10 Reasons Baseball is Better Than Football

Unabashedly stolen from Brother Bill Bouie:
There's baseball, and then there are the minor sports. MLS, NBA, NFL, etc. Minor sports are all fine sports. They're just not baseball. They're not as interesting.
Baseball is perfect. Remember the first time you saw a major league diamond? Remember how it struck you?
You thought it was perfect, right? You were right then, and you're right now. Other sports come and go, but none of them can be as good as baseball.
Baseball isn't just better than football. It's better in dozens of ways. The game itself is better. The ballparks are better. The players are more skilled, the announcers more talented.
Opening Day is the best day of the year. The day after the World Series is the saddest.
Sometimes, baseball's off-season is more interesting than football's season. I felt this way even when I lived in places that didn't have knuckleheads running the NFL team.
It was a closer call in those places, but in the end, baseball always wins out. Anyway, on Super Bowl Sunday, let's run down some of the ways baseball is better than football:
1. Parity
MLB has more parity than the NFL. This wasn't always true. It is now. As the great Jayson Stark points out, since 2000, eight different MLB franchises have won the World Series. Meanwhile, seven NFL franchises have won the Super Bowl since 2000. Since 1970, 18 MLB franchises have won the World Series. Fifteen different NFL franchises have won championships in that span.
2. Skill level
Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. Throwing a baseball from 60 feet, 6 inches is the second-hardest thing. The NFL has some phenomenal athletes. None of them is as gifted as Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt.
3. Diamonds
It's still one of God's greatest creations. It's perfection on every level. Next time you walk into Minute Maid Park, take a moment to appreciate it. From the perfectly trimmed grass to the raked infield dirt to the chalked lines, it's about the base place on earth to spend a few hours. No matter how bad a day I've had, stress flows from me when I see a big league diamond.
4. Ballparks
Baseball's worst parks are better than football's best. If you've ever spent an evening at Dodger Stadium, you'd understand. It's both tranquil and energizing if one place can be both. If you're really lucky, you'll someday stand on the right-field concourse at AT&T Park and admire the view of the bay, the odor of garlic fries, the majesty of the place.
5. Home runs
Ever see Will Clark launch one? Or Junior Griffey? Lance Berkman? The home run is the greatest thing in sports. It combines a high skill level with amazing power. That instant when the ball is soaring out of the park is indescribable. Have you ever enjoyed anything more than Jeff Kent's game-ending home run in Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS? Or Chris Burke's 18th-inning shot that ended a 2005 NLDS series against the Braves?
6. Season
A baseball season is perfect. As Bart Giamatti wrote, ''It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come out, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.''
7. Cheerleaders
Football has 'em. Baseball doesn't.
8. All-Star Game
Baseball's mid-summer classic is a celebration. Of great players. Of the game itself. Football has nothing even close. The Pro Bowl? Do they still have that?
Baseball players have a union that has represented its members better than any other on earth. Baseball is better for having a strong, independent union. Pity the poor retired NFL players that have trouble having their gruesome conditions cared for.
10. Labor peace
Thanks to Commissioner Selig, baseball has it. Football is headed for a shutdown in 2011.

Who will be the Tigers fifth starter?

It looks to be a four hourse race for the final spot in the starting rotation between Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Zach Miner, and Rick Porcello. Who is the favorite right now? Zach Miner is versatile enough to pitch out of the pen, and my money is that Porcello will spend one more year in the minors streching his arm out and getting some more seasoning, so that leaves Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. The Tiger fan in me wants Nate Robertson to pitch well enough to earn the spot because he has pitched in some big games for the Tigers in the past and he makes his home here in Detroit and I really respect that. But my respect doesn't win games in the big leagues! No matter who wins the final spot you will have an extra starting pitcher and then the question becomes what do you do with that extra pitcher. I guess I wouldn't be suprised if a trade occured before opening day. I would like some feed back and opinions on this on going situation down in Lakeland.

