turning the corner, but it was just like there’s been something missing. And I think that everything, whether it’s big or small, what’s been missing now we feel is coming together and it’s turned into a special season. Regardless of how it finishes, it’s been a special season.
I think that’s where the focus needs to be. Guys have worked really, really hard and they’ve stayed focused all season long. Even when the pressure’s been right on us, especially here in the last six weeks, guys have responded very, very well. They’ve just been mature big-leaguers, for lack of a better term. A lot of guys have shown they’ve graduated to being guys that are everyday, legitimate big-league players responding to everyday big-league situations. That’s been one of the funnest things to see. You bring guys in, you assemble a team and you don’t know exactly what you’ve got just yet, and people see something in you. And not everybody sees it in you, but now that you’re here in this stretch they’re like, "Oh well, that’s why we’ve got him here." That’s what’s kind of fun to watch this season, to see how it unfolds.
When a guy matures, typically it’s mentally. His ability’s there. His ability’s what got him there, and everybody in the big leagues has ability. But where you mature is mentally. It’s how you respond to adversity. It’s how you respond to success. It’s how you compose yourself both ways. That’s where guys have really stepped up. It’s not where you go out and win two games in a row and acting like it’s something to celebrate over. It’s not getting too high when you do what you’re supposed to do on a winning team. But it’s also not getting too low when you have a little funk. You’re going to have those funks throughout a major league season like we have. And we’ve responded both ways. I think for a while, living high on the hog like we were, it was like, "Man, how are we going to respond if this thing slows down?" Skip even predicted that was going to happen. It’s just baseball. And we’ve been a team of resolve. We’ve really grinded out when things have gotten a little hairy. And it’s good
to have that test. People might look at it as, "Man, we just wanted this 10-game lead going all the way through." But you know what? A team needs to be tested to see how they respond. That’s when you find out what kind of team that you have is when they’re tested in situations like we’ve been tested in, when teams have been putting the pressure on us. And we need to know what that feels like, because when we go to the playoffs now, we need to have that ability to respond to adversity. We don’t need something to take our legs out from under us and then be like, "Uh-oh, what do we do now?" Now we know what it’s like to go into a little bit of a funk, and we know what it’s like as a good team to go into a funk. That’s more important.
But the fan support has been outstanding, even here to the end. Somebody made a comment to me the other day. My comment was, "We’re going to find out what kind of team we are here in the last couple weeks." And his response was, "We already know what kind of team you are. You guys are already a special team, so it doesn’t really matter how you finish." That’s pretty nice to hear. As a matter of fact, it was at a fundraiser, and it was George Blaha, the Pistons and Michigan State broadcaster, who said that, because I had to get up and make a couple comments. People in all sports and all arenas are keeping up and following along and recognizing what this team has done. And, yeah, we’ve done something pretty special to turn things around like we did. It doesn’t happen very often. It doesn’t happen where a team that was in our situation coming off our ’05 season comes in and flips 22 wins already and still has a chance to go and add to that, going from fourth to first. Regardless if we hold onto it or not, it’s been really good.
Other than that, I think guys are starting to feel around here in the clubhouse a little bit of pride, not in the kind of pride that’s dangerous pride, but a pride that, "Hey, you know what, things are starting to pay off a little bit for everything we put into this. And that’s something to be proud of." And that’s fun, because coming to this clubhouse every day as opposed to the last three years in September, you just can’t even imagine the difference in guys’ personalities and their mentalities. It’s completely different, and it’s a joy to be here. It’s like you wake up in the morning and the first thing you think is like, "Man, when do I go to the clubhouse? When do I get out of here?"
With all that aside, I’ve mentioned this t-shirt that’s supposed to be coming out. It should be happening here shortly. It’s a matter of getting some things together, but it’ll be out of Fanatic U. I know there’s a couple people on the blog who have expressed some interest in getting it. It’ll be there. It’s not there yet. It’ll be there for the playoffs. That’s the plan. God forbid a collapse, we will be in the playoffs and hopefully we’ll have those t-shirts for people to have.
Not many rallies for Gum Time lately. We’ve talked about it before, that we’d rather not rally, but we’ve had our share of being behind in games lately. We did have a heck of a turnaround there at home against Baltimore, when Sean Casey hit the two-run home run and they ended up bringing in Ray, but we ended up losing the game. We did have the gum in. We did rally, we just didn’t finish it off. It’s going to be competitive baseball here throughout the rest of the way and there’s going to be some times when we need that rally, so people need to keep the chew going, keep it rolling, make sure they stock up for the playoffs.
