So, what did Santa Put in Your Stocking, Little Boy?

Nothing dirty here.

Just curious. Since all of our families, friends and neighbors know, we are Tiger fans. So what did they, er Santa, get you?

My Santa got me "100 Things Tiger Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die." Kind of like our bucket list of a few months ago.

Haven't had time to read it yet, but I think I've done many of them, like visit Lakeland and Tigertown. They say something about Earl Wilson being one of the earlist black Tiger heroes; just to show you my Tiger loyalty easily out paces my racism, I got his autograph at Nemo's Bar, about 1974.

Finally, in these dark days of winter, I present to you a picture of better days, my brothers Roy, and Chuck and me, at a Toledo Mud Hens game, sucking in our guts the best we could. A Tony Packo's hot dog with chili, beer, onions, and then two hours later a two hour trip back home with three flatulent, middle-aged digestive systems.


"Oh God, couldn't you have held it for another 50 miles?

"Me? That wasn't me, that was him!

"Yeah, well it wasn't half as bad as when Dad used to rent an ice fishing shanty on Anchor Bay, and blow the doors off the shanty. Who was afraid of drowning if we went through the ice? We were afraid of asphyxiation."

Family. I love 'em.

Plenty of Pitching Prospects for Sale

O.K. Lee is gone, Greinke is gone.

But there's still some good pitchers to be had by purchase, or trade. Unless I missed some news in the last few days, here's a summary, and my thoughts:

Bandon Webb threw 227 innings per year for the Diamondbacks 2004-2008. He can't do that for long, but maybe a one-year contract?

Carl Pavano went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA for the Twins in 2010, but word has it he wants a big multi-year contract. He's a fine pitcher, but he's 34 with a lot of innings on that arm. I wouldn't touch him on a long-term basis

Also available for trade are Ricky Nolasco and James Shields (no relations). As much as I like his name, I wouldn't give up prospects for Shields -- too many innings on his arm.

I heard a commentator the other day who said that long-term deals with free-agent pitchers rarely turn out well for the team. I guess if they put up the money, they want you to pitch...and perform, regardless of how your arm feels.

You guys know more than I do: what do you think?

A note from our pal Jim Domzal

Jim Domzal, good friend to all of us from Sacred Heart Seminary/Cardinal Mooney sends us this note through me, cause he can't figure out how to work At the Corner. Pio, you had your challenges, maybe you can help him.

"Hey greg, put my comment on the post a comment board on at the corner if you can. Sox signed adam dunn today at 2pm. Not good for the central division, tiges included."

(BTW, anybody else see the Oklahoma/Nebraska game Saturday night, where they did a long feature on famous coaches like Stoops, Bellinni and many others who cut their teeth at Cardinal Mooney High in Youngstown?)

Report: Tigers, Victor Martinez agree to $50M deal

The Detroit News

DETROIT — He'll catch some, occasionally start at first base. But that's not why the Tigers pursued Victor Martinez as a free agent.

They wanted his bat. And it appears they now have his bat.

Making no secret of their need and desire to sign a middle-of-the-lineup hitter, the Tigers reportedly have come to terms with Martinez on a four-year, $50 million contract.

Ignacio Serrano of El Nacional in Venezuela broke the story Tuesday morning. According to the report, Martinez turned down a four-year $50 million offer from the Orioles and a three-year, $48 million offer from the White Sox.

It could be he feels the Tigers are better positioned than the other two teams to get to the postseason during his contract.

The signing is the second free-agent addition the Tigers have made in a week. On Friday, they announced the signing of relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit to a three-year contract.
They've also extended Brandon Inge's contract for two years and signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta for two years.

So it's been a busy offseason so far for the Tigers.

And they might not be done. In fact, they probably aren't.

By not offering Magglio Ordonez arbitration Tuesday, the Tigers possibly opened the way to re-signing him for significantly less than the $18 million he made this year.

Ordonez has professed a desire to return to the Tigers, and no doubt knows he won't command from any team the kind of salary he's received since it climbed to $15 million in 2006. But there could be competition for Ordonez — so it's not automatic he'll return to the Tigers.

As a .300 career hitter, Martinez will be a major addition, however. The only surprise is that by signing with the Tigers, he'll now be hitting in a ballpark where his career batting average is .225 compared to the .336 he's hit at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field and the .296 he's hit at Baltimore's Camden Yards.

Obviously he doesn't anticipate his problems at Comerica Park to continue.

Martinez will turn 32 on Dec. 23. A major-leaguer since breaking in the Cleveland in 2002, he's not a kid. But as a hitter with career bests of 25 home runs and 114 RBIs, who's hit above.300 six times, he's had a productive major-league career.

There are no red flags that he's slowing down, either. For Boston this year, for instance, he hit .302 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIS. His RBI ratio was down, but for a weaker-than-usual Boston team, he had only 118 a-bats with runners in scoring position compared to 178 the year before, when he had 108 RBIS Martinez is a switch-hitter who would be comfortable hitting third if the Tigers don't bring Ordonez back — or fifth if they do.

Where he fits on the field might not be as easy to determine, however, as where he fits in the batting order.

Martinez started 110 games as the Red Sox catcher this year. But the Tigers have said Alex Avila will handle the bulk of their catching duties in 2011. Either they'll alter that plan or Martinez will catch less than he did.

But if he catches less, there still won't be a vacancy at first base where Martinez started 70 games in 2009. Miguel Cabrera is a fixture at first for the Tigers.

And, no, outfield is not an alternative. Martinez has never played in the outfield as a major-leaguer.

So what the Tigers have done for their $50 million is sign a projected designated hitter. With just 119 at-bats and a .235 batting average as a DH, it's a spot at which Martinez will have to get accustomed — but by signing with the Tigers, he has to know what positions are available to him and what aren't.

The bottom line is he's a hitter with a proven, productive track record — and that's what the Tigers both needed and targeted.


Because Martinez is a Type A free agent, Detroit will forfeit its first-round pick, No. 19 overall, to Boston. It's the second straight year the Tigers have given up their first-round pick for a free agent. Last offseason, that was the cost of signing closer Jose Valverde.


How Baseballs Are Made

So you're channel crusing on Saturday afternoon, and you come across "How It's Made." Boom! half and hour goes by!
Well allow yourself a five minute break, and watch this:

and don't wander down to the link to "How Louisville Sluggers are Made." This show is a time sink.

Love Conquers All

Time out from baseball. Friday my only daughter is getting married. There is no finer feeling. She is marrying a wonderful man and it will be one great Par-tee!!

Posey, Feliz win Rookie of the Year awards; Jackson deserved better

Just heard the news that Buster Posey and Neftali Feliz were landslide winners in the Rookie of the Year balloting. While NL fans will no doubt debate whether Posey deserved the award over Jason Heyward, that's at least an "apples to apples" argument. I think there's more to debate on the AL side, where Austin Jackson deserved a better fate.

Feliz caught the eye of the voters by setting a rookie record for saves (40), plus the Rangers made the playoffs. Both solid accomplishments. But while his pitching ability is impressive, Feliz is a role player. A specialist. That's not a slam, it's a fact. Feliz made 70 appearances and pitched 69.1 innings. The Rangers played 1,455 innings. So Feliz saw action 4.7 percent of the time.

Jackson, on the other hand, played fulltime -- and he played well. He became only the ninth rookie since 1901 to post 100 runs, 170 hits, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 20 stolen bases in the same season. Yes, he struck out 170 times, and the nay-sayers are hanging their hat on that one. But Jackson was given way more opportunity to fail that Feliz was. Jackson had 675 plate appearances and played 1,256 innings of Gold Glove-caliber centerfield. That means he was in on 87 percent of the action.

Plus, Jackson performed at that level while replacing Curtis Granderson, the Tigers most popular player. Who did Feliz replace? Frank Francisco and his 25 saves/3.83 ERA (2009). Not exactly the same size shoes.

Then, just for fun, let's just throw this out there: MLB's idea of a "rookie" is a joke. Feliz pitched in 20 games last year (while Jackson was in the minor leagues), yet he still fell 19 innings short of being considered a rookie. Are you kidding me? According to the rules, you're still a rookie if you pitch less than 50 innings. Non-pitchers get 130 at-bats. Averaging four at-bats a game, a player could play 32 full games and still be considered a rookie the following season. Do you think Jackson would have better or worse in 2010 if he had played fulltime in the majors for an entire month last fall? Come on MLB, how 'bout giving the Rookie of the Year award to an actual rookie?

Either way, Jackson deserved it.

Baseball Bucket List

Ok sports fans, I have been very fortunate throughtout the years to have attended some unbelievable athletic events. It still does not satisy my craving to do more. From Denny's 30th win, the 71 All Star Game at Tiger Stadium, the World Series in 84, and that is just the beginning. It would be a lot of fun to put together your Bucket List of your favorite baseball live events that you attended, and what you are looking forward to doing before we meet Sparky again for that final pitching change. Write them down and send them in. I will bet that they are all different.

Good luck and I can't wait to see yours.

