Kurt Bio PictureBy:  Kurt Snyder

Up until the last few seasons, you could be assured that one spot in every MLB lineup was a certainty. The #3 spot in the order was typically where your team’s best hitter would be positioned. In Snyder’s world of baseball, it is where your best hitter belongs. You have your speediest table-setters at the top of the lineup followed by your best hitter.

But baseball doesn’t stop. It moves on. And the newest trend is to move your best hitter to #2 where he could potentially get an extra at-bat. But the dynamic of each team is different. It’s not always about the bat, it’s the whole package.

If your best hitter can count speed as one of his strongest assets, have at it. The number 2 spot is his. But in the Tigers case, why would you consider putting your second slowest runner in the number 2 spot? You wouldn’t and they won’t.

But baseball has seen different philosophies and strategies emerge of late. Look at the lineups of a couple playoff teams from last season, specifically at the leadoff position.

In Cleveland, the Indians often penciled in Carlos Santana as their leadoff hitter. Santana, a hitter more suited for the middle of the lineup with his ability to hit the ball out of the park, was an example of their shrewd manager changing things up when Rajai Davis wasn’t in the lineup.

In Toronto, they often did the same, kicking things off with Jose Bautista, another power hitter in the leadoff spot. So the overall philosophy of a lineup has definitely taken a turn over the years and figures to continue to evolve.

In Detroit, as the Tigers move on with much the same lineup as 2016, they have some decisions to make with a team now devoid of Cam Maybin. The team, even more now, will struggle with speed (and strikeouts, of course).

The Miguel Cabrera-Victor Martinez duo, on paper, is a lethal combination. They are the team’s two best hitters. But time has slowed them down to the point where together; they are anchors on the basepaths.

Long innings become less likely with these 2 on base at the same time. The Tigers need more outs if they are going to get both of these piano-carrying, cement shoe-wearing superstars across the plate. And the last time I checked, 3 outs are still all they get.

So let’s open our minds on this lineup. The top and the bottom stay the same. Without Maybin, Kinsler has no rival at the lead off position. Done deal at leadoff.

At the bottom of the lineup, it makes sense to keep Jose Iglesias in that spot. It’s an advantage to have a player with speed and one who rarely strikes out, hitting in a spot that turns it back over to the top of the lineup. Done deal at #9.   When Kinsler needs rest, Iggy is your lead off guy.

JD is your new cleanup hitter batting behind Miggy, while VMart moves down in the order. Way down. Like way down to #7. His baserunning liabilities make this move a necessity. And this will make it difficult on the opposing pitcher when they get down to the last third of the lineup and up walks Victor.

It makes sense and I would make the change. It splits up your two turtles and adds a switch hitting offensive spike to the bottom third. Who puts their second best hitter in the bottom third? Well, the Tigers do, if I’m in charge.

So we are getting there, folks. Who’s your #5 hitter behind JD? Well, remember last season, when Justin Upton began the season batting in the 2 hole? I liked that move until he began striking out at a rate where he just couldn’t afford to stay in that spot. Until he proves otherwise, JUp sits at #5 all day long.

We now round third and head for home. Drop James McCann into the #6 spot. He is a better hitter than he showed last season. Bouncing back should be expected and I like him batting in front of Victor, with an opportunity to get better pitches, even at #6 in the lineup.

The #8 spot goes to the centerfielder of your choice. My choice is Jacoby Jones; but I am willing to let Spring Training decide.

So who’s my winner at #2? Well there is only one guy left. Nick Castellanos feels real good hitting in that spot in front of Miggy. Real good. Speedy will never be used in the same sentence as Nick (except for this one), but this makes the most sense for a 2017 lineup where big things may await Nick.

So have a look!

