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. http://vodpod.com/watch/1362508-classic-home-run-derby-mickey-mantell-vs-willie-mays-pt-1

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.

LINK: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=Ar6twMFN4i_gMF_7S0bwLzsRvLYF?slug=jp-dyehudson041210

Gibson vs. Jackson

Check out this interview with Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson on their recent book "Sixty Feet Six Inches." Interesting stuff.

Gibson talks about "training the hitter" by throwing in on him, or the fact that he didn't believe in taking a player down just for hitting a home run, but he would hit him for hitting his best pitch in the best spot.

So much for "beat my best."

Tigs sweep Indians

What a game today was. We were down 5-0 and 7-1 and came back to win 9-8. Baseball is a team sport. There was no hero today, lots of singles and only one double, but a hhard effort on everyone's part. Lots of credit to Bonine, who releived Verlander, and then Coke who relieved Bonine. It was a thrilling game. I am pumped and it is only the beginning of April. Scherzer pitches tomorrow. Go Tigers!!

Tigers win home opener

Tigers looked good as a team. Some players were not at their best today, but it is a TEAM sport. Porcello has pitched better, but he did all that was needed. 3-1 after four games looks good to me.
I will attend tomorrow's game - no tickets today.
Sad thing is I had my daughter down there at 9am, so she could tailgate -- what's wrong with this piocture?

Few and Chosen by Lance Parish

Lance Parish has written a book called Few and Chosen. He must be secretly following our website because he has written 198 pages doing the work about rating the Tigers position by position as we have. Haven't read the book because our wisdom is pretty solid, but I will check it out when it comes to the library.

Tom said the link doesn't work

and I see that's true, so at risk of violating copyright law, here it is. WSJ, if you are reading, maybe this will encourage some of my "peeps" to subscribe.


The start of a new baseball season always comes with odes to the national pastime. But is it fair to say that baseball still deserves that description? Measured by popularity, participation or skill versus other nations, baseball is arguably an American national pastime whose time is past.

Jacques Barzun, the French-born, American cultural historian, once wrote that "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." Today Mr. Barzun would have to refer his foreign readers to professional football or even automobile racing, both of which trump baseball in television ratings.

Major League owners like to boast that attendance at their games, except for the recent recession, has increased. But with the disappearance of hundreds of minor league and semi-pro teams—and thousands of teams in almost every town, factory, prison and military post across the land—interest in baseball and attendance has plummeted overall. Soccer has superseded baseball in suburban parks, and basketball has replaced stickball in the cities.

Gone are the days of the early 20th century when (as Harold and Dorothy Seymour point out in their book "Baseball: The People's Game") scores of young Detroit businessmen would wake before sunrise to play in "Early Risers" baseball games, 25,000 turned out to watch a New York City high-school baseball championship, and Chicago laid out 4,000 municipal ball fields.

Baseball's popularity has fallen here but has risen in other countries. Most Americans have heard how every Dominican boy yearns for his first baseball glove. Less well known is that in Japan there are two national high-school baseball tournaments that fill Japanese television screens for days every year, or that 40,000 fans turn out for even a practice by the national team.

View Full Image
Associated Press

Babe Ruth at an exhibition game in Meiji Stadium, Tokyo, Nov. 21, 1934.

A decline in American dominance on the field has accompanied the decline in national interest. It's not merely the welcome entry into the major leagues of Dominican stars such as Albert Pujols and David Ortiz or Japanese stars such as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui. Years ago, Babe Ruth led touring teams of major leaguers to Japan and the Caribbean, where they promoted baseball and won games against host teams by lopsided scores.

Today when the best teams from different countries play each other, the Americans lose. In the two recent World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009, the American teams, though led by stars like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, didn't even make the finals. Japan and Korea dominated, featuring mostly players who have never competed in the United States. Japan won both Classics.

Baseball's decline on the field and in the homes of the United States may be partly explained by the increasing American taste for sports that offer fast-paced and violent action. But the main explanation lies with the mismanagement of baseball by the Major League owners, especially the owners of the teams in New York.

