I’ll tell you who, and it will force you to think about your choice: unfortunately, you never saw him play unless you are a hundred years old. “Wahoo” Sam Crawford was such an awesome hitter, he hit clean up behind Cobb.
It’s truly hard for us to get to know players from the deadball era, but Wahoo posted some incredible numbers, with 2,961 hits, and a .306 lifetime average over 13 years, mostly with the Tigers.
Ed Barrow, who managed Crawford for his first few years as a Tiger (and later went to the Yankees front office, and move a pitcher named Ruth to the outfield) said there was never a better hitter. (Remember, this guy saw Cobb, Ruth, and many other legends.)
One indication of his hitting prowess in the deadball era is that Crawford still has career records for triples (312) and inside the park homers (12) (Granderson might take a few years to catch him.)
When Ty Cobb first hit the big leagues, he looked up to Crawford as something of a mentor, but in following years friction between the two stars eroded their friendship. (Are we liking Sam more all of a sudden?)
Late in life, Sam retired to a very quiet, almost reclusive life in California, citing Balzac and Santayana to the rare interviewer.
The Tigers retired his number in 2000.
But our Man, Mr. Tiger, Number 6, Al Kaline, was a pretty fine ballplayer too. Straight out of high school he came to the Tigers, and was the youngest man to win a batting title (one day younger than Cobb.)
The list of his accomplishments is going to read like a phone book, but let’s try: 15 All Star teams, 10 Gold Gloves, (including 242 consecutive games without an error,) 399 home runs, 3,007 base hits, was only the second man to homer twice in the same innning, (DiMaggio did it first) and once threw out two runners in one inning.
Foolish was the base runner who tried to tag up and take second on the Kaline Cannon, and he was almost as deadly to third.
In a sports-to-real-life analogy, our Dads all told us to emulate Kaline’s work ethic – in 22 years he played in 2,771 games. Reflective of the times, he didn’t post Cobb-like averages, but as an all-around player, few excelled him.
And perhaps what we love about him most is his approachability. "Fans? All you have to do is smile at 'em and say, 'hi' and shake their hands. They're satisfied." He might have been born in Baltimore, but he’s Detroit working class through and through.
Let’s address Henderson first because there is absolutely NO argument for leaving his name unchecked. He stole more bases, scored more runs and hit more lead-off home runs than any player in Major League Baseball history. He also collected over 3,000 hits, a “Go Directly to the Hall of Fame” card for every other player except Pete Rose – and that’s another story. Henderson had the perfect mix of speed and power. He was also a complete jerk, but since when did that keep anyone out of the Hall of Fame? With that said, Henderson will not be a unanimous selection because there are certain fossils out there who believe there is a distinction between “first ballot Hall of Famer” and “Hall of Famer.” That’s crap. Either a guy deserves to be in or he doesn’t. Period. Henderson’s numbers aren’t going to change. If you plan to vote for him next year, then he deserves your vote this year.
Blyleven is fifth on the all-time strikeouts list with 3,701 – behind only Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Steve Carlton and ahead of Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Walter Johnson, Phil Neikro, Ferguson Jenkins and Bob Gibson, all Hall of Famers. I think Blyleven deserves to be in based on that stat alone. Strikeouts are the only out in baseball that a pitcher is solely responsible for, and only four guys ever did it better than the Dutchman did.
In addition, Blyleven is ninth in career shutouts with 60. Every pitcher with 50 or more is in the Hall of Fame – except Blyleven, of course.
Andre Dawson was the complete package – a five-tool player – before the artificial surface in Montreal took their toll on his knees. He was an excellent defensive outfielder with a strong arm, could hit for power and average (2,774 hits, .299 or better six times, 438 homers,1,591 RBIs) and swiped 314 bases (including 21 or more in seven straight seasons – 39 in 1982). Unfortunately, many of the voters remember the decrepit Dawson that hobbled around the Wrigley Field outfield later in his career. This guy is a Hall of Famer.
