Wednesday, January 31, 2007

14 more days...

After watching the replay of the ALDS Game 2 on FSN, and catching an interview with Ernie Harwell on the MLB network on XM, I'm ready for pitchers and catcher to report on February 15th.

Not that there is nothing going on right now in the world of sports, it's just that the Pistons and Red Wings are slogging through the middle of their respective seasons. And by their efforts most games it looks like both teams seem dead set on saving themselves for the playoffs, at least they had better be. As for the Super Bowl, don't get me wrong I like football just as much as any other red-blooded American man, but as a Lions fan my caring for football ends when my fantasy team is eliminated. Why then am I still a Lions fan? Well it's kind of like a marriage where the spouse gets a little fatter and a little hard to deal with, but then they get a serious disease and you'd feel like a dick asking for a divorce. So you stick around hoping if they get better it changes them a little, but if they die...well you won't feel as guilty for ogling that hot brunettes at your office. That and I might actually give a shit if I didn't hate Indiana and Chicago.

So to get back on track, TigerFest and the last few days got me looking forward to spring training and the arrival of the new season. Here are a few things I'm looking forward to:

  1. Watching every game. I already will be a first hand witness to 27 home games, and finally the Tigers have a television deal fitting of a major league team. 161 Tiger games will be televised this year. I already have Rod Allen's "WOO HOO HO...HOO!" echoing through my head.
  2. The future. Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller are both top 5 prospects in their positions. The talent pool took a bit of a hit in the Sheffield deal. But the fact I can rattle off names like Virgil Vasquez, Kody Kirkland, Jair Jurrgens, and Euglio De La Cruz says something about the state of the Tigers farm system. I never thought I see the day where there was excitement about the Tigers of the future. Somewhere Rico Brogna is smiling. Most of the young guns will be at AA Erie, but I'm sure I'll take a field trip or two down to Toledo to see Miller and Maybin if the play there.
  3. In addition of the kids in the minors, the development of the young guys already in the Majors will be something to look for. Will Verlander, Bonderman, and Granderson continue to improve, or regress towards the mean? On a sort of related note, I think Granderson needs a nickname, I propose "Silky". Silky Granderson, it kind of just rolls off the tongue.
  4. The possibility of rivalries forming. In 1994 The Tigers and Cleveland joined 3 AL West teams to create the AL Central. Other than the preexisting one with Cleveland (and it wasn't really much of one), rivalries have yet to develop. With the seemingly overnight transformation from the "Comedy Central" to a division that produces 3 of the top 5 AL teams last year the games have the chance to be a little more heated. Chicago is easy to hate with noted dickbags A.J. Pierzinksisksi, and Ozzie Guillen. It is also common knowledge that Minnesota's Johan Santana punches babies to strengthen his arm in the off-season, and Ron Gardenhire pees on public restroom toilet seats. Ok maybe not, but it’s really hard to hate anything out of Minnesota. And Kansas City well now that they have Gil Mech..hahaha. Sorry KC you still suck and will be dominated this year.
  5. Opening Day. I have never been to one. In fact, due to working and school, I don't think I've seen more than one. Well not this year. The day has been requested off, the tickets are en route and on April 2 I will finally be there to soak it all in.

So there you have it, 5 out of hundreds of things to look forward to this season for a Tiger fan.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Ernie

Today is Ernie Harwell's 89th birthday. Being a living legend and a Hall of Fame announcer is certainly cause enough to point this out. But Ernie is one of the main reasons that I fell in love with the Tigers and baseball itself. This dates back to when I was a wee lad and every now and then I would be hauled off to numerous family gatherings in the summer. Inevitably at some point during the day my Great Grandfather would amble over to the television, find the Tiger game, turn the sound down, turn the radio on WJR and crank it up. Something about Ernie's voice just drew me in. That and the fact that I thought Jack Morris was Magnum P.I. (one of my boyhood idols, along with Murdoch from the A-Team and the helicopter from Airwolf). And while I was still young enough not to realize that he didn't actually know the home town of every fan that caught a foul ball, when he was "let go" in 1991; every time I see a strike three pitch I still hear "He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched it go by." There was just something about the way he described the game that after it was over you wanted to go out into your backyard, hit a wiffleball and bellow out "That ball is looooong gone!" So I wish you a happy birthday Ernie, with the hope of many more years of your voice providing the soundtrack to Tigers baseball.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

