So what does a bullpen coach do anyway?

From today's Free Press:

October 31, 2008
Tigers rehire fired coach; decline Edgar Renteria's $12-million optionBY JON PAUL MOROSI FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
The Tigers on Thursday announced Jeff Jones' replacement as bullpen coach.
His name: Jeff Jones.
Roughly one month after firing him, the team rehired Jones for the job he held the past two seasons.
So what changed between Sept. 28 and Oct. 30? The Tigers hired Rick Knapp as their new pitching coach.
Manager Jim Leyland, who hires the coaches, wanted input from Knapp, and Knapp preferred that the bullpen coach have a pitching background. That revived the candidacy of Jones, who pitched for Oakland in the 1980s.
"Some people are going to say, 'They don't know what they're doing,' " Leyland said Thursday of the unusual transaction. "But the worst thing to do would have been to not talk to Jeff Jones. We got a very talented guy -- someone who's been a loyal Tiger for a number of years, a guy our new pitching coach felt comfortable with.
"I don't care what things look like. I'm interested in getting things right."

Suspended Game

Just wondering what everyone thinks of the current suspended game. The rules I grew up with, the score would have reverted back to the end of the 5th inning, which was the last completed inning. When is the rule change? or are they making it up as they go? That being said, I do agree with the decision, it would be a heck of a way for the Rays to lose a game and the series due to the rain. The game should have never been started to begin with. Rollins looked ridiculous on that wind-blown pop up. Whacha thinking?

The Giants Win The Pennant!!!!!

The Giants won the No Bats World Championship defeating the Dodgers 8-4. I had another good day going 4 for 7 on the day, with a ball off the wall, I missed by 2 feet, of taking Gregg Olson yard. He did piss me off in the first game, by throwing me a cutter on the hands and breaking my favorite bat. The memorial bat will now become a hat rack and a beer spicket.

It was a special night at the No Bats Banquet last evening as we handed over a check for $52,000 to the Tony Gwynn Foundation, and I was humbled by being named the MVP and inducted into the No Bats Hall of Fame. What an honor!!!!

Oh well, 2008 is over and it is time to get ready for next year. We had a ball and I can't wait to get started. Headed home from San Diego.

Go Lions!!!! They have no chance.

Fun In San Diego

Having fun in San Diego playing baseball at San Diego State with Tony Gwynn, and Gregg Olson. Cal Ripken was a no post this year. We played a doubleheader yesterday and we split. I had a pretty good day going 1 for 3 in the first game. I hit a two hopper off of the 410 mark in center for a bases clearing double. Unike most of the guys, I have not lost a step. I never had a step to lose!!!

In the second game I went 2-4, with a double down the left field line off of Olson. He threw me a fastball on the inside corner and I got the fat part of the bat on it and ripped it down the line. We are having a riot.

The No Bats World Championship and Hall of Fame ceremony is tonight. I will keep you posted.

Here is a picture from dinner last night with former Tiger Gregg Olson and yours truly.

GO BLUE today!!!!!

Frank Howard

Hey Guys -- What about big Frank Howard? I am not suggesting that he was a great trade or anything, but I was thinking about him. He was mamoth, the bat looked like a toothpick in his hands. I think we got him from the Washington Senators. I remember he got thrown out of a playoff game before the game even started, must have said somethig nasty to the ump. Anybody shed any light on this?

The Greatest Tiger Deal?

Look these over, and make you pick on the right. (Due to space constrictions, I'll just list the guys we acquired.)
  • Tigers acquire Norm Cash for Steve Demeter. Demeter goes on to play in only four more games for the Indians, Cash smashes 377 homers.
  • We dump the washed up Denny McClain, Elliot Maddox, and Norm McRae (norm who?) for Joe Coleman, Eddie Brinkman and Aurelio Rodriguez, two of the steadiest gloves in the AL. Coleman won 20 games twice.
  • We pick up Doyle Alexander a proven, experienced pitcher, in a successful stretch drive to the ALCS. Oh yeah, they give up some kid with a funny name -- Smoltz.
  • "Trade of the Century" (well, maybe the 1950's) when the Tigers send batting title holder Harvey Kueen to Cleveland for Rocky Colavito. Kueen had a few good years left, but "The Rock" (along with Cash) provided some serious punch, and no doubt protected Kaline from being pitched around in the order. (Makes you wonder why between '61 and '66 they never placed higher than third. Pitching wasn't that bad, was it?)

