20 FEBRUARY THOUGHTS

By:  Kurt SnyderKurt Bio Picture

What happened to February? In a blink of an eye, the Grapefruit League schedule is in full swing. This edition of the – growing in popularity – 20 Thoughts, should leave you breathless with Tiger baseball! Who needs 10 Thoughts when you can have 20?


1.  I am comin’ in hot! Why after one week of spring training do the Tigers feel the need to make statements about who are “long shots” for positions on the Opening Day roster?

2. Who should take more grief? Is it the Pistons, who many think are retiring too many numbers, or the Tigers, who most feel they downright ignore their greats?

3. In our rival city of Chicago, will the White Sox recognition and retirement of Mark Buehrle’s #56, finally motivate Tiger ownership to once and for all retire the numbers of their historic keystone combination?

4. I won’t rush to judgment on Anibal Sanchez’s poor first performance any sooner than Jordan Zimmermann’s good one. But is there concern? You bet there is.

5. Nick, Nicholas, whatever …. I would prefer to call him the #2 hitter.

6. As the Tigers experiment with lineups this spring, I would hope one experiment would not grow legs: VMart batting second.

7. Since I will probably never get my way on abolishing instant replay for our sport of baseball, there are two clocks, no more and no less, that I would endorse. One which limits the time it takes for a manager to decide to challenge, and one that limits the time it takes for a ruling on a challenge.

8. Instant replay is a hot button for many, and we have a decision to make. Do we make decisions in the interests of getting it right, or forgo that importance for the sake of pace of play? Asking for both is the easy answer. But challenge yourself.

9. So where are you on the ownership of the Tigers? Are you convinced the Ilitch family will continue to lead them long into the future? I am not.

10. Tyler Collins picked a bad time to get hurt, but I still believe he will be part of the centerfield solution. Mikie Mahtook from all indications appears to be leading for at least half of a platooning.

11. The Tigers have tough decisions to make on Stephen Moya and Dixon Machado. They will have to ask themselves a question on both. What’s more important, a defensively- challenged left-handed bat or a solid backup option at a key infield position?

12. Who is the most important reliever? Who offers the most potential star power? Who offers both talent and trade value in July? It’s Bruce Rondon. He offers all of that, and stays on this list. (Carryover from December 2016 and January.)

13. Will both Sanchez and Pelfrey make the Opening Day roster?

14. It seems the further we get from Jim Leyland’s time as Tiger manager, there is growing amnesia present in fans who have forgotten how truly great he was for this franchise. I have decreasing patience for the ramping up of the disdain for Leyland as if he was a failure as a manager in Detroit.

15. How crazy would be it be for Anthony Gose to emerge again and head north with the Tigers in April? It’s not impossible. Actually, if there is room on the bench, speed and outfield defense are his strengths; sometimes hard to turn your head away those 2 attributes that the Tigers will lack again in 2017. (Carrying this one over; there is value there as a backup, but is there room?)

16. Andrew Romine stands in the way of opportunities for both Gose and Machado. Many undervalue his versatility and contribution to this team. You may laugh, but he is an important piece; every team needs a Romine.

17. There are several scenarios to consider as the Tigers fill out their starting pitching rotation. But Dave Dombrowski would get all the credit if the incredible happened. Fulmer, Norris and Boyd all in the starting rotation in Year 2 as Tigers? It’s more of a probable than a possible.

18. Who makes the list of Tiger time bombs as we move on through the spring? Who are injuries waiting to happen? Zimmermann? Greene? I will give VMart a break for obviously putting in a huge amount of work in the weight room. So, I’m not adding him to this list – looks in tremendous shape.

19. Starting pitching depth? If your depth consists of 2 pitchers who have not been good for a while, that’s not depth. Depth is based on pitchers with the ability to win when called upon. Drew Verhagen’s spring will be monitored closely.

20. Looking forward to our first report from Spring Training. Our readers know their contribution may find its way to Totally Tigers. So who’s down there? Who’s going?


If you’re not following us on Twitter (@totallytigersbb), here’s just some of what you missed the past couple days:

Ian Kinsler’s argument for retiring #1 and #3

Miggy is the team leader for Venezuela in the WBC

JV’s fastball is still there in MPH

A Michigan family who just may be interested in buying the team down the road

The Dodgers interest in Kinsler and JV and why it didn’t happen

Miggy’s impressive work ethic

And stats, rankings, radio interviews and video!  We’ve rounded it all up to keep fans informed!

OPEN MIKE!

microphoneIt’s Tuesday folks, which means it’s your day! Tuesday is the day for you to be heard. Today is the one day during the month where you get the opportunity to comment on the Tiger topic of your choosing. It’s time once again for “Open Mike!”