Sparky in Hospice Care

Tigers legend Sparky Anderson in hospice care

Sparky Anderson, the all-time leader among Tigers managers in victories, visibility and inimitable quotations, has been placed in hospice care, according to a statement released today from his family.

Anderson is 76.

The family said Anderson was suffering from complications resulting from dementia and he was at his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

“It’s the type of ailment that takes a toll over time,” said family spokesperson Dan Ewald, who was in California with Anderson about three weeks ago.

The statement also said: The Anderson family — wife, Carol; sons Lee and Albert; and daughter Shirley Englebrecht – “wishes to express appreciation to all friends and fans for the support and kindness they have shown throughout Sparky’s career and retirement.”

Ewald, who has been friends with Anderson for 35 years, spent about a week with Anderson in October. They talked about some of old times they shared in baseball during the trip.

One of the stories the pair relived was a trip to Minnesota to play the Twins in 1987. They hailed a cab to go to the ballpark. Ewald paid for the fare and wanted to give the driver an extra bonus because they were in the playoffs.

The next day the two grabbed another cab and somehow got the same driver. On their way to the ballpark, Anderson and Ewald nudged each other signaling they wanted to play a joke on the driver. The two start talking loudly about how badly they were going to beat the Twins, so the driver, who was a Twins fan, would hear them and say something.

But the driver didn’t respond. After a while, Ewald tapped the driver on the shoulder and said, “Do you know who this is?” He pointed at Anderson thinking he might know.

The driver looked at Anderson and said, “No, I don’t recognize him, but I recognize you. You gave me a big tip the other day.” That gave Anderson a good laugh.

“The little stories in baseball, particularly with Sparky, are the ones that are the most precious,” Ewald said.

Anderson managed the Tigers from the middle of the 1979 season through 1995. His 17 seasons are most in club history. The runner-up is Hughie Jennings, who managed Ty Cobb’s Tigers for 14 seasons in the first part of the 20th Century. Anderson beat Jennings’ record for most victories by a Tigers manager by 200 (1,331-1,131).

Throughout his years near or at the top of baseball through his 2000 election to the Hall of Fame, Anderson rejected the airs of celebrity, no matter how prominent he became. He forever seemed as happy to see people he knew — and didn’t know — as they did to see him.

The Bridgewater, S.D., native, born George Lee Anderson, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000, deflecting credit for the honor.

"The players are the ones who earn their way into Hall of Fame," he sad in his acceptance speech in Cooperstown, N.Y. "Managers like me, we just ride in on their backs."

A second baseman, Anderson played one season for the 1959 Phillies. He managed the Cincinnati Reds 1970-78, winning the World Series in 1975 and 1976. He was named the American League manager of the year in 1984 and 1987. His record with the Tigers was 1,331 wins, 1,248 losses.

After he left the Tigers, Anderson kept ties to Michigan through CATCH, an organization he started in 1987 that raises money to help sick and at-risk kids. For years Anderson returned for CATCH's annual golf event in Northville.

Since its inception, CATCH has rung up about $4 million for Henry Ford Hospital and Children's Hospital of Michigan with support from golfers and sponsors such as Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Sales USA.

Read more: Tigers legend Sparky Anderson in hospice care | | Detroit Free Press

If you could have a "do over..."

It's always fun to talk about what the Tigers should do. I thought it might be fun to look at your thoughts on actions they took in the past.

Let's look at the players in the playoffs who were once Tigers. All things considered, (what they gave up in talent, or cash or failure to sign) would you make this deal again today?

Of course this isn't easy. For example, failure to re-sign Johnny Damon. What would it have cost us? Who knows? So indulge me, and as always, I'm open to (and welcome) criticism and corrections.

Now where it's really tricky: because I can only phrase the question in a certain way, I'll ask you: given the commentary below, would you still make the deal? (Voting next to the player's name indicates a yes. Not voting for that player means "NO.") You can vote "for" making the trade on all the players, or none, I just ask you to refrain from voting more than once on the same player.

Here we go:


CURTIS GRANDERSON: In six years he led the leage in triples twice, earned a Gold Glove, hit a total .272 overall. He was hobbled by a few injuries in 2010, but still turned in a decent year. The Tigers traded Granderson last winter in a three-way deal, getting Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Dan Schlereth.

Jackson has shown tremendous promise both in center and with the bat. But late in the season he showed some rookie mistakes at the plate. Can he survive a sophomore jinx?

Sherzer pitched O.K. last year, arguably his best in the majors, at 12-11, with a 3.5 ERA. Perhaps his best aspect is that he's young enough (25) to get better, but 2011 will be the his "arbitration year," and his agent is Scott "Finger Down My Throat" Boras.

Phil Coke did OK, with a 3.76 ERA last year. Didn't he do mostly long relief, or set-up? Not exactly the exciting part of tghe pitching staff. He too will be arbitration eligible next year.

What happened to Dan Schlereth? He only pitched 18 innings last year, had a decent ERA. Did he get hurt? Tick somebody off and get banished to Nashville or Lakeland?


The Commissioner's Opinion: The jury's still out. We got about 1,000 lbs. of ball players for one fine player in Granderson. At first, I said this was a terrible deal; now I'll go as far as saying Jackson might be an All-Star someday, and one of these pitchers might turn out to be something.


Say what you will about Cody, he's no "overnight sensation." In fact, he kinda reminds me of a major league version of Crash Davis.

I think the Tigers gave him every chance they could. They drafted him in in the fourth round in 1999, and he didn't make the bigs until 2003, when he hit .211 in six games, before being returned to the Toledo as damaged goods. The next year, the Tigers traded him for pitcher Steve Coyler. Yep, Steve "Cy Young" Coyler.

But ol' Cody persisted. Over the next five years, he played with nine teams (mostly Florida)compiling an astounding .265 average with 86 dingers.


COMMISSIONER'S OPINION: You bet I would. Tiger's wasted a fourth round pick in '99, and they were well off to get rid of him when they did. He's been hot lately, but he's never stayed hot long. They made the right call in letting him go.


The Tigers gave Ramon Martinez and Ugueth Urbina in 2005 to get Polanco, and he had some very productive years for them (although he commanded a hefty $4.6 million salary through 2009 when they let him go to the Phillies as a free agent. At 34 he's getting long in the tooth.


COMMISSIONER'S OPINION: In a second, a good deal on both ends. We picked him up for next to nothing, paid him dearly, and then sent him and his pay checks to Philadelphia.


This is a tough call. Widely hailed as "the strongest guy in the majors" MT just didn't have the numbers to lift his $2.2 million salary after the 2009 season, and the Tigers let him go to the Yankees as a free agent. (Six years with the Tigers, only twice hitting above .250, and getting more than 20 HRs.)

We signed him as a free agent, and got nothing back when he left. He might have some big seasons in the future, but he's 33, and you have to wonder how many years he has left.


COMMISSIONER'S OPINION: Tigers probably did the right thing. You can only wait so long.


Andres who?

Gregg, you really should remember him. He was with the Tigers for three years (two stints) and with the Rangers briefly in 2005. The thing is, he only played in 81 games for Detroit, never hitting more than .220. In succeeding years, he was granted free agency or released by Detroit, the White Sox, the Rangers, the Twins, again by the Tigers, and then the Cubs, before he found something of a home in San Fran in 1990 where he hit .270 for a couple years.


COMMISSIONER'S OPINION: Sure, lots of people have.


I was kinda surprised that Matt only made the Tigers for a single season, 2008, before he got traded to the Rays for Edwin Jackson.

COMMISSIONER'S OPINION: All in all, a pretty inconsequential trade.


Similarly, I was surprised this Matt was only with us for a year.Given that he was 0 fer 14 at the plate, it's hard to make an argument in his favor. The Tigers release him.


CARLOS PENA - (Unfortunately, I found six ballplayers by that name. Beat me up if you want to comment on his trade.)

Ya gotta listen to this...

If you've never before listened to Roy Firestone's version of a Toledo Mudhen's game, do I have a treat for you! Listen to

Ex-Tigers Play Huge Role in Playoffs and a Prediction

My Men, Cody Ross and Colby Lewis!!!! Ex-Tigers made a great showing for the most part. Curtis, Marcus, Andres, Placido, Edgar, Aubrey. The Tigers did very well. It will be great to see the Rangers versus the Giants. I am torn on this one. The Ryan family are friends of mine and great people, and I know Bruce Bochy as well. Ok, my guess is the Rangers in six.

God Bless You Josh Hamilton. He is a beast. I am glad that the MVP votes had to be cast before the playoffs, otherwise Miguel would have been blown away, although he had a GREAT season. You surely proved yourself. Keep sticking with that ginger ale.

Tigers, Inge agree to two-year deal

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers today announced the club has agreed to terms with third baseman Brandon Inge on a two-year contract with a club option for the 2013 season.

Inge saw action in 144 games with the Tigers during the 2010 season, batting .247 (127x514) with 28 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs and 70 RBI. He topped all American League third basemen with a .977 fielding percentage during the season.

