NOTABLE NEWS

Saturdays are normally when you can expect to hear from our writers on what they feel was Notable News for the week.  But on this holiday weekend, Totally Tigers will turn the opportunity over to our readers.

We again open up the comment parameters for you, so you can really get those juices flowing. Don’t get too used to this, but comments can again be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.


What ONE story do you believe was the most important of the week?


 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/.

 

 

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 (normally) 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. What’s 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/.

 

 

IS THE FULMER VALUE WINDOW CLOSING?

By:  Kurt Snyder

Have we already seen the best of Michael Fulmer? Did he reach his ceiling when he won Rookie of the Year honors 2 years ago?  Or when he was an All-Star last season?

Because if he has, and it turns out we should have traded him when we had a chance, then I deserve an apology.

How many times in this forum has Totally Tigers questioned the future of Michael Fulmer in Detroit? How many times did I offer a cautionary message regarding the window to trade him and when that window could close?

After the Tigers ‘best’ starting pitcher won the 2016 Rookie of the Year award, he went on to start strong again in 2017, earning a spot on the AL All-Star team.

But following all the All-Star pomp and circumstance, Fulmer began to have elbow issues, the same issues he had experienced before the Tigers acquired him. They resulted in elbow surgery in September of 2017, ending his season.  For me, red flags were being raised all over the place, despite the media’s and the Tiger’s insistence that it was nothing major and that he would return to 100% for 2018.

It was then that I began to annoy people, if I hadn’t done it already.  But only because his season-ending elbow surgery in 2017 scared me to death. My first thought? Shouldn’t we be shopping this guy?

Well, after finding out I was not alone, we began to hear from outraged fans about how silly it would be to trade your best pitcher, who had been an All-Star and who hadn’t yet celebrated his 25th birthday. The feeling in general?  If you are looking for good young pitching, why trade one you already have?

You guys remember;  it was in comment sections in the Detroit papers and all over this site as well. I understood the backlash. Fulmer looked to be headed to long-term success with the Tigers, despite the elbow injury and surgery that he has since recovered from, we think.

But the rationale, in my mind was sound. Would Michael Fulmer be more valuable as a Tiger, pitching successfully all through a rebuild when his success would mean nothing or would he be more valuable on another team, having brought the Tigers more prospects for the future?

Yes, again, this is your classic, ‘I told you so,’ kind of post. I have always shied away from being that guy. But why?

After reading something at Totally Tigers that you found ridiculous, why not reinforce the possibility that it did in fact have some merit?  Michael Fulmer, having just returned from another injury, this time to his oblique, may have already peaked.

Where does he stand right now? Well, he is a talented young pitcher who throws hard. He has a violent motion that has always looked like it is causing an enormous amount of stress on his body, and not by coincidence, his elbow and his core.

He becomes a bigger question mark by the day when you consider who will head this Tiger staff in the future. He will head into this off-season with his lowest trade value since the idea to trade him presented itself.

The Tigers have missed the window. Now we will wait around for his next injury and we may be left alone to consider what could have been, who we could have gotten, before his value took a nosedive.

Putting him on the block after this season will now move the Tigers from an offensive position, with a commodity that everyone wanted, to a defensive position, where teams who still have interest, will offer very little.


If you are still in the mood for more reading, take a look back at a few of my posts written on this topic over the last year. Hopefully, I am starting to paint a picture for you that becomes more defined every day.

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/former-met-fulmer-faces-uncertain-future/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/fulmer-still-best-trade-bait/

https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/injuries-dampen-deadline-deals/


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NUN BETTER

By:  Holly Horning

They are everywhere.

Hard to miss. And they love baseball.

And earlier this spring, basketball.

They are nuns. And hard to miss considering they don’t wear the usual shorts, t-shirts and baseball caps to games.

And we shouldn’t be surprised to see them at games. In fact, they should be required to attend games, especially those of teams having ugly seasons. Those organizations need lots of prayers.