Rocky Colavito

Do you remember Rocky Colavito when he was with the Tigers? I used to listen to WJR when George Kell was broadcasting and Rocky was a Tiger. He was a piece of work. I think he once ran the bases from third to second to first and to home when he hit a home run.

PS Gregg, I went back to square one with your invitation and somehow it now worked. I can post!!! Jim Bernhold

Best Tiger Deal Ever?

Let's take a break from our All Time Tiger Team Selection, and give some thought to the weighty question of, "What was the best horse-tradin' the Tigers ever did?" (assuming players don't mind being likened to horses.) I know it's not the same world it used to be with draft picks, long-term high-dollar contracts, etc., but let's have some fun.

Some thoughts:
  • Tigers acquire Norm Cash for Steve Demeter. Demeter goes on to play in only four more games for the Indians, Cash smashes 377 homers.

  • We dump the washed up Denny McClain, Elliot Maddox, and Norm McRae (norm who?) for Joe Coleman, Eddie Brinkman and Aurelio Rodriguez, two of the steadiest gloves in the AL. Coleman won 20 games twice.

  • We pick up Doyle Alexander and Woody Fryman, two proven, experienced pitchers, in a successful stretch drive to the ALCS. Oh yeah, they give up some kid with a funny name -- Smoltz.

What are your nominations? I'll put them all in a poll later this week.

Philadephia vs. Tampa Bay

Well guys who do you think is going to win the World Series? Last night's game was thrilling. Joe Madden's bullpen by committee reminded me of the way bullpens used to be used. I always love the underdogs - it would be great to see Tampa Bay go from the worst to World Champs (hmm is there hope for the Tigers next year?). Realistically, I think I have to go with the Phillies. Utley, Howard, Rollins. I am thirlled for Chad Durbin - always like to see an ex-Tiger land on his feet. I hope Jamie MOyer pitches well. I looked at Stub HUb and they have seats available for $575 each - I couldn't pay that much for the Tigers. I did see a game in Philly this summer, as the Phillies are my youngest son (matt) favorite team. I enjoyed the stadium. Greg Luzinski has a stand where he signs autographs -- not real personable though. So her's to the Phillies. What does everyone else thinnk?

Greatest Tiger Trades?

Fascinating discussion, guys. What was the best deal the Tigers ever made?

I think we'll take a break from electing the Greatest Tiger Team, and poll on this subject.

My nomination: 1959, the Tigers send Steve Demeter to Cleveland for a kid named Norm Cash, one of our current nominees for the greatest Tiger firstbasemen. (Demeter went on to play four more games for Cleveland, and never again got a hit in the bigs.)

Tiger Trades

Photo: Aurelio Rodriguez
Sept. 30, 1979
Hey guys, what are some of the best trades the Tigers ever made? One would have to be Jim Campbell's 1971 deal with the Senators, when he unloaded Denny McClain, Don Wert, Elliott Maddox and Norm McRae in exchange for Joe Coleman, Eddie Brinkman and Aurelio Rodriguez (who at the time was the only MLB player to have all five vowels in his first name).
Coleman would win 20 games twice for Detroit (and 19 another time) while Brinkman and Rodriguez anchored the left side of the infield for years. Rodriguez remains the best defensive third baseman I ever saw.

Another Great Clutch Pitcher

Everyone always talks bout the deal that sent John Smoltz to the Braves for Doyle Alexander that won the pennant for the Tigers. However, there was another significant pitcher that was acquired by the Tigers in the 70's that meant just as much. Do you remember who it was?

The answer:

Woody went 10-3 down the stretch for the 1972 Tigers as they beat out the Red Sox by a half game to win the pennant, only to be defeated by the Oakland A's in the infamous Reggie Jackson hamgstring tear.

What was the other big incident in this series?

Greatest Tiger Phenoms

First of all, Tom Tresh died yesterday. A flash in the pan with the Yankees, and he ended his career with the Tigers. His Dad was a great catcher and they lived in Trenton. RIP Tom, you got your chance as the Yankees began to stink up the American League.

Who are some of your favorite Tiger phenoms? Here today and gone tomorrow. The Phil Collins song title says it best, "Do You Remember". Here some are in no particular order:

Purnal Goldy
Tom Veryzer
Justin Thompson
Jason Thompson
Jon Warden
Rich Monteleone
Ron Cash
Glenn Wilson
Gabe Kapler
Nook Logan
Bubba Morton
Tom Timmerman
Robert Fick (The Last Man To Go Deep at Tiger Stadium)
Rick Leach
Chris Shelton

Who Do You Remember?

