EMBRACING BASEBALL: IT’S YOUR CHOICE

By:  Kurt Snyder

It was the one thing that virtually went unnoticed.

The one thing.

We really didn’t get a chance to talk about it because fans were all caught up in what was wrong with all the rule changes and additions.

What is it? The expanded playoff format.

Much of it was understandable and warranted but one of the things I think the Commissioner got right was the new 16-team playoff format. And I am hoping it sticks around.

It’s because we, as long-time baseball fans, need to start embracing some of these changes. They are changes required to address the declining interest in our game.

Saying we liked the game the way it was is not an open-minded position. Not anymore.

So why should we embrace the 16-team system? Please tell us, Kurt. And you better make it good.

Well, it really starts with the Wild Card teams for me. When the Wild Card was first introduced to the playoffs, it increased excitement for more fans and more cities all over the country.

Suddenly, finding yourself out of the race for a division title no longer meant you were done and headed for a long off-season without a playoff berth.

The Wild Card has been part of the playoffs for a long time now and what has bothered me most about it for years is how teams can be eliminated so quickly.

One and done.

They fight long and hard through the last several weeks of the season trying to grab one of those last playoff spots and in the blink of an eye, and sometimes one day after they celebrated on the field, they can be done.

It is exciting, I will give you that. You get 2, Game 7 type scenarios to kick off the playoffs.

Good entertainment value? Sure. But there can be even more if you somehow could offer a 3-game series to kick off the playoffs.

And that’s exactly what MLB created in 2020. And by seeding the playoffs, it meant you get 8 of those 3-game series which includes all 16 teams. Nicely done during an unprecedented season that needed it the most.

After such a short season, the playoffs needed to be extra crispy, not original recipe. And I think the Colonel (Rob Manfred) gets a star on his forehead for this one.

If you didn’t watch the playoffs and you need a refresher on what the format was like and how they got to 16 teams, well, here it is.


Three divisions in each league (like before).

The first and second place teams in each division qualify for the playoffs.

The 2 teams with the next best records are the wild card teams.

That’s 8 teams in each league forming the 16-team field, with the the Wild Card teams fed into the soup during a seeded, best of 3 opening round series, which includes all playoff teams.


I think it was brilliant.

It is the one thing I have always wanted if the MLB could ever figure out how to do it. And they did.

But keep in mind that there are many fans who hate it because seeding the playoffs means that baseball just falls in line with the other sports. Baseball has been unique all these years in that respect. And our fans have always defended the uniqueness of our game.

And yes, this new playoff format, should it continue, could be stretching the fabric far beyond what playoff baseball was intended to be, all in the interests of expanding the fan base.

Winning the division is no longer much of a necessity when you can finish second and still play in October.

And if you didn’t finish second, well, you still have a shot at a Wild Card.

It’s the one thing I don’t like about the format.

Winning your division after a long 162-game season is a great accomplishment. It’s one of the toughest things in sports.

But if the format lives past 2020 and becomes the norm going forward, winning the 162-game marathon and being crowned a division champion will not mean what it used to, and frankly, that part kind of stinks.

But remember the task here. Sacrifices need to be made, for the betterment of the game. And that doesn’t really mean the game got better, it just means that excitement will reign as more important than achievement.

If we are going to embrace a more exciting playoff season, we must also embrace what a regular season could look like when we get back to 162 games.

A 16-team playoff format will inject substantially more life into the regular season as teams fight for one of those top 2 spots in each division. Maybe the vastly unpopular and unbalanced schedule will get a bit dicier knowing that, in your division alone, you could get 3 chances to make the playoffs.

It has the makings of wildly-exciting seasons going forward, if we are willing to embrace it.

So the question will be: Are you willing or will you fight it because it is different?

There is no right or wrong answer.

It is really about you looking in the mirror and deciding if your future will still include following this game.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.







OPEN MIKE!

Readers on deck to take the wheel! Open Mike is a good way to finish up a holiday week.  So here is another opportunity to comment on the Tiger topic of your choosing.