1- Kinsler
2 – Castellanos
3 – Cabrera
4 – JD Martinez
5 – Upton
6 – McCann
7 – VMart
8 – Centerfielder
9 – Iglesias

I can honestly tell you, I am quite proud of this lineup. It’s innovative. It’s forward thinking. And it has no chance to see the light of day. The key behind this lineup is the large split between Cabrera and VMart, and Brad will never open his mind enough to make that change. Why? 2 reasons. Innovation and forward thinking.

But I had fun!


By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly HorningKurt Bio PictureHolly Bio Pic

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Even as the Tigers have barely made a whisper this off-season, there is still plenty to contemplate about the home team and where they are headed.

Kurt and Holly don’t share and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. It almost always translates into a wide array of thoughts.



Well, Dad … Pudge Rodriguez is on the way to the Hall of Fame. Dad, a former minor league catcher with the Reds, was often critical of Pudge while he was a Tiger catcher and I often had to remind him that he was headed for the Hall of Fame. He would scoff at the notion as I jarred his memory about Pudge’s years with Texas, 12 of them, where he was arguably the best catcher in baseball; it’s why he will go to the Hall as a Texas Ranger, the uniform he wore at his best.


When can we actually feel comfortable with the health of Jordan Zimmermann? This week, he was asked about his health and he described how much better he is feeling and how the shots he has been getting in his neck are helping. I don’t know about you but I’m pretty nervous about a #2 pitcher, who we need 200 innings from in the worst way, receiving neck injections as part of his treatment.


Congratulations to another Tiger Hall of Famer! Given how little recognition Tiger players get, we should not have overlooked the induction into the West Michigan Whitecaps Hall of Fame of another great Tiger catcher … Alex Avila! Hey, we will take whatever we can get around here.



Players who have run afoul of their organization, combined with poor performance, should heed the warning signs that they are about to be released. Al Avila told us that the Tigers had received multiple inquiries about Anthony Gose which left us wondering if we had somehow entered the Twilight Zone of reason. But with Lloyd McClendon’s statements explaining that Gose’s behavior was nothing out of the ordinary came his designation a mere day later.


And with Anthony Gose’s presumed exit, another example of how the Tigers conduct themselves publicly is seen. The team practices admirable levels of professional conduct and has never spoken negatively about anyone associated with them. In the case of Gose, it was most probably an attempt to put him in the strongest position to succeed in getting an offer from another team.


Eyebrows were raised last year when Washington Nationals’ pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, signed an extension with his team despite his agent’s (Scott Boras) track record of always taking his players to free agency. But analysts believe this deal was completed because Strasburg has horrible mechanics – the biggest contributor to his frequent injuries – and Boras wanted to ensure he got a long-term contract before something happens to him again. This same panel of analysts then mentioned that the one pitcher with the best mechanics in MLB, and thus the guy most likely to age well on the mound, is Justin Verlander.


Holly Bio PicBy:  Holly Horning

For the first time in 43 years, someone who actually played for the Tigers was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cue the fanfare. Drop the balloons. Throw the confetti.

The only problem is that he, Ivan Rodriguez, will be wearing a “T” instead of a “D” on his hat when he is enshrined in Cooperstown. And for many fans, this is a bittersweet moment with feelings of happiness commingling with frustration.

But let’s look on the bright side. It’s been only 25 years since a full-fledged Tiger was voted in, but belatedly, by special committee.

You got a problem with that? I do.

For one of baseball’s oldest organizations, the Tigers have one of the lowest totals of Hall of Fame members wearing the Old English D. Nine players. Count ‘em. It amounts to one player getting inducted every 14 years.

And who knew that Al Kaline would be the last player to enter on a regular ballot for many decades? Especially when the Tigers put together what is considered one of baseball’s 10 best lineups back in 1984. Remind me just how many of these guys got in?

And with the Hall of Fame snub, combined with the infamous MVP one, Alan Trammell is probably hoping the third time is the charm.

So why is this happening? Do other teams just have better stars? Is it just a NY media bias thing?