TigerFest Fun-O-Rama

The unofficial start of the preseason began today with TigerFest down at Comerica Park. I was one of the 12,000 in attendance today. If you weren't able to get a ticket, here's a run down of what you missed.
I arrived a little before the scheduled 12 noon start(full season ticket holders were allowed to enter @10) time. A line had formed(a reoccurring theme for the day) stretching from the main gate around to Montcalm and 3/4ths of the way to Brush St. Once you made your way in through the main gate the concourse was full of tents and merchandise tables. Signs were strewn about giving directions to all the attractions and Autograph spots. Basically the all the events were divided between the main concourse (from behind the RF Bleachers clockwise to just about third base) the 200 level, and the well for lack of a better term the basement. I firs made my way downstairs to view the clubhouse. You could peer into Jim Leyland's office and walk through the clubhouse. You were roped off from entering the main locker room area, but there were some empty lockers on the side you could view. Also, while downstairs you could take a swing in the batting cages, and view the AL Championship trophy.
Other than the autograph tents the main concourse offered a kids batting cage and a fast pitch booth. The fast pitch booth was the same one that is there during the season. The upper level didn't have much either. There were autograph stations in the Montgomery Inn BBQ and in the Tiger Club; and what looked like a banquet room overlooking the Big Cat (carousel) court which hosted the seminars and Q&A sessions. I sat in on the hitting seminar with Lloyd McClendon and Chris Shelton. For future reference do not talk on a cell phone if Lloyd is talking. There was a guy who quickly found that out, I thought Lloyd was going to throw a base at him. Shelton was very self-deprecating and funny at times. Like saying he had Lasik in the offseason, now he has no excuse not to see the ball, and shots at Lloyd saying the Pirates didn't think he was a major league caliber player.
All in all, I wasn't that bad if you didn't mind waiting. There were numerous complaints that lines were too long, which weren't helped by the outdoor nature of some line placements. I don't know how anyone would think with over 12,000 people there you weren't going to have to wait an hour or 2 to get an autograph.
Speaking of autographs, there were done in a well..different manner. There were six stations scattered throughout the park, which different players assigned to each. The catch was the players would change on the hour. So there was a good chance who was signing when you entered the line would not be the Tiger who was signing when you reached the front. The reasoning I would think would be, if people don't know who is signing there won't be a rush to one booth over the others. Which if it was the case, it worked. Lines were about 1 1/2 to 2 hours during the peak times. The downside is, well not to be selfish, but who wants to wait in a two hour line to get to the front and see Kody Kirkland and Virgil Vasquez. But this did work in my favor as the first line I was n had Carlos Guillen at the head. Well when I was just nearing the front, Magglio was switched in. So I was able to get my ALCS game 4 ticket signed by him, unlike my Verlander SI cover and 2005 All-Star game ball (for Kenny Rogers) which remain unsigned.
See the post below for some sights from TigerFest 2007:

Tigerfest Photos

You might need to click on some of the pictures to get a better view. Also I apologize for the haphazard placements, I am not a HTML guru and it's late Saturday night. Enjoy.

Here's one of the Tiger statues out in front of the main gate, with a winter coat on. Because it's cold, remember?

One of the many ice sculptures decorating the concourse.

Chris Shelton and Lloyd McClendon teaching you how to make contact.

A very tan Placido Polanco signing autographs. No there was not a Gore-Tex hoodie sighting.

A snowy CoPa field, which will probably be the same for Opening Day.

The First thing you see when you enter the clubhouse it this sign.

Here's Jim Leyland's fridge. Check out the bottom shelf, it's stocked with Twinkies and HoHo's

Here's the locker room, there was still the faint smell of champagne.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Back from my Field Trip

Being lucky enough to work in an industry that has most federal holidays off, I was out of town visiting a college roommate who had relocated to Texas. Well after seeing about a half hour of sun, inquisitive southerners (you from Dee-Troit?) and near freezing temperatures (thank you lousy El Nino) I return to find ice everywhere. Fun times. Let's get back in the swing of things.

There was no messing with Texas

So Chris Webber's a Piston now. He played his first game tonight. Didn't really do much. Had a lot of passes turn into misses by Piston shooters, a "shooter's touch" bucket, and a block and maybe a rebound in two limited appearances. A quick glance at the score sheet shows 2 pts. (1-5 shooting), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block in 17 minutes. Nothing spectacular. The Pistons did seem to ride a bit of the energy wave when C-Webb hit the court. Added to the mix this was Chauncey and Lindsey Hunter's first game back. With those three arriving that means less time for Jason MaxPower, and the end of line for Nazr Mohammed, and possibly Flip Murray and Dale "Bubba Gump" Davis.

