Today, I present various thoughts on the Detroit Tigers, my favorite Baseball team and my favorite sports team (of any sport) of all time.
A point of order: I capitalize Baseball even though one is not supposed to as it is considered a common noun. I do not think there is anything common about it.
A point of order #2: As I write this blog, my beloved Detroit Tigers are poised on the brink of sweeping division rivals, The Cleveland Indians, and winning a fourth game in a row. Usually when I comment on a potential sweep, the Tigers lose, so I probably just cast a jinx. Still, even if the team loses, the Detroit Tigers will have a 3.5 lead in the division. If the team wins, it takes a 5.5 game lead in the division, which feels very comfortable for June 9th.
SENSE OF HISTORY: A team named the Detroit Tigers has played 112 years of Baseball games in a single and continuous history. The team that would become the Detroit Tigers began in 1894. The Detroit club joined three others (Boston, Chicago, and Cleveland) as charter members of the Western League. In 1901, The Detroit Tigers established the team as a major league Baseball team in the new American League.
The sense of Tigers history is both rich and fulfilling. But the entire fabric of Baseball history colors in the shapes of American culture from the days of games in vacant lots in the early 1800s. By the mid-1800s, the Baseball craze had taken hold of America with New York as its hub. When people ask why I love Baseball, the history is my number one answer.
TIGERS STADIUM: I love Baseball stadiums. I plan to visit every major league stadium before I die. I have already visited ELEVEN stadiums or the stadiums of just NINE teams as I have a couple of doubles
(Detroit, Cleveland[o], Milwaukee[o], New York Yankees[o], Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs-Wrigley, New York Mets, Boston-Fenway, and Seattle-Safeco:  indicates two stadiums, new and old, [o] indicates the old stadium which is now torn down). Though some of these stadiums are much nicer, grander, or quirkier, my heart rests with the now demolished Tigers Stadium once gracing the corner of Michigan and Trumbull in Detroit Motown Motor Rock City.
COMERICA PARK IS NICE, TOO: As much as I loved Tigers Stadium and have many fond memories of going there starting in the very early 1970s, I do LOVE Comerica Park (though I hate the name). I love the park because the Detroit Tigers play there. But I also love the Park. I love its location, its decor, its layout. It's a fantastic venue for Baseball and for the Detroit Tigers.
SOUNDS OF BASEBALL: Any stadium will do it for me, but wherever the Detroit Tigers play gives me the most special thrill in terms of the overall atmosphere: sounds, smells, tastes, sights, and feelings. The energy of the Baseball stadium is holy. It is my church. Yes, yes, I am being corny. But I am also being real. When I go see Baseball, I feel the strong connection to the history, the statistics, and to all the people who share my love (at least to some extent) for the game, and if I am in the Tigers' park, for the home team. Very few things give me a thrill and a super-charge like going to see the Detroit Tigers play.
Also, I rarely listen to the TV broadcast's announcers. Usually, I mute the TV and turn on the radio. I love those radio guys (Dan Dickerson and Jim Price). But every day, I miss Ernie Harwell, who was the voice of the Detroit Tigers for most of my life.
I LOVE JV: Though I could write about Tigers throughout history, and I am sure I will as the year progresses and I devote more blog space to my favorite team, today, I am just going to write about the current team. And of the current team, few players are as amazing as Justin Verlander (JV). This is not news to anyone who loves the Tigers or even anyone who follows Baseball. As one of the best (if not the single best) pitchers in Baseball and surely a Hall of Fame bound player, Justin Verlander is one of a kind, and the Tigers are very lucky to have him. Most of all, I just love his attitude, his demeanor, the way he conducts himself. Classic.
LET'S NOT GET CARRIED AWAY: JV is a human being. They all are all the players. Some Tigers fans seem to expect JV to shut out the other team every time he pitches. He cannot dominate all the time. As good as he is, he is going to give up some runs. People need to relax. Just because he gives up some runs or even takes a loss does not diminish what he has done, is doing, and will do. RELAX.
THE ROTATION: The current Detroit Tigers rotation is arguably the best in all of Baseball. What team can match Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, Sanchez , and Porcello? Granted, the current statistics do not bear out this opinion with 100% assurance. The Detroit Tigers do not lead Baseball in ERA, WHIP (Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched), Hits Allowed, or Walks Allowed. BUT the team does lead the majors in STRIKEOUTS by a significant margin (591 as of, today, June 9th 2013 with second place Boston at 551). A closer look reveals that the Tigers lead the AL in WHIP and are top five in ERA (3rd), Hits Allowed (2nd), and Walks Allowed (4th).
MIGGY: THE TRIPLE CROWN WINNER: Last year, Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown (leading in Batting Average, HRs, and RBIs). He was also the Most Valuable Player in the majors last year. He was the first MLB player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski won it in 1967. Even so, one cannot claim that Cabrera single-handedly led the Tigers to the AL Championship and into the World Series last year. It was a team effort with great contributions from everyone.
The trade that brought Cabrera to Detroit in 2007 for prospects is arguably one of the best trades in the history of Baseball.
THE SMART GM: Long suffering Tigers fans will not so fondly remember the years with Randy Smith as General Manager, marked by poor acquisitions and terrible draft choices. When WMU grad Dave Dombrowski took over as General Manager of the Tigers in 2002, this trend was reversed and smart decisions based on solid statistical evidence began to be made. Scherzer, Sanchez, Fister, Guillen, Ordonez, Fielder, Peralta, Infante, Jackson, Benoit, Valverde, Cabrera, Verlander, Martinez, Torii Hunter, and more. Need I go on? These acquisitions speak for themselves.
ADDING FIELDER: Signing Prince Fielder to a monster long term contract in 2012 was not solely due to Dombrowski's brilliance, it was also due to Illitch's pocket book. Fielder batted .313/.412/.528 with 30 home runs, 108 RBIs, and 85 walks in 2012. Those are outstanding numbers.
HEY VICTOR! The Tigers success depends on production throughout the lineup. After missing all of 2012, Victor Martinez is slowly starting to heat up. If he is hot come playoff time, watch out.
I like that my team is in first place in the division on June 9th. So far, it's a good year.
- chris tower - 1306.09 - 10:21