“The Tigers organization is pleased to announce the signing of Brandon today,” Tigers President, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David Dombrowski said. “Brandon is one of the top defensive third basemen in the game and a quality individual we are proud to have as a representative of the organization.”

Selected to the American League’s all-star squad in 2009, Inge has hit .237 (1028x4337) with 201 doubles, 36 triples, 136 home runs and 564 RBI in 1,297 games during his major league career with the Tigers since making his major league debut during the 2001 season.

The longest-tenured current Tigers player, Inge is currently fourth in franchise history with 898 games played during his career at third base. He trails only Aurelio Rodriguez (1,236 games), Don Wert (1,036 games) and Tom Brookens (979 games) in games played at the position in Tigers history.

Get out the Vote!

Naw, not Tea Party, Democrat or Republican, but the little poll at right.

I post it with some fear, recognizing that I'm missing somebody, and with just five of us voting these days, it's very possbile we will spread the vote to five different choices, but it should be interesting.

I know I'm not watching all the other match-ups beyond Texas/Tampa (wife is claiming "baseball abandonment" as grounds for divorce, and we're only at the second round of playoffs.)

For example, when I asked Bill Bouie this question, he was high on San Fran Giant's Cody Ross; heck, I didn't even know he was a Tiger! I felt a little better when I looked it up and found he only played six games in the Old English D.

So feel free to smack me on this one, and say "Gregg, how could you have left out ____?!!" I won't be able to reconstruct the poll without throwing away all the votes, but it makes for interesting chat.

Looking at this list brings up a good question for next week: All things considered, which trade/sale/release (from this list) do you wish the Tigers had not done if they had it all over again? (We're not gonna beat up the John Smolz for Doyle Alexander deal again.)

I was wrong about the Texas Rangers!

You won't often hear me say this: I was wrong.

I was all set to rant this morning that Buck Showalter and the national broadcasters had it all wrong in saying the Rangers played classic "Small Ball."

Sure, they have some quick feet like Elvis Andrus, but how can you call a team that relied on the lusty power hitting of Vladimer Gurrero, Josh Hamilton,and Nelson Cruz all year "small ball?"

I would call them a balanced attack, with power, speed and good pitching making them just good enough.

But last night, seeing all 200 plus lbs. of "Bad Vlad," rounding third and heading home on what should have been a double play was almost laughable, were it not for the fact that it could have been the game winning run. (Tip of the hat to Our Resident Rays Fan, Tom, the umps really did blow the call, it should have been a double play.)Maybe this really is "Small Ball."

But congrats to Tom for being a loyal Rays fan when our Tigers couldn't be there. I love a good "Homer" for their loyalty, far more than somebody who picks the favorites. Yeah, some of you picked the Phils. Your day will come, but at least none of my friends picked the dreaded Yankees.

(Footnote: I recognize the difference between picking your "favorite" and picking who you "think" will win. But alas, this is baseball, where the heart SHOULD overrule the mind now and again. Rangers all the way!)

Tigers want Inge back, won't pick up Ordonez's option

By TOM GAGE, The Detroit News

A major mystery of the Tigers' upcoming off-season may already have been solved. They want Brandon Inge back as their third baseman.

General manager Dave Dombrowski said Sunday that he's discussed a multi-year contract with Inge and that he's hopeful of bringing him back.

"We've made him an offer and will see if we can get something done," Dombrowski said. "We'd like to have him back. Usually if there's desire by both parties, it has a way of working out."

Inge is "optimistic" about staying with the Tigers. "I'm happy they've already approached me," he said.

Dombrowski also said he's told Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird and Johnny Damon that the club has no plans of re-signing them -- although Bonderman could be invited to spring training if he doesn't land a contract elsewhere.

Dombrowski said the team will not pick up Magglio Ordonez's $15 million option for next year, but is "open-minded" about bringing him back.

"We have not closed the door by any means," Dombrowski said. "Magglio expressed a strong desire to remain a Tiger. We'll just see what takes place over the winter. He's a possibility, but by no means for sure.

"We need a middle-of-the-order bat that can drive in runs. We have to have that. It's most likely going to be either an outfielder, DH or both -- a left-handed bat if we could."

Dombrowski identified Ryan Raburn as a "key component of our outfield" for 201l. "That leaves one spot open."

About Brennan Boesch possibly winning that one spot, Dombrowski said, "Is it guaranteed? No. He'll go to spring training and we'll just see who's in camp with us at that time."

The team is interested in bringing back Jhonny Peralta as its starting shortstop and is working toward retaining him.

"We don't know what we will do with his ($7.25 million) option, but would like him back next year as our shortstop," said Dombrowski. "At second base, we'll pretty much go with what we have."

Earlier Sunday, manager Jim Leyland said he plans to start Phil Coke next year, and that a middle-of-the-lineup bat and "shoring up the bullpen" are the team's greatest needs for next year.

Although saying that Armando Galarraga "could be that guy," Dombrowski was non-committal about a fifth starter. "We're not really sure what we're going to do."

In a far-ranging season-ending discussion before Sunday's game, Dombrowski, although unsigned beyond the 2011 season, doesn't think his job is on the line going into next year -- as Leyland has said about his own job.

"I feel secure," Dombrowski said. "I have a contract for next year and a good relationship with ownership. I've never really worried about that. If you have confidence in your ability, work hard, do a good job, things tend to work out."
On the decision to try to bring Inge back, Dombrowski said, "The biggest appeal is that he's an outstanding defensive third baseman. He's been great for us.

"He gives you some offense, but you have to look at the numbers he's put up and think that's what you are going to get. You always used to look at third base as a power-producing position. There just aren't that many guys who fit that mold anymore."

About not bringing Damon back, Dombrowski said, "We've spoken to him and told him we're very appreciative of what he's done. But with the spot we're looking for, we told him we won't pursue trying to re-sign him."

And about Bonderman, Dombrowski said, "We've seen him grow up, we love him, but at this point we don't anticipate pursuing him. If he wants to keep pitching next year, and nothing has happened for him, we're not closing the door. But we'll not actively try to sign him."

The Tigers also have decided to "give Alex Avila the primary responsibilities as our catcher," said Dombrowski. "We think he's ready to do it. Although they're hard to find, we'll look to supplement that with a free-agent catcher, who hits right-handed."

Damon said he's appreciative that the Tigers have already told him about their plans.

"I know I don't fit into the picture," he said. "But at least I go home knowing what my situation is. The other times I've been a free agent, I didn't know this early, so this is good."


My Pick: the Texas Rangers

Why do I pick the underdog Texas Rangers to win the series?
Sure, there are teams like the Yankees that have more star-power, others that might have a more consistent pitching staff, and admittedly, I might sound like a bit of "homer," but this team has depth, exactly what our Tigers lack.
When the Rangers all-star Josh Hamilton went down with bruised and the broker ribs, they filled in David Murphy who has been a sheer joy to watch in the field and at the plate.
Their opening day pitcher has struggled all year, but the rest of the staff has come through well enough, lead by C.J. Wilson with 13 wins and a 3.15 ERA, and Rookie of the Year Candidate Neftali Feliz.
Speaking of potential Rookie of the Year, Have you seen this Elvis Andrus at short? Rounded out by solid position players, like Vlad Guerero, Michael Young, and Nelson Cruz, this is a deep team.
Their first challenge in the playoffs will be overcoming their inability to win on the road, where they have been playing less than .500 ball.
So gut up boys, it's time to play tough!

Thanks, Bing: TV broadcast of 1960 Series Game 7 found in Crosby's wine cellar


How a near pristine black-and-white reel of the entire television broadcast of the deciding game of the 1960 World Series — long believed to be lost forever — came to rest in the dry and cool wine cellar of Bing Crosby’s home near San Francisco is not a mystery to those who knew him.

Crosby loved baseball, but as a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates he was too nervous to watch the Series against the Yankees, so he and his wife went to Paris, where they listened by radio.

“He said, ‘I can’t stay in the country,’ ” his widow, Kathryn Crosby, said. “ ‘I’ll jinx everybody.’ ”

He knew he would want to watch the game later — if his Pirates won — so he hired a company to record Game 7 by kinescope, an early relative of the DVR, filming off a television monitor. The five-reel set, found in December in Crosby’s home, is the only known complete copy of the game, in which Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a game-ending home run to beat the Yankees, 10-9. It is considered one of the greatest games ever played.

Crosby, the singer and movie, radio and TV star, had more foresight than the television networks and stations, which erased or discarded nearly all of the Major League Baseball games they carried until the 1970s.

A canny preservationist of his own legacy, Crosby, who died in 1977, kept a half-century’s worth of records, tapes and films in the wine cellar turned vault in his Hillsborough, Calif., home.

“Bing Crosby was way ahead of his time,” said Nick Trotta, senior library and licensing manager for Major League Baseball Productions, the sport’s archivist.

Three years ago, Major League Baseball acquired the rights to Yankees pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series — leaving the finale of the 1960 World Series high on its wish list. The hunt for old games — this one unseen on TV since its original broadcast — is constant, subject to serendipity and often futile. Great games like Game 7 in 1960 are often recalled with just a few newsreel clips.