As usual, 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. Pick a topic and let us hear from you. We know there’s a lot on your minds…


If you’re not following us on Twitter (@totallytigersbb), here’s just some of what you missed the past couple days:

Ian Kinsler’s argument for retiring #1 and #3

Miggy is the team leader for Venezuela in the WBC

JV’s fastball is still there in MPH

A Michigan family who just may be interested in buying the team down the road

The Dodgers interest in Kinsler and JV and why it didn’t happen

Miggy’s impressive work ethic

And stats, rankings, radio interviews and video!  We’ve rounded it all up to keep fans informed!

WILL HE OR WON’T HE?

By:  Holly HorningHolly Bio Pic

What’s the most obvious way to calm and reassure the potentially unsettled thoughts of the fans? It would be to contact the local journalists with stories that flood all the papers at the same time.

Which is why we’ve been inundated over the weekend with a whopping 5 stories from just 2 newspapers about how much Chris Ilitch loves the Tigers. Loves them too much to sell. Even a feeble argument explaining that he won’t sell because he volunteers for his son’s baseball team. That is supposed to be proof of his love for the game and a big reason why he won’t sell the Tigers. Then again, maybe he’s just being a great dad.

Interviews that covered the heartfelt and warm stories but lobbed nothing beyond softballs about his plans.

But here’s the deal. Chris is a smart, savvy, accomplished businessman. He’s got an MBA and years of experience helping to run the family businesses. He’s not going to keep one of the biggest chunks of the family industry based solely upon sentiment. He’s going to make a thorough, informed decision. That’s the family m.o. and the biggest reason why the Ilitch family is worth as much as they are.

First, let’s understand why these stories are being lobbed out to the public more than a coach assigned to pitch batting practice.

It’s only natural that when a long-time owner passes, fans and others alike start to wonder what changes will be made. They wonder about whether the team’s performance will slip. They wonder if the Tigers are headed into another dreaded era of bad play. They wonder whether they should renew their ticket packages. And they wonder if they should attend as many games this year as they did in 2016.

And that’s the primary goal of all these stories. Calm the masses. Reassure the public. Keep a steady hand on the attendance. Practice a “business as usual” or “all is well” policy. All because change is hard for most to handle. One whiff of rumor is enough to send some people running away.

But the message being sent isn’t solely for the fans. It’s for the entire Tigers’ organization, too. It’s important to keep the players focused on this year instead of allowing them to contemplate their potentially changing futures. A stable organization, with minimal change, is the best way to convince employees and players alike to stay happy and focused on the prize. And it’s a smart move by the family. The journalists are just the medium to get the message across.

So what will Chris do? Let’s start with what we know.

It appears that Marian is now highly unlikely to sell her casinos, esp. given that profits in this industry are soaring and owners are expanding, not selling. And estate taxes are only avoidable if the team is left to the spouse. This is why the team was put into a trust which became viable upon Mr. I’s passing. Done to help mitigate as much of the estate tax bill as possible because Marian cannot and does not want to inherit the team. However, she can still be the beneficiary.

The Tigers are now 1 of 3 teams in MLB owned by a trust. Technically, the Ilitch family no longer owns the team, however Chris is the lead trustee. He has the power to run the team as long as the majority of trustees side with him.

The next big hurdle will be the IRS’s valuation report which will put a price on the Tigers. That valuation, usually a sticking point with most owners of sports teams, is based, in part, upon the value of the team when it was put into trust (date unknown) and allows the family to be shielded from some of the tax assessed. It’s not an easy process and most families battle the IRS for quite some time over the final figures. Should the estimate be viewed as excessive, selling the team will get the family out from under.

Estate taxes generally take 40% of the estimated value of a team. However, given that the Tigers were placed in a trust, that figure will be lower. Unfortunately, the initial offer to buy the lowly Marlins by the Kushner family will not work in the Tigers’ favor. As the second from the bottom in MLB team values, the Marlins had a bid of $1.6 billion. Expect the Tigers’ valuation to be much, much higher as a result. Way more than the value Forbes placed on them and as such, the tax bill may be eye-popping.

Combine that with the increasingly visible relationship the Ilitch family has with Tom Gores. He’s now a business partner in the new arena. And within the past year, he hired a sports attorney who specializes in the selling and buying of professional sports teams. The same attorney who has close ties to the Ilitch family. Also within this time frame, Steve Greenberg (Hank’s son and former MLB Deputy Commissioner and now top dealmaker specializing in sports and media), was hired to oversee the financials of a big project. Greenberg had very close ties with Mike Ilitch.

