WHAT’S IN A TITLE?

On this holiday weekend, please enjoy a previously published blog that continues to be relevant. Happy Passover and Easter, everyone!

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

When we talk about baseball players, we usually understand their strengths. Whether they are great at hitting or at fielding. Sometimes solidly possessing both skills.

And then there’s the phrase “5 tool player” which refers to a player who is solid at all the top baseball skills.

But what about GMs? They’re people, too.

And for some reason, many in the baseball world – from owners to fans – believe that every GM should be strong in every aspect of their job.

But is that a fair assumption to make?

Should every GM be required to excel in every facet?

And how many of today’s GMs actually do?


Before we can analyze, let’s identify the primary skills required of a GM:

– Scouting

– Drafting

– Signing current players/free agents

– Trading

– Negotiations

– Creating and implementing a vision and strategy

– Hiring Front Office personnel

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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

We liked it so much in the off-season, Notable News will continue to live on throughout the season. After all, what’s more notable than when the team is actually playing for real?

Opening Day has come and gone. The Tigers will continue to fight the cold season heading into the weekend. So what’s on the minds of our writers as we kick off another season of Totally Tigers?

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspective. Let’s see what they have for today.   Probably pretty obvious after yesterday’s extravaganza…..


HOLLY

Opening Day is always the news of the week even though you really can’t make any observations after just one game – that is, until this one.

This was an emotional and physical roller coaster of a day with lots of ups and downs all the way through the entire game. Great moments of coming back and tying the score and other moments of frustration including leaving the bases loaded twice with no outs.

But what really stuck with me, other than the surreal moment in the bottom of the 10th inning, was that this team has some real fight in it unlike what we’ve seen in past years. The players seemed more aggressive at the plate and on the base paths, practiced more patience and appeared much more focused and engaged unlike those years under Ausmus. Heck, they even looked, down to every man, like they were having lots of fun.

Despite the final score, I’d like to think that Ron Gardenhire is responsible for putting the claws back on these cats which should make for a much more interesting year for fans.


KURT

So yeah, Opening Day. We all know how challenging this season will be to follow. But do we have to work this hard for a victory this soon; right from the get-go?

You have to give the boys credit. They didn’t lay down. Victory was the desired result for all of them and they acted like it. But what does Opening Day say about how difficult wins are going to be to achieve?

It was such a bitter-sweet day and I didn’t actually even see it! I was following by radio until the signal faded away while driving to Chicago and then of course, text messages from family, readers and Holly.

They kept me engaged. But what a game to kick things off!  It was loss #1. I’m assuming there can’t be more like this, can there?


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OPEN MIKE!

microphoneIt’s Friday folks, which means it’s your day! This 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.

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


 Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

 

 

CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL IF …

By: Kurt Snyder

Every year when contemplating what to focus on the night before Opening Day, I realize that nothing is more appropriate than sharing my old memories of what the day meant, what it felt like when the Tigers played at ‘The Corner.’  So in honor of this special day, I’m happy to share with you what I believe represents the good ole days. 

You have read this before.  I hope you liked it then,  and will again.   Go Tigers!


“You can’t win ‘em all if you don’t win the first one.”

Dad said it every year; whether the Tigers started the season on the road or at home. Winning that first game was always special, but never more special than winning at home, at “The Corner.”

Opening Day in Detroit was magical, but even more considering they played in such an incredibly iconic ballpark. I haven’t attended an opener at Comerica Park. I haven’t had the desire to go. The “new stadium,” now 18 years old, doesn’t bring the same emotion; I have no passion for it. But we were so intimately connected with Tiger Stadium throughout Dad’s career running the place, that I guess it’s hard to establish the same feelings, the same vibe, somewhere else.  In fact, it’s impossible.

But Opening Day still, even today, is like a gift that keeps on giving. It brings back all the great memories that always make me smile. Every year, Opening Day brings it all back. I grew up at Tiger Stadium.

I feel baseball, more than any other sport, is a sport rooted in families where dads (and moms) cherish the times they get to spend with their kids at the ballpark. They remember those times spent with their family, plays made by a favorite player, a game winning home run or maybe even a ball caught in the stands by one of their sons or daughters.

So can you imagine a childhood and early adult life where baseball games at Tiger Stadium were not just memorable events in your life, but an actual life of its own? That’s what it was for me, my three brothers, my Mom, my Dad.

On the day of the home opener, we would be sure to arrive early, and like always, we pulled into the stadium lot where Dad parked and where all the Tiger players parked.

