It's not even spring training, ease up on me!

Two out, bases loaded. There was a full house of fans, yelling and screaming for a strike out. There I stood on the "mound." The wind up, the pitch; I break off a screaming slider to get a strike, but in my beautiful follow through, I fall over the sleeping dog, and into the nearby sofa.

My wife and daughters go into hysterical laughter!

Hey, haven't they seen Randy Johnson or Mark Fydrich or Tim Lincecum "fall" off the mound? They don't have no stinkin' dog to contend with!

Pandemonium ensues. My ego bruised. Maybe I'll just retire to the tennis court.

21 days until Spring Training!

Only three weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland on Feb. 13! Anyone going? (I know you'll be there, Tom; you always are!) Did anyone go to TigerFest? How was it??

Dombrowski says he has trade lined up for Galarraga

By Tom Gage, The Detroit News

DETROIT – The Tigers appear to have a taker for Armando Galarraga.

Even Tigers' president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, who almost never labels a trade as "likely," said on Saturday at TigerFest that a deal is likely.

But that -- plus saying it could happen by midweek or sooner – was as far as Dombrowski would go.

He wouldn't say where Galarraga might go or for whom – although it's known that Pittsburgh has some interest. But just saying what he said is an indication the deal might already be done.
Galarraga, of course, became expendable when the Tigers signed Brad Penny to a one-year contract as a starting pitcher. At that point, Dombrowski said he would try to trade Galarraga – and it appears that attempt has been successful.

Galarraga was 4-9 for the Tigers last year, but won just two of his last 21 starts after missing out on a perfect game because of Jim Joyce's wrong call at first base on June 2.


Gregg's poll!

OK, how bout after voting for who will win the NL Central, you create a poll using the same teams and ask: Of these six teams, which one is in the NL East? Hahaha. Too funny, Gregg. Your timing was so perfect, coming on the heels of the "early Alzheimer's" comment! No worries though. We'll figure it out!

Willie the Wonder

Yesterday I attended a news conference at Tigertown, where the Tigers kicked off festivities celebrating 75 years of affiliation with Lakeland. Willie Horton (above) spoke about his long history with Lakeland, including his first spring training, when he had to walk from his downtown hotel to the ballpark because white cab drivers wouldn't give him a ride.

Talking about the positive changes he has seen and the people who have helped him, Horton said, "It's all about people. We're all about one. There's no color in life when you have love."

You can see an article in the local paper at

Afterward, I had the pleasure of shaking his hand and telling him how much my family and I had enjoyed seeing him play in Tiger Stadium. I also told him my mom was at game five of the '68 World Series when he threw out Lou Brock at home plate.

He said '68 was a great year and he hopes the Tigers have another one like it soon.

Larkin vs. Trammell: What gives?

I posed this question as a comment to my last Hall of Fame post, but no one offered an opinion. So I'll try again...

Does anyone out there have a problem with the HUGE percentage gap between Barry Larkin and Alan Trammell? Why do so many people think Larkin belongs but Trammell doesn't?

I have my theories, but I don't want to influence anyone's opinion. I'd be curious to hear what you think.

Only 35 days until the first spring training workout for Tigers' pitchers/catchers! Let's talk baseball!

Five get my Hall of Fame vote

The newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST, and I have no illusions about the fate of two players I vote for every year. Sadly, former Detroit Tigers stars Jack Morris and Alan Trammell won't come anywhere close to receving the 75 percent required for induction.

On the other hand, the three non-Tigers I voted for just might. In fact, I'll be surprised if Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven don't get in this time around. Jeff Bagwell might have to wait a bit longer -- perhaps a lot longer because of the era in which he played.

My reasons for choosing Morris and Trammell have been well-documented in the eight years I have been given a vote as a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Bottom line on Morris: He was the A.L.'s best pitcher in the 1980s and few matched his knack for winning big games. Bottom line on Trammell: His offensive numbers were clearly better than Ozzie Smith (a first-ballot Hall of Famer) and he wasn't far behind Smith defensively, despite all the hype the Wizard received for his glove work.

That brings me to Alomar. For several reasons, I was on the fence when it came time to vote last year, and my motto is: If it's maybe, then it's no. In the months since, I've discussed the issue with other writers who I respect, and simply put, I blew it last year. Alomar won 10 of 11 gold gloves from 1991 to 2001 and led second basemen in average, hits and home runs over than span. Ken Rosenthal was right when he called last year's vote "an embarrassment." I think my mistake (and others') will be corrected this time around.

Similarly, I didn't vote for Blyleven the first year I had a vote. I mistakenly compared him to Tommy John and Jim Kaat, who I felt were close but not quite there. Then I looked deeper into Blyleven's numbers, and one stat simply cannot be ignored: 3,701. That's Blyleven's career strikeout total -- fifth all-time. Every other pitcher in the top 12 (excluding a tainted Roger Clemens) is either in the Hall of Fame or will make it on the first ballot that they're eligible (Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux).

That brings us to Bagwell. He is officially the first slugger from the steroids era that I marked on my ballot. No, I have not voted for McGwire. No, I did not vote for Palmeiro. Why? Performance enhancing drugs. Bagwell has never been linked to steroids, either by investigation, accusation or rumor. He amassed impressive numbers in 15 seasons before he was derailed by shoulder problems, and he did it mostly in a ballpark (the Astrodome) that historically unkind to sluggers. Comparisons can be made, of course, that Fred McGriff -- with similar numbers -- also deserves my vote. But McGriff played four more seasons than Bagwell did, and Bagwell was a far better base runner, swiping 202 bases (compared to McGriff's 72). He also scored 168 more runs than McGriff (1,517-1,349) in nearly 1,000 fewer at-bats.

I know, I know. There are fans out there who will complain that there is no way I can be sure Bagwell wasn't on the juice (true), so I can't simply pick and choose who I believe was or wasn't taking steroids (false). I can, and I have.

God gave me a brain, discernment and an opinion. Thankfully, the BBWAA gave me a vote.