Finally, we come to two former Detroit Tigers. I’m going to pull out an old argument here, not because I’m whining but because it’s true (OK, I’m whining, too). If Jack Morris and Alan Trammell had worn pinstripes for as long as they wore Tiger stripes, they’d be in the Hall of Fame already. Anyone who watched the Tigers closely in the 1980s knows they both belong in Cooperstown.
Morris won 254 games, more than Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Jim Bunning, Hal Newhouser and Bob Lemon, among others, and played for three World Series champions (Tigers, Twins, Jays). He was known as a pressure pitcher who was such a bulldog that he hurled 235+ innings 11 times. Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons, called Morris the “best of his time, especially when it counted.”
Morris was baseball’s winningest pitcher during a 14-year span from 1979-92, and the race wasn’t even close. Morris racked up 233 wins during that time, 41 better than Bob Welch, who was second-highest with 192. (That qualifies as “dominant.”) Morris also made 14 Opening Day starts. Only one pitcher made more than that – Tom Seaver, with 16. Much like Henderson, Morris was known for being cold and uncooperative with the media during his career, and he’s paying the price. If he had 300 wins it wouldn’t matter; but with 254, it does.
The exclusion of Trammell from the Hall – and the weak support he has received from the clueless BBWAA – drives me nuts me because I think he compares favorably with Ozzie Smith, who made it into the Hall on his first try. Trammell was the better hitter, Smith the better fielder – but the defensive gap is nowhere near the size of the offensive gap. Trammell had a better career average, more hits, more home runs and more RBIs – and those are supposedly the “glamour stats” when it comes to catching a voter's eye. But Tram didn’t do flips on the field or have a catchy nickname like “The Wizard of Oz.” So the voters have left him there – in Oz, that is. Put him in New York and he’d be spoken of with the same reverent tones as Derek Jeter. It’s a joke.
Among those that I didn’t vote for, I simply don’t think that Jim Rice and Lee Smith quite measure up – Rice wasn’t even the best outfielder in the Boston on many days (Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans stole the show many times) and Smith never struck me as one of the top relief pitchers in baseball. He blew a lot of saves, but he did manage to get the job done most of the time. Honestly, couldn’t we say the same thing about Todd Jones? And no one is claiming Jones belongs in the Hall.
Mark McGwire? That’s an entirely different can of worms. The stats are there, but because of the steroids cloud that hangs over his head, I’m hesitant. That may not be fair because nothing has ever been proven, but a friend of mine once reminded me that I’m voting for the Hall of Fame. So “maybe” means “no.” I agree.
What say you?
In 1909 he won the triple crown with just nine home runs, none of them going out of the park, in what might have been the high water mark for the deadball era.
For Cobb, baseball was war, according to Charlie Gehringer. Cobb was ruthless, even with friends, like Shoeless Joe Jackson. In 1911 Jackson and Cobb fighting it out for the batting title. Although Cobb played in Detroit and Jackson in Cleveland, they were first of all Southerners, and friends. But when the Tigers played a long, late season series against Cleveland, Cobb was outrightly rude to his old buddy. Cobb claimed that these "mind games" put Joe off his game, going into a "slump" with a season-ending .408 average, while Cobb finished at .420.
One of the most famous incidents took place in New York in 1912 when Cobb went into the stands to beat up a heckler, who reportedly had no hands. "I don't care if he's got no feet," Cobb reportedly said.
The league suspended Cobb, his teammates went on impromptu strike, leading to one of the most bizarre incidents in baseball history. A team of college boys replaced the Tigers, setting scads of negative records. One interesting side to the story: a collegian named Travers played in the outfield, and was later ordained a Catholic priest! But I digress.
He knifed an elevator operator, fought constant fights, and swore that blacks, women and most of the world was out to get him.Cobb & Jackson
Later in his career, Cobb became jealous of the young Babe Ruth. He told a reporter in 1925 that swinging for the fences was easy, it took art and style to steal bases, play strategy and create runs. Ty went 6 for 6 that day with two singles, a double and three home runs.