For the most part, this is a self-inflicted injury perpetuated by the Tigers’ organization upon themselves. Decades of being quiet, leaving it up to other people to make the necessary moves and being stingy with the words and recognition. This was expected behavior back in the 1970’s.

Maybe it’s time for the Tigers to enter the 21st Century and step up to what savvy organizations are now doing – even if they are already a decade and a half+ behind.

A significant number of MLB teams have their own Hall of Fame. The Tigers don’t. And when it comes time to consider Hall of Fame candidates, most teams present binders and videos of their players on the ballot to the voters. The Tigers don’t. Many high-ranking executives make a push for their former players in the media. The Tigers don’t. And the majority of teams retire players numbers without waiting for them to enter the Hall, if at all. The Tigers don’t.

Sense a pattern here?

Over the past month, the Texas Rangers’ President was making the rounds during Hall of Fame voting to push for Pudge. And on his last day playing in Boston, the Red Sox retired David Ortiz’ number.

Just why the heck are the Tigers waiting? Why do they continue to sit on their hands and do nothing – and then wonder (silently, of course) why their players don’t get the recognition they deserve? Don’t they see that this is one of the biggest hot buttons for their fans?

When you aren’t vocal about players’ records or historical relevance, how important they are to the organization or offer any kind of official recognition within your own organization, don’t be surprised when others also gloss over your candidates in lieu of others. Especially when the majority of the voters now aren’t old enough to remember seeing your guy play. If you don’t think enough about your guys to go to bat for them, why should anyone else think they are special and deserving?

And as a branding consultant, I gnash my teeth when I see this. (I also swear but our blog rules prevent me from including them.) Not keeping up with modern times renders you obsolete fast. You fall behind. You become less relevant. And your value falls. Not branding your organization plays havoc with your finances, clients, reputation and sustainability.  This is especially important when all teams inevitably take that turn from consistent winning to troubled, rebuilding years.

What I can’t understand is the business end of it. Branding your organization increases your perceived and actual value significantly. It’s one of the best ways to draw new clients (or fans) and increase your bottom line. I simply can’t fathom why an organization refuses to adequately brand themselves so they may increase revenue.  For over a decade, the Tigers have consistently had payroll exceed revenue.  You’d think they would want to resolve that issue.

I believe we can safely add this lax attitude about branding and refusal to support former players to our list of greatest Tigers mysteries.

How many more fans would come to the ballpark so they could visit the Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame? Maybe even pay an extra admission? To visit the promenade near the outfield to touch the conjoined statues of Tram and Lou turning two?

So much potential. So little attempted. And too few Tigers in the Hall as a result.


Holly Bio PicKurt Bio PictureBy:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Well, isn’t this awkward?   On a day when we would question whether the Tigers would swing a trade before the spring, the incredible has happened! They made one!

Oh, but we must press on. And we must qualify things before you read on. Holly’s answer to the following question was written prior to the announcement that the Tigers had traded for Mikie Mahtook.

And Kurt? Well his answer was written after the trade!

Our writers’ answers to the following question have not been shared with each other until today, so readers will have the best shot at getting different perspectives on the same topic. Given the circumstances … it’s an absolute certainty. How fun is this?

With one month to go before pitchers and catchers report, what are the chances that the Tigers will make an actual trade before then?


We fans get impatient but historically, the Tigers have done their biggest deals in January. However, this year will be different as there assuredly will not be any big players coming into Detroit. Potentially, one may possibly leave.

It’s been a very slow Hot Stove season overall but as February starts to loom large, teams start to press in order to fill their holes and players still in need of a home start to sweat and change the trade parameters with their agents. And I believe the Tigers may be waiting for the timing to favor them the most. They are waiting to go bargain hunting.

It’s been rumored that they are in the hunt for a CFer, but don’t want to pay over $2 million for one. Sadly, just how much will that buy? But if you wait long enough, some of those outfielders just may come down in price.

It appears the Tigers have been hovering and staying in touch with at least 3 of them. If a trade/signing is to be made, it could end up happening just before spring training starts.