So given all of this, how likely will a sale of the team be on the horizon? If you are like me, you may resort to that infamous two-column approach to see just how much support there is for each argument.


REASONS FOR CHRIS TO KEEP THE TEAM

1. As a tribute or promise to his father

2. Tigers still considered as one of the better teams in MLB

3. Team has been viable in the standings

4. Possible favorable estate tax ruling

5. Downtown centralization of all Ilitch holdings

6. Rejuvenation of downtown area resulting in more traffic (District Detroit)

7. TV contract set to renew in 2018

8. Possible development of an independent media broadcast company between Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings and new soccer team.

9. Healthy attendance

10. A feeder for all the other Ilitch companies.


REASONS FOR CHRIS TO SELL THE TEAM

1. Focus on new Red Wings arena

2. Interviews, lifelong hockey player (including amateur team) and youth hockey program proving this sport is his first love

3. Significant cost overruns on new projects

4. Needed capital to finance new and existing projects and loans

5. Aging Tigers team expected to drop in performance in coming years

6. Trade pipeline being cut off due to trends showing teams are not trading top prospects and pouring money into their farm systems instead

7. A farm system that may take years to rebuild

8. Partnership with Gores and his hiring of Ilitch advisors

9. Unfavorable ruling by IRS re estate taxes with selling as the only answer

10. Historic trend of families selling the team upon the passing of an owner

11. Some of the biggest contracts that will make aging players untradeable

12. Possible development of an independent media broadcast company between Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings and new soccer team which would still include profits to be made since they own the Red Wings.

13. A downturn in 2017 in the performance of the team including failure to make the playoffs

14. Buy low, sell high. Have the Tigers reached their peak performance and attendance?

15. A Gores partnership that will still allow the Ilitch family to profit from food and service deals

16. New and existing yet incomplete projects that will take up too much time.

17. Payroll that continues to exceed revenue. (In 2015, there was only $11 million income from $268 million revenue due to high payroll.)

18. It is a seller’s market.


Can you add to these lists?

There are hints that something is in the works. But is Chris sold on selling the team? If so, is there a timeline? Or is he taking a wait-and-see approach? Whatever the case, this is not going to be a fast or easy project. Big deals take a good amount of time, especially when you factor in the legalities associated with the IRS.

But one thing is certain. Don’t expect a sale to happen during the baseball season. This is best played out after the last pitch has been thrown.


If you’re not following us on Twitter (@totallytigersbb), here’s just some of what you missed the past couple days:

Ian Kinsler’s argument for retiring #1 and #3

Miggy is the team leader for Venezuela in the WBC

JV’s fastball is still there in MPH

A Michigan family who just may be interested in buying the team down the road

The Dodgers interest in Kinsler and JV and why it didn’t happen

Miggy’s impressive work ethic

And stats, rankings, radio interviews and video!  We’ve rounded it all up to keep fans informed!

CAN SPRING HEADLINES REALLY DRAW YOU IN?

By:  Kurt SnyderKurt Bio Picture

Three home runs. One after another after another. Back-to-back-to-back. From Romine to Kinsler to VMart. All 3 hit home runs in yesterday’s Grapefruit League game versus Houston. Then up to the plate came Miggy.

If you didn’t hear about the game and you don’t know what Miggy did next, let me explain it to you. Well, wait. Let me just give you the headline of the story. “Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera shows another layer of greatness after HBP.”

Now that I have hit you with that bombshell, let me tell you that Miggy was hit in the forearm by a wayward breaking ball. The umpire immediately ejected the Houston pitcher and Cabrera motioned to the Tiger dugout; letting them know to cool their jets, this was not intentional. A good gesture by Cabrera, who could have made a real stink about being hit after the 3 home runs.

But I wouldn’t get too crazy. Another layer of greatness? Holy cow, let’s get a hold of ourselves! Don’t get me wrong, the headline did its job. It drew me in. I had heard about the incident on the radio returning from work yesterday. But then when I read this, I thought he had done something remarkable that I didn’t hear about. Sorry, false alarm!

This is spring training reporting. And to tell you the truth, I don’t blame these writers. It is probably the toughest part of the season to try to write compelling stories about games that don’t count. And sometimes in their attempts to get the fans’ attention, they get a little crazy. Miggy was Miggy. He got hit by a pitch after 3 home runs and didn’t lose his mind over it, knowing it was a breaking pitch. Good little story, but let’s take a breath before we anoint him with “another layer of greatness.”