Years ago members of the Mara family, longtime owners of football's New York Giants, backed broad revenue sharing and a draft favoring weaker teams to help build competitive franchises in the NFL and interest across the land. By contrast, the owners of the New York Yankees (most notably current owner George Steinbrenner) resisted or watered down such measures in order to raise their own profits.

In this year's Super Bowl two small-market football teams, New Orleans and Indianapolis, drew the biggest television audience for any show ever. By contrast, before the last World Series baseball officials were quoted as worrying that if it did not feature big city teams (preferably including one from New York) television ratings would be weak.

They needn't have worried: the Yankees and the Phillies, both from major metropolitan areas with high payrolls, met in the Series. The Yankees, of course, won, giving the franchise its 27th World Championship. The Yankees secret to success is no mystery—the team's payroll is five times larger than the payroll of its weakest competitor, and twice the size of two-thirds of the other major league teams.

On rare occasions when a small-market team does rise in the playoffs—giving officials the excuse to defend the status quo—the management system of baseball forces the team to sell off or give up most of its best players to their big market competitors. After the Florida Marlins beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series, for example, they immediately sold off all their best players because they couldn't afford the payroll. While local baseball writers and team-paid announcers opine every spring that their team has improved and has a chance to win it all, fans no longer take seriously the notion of, say, a Pittsburgh versus Kansas City World Series.

Football and most other major sports have also given greater authority to commissioners who, while chosen by the owners, exercise independence. So did baseball after the gambling scandals of 1919, but with the ouster of Fay Vincent in the late 1980s the owners reverted to management by owners.

Today, the owners' designated representative, former owner Bud Selig, appears to be a decent fellow who enjoys baseball games and has instituted some reasonable changes such as interleague play. But when faced with truly big decisions such as whether to dictate a labor settlement and avoid the disastrous strike of 1994-95, or elevate drug testing to the top of the collective bargaining agenda in the late 1990s and avoid the steroid debacle, he gets on the phone and seeks a consensus of the owners.

By contrast, when National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell caught the then world champion New England Patriots cheating—coach Bill Belichick was videotaping opposing team's coaches during games—he immediately levied $750,000 in fines and took away a first round draft choice.

Americans still want to believe that baseball is our national pastime. This was evident when, with Japan thrashing the U.S. last year in the World Baseball Classic, television announcer and former major leaguer Joe Morgan informed viewers that Japanese baseball was really the equivalent of American Triple A minor league baseball—as if a team of Triple A stars could beat a Major League all star team. Following Japan's thrashing of Cuba, Fidel Castro wrote magnanimously that the Japanese and Koreans had simply fielded the best teams. After watching the crisp teamwork, fielding, bunting and base running of the Asian teams, I am inclined to agree—for once—with Castro.

Last month the Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball, Ryozo Kato, visited his American counterpart and reported that Mr. Selig was receptive to a truer world championship played in November between the winners of the American and Japanese series. This is not likely to happen. Both commissioners suspect the result would demonstrate that while baseball is now Japan's national pastime, it is no longer America's.

Mr. Miller is a visiting scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and a lifelong baseball fan.

"Our Fading National Pastime?"

Wall Street Journal says baseball is "Our Fading National Pastime." I'm troubled guys. Is it fading for Americans, or are we just evangelizing the world? They make some good points here. What do you think?
(and may another Yankee never darken the door of this blog again, unless he's getting tagged out by a Tiger.)

Tigers flush Royals on Opening Day

Austin Jackson hit an RBI double, Johnny Damon knocked in two runs with a double and Joel Zumaya picked up the win as the Tigers trounced KC 8-4 on Opening Day. For the moment all is right with the world.

The Emphasis on Big D

And I don't mean Dallas.

Today's Wall Street Journal had a big article on MLB team's emphasis on acquiring fielding prowess.

Is that Curtis Granderson going over the centerfield wall? I can see him reeling in Cabrera's long fly balls now.