But the focus on what appears to be a ceiling of only a couple million dollars is further proof that Mr. I is no longer in charge of making payroll decisions. If Chris Ilitch is truly signing the checks now, he’s apt to repeat (or worse) what he did in 2013. And that was forcing Dave Dombrowski to trade payroll for payroll with the infamous move of trading away Doug Fister so Joe Nathan could be signed.

And if the Tigers can’t trade away anyone with a significant salary, they may not even be signing anyone either. So it’s really a wait-and-see if the Dodgers give up on Brian Dozier and go after Ian Kinsler which would free up $11 million dollars. Trading Jose Iglesias would free up only $4 million which sadly doesn’t buy as much as it once did.

But even if the Tigers end up cutting $15 million, the Tigers are still on the record as needing to cut payroll, not spend the savings. This means that any signing will be minimal at the most. The real excitement may actually turn out to be the competition for the CF slot in spring training.


Well, now that I know, I think the chances are pretty darn good! Like a 100% chance!

But you know, when I contemplated this question, I had in my mind something with a little more meat on the bone. And the real question for me was based on significance. I didn’t think and don’t think, the closer we get to spring training, that any significant deal will be made.

Pretend for a moment I have no knowledge of the Tiger deal. My answer would have been, yes, there will be a trade, but nothing significant. Seriously! There will be more deals, also insignificant, all in the interests of depth. The trade for Mahtook in exchange for cash and a PTBNL, doesn’t smell any different than all the guys we signed for the minor leagues.

Obviously, this is not a significant deal, nor should we have expected one, even if there is another. There is more interest in who we are designating for assignment than the guy we brought in. Anthony Gose is half way out the door. And frankly, I am surprised it took this long.

And given all the supposed interest that Gose was garnering, consider this part of the deal a failure. It’s really up to you to determine whether you believe all that interest really existed.

So, are the Tigers any closer to a starting centerfield solution today than they were yesterday? Not by a longshot. They have only further justified that their options will come from their internal pool. And don’t even think about it! That doesn’t include the player we just received for a bag of nickels and a horse with no name.


Kurt Bio PictureBy:  Kurt Snyder

You all know how this off-season started. You remember the pitch. You remember the message. We heard and repeated Al Avila’s infamous “younger and leaner” mantra. Changes were coming. Remember? And it all began, and until proven differently, ended with Cameron Maybin leaving the Tigers.

We as fans felt this was just the first of a sweeping number of changes prior to the 2017 season. The first day they could make a change, they did. Out of the gate they came, and out the door went Maybin. And a centerfielder, or the lack of one, has really been the only subject of conversation for several weeks. Few have mentioned anything else.

Al has emphasized that this “younger and leaner” change in philosophy could not be accomplished in one winter; it may take a handful or several to get the franchise and the team where he wanted it to be.

Well, I’ve been thinking (yeah, it happens!). With the market so disinterested in anyone with an Old English D on their chest, maybe the Tigers can still begin to check the boxes. They can get younger. They can get leaner. They can indeed start now. Forget the market. Dive into that system of yours and pluck out your most promising outfield prospect. Dive in and grab some youth, some athleticism and of course, save some money.

What I am saying today actually flies in the face of what I said last week. But sometimes as you search for and digest information, and there hasn’t been a whole lot of it, you start to pay more attention to what has been there all along.

What’s been staring us in the face? Youth, affordability, athleticism, speed and enthusiasm, all in the form of JaCoby Jones; another of the promising prospects Dave Dombrowski acquired with the trade of the Big 3. Sure, inexperience also comes with that package, but we had better get used to it now because come 2018, there is going to be a lot more.

Knowing what the future holds for this team, and knowing that this is more than likely the last hurrah with this core, let’s just get on with what we CAN do now. What is the sense of considering older and cheaper, when that’s not the direction the team wants to head?