Today, we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can really get those juices flowing. Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.  So pick a topic and let us hear from you!  What’s on your minds?


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

THE SATURDAY SURVEY

The Saturday Survey offers readers the opportunity to weigh in on a relevant topic.   So here is a poll to gauge the pulse of our passionate readers.

Today, we center the discussion on the biggest holes on the Tigers’ roster and the importance of filling them first.

As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons  (4 sentences max!) for how you voted in the usual comment box.  Don’t forget to come back later and view the results!


As the Tigers move into the off-season and start considering which players to keep and which to acquire, they continue to plan for the future by filling holes.

Where are the biggest concerns?  Which one area of the team deserves the most attention?  Where should GM Al Avila put his focus?

Please participate in the survey for the purpose of sharing your responses on what holes need to be filled first on their roster.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

SO YOU WANT TO BE THE GM?

Once again, readers get a chance to make their own decisions about the Tigers.  So You Want to Be the GM? offers you that opportunity.

The segment tests our readers in determining how they would handle decisions as the General Manager.   So here is your next assignment.    Let’s get to it!

(Comments may be extended for this segment, but please do not exceed 8 sentences in your response. )


The Tigers need help at both the pitching and catching positions.  But there are only so many mid-level free agents at those positions. So, as the Tigers’ GM, at which of those positions will you concentrate your efforts?

Please participate in the survey in order to state your case on your next steps for the off-season.   Don’t forget to come back and check the results and include your comments that support your choice.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM TOTALLY TIGERS

This is a day where we all give thanks. Even in this year. And we here at Totally Tigers want to show ours to you, dear readers.

We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. So we send out a big roar ofapproval to those who read us every day, to those who binge-read us, the solid core who comment regularly, our newest readers, those who have been with us forever and to the thousands who silently lurk in the shadows. Even those who read us occasionally. We love you all.

We are thrilled that you get us and why we started this blog. We love that you’re looking for conversation starters, a chance to dig deeper into topics and a desire to avoid the spin that comes out of the Detroit papers at an alarming rate. And the fact that we often don’t give answers – but offer explanations and ideas instead. All in a civil, user-friendly environment that encourages the sharing of thoughts.

And we credit all of you for putting us in the media’s top rankings of Detroit Tiger blogs to read. A recognition that is fueling our growth and allowing us to grow bigger and better in 2021.

We realize that this has been a strange year in every respect. A strange year coming off a challenging one for Tiger fans. Ironically, the changing of the guard in the dugout may be one of the few positive things to happen to all of us this entire year. We can only hope that the positive signs we’ve seen so far will continue to multiply as we go through 2021.

Thank you from the bottom of our little blue and orange striped hearts for being our readers. We look forward to experiencing the 2021 season with all of you.

Stay safe, stay well and keep finding those positive moments during these challenging times.

And please don’t eat too much turkey…..

STRAIGHT TALK

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Welcome to Straight Talk – where our writers would normally respond, but instead, it will be our readers who must respond to one single statement.

Readers will pick one side – yes or no, without straddling both sides. And they promise to do it in no more than 8 sentences to support their answer.

At the end, we want to tally your positions. And to do that, we have included a survey where you can answer yes or no in response to today’s Straight Talk statement. 

This is a tough assignment for readers because it is so difficult to commit to one side, but we have faith you can handle it.

So, here we go!


The Tigers should have no problem signing a solid free agent to a 1-year contract.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

NO LONGER THE OFF-SEASON

By:  Holly Horning

Have you ever seen such a busy off-season in baseball? In just 3 weeks since the World Series ended, MLB has stayed at the top of the sports feed with stories about new ownership, multiple GM openings and baseball’s first female GM. Not to mention the departure of the sport’s top brain trust in Theo Epstein, who undoubtedly will be doing bigger and better things going forward that will enhance our favorite past time.

But don’t think that baseball is now headed into hibernation. Far from it! This is going to be one of the sport’s busiest off-seasons ever.

We’re not just talking free agent signings and trades. The jury is still out on this one until owners have a better sense of how many, if any, fans will be allowed to attend games next year.