Crosby was so superstitious about hexing his Pirates that he and Kathryn listened to the game with their friends Charles and Nonie de Limur in Paris.

“We were in this beautiful apartment, listening on shortwave, and when it got close Bing opened a bottle of Scotch and was tapping it against the mantel,” Kathryn Crosby said. “When Mazeroski hit the home run, he tapped it hard; the Scotch flew into the fireplace and started a conflagration. I was screaming and Nonie said, ‘It’s very nice to celebrate things, but couldn’t we be more restrained?’ ”

After Crosby viewed the 2-hour-36-minute game, probably in a screening room in the house, the films took their place in the vault, said Robert Bader, vice president for marketing and production for Bing Crosby Enterprises.

They remained there undisturbed until December, when Bader was culling videotapes of Crosby’s TV specials for a DVD release — part of the estate’s goal of resurrecting his body of work.

He spotted two reels lying horizontally in gray canisters labeled “1960 World Series.” They were stacked close to the ceiling with home movies and sports instructional films. An hour or so later, he found three others on other shelves. Intrigued, he screened the 16-millimeter film on a projector. It was Game 7, called by the Yankees’ Mel Allen and the Pirates’ Bob Prince — the complete NBC broadcast. The film had not degraded and has been transferred to DVD.

“I had to be the only person to have seen it in 50 years,” Bader said. “It was just pure luck.”

Bader’s call to M.L.B. officials last spring initiated months of talks that have led to an agreement allowing the MLB Network to televise the game in December, and to wrap interviews and other programming around it, with Bob Costas as the host. M.L.B. also plans to sell DVDs of the game.

“It’s a time capsule,” Trotta said.

Hearing of the broadcast’s discovery, Jim Reisler, a historian born in Pittsburgh, sounded stunned.

“Wow,” he said. His book about the game — “The Best Game Ever” — would have benefited from seeing the NBC production, he said; he relied on the radio call. “It would have given me a greater sense of the tremendous ebb and flow of the game,” he said.

Dick Groat, the Pirates’ shortstop, said: “It was such a unique game to begin with. It was back and forth, back and forth. It was unbelievable.”

The production is simple by today’s standards. NBC appeared to use about five cameras. The graphics were simple (the players’ names and little else) and rarely used. There were no instant replays, no isolated cameras, no analysis, no dugout reporters and no sponsored trivia quizzes.

Viewers looked at the hand-operated Forbes Field scoreboard, which on that day (of 19 runs and 24 hits) got a vigorous workout. Occasionally they saw newsreel cameras atop the ballpark roof.

Prince and Allen rarely interacted, with Prince calling the first half and Allen the second. That put Allen on the air for Yogi Berra’s three-run homer in the sixth inning (Allen first called it foul); Pirates catcher Hal Smith’s eighth-inning homer to put Pittsburgh on top, 9-7 (“That base hit will long be remembered,” Allen said as the film showed Roberto Clemente — Allen called him Bob — bounding around the bases with joy); and Mazeroski’s winning drive to left field (“And the fans go wild,” Allen said).

The game included the play on which a ground ball hit by Bill Virdon to Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek kicked off the dirt and hit him in the Adam’s apple. Kubek fell on his back, sat up within a minute looking dazed, stood up, then lobbied Manager Casey Stengel unsuccessfully to stay in.

It also included remarkable base running by Mickey Mantle with one out in the top of the ninth. The Yankees were trailing, 9-8, with Mantle on first and Gil McDougald on third. Berra hit a sharp grounder that was grabbed by first baseman Rocky Nelson, who quickly stepped on the bag for the second out. For a split second, Nelson seemed ready to throw home in time for a tag play on McDougald for the final out of the World Series.

But Nelson immediately became distracted by Mantle, who never took off for second when Berra hit the ball and was now standing just a few feet away. Nelson reached to tag Mantle, but Mantle made a feint and dived back safely into first. McDougald scored, and the score was tied, 9-9.

“How about that?” Allen said after Mantle’s play. But just minutes later, Mazeroski stepped to the plate. NBC’s sound was good enough to hear a fan shout, “Just get on, Billy, get on!” Mazeroski did more than that. After his home run, fans poured onto the field and danced on the Pittsburgh dugout.

Only later did Bing Crosby witness the joy and jubilation recorded just for him.

“I can still see Bing hitting the mantel with the Scotch,” Kathryn Crosby said.


Second Place

I know it may not be much of a consolation -- but the White Sox are 11 games out of first and the Tigers are 14 games out of first. How about a rallying cry for the rest of the season - to end up in 2nd place. Better than 3rd!!

Time to shed a tear?

Gregg, as much as I hate to say it - you were right. Even with the win today, the Tigers were officially eliminated from the Central race. The Tigers just did not have the horse power. IMHO, the injuries to Maggs and Inge doomed the Tigers. Coupled with the skinny pitching staff, the team just could not mount a charge.

What should our fantasy team look like for next year. Inge, Peralta, Sizemore and Cabrera in the infield. Boesch and Jackson in the outfield along with a free agent bat in left. Rayburn and Damon as DH. Avila has come on strong, but I still think we need more of a bat at catcher. Velander, Scherzer and Porcello begin the rotation. I would fill it out with one of the Double A phenoms (Oliver or Turner) and a back of rotation FA. Perry, Zumaya, Seay, Valverde, Coke and Thomas for relief. I don't care about the last two spots in the bullpen. Rhymes and Worth as the remaining infielders.

I would also keep Dumbrowski and Leyland. DD has made a couple of horrible moves (Willis, Robertson - okay more than a few), but I think he has also more winners than losers. Jackson for Granderson, Scherzer for E. Jackson. Many of the prospects he gave up (Miller, Joyce, Jurjeins, Maybin) haven't lived up to their potential. Maybe he does get it.

I just like Leyland. Nuff said. When does spring training start up?

Th Amazing Race...

Sports Illustrated has a pretty good piece this week Sept. 20 edition) entitled "The Amazing Race" about the battle for the 1910 batting title.
A more innocent time? Hardly. Reports of umps being bribed, scorers getting "leaned on" and a "legitimate" prize of a luxury car for the winner, Ty Cobb or Nap Lajoie.
Good stuff.

Taking in Trivia

Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz tied a long-standing MLB record Friday night, with his fifth extra-inning, game winning homer of the season.

Who shares that single season record?

So What Happened?

Many of us were optimistic at the outset of 2010.
The Tigers even held first place for a good chunk of May.
But it just started slipping away, and then big chunks started crashing.
Dontrelle never did find his stuff.
Porcello lost his, went to Toledo, and we all hope he's back, better and brighter than ever.

Jackson and Boesch came on like gangbusters, and then cooled.

But the final nail in the coffin might have been the season-long loss of Inge.

There was some good things; Johnny Damon, coming on and making a real contribution. Galaraga's near-perfect game, but then his inconsistence. (I could have told you that from his time with Texas.)

So the floor is now open for debate: what do the Tigers need to do to become competitive, even in this weak sister American League Central Division.

IMHO, they just don't have the horses to pull the wagon, and they never came close. They didn't have the depth of pitching they needed, they didn't have the infield depth, and they certainly weren't as full of hitting as they thought they were.

"So what do they do, Gregg?" you ask. Unfortunately, I think it's time to start over. The only position players worth keeping are Boesch, Jackson and Cabrera. They have one pitcher. For everybody else, it's time for that old T.V. favorite, "Let's Make a Deal!"

First things first, we need pitchers. The three position players I mentioned are not on the no-trade/no waiver list. In fact, they might be good bait for a few prospects.

Second, I never was a fan of the "If the bus won't start, let's shoot the bus driver" school. But maybe Leyland is getting a little long in the tooth for this job.

What would you guys do?

First Third is First Rate in My Book

On a trip to Detroit last week The Shields Boys (my brothers Chuck, Roy and I) ventured down to Toledo to catch a Mudhens game.
For just $8, we sat a few rows behind the visitors dugout, and saw an extra inning win by the hens. It was a cool (by Texas standards) beautiful night, and if we didn't have the long drive home ahead of us, we could have stayed for fireworks.
Alas, with three old men in one vehicle, three hours after a dinner of Tony Packo's world famous hot dogs, sauce and onions, there were plenty of fireworks for us.

On the sidelines???

The Tigers certainly let the Waiver Wire Deadline pass with just a whimper. Wilkin Ramirez to the Braves for cash considerations. Jhonny Peralta for prospects? Should the Tigers been a seller? I think the season is pretty much shot, so should Bonderman, Damon, Garalaga been offered. They certainly are not top line players, but could the Tigers have gotten a prospect or two?

Former Tigers manager Ralph Houk dies at 90

By the Associated Press

BOSTON -- Ralph Houk, who managed the powerhouse Yankees of the early 1960s to two World Series championships, died Wednesday. He was 90.

Houk also managed the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers in a 20-season career that spanned three decades.

