Before every home
game Leyland gathers his team in a conference room down the hall from the
clubhouse. This being baseball, and Leyland being one of its typical devotees
of superstition, everybody sits in the same seats. Leyland always has a message
that finds room for humor. "I had all these people calling my cellphone
asking me why Gomez didn't play [in Game 3]," he said before Game 4.
"And then I checked the caller ID for the names and you know what? 'Gomez,
Gomez, Gomez, Gomez....' How big is your family, Gomez?"
Now, one win from
the World Series, it was time to address the players as a proud father.
"You guys," Leyland said, "are now a great team." It was the
ultimate compliment from Leyland, and the Tigers rewarded his belief by playing
like champions for one more day in October.