Pudge on Puerto Rican Team in WBC

But even the Puerto Rican team's PR man admits, http://web.worldbaseballclassic.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081119&content_id=3685538&vkey=wbc&team= it's questionable how much he'll be playing, with good quality youth like Cub's Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto and Yadier Molina. At the last WBC Pudge hit only .238, so his addition to the team might be as a player/coach.

(NB - Put up with the WBC's dreadfully slow link. It has some good stuff.)

Who said that?

As the Tigers begin spring training games today, see if you can name the people quoted below:

1. “Let’s play two.”

2. “Baseball must be a great game to survive the fools who run it.”

3. “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game and do it by watching first some high-school or small-town teams.”

4. “Half of this game is ninety percent mental.”

5. “Tony Perez is going to the Hall of Fame. I’m going to the Elliott Lounge.”

6. "He (Darryl Strawberry) is not a dog; a dog is loyal and runs after balls."

7. "I'm not bad. I'm no Joe Morgan, but I'm pretty good for a white guy."

8. “I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.”

9. “Ninety percent of the money I made in baseball I spent on women and Irish whiskey. The rest I wasted.”

When it rains it pours

I sure hate living in Florida.
Bad enough that spring training has started, but now the Central Florida Invitational has started. Featuring more than 215 college baseball teams (including Ohio State), it runs through March 28 at various locations in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Tampa and Orlando.
Here's a photo from yesterdays game between Davenport University and Southeastern University in Lakeland. You can see more photos here as the event progresses http://picasaweb.google.com/Thomas.hagerty/CentralFloridaBaseballInvitational#

Where will Sheffield be in June?

Of course I am pulling for Sheffield to hit his five hundreth home run. Once he hits it, my question is will be be valuable or helpful to the Tigers? I am afraid he will have yet another injury or he will fizz out. And then there is the question of his steroid use. And if the Tigers are looking to the future can they take up a valuable roster spot with him?

Home of the Braves

This weekend I camped at Disney's Fort Wilderness campground with my family and a group from church. Having time on my hands Saturday morning, I drove over to Wide World of Sports to investigate the Braves' spring training complex. To my surprise I discovered the Braves and/or Disney have the unmitigated audacity to charge $12.75 admission -- just to watch spring training workouts! Of course I refused to pay. I walked over to a different entrance and asked the gatekeeper if I could go to the All Star Cafe. Sure, he said. So halfway there I detoured into Champion Stadium (above). Once inside, I saw only one security guard (on the field) and I roamed freely throughtou the stadium and around the back fields. You can see the results at http://picasaweb.google.com/Thomas.hagerty/SpringTraining2009#

Who is the closer for 2009

Another question: who will our closer be Rodney? Zumaya? Lyon? still to be determined?

Where is Kenny Rodgers

I haven't heard anything about Kenny Rodgers. Is he officially retired? Will he receive a last minute offer from some team? Is he material to be a pitching or bullpen coach someplace? He is quite the competitor.

What should A-Rod's punishment be?

Ok guys -- let's be the judge and jury for A-Rod. He took steroids at least from 2001-2003, but now there is new evidence of stuff that has happened as recently as 2007. #1 he is guilty #2 he lied #3 he is only interested in coveriung his butt. So what shouild he be penalized. One of the sports jocks here in Detroit today went so far as to say he should be suspended for an enitre year - even compared him to Michael Vick. I know this he sure is one big disappontment and I hope he never gets in the Hall. What say ye ----------

Tiger BBQ

The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce held its annual Tiger BBQ last nite at Joker Marchant Stadium. Her's Al Kaline getting corn on the cob. Othern than Cabrera and Zumaya, I didn't recognize any major leaguers, but I saw several minor league Tigers enjoying the free (for them) food. More photos here http://picasaweb.google.com/Thomas.hagerty/SpringTraining2009#