First, there is Sister Jean who was linked to the success of Loyola in basketball.

Recently, there was pitching phenom Sister Mary Jo who threw out the first pitch for the White Sox. Before throwing a perfect strike right down the middle, she bounced the baseball off her bicep. Check out the video:


https://www.today.com/news/nun-throws-perfect-strike-ceremonial-first-pitch-mlb-game-t135965


Then, the nuns last month who decided to help their LA Dodgers. A bunch of them who sat right next to the team dugout and sprinkled players with holy water when they felt a higher power could help.

The Dodgers are now 2 games back in their division.

And nuns now are so popular that those who aren’t, want to be them. And the Philly Phanatic loves to bust a move with them on top of the dugout.


https://www.mlb.com/cut4/nuns-take-in-phillies-game-dance-with-phanatic/c-185184842


So why aren’t they in Detroit? That entire organization can use lots of extra help. Payroll and personnel can only do so much.

Just think about it, folks. Think about all the things they can help the team overcome:

– Praying for certain players.

– Sprinkling holy water on the Tigers’ in-game equipment.

– Helping to organize an exorcism of the Tigers’ bullpen.

– Blessing the starting pitcher before a game.

– Instigate a chain of prayers focused on the team’s training and conditioning program.

– Assist Al Avila and Chris Ilitch in seeing the error of their ways.

And for the most difficult individuals, I’m told by friends who attended Catholic school, that nuns with rulers can get the job done.

They can do anything. Except wear rally caps.

And Sister Mary Jo? Why haven’t Tiger scouts gone after her?

She obviously has the talent. And Chris Ilitch would love her because she has taken a vow of poverty. No additional payroll costs.

Heck, shouldn’t the Tigers be sending scouts to watch the talent at convent baseball games?

In fact, they did. But only once.

Al Avila told his scouts to briefly watch the nuns play. But considering all the team has to do with rebuilding, he asked them to minimize the time spent.

In other words, he asked them not to make a habit out of it.


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/.

TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

With August drawing to the close, baseball towns without a horse in the race tend to turn their attention to football. But don’t worry, Totally Tigers will follow this 2018 trip to the end.  Our writers will treat this last Tuesday of the month in the same way they have all season – there is a question to answer.

As always, our writers have not shared their responses in the interests of offering a range of perspectives. So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about the Tiger skipper?


What has been the best thing Ron Gardenhire has contributed to this team in his first year?


HOLLY

The attitudes, behavior, leadership, body language and verbal communication has all taken a 180 from the days of Brad Ausmus now that Gardy is manager. Ron has completely changed the corporate culture of this team.

From 2014 and increasingly through 2017, this was a team characterized by indifferent, unfocused, disinterested players. You saw them sitting in the dugout (if not disappear into the clubhouse), usually by themselves or in a 2-3 man clique, back on the benches looking bored and not really interested in the game. Today, they mingle in groups, most of them either on or near the railings cheering their teammates on. They are a loud, active, engaged and happy bunch, even donning a butler’s persona with towel and water presented with great formality to the home run hitter as he returns to the dugout.

During the previous tenure, fights increasingly broke out – both in the clubhouse and in the dugout. We saw and read about VMart’s anger and frustration and now he is a respected leader. Jose Iglesias had his battles and now we see him smiling much of the time, routinely hugging teammates and often with his arm around them.

Best of all, the phrase “that’s baseball” – used almost daily in the past to explain away a loss or poor play – has been scrubbed from their vocabulary and replaced with more accountability and a sense that they really want to play better ball.


KURT

I don’t envy Ron Gardenhire and the challenges he faces every day. Managers want to win, but Gardy was hand-picked as someone experienced with the rebuilding process.

What has he brought to the table? Well, it’s what the Tigers haven’t had for years and that’s cohesiveness. He has established a base necessary to build a winner; it’s the required first step.