Red Sox spokesman Dick Bresciani said Houk's grandson, Scott Slaboden, told the team Houk died at his home in Winter Haven, Fla. Slaboden, who lives in the Boston area, wrote in an e-mail to the team that Houk "died peacefully of natural causes after having a brief illness."

Houk spent parts of eight seasons as a backup catcher for the New York Yankees, appearing in just 91 games. But former Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek, who played for Houk in the minors and majors with New York, said Houk learned a lot about handling a pitching staff from working with Hall of Famer catchers Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey in the bullpen.

"He had the Yankees' spirit, the Yankees' winning attitude," Kubek told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "He had all the qualities that make a special manager."

Houk managed 3,157 games and won 1,619 with a winning percentage of .514. After leaving the Yankees in 1973, he went to Detroit and managed the Tigers from 1974-78, compiling a 363-443 record.

Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont's most active season as a Tiger (1974) was with Houk as his manager.

"Tough guy, and we had bad teams," Lamont said, "but I'm sure he was a great manager. I know guys played hard for him."

Houk's final stint in the dugout came with Boston from 1981-84.

"People forget that before he was a manager, he was a war hero and he was a catcher for a lot of years," Tigers radio analyst Jim Price said. "He was a great guy, I knew him very well, and everyone that played for him loved him."

It's been a tough couple of weeks for the Yankees organization, which has lost three notable figures from its storied history in the last 10 days. Longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard died on July 11 and iconic owner George Steinbrenner passed away two days later.

Houk's best seasons as a manager were his first three in New York. He took over the Yankees in 1961 and behind Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris the team won 109 game and a World Series championship.

The Yankees repeated as champions in 1962 and won the AL pennant in 1963, but were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

Houk managed a handful of Hall of Famers in New York, but Kubek said he was an integral part of the team's success.

"Sometimes when you have good players, you can mess it up and he didn't do that," he said. "He didn't overmanage. He was probably, more than a strategist, a handler of men."

Houk moved into the front office after the series loss to the Dodgers, serving as Yankees general manager in 1964 and '65. He returned to managing the Yankees in 1966 and held the job until 1973, but he only had four more winning seasons and never finished better than second place.

The Lawrence, Kan., had only one winning season with the Tigers, his last in 1978.

"Ralph was a great baseball man who handled his players well and they played hard for him," Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline said in a statement released by the team. "He was well respected and a fun guy to be around. I enjoyed playing for him during my last year."

Former Tiger Willie Horton said in a statement, “I respected Ralph as a manager. We had formed a good relationship after we both retired from the game.”

Houk came out of retirement in 1980 at the age of 61 to take over as Red Sox manager.

But he'll most be remembered as a Yankee.

"He was just a wonderful guy, loyal to his players," Kubek said. "The Major was just a great person."

Houk is survived by his daughter, Donna Houk Slaboden, his son Robert Houk and four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.


Patrick Leyland

Patrick Leyland, recently drafted son of Tiger skipper Jim Leyland, warms up before yesterdays Gulf Coast League game between the Tigers and Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland.

"Major League" actor James Gammon dies at 70

James Gammon, the gravel-voiced actor who played Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown in the 1980s comedy "Major League," died Friday at the age of 70.

The craggy-faced actor had some hilarious lines in "Major League," like:

"Forget about the curve ball Ricky, give him the heater."


(After Willie Mays Hayes makes a basket catch): "Nice catch, Hayes. Don't ever f***in' do it again."


Willie Mays Hayes: "Willie Mays Hayes. I hit like Mays, and I run like Hayes."
*Lou Brown: "You may run like Hayes. but you hit like ****."


Charlie Donovan (on the phone): "How would you like to manage the Indians this year?"
*Lou Brown: "Gee, I don't know..."
Charlie Donovan: "What do you mean, you don't know? This is your chance to manage in the big leagues."
*Lou Brown: "Let me get back to you, will ya, Charlie? I got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls."

Funny stuff. I may just have to watch that movie tonight. Sure beats watching the Tigers lose four straight at Cleveland -- which may have been a fitting tribute to the memory of Lou Brown/James Gammon, but may have exposed the Tigers as pretenders. The timing couldn't be worse, either, considering they're facing an insane stretch against the Rangers, Jays, Rays (at Tampa), Red Sox (at Fenway), White Sox, Angels, Rays again, White Sox again (at Chicago) and Yankees (at Yankees Stadium). Can't say I'm feeling very confident about their chances at this point...

Like So Much of Detroit, the Star of Our Team Slowly Fades

On this All-Star Day, Harris Interactive released its latest poll on which teams were most popular; it shows a distressing trend for our team. The Tigers are tied for 12th most popular (tied with Seattle and the Texas Rangers, who are financially insolvent and for sale.) That's down from tenth a decade ago.

So what? Revenues from selling caps and junk, ticket sales, television receipts and all related income comes from being popular. Frankly, and bitterly, that's why the game is so dominated by the Yankees and Red Sox, big market clubs with tremendous popularity. What is all boils down to is that the Tigers and most of the rest of the AL plays to give the Yankees a "venue" for their product.

Maybe most concerning is that when asked "Do you follow Major League Baseball?" the vast majority (64 percent) say "No." That's a number that's been dropping like like a fly ball.

Oldest Living Tiger in Today's News

Virgil Trucks, sounds like a neat old boy.

I hope someday I can meet him.

Kirk Gibson to manage Diamondbacks

Sept. 30, 1979

Today's Free Press reports that the Diamondbacks have named Kirk Gibson interim manager. Way to go, Giibby!

Quizzical Quote in the Freep This morning...

Leyland says the darndest things.

After getting shellacked by the Twins last night the Freep says :

"Leyland complimented Gonzalez for “saving the bullpen.” ... The one-sided loss meant a night off for lefties Phil Coke and Brad Thomas."

Geez, I'm glad Gonzales saved us from a 4-1 victory!

Ususally this quote comes out something like "We all knew he didn't have his best stuff tonight. It happens to every pitcher. But sometimes you just gut it out and put in the innings. That's what a workhorse does..."

Sweet Stuff in this week's SI

It's not about the Tigers, and it's not about major leaguers. It's not even news, but read this piece in Sports Illustrated about a 1971 central Illinois high school baseball team ( week. It reads with the easy summertime charm of a tall glass of Sweet Tea.


Tigers go 8-1 in their home stand

Kind of exciting how the Tigers beat up on their three National League opponents. It was almost a complete sweep as the Tigs tried to mount another 9th inning comeback yesterday. I am enjoying the team and the fact that management keeps making changes - like the recent Porcello move to strengthen the team. Looking forward to seeing you in October

Porcello Optioned to Toldedo

This just in from AP. Probably a wise move, given recent performance. We all hope he'll be back with the team and in form for the pennant drive.

The Detroit Tigers have optioned struggling right-hander Rick Porcello(notes) to Triple-A Toledo.

The Tigers announced the move Sunday.

After going 14-9 as a 20-year-old rookie last year, Porcello is 4-7 with a 6.14 ERA this season.

The Tigers did not immediately announce who would replace Porcello on the roster or in the rotation. Because of an off-day, Detroit wouldn’t need a fifth starter until June 29.

One possibility is Enrique Gonzalez(notes), who was recently called up to pitch long relief and had gone 4-5 in 11 starts in Triple-A before reaching the majors.

Next Tiger manager

As the Arizona Diamondbacks come to town, I wonder: "Is their bench coach (Kirk Gibson), the Tiger manager of the future? Is he in training in Arizona? Not that Leyland is leaving soon, but I do wonder. Tigers are leading Dontrelle 4-1 as I type this -- hope we canplay more games against the wonderful National League. Any thoughts from those of you wiser than me about future managers of the Tigers? See you in October.

Tigers/Rangers Connection?

It's not quite the "joined at the hip" relationship the Yankees had with Kansas City in the '50s and '60s, but it's interesting to note: Michael Young passed Pudge Rodriguez as the all-time hit leader for the Texas Rangers hit leader, and four of the next seven on the list have some direct connection to the Bengals.
The list includes Juan Gonzales, Rueben Sierra, Jim Sundberg and Buddy Bell (Tiger manager of long ago.)
#7 on the list is Rusty Greer. One of my sweetest memories of being a father to three daughters who really couldn't care much about baseball was the day my little girl looked seriously into my eyes and said, "Daddy, why doesn't he change his name?


"Crusty Rear."

Almost as good as the day they volunteered to sit in the rightfield stands to get a better look at Gabe "The Babe" Kapler.

In the Nick of time

In yesterday's draft the Tigers used their top selection on Nick Castellanos (center above at last year's East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland), a right-handed hitting high-school shortstop from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He's 6' 3", 190 pounds, and the Tigers see him moving to third base as a pro.

According to the Free Press, Castellanos has committed to the University of Miami, but the Tigers might have a hometown edge in trying to sign him: his mother is from Detroit, her family still lives there, and his father is a retired firefighter in Detroit.