Jacoby Jones, who is probably a long shot, but still a worthy candidate to compete for the open centerfield position, got the royal treatment himself a few days ago. Jones, after a long run to get there, made a diving catch in centerfield. It was a great play, I would imagine. I didn’t see it actually happen. But after reading the headline of the story, I couldn’t wait to read what else he had done. I couldn’t wait to read what Jones had done to uncover the magic of exceptional centerfield defensive leadership.

The headline? “Tigers’ JaCoby Jones shows commanding presence in center.” Well, shut the front door! Who can compete with that? All these other candidates still hoping to start the season opener in Chicago can make other plans. Because who is going to compete with someone who, in one play, showed commanding presence?

It’s a little much, don’t you think? Jones is a good athlete, there is no doubting that. He’s going to make good plays that impress you and bad plays that don’t. He’s young and will probably start the season in the minor leagues. And I am sure that the words “commanding presence” have never been written in his scouting report.

To be fair, I know these writers are up against it. And if I were in their shoes, I would search for opportunities to feature a particular player to write on and showcase. But let’s not over-dramatize events, and draw overblown conclusions, all in the interests of getting our attention. Just tell us what happened. It’s ok. We all understand this is just spring training. We aren’t expecting the second coming of the Almighty from any of these Tiger players.

So, when Cabrera and Jones or whoever the next prophet is, does something impressive, let’s not turn it into some, ‘turning water into wine’ event.   If you want to go over the top, it had better be a head-turner.

I must admit though. In the area of drawing readers in, the writers of these headlines are the best the world has to offer.


If you’re not following us on Twitter (@totallytigersbb), here’s just some of what you missed the past couple days:

      Pics of Miggy looking amazing and at his physical best

      Some intriguing managers going into the last year of their contracts

      More teams retiring numbers of their players not in the Hall

      What players are doing now to prevent injuries

      Surprise benefits that come out of the new IBB policy

      New medical advancements to prevent Tommy John surgery

      Yet more statistical support for JV as the true Cy Young winner in 2016

      Slo-mo breakdown of Miggy’s perfect swing

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, KUDOS & CONCERNS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly HorningKurt Bio PictureHolly Bio Pic

With Spring Training now officially underway, there are plenty of issues to address even as the games have barely begun.

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. So, let’s see what’s on the minds of our writers this week. They don’t share their Saturday topics and it’s only for the readers’ benefit.   Expect a wide array of thoughts.


KURT

QUESTION

Will the Tigers ever honor our pleas for the retirement of #1 and #3? With the White Sox announcing they have plans to retire the #56 of long time pitcher Mark Buehrle this summer, enough is now enough. Buehrle isn’t heading to Cooperstown; he’s just another example of another team, honoring their own.

QUESTION

Miguel Cabrera often catches a lot of grief from readers who feel he messes around and jokes around a little too much while on the field. On the other hand, announcers praise his carefree attitude and ability to have fun. So who’s opinion is justified when we are talking about a player who prepares so hard in the spring and this year appears to be in the best physical condition we have seen yet?

CONCERN

It seems with Victor Martinez, we can always find something about him physically that concerns us. However, Vmart has arrived in Lakeland with a new pair of guns, looking to have worked extremely hard in the weight room in the off-season. So, who naturally has chosen a negative reaction, hoping he hasn’t made himself so big that it affects his bat quickness; sorry, couldn’t help it…


HOLLY

COMMENT

It’s now known (thanks to a reader, Tom, who passed along a news alert) that Mike Ilitch put the Tigers into a trust (date unknown) because his wife, Marian, cannot inherit them due to MLB rules about casinos/gambling. Done to hopefully minimize the financial penalties, the trust now owns the team with Chris Ilitch as the lead trustee and de facto owner. Most problems with estate taxes happen over the IRS’s valuation process – a problem that can be avoided, if necessary, by selling the team.

QUESTION

Should we be surprised that Don Kelly, publicly known as one of Jim Leyland’s favorite players, has returned to the Tigers – this time as a scout and assistant to Player Development? It was noted the position did not exist until the Tigers created it for him. Just another example that Jim Leyland continues to have way more power and influence than anyone outside the organization would think.

KUDOS

The trainwreck of last weekend, otherwise known as the arbitration fallout between the Yankees and Dellin Betances, was so horrific and will have a lasting negative impact for years to come. It’s made me so appreciative that the Tigers have avoided arbitration hearings for 16 years. They continue to be one of the most professional organizations in how they handle problems publicly in all matters with grace and secrecy.