The incredible experience continued as we walked through the turnstiles. And within seconds the pure ambiance of the place grabbed a hold of you. Rich history has a way of doing that, and history emanated from Tiger Stadium.

First, the smell of the hot dogs hit you in the face, those wonderful Ball Park Franks. I have never tasted a dog like that since the Tigers left there. Sure, Ball Park Franks still exist, but what made them smell so great? What made them taste so much better at Tiger Stadium? Boiled or grilled, it didn’t matter; same great taste, same great smell.

Everything seemed so much more enhanced on Opening Day. Maybe it was because baseball season was finally here again. Maybe it was the hope of a new team. Maybe it just signified the end of another long winter and finally after 6 long months, walking into that place seemed to make everything right with the world again.

Tiger Stadium seasoned the air with baseball, and what a wonderful smell it was.

As we continued our walk through the concourse, Mom and I would weave through the throngs of people and make our way to Dad’s office, mainly just to keep warm until the game started. It seemed like it was always cold that day.

Invariably, Dad was not there when we came in. He would be doing one last walk around before show time. It was a big job. And everything was magnified on Opening Day.

Just before game time, we would head to our seats, Dad’s box, straight back from the Tigers’ on deck circle between home and third. Six seats, the first 2 rows behind the aisle. We were home again.

After the players were introduced and we prepared for the National Anthem, Dad would arrive. He always dressed so nice, sharp suit and tie, and overcoat, ready for the game to begin and the second part of his business day. He would kiss my mom, shake my hand and we would stand for the Anthem.

My dad, the veteran, would stand with his back so straight, right hand over his heart, respecting the flag and our country. I would watch him, so proud, so respectful of a man who I knew had a lot of responsibility and so much on his mind. But there was no place he would rather be. And there was no place we would rather be. With him.

It was Opening Day.  Another job well done.


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MEDIA, MARKETING AND MANIPULATION

By:  Holly Horning

Ah, the season is just about to begin in earnest…..

Whaat? You thought I was talking about playing baseball?

No, there is a sport in which the Tigers have every intention of trying to finish as close to the top as they can.

Filling the seats with as many fannies as possible.

While many were focused on the last of the spring training games this week, I was watching the patterns of action by the local media. And astonishingly, the papers were perfectly synced in their reporting. What are the odds of that happening?

Pages filled with reports, mostly for the casual fan, of glowing expectations about individual players. Or stories about real concerns regarding this team without actually identifying them. And then they go on to give short reports on each player. Reports that only point out how we may expect almost every player to do better this year. Not a single analysis of players we need to be concerned about. All on a team that is expected to be among the worst in MLB.

The logic doesn’t make sense.

Or does it?

Day after day in which the hard questions go unasked. No reports about the team’s weaknesses, especially pitching. Fulmer is great, Zimmermann is pitching his best yet, Boyd is promising, Norris should have a breakout year, Liriano is similar to the days of old and Fiers is conveniently injured which helps avoid the concerns about him.

VMart is completely back to normal and Miggy shows no signs of his previous injuries. Castellanos gets tons of coverage for his bat, but there is silence about that glove. Leonys Martin’s defensive skills are highlighted, but his lead off stats are ignored. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “yadda, yadda, yadda.”

You get the picture. It’s cherry picking time – and we’re not talking about the orchards around Traverse City.

And then there are the flood of stories about the youngsters and what grand things they will probably accomplish in 2-3 years. Written, presumably, with a crystal ball.

All done for the casual fans who follow the Tigers superficially. And let’s face it – the Tigers are the typical MLB team where the average attendees outnumber those who follow the team more closely.

But the strategy goes deeper.

Lengthy stories appeared in multiple publications, all on the same day, about the new food that will be served at Comerica. Video showing reporters scarfing down some of the new treats and giving their culinary criticism. It’s enough to make you want to barf. The coverage, that is, not the food.

I had to laugh when more pictorial stories were given to the new dishes than they were to the new players on the roster.

But somehow, a story of interest managed to push its way through in one of the dailies that didn’t have that glossy, positive spin to it. By a reporter who used to cover the Tigers full time until (as many reports over the years have alleged) it was requested by unknown powers, that he be moved to covering other sports like golf and curling.

And his story was about the attendance problems the Tigers are having this year. An Opening Day, the first in recent memory, that appears likely to not sell out. Details about the widespread online advertising to sell tickets and the promotion to boost attendance via Groupon.