Tigers committed to winning

What a week it was! Armando's perfect game. Dontrelle's release - he did pitch 6 innings today and got a hit (seems to love the National League), and then the Tigers released Adam Everett today. Look at how much the team has already changed this year. I believe our brain trust will keep working until they get it right. They are not standing pat. Sorry that we have slipped behind the Twins, but there is plenty of time left. We will get it right. Rookie of the month in both April and May - both Jackson and Boesch are pleasant additions. Starting pitching still a concern. Will be interesting to see Galaraga's next start. I am excited. and I will see you in October!

Galarraga robbed of perfect game

OK, gents. Can't believe someone hasn't already started the discussion, but let's get to it. Time to decide how much you believe in tradition and how much you believe in getting it right. Replay or no replay? And for the first time in history, should MLB step in, overrule an umpire (Jim Joyce) and award Armando Galarraga a perfect game? If so, does that open a huge can of worms? Does it matter that Joyce admitted he blew it? How do you justify overruling the call -- does it have to be the last out of a perfect game? Last out of a no-hitter? Or do you just hang your hat on the fact that Galarraga tossed the first 28-out perfect game in MLB history? No matter your opinion, Galarraga showed a lot of class last night. Kudos to him -- the Tigers should be proud of both his performance and his reaction to the controversy.

Oswalt Looking for a New Team, Tigers Need Starting Pitchers...What's the problem here?

None that I can see. Just stuff Astros owner Drayton McLain's pockets full of money and a few minor league prospects, and everybody's happy. (Yeah, yeah, more MLB teams want him than NBA teams want LeBron, small point that cash will solve.)

Tigers need Major League pitching help NOW.

Oswalt has a proven track record in the bigs. At the end of last season, he had a 3.23 ERA, with 1370-70 record for the mediocre Astros.

But wait...I see Drew Sharp said the same thing in the Free Press this morning. All of a sudden, I have new-found respect for Drew.

Win or lose, Jose Lima was a hero to my daughter

Since no one mentioned Jose Lima's death, and he was a real fan favorite in Detroit (and everywhere else he played), I thought I'd write a bit about him...

I knew Jose Lima about as well as a reporter can know a player because he was so unbelieveably sweet to my daughter, Taylor, when she was young. Actually, she met him before I did. I played in the Tigers Fantasy Camp in January of 1996 when Taylor was 3. While I was in Lakeland hanging out with the alumni players, some of the current Tigers were making their annual media tour throughout Michigan, and one of the stops was in my hometown of Traverse City. So Taylor's mom took her to meet the guys, and she immediately hit it off with Lima (she reminded him, "My name is Taylor. Don't forget me!"). She told him that her dad played for the Tigers too (I wish). After Taylor's mom explained I was at the Fantasy Camp, Lima said he was heading to Lakeland the next day to get a jump on spring training, and he would tell me hello. Long story short: He didn't make it over to Marchant Stadium before I flew home, so I searched him out on Opening Day and told him he was in big trouble with my daughter. He laughed, and we ended up talking for quite a bit. We became friends after that, and he was always extrememly gracious to my daughter -- he called her "baby," spoke to her on the phone, sent her notes and little gifts and treated her like a queen on those days when I wasn't working and we were just fans. Taylor, in turn, made him all sorts of stuff -- cards, drawings, pot holders, etc. I remember, too, that she liked the smell of his cologne.

Lima and I fell out of touch after his last go-around in the majors in 2006. My cell phone freaked out one day, wiping out all of my contacts (including his phone number), and I never connected with him after that. Sadly, just last week I looked through some old files, trying to find something with his number written on it, but I didn't have any luck. A few days later, we heard the horrible news.

Needless to say, we were stunned his death. The news was delivered via radio on our way home from church on Sunday, and it was so surreal -- sitting on the side of the road, crying and hugging my 17-year-old daughter, grieving for a man we hadn't spoken to in years but who had touched our hearts forever. Taylor asked, "Dad, do you think he forgot me?" I said, "No way. I don't know how he could."

For me and my daughter, it will always be Lima Time. Rest in peace, my friend. We miss you.

Rangers in Bankruptcy: Tettleton One of the Largest Creditors

Interesting to note that in the bankruptcy filing of the Texas Rangers, one of the largest unsecured creditors is ex-Detroit Tiger Mickey Tettleton, at $1.4 million. Of course, that's chump change to the $24 mill they owe A-Rod.

Do you think the bankruptcy judge would let them stiff A-Rod and pay off Mickey?

Damn Verlander

Dear Gregg,
It was a late night game last night, but the Tigers won 5-1 and thier starter that you were worrying about pitcxhed a complete game; so sorry to disappont you. I know that deep down you are a true Tiger fan, but you are very skeptical with their roster. I do believe Leyland and Domborwski will keep adjusting it until they get it right. It is 162 games and I will see you in October.
Go Tigers -

12 inning masterpiece - Saturday

Saturday's game against Boston was another come from behind victory. Willis did not have it. Walked 7 and before you know it we were down 6 - 1 . Then we got on our horses everyone participated. Boesch seems to be the real deal. Four hits. And to win the game on Santiago's walk off walk was fun. It is the longest game that I personally witnessed - almost 5 1/2 hours, but well worth it. They never gave/give up. And maangement is gonna find a way to win this thing (Gregg). After the game they demoted Sizemore and Scherzer - moves that are aggressive, but necessary - sends a message to everyone. See you in Ocotober!!

Billy Ray "Rojo" Johnson: Head hunter?

If you need a good laugh this morning, check out Will Ferrell's surprising debut with the Astros' Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express:

Game 1 on Wednesday

Tigers beat the Yanks by a score of 2-0. The main thing is that it was a shutout and all of the pitchers were awesome. Maybe Porcello is finally on track. And Valverde sure seems to be the real deal as our closer -- who misses Rodney or Todd Jones?? Not me! Speaking of the real deal -- Austin "Action Jackson" leads the Majors with 50 hits. and Brennan Boesch (BB) is beating the cover off the ball. Where does Guillen go when he comes back? I read in another post the Mariners may be looking for a DH.

Ken Griffey Jr.

Just heard a disturbing report on Ken Griffey Jr. He is on the verge of losing his DH job with the Mariners. He is only hitting a dismal 208 - pretty lousy for a DH. The other day his manager went to summon him for a pinch hitting role and he could not be found as he was sleeping in the clubhouse. I have always admired his talent, but to be sleeping during a game - he should be gone.

Harwell a class act in every respect

Hi, guys:

Thought you'd be interested in a column I was asked to write for my old newspaper, the Traverse City Record-Eagle. I sure don't miss that old deadline pressure, but it was a pleasure to write about a true gentleman who will be missed by millions.

Harwell a class act in every respect

Extraordinary. In a word, that was Ernie Harwell. In a me-first world where celebrities often play by a different set of rules, Harwell proved just how extraordinary he was simply by refusing to believe he was anything special.

Of course, we all knew better. In fact, I’m sure there were a few people who thought he just might live forever. And in a sense, he will.

Harwell, who died of cancer on Tuesday at the age of 92, was the voice of the Tigers for 42 years. Millions of baseball fans in Michigan, Ontario and northern Ohio would be hard pressed to separate Harwell’s rich, Southern voice from their fondest childhood memories.

That’s because Harwell was always there for us each summer. We invited him along for picnics and cookouts and road trips and games of catch. And if you were lucky – as I was – you didn’t even have to sneak a radio under your pillow for those late-night games on the West Coast. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Harwell had an effortless way of describing the action on the field. He always said the game came first. He was fair to both sides and often reminded himself that fans turned on the radio to hear the game, not Ernie Harwell. He was so wrong.

He created phrases that brought joy and comfort to us year after year – “Looong gone!” when a Tiger slugged a home run, “He stood there like the house by the side of the road” when a batter took a called third strike and “Two for the price of one!” when the Detroiters (as he often called the Tigers) turned a double play.

When a fan caught a foul ball, Harwell would tell us, “A man from Traverse City (or whatever city popped into his mind) will take that one home.” When I was a kid, I used to think, “Wow, Ernie Harwell knows EVERYBODY.” The truth is, everybody knew him.

I had an opportunity to interview him many times and loved every minute of it, but my favorite moments were those when I had no intention of putting pen to paper – when we chatted about family … mine and his.

He somehow managed to remember my first name and that I was from Traverse City, and he always greeted me like a friend. Of course, he made everyone feel that way, which is amazing, considering by his own estimation, he broadcast over 8,000 major league games. That’s a lot of names and faces to remember. But he had more than enough class to go around.

Commissioner Bud Selig said it best when he described Harwell as a “distinguished gentlemen.” I know I have never met a nicer person.

He once wrote me a note, thanking me for being so kind to him in the paper. “I have always appreciated your support,” he wrote, and I was both honored and dumbfounded. One of the greatest broadcasters of all time – the subject of hundreds of stories throughout his career – was thanking me. Extraordinary.

If you remember nothing else about Ernie Harwell, remember this:

He loved baseball; he loved his children; he loved Lulu, his wife of 68 years; and he loved God – in reverse order.

Sure, this is a time of mourning. But it’s also time to celebrate. There has never been anyone like Ernie Harwell, and certainly there never will be again.

