Detroit Tigers turn to 18th century poetry for inspiration


Detroit manager Jim Leyland
Jim Leyland works his William Blake mojo to inspire the Tigers … maybe. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Boston Red Sox and their yeoman power hitter Mike Napoli, the Detroit Tigers were discouraged. Their opponents had begun to look less like unkempt and disheveled street urchins, and more like heavy-handed knights of the manor.

Sensing the downheartedness of his troops, and feeling the need to sway momentum in their favor, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland decided to bring the Tigers to his genteel countryside estate, location unknown. Upon entering, the players were astounded. The sweet and soothing sounds of Haydn and Mozart wafted through the parlor, permeating the senses of the occupants.

Rookie Jose Iglesias, himself a classical music lover, appeared to be in a meditative trance. Doug Fister remarked to no one in particular that this was the first house in which he had been a guest where he could not touch the ceiling. Torii Hunter gazed out the French windows, admiring the immaculate gardening.

Eventually, Leyland led his men to the library, a room filled with many leather-bound tomes. Knowing that his charges required something to buoy their souls and strengthen their resolve, Leyland clapped for his butler, and signaled subtly that the occasion required something stronger than the usual tea and crumpets. Horace quickly returned, carrying a tray that bore a decanter of brandy and a snifter for each of the men.

Leyland then selected his favorite work, an original edition of the Songs of Innocence and of Experience a masterpiece by the British poet, William Blake. Then, in his raspy voice, and with his hand definitely not down his pants, he began:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The manager’s voice began to swell with emotion, and when he had finished the brief but powerful poem, there was not a dry eye in the room. All understood the great power that had been bestowed upon them when they donned the Detroit Tigers uniform. Their spirits sufficiently lifted, they rose to depart. Their foes, the Red Sox would not know it, but here, in Leyland’s library, the momentum of the series had shifted.

Author’s Note: I’m not saying that this happened, but I’m not saying that it didn’t. 

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