Tag:Detroit Tigers
Posted on: April 21, 2008 12:41 pm

The "Game" is never played on paper...



Even with all my years of experience following baseball, it seems that I cannot learn that lesson.

The "Game" is never played on paper...

It is even more likely for a fan to fall all over in mad love with his or her hometown ballclub when you have a couple of big deals in the off-season and your team is coming off a couple of succesful seasons.

This doesn't mean that the Tigers will not recover but this is not the kind of start that you ever want or expect from a title contender.

Oh, and if Sports Illustrarted never picks us to even win a division again, let alone the World Series, I'll be fine with that.


Category: MLB
Posted on: January 17, 2008 12:49 am

$21 M for SP Nate Robertson?

The Tigers announced the signing of workhorse SP Nate Robertson to a three-year $21 million guaranteed contract Wednesday.

The numbers are $4 M in 2008, $7 M in 2009 and $10 M in 2010.

He has definitely had his moments with the club, but has been erratic at times. Best season was 2006. Solid regular season, excellent post-season. Nate regressed in 2007, going 9-13 and 4.76. He also missed a handful of starts while sidelined witha tired arm, coming off a larger than normal workload in the 2006 AL Champion season.

He also has a tendency to start games in solid fashion, but like many a pitcher that is not a #1 or #2 starter on his team, the ERa and opponent's batting average rises as the batters get a second and perhaps a third time up against him as the game wears on.

Do you think that this was a wise signing or do you feel that the club overspent?

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 15, 2008 10:30 pm

40 Years of Reminiscing A Labor of Love

The Detroit Tigers emerged larger than life into the world of a ten year-old back in 1967.

My father had immigrated from London, England to first Toronto in 1953 at age 28, then to the fast-paced world of Detroit, Michigan during the "D"s "boom" years around early 1957. They were mostly "Young and strong and making Thunderbirds" then (thanks for the line Mr. Robert Seger) and the hometown pro footballers were winning the NFL championship in a 59-14 rout of the Cleveland Browns.

Dad was not in the auto trade but an aspiring electronics technician. His pretty wife was pregnant with the couple's first son as they chose Detroit, MI. over Buffalo, NY in completing the final goal - a move to the United States.

It took eight years for Dad to get into this new American sport called baseball (they laughed at the game in England as my Uncle Joe did on his many visits from the U.K. - as a modern-day version of an old British game that children played that was called "rounders" ).

Dad, in fact railed at the irresponsible actions of our neighbor Ross in the early 60's, the guy was actually so rude that he had a little transistor radio in his pocket with an earphone listening to Tiger broadcasts by Ernie Harwell and George Kell while mowing the lawn. His wife would call out to him only to have her summons fall on deaf ears, as the team struggled mightily, but futilely, to catch and perhaps overtake them Damned Yankees of Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford.

Dad concluded the guy had to be mad, as in crazy and ignorant of the family at large. Then Dad caught "Baseball Fever" himself. Hid it from his wife for ten years!

Then he got his ten year old son involved in the biggest ongoing love affair of his life. Tickets to Tiger Stadium! My first game! June 29, 1967. Luis Tiant toeing the rubber for the Cleveland Indians against the Maestro, the "wunderkind" Denny Mc Lain!

Alas, Denny was still tossing an occasional "high, hard one" a little too much in the wheelhouse of sluggers and one-hit wonders alike. He blew a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth by allowing "one-hit wonder" Fred Whitfield to touch him up for a three-run shot making it a 5-3 Indians victory.

That game never the less stoked a passion for me. Seeing the lush green carpet of historic Tiger Stadium and smelling those wonderful brats and hot dogs with a whiff of beer, and the majestic right-field overhang had this youngster permanently in love.

What followed that summer was quite possibly the most exciting pennant race of all time. The Red Sox, White Sox, Twins and Tigers were bunched up all within 1.5 games of each other with but two weeks left in that long thrilling summer. The CBS owned Yankees had fallen hard, into the cellar, of all places, by 1966!

Ultimately the Tigers lost on the final day of the season as Dick McAuliffe ended it by grounding into his only double play of the season to give the Angels a 7-6 decision and the pennant to the Red Sox by a single game! Yep, those "Impossible Dream" Red Sox of Yastrzemski and Conigliaro and Jim Lonborg.

The ten year-old cried himself to sleep, then recovered the next day to get ready to watch on TV or listen on the radio to his first "World Serious"!