During his introductory news conference, he delivered the correct message; he questioned why the team had to lose, just because they were rebuilding. It was a positive message for his team that yes, they are going to play to win, regardless of the rebuild; and then he established what ingredients were needed to give them a chance.

The team has received a consistent vocabulary in an atmosphere conducive to winning; a message based on hard work and fundamentals. They are losing because they lack talent not because of a toxic clubhouse or a dysfunctional roster. Gardy has calmed the waters; now it’s up to Avila and his crew to fill it with fish.

THE FINAL PUSH

By:  Kurt Snyder

It’s finally happening. Sweet Lou is getting his due. And it may have never happened without the Tigers finally breaking through with  Hall of Fame inductions followed by  number retirements at Comerica Park.

I’m sure this has been a difficult time for Whitaker, knowing his rightful place in the annals of baseball is in the Hall of Fame next to Alan Trammell.

But the Tigers have been complacent in how they promote their former starts who deserve so much more than the occasional appearance at a special event prior to a home game.

The Tigers never take the first step. So it has taken Trammell and Morris to do it for them, as they now have taken the reigns to speak out and promote Whitaker for the Hall.

Tram and Lou have set records together, making it all puzzling that they wouldn’t have gone in together. But we have been through all this before.

We wondered what it would take for Tram and Lou to become recognized, and who imagined that they would not go into the Hall together, when they wrote a keystone combination storybook at short and second. An almost  2-decade long partnership of elite baseball between two great players who were inseparable until, of course, the Hall came calling for only one of them.

Many feel that Sweet Lou will never follow Tram into the Hall. But now I am not so sure. All he needed was a push, and the speeches heard at the Hall of Fame and the ones at Comerica Park yesterday, whether it was Tram or Gibby, have gone a long way to keeping that Whitaker fire burning.

And now George Brett has come out to say that he voted for Trammell and would have voted for Whitaker if he was on the ballot.

So I say to the Tiger organization: Do you understand what it takes now? Do you understand that your stars need to be promoted, to remind fans from all over the country how great these players were and the kind of impact they had on the game?

If you don’t remember them yourselves, no one else will either. It will be 2 years before the committee meets again to consider players from the Modern Baseball Era and the Tigers have an obligation.

Don’t wait for Major League Baseball to recognize Whitaker. You have already found out what happens when you do. That would be nothing.

The Tigers can put this all to bed and thrust Whitaker into the spotlight and at the forefront of the discussion about who gets in next. It’s really very simple.

They have already saved a space for another number next to #3 on the Comerica Park bricks. Now go ahead and fill it. There is no requirement to wait until a player enters the Hall to retire his number.

Tram and Lou are iconic Tigers. We don’t need the Hall to recognize their contributions before we recognize them ourselves. They are our stars first.

There may still be questions about Sweet Lou’s place in the Hall. But there is no denying that his number needs to hit the bricks, sooner rather than later. It would be the ultimate promotion and signal to Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame, that we aren’t waiting any longer.

We are done waiting.  Next season, we need to see #1 glorified in Detroit.

The Tigers don’t routinely slap retired numbers on the wall. But this one is a must and could be the difference in getting Sweet Lou the recognition he so greatly deserves.
Consider it the ultimate and possibly, the final push.


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PONDERING PLAYOFF POTENTIAL

By:  Holly Horning

As we await the September call-ups, for those of us currently without a competitive team, the stories about other organizations start to attract more attention. And when you live in a city like I do, with a team that has decided to go full-speed over the cliff, you start to think about what skills, other than throwing, running and hitting, make for a solid team. Or not.


Here are my Top Ten thoughts about what currently piques my interest about teams widely expected to be in the running for October baseball this year.

1. Out of the 5 rookie managers hired for this year, only 2 of them – Kapler in Philly and Cora in Boston – are seeing success. Boone with the Yankees is generally seen as less successful than his predecessor (even with injuries) while Martinez with the Nats and Callaway with the Mets merit disastrous ratings.

