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Tigers are clicking on all cylinders

10/15/2006

BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

By Mark Simon, ESPN Research

There's some kind of baseball magic going on in the Motor City this October. The Tigers, 22 years to the day of their last World Series triumph, clinched a trip to the Fall Classic with a dramatic victory over the A's on Saturday.

The Tigers won their seventh straight postseason game, and Magglio Ordonez secured his place in baseball history with the third-ever LCS-clinching walk-off home run to complete a dream-like four-game sweep for Detroit. The Tigers dominated the series in every aspect, shutting down Oakland's best hitter, Frank Thomas, and getting contributions from just about everyone on the offensive end. Placido Polanco copped MVP honors, hitting .529 in the LCS after batting .412 in the Division Series against the Yankees.

It's been a long time since the Tigers had a team like this, and it's been a long time since the Tigers had a manager like Jim Leyland. He became the third skipper in Tigers history to guide the club to the World Series in his first season with them. The other two -- Mickey Cochrane and Hughie Jennings -- are both Hall of Famers. Leyland may find himself there too, someday, especially if this magical run can continue for another couple of weeks.

NEWS AND NOTES

Lou Piniella • Lou Piniella could be the manager of the Cubs before the World Series begins, a source told ESPN's Peter Gammons. The Chicago Sun-Times first reported that negotiations between the Cubs and Piniella could begin Monday. On Friday, Piniella took himself out of the running for the Giants' opening. He has also spoken to the Nationals and Rangers, although he said the Washington job is not an ideal fit.

• Fox baseball broadcaster Steve Lyons was fired for making a racially insensitive comment directed at colleague Lou Piniella's Hispanic heritage on the air during Game 3 of the ALCS. The network confirmed Saturday that Lyons was dismissed after Friday's game. He was replaced by Los Angeles Angels announcer Jose Mota.

• Buck O'Neil, the former player-manager who became a beloved spokesman for the Negro Leagues, was remembered Saturday for his capacity "to love even in the face of hatred." "Buck O'Neil always had a smile for you," said the Rev. Spencer Francis Barrett, pastor of the Bethel A.M.E. church that O'Neil faithfully had attended since 1947. "It didn't matter what you said about him. It didn't matter how you treated him." More than 600 friends and family members, including several Hall of Famers and prominent business and civic leaders, gathered for the private funeral service near the Negro Leagues Museum that O'Neil helped found in 1990.