I don’t buy any of the names being bantered about as candidates for the Tigers open position in centerfield. Austin Jackson coming back is a cute, feel good story but he’s not the player he was. His best days are behind him especially given his injury and the uncertainty in the timing of his recovery. He is older not younger, so why go there? Same goes for some of these other candidates. They don’t satisfy at least one or both of Al’s criteria.

We got a glimpse of JaCoby Jones late in 2016 and he had an exciting first week. But soon it was clear he was over his head and probably called up too soon. But it was not wasted experience. It was valuable. That taste can drive you. An opportunity awaits because of it.

Under normal circumstances, this opportunity would not be there, especially for a young, inexperienced player. But it’s a new day.

Jones is really the only internal candidate that fits the profile. Chris Ilitch and the Tigers don’t want to spend money this year. We get it. It’s painfully clear. So go ahead and stay internal. Jones brings athleticism to the position we will lack with any of the other candidates outside of Anthony Gose, who hasn’t done himself many favors with the organization over the last year. We’ve been there. Did that.

So what’s the best solution? Who is the best target? Well, we lost a lot when we traded Maybin. Besides being athletic, he was a leader. We can’t ask that of Jacoby Jones, of course. But Cam brought lifeblood, fun and enthusiasm to this team; intangibles Jones could begin to provide if given the chance.

It’s a stretch, I understand. But the Tigers have had good luck with what they received in the deadline deals of 2015. So, let’s get moving on “younger and leaner” now – in centerfield.

This is an immensely flawed baseball team; so is there really much risk in making Jones the centerfielder to beat? It would be an example of the Tigers actually doing what they said they were going to do.


Feedback Computer Key In Blue Showing Opinions And SurveysIt’s Tuesday folks, which means it’s your day! Today is the day for reader feedback on a selected topic.

This is the one day of the week where 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 let ‘er rip!  We can’t wait to get your feedback on the following topic.

Who on the Tigers would be a strong candidate to be an unexpected difference maker this season and why?


On this holiday, let’s revisit a recent blog. SincI e it first appeared, the Tigers’ PR machine has been working hard. Can you identify the 6 players/personnel who have been featured so far as the organization seeks to maximize ticket sales?

Totally Tigers

Holly Bio PicBy:  Holly Horning

Let me start off this blog by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! And now that the holidays are over, we’re back to our regular routine of analyzing every move made – or not made – by our favorite team.

The title of today’s blog has nothing to do with the holidays we all have just experienced. The season to which I refer is the most crucial of all for the Tigers. Ticket-selling season.

This is the season where PR, Marketing and Ticket Sales go into high drive as they attempt to maximize the number of full and partial season tickets sold before spring training starts and fans’ hopes are still at their highest..

And they’ve got their work cut out for them.

No big signings this year, unless you count Alex Avila. And this particular contract could actually do damage within the fan base –…

View original post 447 more words


Kurt Bio PictureBy:  Kurt Snyder

It was a good news, bad news story when Drew Smyly was traded in 2014 to Tampa Bay as part of the blockbuster deal that brought David Price to the Tigers at the trade deadline.

Despite very underwhelming progress in his career, most have been waiting for Smyly to put it all together. Injuries and home runs have been  problems that continue to hold him back.

But even with all of his struggles, there is one season that has been overshadowed by a career that still hasn’t seen a year with double-digit victories. It was actually a season where he didn’t lose a single game, but it was also a season where he didn’t have a single start.

It was 2013, his best season, the year the Tigers were starved for bullpen help and turned to Smyly, who promptly delivered and became a very reliable and clutch late-inning weapon for Detroit.

Hidden in the mediocrity of his career is a season where he was 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA and a very tidy 1.03 WHIP. Drew appeared in 63 games and even had 2 saves. He struck out 81 batters in 76 innings of work.

But Drew has never had a role in the bullpen since. He has spent the majority of his career trying to put it together as a starter. And he now will move to yet another new team, again destined to be a starter in the Mariners’ rotation.

