Monday, October 23, 2006

A crusty old manager, indeed.

Tigers skipper Jim Leyland often gets portrayed as a chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, old-school manager. This would be quite an accurate picture of the man, actually... but he has another side which peeks through now and again. I'll let Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci explain:

That the Tigers were, in every sense, Leyland's team was never more obvious than on the eve of the ALCS. He closed the door to the visiting clubhouse of Oakland's McAfee Coliseum and gathered his team for a meeting. "I want to read you something," he began. Back in spring training, when nobody — not Leyland, not his coaches, not his players — considered the possibility of Detroit's playing in the World Series, Leyland showed his coaches an essay that his then 14-year-old son, Patrick, had written about what defines a winner. The proud father showed the essay (for which Patrick had earned an A-plus) to his staff, then put it away for the next six months.

On Oct. 9, fresh off three straight ALDS wins over the Yankees, Leyland broke out the essay and read it aloud to his team. By the end of it, Leyland's voice was cracking and his eyes were welling with tears. Five days later, on the morning of Game 4 against the A's, Leyland turned emotional again just thinking about it. "Not just because I'm a proud father, and I am," he said, "but because [Patrick] captured in his own words the kind of things we're trying to accomplish here. And what really got me was, after I was done reading it, a bunch of guys came up to me and said, "Skip, can you make a copy of that? I want a copy for myself."

Can you see the $200-million Yankees asking for a copy of their manager's son's junior-high essay?

I can't.

Go fuckin' get 'em, Tigers.

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