The Free Press described him as "daring to the point of dementia." Would have been fun to see him play. Interestingly, he died an extremely wealthy man, worth an estimated $86 million. When he came into the hospital he carried a paper bag with $1 million in cash and a Lugar pistol.
Mickey Stanley is about as different from Cobb as you can get, with one exception. While Cobb was a good centerfielder, Stanley was a miracle worker in the "Death Valley" centerfield of old Tiger Stadium. He could go back on a ball like none other, and reel it in, making a perfect relay to second or short. He caught four gold Gloves in the process.
He labored out there for 15 years, and although his lifetime batting average was only .265, his fielding average was a phenomenal .995, 35 points better than Cobb.
Of course, us oldsters will never forget him coming from center to play shortstop for the 1968 World Series. Thinking back, Mayo Smith only picked up about 60 points in batting average by taking out Oyler for the unknown of Stanley at short. Fortunately it all worked out.
Sadly, Mick was just a little too old to make the big bucks; in 1977, the year before he retired, he earned $65,000
"I feel very fortunate I was able to stay in the same organization so long. The Detroit fans have been super. I was never a superstar. I went through some slumps and never heard any boos."
For the 2007 All Star Game, Granderson got the most write-in votes of any player. He, along with Charlie Gehringer, are the only Tigers to get 30 doubles, 15 triples, 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases in a season.
Granderson is just the sixth member of the 20-20-20 Club (doubles, triples and home runs, in case your wondered). In 2007 he did that, plus stole more than 20 bases, only the third to do it, the last one being Willie Mays in 1957.We've only had Curtis for four full seasons, but let's hope he's around for a long, productive run with the Tigers, and stays away from the strikeout pitch.
Nice talking to ya last night…the familiar voice at the other end of the phone brought back some nice memories…like our many ventures to Tiger Stadium, especially the wonderfully exciting and memorable ‘68 season. The game I remember most that we attended was Denny McLain’s 30th victory…what a great atmosphere…they won in their last at-bat, and, if I recall correctly, the game-winning hit in that historic contest was delivered by none other than Willie Horton…thus, I vote for him a Detroit’s All-Time Leftfielder…now only did he enjoy a grand career as one of the Bengals’ most feared and respected power hitters, he’s left his legacy as a native Detroiter. He still calls the Motor City his home and he continues to wear the old English D proudly...Indeed, the best left fielder in Detroit Tigers history..
Keep in touch, my friend…
By the powers vested in me by...well, nobody, (this is what Bud Selig did, right?) I'm going to go to a tie breaker, and ask Marty Budner, Sacred Heart Seminary Class of 1970, and award-winning sports reporter for the Observer Eccentric, to cast a tie-breaking vote.
Granted, Marty hasn't been participating with us (yet) but I'll send him a note, and see if we can get him to break the deadlock!
BY JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • December 9, 2008
Editor's note: Story updated at 3:36 a.m.
LAS VEGAS -- When the Tigers acquired two players on the same day of last year's winter meetings, they sent shockwaves through the baseball industry. Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, two former All-Stars, were sent from Florida to Detroit in a move that was proposed and agreed upon in less than 24 hours.
Dave Dombrowski was at work again Monday. The two names he added -- catcher Gerald Laird and shortstop Adam Everett -- were not as flashy, but they may be able to do in 2009 what Cabrera and Willis could not in 2008: help the Tigers contend from start to finish.
Dombrowski, the Tigers' president and general manager, identified Laird as one of the top catchers available when the off-season began and maintained a consistent dialogue with Texas GM Jon Daniels ever since. They finalized the deal Saturday but waited until Monday to make the official announcement.
Texas received a pair of intriguing, hard-throwing right-handers who have yet to pitch in the majors: Guillermo Moscoso, 25, and Carlos Melo, 17.
Almost concurrent to the announcement of Laird's arrival, news broke that the Tigers and Everett had reached a one-year agreement. The tentative deal, worth $1 million plus incentives, will become official if Everett passes a physical Wednesday.