And this is what it is all about, folks. The tough task of selling fans on what is expected to be a poorly performing team this year. Putting a positive spin and shine on everything associated with attending a game and trying to ignore the bits of reality that try to poke through.

That is the job of the marketing department and you can’t blame them one lick for trying to do their jobs the best they can.

The problem is, they have willing accomplices. People who have jobs that are supposed to require them to promote, support and as well, report the news fairly. To ask lots of questions. To ask probing questions. To ask the hard questions. To report the good with the bad.

But as you can see, the news you are offered (locally, not nationally) is very one-sided. And if you are wondering, this is not the norm for most of the country. I have yet to see this symbiotic relationship in any major East Coast newspaper. And in Washington, where I live, anything that hinted of this would create a firestorm of controversy. That is, if the newspapers actually allowed this visibly-slanted coverage to be printed.

What we’re seeing here locally is a little too uncomfortably cozy.

It’s not about the typical “rah-rah” enthusiasm that generally comes before a sports season starts. It goes beyond that in frequency and pattern.

And it also goes toward an alarming practice seen just this week.

Two newspapers last weekend ran with a story published nationally about Miguel Cabrera. About how he thought it not important to learn most of the other teammates’ names who played with him. Calling them all “bro” instead. And about how he refused to allow the medical staff to examine him for suspected injuries because he didn’t want to go on the DL. A story that hinted at a very self-centered individual. And it was not a flattering report overall.

Yet, approximately 24 hours later, this story disappeared from both of these papers. Not even found in the backup of stories you can read on the Tigers’ home page in the sports sections. Archives that go back at least 3 weeks.

Yet another example of 2 organizations publishing the same thing and then removing the similar stories at the same time.

Wow, another coincidence.

Even if you’re a casual baseball fan, you probably know about Miggy’s transgressions over the years. But why remove this story? Certainly a story that is not as headline-grabbing as the past ones. Why especially this year?

It’s because Miggy is still the franchise face for this team. Now that Justin Verlander is gone, there is more attention on Cabrera until someone, probably Michael Fulmer, can join him on the pedestal. And he is still the main draw for attendance. Especially this year. The Tigers are more dependent upon him than ever to bring the fans into the park. The casual fans all know him. They may not know many others on the team.

And when this will be one of the most difficult years in which to keep those turnstiles moving, the Tigers will resort to promoting their franchise face, the promising future, the food and the entertainment that happens off the field more than ever.

Oh, and don’t forget that this is also the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 World Series championship. Expect that team, along with new Hall of Fame inductees, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, to get a whole lotta love and attention throughout the year. The hope is going to be that living in the past can serve as deflection for a lot of the rebuilding pains that will take place this season.

But can this all sell as many tickets as the Tigers hope it will?


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

We are 2 days from the start of the 2018 season. Not sure how it got here so quickly, but it did. So it’s time to start thinking about one of the greatest and most celebrated days of the year in Detroit. That’s right, Opening Day!

Our writers have chosen to address another question about the home opener, a day that has given us so many great memories over the years as Tiger fans. Everyone has a favorite memory, or 2, or 3!

Holly and Kurt have not shared their answers to the following question. But  it is sure to spark plenty of responses from you, the readers.

So, here is the question.


What are Kurt’s and Holly’s favorite Opening Day memories?


KURT

The year of the last Tiger championship, 1984, ranks as the most memorable and most exciting year of my life when it comes to baseball and all the things I was able to experience.

After a 6-0 start on the road, the Tigers returned home with so much positive energy, the electricity felt inside Tiger Stadium on Opening Day could have powered the entire city.

The biggest free agent to come to Detroit in a very long time arrived prior to the 1984 season. Darrell Evans wasted no time making his presence known with the Tigers. He hit a 3-run homer in the road opener at the Metrodome in Minnesota and then, 5 games later, came to the plate for his debut in the home whites; his first at-bat at Tiger Stadium.

As was usually the case, Whitaker and Trammell both reached base to start the game and Evans, batting third in the order, quickly jacked a home run into the upper deck in right field. The Tigers were quickly ahead 3-0 and went on to win the home opener 5-1, in a season they would win their first nine.

It wasn’t Evans’ best season with the Tigers, but in the span of a week, he hit 2 Opening Day 3-run homers in 2 different cities. You want Opening Day memories? Well, you got ‘em!


HOLLY

Growing up in Michigan, I managed to attend almost every Opening Day until I Ieft the state to attend college. And somehow, I managed to get a pass from my middle and high schools to go to the games under the pretense of covering them for the school newspapers. And I didn’t even write for the sports sections.