Seattle has dominated the off-season with almost a dozen moves to improve their team. But to me, this could be one of the more intriguing ones as it is a move I wish the Tigers could have made.

But I keep forgetting the Tigers are busy watching this season. They certainly wouldn’t think out of the box and consider someone like Smyly, who’s only real impactful success has come in the bullpen, in Detroit. But given the Tigers inactivity, I guess I can’t be too surprised by the disinterest.

Let’s look around the league for a moment. Looking back, it’s amazing what Andrew Miller has become during his whirlwind career. Drafted by the Tigers and then traded as part of the deal for Miguel Cabrera, Miller was destined to be one of the best young starters in baseball.

But he has spent his career bouncing around before finally finding his niche as a dominant bullpen talent. Miller is now a very rich man having reached the heights as one of the best and most versatile relievers in the game today.

Wade Davis, another Tampa Bay cast off, was a throw-in with James Shields when both starters were sent to Kansas City. Davis, who had little to no success as a starter, was sent to the pen and became one of the nastiest closers in the game over the last 3 years. Davis, after being so dominant with Kansas City during their run to a World Series title, will now lead the Cubs’ pen in their attempt to repeat this season.

So let’s continue to follow this little tour of duty by Drew Smyly. Seattle will undoubtedly slide him towards the end of their starting rotation. But in an era where bullpen strength has dominated baseball, don’t sleep on Smyly.

Maybe the Mariners have the memory of that 2013 season on their back burner. If Drew doesn’t work out in their rotation, he has more than proven his value in the pen, in the one opportunity he had.

Could Smyly, still only 27 years old, someday follow in the footsteps of Andrew Miller or Wade Davis? He may just have it in him.


Kurt Bio PictureHolly Bio Pic

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Even as the Tigers have continued their silence this off-season, there is always something to talk about.

Kurt and Holly don’t share and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. It almost always translates into a wide array of thoughts.



Kirk Gibson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this week. Gibby cemented his Tiger legacy in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series with 2 home runs to seal the deal on a Title. I can’t stress enough how important timing is for Gibby to be honored by the Tigers as well; a statue showing Gibson with his fists in the air, the crowning moment of the last Tiger championship seems appropriate, and the sooner the better.


When was the last time the Tigers had someone emerge unexpectedly from spring training to play a critical role in the success of the team? In 2006, it was Verlander and Zumaya. Does anyone on the current roster stand out as a potential head-turner? I can’t help but think the light is about to go on for Bruce Rondon, as maturity and visible belief in his potential for dominance has begun to emerge.


My dad was always of the mind that distractions within the ballpark used to further entertain the crowd represented antics used by losing franchises. The day that ballparks needed to provide more than just the game to draw fans was the day he never wanted to see. Today, the game now offers more reasons to leave your seat than to stay in it – watch for more of this in 2017 if the team begins to go sour.



At least 1-2 writers are outed yearly for their outrageous and unsupportable ballot decisions. On a recent show, a panel filled with Hall of Fame members, top broadcasters and experienced analysts expressed great concern over many who are allowed to vote. A majority of the panel agreed that given the times, new media and the tendency for many of these voters to use this opportunity as a PR-generating venue for themselves, that writers are poor choices for deciding who enters the Hall.


Al Avila said he received no nibbles regarding trading his top players after declaring that all were available. But now he reports that multiple teams have inquired about Anthony Gose – the same guy demoted twice last year by the Tigers, fought with his manager, refused to show up for the next day’s game and ended up in AA. Unbelievably, Al said he turned down trade offers for Gose because of the “outside” chance he could play CF in 2017 – making this his most embarrassing statement to date.


Many excuses have been offered for why no team has snapped up JD Martinez yet. But national analysts have and it involves JD’s ranking as MLB’s worst RF in 2016 resulting in teams hesitant to put him in the outfield. JD went from saving 4 runs defensively in 2015 to costing the Tigers 22 runs in 2016 while his UZR (measuring fielding prowess compared to an average player) went from an admirable 7.7 in 2015 to an unbelievable -17.2 last year.