If you’re not following us on Twitter (@totallytigersbb), here’s just some of what you missed the past couple days:

      Pics of Miggy looking amazing and at his physical best

      Some intriguing managers going into the last year of their contracts

      More teams retiring numbers of their players not in the Hall

      What players are doing now to prevent injuries

      Surprise benefits that come out of the new IBB policy

      New medical advancements to prevent Tommy John surgery

      Yet more statistical support for JV as the true Cy Young winner in 2016

      Slo-mo breakdown of Miggy’s perfect swing

OFF THE BASE PATH

By:  Holly HorningHolly Bio Pic

Several days ago, I was listening to a program on the best active managers in the game. Bochy, Francona and Maddon. A foregone conclusion by those in baseball that they are shoo-ins for the Hall of Fame.

What piqued my interest was their shared mentality about refusing to accept setbacks, especially when it came to injuries. Each had the mindset that they always had the talent to succeed and win no matter who they lost to the DL. Each mentioned that they refuse to even consider using the injury bug as an excuse. And they were quite adamant in their statements.

We especially saw it last year with the Indians and the raft of players they lost for much of the year, including several starting pitchers. And then there was the dreaded drone accident to an essential pitcher at playoff time. And what did Francona do? He laughed it off in an interview and in typical humor said “Who hasn’t suffered a drone-related injury before?” in reference to Trevor Bauer’s accident. And yet despite all their injuries, they did pretty well, didn’t they?

And it’s important to note that with their loss in the World Series, no one within the Indians’ organization offered any excuses even though the injury bug explanation would have been a solid one.

In stark contrast, the Tigers start and end every year using injuries as an excuse. As a reminder at the beginning of the season that includes how the team would have been in contention if they hadn’t lost (insert a variety of names here) for part of the previous season. And a reminder at the end of the season that injuries were to blame for their record.

They have done this in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Sense a pattern here?

But don’t go blaming Brad because he’s only following the corporate culture. Jim Leyland did it, too. Al Avila does it as did his predecessor, Dave Dombrowski, before him. And of course, all the local newspapers willingly obliged in pounding home the same message.

And what everyone wants us all to hopefully understand is that the failure to be successful in October had nothing to do with anyone within the organization. No one was to blame is the silent message they are sending. No one failed in their attempts whether it was due to the farm system, player signings, roster makeup, player performance, the bullpen, coaching or managing. They keep telling us it is due to the circumstances beyond their control.

And when you keep deflecting blame and refuse to accept responsibility for your actions, it allows a nefarious mindset to take hold. A mindset that allows you a way out of just about anything. A reason why no one will be held accountable. A reason why most will not voluntarily leave their comfort zone and push beyond. And a reason for people to continue the same old, same old ways without repercussions.

Which brings me to a story published on Tuesday that made my face turn as red as my hair. A story so ridiculous in nature that you end up reading it with your mouth all the way open. A story that said the Tigers actually improved their base running in 2016! A story that insinuated acceptance of the team’s overall base running.

Unbelievably, they got Brad Ausmus, among others, to state that the team made progress and actually improved their base running! As proof were some really vague figures that did not include stats but included references to phrases such as “thrown out 3 fewer times” and “gained 5 more bases.” And Kirk Gibson was given the credit for “improving” the team with a whopping 2 days of instruction. At this point, I was thinking about seeking out the nearest porcelain god.

But Brad stated that fundamentals were not the problem and that the guys know them. But Bill James clearly says otherwise. Quotes about the Tigers’ really bad baserunning “points specifically to a lack of prowess and competency” as one of the primary reasons. Actual speed is another factor.

So how bad is the team in base running? (Ok, you know what to say…) They rank dead last by a mile (pun sadly not intended) for both 2015 and 2016. Their percentage at taking extra bases is a mere 34% (well below average) with 55 runners being thrown out on the base paths – with a third of them at home plate. And in 2016, their baserunning accounted for a – 107 runs gained. Yes, you read that correctly.

And one of the biggest reasons why a team with one of the very top offensive stats manages to rank in the middle of MLB re runs actually scored.

Shame on anyone who tries to tell fans that the team improved from 2015 to 2016. Last place to last place. Everyone involved in this charade should be forced to watch a double-header called by Hawk Harrelson and Joe Buck.

But Ausmus shouldn’t be the only one to shoulder the blame. Again, he’s practicing the corporate culture that the organization has developed, feeds and embraces. Not discussed beyond a whisper is why ownership and 2 GMs collected a group of big, lumbering players, pay them exorbitant salaries and then ignore teaching and emphasizing the little things that pay off in October.

But the scariest thing about this story is the huge amount of spin, the contentment and the acceptance of this level of performance. A culture signaling that this is OK. A culture telling everyone who sits in the Front Office and the dugout that no one will really be held accountable in the end. That reaching new levels of performance would be good, but no one will be pushed or motivated in reaching for new goals. As Brad so aptly summarized, “It is what it is.”