Hope Springs Eternal

The Tigers held their first workout today for all players. Several players, former players (Al Kaline and Lou Whitaker) and even Jim Leyland stopped to sign autographs and chat with the fans.
First game is Feb. 25 against the Braves.
Having glanced over the blog regarding the best Tiger reliever...I respectfully disagree. Hernandez did have a good year on a good team in 1984. However, John Hiller was a good reliever on bad teams. I remember in the final game of 1984 when Aurelio Lopez pitched fantastic in relief only to be rewarded by Sparky with a yank in favor of Mr. Hernandez. I do remember numerous games in the following years where we were winning going into the nineth only to loose those games at the hands of Hernandez. John Hiller still ranks among our best relievers despite the fact his supporting cast was sub-par. Imagine how he would have ranked had he had the fortune of being on a quality ball club.

Hagerty Wins MVP (Most Valuable Poster)

For his fantastic photos, both historical, and "live from Lakeland" with the powers vested in me as the commissioner, I present Tom our first annual Most Valuable Poster award.

In addition to his incredible photgraphy skills, he has shed a great deal of light on obscure, arcane baseball subjects, like "No, really, Who IS on first?"

We appreciate his contributions.

Happy Valentine's Day

Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday, and the Tigers celebrated Valentine's Day by holding their first workout of spring training. Miguel Cabrera (above) also joined the festivities.

The Colbert Report

I took this photo from the upper deck before a Tigers - Rangers game at Tiger Stadium on May 10, 1975. Looks like Aurelio Rodriguez in the cage. I think that's Ernie Harwell in the suitcoat talking to Jim Spencer of the Rangers. Note Nate ("the great") Colbert waiting his turn to hit.
Billy Martin managed the Rangers then, and this was his first series back in Tiger Stadium since Detroit fired him.

HOLY COW! Peek's a Winner!

Within 12 hours of my posting the little quiz, Jeff Peek went five for five!

The answers to the quiz below:
a.) The Mets
b.) Mookie Wilson
c.) Charlie Sheen
d.) Buckner was playing left on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron hit #715, and he is seen in the clips trying to climb the wall to get the ball.
e.) At the Sox/Tigers game on April 8, 2004, Billy had the honor of throwing out the first ball of the game to commemorate the occasion.

Way to go Jeff, and congrats to Tom Hagerty for getting the first three this morning. Both of you guys are early risers, and baseball-holics.

A Baseball Quiz, that actually touches on the Tigers!

For years, he was known in beantown as "Billy F'n Buckner."

It looked like the Bosox would break the curse of the Bambino in 1986 when late in the game Bucker booted a ground ball at third to open the gates to hell, in the eyes of Redsox fandom.

Here's a a little quiz. Enter your answer as a comment below. No fair cheating, and looking up the answers on-line, and try not to look at the other guys answers. (Hard to do, I know, but I can't think of how else to do this.)

A. What team went on to win the 1986 World Series?
B. Who hit the ball that Billy bobbled?
C. What well-known personality purchased that ball at auction a number of years later for a reported $93K?
D. What other historic moment in baseball did Billy play a part in, early in his career? HINT: you've seen the replay thousands of times, but never realized it was him.
E. Some 20 years after the historic moment in D, Bucker played a role in a Tiger opener. What was that?

If you get all five of these, you have won a week at Casa de Shields in suburban Dallas, including a personal tour guide of Dallas. (Travel and entry to the tourist sites at your own expense.)

Billy Bucker, one sad sox.

Hope Springs Eternal

Although the Tigers officially start spring training Saturday (pitchers and catchers), several players have already made their way to Lakeland and have started working out at Tiger Town.
Number 84 above is Kevin Bradshaw, former Tiger minor league hurler, former manager of the Lakeland Flying tigers, and currently a roving minor league instructor. I had the pleasure of getting to know him a few years ago when I coached his daughter in a church basketball league.
Also at Tiger Town: the Chinese National Team!

NY Post takes it to A-ROiD

No explanation necessary...

Did I miss Something?


Did Pudge Rodriguez admit to steroid use last summer?

