What can a baseball fan do to get through the winter? | SportsonEarth.com : Howard Megdal Article

What can a baseball fan do to get through the winter? | SportsonEarth.com : Howard Megdal Article.

via What can a baseball fan do to get through the winter? | SportsonEarth.com : Howard Megdal Article.

a Vulgar Display of Power

As most of America saw today, at least those of us NOT watching football saw, the Tigers trashed the Twins 8-0 this afternoon. The game was capped by Doug Fister‘s dominant complete game shut-out, and of course, Miggy’s 42nd home run, as seen above.
As for Cabrera‘s individual achievements? I’m taking the no-hitter approach: I’m not talking about it out of the fear of jinxing him.

The Tigers truly looked like a team on a mission today, but this looks like it may go down to the wire. What we have here is a bona-fide pennant race. The kind of pennant race that the expanded wild card; the initial wild card before that; and the division format before that, were supposed to eliminate.

I was glad to see that Fox Sports Detroit will be televising BOTH games tomorrow. I think MLB took a huge risk rescheduling Friday night’s game for tomorrow, instead of today. But that’s television for you. the Fox network wanted a game a 4:05 today, so they got it. I’m hoping for good weather for the day game tomorrow.

Which brings me to my major concern: the double-header. Granted, there will be some time in-between games tomorrow – with the make-up starting at 7:05. However I’ve always maintained that the best any team can realistically hope for in a double-header is a split. True, teams DO sweep double-headers. Likewise, truly bad teams (like the 2012 Twins) have been known to drop both halves of a twin-bill. But two wins in one day is a lot to ask of any team.

Of course, if the Tigers split tomorrow, and the White Sox drop tonight and Sunday, they would still be tied.

He’s coming…

At long last, the trailer for 42 went online this morning.  I must say, I’ve been excited about this movie since I first heard about it.  If this trailer is any indication of what we can expect (you know, and it doesn’t have ALL the good parts in it) then movie goers and baseball fans are in for a treat.

I haven’t heard of Chadwick Boseman outside of this project.  That’s probably the best way to cast Jackie Robinson.  If they had piced a major star, it would probably be too difficult to look past the celebrity and get into the character.  On the other hand, Harrison Ford has absolutely buried himself in the part of Branch Rickey. Had I knot know it was Ford and been scrutinizing him too closely, I never would have recognized him.

This movie being a period piece, another concern I’ve had was it’s level of authenticity.  From what I gathered in the trailer, 42 does look and feel like it happened 68 years ago.  I’ve read that they filmed in Birmingham‘s Rickwood Field, among other historic ballparks, but I’m sure the movie will include a CG Ebbets Field.

As much as I don’t want the 2012 baseball season to end, I can’t wait till Jackie Robinson day 2013, when this movie hits theaters.

Take a look at my check-in at Comerica Park

I’m at Comerica Park (2100 Woodward Ave, Detroit) http://4sq.com/OC9rN9

Feeling the (West Virginia) Power, sort of…

Appalachian Power Park, from behind home plate.

Charleston, West Virginia‘s Appalachian Power Park. Home of the West Virginia Power, single A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On my way down to visit my son in Charleston, SC I made a completely impromptu visit to Charleston, West Virginia’s Appalachian Power Park, home of the South Atlantic League‘s West Virginia Power.

Check out my Flickr gallery of Appalachian Power Park!

The park, like so many other new Major and Minor League Parks, is situated in the city’s warehouse district. The stadium‘s official capacity is listed as 4400 but I’d be stunned if it could hold 3000. There was only one seating level and it felt much smaller that Joe Riley Park in Charleston, SC.

The playing surface looked as if it had seen better days. There was one particularly brown spot behind. But like Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, I’m told that concerts and other events are also held here. Between that and the unusually dry summer much of the country has endured, I’m willing to cut the ground’s crew some slack.

As I mentioned earlier, APP is located in Charleston’s warehouse district and the designers did a great job of incorporating  some of the existing architecture into the stadium’s design.  The Power’s offices as well as concession stands, souvenir shops and suites occupy one of the neighboring warehouses.

I also liked the fact that, like so many other parks build recently, the concourse has full 360 degree access.  This is especially nice for first-time visitors like myself.

