I love it when the old timers show up at spring training. Decked out in jerseys that don’t fit and pants that would be better off… well, off (and hopefully replaced by something baggy), seeing them throwing BP and shagging flies always gets me to smile.
So when I heard Kenny Rogers was in Tigers camp I quickly browsed the internets for proof. Though I was surprised to see Kenny has taken on the Prince Fielder diet (good grief, don’t ex-baseballers know about portion control???), I was pleased to see that he still has that gruff go-EFF-yerself demeanor.
Too bad I couldn’t find any recent pictures of his left hand. The last time I saw it, it was pissing me off.
I even searched the YouTubes to see if said hand was still up to its dirty tricks and this is what I found:
Bummer. Couldn’t get a good look. Still, the Jack Daniels is a nice touch, especially for a spring training camp that includes Miguel Cabrera.
Hate me. It’s all good. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
(Image courtesy of Brad Galli)
The run up to summer blockbuster season is a lot like baseball’s offseason. Lots of rumors, lots of movement and everyone talking about who’s going to do what and who will be the winners and losers. Expectations mount as we get closer to the start of the season, as we start seeing all the previews that look great. With both baseball and movies, though, it’s hard to tell what you’re really going to get until opening day.
Not that this will stop me from drooling in anticipation. I mean, come on. The Tigers have Cabrera and Prince at the corners! Sure, that’s an exponentially compounded defensive liability but the prospects at the plate are simply mouthwatering. Kind of like the Alien prequel, Prometheus:[youtube http://youtu.be/NIBiimdaj3A]
And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, how about a little brilliance in advertising:[youtube http://youtu.be/S7YK2uKxil8]
Summer 2012. Was there a better time to be alive?
RSBS Special Correspondent and Wikipiebenga Creator, Mark “Pie” Piebenga reports:
As soon as Victor Martinez went down, I thought, “well, season’s over.”  But then the Tigers won the Fielder sweepstakes (at a cost that boggles the mind: apparently Little Caesar’s is a pretty lucrative organization. Everybody reading this please buy a five dollar Hot N Ready so they can pay the Prince. And here is my obligatory admission that the back end of that contract is going to be a total nightmare). A season that looked suddenly suspect just as suddenly became the most exciting spring I can remember.
If they can keep healthy, and get production anywhere close to last year from Delmon Young, Alex Avila, and Brennan Boesch’s first half, and get consistent quality from Messrs. Verlander, Fister, Scherzer, and Porcello (not to mention the newly Dotel-ified bullpen), it augers Another Very Interesting Year To Be A Tigers Fan.
There are still some big question marks. It’s looking like a platoon of Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago at second, which doesn’t do us a ton of favors at the plate. With the diminished defensive range and crInge worthy batting of the once-exceptional Brandon Inge, the Miguel Cabrera return-to-third experiment will be interesting and hopefully not embarrassing. Danny Worth and Don Kelly will probably spot start there as well. Finally, can Austin Jackson achieve leadoff effectiveness even approaching two years ago?
For the last seven years or so I’ve approached the start of the season with same kind of a nervous ambivalence. The most positive outlook I’ve had could be described as ‘cautious optimism,’ which I feel now. It’s a very strange feeling to see the Tigers as the projected favorite to win the A.L. Central (hell, until last year, we hadn’t done it since 1987. Didn’t even do it in ’84.) The Tigers have been good lately, but as a typically suspicious and superstitious fan, I’m always nervous. In ’06 they got in the playoffs as a wildcard. When they forced the 163rd game with the Twinkies in ’09, I never had the feeling that we were a legit contending team. Last year they didn’t really seem to have any implicit dominance until rifling off that twelve game winning streak in September. (My father and I credit ourselves for that, having seen live their last loss before the streak started at a blinding hot day game Sept 1st, when the Royals came to Detroit.)
Speaking of which, I am very nervous about the Kansas City Royals. They were rated the 11th best team in the league in the ESPN prospects power rankings (I don’t know if this is a remotely useful metric, but Buster Olney seems like a smart guy). At the game with my dad September First we were sitting along the third base line, and during a lull in the game Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was shooting the bull with the umpire and throwing the ball around. He was basically standing in the coache’s box, well behind third and in foul territory, and dude scooped up lazy grounder that came his way. Barely breaking eye-contact with the ump, he made a throw off his back foot that looked casual as hell, but judging by the angry snap of the leather Eric Hosmer’s glove at first, it could’ve been shot from a rifle. The lineup is getting spooky over there.
It’s foolish to make predictions about what’s going to happen, and we’re still forty four days till opening. Naturally when things don’t go your way for a couple of decades, you begin to doubt that anything good is going to happen. But the Tigs lately have provided all one can demand of any team, and that’s meaningful baseball in August and September. It will be really interesting to see what this team does in the face of injuries, statistical regression, and the rigors of the season.