2. Dave Dombrowski hit a home run in hiring Alex Cora, a rookie manager. How could he have hired one of the worst MLB managers in Detroit and then one of the best?

3. When Dombrowski left for Boston, he immediately signed one of the top relievers and built a real bullpen. Later, he hired an effective manager. Did he actually learn lessons from his time in Detroit or was he really hampered in what he could do by Mr. I’s decisions?

4. Who says managers don’t make the difference? St. Louis fired Mike Matheny while the Cards were 11 games behind in the standings. With their new manager, Mike Shildt, they are 2.5 games back, playing almost .700 baseball.

5. I shake my head every time I hear how JV, Max and JD are described as the catalysts for the success of their new teams. The Tigers had all of them together, including 4 standing and future Cy Young winners, and couldn’t make it happen. You have to ask why.

6. Speaking of pitchers, the Red Sox may have the best record in baseball, but they should be very worried about their performance in any playoffs. Their starting rotation has 2 wins and 14 losses in playoff games with their ERAs ranging from just over 5.00 to 8.38.

7. Fans shouldn’t take comfort in their team’s MLB-best regular season record taking them deep into the playoffs. It’s one thing to play well during the season and entirely another strategy when October hits. Just ask some of those Tigers teams as well as several years of the Nats. Watch out Boston. (See #4.)

8. The Oakland A’s – baseball’s version of Kmart – have become relevant again and have taken how to run a baseball team to new levels. The surprise team of the year is working off of a $68 million payroll and featured prominently in the Wall Street Journal for successfully identifying all the best strategies and trends in the sport and incorporating them into their organization.

9. Teams with players that all get along harmoniously with each other are being given credit for fostering top performance. Boston and the current St. Louis teams are mentioned as having the best team-think.

10. Teams without leaders, little to no rapport and friction between players are more often to under-perform and disappoint no matter how talented the team is. The Washington Nationals remain the poster child. Especially when a player challenges his GM to a fight and there is a history of fighting and choking teammates in the dugout.

Now it’s your turn. Take one of these statements above and make your case!


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Even though we are following a team that is not very fun to watch right now, there is still news. There is always something published here to ponder.

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspectives. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into last night’s game with the White Sox.


KURT

This is another special week in Tiger history as the team prepares for their second number retirement in 2 weeks. It sounds crazy to even say the words, given how long it has taken for more Tigers to be recognized by the Hall and the team.

But Trammell’s number retirement will be more special for me personally, and it has nothing to do with Tram. We found out this week that Kirk Gibson will be one of the speakers who will stand behind the podium during the ceremony and share his thoughts on his old Tiger teammate.

I admired Gibby as a player as I am naturally drawn to competitive fire and emotion. But I am now even more drawn to how unrelenting Kirk is as he attacks his battle with Parkinson’s disease.

We all need to remember how hard Gibson works in that broadcast booth every day. He has never done anything halfway, and he is putting everything he has into what he contributes to every Tiger broadcast; something we should all remember as we listen.


HOLLY

If you needed any more proof that the Tigers’ medical and training/conditioning program is not attentive or updated enough, you got a double dose this week with yet 2 more pitchers expressing their concerns.

It started with the news that Jordan Zimmermann got frustrated with his treatment back in 2016 and sought out his former DC doctor. Then, the recent interview with Justin Verlander that really brought heat – and we’re not talking fastballs – to the Tigers’ training/conditioning and medical talents.

On Sunday, it was a tv interview with Ryan Carpenter who discussed the oblique strain (surprise!) he suffered earlier in the year that kept him from pitching for almost 2.5 months. In meeting with a doctor, Ryan was told that his core was very weak and he said that this was the first he had learned about how important the core was to his overall health and remaining injury-free.

The damning evidence ended with an Artie Lewicki interview in which he mentioned he was seeking an outside second opinion on his arm from his long-term specialist in NY. “Plus, he’s the Yankees surgeon and he has a good background” – a sentence you will never hear any Tiger utter about their own team medical and training/conditioning staffs.