Greater things were in store. The Tigers romped to the 1968 AL pennant. Denny McLain became the first 30 game winner in the majors since Dizzy Dean with the 1934 Cardinals' "Gas House Gang". Ol' Diz himself was in the house when Denny broke through as Willie Horton's deciding hit in the bottom of the ninth won it for ol' Den.

Detroit manager Mayo Smith came up with a great idea for the series. Bench slick-fielding but light hitting Ray Oyler and move Mickey Stanley in from center field to take his place at shortstop. This enabled him to get the fourth and biggest star outfielder Al Kaline into his usual spot in right field...flanked by Jim Northrup in center and Willie Horton on left field, where he would soon land in the Hall of Fame!

Then the series began and appeared doomed to a painful end for Tigers faithful. Detroit fell behind 3 games to 1 to the awe-inspiring defending champion Cardinals of Bob Gibson.

Never say die! Miraculously, the Tigers tied it up at 3 games apiece heading back to Busch Stadium. Then stunningly, with Gibson firing bee bees at Tiger batters, Jim Northrup lofted one deep into right-center field with two on. The sure footed and sure handed Gold Glove CF of the Cardinals, one Curt Flood, would certainly put this one away.

NO! He misjudged the flight of the ball. It rolled all the way to the wall as two runs crossed the plate. Soon it would be all over. The Tigers were the World Champions!

Thank their lucky Tigers' stars that Flood misjudged that ball or the way Gibson was hurling and Detroit's "second -fiddle" Mickey Lolich may have exchanged goose-eggs for a week.

The now eleven-year old was sure now that from here on forward it would be  by birthright that the Tigers would be in the World Series every year!

Then the Orioles dismantled that dream in 1969 and for years to come reality hit hard. The boy ragged a certain pitcher for being a no-good bum! That day Mickey Lolich made the unforgivable mistake of gave up five earned runs in late August losing to the Angels and all but cementing the Tigers into a second place finish.

Dad reminded that little eleven year old that he just turned his back on Mickey, one of his biggest heroes, and that "real fans" supported their heroes through thick and thin. After all, hadn't Mick given the youngster his "biggest thrill ever" by winning the deciding game of a World Series? Dad by now was as hard core a fan as anyone and gave the lad a lesson in sportsmanship that would never be forgotten.

Then it got darker for the next fifteen years for the Tigers. They surprised many when a gang of grizzled veterans with some "new, but old" blood were injected into the mix resultimng in a division title under Billy Martin in 1972.

The bulb flickered briefly in 1976 with Mark "The Bird" Fidrych capturing the fancy of fans across the nation by winning 19 games as a rookie and leading the league in ERA.

Alas, the team under Ralph Houk was still by-and-large atrocious and would reamin that as Fidrych wrecked first his knee, then his arm by coming back too soon after not rehabbing the knee injury fully.

Sparky Anderson emerged onto the scene in 1980 and the young players from the farm developed and culminated in a wire-to-wire pennant and World Championship in 1984. Kirk Gibson's titanic blast off newly elected HOF'er Goose Gossage seals the deal.

Nuts, though. A team that looked like a group of thoroughbreds could muster only a division tiltle after that all the way up until the wonderful season of 2006. I was like a child again looking at the standings and seeing DETROIT at the top! I must have saved 100 pages of website standings pages on the computer during the season in an effort to convince myself that I wasn't really dreaming!

The period between 1989 and 2005 represented the darkest era of all eras for Detroit baseball. Tiger Stadium held it's final game in 1999. I was at the Home Opener at Comerica Park as a new era, new stadium and new millenium medt in confluence all at once in 2000. But, alas the team was still downtrodden. The team had to win 6 straight games to end the 2003 season with 119 losses... to fall just one short of Casey's "Can't anybody here play this game?" Mets of 1962.

The love affair never flickered throughout the darkness. I avidly attended games, watched them on TV, listened to them on the radio and read about them in newspapers and magazines NON STOP!

First place, last place or anywhere in between, I have loved this great team and the great game of baseball through all that I have detailed here.

Yes, it is a thrill to see my team getting national headlines for blockbuster deals involving some of the biggest stars in the galaxy.

But you know what? Dad's lessons about sportsmanship from all those years ago still resonate deep. I would love this team if they were still the '03 Tigers.

But I'll take the '08 ones, thank you Mr. Mike Ilitch, Mr. David Dombrowski and Mr. Jim Leyland.

Yes, as I sit atop my perch here observing it all through the past, darkly.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 15, 2008 10:21 pm
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Posted on: January 15, 2008 9:57 pm
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