Jim Leyland: Interleague play “totally unfair”

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland (R) and coach Gene Lamont watch batting practice before their spring training game against the Washington Nationals in Viera, Florida March 9, 2010. REUTERS/Phelan M. Ebenhack (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Tigers’ skipper Jim Leyland recently cried to the Detroit Free Press that interleague play is “totally unfair” and that Major League Baseball “out to look into” the gigantic inconvenience.

“I’ll probably get chewed out for (saying) it,” he said, “but I think a lot of people feel the same way.”

What prompted Leyland to rail against interleague play before it begins this season isn’t the three-game series the Tigers will play in Pittsburgh this coming weekend. That’s harmless enough.

“For three games, that’s OK,” he said.

But he takes issue with the back-to-back road series the Tigers will play in Colorado, then against the Los Angeles Dodgers next month.

Leyland said it’s “ridiculous” and “totally unfair” for an American League club to have to play consecutive series in National League ballparks.

“And that you can quote me on,” he said. “They ought to look into it.”

The bigger picture is that he thinks it’s unfair for A.L. clubs to have to change their style of play for that long — meaning no designated hitter.

It means teams with productive DHs, such as the Tigers with Victor Martinez, have to scramble their lineups for six games.

Oh, the poor Tigers. They have to scramble for six games…out of 162. How could Major League Baseball do this to its teams? What horror. What cruelty. What injustice.

Come on. I’ve always liked Leyland and I love when he speaks his mind. But we’re talking about six measly games out of a 162-game season here. Interleague is fun for some fans and if it means that a team like the Tigers has to cope without a DH for six games then so be it. It’s not like the league is asking AL teams to play in their underwear and with one arm tied behind their backs.

I know some playoff races come down to one or two games in the standings, but using the term “totally unfair” seems a tad extreme here. (Especially for a team like the Tigers who have played the freaking Pirates for three straight years.)

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Mikey’s MLB power rankings

The all-star game is behind us now, which means pennant races are about to heat up for real. And there are so many teams in contention this season, it really promises to be a wild rest of the summer. Here is a look at our post-all-star-game power rankings…..

1. New York Yankees (57-32)—Playing with heavy hearts this week after the passing of George Steinbrenner, but nothing else has changed. They just keep winning, and for the Yankees, that’s just what they do.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (54-35)—David Price is the real deal, and one of many reasons this young Rays team is battling the Yankees for AL East supremacy. They’re one of a handful of teams that can compete with the boys from Gotham, but they’d better not get swept this weekend.

3. Atlanta Braves (53-37)—They suddenly have a 5-game lead over the slumping Mets (and 5.5 over the Phils), and have the look of a team that wants to send Bobby Cox out on top.

4. Texas Rangers (52-38)—Cliff Lee and that lineup? The Rangers can start printing playoff tickets now.

5. San Diego Padres (52-37)—At this point, you can’t call it smoke and mirrors. Just like the Rays, this young team plays hard, manufactures runs and keeps games close with solid pitching.

6. Boston Red Sox (51-39)—Someone has awoken the beast that is David Ortiz. Home run derby was just a tease of what’s to come at Fenway this summer.

7. Chicago White Sox (50-39)—A 9-game winning streak was snapped yesterday, but the south side of Chicago is beaming. Too bad Jake Peavy is out for the year, but that doesn’t seem to matter much right now.

8. Cincinnati Reds (50-41)—See Padres, San Diego. Dusty Baker is one heck of a manager, and that is showing again now. Of course, when you have Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen in the middle of your lineup, all is right with the world.

9. Colorado Rockies (49-40)—This year, the Rockies won’t wait to make their move until September. They have already started making it, and the Padres had better watch their collective back

10. Detroit Tigers (48-39)—They have quietly kept right up with the White Sox, just one game back and now 2.5 ahead of the Twins. And Jim Leyland is still one of the best managers in the game.

Tigers demote youngsters Scherzer, Sizemore

One day very soon, the Tigers hope starter Max Scherzer and infielder Scott Sizemore will be a part of their future core. But as of right now, the club feels as though they need more work before they can contribute on the big league level.

Both players were sent to Triple-A Toledo over the weekend in hopes that they’ll straighten out their weaknesses. Scherzer, who was acquired as part of a three-team trade that sent Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks in early December of last year, is a hard-throwing right-hander that needs to develop a second pitch. He’s lived and died by his fastball thus far in his career and it doesn’t take major league hitters long to abuse pitchers that don’t have a second pitch that they trust in.

As for Sizemore, manager Jim Leyland seems to think that the young second baseman was starting to look lost at the plate.

“It was almost like he was starting to get a little lost,” Leyland said. “He was fighting himself. You could kind of see it.

“But I think Sizemore’s gonna be fine. We still really like him.”

Baseball can be an extremely humbling game. When players are slumping, they feel as though they’ll never get another hit or have another good outing again. They start pressing, and once that happens their confidence crumbles and things start to unravel.

Hopefully both of these players gain perspective in the minors and can come back up and help the Tigers soon. Talent certainly isn’t an issue – they just need time to get their heads back on straight.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

New law dampers Leyland’s smoking habit

Due to new Michigan legislation that bans smoking in public, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland will need to refrain from smoking in the dugout at Comerica Park.

From ESPN.com:

The law took effect at 6 a.m. ET and applies to nearly all public workplaces in the state.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen, so it’s just the way it is,” Leyland said Friday, according to The Grand Rapids Press. “We’re not supposed to smoke here, and I won’t do it. I’ll try to find someplace outside somewhere, I guess, but I think you’re not supposed to smoke at all in the park.”

Camacho Cigar Bar inside the stadium’s Tiger Club will be among cigar bars and tobacco specialty shops that are exempt.

I wonder if Leyland’s complacency has to do with his team sitting only a game and a half back from the lead in the AL Central. The Tigers are off to an unexpectedly solid start, with Austin Jackson, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera all swinging the bat with confidence. Hopefully the lack of release provided by Leyland’s smoking habit won’t affect his managerial decisions. Remember, stranger things have caused slumps in the sport.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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