Dombrowski said Monday that team officials “liked what we saw” during Everett’s workout last Thursday in Lakeland, Fla. The club appears confident that Everett’s shoulder is sound after an injury limited him to 48 games this year with the Minnesota Twins.
“He threw the ball well, with good arm strength,” Dombrowski said of the session.
Laird seems likely to earn roughly $3 million next year through salary arbitration. So assuming Everett's physical does not generate new concerns about a shoulder injury that limited him to 48 games this past year, Dombrowski has filled the biggest needs in his everyday lineup for about $4 million. That should enable the team to make more meaningful bullpen upgrades.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland made clear that Laird will be the team's No. 1 catcher, after being a part-time player for most of his tenure with Texas. Laird has played more than 100 games in only one of his six big-league seasons, but the Tigers will count on him to do that in 2009.
"It was frustrating for me in Texas: I was the guy, then I wasn't the guy," Laird said in a teleconference with reporters. "Knowing that I'm not going to look over my shoulder, it's relaxing now. I'm just going to play baseball. I'm not going to worry about the small things I did over the last couple years.
"I'm glad to be a Detroit Tiger."
Leyland praised Laird's gap-to-gap hitting and skills behind the plate. Leyland noted that Laird "runs very well" compared with other catchers and envisions him as a good fit in the lower part of the Tigers' batting order.
Laird batted .276 this season with six home runs and 41 RBIs. In 13 career games at Comerica Park, he has a .271 batting average, according to STATS LLC.
"He is going to be a perfect fit for our ballpark," Leyland said. "We are not a club that has a lot of speed, and we think we have added a guy that can help us in that area, too. And he can catch. We've seen him for the last few years and have been very high on him. I think we are very fortunate.
"I'm thrilled to death to get this behind us. A month or so ago we were pretty nervous about a couple of our situations, and all of a sudden we have one of them out of the way, basically prior to the meetings even starting."
Dombrowski said he will continue looking for a backup catcher, although upgrading the bullpen is a far greater priority. The team has three internal candidates to play behind Laird: Dane Sardinha and Max St. Pierre, who have returned to the club on minor-league contracts, and prospect Dusty Ryan, whom Dombrowski said would ideally be the everyday catcher at Triple-A Toledo.
Asked about his options for the backup catcher's job, Leyland said: "Do you feel like you have a safety valve? Yes. But do you still go out and (try) to improve it just a little bit? Sure. Whether that guy's out there for us or not, we don't know."
Everett, a career .246 hitter, and Laird are considered very good defenders, and their acquisitions fit with a theme of the Tigers’ off-season. Team officials have consistently said that they want to improve their defense and pitching before Opening Day.
So far, they have accomplished half of that goal.
“I think it’s got the potential to end up a much better defensive team than we were,” Leyland said.
Tigers, Mariners actively discussing Putz trade
By JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • December 9, 2008
LAS VEGAS – This morning, the Tigers and Seattle Mariners have discussed a trade that would bring closer J.J. Putz back to his home state.
It’s not clear if the clubs are close to a deal, but the talks appear to be ongoing. Putz, 31, is one of Detroit’s top targets on the closer market, along with free agent Kerry Wood.
Seattle officials believe they will be able to obtain a three-player package for Putz. The Mariners might ask the Tigers to include infielder Jeff Larish and outfielder Matt Joyce in the deal.
Putz is scheduled to make $5.5 million next year, followed by a team option worth $9.1 million (or a $1 million buyout) in 2010.
A Trenton native and former University of Michigan right-hander, Putz was arguably the best closer in baseball during the 2007 season. But he spent 49 games on the disabled list this year, first because of inflammation on his right side (at a point where cartilage attaches to a rib) and later because of a hyperextended throwing elbow.
He returned from the elbow injury in late July. From that point until the end of the season, he converted 8 of 13 save opportunities, maintained a 2.96 ERA and held opponents to a .240 batting average, according to STATS LLC.