Down here in Texas, discussion of A-Rod and Pudge on 'roids and HGH is all the rage in the paper. (Granted, A-Rod is much bigger news.) They even posted an All Ranger Druggie Team, players that either confessed or are listed on the Mitchell Report. (They stole the idea of a team of All-Stars from us, no doubt.)
The greatest behind the plate? Pudge.

I went to the News and Free Press web site, and references to Pudge and steroids go back to last summer.


Fr. Paul Berg - One of the Good Guys

We lost one of the great ones that had a big effect on my life. Fr. Paul Berg is gone. Fr. Berg seemed agless. He was old when we were in school. He was old when we left school, and he was old when I saw him a couple of years ago. The great ones are leaving us, which means we must be getting old.

I have great memories of Fr. Berg, hitting golf balls on the ballfield, shooting free throws in the gym, and he was the official SHS College basketball coach, and playing lots of handball. But my fondest memory of Fr. Berg was from Philosophy class. I ended up with Philosophy being my Minor in school.

We had a series of classes with Fr. Berg and we were discussing being and existentialism and I was having a hard time conceiving the concept, especially being. One night I went to his room for a conversation and told him of my difficulty understanding the concept. We talked quite a while and I still didn't get it. Finally, frustrated, he said to me, "Being is being because it is, non being is non being because it ain't, what is not cannot be and what cannot be isn't." It made all of the sense in the world to me and Fr. Berg opened up a whole new world.

He also taught me that there is no such thing as motion or progress. Since all things in the world are made up of points, line segments, and lines, he stated that movement was a perception and not a real thing. I asked him how and he said that since all things are made of of points, line segments and lines he could prove it. He asked me for the definition of a line and imagine me going from Detroit to Chicago. I said that the definition of a line was the connection of two points. He asked what were those points. I said a beginning point and an endpoint. He asked if there were a mid point. I said that yes, for every line there was a midpoint. He asked, what was that called. I said a line segment. He asked what was the midpoint of the line segment, I said another midpoint. He then asked the distance between the first point and the first mid point of the first line segment. I said that it was infinity He said correct and because you could never reach the first midpoint of the first line segment, there was no progress and therefore no such thing as motion.

Do you think that this guy had an effect on my life? LOL

Rest in Peace Coach.

Bengals sign Verlander: a no brainer

This is an absolute must if they want to remain contenders. Even if he had a less than spectacular season in '08, there's no question JV is a quality starter, and tried to do whatever the Tigers ask. He didn't need to worry about his paycheck being $500,000 a year. (A much better investment than the $500,000 an executive with a TARP company can make.)

He's with us through 2011. Spring training can't get here soon enough.

And you thought Congress was over paid?

Is Selig the most overpaid man in sports?
By Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports

Well, there had to be an explanation. The economy isn’t quite at event horizon, and big-league baseball teams continue to treat the remaining free agents as if they’re covered in salmonella-infested peanut butter. The unemployment of so many just didn’t make sense. Until now.
All that missing money went into Bud Selig’s pockets, of course! It had to, because when anything in baseball goes wrong the blame cascades toward Selig. And how else are people to feel when CEO compensation is such a hot-button issue, and the SportsBusiness Journal pores over Major League Baseball’s tax filings to reveal that Selig earned just shy of $18 million in 2007?
That’s a lot of ’68 Ramblers sold.