 I can be a little dramatic.
 Verlander’s remarkable season was well documented. While he was hardly under the radar, I think a brief digression on Alex Avila is in order here. He had a .389 OBP (10th highest in baseball), an .895 OPS (8th in the AL), and hit .295. All while catching 133 games, and ranking top five among AL catchers in most defensive categories (e.g., tied for 1st with 40 runners caught stealing). And one of my least/most favorite things was the sheer number of times he got hit by deflections. I know catchers get hit all the time, but honestly I can’t remember seeing anything like his 2011 season behind the plate. (for example, check out sparks flying off his mask, and him getting hit in the neck.)
Four years ago today, I wrote the first post in RSBS history. It was terrifyingly awful. What terrifies me even more is that at that time in 2008, I had incredibly high hopes for the Tigers’ upcoming season based on some high-profile acquisitions they had made. Four years later, I’m still haunted by that 2008 season and experiencing no small amount of deja vu (all over again).
If there’s one thing that gives me hope, though, it’s the fact that sometimes triumph is born from the ashes of despair and failure. That first post was awful but the throw-away line at the end ended up becoming Mr. Lung’s regular sign-off. And even though Dontrelle Willis didn’t work out for the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera has been a godsend. Paired with Prince Fielder, I can’t say as though there has been a more feared power duo in the AL since the days of the Bash Brothers.
Sometimes you have to let go of the past and just realize that it’s over. So, with that in mind, happy fourth birthday Mr. Lung. And a special thank you from both of us to the interns for their years of unpaid but essential work. But most of all, thank you to our loyal readers who keep coming back, in spite of RSBS‘ inauspicious beginnings. Hopefully in 366 days we’ll be blowing out another candle together.
Considering it’s the off-season, there’s sure a lot going on. Ok, maybe not so much in the world of baseball where the AL’s Prince Fielder hangover is finally starting to wear off, but everywhere else, it’s pandemonium.
Of course there was the Superbowl, which, once again, was a phenomenal game. If you’re not American, there’s a good chance you’re following either the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament or tuning in for the ongoing rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And somehow people care about basketball again. But, that’s just sports.
In the non-athletic domains, the action is even more intense. Syria is descending into civil war and threatens to take the rest of the Middle East with it. Mitt and Newt, both of whom should be excluded from presidential consideration based solely on their first names, continue to slug it out in the race to the Republican nomination. If that’s not enough for you, we also have Iran’s war-mongering which seems to consist mainly of vaguely Monty Python-esque threats.
There’s another Iran note that truly caught my attention, though. It seems that they’re hedging their bets on the whole nuclear program by creating an unconventional back-up plan:[youtube http://youtu.be/MJjpFYVvwBo]
I’ll tell you what, you can laugh off Iran saying they’re going to close the Straits of Hormuz. But ninjas? No one laughs at ninjas. Except maybe Chuck Norris.
In the Twittersphere, we at RSBS have a reputation for taking cheap shots at Prince Fielder’s… er… um… corpulence (good word, interns!). While we do a good job of avoiding the F-word (no, the OTHER F-word, silly), we cannot help but point out the absurdity that is Prince Fielder’s physique.
Dude is big, as in I’s hongry big. He does not have an athletic body. Yet he’s just as athletic an athlete as you’re apt to find these days when it comes to production.
Prince is an anomaly though. An anachronism, even. He’s the digital watch in Glory in that HE SHOULDN’T BE WHERE HE IS.
Except he is.
How did he get here?
I call McDonald’s’ bluff. If it were really that easy — to just stuff one’s face full of awful simulated food product — then nearly all of US America would be getting paid by a Big League club right now.
In Prince’s case, I gotta think it’s the genes that make it all too easy.
Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz I’m right.
He’s larger than life. He’s estranged from his father. He could possibly eat his body weight in donuts. And he’s all ours!
Detroit has fallen in love with Prince Fielder and it seems like the feeling is mutual. Me? I couldn’t be happier. One of the happiest memories of my childhood was watching Prince’s daddy crush a ball that flew out of old Tiger Stadium, right over me, my brother and my dad. You don’t forget that kind of thing. And now we can go relive it in Comerica Park with Prince doing the honors. It just feels right.
At the same time, I’m a little worried. The baseball world hasn’t been this giddy about the Tigers since 2008 when they were shoo-ins to win the World Series. Shoo-ins, that is, until they ended up falling flat on their face right out of the gate. This team is too good to fail but, well, if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past few years it’s that nothing is too anything to fail.
All that aside, I’m excited about 2012. It’s an election year, the Lions should be even better next season and now the Tigers have made a move that in retrospect seems brilliant, even if no one saw it coming. Verlander and Fister. Prince and Miggy. You can forgive me for feeling a little giddy.