It won’t matter how much the team spends, or which players they sign, if the corporate culture doesn’t set higher standards and expectations. A last place finish should be the sounding bell for altering an attitude, not a cry for complacency.


If you’re not following us on Twitter (@totallytigersbb), here’s just some of what you missed the past couple days:

      Pics of Miggy looking amazing and at his physical best

      Some intriguing managers going into the last year of their contracts

      More teams retiring numbers of their players not in the Hall

      What players are doing now to prevent injuries

      Surprise benefits that come out of the new IBB policy

      New medical advancements to prevent Tommy John surgery

      Yet more statistical support for JV as the true Cy Young winner in 2016

      Slo-mo breakdown of Miggy’s perfect swing

ONE TOPIC – TWO TAKES

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt SnyderKurt Bio PictureHolly Bio Pic

With the Grapefruit season almost underway, news on the intentional walk has dominated the landscape! The uproar has ensued!

Anyway, it seems appropriate, given all the talk about the attempted pace of play initiatives, that we address a question on the topic.

Holly and Kurt haven’t shared their answers until today, assuring a nice wide range of perspectives.


Do you believe the game needs additional pace of play initiatives? Why or why not?


HOLLY

Remember when Mike Hargrove was called the human rain delay? Today, everyone connected to the game classifies under this moniker and when you have the professional sport historically with the least amount of actual play time, longest game length and the oldest and fastest ageing sports demographic, real problems lie ahead.

Any professional sports endeavor requires that fresh fans are constantly being attracted to the game in order to keep the sport healthy. And it’s a real problem now with games that average just under 3 hours and playoff games going much longer because it flies in the face of what attracts millennials (now the target market) – who prefer shorter times and a faster pace.

The changes made so far have only resulted in making a dent, but it’s not so much the actual length of the game as it is the pace. The games have slowed down so much from all the stepping out from the plate, visits to the mound, instant replay and bullpens that see more action – just to name a few.

Rather than a focus on 1 or 2 factors, a number of changes need to be added to the mix so measurable changes are created. However, it’s important to note that it is crucial that the essential strategy or intent of the game is not changed or compromised.

Waiting for the players to agree on changes is like waiting for Godot. They will argue that any changes to their routines will mess with their game so it’s no surprise that the players’ union has adamantly opposed moving forward in more than a token way.

And Commissioner Manfred has already laid down the gauntlet threatening to overrule the MLBPA next year. But what I haven’t seen is MLB showing them WIIFM (What’s In It for Me?). Facts and figures about the demographics and how much the newest paying generation will spend is crucial to helping them understand that the financial viability of the sport directly impacts their salaries and marketability.

It’s been suggested that changes, like the pitch clock, start in the minor leagues and gradually work their way up to the MLB level. But this will take time and how do you handle teams who will all have the mix of old and new players with different behaviors? Don’t the rookies look up to and emulate the veterans and stars? We can’t expect the new behaviors created in the minors will last once they reach the major leagues.

Ironically, the deciding force may just be technology. We’re already seeing a movement away from watching live games and attending games in person for the easier and less expensive alternative to streaming them. I know I’m not the only one with limited time to watch and the ability to fast forward from pitch-to-pitch, walk ups and pitching changes.


KURT

I believe the game of baseball needs to be protected and preserved; and any radical changes must be scrutinized to the nth degree. But even as I cringe about the thought of changes to our great game, I take no issue with how the game will handle intentional walks. I am completely fine with a manager signal versus the pitcher throwing 4 balls; it will have very little impact on the game and really should not be missed.

I found one site that described the intentional walk rule change as “depriving us of greatness.” Well, sorry if I don’t move to the edge of my seat so I don’t miss the “greatness” of an intentional walk.

If you really want to dive into an issue with a lot of meat on the bone and the source of where games get bogged down, it stands firmly with instant replay. Get rid of it! It’s not worth the pain of waiting for play to resume 4-6 times a game.

Other than that, I don’t find pace of play to be an issue. But I am not part of the millennial crowd that the MLB is trying to draw and entertain. I am not your normal fan. I watch everything. Strategy and routine is part of the game that can’t be ignored or compromised.

Baseball is a very difficult game; one where rituals and routine help players to focus. Routines are big for these guys; especially when someone walks to the plate to try to accomplish one the most difficult things to do in sports, hit a baseball.

Most of the changes that will be proposed beginning in 2018 revolve around the introduction of time constraints; and clocks don’t belong in baseball. And if you start messing with routines by instituting time limits all through the course of a game in order to improve flow and pace, there is a risk.