Until next time. Hopefully our next entry, we’ll be division winners and certainly have a playoff spot cinched up and making a run.
Thanks to my friends at MLB.com for getting this posted at the start of today’s game. More later…
Nate and the rest of the Tigers:
Tears of joy are flowing down my face as I watched highlights of the clinching of a playoff spot!
You guys are the team to beat. We never lost faith. Make us proud and sweep through the Playoffs and into the World Series!
BTW—it’s a crime of YOU do not get one fo the four starting spots….
Thank you for this season, Nate. It’s been an amazing ride. Good luck in the playoffs!
Nate and the other Tigers —
Congratulations, you guys did it! Words can’t even express how much I love you boys and all the hard work you’ve done to make this season one to remember. Have fun tonight, you guys deserve it.
Nate and everyone–
Tears welled up as I watched Brandon’s HR sail out of KC’s park today. I knew you guys were in the playoffs! I’ve been watching the Tigers since ’71; I was a teen back then. I can’t find the words to express exactly what I feel. I’m so excited for you guys that you get to experience the post-season! No matter what happens now, It’s been a wonderful season full of great memories.
Congrats on clinching. I’m proud of you guys. My mom and I watched you all win the game and the champagne celebration afterwards in the clubhouse. My mom is proud too.
I am sooo happy to see this team playing so well!!!
I pray that you can keep it going, and that everyone stays healthy through the playoffs. I am looking forward to the World Series.
Talk to you soon!
P.S. Sheila and the kids say Congratulations also!!!!!
Can’t wait to see the new t-shirt!
The only thing comparable to the Tigers going to the World Series would be if Mags agreed to cut his hair for Locks of Love!
Congrats, We finally made it. I watched the team every day in 2003, when we lost every game, and I always had faith that we would turn it around. It’s time for me to get out the old “Bless You Boys” T-shirt, and get ready for playoff baseball!
I am from MI, but am in KY for school. That has made it harder to follow you guys, being a poor college student I can’t pay for MLB tv online. But I watch when you are on ESPN, and keep up with the gameday stuff. I am so proud of you guys. I have started to get my friends here in KY loving you guys too. They have started joining my Gum Time. They are always asking how you are doing, and if everyone is healthy. You guys are inspiring, and I have always, and will always be a die hard Tiger fan. Keep up the good work, Richmond KY will be rooting for you.
As of today the Tigers have the best record in the MLB! Words cannot express the gratitude we fans feel right now. I took my 6 year old son to see the Tigers in Lakeland this spring and we had no idea at the time that we were witnessing one of the best teams in the country. And it is not only the wins and losses that are impressive but also the sportsmanship and hard work. Regardless of what happens from here on out I will never forget this season.
God Bless the TiGeRs!!!
This season has been amazing. my mood has followed your wins/losses, so thanks for the great season!
I’d wish you luck for the post–but you don’t need it because you guys have talent.
wendy (central michigan university)
—-hooray for placido getting back in the action!!—-
Yey! Go Tigers! Finish up the regular season like you played in Kansas City!
I am a former Detroiter transplanted to Omaha, NE and went to KC Game on 9/23. NATE signed my Big League Chew with a little chuckle despite fans hounding him while trying to visit with his family.
Other players blew off fans like me. THANKS, Nate, for all your hard work, and for still being cool to the fans! Rock ’em in the Post-Season!!
Way to go! There will be gum in October! You have an ERA in the top 10 in the AL! The team’s ERA is the only one under 4.00. Tear up the town man, you all have earned it!
You and the Tigers are the best. I’ve been bleeding orange and blue since I was nine years old. Today’s my birthday and seeing the Tigers in the playoffs this year is a great *mumble*th birthday present. Thanks for the great ride so far this year.
I’ve watched a lot of clubhouse celebrations living in the Bay Area most of my life, but NOTHING could compare to watching all you guys on Sunday. I am so proud of all of you, and it was so special. I thought I was going to make it without crying, but then Jonesy was crying and I couldn’t help myself. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Hopefully we’ll get to say that about four more times! 🙂
GOOD LUCK in the playoffs!!!!
–Colt (University of Michigan)
Hey big Nate, your my Tiger! Keep up the hard work and keep chewin. You and the whole team deserve this great season. Loved watching the smiles in the clubhouse the other night.
