Meanwhile, Detroit has the Pine Bros. Membership perks include a card, a license plate and an official T shirt, suitable, says Kelleher, "for pregame lounging and postgame interviews." Anderson keeps his bench happier than most managers do simply because he plays all 25 men. "That may not be the key to making money," says King Pine Jones, who is, by the way, the leading hitter on the team at .302, "but it's the key to winning." In the Tigers' winning streak, eight different players had the game-winning hit, Gibson being the only repeater.
The most significant improvement in the Tigers is the pitching staff, which has lowered its ERA from 4.25 last year to 3.47 so far this season. Wilcox, a sometime breeder of chinchillas, gives most of the credit to Craig. "He taught me a forkball and got me throwing an overhand curve instead of a slider," says Wilcox, "but mentally, he's helped me even more. He said I was the best pitcher in the league, and I started believing him. And even though he doesn't call the pitches for me anymore, he changed my whole pattern around."
Morris came into his own under Craig, as well. Tobik, Cappuzzello, Petry and Rozema are all reclamation projects. Says Rozema, "A lot of guys have occupied these pitchers' lockers since I got here five years ago. Right now we have the best staff I can remember."
There to rescue them all is Saucier, who came to the Tigers almost by accident. This time last year, he was in another pennant race, serving mostly as an observer from the Phillies' bullpen. He was the player to be named in the deal that sent Sparky Lyle to Philadelphia from the Rangers. Three weeks later, the Tigers traded spare Shortstop Mark Wagner to Texas for Saucier. "I'd never seen him," says Anderson, "but our scout was very high on him. The funny thing was, we had two lefthanded relievers in mind. The other one is in the minors now."
What with the football players on his baseball team, Anderson naturally goes to boxing for an analogy. "Managing the Reds was like managing Joe Louis," he says. "We'd stalk our opponents. Managing the Tigers is like managing Billy Conn. We have to do a lot of dancing." Students of boxing will recall that had the first Louis-Conn fight ended after 10 rounds, Conn would have won. Who knows what can happen in this 10-round season?