How fortunate we are to have shared his life, day after day, season after season.



Our Man Pio at Ernie's Memorial

Chuck went to the memorial, met Dumbrowski, and was noted and quoted in the Freep!

Chuck Piotrowski, 58, of Brownstown Township walked up to Dombrowski wearing his favorite Tigers cap, the one signed by Harwell.

"We are going to win the pennant for Ernie," Piotrowski said.

"That's a good idea," Dombrowski said, smiling

"And the voice of the turtle is heard throughout the land..."

For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

- Song of Solomon, as quoted by Ernie Harwell every Opening Day

I'm sure you've all heard our beloved Ernie Harwell passed away last night.

Of course, Ernie and his voice were part of what made us Tiger fans. I hope you all had a chance to meet the great man at least once, even for a momentary exchange as I did. (and yes, this is the time and place to share your story.)

I was living in Cleveland when Ernie and Herb Score (former Cleveland pitcher, then broadcaster) were giving a talk. (You know I couldn't stay away.)

It was wonderful, full of great stories from both fellows. At the end, they came to the edge of the stage and guess who was waiting for them with his 1968 Tiger Yearbook?

I asked Ernie to autograph it, and he said (quite unassumingly) "You don't want to ruin that, do you? It's in great shape!"

When I said that I didn't think it would be be ruined at all, he shrugged his shoulders, and said, "O.K., where do you want me to sign it?"

When I suggested on Al Kaline's brilliant white home-team pant-leg pictured on the cover, he said "You sure?" I said I would be honored.

ESPN ran a beautiful tribute to Ernie last night, and you can see it at:

Good bye, Ernie.

I'll miss you.

Will Leyland Have to Go to the Mound to Catch a Smoke Break?

Tigers manager Jim Leyland says he will abide by statewide smoking ban
By Chris Iott (Grand Rapids Press/AP/heck this even made the Dallas Morning News)

DETROIT – Smoke 'em if you got 'em?

Not anymore.

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Friday night he will abide by the statewide smoking ban that goes into effect 6 a.m. Saturday. The new law bans smoking in various public places, including Comerica Park.

“I'm a law-abiding citizen, so it's just the way it is,” Leyland said. “We're not supposed to smoke here, and I won't do it. I'll try to find someplace outside somewhere, I guess, but I think you're not supposed to smoke at all in the park.”

Leyland finds some aspects of the law odd and used the Camacho Cigar Bar inside Tiger Club at Comerica Park as an example.

“It's legal to smoke a cigar up there, but you can't smoke a cigarette in a cigar bar,” he said. “I'm not into making the laws and everything. I'm into abiding by them. I'll just have to do what I can, and I'll be fine.

“I've got till 6 a.m. It might be two cartons. I don't know.”

Someone pointed out a big cigar he had sitting on his desk and asked him whether he planned to light that up before the ban takes effect.

“Cigars are legal in that cigar bar,” he said, “but it's hard to go down there in the sixth inning.”

Personal note - I'm no smoker, (I'll admit, living in West Virginia and Texas, I used to "dip" now and then in the old days) but does anybody else find it ironic that the law bans smoking, but allows players to chew and spit juice everywhere? Hey Mr. Peek, you've been on MLB fields: doesn't this stain synthetic turfs? What about in the clubhouse? Who's job is it to empty the spitoons?

Tiger Pitching

I was checking out the box score for yesterday's game and noted that Willis pitched fairly well. I then checked out team stats and saw that her was leading the team in ERA and Quality Starts. Unfortunately, he is also leading the team in walks. I suppose that two out of three ain't bad.

Dreams of Fields

Hey guys, thought you might like to see this story I wrote about Daniel Fields for the University of Detroit Jesuit High School alumni magazine:
Dreams of Fields
By Tom Hagerty ‘72

Daniel Fields has big dreams: “I want to win a Gold Glove, make the All Star team and spend my whole career with the Detroit Tigers.”
While most of his former classmates finish their freshman year of college, Fields, a 2009 graduate of U of D Jesuit, plays center field for the Lakeland Flying Tigers, Detroit’s minor-league team in the advanced Single A Florida State League. In less than a year, he went from U of D Jesuit to spring training, where he practiced with Tiger stars like Justin Verlander, Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera.
For Fields, baseball runs in the family. His father, Bruce, played for the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners. Since his playing days ended, he has held various coaching jobs in the Tigers organization and now serves as minor league hitting coordinator for the Cleveland Indians.
“Playing professional baseball has always been my dream,” says Fields. “I hung around my dad’s teams ever since I was six years old. When I was about 12 years old I started thinking I could actually do it.”
Fields enjoyed a stellar playing career at U of D Jesuit, and he credits baseball coach Al Fernandez for his dedication. “He was always there for me,” says Fields.
Named Michigan’s Mr. Baseball during his senior year, Fields received an offer to attend University of Michigan on a baseball scholarship. When the Tigers drafted him, however, he decided to sign with his hometown team.
“To sign or not to sign was a very tough decision,” he says. “I didn’t decide until a few hours before the deadline. Now I’m confident I made the best decision. I might not have signed with any other team, but the Tigers are definitely an exception.”
What goes through his mind when he imagines himself playing his first game for the Tigers at Comerica Park?
“That would be unbelievable,” he says with a big smile. “I can’t even imagine it. I know I’d have lots of family and friends cheering for me, and it would certainly be emotional. I definitely look forward to it. Playing for Detroit is a dream of mine. It’s important for me to represent my school, the city of Detroit and where I’ve come from.”
Fields says his older brother, Aaron, influenced his decision to attend U of D Jesuit. “When Aaron went there I fell in love with the place and wanted to go, too. Aaron always said it was a great school. I liked how the students all got along, and I loved the excitement at the sporting events.”
According to Fields, his Jesuit education played a key role in his development.
“U of D Jesuit made me more mature. The lessons I learned there helped me deal with the decision to sign with the Tigers. I know I had the academic background to do well in college, so I would’ve been fine either going to U of M or signing with the Tigers. I have no second thoughts.”

After graduating and signing with the Tigers, Fields reported to Lakeland, Fla., to play in the Florida Instructional League. There he experienced the thrill of wearing a Tigers uniform for the first time as a pro.
“I was used to putting on Tigers jerseys as a kid,” he says, “but the first time I actually put one on and played a game was very exciting.”
The biggest difference between high school and pro baseball, says Fields, is the speed of the game. “Not only the pitching but also the pace of the game. And the players are bigger, faster and stronger.”
But Fields knows about strength and speed. Baseball America rated him the best athlete and fastest base runner in the Tigers’ minor league system.
Fields played shortstop in high school. In spring training, however, the Tigers asked him to learn a new position, center field.
“That took some getting used to,” he says, “but now I feel very comfortable in center.
“I also hit the ball well and had a good spring. I was a little nervous at first, but I felt more comfortable as time went on. The Tigers’ veterans are awesome. They’re always talking to you and making you feel at home.”
High school and college players often struggle when they turn pro and switch from the livelier metal bats to wooden ones. Fields, however, has had no trouble making the transition.
“I used metal bats in high-school games,” he says, “but my father always had me hit with wood in practice, so it’s no big deal.”
Apparently not. In his first seven games with the Flying Tigers, Fields hit .308 with three runs batted in and three runs scored. He also walked three times and stole three bases while playing flawlessly in center field.
While Fields has grown comfortable at bat and in the field, he’s still adjusting to fans asking him to sign autographs or pose for photos.
“I think it’s funny,” he says. “I laugh to myself when it happens because it’s hard to see myself doing it. I guess I’m just not used to it yet.”
On a typical day, Fields arrives at Joker Marchant Stadium at 2 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game.
“I love it because I can sleep until noon,” he says with a laugh.
His pregame routine includes lifting weights, hitting in the batting cage, and taking fielding and batting practice with the team. Before a game he’ll stretch and throw in the outfield with his teammates.
Right now, he can’t imagine doing anything else. “I love this game” he says, breaking into a huge smile.
Although he finds himself hundreds of miles from Detroit, Fields stays close to his family.
My family is a big influence on me,” he says. “They’ve been there for me since day one. They helped me with the decision to sign with the Tigers. I talk to them every day after a game. If I have a good game they congratulate me. If I struggled they say, “Go get ‘em tomorrow.’ They’re always there for me. I love my family”
While working hard to establish himself as a pro baseball player, Fields also devotes time to his spiritual life.
“I pray a lot,” he says, “and U of D Jesuit strongly influenced me in that area. One major thing I took from there was St. Ignatius. When we graduated we received St. Ignatius necklaces, and I don’t think I took mine off until Christmas time. We studied him a lot in religion classes, and I say the prayer of St. Ignatius. As you get older you focus more on prayer. I still say that prayer, and I know I’ll say it from now on.”
On a firm foundation of faith and family, Daniel Fields stands poised to make his dreams come true.