Possible players include Willie Horton, Derek Jeter, John Smoltz, Mickey Stanley, Steve Howe, Dave Rozema, Derek Lowe, Bill Freehan, Ted Sizemore, Ted Simmons, Steve Paciorek, John Mayberry, Alex Johnson, Ron LeFlore , Frank Tanana.
As we continue to select our All-Time Detroit Tigers team – which so far includes Bill Freehan, Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, Alan Trammell and George Kell – we head to the outfield, where Hall of Fame candidates abound. Oh, sure, we could take the easy way out and select the top three outfielders. But what’s the fun in that? We’re going position by position, which means some pretty solid players might not even receive a vote.
The right-handed hitting Herndon played 14 seasons in the majors and later became the Tigers’ hitting coach.
So, who's it going to be? Goslin, Manush, Horton or Herndon? It's time to vote.
Ex-Tiger Renteria gets 2-year, $18.5M deal from Giants
FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES
SAN FRANCISCO -- Former Tiger Edgar Renteria signed an $18.5-million, two-year contract Thursday with the Giants to replace 11-time Gold Glove shortstop Omar Vizquel.
Renteria gets a $2-million signing bonus, $7 million next year and $9 million in 2010. The Giants have a $10.5-million option for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout.
The Tigers declined to offer Renteria salary arbitration on Monday.
Renteria, a 13-year big league veteran, will be looking to have a better year in 2009. He batted .270 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs this past season for the Tigers, who then declined their $11-million option for Renteria and gave him a $3-million buyout.
"I played good in the National League. I feel real comfortable," Renteria said on a conference call. "Maybe I know more of the game in the National League. It's my type of league. I like to play the game. The American League is different -- you have to go for the home run and wait for hitting. That's no excuse for what happened in the American League, but it might be why I'm so excited to get back to the National League."
Do any of you remember Ron Nischwitz? He hailed from Dayton, Ohio and played for the Tigers in the early-mid 1960s. He ended up the baseball coach at Wright State University in Dayton. I believe he's still associated with the University in some capacity as he was a successful coach.
Also, how about Don Lund? Back in the 1940s he starred at Michigan and played not only for the Tigers but also the Chicago Bears. He then went back to U of M and coached baseball and eventually was an assistant athletic director. We have some connection to him ---- he married a gal who was a cousin to my father. When my son, and later my daughter attended Michigan I had an uncle here in Minster who said the Lunds were just so tickled that a Bernhold finally came to the U of M. Ha. My sons freshman year we'd get their tickets to football games and sat on the 50 yard line because the Lunds sat up with Bo in the press box.
OK Pio, is this satisfactory? Ha! Also, do any of you bloggers get to AZ during spring training? My son lives in Phoenix and the last few years I go out for 4 0r 5 days in early March and we hang out at the ballparks. Next year my Cincy Reds will be there too. They will share a facility with the Indians and I thing this year the Dodgers move out there! What might be the chance the Tigers move west?
DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers today announced the club’s exhibition game schedule for 2009 Spring Training in Lakeland, FL. Additionally, the club today announced ticket prices for all exhibition games in 2009 will remain the same as 2008.
Next spring will mark the Tigers 73rd season at “TigerTown” in Lakeland, extending the longest-standing relationship between a major league team and a current Spring Training host city. The 2009 spring season marks the club’s 44th consecutive season of exhibition play at Joker Marchant Stadium.
The Tigers will begin the exhibition schedule on Wednesday, February 25 as the club welcomes the Atlanta Braves to Joker Marchant Stadium, the first of 19 exhibition games played in Lakeland during the upcoming spring. Detroit will host two exhibition games in advance of the World Baseball Classic with Venezuela and Panama on Tuesday, March 3 and Wednesday, March 4, respectively.
Tickets for the 2009 spring exhibition season will be priced at two separate levels, with all prices remaining the same as 2008. The first set is for premium games, which include all games against the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, New York Yankees and all Friday, Saturday and Sunday games. The second price level is for the remainder of the schedule. Premium game ticket prices range from $10-21, while the ticket prices for the remainder of games range from $8-19.
