It’s been so long. Do we really remember how to do this?
It hasn’t been easy to follow the Tigers over the years. The frustration of unrealized expectations has continually burst our balloons when so often we hoped for them to reach the greatest of heights. And even when they failed, there was always a good level of winning that offered hope for the next season.
But when the winning stops. What do we do?
Optimism has its limits. In a year where losing will far outweigh the winning, we are going to continually be tested. Interest will be tested. Dedicating the kind of time we normally do will be a challenge. Whether to attend games or not will be scrutinized more, based on where the Tigers find their place on our list of priorities.
You want to be a fan? A real fan? Well, you don’t pick and choose. You take the good with the bad. You watch when they are losing just as much as when they are winning. All very easy to say. But all very tough to do.
I have looked at lots of beautiful summer days out my patio door while I sat inside watching the Tigers. I’m not Holly. I don’t DVR games and watch them later. I watch them live or listen on the radio, always trying to find time for one or the other.
But winning always has a way of dictating what we choose to do. What kind of fan will you be?
It’s all still baseball, isn’t it? We all still love the game. Losing never made us love the game less, right? You, out there. Yeah, you, reading this right now, are you looking forward to the season to begin? We always do, don’t we? Regardless of all the prognostications, for the pure love of the game, anticipation is the one emotion that fuels us today.
And that enthusiasm should drive us and force us as real fans to critique the losing, value and dissect the winning and dig deep for the little morsels of satisfaction.
It is going to be a test for all of us. And we may all need a manual to help get us from Game 1 to Game 162 with the same level of interest that we have 1 week before Opening Day.
So while this team restructures, we must restructure as fans. Ron Gardenhire wants to win. But he knows that will be a tremendous challenge and highly unlikely in his Year 1.
We all want to win as well, but we see what the challenges are and what will keep us from winning most nights. This all brings about a very difficult proposition for all of us. But I would like to challenge everyone.
Can you be a fan of this team while ignoring the record? Because that’s what we’re going to have to do.
We have to embrace the rebuild and not concentrate on how bad it’s going to look at first. How do you do that?
Well I don’t know how you are going to do it. But here’s what I’m going to do. I am going to start the season with a set of guidelines which I believe will help me get through the year and, along the way, be able to offer readers the most useful analysis possible, aside from dwelling on wins and losses.
If you like this method, have at it. This can be my therapeutic gift to you.
*Dig deeper into games. Watch things you don’t normally watch.
*Watch the new players who intrigue you. The players you feel have the most upside. Follow their progress.
*Watch the players that don’t move the needle, for the purpose of determining what they lack and why they lack it.
*Concentrate on the fundamentals. Keep track of the good plays and record who makes them, identify their strengths.
*At the same time, critique the poor plays, examine technique, and look for lazy play.
*If you are interested in the rule changes, concentrate on how effective they are in improving pace of play.
*Finally, is this team working hard? Are they enthusiastic? Are they having fun? Are they improving, making progress, playing better baseball as the season moves along?
This can be fun, really it can! But, do us all a favor and share the things you intend to focus on this year. If there is ever a season to be creative, this is it.
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