Tiger Starters and .500 ball

Have we had one well pitched game this season? I do not think so. With Willis have a tummy ache last night, we started Brad Thomas from Austrailia. He has not started a major league game in 9 years and it looked like it, but staying in our .500 pace we pulled one off anyways. We need to have more success from our starters. Cabrera also frustrated me at the end of last season, but he is hitting the cover off the ball and leads American League in ribbies. Not sure what is happening with Laird. Go Get Em Tigers!!

Brennan Boesch

Well I am happy to see this kid getting his chance in "The Bigs" I first headr of him a year ago. One of his rookie cards was for sale at a show I was at. The price was cheap and the dealer said the kid was a "shoo in". So I bought the card. I then went home and researched him online. A weeird story about him is that last year during spring training he got locked in the bathroom in the dugout for 1/2 an hour.
He has hit and fiugred in the scoring in his first two gaes in the Bigs - let's hope it continues.

PS - If I had Gregg's skills I would be posting a picture here, but no such luck

Classic Home Run Derby

Remember the old TV show "Home Run Derby?" (Not the the All-Star trick they play once a year nowadays.) I happened to be channel-surfing today, and found it again.
What strikes me is how boring most of these shows were. The hitters quickly collected three outs, (after all, they had to squeeze nine innings into a half-hour show) the interviews were lame and listless, the host, Mark Scott, got tepid comments from the hitters like "He didn't miss that one by much."

One chuckle is when he gushes "Today's grand prize winner gets $2,000!"
That wouldn't have picked up Miguel Cabrera and Freddie Garcia's bar tab last fall.

"And if they hit three consecutive home runs they get another $500 prize!!!" Wow.

Curious that the announcer make a big deal out of "this stadium favors neither American nor National League hitters." Other than the fact that it's a tiny little symmetrical little minor league park, why would it favor neither leagues' hitters?

Maybe the best show was Willie Mays vs. Mickey Mantle. Classic, but I present it to you here.

Sadly, (if you enjoyed HRD) the show didn't last long, and neither did its host. It was only in syndication from January 9 to July 2, 1960. Just days 11 later,on July 13, Scott died of a heart attack at the age of 45, and that's all she wrote, baseball fans.

Another trivia question, since ya'll did so well on the U of M question: who made the most money on Home Run Derby?

Trivia Quiz for the Day...

The University of Michigan recently retired the jersey number of one of it's greatest baseball players in a ceremony at Alumni Stadium. Can you name him and the other five (without looking it up on line)who have had such an honor bestowed on them?
Hey guys, I am new to the blog. I met Greg through a career network group. I am very excited to join this group. Love the Tigers, was even at the 1968 world series, the game Detroit lost 11-1. Jim Northrup hit a home run for the only run. Looking forward to everyone's posts.


Dreams of Fields

Daniel Fields, who the Tigers signed out of University of Detroit Jesuit HS, made his debut with the Lakeland Flying Tigers last Saturday. Sunday I saw him get his first hit (single to RF) and score his first run as a Flying Tiger. Tuesday I gazed in admiration as he blasted a bases-loaded triple in the first inning.
In four games he's hitting .308 with 3 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout and 2 stolen bases. He looks comfortable at the plate and in center field. Before Sunday's game he told me he's thrilled to play in High A instead of rookie ball (C0nnecticut Tigers), where the Tigers had first planned to have him begin the season.
Daniel's father, Bruce Fields, also played in Lakeland for the Tigers, and the organization believes this is the first father-son duo to accomplish that feat.
According to Baseball America, Fields ranks 8th among Detroit's top 10 prospects and is the best athlete among them and has the best speed.
Can't say I'm a great judge of talent, but this kid has "can't miss" written all over him.

Projected 2010 Lineup

In November 2006, Basebal lAmerica had this predicted Detroit Tigers 2010 lineup:

Catcher: Brandon Inge
First Base: Jeff Larish
Second Base: Placido Polanco
Third Base: Kody Kirkland
Shortstop: Carlos Guillen
Left Field: Curtis Granderson
Center Field: Cameron Maybin
Right Field: Brent Clevlen
Designated Hitter: Magglio Ordonez
No. 1 Starter: Justin Verlander
No. 2 Starter: Andrew Miller
No. 3 Starter: Jeremy Bonderman
No. 4 Starter: Nate Robertson
No. 5 Starter: Jair Jurrjens
Closer: Joel Zumaya

Twins' Hudson hints at racism for blacks in free agency

By Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports, April 13, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS – As Major League Baseball prepares for its annual Jackie Robinson Day on Thursday, one prominent African-American player questioned teams’ commitment to employing black players past their prime years.

“You see guys like Jermaine Dye without a job,” Minnesota twins second baseman Orlando Hudson said Monday. “Guy with (27 home runs and 81 RBIs) and can’t get a job. Pretty much sums it up right there, no? You’ve got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get $5, $6 million, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can’t get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can’t get a job. …

“We both know what it is. You’ll get it right. You’ll figure it out. I’m not gonna say it because then I’ll be in (trouble).”

What Hudson wants to say: He believes there is a racist element to the free-agent market in baseball, and that it’s paralyzing the 36-year-old Dye’s ability to earn what non-blacks with commensurate numbers received in the offseason.

“Call it what you want to,” Hudson said. “I ain’t fit to say it. After I retire I’ll say it. I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to say after I retire.”

Hudson’s comments came on the heels of Dye turning down a one-year contract offer from the Washington Nationals for less than a quarter of his $11.5 million salary with the Chicago White Sox last season. After a first half in which he slugged .567 and hit 20 home runs, Dye spent the second half of 2009 in a deep slump from which he never emerged, batting .179 and slugging .297 while playing subpar defense in right field.

Hudson believed Dye’s credentials – 164 home runs in the last five years and an OPS 21 percent better than the league average – would buy him the benefit of the doubt. Dye hoped to play for a contender, and while he understood he would take a pay cut, he expected a deal in the $4 million-plus range. Hudson said he and Dye spoke on the phone this offseason about his status, though they never broached specifics about why the market never materialized above $3.5 million, a number approached or exceeded by a number of players with inferior credentials.

“We don’t even get into it,” Hudson said. “We both know what it is.”

The Baltimore Orioles guaranteed $4.5 million to first baseman Garrett Atkins, 30, after he hit .226 and slugged .342 in 354 at-bats last season. Thirty-three-year-old Aubrey Huff’s on-base percentage was 30 points lower than Dye’s and his slugging percentage 69 points lower, yet the San Francisco Giants gave him $3 million. The Chicago Cubs paid 31-year-old Xavier Nady $3.3 million after an elbow injury limited him to 28 at-bats last season.

Whether teams with first base openings didn’t trust Dye’s ability to convert or others with outfield slots preferred different players, his presence on the open market in mid-April is particularly puzzling when coupled with the fates of other black players.

Second baseman Ray Durham, coming off a 2008 in which he got on base at a .380 clip and slugged .432, couldn’t get anything more than a backup sniff as a 37-year-old. Durham’s case, one source said, is among those being looked at by the MLB players’ association in its potential collusion case against MLB.

Outfielder Kenny Lofton put up an above-average OPS as a 40-year-old in 2007 and hasn’t been seen since. And Sheffield, 41, remains a free agent after slugging .451 with spacious Citi Field as his home stadium.

There are other factors, of course. The free-agent market has shifted drastically against older players. The game places a greater emphasis on defense. And in the individual cases, Lofton came with a difficult-to-handle reputation, as did Sheffield, who once alluded to possible racism from his manager with the New York Yankees, Joe Torre – an accusation backed up by Lofton.

Never has Dye been lumped among the malcontents, and his case lends credence to a belief among some black baseball players that should frighten MLB: They’re treated differently. True or not, it doesn’t matter. The specter of racism in a game still haunted by its history – and trying to rejuvenate itself among black youth – is a disturbing reality.

“There are some things that go on in the game that shouldn’t be going on,” Hudson said. “But it’s part of baseball. It’s part of life. Deal with it.”

Perhaps Hudson’s stake is personal. Two years ago, he entered free agency seeking a multiyear deal. He ended up taking an incentive-loaded $3.4 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This season, the 32-year-old hoped for multiple years again. He signed with Minnesota for $5 million over one year.

Hudson’s words spoke enough that Dye and his agent, Bob Bry, declined to comment Monday night. Hudson going public was unique, too, as other players worry it will have a negative effect on the issue. While some will accuse Hudson of race baiting and paranoia, the reality is quite the opposite: He is taking public a concern that promotes discussion and forces MLB to be honest with itself about the precipitous drop in African-American players over the last two decades.

Between the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program and Urban Youth Academies, baseball has tried to resolve that chasm between the sport and black children. The issue: Compared to the football juggernaut and the stranglehold of basketball, baseball finishes a distant third. While the tremendous influx of black talent in the major leagues in recent years – from Ryan Howard and Carl Crawford to Justin Upton and Jason Heyward – is a positive sign, it doesn’t eliminate the feeling that others have been and continue to be mistreated.

So as players receive their special jerseys this week with the No. 42 on the back and the sport celebrates Robinson breaking the color line, baseball will examine itself again and wonder how it can change a perception that is now six decades old and seems to be going nowhere.