Instead, the future of the game will play out over the next 90 days. And it will tell us what to expect going forward. Let’s hope that 2021 will look better than 2020.

So what should we be following? Some stories of interest, some clues about where the Tigers are headed – oh, and how likely that there may be a strike in a year.

Here’s a partial list of the biggest news events that should keep us riveted to the news feeds (and at Totally Tigers, of course!) until spring training arrives…..


FORMER PLAYERS

James McCann has really upped his game since leaving the Tigers. It’s been written that his former team, the White Sox, significantly helped him both in hitting and catching instruction. The result? Multiple awards, All-Star election and a Gold Glove nomination. He’s considered to be a top free agent this off-season and it will be interesting to see what kind of a contract he gets.

Mad Max Scherzer will most likely be moving on from the Nationals after this year, given that his agent is Scott Boras. The biggest clue is the “for sale” sign on his $15 million newly-renovated house in Northern Virginia. He’ll be 37 next year but the Nats, no matter where he goes, will be paying him through the 2028 season when he’ll be in his middle 40’s.

FREE AGENTS

It’s likely that the majority of the free agent signings won’t happen until early next year when more info about vaccines becomes available and the timeline for a return to near normalcy can be established. Teams get 40%-60% of their revenue from attendance so expect many to wait it out until they know more about next year and an estimated revenue stream.

Free agents, like Nelson Cruz, are waiting for MLB to hopefully make the universal DH official. This means that they’ll have double the number of suitors and a chance to earn a bigger contract from increased competition.

If the Tigers decide to go after some free agents, how easy will it be for them to sign some top quality? Will A. J. Hinch and his talented staff be a draw for some or will the Tigers’ need for short-term (1 year) contracts be limiting?

TEAM FINANCES

Don’t be surprised if the number of free agents grows because teams non-tendered more of their roster. Every organization is cutting back and chopping salary where they can. This year may set a record in the number of non-tendered players.

Speaking of which, how many players will the Tigers non-tender? Will the Tigers end up non-tendering Matthew Boyd who had a horrible year and is set to earn app. $6-$8 million next year? Or will they try to resurrect his skills via the new pitching coach – before they then try to trade him?

In January, arbitration figures are due and will determine which teams and their players will go before an arbitrator. Due to this past year, it is expected that a record number of players and teams will be using this process to determine 2021 salaries.

THE COURTS

Jeff Luhnow is suing both his former employer as well as MLB for the remainder of his GM salary ($22 million) and acknowledgement that there was collusion between both parties to sweep the Astros scandal under the rug as quickly as possible. This could get very, very messy and expose the seamy underbelly of MLB while also once again raising the question about the validity of MLB’s anti-trust exemption.

MLBPA is expected to file a grievance against MLB related to last year. They will be arguing that MLB did not “in good faith” works towards creating a season of the initially-promised 80 games. Instead, they will argue that Rob Manfred and Co. opted for manipulating a shorter season because a longer one would have cost owners more money.

On a similar note, in a normal year, this is the time when owners and players would start negotiations for the new CBA. Owners are pushing for a delay into next year which would give them an advantage but players are eager to correct what is generally known as a horrible contract for them so they will want to keep to the established timeline.

THE TIGERS

Very soon, it will be known which farm teams the Tigers will be losing as MLB has officially taken over the minor league system. It is expected that they will lose 1-2 affiliates as MLB looks to shrink the prospect pool overall and run it, well, like a business. Shocker.

A. J. Hinch is making the rounds talking to his players and discussing their performances. He is expected to influence where some of his roster will play, esp. the infield, where musical chairs was the norm in 2020.

Will the Tigers follow the majority of other teams out there and start making some significant personnel cuts? So far, it’s been a small number but at least 10 teams have cut double and triple digit essential personnel such as Front Office staff and scouts. In Oakland and the north side of Chicago, it’s gotten quite scary.

