As we get closer to the line in the sand this season for the Tigers, I am bothered by one thing. Why the smoke screen?
Why does Al Avila have to play games with the minds of Tiger fans? And who is this message and attempt to smooth things over supposed to encourage?
It’s ok, Al. We all watch the games. We understand the issues with your team. And we are not as naïve as you might think.
It used to be that Avila was as transparent as a general manager could be. Almost too honest about his team, their future plans and details about what their needs were and the kind of players they would pursue.
However, transparency has now transitioned into trying to reassure fans that everything is fine. I don’t understand it. It’s not like they have taken the team to the moon and we await details on how things are going every day.
Baseball fans, the real fans, understand what they see. They understand when things take a turn. And no pep talk from team management or feel-good propaganda from the press is going to make a difference.
But I guess I am describing us. Maybe fans like us on this forum are not the target audience. The way the Tigers go about managing their business does not keep me from watching. The way the team carries themselves and performs does not have an impact on the amount of games I attend.
When Theo Epstein first stepped foot into Wrigley to begin the rebuild of a historically-struggling franchise, his message was clear. This is going to take time. This isn’t going to be pretty. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Those were, in essence, the messages.
Avila did come out before the season and say that changes were coming. And we took notice. All of us. Every level of fan spent day after day waiting for the pillars to fall.
But the market he felt was there, wasn’t there at all. There was no interest, at least not yet, in what the Tigers had to offer. And that’s when the message changed. The Tigers were going to go for it one more time, with the team they had.
Well, what kind of pile of manure is that? Going for it in Detroit has always meant moves. Transactions. Free agent signings. Big trades. That has been Tiger baseball. That was ‘going for it.’ Not standing pat when there were changes needed to get better.
The real fan has every right to be insulted when the whole marketing campaign switches to a farewell tour of the band. The message has been nauseating. ‘This is a good team. Brad Ausmus is doing a great job.’ Please spare us. We deserve better.
Please sympathize with the fact that we have had to deal with a franchise that has ignored the importance of fundamentals. Poor defense. Poor baserunning. A consistently poor bullpen. It really goes on and on. It’s been a flawed attempt at building a winner that we have acknowledged and begrudgingly accepted. If nothing else, give us credit for setting aside the constant disappointments.
I had no problem with the ‘Get leaner, get younger’ message described by Avila before the season. Didn’t all the signs point to that anyway? It was a good move by Avila to be clear with the fan base that the franchise had gotten themselves into a pickle. And to contend in the future, some difficult decisions were going to have to be made to build a sustainable, competitive and contending franchise.
But was Avila hauled behind the woodshed after telling the fans future franchise direction?
Was he told to get back out there in front of the microphone and let people know that even with the plan, they still had a chance to win a World Series?
Aren’t we finding out that winning for Mr. I. was just words, with no emotional drive or desire being demonstrated on the field to do exactly that? There is no visible evidence. So as a fan, if you are out there still supporting that mantra … well, scrap it!
The team appears to be sitting back and waiting for the other shoe to fall while their management tells us how good they are. In response, we should all feel insulted and offended by the games the franchise is playing with us.
Al Avila, Mr. Full Disclosure, has turned to clouding the picture, but in his attempt, all he has done is make it more clear that he is not the guy who will lead us through this transition. He is just a guy the team pushes out in front of us to stroke our emotions.
We deserve better and maybe more than anything, an acknowledgement that we are smarter than they think.