APP’s scoreboard was impressive.  Much nicer than that at “the Joe”.

Sadly, the Power lost.  I left before the Lakewood BlueClaws rallied, as I had to get back on the road.  All in all, it was decent experience.  By no means was APP the best ballpark I’ve visited; but seeing a new  ballpark is like eating a pizza or watching Star Trek:  even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good.    there are few things I like to do more in this world than catch a baseball game.  However as exciting as it was to see a new stadium, I was even more excited to see my son.

Of slump-busters and perfection.

image

the olde english D flies proudly above the House of Soule.

I got this Tigers flag as a Christmas gift for my Dad a few years back.  Since I’ve been back in town I’ve flown it twice just as the team is entering a slump.  As baseball is a sport deeply rooted in superstition, it should come as no surprise that I feel that the flag has been more efficient in killing a losing streak than a Justin Verlander start.

In all seriousness though, this hot/cold routine the Tigers continue to pull is beyond old.  The White Sox are showing no signs of letting up.  When the Tigers win, it seems, so do the Sox.  When the Sox lose, the Tigers have been unable to capitalize. I still think the Tigers are the best team in the Central. However, this season may be a case of the better team, but not necessarily the best team, winning.

Yesterday, Felix Hernandez pitched the 23rd perfect game in MLB history.  I feel it was only a matter of time before “King Felix” (I really hate that nickname) did so. Offhand, I don’t know if he’s been eligible for free agency yet, but believe he will one day leave the Mariners for a contender because they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

As for “too many hitters and/or perfect games“; as I’ve said before we are in an era where the level of pitching talent has caught up with hitting, namely the “post-Steriod era”.

And speaking of steroids: Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games per MLB’s PED policy following positive test. In hindsight, his recent career upswing seemed too good to be true.  Looking back, I’m not really surprised.

The Tigers are off tonight; and there’s not even a game on WGN.  I gotta find something to watch…

It’s a walk-off!

It’s been almost 36 hours and I still haven’t fully absorbed what I witnessed yesterday at Comerica Park.

It was, most likely, the greatest come-from-behind Tiger victory that I have ever witnessed. like most of the fans in attendance I was ready to give up after the 9th inning. In fact, my dad and I discussed leaving after the Indians scored 3 runs in the top of ther 10th. i opted to stay; not because I thought the Tigers could still win as much as I hate leaving early. Even as Cabrera hit the game winner, I didn;t think it was gonna clear the fance. I can only chalk this up to my point of view – from behind the left field foul pole.

Today Detroit sports talk radio was speculating whether or not this game was a “turning point” for the team. While the it was a great win, I’m not too excited about one win against an Indians team that is in a downward spiral. Sunday was Cleveland’s 9th straight loss.

The Indians also lost again tonight, making it an even 10 in a row. On the other hand, the Tigers won in convincing fashion tonighjt against the Yankees. Justin Verlander had 14 strikeouts – He is the first Tiger pitcher to run up 14 Ks against the Yanks since Jim Bunning. The legend continues. Nike used the slogan ‘we are all witnesses” to describe LeBeron James. That always comes to mind whenever I see Verlander on the mound. It seems like every 5th game, he does somerthing that draws comparisons to some great pitcher of the past. If the Ilitches have any sense, they will hand him a blank check and an armored car during his next contract negotiation. When it’s all said and done, I want to see hinm in the Hall of Fame as a Tiger; and see a statue of JV at Comerica Park.

As of tonight, the Tigers are still 1.5 games behing the White Sox, but now have the 1st Wild Card spot in the AL.

Wither Interleague play…and a Giant problem

Interleague play logo

Interleague play logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN MAY 19, 2012…

As MLB begins it’s annual slate of interleague games tonight, I can’t help but wonder how much differently the entire baseball landscape will be in2013.

Next year, of course the Astros will switch to the American League, creating 2 15-team leagues and thereby necessitating an interleague game being played every night. Had the Brewers stayed in the AL 15 years ago instead of jumping to the NL, this would be a non-issue; but I digress.  My biggest hope is that going forward, we will see the lines between the AL and NL become a little more blurred.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no love for “radical realignment”;  in fact, I just want to see MLB stop acting as if the AL and NL are two separate baseball entities.  Hopefully, such a shift in the paradigm will lead to a unilateral decision on the Designated Hitter – one way or the other.

