Kirk Gibson Calls for Positivity Amid Tigers' Struggles

ARLINGTON, Texas — On Wednesday morning, Kirk Gibson, a revered figure in Detroit Tigers history, called into 97.1 The Ticket (WXYT-FM) during the “Costa and Jansen with Heather” show to address what he perceives as undue negativity surrounding the current state of the team.

Gibson, 67, asked fans for positivity and patience, urging them to recognize the progress the team has made under Scott Harris, the Tigers’ president of baseball operations.

“It seems like there’s a negativity on where they are,” Gibson remarked. “I think they’re in pretty good shape right now.

For where we started, and since Scott Harris has come in, I know he’s taken some criticism. I mean, everybody has an opinion, but we’re sailing along pretty good. A lot of guys have improved.

Let’s keep our foot on the gas. Let’s keep supporting them. It’s hard to win. We’re not the Yankees. We’re the Tigers. We played pretty good down there in Texas.”

Gibson, who now serves as a special assistant to Harris and a color commentator on Bally Sports Detroit, has a storied history with the Tigers.

According to the source, he played 12 of his 17 MLB seasons in Detroit, including a key role in their 1984 World Series win.

Currently, the Tigers are in fourth place in the American League Central with a 31-30 record, trailing the Cleveland Guardians, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins. They are 9½ games behind the division leaders and 2½ games out of an AL Wild Card spot, with 37.7% of the season completed.

Gibson acknowledged the team’s offensive struggles but highlighted the opportunities given to players within the organization.

“The offense isn’t a strength,” Gibson admitted, “but I think they’ve shown this year that they’re giving others an opportunity in the organization that has been in the organization for a while to do well, and they have.

Andy Ibáñez has come up, and Wenceel Pérez has come up. Kerry Carpenter is a guy who’s been developed through the minor leagues. Colt Keith, look what they put on this kid. He’s done pretty damn good.”

Despite recognizing the need for improvement, Gibson emphasized the importance of patience and the challenges of developing young talent in the major leagues. “I learned how to play in the major leagues. It’s a hell of a place to learn, and to go to the big leagues.

Where would you want to learn? I was pretty brutal for a while, too. It’s looking for the right combination. I listen [to the radio show] occasionally, and it seems a little too negative for me. Of course, I’m a positive guy. Luckily, the team isn’t cashing it in.”

Radio host Jim Costa challenged Gibson’s positive outlook, pointing to the team’s inconsistent performance and the struggles of key players like Spencer Torkelson. “Gibby, I think they’re trying,” Costa said. “They’re definitely trying.

We’ve never questioned the effort, at least not from the players, maybe from the front office not giving them enough offensively to challenge this season, and that’s been what’s held them back.

You call in today, they finally have a winning record, that we have been negative. They had a losing record for a long stretch, and the bats haven’t fully developed, and Torkelson would be one of those big examples of an area that I think we’re right to be negative about.”

Gibson stood his ground, redirecting the conversation to the successes of other players and the overall development of the organization.

He praised Matt Vierling, who has shown significant improvement and discussed the mandate to “control the zone,” which has been embraced by both pitchers and batters.

“Look at Matt Vierling, how about that story?” Gibson continued. “How’s he been? We traded for him, and he’s developed. Do you remember what the mandate was? Control the zone. Everybody bought into that.

Are they doing a better job of controlling the zone? Pitching-wise, yes. Batting-wise, yes. We’re not hitting as many home runs. Look at our outfield defense. It’s way up there. It’s making us a way better team.”

Gibson also highlighted the contributions of Javier Báez and Zach McKinstry, as well as the potential of 2023 No. 3 overall pick Max Clark. “Infield defense, Javier Báez, in the past, when he struggled, they just played him.

They’re giving others a chance. McKinstry, here he comes. It’s just all the way you look at it.”

Reflecting on the 1984 championship team, Gibson drew parallels to the current team’s need for role players and patience in development.

“Forty years ago today, do you know what happened? The famous 13-pitch at-bat into a home run by Dave Bergman. We would not have won the World Series without Dave Bergman. He accepted his role. He made sure everybody else accepted their role. And they did.”

Gibson concluded his call by encouraging fans to maintain a positive outlook and trust in the development process. “I’m just telling you, be patient,” he urged.

Radio host Jim Costa thanked Gibson for his call and invited him to return for future discussions about the Tigers. “All right, boys,” Gibson said. “We’ll talk to you later.”

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