Congrats and keep it up. Tell the guys they need to step up for you – it drives my dad crazy. He just turned 80 and it’s a little too much stress. Best of luck in the play-offs!
Wellll…disappointing, but you’re still in! Best of luck!! You guys can totally beat the Yankees; you’ve done it before! 😉
It’s October and you guys are still playing ball !!!! It’s like a whole new season… go for it with all you’ve got… remember Tiger fans everywhere are behind you… We’ll be glued to the TV, missing Rod & Mario though:(. Like you said in an interview… it’s one pitch at a time, (and likewise one out at a time and for our batters: 1 hit at a time, 1 base and 1 run at a time ). Tell all the guys to enjoy it, you’ve earned it… Let’s play some baseball!
Your a fantastic young pitcher who would look good in pinstripes, so after the Yanks score like crazy on you in Game 1 and sweep the series, you can get ready for free agency and sign with the Yanks! Be a winner, sign with the Yanks!
I want to thank you and the whole team for bringing so much joy to all your fans this year. No matter what happens from here on out, you have made us laugh, cry, cheer and most of all feel this overwhelming sense of pride to be a Tiger. I have been a Tiger fan my entire life. I, like so many other loyal fans, have been there through it all! I remember watching the Tigers with my dad when I was just a little baby. They won one for me that year (1968) and as I see replays of that magical World Series I can almost remember it even though I was only 6 months old. My parents divorced when I was only 2, but our love for baseball and the Tigers kept my Dad and I close. I remember hearing stories of how my Dad actually had a tryout for the Tigers in his younger years. Then came Kirk Gibson. I had his Sports Illustrated cover on my locker from about 7th grade all the way through high school and even wore a pin of him on my jacket with his tiger jersey unbuttoned showing all kinds of chest hair :+). And the 1984 Tigers…. well I was in heaven. I even used to audio tape the radio broadcasts so I could listen to Ernie & Paul in the winter when I was really needin’ a Tiger fix. Baseball has been such a part of my life that I really got into softball and ended up with a Full scholarship to college as a pitcher. It seems like no matter what has happen in my life the Tigers have been there for me. I even watched them through the birth of 2 of my 3 children. Unfortunately, both were extra inning loses but I was thankful for the extra innings to get me through the labor pains. This year has been amazing. This season has been special for my 2 1/2 year old son Carson and I. He’s my Tiger buddy and watches most of the games with Mommy and he always wants me to pitch to him. Who knows maybe he’ll literally be “My Tiger” someday. We are all in our Tiger gear today for the big game and I’m drinking out of my lucky Tiger mug. I teach High School Math, and I even offered extra credit if students wore their Tiger “stuff” today.
They couldn’t have picked a better starter for game 1. You are definitely the Brunk’s Tiger (along with Curtis Granderson and Ingy). My only regret is that my Dad now has Alzheimers and doesn’t really comprehend what’s going on. He still gets the Detroit Free Press everyday and we talk to him about you guys, but he never responds. Maybe a big win against the Yankees would change all that. Anyway, thanks so much for a truly amazing season, I hope you all know how much you have brought to our lives. Go get ’em tonight! And just in case you need it, I’ll be ready with “Gum Time”. I’m hoping that won’t be necessary and I’ll save the whole unopened package as a momento of the 2006 World Champion Detroit Tiger!
NATE! GOOD LUCK TONIGHT! I know you’ll do an amazing job!!!!!!!!! I’ll be wearing my Gum Shirt!!!!!
THANKS FOR THIS SEASON! My dad is totally happy about your team and that is awesome! So from my family to yours, thanks for this season and let’s make this post-season run a long one!
Hope your wearing your depends because this lineup will scare the **** out of you!! Go Yankees!!!!!!
It seems that there are some people who should not be given keyboards(cough *John* cough)… You can handle any line up, just go out there and give it your all.. BTW you look great in Tiger stripes
My family lives in Valley Center just down the street from your family. I work at Valley Center High School and know your brother Matt. I viewed your blog and think the Gum Time is great. Just wanted to let you know we’ve enjoyed following your career. You’re having a great year.
Good luck in the playoffs!
Nate Congrats on the season. I have been keeping up with you throughout your career.Good luck this postseason. Send me a line sometime. Your old Creighton opponent and Broncos World Series Champs teammate. Ovid