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:




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:




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:

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.

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.

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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?


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.


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.


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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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.


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.


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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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:






By:  Holly Horning

When Mike Ilitch gave Al Avila a 5-year contract to take over the GM position, he explained that it would take Al that amount of time in order to show real results.

But 3 years later, we still don’t know that much about where the team is headed. Almost 2 years ago, Al made the first of many statements about starting to rebuild the Tigers but nothing was done until late last year. For 2018, we’re still seeing a lot of the old familiar faces playing for the Tigers.

For fans, the issues have become the lack of a general timeline, the absence of speed in significant rebuilding and the hesitancy to bring up the youngsters and give them substantial playing time.

Interviews with Avila have been done recently but not one single local writer (surprise!) asked him anything about an anticipated timeline. But you knew they wouldn’t….

At one point, over a year ago, Al had mentioned a 3-year timeline. Then, at the end of 2017, he changed it to 5 years. Now, he’s not sayin’ anything.

At the rate he’s going, we may be looking at a decade. Or longer.

But the bottom line is that none of what we’re seeing – or not seeing – is particularly comforting or inspiring.

There is a big black hole of mystery and it’s located at 2100 Woodward Avenue.

In all fairness, the GM does the bidding of the owner and is expected to protect him and take all the hits.  He’s always supposed to make the owner look good.

He also works with the parameters the owner gives him. Budget, payroll, resources, talent. If a GM is not bringing in certain experts that most of the other MLB teams have, it may not be due to him. It may be due to the owner clutching his wallet closely to his chest.

In Avila’s case, we don’t know what his relationship is with Chris Ilitch. We’ve read that Al was particularly close with Mr. I, who treated him like a son. But just because Mike and Chris shared a last name doesn’t mean that the son will be anything like his dad.

There have been numerous articles about the Ilitch finances. Questions about how they structured the trust the Tigers were put in, how impactful estate taxes would be and the amount of all their loans. Questions about how they would finance all their new projects. Questions about how many of the Ilitch relatives were pushing Chris to sell the team so they could receive their inheritances sooner rather than later.

And the move to cut large chunks of payroll and load the farm system may also be signs that Chris is looking to right the books and prepare the team for a sale. Or it could be part of the rebuilding strategy.

Or both.

There are signs that the Ilitch family is exploring the sale of the team. They have been meeting with the experts who make their living helping owners buy and sell professional sports teams. Some of them have been seen meeting with Chris. The same ones who helped his dad buy the Tigers.

One of them is Steve Greenberg, son of Hank, who is considered the king of putting together sports sales as well as being the former Deputy Commissioner of MLB. Ironically, cameras caught him last year at Comerica and filmed him by his father’s statue. No one remarked or asked him why he was wearing a pinstripe suit and carrying a briefcase. To a ball game.

And there are also rumors that Chris is exploring the potential of a regional sports broadcasting network. This would allow him to retain, at least in part, a share of the Tigers’ tv revenue even after selling the team. We already have seen him consolidate the local sports business dealings. Of course, owning the Tigers and Red Wings and adding the Pistons to Little Caesar’s Arena. Conveniently, Pistons’ fans will now also be paying Ilitch Holdings to use their facilities, hospitality services and food.

It’s one-stop shopping at its finest.

But now, let’s return to the question of the Tigers’ rebuild and the relationship between owner and GM. Truthfully, Al Avila and his entire Front Office probably don’t know if Chris is planning on selling the team. They may have hints but chances are that the conversations and backroom meetings are being kept from them.

And it would be easy for an owner to sync his directions to Al that would both support rebuilding and the selling of the team. It’s just that Chris’ vision may not go beyond the next 2 years.

If this is indeed his goal, then hiring a new GM, bringing in fresh talent and expanding, say, the training and conditioning programs, won’t matter. Leave all of that for a new owner to address. It costs money.

And this may be why Ilitch’s announcement about adding improvements to Comerica did not provide a date – even a ballpark estimate. (Sorry, it was there and I just had to say it.)

And why he said that the Tigers hadn’t yet discussed adding statues of Trammell and Morris.

Because it all costs money.

If you’re going to sell the team, you won’t be making any further investments. You won’t be discussing any rebuild in earnest. You won’t be firing and hiring a new GM, other executives, a new manager, new coaches – or even new broadcasters.  You’re going to maintain the status quo because extra effort means an additional expenditure.

If you’re going to sell the team, you’re going to put the team’s activities on auto-pilot. You’re going to let the new owner worry about completing that rebuild.

And you may not push your GM to speed up the rebuilding process as a result. Because you – and your GM – won’t be around in a couple of years.

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By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

September can’t get here soon enough for the Tiger starting rotation as pitchers are dropping like flies. Even for the most devoted fans, it’s hard to keep track of who is going to pitch from one day to the next.

As always, our writers have not shared their answers to the Tuesday question, offering a range of perspectives  is always the goal.