So the eleventy billion dollar question is, does this make the Pistons better?

As of right now, no. As evidenced tonight, the Pistons desperately need a big man who will work the paint. Rasheed is stuck in 3 point shoot out mode, and Webber as of now isn't drifting deep enough inside before dishing it out to open up outside shots for Rip, Tayshaun, and Chauncey. If Webber can adjust to the offense quickly, and actually play like a big man, that will make a huge difference in May and June. Add that to the people a potential trade of a big man could bring in (Bonzi Wells or MoPete, yay...Marko Jaric, boo) and Joe D might have another team in the Finals.

On to the NFL. The conference championship games are this weekend and...well I hate all the teams. Let's break down my vitriol.

- New England has smug dipshit Masshole fans, a marriage wrecking coach with the labor relation mindset of Henry Ford circa 1932, not to mention a supermodel banging golden boy QB. They've won enough Super Bowls to offset the shitty teams of the 70s and 80's, go away now.

Belichick cuts another WR.

- Indianapolis has the Peyton Manning preparing himself to fill the fellation void when Brett Farvarah retires, when he's not too busy filming commercials, having relations with country singers (no, not the hot chicks, the male ones), and shitting the bed during playoff games. Plus it's in fucking Indiana. My stance on this state has been well documented.

Cut that meat Peyton

- Chicago has the Sex Cannon Rex Grossman, but if they make it to the Super it will be so boooooooring. There D will shut down New England or Indy, but Sexy Rexy's fearless chucking it to anyone wearing a helmet will keep the game a field goal fest with 15 turnovers. Leading to my eventual death from alcohol poisoning, seeing as drinking will be the only way to enjoy the crapfest that will be a Bears Super Bowl appearance. At least with being drunk I'll have something in common with Kyle Orton.

Showing off what he learned at Purdue

- That's leaves us with New Orleans. Normally I would root for them. I actually have owned a Saints hat for nearly five years now, bought in support of my Aaron Brooks-Deuce McAllister fueled juggernaut of a fantasy football team. I am an unabashed Reggie Bush apologist, and I think the team will be damn fun to watch. But you know if they make it there will be hours and hours of Katrina footage. Do you know how hard it is to go on a fucking 8 hour beef and beer bender while having to see a bloated, soggy corpse on the TV every ten seconds? Plus Drew Brees' mole is creepy.

Moley Moley Moley Moley

So there you have it, how to root against everybody. Actually this weekend, I will be at TigerFest, pictures (hopefully) and a report later in the weekend.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Seeing as I'm as apathetic about posting as Rasheed Wallace is about posting up (Zing!) here's a few things.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

It's Here!

In a belated Christmas present, my Tigers season ticket package arrived in the mail. With the change from a 21 top 27 game package, you get a game to every series at home this year. The downside to this is that it looks like the weekday plan is no more, and that the weekend plan purchasers will be stuck with a few weekday afternoon games. I just don't see myself calling in sick to go to a day game against the Royals on April 18, but I probably will.
The Tigers Interleague opponents will be: St. Louis (May 18-20), New York Mets (June 8-10), Milwaukee (June 12-14), and @Philadelphia, Washington, and Atlanta (June 16-24)
It appears the Tigers will be playing more afternoon games on Saturdays. There are 6 TBD's on the schedule I'm assuming are based on whether or not FOX will be doing a national broadcast.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Captain's Night

The first of three times The Captain raised the Cup

Tonight Steve Yzerman became the 6th player in the 80 year history of the Detroit Red Wings to have his number retired. Throughout his speech he was selfless and gave everyone else credit for the phenomenal career that he has. A class act on the ice and off, still to this day.
If Gordie Howe was Mr. Hockey, then Steve Yzerman is Mr. Hockeytown. He guided the franchise from the "Dead Things" era of the 70's and early eighties, to the premier NHL franchise in the 90's and early 2000's. 3 Stanley Cups and 5 President Trophies in the past 15 years. No other team has won more than two of each in that time span.
While he would be the last one to point out his individual success, he was a 10 time All-Star, the longest tenured captain in NHL history, and is one of three players (Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux being the others) to score over 150 points in a season. He also was able to excel at the other end of the rink, winning the Selke award for best defensive forward in 2000. The most vivid memory I have is of the double OT game winning goal vs. the Blues in 1996. The puck flying past Jon Casey and into the top right corner of the net, then The Captain leaping with joy into the boards.
The Captain is gone, but his memories hang in the rafters along with Howe, Sawchuk, Abel, Lindsay, and Delvecchio.

Photo from