The headlines late Wednesday night should have been about the Detroit Tigers' bats finally awakening in a commanding 8-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
They should have been about rookie pitcher Buck Farmer, who made his first big league start under emergency circumstances and pitched incredibly well, striking out four, looking unafraid and downright dominating at times.
Instead, even in victory, the usual silliness crept back in. Joe Nathan walked two batters to start the ninth inning, starting an avalanche of boos from the Comerica Park crowd. After Nathan finally finished off the game, he appeared to make what's commonly known as an obscene gesture to 41,000 people.
Additionally, slugger Victor Martinez, who helped drive the big win with his three RBI's, took time to speak out about the fans' frustration with the team afterwards, and issue his own frustration about some of the pressure that he feels has been created by the fans in Motown.
"It's not fair when people out there thinking we gotta win this division by 10, 15, 20 games," Martinez said to George Sipple of the Free Press. "Don't forget we're playing Major League Baseball…we're not playing Little League teams. We're trying. At some point, every team struggles."
It appears the only one who has the right mindset about the goings on is Ian Kinsler, who took time out to speak to the team personally and say things that needed to be said in a team meeting. It was a positive sign of leadership from the veteran, who preferred to keep the contents of the conversation internal.
Really, isn't that what the Tigers should be doing with everything now? Keeping things internal? Whether or not the booing is justified, Nathan's tit-for-tat with fans is a lose-lose situation for the closer, meaning he shouldn't be challenging the paying customers, no matter what they think of his performance or what he thinks of their catcalls.
Though Martinez might not like booing, or the frustration fans show in the wake of losing streaks that set the team back, he should be used to the pressures of playing in the major leagues on a contending team and not speak out about that which is beyond his control. That's life in the big city with a big payroll and even bigger expectations.
Knowing how frustrated many players seen to get over this small stuff, it's easy to see why these Tigers so often look like paper tigers. Many get too caught up with the noise, the distraction, the day to day frustration. As major league players, they're supposed to be conditioned by years of battle to ignore the highs and lows and avoid being as temperamental as the fans who watch.
Fan, of course, is short for fanatic, meaning someone who is "filled with excessive and single minded zeal." Often times, anger becomes part of that zeal.
Instead, the Tigers who get brought down by the madness are acting like the fans that frustrate them. By giving concern with the boos or the pressure or the expectations, the focus moves further and further away from the task at hand while the pressure can become more sweltering.
The only way the Tigers can pull themselves out is to ignore the noise, forget the expectations and play baseball. Most logical folks realize the season's not over, and it should be easier for the Tigers to not lash out at the pressure from the masses considering their own confidence that they're always quick to defend.
Rediscovering the winning edge starts with forgetting what the masses may think, even when it might be impossible to do so.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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