WHEN MIDWEST NICE GOES BAD

By:  Holly Horning

There have been times when baseball has tried my soul. Crushing defeats, bad umpire calls during history-making events, opponents who killed playoff chances with the later revelation they were using PEDs at that time. The list goes on.

But I have now been stung more times than I care to recall when it comes to Alan Trammell getting the recognition he deserves. I won’t even go into the 1987 debacle about the MVP Award. I needed a therapist for that one.

But now we’ve suffered through 15 more years of agony regarding Tram on the Hall of Fame ballot. Fifteen years of writers not caring enough to do the research or put his work into context. Sixteen total times he’s had to suffer the indignities.

If you’ve been reading our blogs from the past couple days, the arguments supporting Tram in the Hall of Fame have been successfully shown. So what turned a solid selection into such a long-term travesty? Are the media types who voted each year solely to blame?

Methinks we can include the factor of Midwest Nice gone bad. If you haven’t read the case for this form of corporate or regional culture, catch it here at:

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/midwest-nice/

Not much has changed since the days when the Tigers were owned by John Fetzer and described as one of the last “gentleman’s” teams. A team that presented a humble, quiet, dignified side and rarely touted its accomplishments. A team that continues the practice of not showcasing or blowing the horn of its great players like other teams routinely do.

A team that despite being one of the original four chartered teams in baseball has only officially honored 12 players, 1 broadcaster and 1 manager in 122 years.

Excluding Willie Horton, the Tigers are part of a dwindling number of teams who do not officially recognize or retire the numbers of some of their best and favorite players. They also do not have their own Hall of Fame as other organizations do.

And in the case of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I cannot find any record of Detroit going to bat for their nominees. Other teams put together books, video highlight reels and launch media initiatives so those who vote have access to the necessary information. Many of those voting today never saw Trammell play.

We need to ask why the Tigers held their silence all the years that Tram, Morris and Whitaker did poorly in the voting. We also need to ask why the only public support came from non-Detroit media types (for the most part) and athletes who played for other teams.

If you don’t vocally and physically support your own players, who will?

I am only partially mad at the writers who didn’t vote Tram in. The other half of me is upset at those who said and did nothing. Those who sat back and watched while Tram’s relevance remained buried. I can’t help but think of Ernie’s trademark line “He stood there like the house by the side of the road.”

Could our organization possibly think that the voting would turn around year after year of poor returns? Could the culture of Midwest Nice be a factor in allowing history’s 7th (app.) best shortstop to be omitted? As Leo Durocher said “Nice guys finish last”. It’s one thing to be polite, humble and diplomatic. It’s another when you sit back and allow history to ignore you.

But it was Will Rogers who said “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.” And this is the policy that many teams follow. You would never hear the Yankees, Cards, Cubs, and Red Sox, to name a few, muzzle themselves.

How good are the Yankees at promoting themselves? When I first met my husband, he thought Ty Cobb was a Yankee because “all the great athletes played for them.” After retrieving my jaw from the floor, I quickly schooled him, made him memorize the 1984 Tigers’ starting lineup and married him when he passed the test. True story, by the way.

But seriously, the Tigers need to move into the 21st Century and market their brand beyond selling tickets.

Quite simply, anyone who doesn’t have their own detailed and defined brand loses ground to their competition. They disappear. They get ignored. And in this day where social media rules, there’s no excuse for staying quiet. There’s no excuse not to market the players and moments that made your team great.

Branding creates recognition and enhances respect. It also builds loyalty, your fan base and profits.  Somebody please tell Mr. I to call me. I have lots of ideas and may just give him a discount.

It’s a sad statement when the last Tiger to be elected was Sparky Anderson. It’s even sadder when the names of Kell, Newhouser and Bunning have to bide their time until the Veterans’ Committee brought them in. The Tigers should not have to wait over 36 years for their last player to get voted in by the BBWAA.

6 thoughts on “WHEN MIDWEST NICE GOES BAD

  1. It shouldn’t be necessary for a team to have to put together books and videos etc for the baseball writers. There are enough research tools on the internet to allow anyone voting on the HOF to find out how players rank with past and present players. Why should someone who plays for the Yankees or Dodgers have a leg up on someone who plays for the Tigers or the Twins?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Spot on Holly! Shame on Tiger executive management. It wouldn’t be hard to put together a highlight reel thumb-drive/CD for Trammell. They could tabulate his overall lifetime achievements and provide charts showing where Tram’s feats stand in relation to other SSs in the Hall. Shoot, they could even sell this to fans. Mgt. has missed out on a huge marketing opportunity!

    Like

  3. St. Louis manages to market their team and their players, even when they don’t do backflips. Aren’t they in the Midwest? And Trammell lost the ’87 MVP to a guy in Toronto, another Great Lakes city not widely known for grandiosity. The problem, as I see it, is that most journalists are lazy and not very bright.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Max – St. Louis gets it – and that’s why they are one of the most successful and profitable teams out there. Not every team in the MidWest is going to be “nice” while not every team in the East is going to be Type A. But there are geographic patterns in the US, which are changing more quickly given the pervasive influence of technology. Thanks for your comments! – Holly

      Like

    • opus131: I agree with you. In order for sports writers to be objective, they need to research the stats of the candidates. In that they are lazy. Subjectivity is OK for the Oscars and Pulitzers, but shouldn’t enter in to any large extent to the HOF balloting when there are stats to look at and compare.

      Like

  4. One would think that Al Kaline, the only living Tigers HOF’er, would be vocal, as a long time and respected member of the HOF, in “going to bat “for guys like Tram, Lou and Jack. I have never understood his silence on this. He won’t be around forever so you’d think he and the Tigers would want more living HOF’ers around

    Like

Comments are closed.