Leyland, Tigers prove they 'belong' 

October, 9, 2006
10/09/06
11:20
AM ET
"I wish I was a sentimental ornament you hung on
The Christmas tree, I wish I was the star that went on top"

We could hear the sirens and look out and see the flames, and we ate the pizzas Tigers (and Domino's) owner Tom Monaghan helicoptered in for everyone trapped inside Tiger Stadium. That was 22 years ago, and the city the automobile companies betrayed was in such decay and disarray that the only things of worth to burn were humans, most of whom had long since stopped priding themselves on human worth.

Those were the Tigers of 1984, of Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, Sparky Anderson and Kirk Gibson, and they may or may not have meant more to the city's psyche than the Tigers of 1968. Yankees or no Yankees, these 2006 Tigers are summed up by manager Jim Leyland's simple phrase, "We showed we belong," which may not sound like much in New York or Boston or Chicago, but to a franchise that hadn't had a winning season since 1993 in a town where baseball not only mattered but was Cobb, Gehringer, Kaline, Lolich, et al -- lords and masters -- just to "belong" with the Yankees is a measure of the self-respect that somehow got lost.

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