Will the change in manager and coaches trickle down and also impact the minor league system? Will the coaches and managers in the farm system move or be replaced? We’ve already seen one “retirement”. Will there be more? Or will the Tigers wait until the minor league system is officially overhauled before making changes, if any?

Grab your popcorn, kiddies and settle in. It’s going to be a very busy winter.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

OPPORTUNITY MAY KNOCK

By:  Kurt Snyder

“Being opportunistic is key.”

“Maybe, right now, the middle part of the market gets a little nervous about contracts when they’re not sure how the market is going to be. Maybe there’s opportunities there.  – AJ Hinch


You know the names. Last year it was Jonathan Schoop, CJ Cron, Austin Romine, Ivan Nova and Cameron Maybin.

And the year before? Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and that’s as far as I really want to go. All in all, injuries or just plain weak play have plagued the Tigers and their attempts at adding free agent pieces to fill in the empty spaces in their lineup.

And as you know, most were hit with the injury bug during the shortened and ‘displeasurable’ season of 2020. Schoop had the most productive season of the lot and Cameron Maybin was moved to the Cubs at the trade deadline for a low-level minor leaguer.

So, what has changed with Al Avila and his ability to guess right this time? Well, you know the answer to that one. It’s that manager he hired.

AJ Hinch makes a great point about taking advantage of some Nervous Nellies concerned about the uncertainly of the market.  It’s a strange and different situation.

Teams are more than likely going to be pretty cautious when it comes to spending money.  The uncertainty of the market. The uncertainty of the season.

Teams are licking their wounds after 2020 as their bottom lines have taken major hits.

So what is a free agent to do? Long term offers are going to be few and far between.  Yes, there will still be that hand full of stars who sign the longer 5-year mega-million dollar contracts.  But for teams like the Tigers who are looking to offer some 1-2 year contracts just like last season and the year before that,  there just may be better candidates than they were used to seeing.

Maybe, just maybe, the free agent signing period will yield more talent than the Tigers could have imagined being available to them at that mid-level range of ball player.

Sure, Jonathan Schoop would be someone they could look at, but is there someone better? Will players settle for contracts they wouldn’t normally consider; from teams they wouldn’t normally consider?

And does the presence of AJ Hinch as manager now help the Tigers’ cause?

Charlie Morton will be sitting out there looking for a team and played for AJ Hinch in Houston.  Michael Brantley will be out there as well, who also played for Hinch in Houston.

That’s just to name a couple and from a veteran leadership standpoint,  they would be great ambassadors for winning baseball and extremely valuable additions in Detroit.

My hope is that Al will have Hinch on his hip at every turn; a situation that I am not sure was the case when it comes to any of the managers who served under Avila over the last several years.

This is different and feels different. Bringing in someone who has won and who has successfully led a team through a successful rebuild that culminated with a championship is nothing to sneeze at.

Avila, by bringing in a credible manager, must now up his game. Yes, he did say the Tigers may not spend anything this year. But when you listen to AJ, who can see that happening?

This team is going to spend some money prior to 2021 and it could be that better talent will be available for the taking; talent too nervous to turn down the Tigers.

This next version of the Hot Stove League could end up being more interesting than we previously thought, especially when it comes to our hometown team.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.







OPEN MIKE!

Readers on deck to take the wheel! Open Mike is a good way to head into a holiday week.  So here is another opportunity to comment on the Tiger topic of your choosing.

Today, we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can really get those juices flowing. Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.  So pick a topic and let us hear from you!  What’s on your minds?


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

THE SATURDAY SURVEY

The Saturday Survey offers readers the opportunity to weigh in on a relevant topic.   So here is a poll to gauge the pulse of our passionate readers.

Today, we center the discussion on the new rules introduced for trial during the 2020 MLB season.

As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons  (4 sentences max!) for how you voted in the usual comment box.  Don’t forget to come back later and view the results!


During the 2020 season, MLB instituted a number of changes to the game.  Implementing these changes for this past year was spurred by the pandemic-shortened year.  For the 2021 season, which one of these new rules should be kept?  If you could select only one, what would it be?


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.