Sunday, August 28, 2011

Leyland ?clarifies,? err, flip-flops: Tigers? Verlander can be MVP

The Detroit Tigers vex me.

First, pitcher Brad Penny "clarifies" that he didn't yell at Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez for running hard, but instead yelled at him for yelling (seriously) and swearing (but not at Penny).

Now, as the Stew's Ian Casselberry wrote, manager Jim Leyland comes along and, after being asked if Justin Verlander should be considered for MVP, says no, "a pitcher should not be the Most Valuable Player." Leyland went on to give reasons, alternatives, etc. Pretty clear, right?

Yes. I mean, no. Leyland issued his own clarification Saturday, via

[H]e was upset about how some media reports characterized his comments and made it clear that he is behind Verlander.

"I will support Justin Verlander for the MVP to the hilt," Leyland said. "I want to make that perfectly clear. The question that was asked of me was if I thought a pitcher should be the MVP. And my answer to that is no. But under the way the system is, I certainly will support Verlander to the hilt."

The hilt! He'll also take "Having It Both Ways" for $500, Alex (Avila). C'mon, Jim. Penny's dopey statements are one thing, but you, too?

Is Leyland so afraid that he'll appear to be offending Verlander's ego that he's got to do damage control on what were reasonable and harmless statements?

Not only that, but he played the "Media Twisted My Words" card. Listen to the original interview; Leyland was asked if he would "do any campaigning" on the part of Verlander for MVP. That's what he was asked. Not some general question pitchers and awards.

Leyland shouldn't have to manage as though he fears his players blowing up (emotionally) like Barry Bonds if someone hurts their feelings. Heck, the way Verlander approaches the game, he'll probably use all of this as more motivation to pitch like an MVP (if it's possible). Leyland knows that and should stop flip-flopping. I mean, clarifying.

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