Jim Leyland may have just missed his best chance to add another World Series ring, but he's not going to let it be his last one. The official Twitter feed of the Detroit Tigers announced on Tuesday morning that the contract of the 67-year-old manager has been extended through the 2013 season. Every member of his staff has also been invited to return.
I saw Leyland about an hour after the final pitch of Sunday night's Game 4 loss to San Francisco. He was padding toward the team's family room in search of his wife and was dressed in an undershirt, his uniform pants and rubber flip-flops. I briefly wondered if I had just witnessed the last night of Leyland's great managerial career — he hadn't answered a retirement question in the postgame press conference — but then I figured there was a strong chance that it wasn't.
After all, it's not as if that was the last best chance of this current Tigers squad. The 2013 edition will again have two MVP candidates in their prime, a starting pitching staff that should be formidable and they'll welcome Victor Martinez back from injury. They'll also have an offseason to fix their problems on defense and in the bullpen and presumably the financial support from owner Mike Ilitch to do so. They were named as the favorites to win the 2013 World Series by a sportsbook at 6-to-1, ahead of the New York Yankees (7-to-1) and the defending champion San Francisco Giants (10-to-1).
[Related: Did the long layoff undo the Detroit Tigers?]
So, yeah, Leyland has a lot to return for, even though he just experienced what was probably the most tumultuous year of the seven seasons he's spent managing in Detroit:
"Detroit is a tremendous baseball town, and I couldn't dream of a better place to manage," Leyland said in a statement. "The support of Mr. Ilitch and Dave is second to none and gives this club an opportunity to win every year. Tigers fans and the people of Michigan have supported us so well during my time here, I can't even begin to express how much that means to me."
Leyland will turn 68 years old in December and is the third-oldest manager in baseball behind Washington's Davey Johnson (69) and Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel (68). He's the leader in career wins among active managers with 1,676 victories and has compiled a 607-528 record with two AL Central titles and two AL pennants in seven seasons with the Tigers.
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