Of course, we all knew the true intent. I remember all of my teachers signing off on my absences, trying hard not to smile too much.

The vast majority of those games were cold, but there was one particular year that stood out because the day was positively balmy. Warm enough that I was able to convince my best friend that we had to travel to Tiger Stadium in her convertible.

The Tigers only managed to get 2 hits that day but the game was scoreless until the 9th when Rusty Staub, playing RF, lost the ball in a snow bank at the wall and allowed the Brewers to score the only run. John Hiller, my favorite player, ended up taking the loss.

But the day was still magical as we drove back home with the top down, sun and wind in our faces, as we welcomed spring and a new season of baseball.


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WHY SHOULD THEY COME?

By:  Kurt Snyder

Comerica Park will open its door for another season of baseball this week, with Opening Day just a few short days away.

The day typically signals the end of winter, hope that warm weather is not far away, and a time when Tiger fans begin to dream again. Will this finally be the year is normally the dream.

But barring some remarkable and historic storybook season, the Tigers will not come close to satisfying any of those dreams. And knowing what product the Tigers will put on the field this season, no one will consider dreaming it, much less realize it.

We know 2 things. There will always be interest among the ranks of the baseball fan. They will keep track of their team now reduced to starting over. But what will all those trendy fans who visit Comerica Park do, who know little about the game and care little about learning, but love to hang out while the Tigers play, what will draw them?

I call them the Amsterdam 416 fans. The young fans dumping all their money at the right field bar with complete disregard for the baseball game happening on the field.

They know Miggy and VMart and not many others. There are new Tigers whom they will ignore until they are given reason to pay attention. The Amsterdam fan doesn’t know who Jeimer Candelario is or why he should draw their interest. Heck, on Opening Day, how long will it take for them to even notice that Nicholas Castellanos is no longer the third baseman?

Now I apologize for using such a broad brush to capture the definition of the younger Tiger fan base. But this is what we, the real fans, notice when we attend games. We see people and wonder why they are there. We hear things that make us question why they haven’t chosen some other form of entertainment.

One thing is for sure though. Winning kept them coming back; at least I think so. If it is an exciting experience, it is the place to be. But there won’t be much winning this season. Comerica Park will not be that place to be in 2018.

So what will the Tigers do to draw them?

They have announced all the new food items. But food doesn’t bring you to the game.

The Tigers will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 World Championship team, an event that will not move the needle for any of them.

The team will retire the numbers of Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. Again, ho-hum for Amsterdam.

These are all events which will draw the older fans, the ones who have loved the game their entire lives. But for the younger crowd, even these historic events will take place with their backs to the field while they order another margarita. That’s assuming they will attend on those days at all.

These are the years where the marketing department will have to work harder to earn their money. What really will be the draw for people auditioning as human bobble heads by constantly looking up and then back down at their phones for 3+ hours?

Does Comerica Park offer enough alternative entertainment to keep them coming back in 2018? Look at the new model of arenas in Detroit. The Ilitch family has made it so appealing in the concourses at Little Caesars Arena that fans have absolutely no reason to sit in their seats, especially when the product offers little excitement.

The Amsterdam Bar is a great spot to hang at the Comerica Park. The Off Ramp Bar offers patrons an opportunity to belly up to the bar and watch the game on TV, away from their seats, while sipping on an outrageously priced cocktail. Fantastic!  But is it enough?

Sadly, this is where fan interest is headed. This is what sports teams must provide to bring in the new fan. Come to think of it, maybe winning doesn’t matter. Just give me a drink, a big screen and a place to plug in and recharge my phone and I’m good.

Sounds good, right? Of course! It’s called your house!


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WATER COOLER CONVERSATION STARTERS

By: Holly Horning

For the first time in many years, we no longer have the luxury of understanding this Tigers team.  Even just a little bit.

Sure, we know this team is rebuilding and will probably be bad.  But this is such a different team.  A different owner, a different roster, a different manager and different goals.

Is it any wonder that we are scratching to learn more about what the future holds based upon this year’s spring training?

It is too soon yet to make any predictions or even educated guesses about anyone associated with this organization.  We need to wait at least 5 more days until Opening Day before any clues are revealed.

Given all of this, we still need to throw some meat out there for fans to digest and discuss until the results of this season’s first Opening Day.  And I know that Kurt joins me in refusing to write those silly blogs weighing in on who is going to the World Series or prospects already deemed to have starting roles in the lineup when they are still in AA ball.