Leyland in Lakeland

Jim Leyland, about to enter the witness protection program after the 2008 season.

Fall Ball

Well boys, we're still playing baseball in Florida -- and not only at Tropicana Field.
Here at Tiger Town, the Fall Instructional League goes through Friday. I took this photo yesterday as the Tigers hosted the Astros. I saw Al Kaline, Dave Dombrowski and dozens of scouts. Stopped by today and saw Jim Leyland, out of uniform, a pack of Marlboros always within reach.
I's tough living where the play baseball from February through October, but someone has to do it.
"Bless you boys."

Who was the Greatest Tiger First Sacker?

This one is going to be another tough choice fellas, a guy we knew and loved, versus two Hall of Fame Greats that our Dads and grandpas told us about. I’ll present them to you chronologically; you fill out the lineup card. (Kooch looked up Freehan on Wikipedia, a great idea. I’ll hyperlink the ballpayers’ names to Wiki for easy reference.)
Harry Heilmann must have been a monster in his day (the teens and 1920’s.) At 6’1” and on a lineup with Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, the pitchers must have been forced to pitch to him. Fifteen years a Tiger, with a lifetime .342 average, you could say his numbers were evidence of the era, but he took the batting crown four times, so no matter the numbers, he was often the best of his peers. In 1923 he hit .403. A little younger than Cobb, Heilmann saw the dawn of the live ball, and was the first player to homer in every major league park after he was traded to the national league. To this day he is among the all-time hitting leaders in most categories, and besides, there’s a playfield on the east side of Detroit named after him. (At least there was when we were growing up.) Heilmann was extremely popular with our Dads, as he was the Tiger broadcaster in the late ‘30s and ‘40’s, told a great story and had a quick wit. They remembered him as we remember Ernie and George.
The only problem is where he is going to fit in our lineup? He could be considered a rightfielder, playing 1587 games there, only 448 at first, but we all know of a pretty good rightfielder who will give him stiff competition later in our poll.

Fellow Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg might give Heilmann a run for the money in our poll. He was “only” a Tiger for eleven years of his 12-year career, but what an impact he made. He led the league in homers four times, including almost breaking Ruth’s record, with 58 dingers in 1938. To this day he ranks as having one of the highest slugging percentages in baseball, and retired with a .313 average.
Greenberg was known to be a classy fellow who rose above the anti-Semitism of the day. He made a controversial decision (later repeated by Sandy Koufax) to sit out Yom Kippur. Free Press columnist Edgar Guest wrote a poem (yes, newspapers had poetry in those days.) “We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat / But he's true to his religion--and I honor him for that." Although the draft board classified him as being “flat-footed” he enlisted after Pearl Harbor, sacrificing about four and a half years of his career.

Then there was “Stormin’ Norman,” Norm Cash We remember him for his power, popping the ball over the third deck in Tiger Stadium four times, and getting 377 home runs in his career. But he debuted with the Tigers in 1961, winning the batting title with a .361 average. When teammate Lolich asked him why he didn’t hit for average instead of power, Norm said “Jim Campbell pays me to hit home runs. I can get hits if I want to, just watch tomorrow.” The next game he went three for four.
"I owe my success to expansion pitching, a short right-field fence, and my hollow bats." (He admitted to corking his bats.)
In addition, he was one of the finest fielding first basemen, and was with the Tigers 15 years, second only to Kaline, who happened to be his roomate.
We remember him for his hitting but we loved him for his sense of humor. Who can forget him finishing the ninth in a Nolan Ryan no-hitter, coming to bat with a table leg and wearing over sized sun-glasses? Or the time he tried to call “time-out” when caught in a run-down?