Holly Bio Pic By:  Holly Horning

This has been a very busy season for the Tigers, especially since the beginning of January.

Say, whaaat?

Oh, did you think I was referring to Hot Stove season? Oh, no, no, no – I meant to say that the Redemption, Reminder and Reassurance season has started in earnest. If you didn’t catch the original blog, read it here:


Al Avila has been working overtime in the papers and on radio and tv to reassure fans about the lack of trades and the gaping hole in centerfield. The usual suspects are cranking out their “stay calm” articles regularly now.

Jordan Zimmermann is fine. Alex Avila was the best option for backup catcher. And there is absolutely no coincidence that his father is the GM of the team. Drew VerHagen is completely recovered. All the players who performed very well last year will repeat their work again in 2017. And Mr. I is still fully in charge.

In fact, everything about the team is just peachy according to the majority of writers. No need to be worried. Oh, and just whip out that credit card of yours and get your ticket packages – while you still can.

Hmm, you get the idea. Expect more to come. And pull out your waders.

But a chink in the armor appeared when one writer for a local Detroit newspaper dared to publish a piece on the sad state of all of Detroit’s professional sports teams, especially their lack of recent playoff and championship years. And now you can’t find it anymore on the paper’s site. Not the first time we’ve seen semi-critical pieces get pulled within 24 hours of being published.

And in a similar vein, another writer, widely recognized as one of the best, is nowhere to be found, at least when it concerns the Tigers, because he writes what he sees. Allegedly, someone fond of wearing blue and orange animal-stripes wasn’t thrilled with him covering the team.

To add to this, more than a couple of our readers have relayed personal stories of the understanding that comes with being a sportswriter in this region.

This is what happens when reporters need income and clubhouse access, newspapers need advertising dollars and sports teams need solid attendance to help offset their humungous payrolls.

Lest you think this is normal in any big city, think again. I live within a wide swath of the East Coast where sports fans’ patience is almost non-existent and journalists live to criticize everything about their hometown sports teams. There is more skewering here than praise.

And you know what? It’s a very effective system for giving fans what they want and expect much more quickly.

When you have a local media who is not hesitant to criticize owners, GMs, managers and players, there is nowhere for that team to hide. They are being made accountable publicly and spurred to make the necessary changes on a more timely basis.

I’ve seen it here in DC with all the professional sports teams. One team in particular that was scrutinized in every aspect. Only when the owner saw his 15+ year waiting list for season tickets completely disappear and seats go empty, was he inspired to make changes. No one in this town is immune. Even the mascots.

And the same goes for NY, too. Even the mighty Yankees suffered when family troubles forced two brothers to take over the team and try to run it differently than their father. The papers were merciless and within a short time, significant changes were made that brought fans back.

Personally, I never understood why one of Detroit’s sports teams continued to attract fans despite decades of mediocrity,1 playoff win in 25 years and the sport’s longest drought.

And another team that hasn’t won a World Series in 32 years and has the second longest drought in their division after the Cleveland Indians.

Would things play differently if the media felt free to write what they wanted? Would teams be more proactive in working harder towards that winning formula if more fans voted with their wallets?

Probably. Revenue is always the final determining factor for whether changes get made or not. But not all fans are like you, dear readers. There are more fans who see sports as entertainment filler and don’t dig beneath the surface. Fans who are happy seeing games and not really caring about the quality of the product. But maybe they should.

When you put restrictions on your media, and when many fans are unable to readily access information that explains what is going on, you end up with a fan base that more or less happily accepts mediocrity. And pays for it, too.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when fans routinely wonder why all their teams always seem to fall short year after year. The real question to ask is whether the local culture and business relationships will change anytime soon. Until they do, don’t expect the teams to rethink their goals with any sense of urgency.