Season ticket packages for the 2009 Tigers Spring Training exhibition season are on sale now at the Joker Marchant Stadium ticket office or can be ordered by mail at: Detroit Tigers, Attn.: Ticket Office, 2125 N. Lake Ave., Lakeland, FL 33805. Fans may also purchase season tickets at www.tigers.com beginning on Friday, December 12. Individual game tickets go on sale beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 10th, and can be ordered by visiting the ticket office at Joker Marchant Stadium, calling 866-66-TIGER or visiting www.tigers.com. For additional ticket information and special group pricing, call the Lakeland office at 863-686-8075.
DETROIT TIGERS 2009 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE
Wed. Feb. 25 Atlanta Lakeland 1:05 PM
Thur. Feb. 26 Washington Viera 1:05 PM
Fri. Feb. 27 Toronto Dunedin 1:05 PM
Sat. Feb. 28 NY Mets Lakeland 1:05 PM
Sun. March 1 Pittsburgh Bradenton 1:05 PM
Mon. March 2 FL Southern College Lakeland 1:05 PM
Tues. March 3 Venezuela WBC Lakeland 1:05 PM
Wed. March 4 Panama WBC Lakeland 1:05 PM
Thur. March 5 Washington Lakeland 1:05 PM
Fri. March 6 NY Yankees Tampa 7:15 PM
Sat. March 7 Philadelphia Clearwater 1:05 PM
Sun. March 8 NY Yankees Lakeland 1:05 PM*
Mon. March 9 Florida Jupiter 1:05 PM
Tues. March 10 St. Louis Jupiter 1:05 PM
Wed. March 11 NY Yankees Lakeland 1:05 PM
Thur. March 12 - - - - - - - - - - - - O p e n D a t e - - - - - - - - - - - -
Fri. March 13 NY Mets Lakeland 1:05 PM
Sat. March 14 Toronto Lakeland 1:05 PM
Sun. March 15 Washington Viera 1:05 PM
Mon. March 16 St. Louis Lakeland 1:05 PM
Tues. March 17 Houston Lakeland 1:05 PM
Wed. March 18 - - - - - - - - - - - - O p e n D a t e - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thur. March 19 Atlanta Disney World 7:05 PM
Fri. March 20 Washington Lakeland 1:05 PM
Sat. March 21 NY Yankees Tampa 1:15 PM
Sun. March 22 Florida Lakeland 1:05 PM
Mon. March 23 Boston Fort Myers 1:05 PM
Tues. March 24 - - - - - - - - - - - - O p e n D a t e - - - - - - - - - - - -
Wed. March 25 NY Mets Port St. Lucie 1:10 PM
Thur. March 26 Tampa Bay Lakeland 6:05 PM
Fri. March 27 Atlanta Disney World 1:05 PM
Sat. March 28 Toronto Dunedin 1:05 PM
Sun. March 29 Atlanta Lakeland 1:05 PM
Mon. March 30 Washington Viera 1:05 PM
Tues. March 31 Washington Lakeland 1:05 PM
Wed. April 1 Atlanta Lakeland 1:05 PM
Thur. April 2 Toronto Lakeland 1:05 PM
Fri. April 3 Atlanta Turner Field 7:05 PM
Sat. April 4 Atlanta Turner Field 1:05 PM
All time is Eastern (Detroit) Time * Daylight Savings Time begins March 8
Schedule as of December 2, 2008 (subject to change)
Jack Morris, Alan Trammell remain on Hall of Fame ballot
NEW YORK — Career steals leader Rickey Henderson heads 10 first-time candidates on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, joining holdovers Mark McGwire and Jim Rice — eligible for the final time.
Other newcomers are Jay Bell, David Cone, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn and Matt Williams.
Just 23 players are on the ballot, the smallest group ever. Holdovers include Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson. Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.