In the history of the Tigers there have been a number of colorful managers who have added their personality to the Detroit baseball landscape. There have also been managers who just go out and win, with a few exceptions for those able to find a solid mix between the two. One of those managers in the middle happens to be Jim Leyland, a manager who during his last stint quit on his Colorado Rockies ball club. In the 2002 season, the Tigers and their manager Phil Garner parted ways after the first week to herald in 155 games of Luis Pujols.
In retrospect, I don’t believe Connie Mack in his prime would have led the Tigers to a winning season in 2002. While the facts are simply the facts, Pujols was both over his head and awful in the process. Sadly born without any tact, Pujols (no relation to Albert) frequently alienated clubhouse reporters with bad jokes that were off-color and sexist. Much like Dusty Baker’s random epitaphs about racial differences, his comments were out of line and frequently divided the clubhouse for the wrong reasons. While these issues are bad enough, no problem will be more remembered amongst Tigers fans than the one that occurred one summer’s eve against the Angels.
Approximately seven years ago, the Tigers began a baseball game as they had like any other one that season – Felipe Alou walked the lineup card to the umpire and the game began. Another loss was lining up in the books for the Tigers when Manager Mike Scioscia noticed that the Tigers had batted out of order. This major error resulted in both an out for batting out of line and the humiliation that a losing team was finding new ways of losing. This move cemented Pujols and Alou on the unemployed list going into 2003.
Today, Pujols manages the Corpus Christi Hooks, AA-affiliate of the Houston Astros. He was also the bench coach for the Dominican Republic team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. While his playing career was considered a success by many of his teammates, Pujols was fortunate that the 2003 Tigers season made many forget his disasterous season of 2002.