And if we ever do, you have our permission to come after us with torches and pitchforks.  Or put us in an adult care facility.

So to help tide us over until the season begins, here are 5 conversation starters to keep you going until Friday.

CAPTAIN RON

I doubt we will hear “That’s baseball!” this year as we did from the former manager and almost all of his players almost on a daily basis to explain away poor performances.  There’s a new sheriff in town and he is setting the example by calling out players publicly and holding accountability meetings when play is sloppy.  His best quote yet is “You don’t want to hear the explanation” to describe a player who attempted to make excuses as to why he misplayed the ball.

THE FANS HAVE SPOKEN

The pop-up ads are everywhere.  Ads telling you that there are still good seats available for Opening Day.  And quietly, the Tigers are selling tickets on Groupon.  If you can’t sell out Opening Day, especially in Detroit, it’s not a good sign.  But it does reveal that fans are now sending a message and demanding more.  At least the marketing department has changed the ads that once touted Opening Day showing a big picture of Michael Fulmer as the starting pitcher.

CALL ME BY MY NAME

If you had any doubts about Miguel Cabrera being a leader of this team, you now have proof.  In a recent interview with both Miggy and several former teammates, Cabrera has admitted to not knowing many of his teammates’ names through the years and not just this season when many of the faces are unfamiliar.  He didn’t know a number of veterans he played with for a number of years. Miggy calls all of the nameless “bro”.  Worst of all, he confessed that he didn’t feel the need to learn their names.  He also admitted to refusing the team’s medical staff requests over the years to examine him when he was injured because he knew he would be benched.  There’s no “I” in “team”, bro.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Kudos to the Baltimore Orioles for coming up with an ingenious strategy to build interest in baseball among the young.  For the coming year, any adult buying a full-prince ticket will be allowed to bring 2 children with them for free.  Families get a price break on tickets and the Orioles fill the seats and sell more concessions.  But most importantly, they are building a younger fan base.  Studies show that getting more kids interested in baseball at an early age helps to keep them interested in the game as they get older.  It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

SELECTIVE MEMORY

OK, ladies, I know you are with me.  We have men in our lives who can’t remember stuff 24 hours after it happens.  But in baseball, players are able to remember HBP transgressions with specific opponents and teams from 2 years ago.  This was the catalyst in the 5-man ejection game the other day.  Guys, please tell us that there are other ways to get you to remember what we tell you that don’t involve having to throw a baseball.

(Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum response length.  All rules are at:   https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.)

NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

During the off-season, Totally Tigers has turned Saturday into a day to address the latest impactful news of the week, whether in Detroit or baseball in general.

Another Grapefruit League week is in the books and Opening Day is only 5 days away. So, what has gotten the majority of our writers’ attention this week?

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspective. Let’s see what they have for today.


HOLLY

Mental and mechanical mistakes ruled most of the games this week. Players standing around and not backing up plays, fielders throwing balls away and bad base running to name a few. One game that allowed the Tigers to strand 17 runners against a team that didn’t send one single guaranteed roster player that day.

Given that these sloppy habits were never mentioned by former managers or media; it could be that they are just more visible now that this is a significant concern for Ron Gardenhire. And given the rather large turnover of players from last year, it could get worse before it gets better as the players learns how to gel with each other.

The key will be how much and how soon Gardy and his coaches will be able to successfully inspire this roster to play the right way.


KURT

Don’t worry everyone, the Tigers will still be a worthy draw at Comerica this season. We have seen the team, the young talent and all their warts this spring, but there is an overwhelming intangible that is sure to get me through the turnstiles in 2018 – food!

The all new Brisket and Cheddar Stuffed Corn Muffin! BBQ food makes me weak, and walking away from the game to the food court will be a good respite during days when the games just aren’t too appetizing.

Coming back to my seat with a corn muffin stuffed with brisket, cheese and jalapeno will do wonders for this fan looking to get that bad taste out of my mouth watching our beloved home team.

This discovery during the week made me cross out every other item I considered for discussion; what can I say, I have my priorities in order.


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FORUM FOR FRIDAY

microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   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.

Friday 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.


Al Kaline says Nicholas Castellanos is the leader of this Tiger team.  Why not Miguel Cabrera?


 

 Totally Tigers reminds readers to follow the rules found above the Comment box as well as those listed under the Rules tab.  Comments not meeting these requirements cannot be published.