There is more to baseball than what takes place when the ball is in play. Even if the commissioner is successful in improving pace of play, we really won’t know for sure if the game itself will improve because of it. I understand the challenges ahead and the importance of appealing to a younger fan base, but don’t destroy the fabric on the way there.


If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

If you haven’t checked out our site (@totallytigersbb) yet, here’s what you missed this week:

      The controversy surrounding Ian Kinsler’s ranking of the best 2Bers

      Proof that Miggy is considered by most to be one of the very top 1Bers

      How Daniel Norris is very similar to Michael Fulmer

      The Tigers’ placement within the 100 best prospects in baseball

      MLB’s rankings of each position and where each Tiger stands

      VMart still ranks as one of the very best despite his lack of running

      Why the Pirates handled their CF issue much better than the Tigers

      Personal thoughts directly from JV, Miggy and Ian Kinsler

      Pace of play updates

      Tigers ranking of best uniform hats

      The best quotes about Mr. I from those who knew him best

      And more!  What are you waiting for??

TIGERS HAVE A WORTHY CHALLENGE AHEAD

Kurt Bio PictureBy:  Kurt Snyder

What motivates a team to win?

What can will a team to win?

Can emotion will a team to win; a desire to work harder than you ever worked before?

Is there a goal out there so powerful that it can sustain itself for a number of months?

There are so many examples in sports. Great stories. Emotional stories. Teams who want to win for someone else. Someone who has been injured. Someone who has been unjustly fired. And yes, someone who has died. Over and over we have seen them.

I believe in emotion. Winning for a cause or a person is something a team can get behind. Something a fan base can get behind. But how long can that emotional drive last? Most examples in sports, the successful ones, take place over a short period of time.

But in baseball, when the cause you are fighting for is an emotional one, before the season even begins,  the challenge can seem overwhelming.

The Tigers will begin this season, now more than ever, wanting to win for Mike Ilitch. The players have mentioned it. The manager has mentioned it. It’s there. It’s alive. And it’s worthy. Brad Ausmus will be smart to use it. And I don’t say that disrespectfully. The team is going to need to be reminded at every turn if this emotional goal is going to sustain itself.

As a result of Mike Ilitch’s death, Brad Ausmus has never had a bigger opportunity to lead. The team, the veteran core, the players who have loved playing under the guidance and support of Mike Ilitch, will dedicate this season to him. And Brad, more than any other season, will have something substantial to use to continue to encourage his team, especially when things are not going well, because those times are going to present themselves.

This can and must be Brad’s personal rallying cry for his team. He has to seize that drive and emotion that, because of Mr. I’s death, is present within each and every player who knows this is the year. This is the only year. The only year left. To win for him.

They know they have the talent. They know they have the potential. They will need contributions from unexpected sources. And who knows? They may get them from players who have not been performing, who will take that same emotional drive into this season.

Maybe someone like Anibal Sanchez, who knows he has little time left with this organization. Heck, how much motivation does JD Martinez have to really work hard this spring, to be in the best possible condition, to help the Tigers win during a season that will certainly be his last in Detroit; for an ownership who brought him out of the ashes to resurrect his career?

This is a new beginning for this team. But it’s the beginning of the end. The proverbial handwriting is on the wall. The core has been given one last shot to finish the job. Dave Dombrowski and Al Avila have been more than familiar with the “win now” mode they lived under during the Mike Ilitch regime.

But the team and its management have never felt it more than this year, ironically, now that Mr. I. has left them.  But it has a completely different feel. There has been no more spending. There has been no free-wheeling attack on the free agent market. The water has been shut off in that regard.

The Tiger brass has shouted quite loudly that this is their team. And almost mercifully, they have kept the core together in hopes that the team would fuel themselves with the memory of their late owner. One last time.

Do I believe in emotional victories? Oh, you bet I do! It’s the one variable that drives me to write about the Tigers. I own the emotional side of this blog partnership. And I want the Tigers to do the incredible.

The Tigers need to be radical and almost religious in their pursuit, because the flaws in this core, the fundamental imperfections, and yes, the health of this team, are real.

But emotion can overcome imperfections. And the cause needs to be present in their minds in everything they do. They need to train like they want it. They need to focus like they mean it. They need to play smart. They need to prepare smart.

It’s the ultimate sports fantasy, really. It’s the kind of story that would be talked about and forever remembered and recorded in history.

But it is the biggest of long shots. And we are all suckers for a dream. There is one thing my brother Doug says to me and my brothers whenever we say something negative about any of our local teams’ chances of winning a championship: “Hey, don’t mess with my dreams!”