If you had to make out your lineup card, who would you pick?

all time tigers

well, as far back as my memory can take me, i still recall the names i would hear ernie say as i sat in the backyard with my uncle, he having a stohs, or maybe a goebel or altes, me some vernors and ice cream. and dont forget the better mades. Or maybe we would be on our porch , on detroits east side. at night of course. this is when listening to our tigers was almost vespers. it took on a comforting feeling. the day was done. dinner over, and the tigers were the entertainment. neighbors were out. someone cutting their lawn, dusk in the motor city. at night, listening to the games, on warm summer evenings, or rain delayed saturday afternooons, with my mom, or dad or uncles, or brothers. heck, it seemed most of the neighborhood had ernie on. i especially noticed as i went door to door on a friday night collecting for my free press route. the homes had the game on. always on the radio. you could follow the game from house to house i recall. ahh yes, back to the names. names that seemed to conjure strength, creating my own vision of mcauliffe, in that strange stance facing a 3-1 pitch with two on in the 7th. and that stadium. visions of that beutiful park on michigan and trumbull, too young to go there alone, so having ernie or george kell take me there was just fine. names like mcauliffe, cash, oyler, stanley, the gater, kaline colovito, bruton, wood, maxwell, boros, northrup, horton, wilson, mclain, demeter, triandos, lolich, rodriguez,(chico), freehan, gladding, sparma, trammell, whitaker, morris, parrish, gibson, dressen, smith, houk, martin, lary, bunning, mossi, before this, my parents would talk of the times they went to the corner to see the likes of greenberg, heillman, gehringer, schoolboy rowe: and my parents parents, recalling the viscious one, cobb. i still recall the strong pitcher earl wilson used as a pinch batter and driving in so many. or the tall drink of water jake wood, at 2nd. dropping virtually every other ball hit to him. but man could he steel. the predecesor to leflore in that sense.
todays heros unfortunaltey for me, are not as memorable since moving to chicago over 30 years ago.
were these all time tigers for their feats playing this game? not close. some maybe, but the majority just guys playing the game we loved as kids. in my mind, they still are the all time tigers cause they represented a time and a city i grew up loving. hard to believe this in todays world, but, it was for so many of us, a great place to grow up. and the tigers were summer in detroit. and ernie was the voice. and the wins were sometimes few, but the mystique of the team, the park, the description on radio since only saturday afternoons brought us a game from the corner on wwj channel 4, (brought to you by strohs), was the only time we could see this wonder on grass. as green as irelands shores. so yes, i will say these are my all time tigers. of course the ones with the legendary records are the ones most will recall, the kalines, mickeys 3 wins in 68, morris, cobb, but for those of us who do recall the not so popular names listed above, how about it. they were baseball in our home town. we lived and died with each win i guess. for what its worth, this comprises my favorite tigers. for the memories of nothing else.

Jose, can you sing?

Today's Free Press has an interesting story about Jose Feliciano singing the anthem before Game 5 of the '68 WS -- a game my mom attended.

Flashback: Jose Feliciano makes anthem history at Tiger Stadium

Who was the Greatest Tiger Catcher?

Wow, that's tough. I saw three of these guys, and they were all good, maybe great.

But let's go way back. Back to "Iron Mike" Mickey Cochrane. (Also called "Black Mike" due to his nasty temper, but that really has nothing to do with our poll. He was good buddies with Ty Cobb; 'nuff said about his temper.)

He hit .320 in that Ruthian era of 13 years in the 1920's and '30s, and was quickly elected to the Hall of Fame. Interestingly, he batted left (rare for a catcher) and was so fast down the base line, he often led off. Then he went on to manage the Tigers into two World Series, winning one.

Unfortunately, he only played for the Tigers for his last four seasons, and his last one in 1937 he only played 27 games. Was he really a Tiger, or was he a Philadelphia Athletic, as he was for the first nine years of his career, playing for Connie Mack?

Now we come to "our generation." Bill Freehan was a rock behind the plate. He was the consummate field general, calling a great game and keeping nuts like Denny McClain in check. This native Detroiter played 15 years, but in the hit starved late 1960's, he only hit .266, and got 200 homers at the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium, old green seats and all. Perhaps worst of all, you could clock him from first to third with a calendar. But a really nice fellow, and Lance Parrish credits him with great coaching and advice.

Lance was a good ball player. Compared with his mentor, Freehan,Parrish hit 229 homers in just 11 seasons, 10 in Detroit. Lifetime average of .261 wasn't great, but steady.

Finally, consider Pudge Rodriguez. Although he's a much nicer fellow, we must consider Pudge as we do Cochrane. He will likely go to the Hall of Fame some day, but he was only a Tiger for four seasons. Great speed for a catcher, hit about .300, and had a cannon for an arm to any base.

See what I mean? This is tough to pick just one guy!