Detroit Tigers broom New York Yankees back to the Bronx with ALCS sweep

Tigers four wins away from greatness

The clock struck 7:35 p.m. just as Jayson Nix made contact with Phil Coke's delivery, a last feeble attempt by a Yankee batter to somehow figure out the commanding Tigers pitching staff. 

Nix's pop-fly fittingly landed in the first-base glove of Prince Fielder, the man specifically brought to Detroit to help deliver the franchise's first championship since Prince and the Revolution ruled the charts with "Purple Rain."

A 56-degree night never felt so perfect, with strangers hugging strangers and parents holding children aloft so they could see with their own eyes the indelible images - Phil Coke spiking his glove as if it had sworn at him, Austin Jackson and Avisail Garcia skipping towards their teammates from the outfield, the Tigers rushing the field in celebration as the Yankees meekly made their way to the visitors clubhouse.

As "Go Get 'Em Tigers" blared on the sound system, Comerica Park wasn't shaking, but it sure was rockin'.  There ain't no party like a Detroit party - and this Detroit party is just getting started. 

A team that left so many fans shaking their heads in puzzlement throughout the season now has those same fans shaking their heads in wonder. 

How did this happen?  How did everything come to a head in October?  And will it continue in the World Series?

Six years ago, when the Tigers last went to the Fall Classic, the journey was accompanied by a sense of disbelief.  Three years removed from disaster, just the mention of "World Series" in the same breath as "Tigers" was tonic enough to cure the scars of epic failure.

No more.

Cinderella has matured since that last appearance at the ball and so has her fan base.  It was a surprise then. Now, it's the next step, an obstacle along the path to greatness.

Pseudo-champagne and cigars have become a dime a dozen for the Tigers over the last 13 months.  Five times in that span, the clubhouse has been lined with plastic and the players have gone to town with a spray-show, but history books don't headline wild card, division or league champions.

History books put the World Series champion in bold type.

The Tigers are a step closer, punctuating a bold statement with an emphatic exclamation point.

The Yankees have been broomed back to The Bronx, left to wonder what just hit them and whether or not they'll recover. 

New York's turmoil is Detroit's delight.  Three times in seven seasons, the Bronx Bombers have bombed out against the Tigers.  Each time, the Tigers effort more impressive than the last.  

In baseball, though, there's no time to pat yourself on the back. Not with another hot team waiting for you on the sport's biggest stage.

As Dave Dombrowski said emphatically to Prince Fielder on the field, "Four more!"

An invitation to the World Series is nice, but you can only be considered an all-timer if you win.

Is this a group of all-timers?  See me in two weeks.  Until then, appreciate a work of utter brilliance against the winningest franchise in baseball history.

Tom Leyden is the WXYZ Sports Director.  Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomLeyden

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