So be careful how you react to this post. Sure, you could set this whole pep talk to music if you wanted.   But there is nothing more powerful than emotion. It’s just a matter of how long you can make it last.

All of this makes this baseball season in Detroit unlike any other. So let’s embrace it for what it is.


If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

If you haven’t checked out our site (@totallytigersbb) yet, here’s what you missed this week:

      The controversy surrounding Ian Kinsler’s ranking of the best 2Bers

      Proof that Miggy is considered by most to be one of the very top 1Bers

      How Daniel Norris is very similar to Michael Fulmer

      The Tigers’ placement within the 100 best prospects in baseball

      MLB’s rankings of each position and where each Tiger stands

      VMart still ranks as one of the very best despite his lack of running

      Why the Pirates handled their CF issue much better than the Tigers

      Personal thoughts directly from JV, Miggy and Ian Kinsler

      Pace of play updates

      Tigers ranking of best uniform hats

      The best quotes about Mr. I from those who knew him best

      And more!  What are you waiting for??

TOPIC FOR TUESDAY

microphoneIt’s Tuesday folks, which means it’s your day! Today is the day for you to be heard.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

This is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.


 From Chuck T:

What was the best era for the Tigers?  Why?


 

If you’re not yet on Twitter, you need to be!  It is so much more than 140 characters.  Totally Tigers presents the best articles, videos, pictures and radio/tv interviews for the most relevent news on the Tigers not found easily or locally.  We do all the work for you and bring you the latest news as it breaks.  And we’ll always leave you thinking.  Read us in the morning and get updates on the latest news throughout the day on Twitter.

If you haven’t checked out our site (@totallytigersbb) yet, here’s what you missed this week:

      The controversy surrounding Ian Kinsler’s ranking of the best 2Bers

      Proof that Miggy is considered by most to be one of the very top 1Bers

      How Daniel Norris is very similar to Michael Fulmer

      The Tigers’ placement within the 100 best prospects in baseball

      MLB’s rankings of each position and where each Tiger stands

      VMart still ranks as one of the very best despite his lack of running

      Why the Pirates handled their CF issue much better than the Tigers

      Personal thoughts directly from JV, Miggy and Ian Kinsler

      Pace of play updates

      Tigers ranking of best uniform hats

      The best quotes about Mr. I from those who knew him best

      And more!  What are you waiting for??

TERRIFIC & TIMELY TWEETS FROM TOTALLY TIGERS

By:  Holly HorningHolly Bio Pic

On this holiday weekend, what better way to celebrate than to roll out our latest method for enhancing your way of receiving news, in-depth information and thoughtful essays on the Tigers.

You can now get your Totally Tigers fix multiple times a day and in several different formats. All of it substantive, all of it done in the Totally Tigers way.

Of course, the daily blog remains the same but now you can go to Twitter to receive even more news and pieces that will continue to make you think throughout the day.

But if you believe that Twitter is only about 140 characters, think again. Using Twitter, we now have the ability to present info in a number of different mediums:

– Audio interviews

– Video

– Articles from trusted resources that are often only available in a “pay-for-play” venue

– Stats, polls

– Historical and humorous pieces

And all of it culled from an unlimited number of resources and edited just for you. Stories and news that are about our Tigers – and impacts our Tigers. Stories that you won’t find in the local papers. And news as soon as it hits. We even break the stories before the big newspapers do. Heck, we tweeted about Don Kelly’s return hours before the Detroit papers reported it!

And we also give you news directly from the players themselves. Unfiltered. Absolute gold.

And for those of you who want the opportunity to comment more, your wish is our command. Twitter makes it easy to respond to tweets as well as converse with others who have read the same story.

Twitter is free and very easy to use. Go to http://www.twitter.com and enter @totallytigersbb. Click on the “follow” tab to get all our tweets. That’s all. Easy. And faster than a certain coach’s run to the post-game buffet table.

Still not convinced? Check out the stories we covered just within the past couple days:

– An all-time Tigers Dream Team roster

– Video of Miggy’s training regimen

– The controversy surrounding Ian Kinsler’s ranking among second basemen

– Proof that Miggy is considered by most analysts to be one of the top first basemen

– A comparison between how Detroit and Pittsburgh handled their CF problems

– Interviews with JV

– A comparison between Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer

– How players punk each other

– Pace of play updates

– MLB’s ranking of all positions

– Uniform rankings of all 30 teams

– Top 100 prospects lists –and how many are Tigers

– Video of Miggy, McCann and JV doing what they do best

It’s time to jump on board! Join us on Twitter along with other fans, former MLB players – and even Jose Bautista!