Oh, it’s easy to pile on. Joking about Selig peddling used cars – once and for all, he never did – is fun because it’s so easy to picture him standing on a lot, wearing a ratty tweed jacket and his patented look. You know, the one where his jaw slackens and his eyes flit, or the one where he wants to show his authority by waving a rule book that directly contradicts everything he’s saying.
Public approval never has been Selig’s forte, though it hasn’t been his motive, either. Selig has served as baseball’s commissioner for more than 16 years because the sport has enjoyed incredible financial growth, and his pay structure, one source with knowledge of it said, reflects that.
A “significant” portion of Selig’s $17.47 million salary came from performance bonuses related to MLB’s financial success, the source said. Almost assuredly, because of the recession’s effect on the sport, Selig’s pay in 2008 and going forward will be less, according to the source.
Under Selig’s watch, baseball has set attendance records, expanded the game’s international reach and grown four-fold as a business. He introduced the wild card, interleague play, the World Baseball Classic and MLB Network. Labor peace has prevailed for the longest time in the sport’s history. The owners love him. The players don’t seem to mind him. The product is great. Good executives get results, and they get paid accordingly.
Whether Selig’s successes match his failures – the explosion of steroid use, consequent hearings before Congress, a lost World Series, an All-Star Game tie and the approval of putting Spider-Man logos on bases (after which he came to his senses and quashed) – will serve as great debate fodder long after his expected retirement when his contract expires in 2012.
Still, Selig taking in more money than every player but Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez – and 64 percent more than the next-highest commissioner, the NFL’s Roger Goodell – is significant on many levels, chief among them how bad it looks.
What is Selig saying when MLB toward the end of 2008 instituted hiring and wage freezes? How does he explain the flat budgets throughout baseball, which affect not only how the league operates, but its ability to keep afloat such programs as Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities?
It’s worth pointing out that MLB is a private company. It may compensate its executives as it sees fit. There has been no taxpayer bailout. Selig could make $100 million with no ramifications aside from public guffawing.
On the other hand, baseball is viewed as a public trust, something to be handled with the best interest of the fan in mind. It was a blessing after the ’94 strike and after the steroid revelations, because people came back with such complicity. It’s a burden now, when dollars need to stretch like rubber bands and the many-times-a-millionaire-over commissioner is making so much, fans would have paid a quarter less per ticket in 2007 had he subsidized them with his salary.
When the stock market crashed in the beginning of October, Selig warned MLB’s owners not to “get too cocky.” Six weeks later, he brought in Paul Volcker to straddle his line between realism and Chicken Little in a chat with the owners. And now every one of them not named Steinbrenner is socking away cash like the apocalypse is near. As much as Selig seems to preach fiscal responsibility, it registers as the convenient sort, and not just because his own compensation is so significant.
At least a dozen teams are raising ticket prices this year, including the New York Mets. They will charge up to 79 percent more to watch a game on the new Citi Field, whose title sponsor is a bank rescued by … the very people paying that 79 percent premium.
The more things change … well, you know. Baseball has operated the same way for so long, it resembles that ’68 Rambler. Good old reliable, moving at a nice pace, slow and steady, slow and steady, and it keeps going up the hill, and it reaches the top, and then, when you’re least expecting it, boom! It backfires.
Jeff Passan is a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send Jeff a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

The Year of the Tiger

Here's Jon Warden of the '68 Tigers getting ready to autograph a copy of "The Year of the Tiger '68." Does anyone else have a copy? I still have mine, and one of these days I plan to have it transferred to digital since I no longer own a working turntable.

The rear cover says, "NBD presents The Official 1968 Detroit Tiger Album Limited Edition. The Detroit Tigers Win The American League Pennant/Ernie Harwell & Ray Lane. Produced by Fleetwood Recording Co., Inc. Revere, Mass. "

Go get 'em, Tigers!

Dear Mr. Fantasy: Part Two

The Tigers finished their second fantasy camp yesterday with a game in Joker marchant Stadium between campers and former Tigers. On the field or in the dugout for the ex-Tigers were Willie Horton (above), Mickey Lollich, Dan Petry, Mike Heath, Juan Berenguer, Tom Brookens, Barbaro Garbey, Doug Bair, Jon Warden, Dick Tracewski, Bill Scherrer, Johnny Grubb, Rick Leach, Ike Blessitt and Larry Herndon.

I'm adding photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/Thomas.hagerty/DetroitTigersFantasyCamp#
I also heard from a friend that several Tigers have already made their way to Lakeland and are working out at Tigertown, including Verlander, Bonderman, Dontrelle and Zumaya.