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.
I proudly retell the story of the time my brothers hassled Manny Ramirez so much at Comerica Park that he finally looked up into the stands and practically begged them to stop. Maybe it runs in the family because even when we were little and sitting way up in the upper deck of old Tiger Stadium, that didn’t stop us from keeping up a steady chant of “Hey batta’ batta’ batta’, swing.” Baseball lets you get close enough to the players that you can actually get inside their heads if they let you.
And this is probably the one area where soccer fails by comparison to baseball. Sure, the fans are up there in the stands cheering on their team. And sometimes they’ll try to get involved by starting racist chants (if you’re in Italy) or throwing objects at the opposing players. They even try to help with the rhythm by singing songs and banging drums.
However, at this point it seems that soccer fans are best known for blowing those goddamn vuvuzelas all game long. Seriously, I’m pretty sure the buzzing is still bouncing around my head from the games I watched this past weekend. This leads me to wonder what the long term effects will be on the players who had to listen to them for the entirety of at least three matches. Will they suffer permanent disabilities?
Well, if animal testing is any proof, the answer is yes:
If the vuvuzela can drive a dog to that, what will it do to the internal wiring of a human? But more importantly, if a plastic toy can have that effect, what happened to Manny after my brothers’ heckling? I’m sure the guy is housebroken but so was that dog.
Last year about this time I was already discussing the Tigers’ World Series victory parade and trying to figure out how I would attend. Turns out I may have been a little premature in my expectations. Luckily, I learned my lesson and will never again have expectations about the Tigers.
Or at least that’s what I thought until this article popped in my Yahoo today. What am I supposed to think when I read this:
Rick Knapp, the new pitching coach in Detroit, held up his hands. “We’re only 10 days into camp,” he protested. But his eyes shone. And the corners of his mouth couldn’t beat back the grin.
The last thing that anyone who roots for Detroit (the city or any of its teams) needs is hope. And that’s exactly what stories like this provide.
I prefer the “What strange disease did Joel Zumaya contract this offseason” type of story. That rings true. Even the “Fernando Rodney wrestled an alligator” story is acceptable because then you just kind of expect the worst. But all of these Miguel Cabrera looking relaxed and Dontrelle Willis actually hitting the strike zone stories have the opposite effect. They make you re-evaluate the lineup and wonder if maybe we do have a chance in an admittedly weak AL Central.
It’s kind of like the lead up to Obama’s inauguration. You keep telling yourself that he’s just a man and there’s no way he can right all the wrongs of the past eight years overnight. But you can’t help it. You hear the news. You see what’s happening. And you start to think, well, maybe it could happen.
No, not for me that kind of optimism. I’ll take my seat over here, firmly ensconced in the misanthrope camp. Rick Porcello looks good? So did Dontrelle. Cabrera is finally coming into his own? We thought the same of Renteria. With both Rodney and Zumaya healthy, the most heated battle is for the closer position? I’m sure Zumaya has a travel version of Guitar Hero with him.
See, I’ve been a fan of the Lions and Tigers for long enough to know better. So, how about you check in with me at the All-Star break and then we can chat about Porcello, Cabrera and Zumaya, ok? Until then, I’ll just be sitting here with my Ozzie Guillen voodoo doll, trying to figure out what crazy thing I can make him say next.
The NY Times has a great piece today about guys playing in the majors now who grew up admiring Ken Griffey, Jr. I have to admit, even though there was never any danger of me making it to the majors, I feel the same way about the guy. I still have his Topps rookie card somewhere at my parents’ house and I remember going to see him play at old Tiger Stadium when he was with the Mariners. Actually, even though I was (and always will be) a huge Tigers fan, I was almost more excited about watching Griffey patrol center field that day than I was about seeing the Tigers’ cast of has-beens and never-weres. This was the 90’s after all, and there wasn’t much good happening at the corner of Kaline and Trumbull. And even though I know he’ll probably go down with some sort of injury part way through the season, I’d love to see the Tigers pick him up and unload Sheffield. Griffey at DH sporting an old English “D” on his ballcap? Yes, please!