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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.


Do you consider Nick Castellanos to be a long-term solution in right field if he is not traded?  Why or why not?


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/.

 

 

 

 

CONFUSING TIME FOR BASEBALL

By:  Kurt Snyder

Do you get the feeling when considering the state of our game that all fans do now, the ones who care, is express what Major League Baseball should be doing instead of what they are?

The game is struggling because of the things that have been taken away more than what has been added. And what has been added hasn’t done it much good.

Discussions in the media and on game broadcasts over the last week have centered on mound height, instant replay and why baseball schedules interleague series the way they do.

The Tigers just finished a short 2-game series with the Cubs at Comerica Park, weeks after they had a 2-game stint at Wrigley. The question? Why not do a 4-game home and home? More interesting. More compelling. More fan-friendly. Cool road trip?

Something to think about.


On the ever-popular pace of play and length of game topics, is instant replay really a good thing for moving games along?

And for those looking for more excitement at the ballpark; when did fans like it more? Was it back in the days when managers would charge out of the dugout to argue a perceived bad call, or today where they rarely make a peep anymore after enduring instant replay decisions?

Every mention of baseball’s great managers during a broadcast is almost always accompanied by an extremely animated argument with an umpire. How many times do we see the same Earl Weaver clip, when the great Oriole manager is mentioned?

With instant replay, the absence of those seemingly meaningless arguments are missed. Sorry, they are! It was entertaining. And more than ever, the game is starving for entertainment from any source; the entertainment they need to draw new fans and keep them.

I know they have to get calls right, but the human factor may be more important to preserve in baseball than any other sport.

Craig Monroe suggested last night that umpires looking at instant replay in New York are going to protect their fellow umpires when the play is close. This time, I have to agree.

I would rather rally around the vim and vigor of my manager as he argues a bad call than be insulted by umpires who can still fail even with the luxury of looking at a play dozens of times, from different angles and in slow motion.

MLB needs to look at every aspect of the game. Was there excitement in areas of the game that no longer exist? Well, yeah, plenty. Even instant replay, brought in to improve the game, has removed action.


The obsession over making games safer for players is also watering down sports. All of sport is so concentrated on making their games safer, the entertainment factor suffers. It sounds wrong, but the safer they make a sport, the less exciting it becomes.

Hockey is far less physical. Fights are rare. And hockey fans miss it, big time. I rarely watch hockey now because it has lost its physicality; the essence of old-time hockey.

Football is so spooked by concussion concerns that any lowering of your helmet on either side of the ball may now draw a flag.

And basketball? Well, watch playoff game highlights from the 80’s and 90’s and compare them to the kind of game you see today. What’s more exciting? Players used to take a real chance driving the lane, when they could find themselves bloodied or bruised or on their back. It was playoff basketball. But now you could drive a truck down the lane in June and it would barely be touched, for fear of flagrant fouls. And during the regular season, the seas part for players driving to the basket.

These are all examples of initiatives that ruin games and threaten the vitality of sports.


What they have done with the rulebook in baseball has been criminal.

Action was stripped from the game when you can no longer run over the catcher at the plate.

Action was stripped when a runner could no longer take out an infielder at second to break up a double play. All in the interests of safety.

Let excitement and action be damned. Water it down. Protect the players. Geez, it’s sports! Players get injured. It is part of the game. And no one knows it better than the players themselves. They get paid big money putting themselves at risk. But it is, or was, part of what made sports exciting. But the commissioners know better, right?

The fans will still watch.

They will still attend the games.

They will still care.

Well? Maybe not!

Our game is slowly getting screwed up. It has to be, when you start complaining about baseball being all about home runs. Where have we gone when fans want less homers? Where have we gone when fans want more baseballs to stay in the park?

Baseball has a lot of bumps and bruises, but what we are doing to fix things may ruin it permanently.

Pick at a scab enough and it’s going to bleed. Keep picking and it will be scarred forever.


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/.