Also, earlier today it was announced that the Athletics may begin to explore the possibility of leaving Oakland, as a result of their stalemate with the Giants regarding a move to San Jose.   I can understand the Giants concern over losing a part of “their market”, but I believe that this a case in which MLB must intervene again.  It’s a foregone conclusion that an undisclosed amount changed hands between the Expos/Nationals and the Orioles when the Expos made their move to DC.  Orioles ownership was vehemently opposed to another team moving into the O’s home market. As it turns out, once the money started talking, the Orioles ownership started listening.

I think it’s pathetic that the A’s/Giants situation has come down to this.  The Giants, and ALL MLB teams need to realize they are not thirty separate corporations trying to put one another out of business.  They are thirty independent subsidiaries of one large corporation, namely MLB.  As soon as the owners realize that the good fortunes of one teams are beneficial to all of them, the league will be a much better place.

Thank you, Maggs!

The Tigers play so far this season has me disappointed beyond words, but that’s another post for another time.   Today I want to talk about something the Tigers’ front office is doing right.

Earlier today, it was announced, in conjunction with the Tigers organization, that Magglio Ordonez will officially retire from baseball Sunday; thereby retiring as a Tiger. I for one couldn’t be happier.

I wrote in an earlier post how the acquisition of Pudge Rodriguez was the front office’s first step in returning the Tigers to relevance.  That being said, the front office’s second step, and perhaps a greater step towards on-field improvement, was the signing of Magglio Ordonez.  That’s no disrespect to Pudge; but it was widely accepted that his best years of his career were behind by the time he signed with the Tigers.

The signing of Ordonez was at the time an even greater risk than that of Pudge.  After the injury that saw he and the White Sox part ways, Magglio was viewed as viewed as a player with loads of potential, whose injuries had made him something of a liability.  Through some brilliant foresight, the Tigers were careful to word Ordonez’s contracts with statistical benchmarks and performance incentives – protecting them should he fall victim to the injuries that plagued him through his White Sox tenure.    One trip to the World Series, one AL Central title (which should have been two) and one AL Batting title clearly illustrate the Tigers gamble paid off.  I’m sure Hawk Harrelson was shouting “Dad-gummit” on October 14, 2006 when Maggs did this:

That was quite simply the greatest moment in the history of Comerica Park and the the team’s wake up call to the baseball world.

I’m hoping the family has tickets for Sunday, and are planning to take a lot of pictures…

Muchas gracias Pudge!

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Pudge recovering a foul ball.

Though it was announced a few days ago, Ivan Rodriguez officially retired from baseball today.  The announcement was made in conjunction with the Rangers, no surprise there considering he spent 13 of his 21 MLB seasons in Texas.  While there’s no doubt he’ll be best remembered (and probably be inducted into Cooperstown as one) I naturally like to remember him for his 5 seasons as a Tiger.

Pudge joined the team in the winter of 2004 -following a 2003 season that saw him win his only World Series ring, while the Tigers set an AL record with 119 losses.  Of course, the media had fun with the tag-line “first to worst”.  still, Pudge said all the right things: he believed in Mike Ilitch and Dave Dombrowski; that he believed the pieces were in place; that he envisioned the Tigers in the World Series within a few years (or words to that effect).  Pudge’s signing with the Tigers was a risky move for both parties: the Tigers were desperate to become relevant and probably overpaid him. To many, Pudge looked like a mercenary – cashing in on a huge payday from a down-in-the-dumps franchise. Fans couldn’t help but think that this would wind up like the signing and departure of Juan Gonzalez.

Fortunately for the Tiger front office, the acquisition of Pudge paid off huge dividends.  He instantly became the team’s marquee player.  2004 saw a 29 win improvement for the team. Other players  around the league started to take notice. 2006 saw the Tigers win their first AL pennant since 1984.  In fact, the Tigers return to baseball prominence started with the acquisition of Pudge.   The signings of Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder may have never happened had Pudge not decided to take a chance in the D.

As a fan, I would like to say to Pudge:  Thank you, for making Detroit Tiger baseball matter again.

We’ll see you in Cooperstown in 2017.

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