So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about the state of the starting rotation?

Only 2 starting pitchers in the regular rotation remain. Obviously, 1 was traded and several got injured. But over the past week, the Tigers have been scrambling to find multiple starters at the last minute. What are our bloggers thinking about all of this?


It’s been the perfect storm of losing talent, injuries, a thin farm system and a desperate attempt to find a plausible arm in the bargain basement bin.

The loss of JV and Mike Fiers has obviously depleted the starting ranks, but most of the team’s injuries have been pitchers, especially starting pitchers. Almost all of them have been on the DL this year with 3 of them expected to be out for most or all of the rest of the year and the need to find replacements for all but Zimmermann.

But there’s a concern when 2 youngsters go down at the same time, both with elbow injuries, which just accelerates the destruction of the rotation. I’ve lost count how many pitchers the Tigers have DFA’d recently – Saupold, Turner, McAllister, Bell, VerHagen, Labourt, Hardy, Stumpf, Mujica, and others I’ve forgotten. Some of whom have found their way back into the Tigers system for another go-round and turn up again in the rotation like a bad penny.

It’s also pretty bad when you sign a pitcher DFA’d by 5 other teams, call him up, get bombed, send him down and then call him up again a week later to start a game because there is no one else. But the worst is then finding out he hasn’t yet met the call back date rules and you tell another pitcher as he arrives at the ballpark that – surprise! – you’re starting the game today! That is a mind-boggling, dumb and desperate move unbecoming of a MLB team.

It all either means that you have no one even remotely talented enough in AA or AAA to bring up and/or the owner has told his GM that he can only shop from the 75% off/clearance bin because the wallet has slammed shut.


There is no better time than year 1 of the rebuild, to be forced to bring up pitchers and evaluating what you have, regardless of the reason. But what is exasperating is finding out how little they have at AAA. The talent, and I use that term loosely, has been sub-par and no one has stood out as potential building blocks for a future starting rotation.

Weeks back, I think both Holly and I mentioned Victor Alcantara as having the most potential to join the starting staff as early as next season. But thus far, he has only been used in the pen, and he has been impressive.

From a starter standpoint, it tells you that even if the team has talented starting pitching in the pipeline, it is so far down the pipe you can’t see the light. They haven’t even been mentioned as possibilities for September call ups. So, will we see more options to consider in September, or is it just too soon for anyone meaningful?

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By:  Holly Horning

The end of the 2017 season brought managerial changes to 6 teams. And it was the first year that teams got creative about “doing in” their managers. Afterall, “firing” someone tends to either attract potential threats on the part of the injured party or lots of negative social media blowback. None of it good.

The Red Sox were the only team to officially fire their manager . In Detroit, NY (Yankees) and DC, they refused to use the term “fired” and simply chose to wordsmith their decision as “opting not to renew their contract.” Although, the Nats wonderfully-mannered GM, Mike Rizzo, did utter the “f” word to Dusty Baker over the phone instead of in person, after he led his team to the best record in MLB.

Btw, if you listen closely, you can hear Dusty laughing…..

The Mets manager resigned and in Philly, they really got creative by “moving” their manager into the Front Office.

In the off-season, the Giants fired some coaches and their GM and the momentum continued into the early part of the 2018 season with the firing of 2 managers in St. Louis and Cincinnati. The Reds also changed their GM.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we know the Tigers won’t make any changes (other than potentially hiring a permanent pitching coach to replace Bosio) after this year. It’s not in their DNA. Al Avila still has 2 more years left in his contract and if they can’t say “buh-bye” to the fired former manager’s coaches, everyone is pretty much safe here. That is, until a new owner takes over.

One can hope.

So who’s at risk of being separated from their team in September or October? Here are the candidates..

RED SOX – This time, it’s all on Dave Dombrowski to push his team into the playoffs and perform much, much better after firing his manager and coaches, depleting the farm system and running the payroll up into the stratosphere. It’s his third year and no GM in recent Bosox history has lasted longer than that.

BLUE JAYS – Manager John Gibbons has been rumored all year to be leaving.

ORIOLES – One of MLB’s biggest messes. A GM who has tried to flee (I kid you not), a manager who doesn’t want to be there and 2 sons of an ageing owner now running the place without a clue.

ROYALS – One of the biggest gambles in keeping their best players backfired big time. It could be a double beheading of both manager and GM.

ANGELS – Owner favorite Mike Scioscia (Moreno and Scioscia’s wives are best friends) may finally be gone as the payroll and talent have gone way up with little to show for it. And Mike Trout only has 2 more years to get that ring….

RANGERS – Jon Daniels has been extended as GM and the team is rebuilding, however there is a growing demand for accountability and manager Jeff Banister may just be the sacrificial lamb.

METS – GM Sandy Alderson has taken a leave of absence. The team continues to be a mess and the new GM this fall will undoubtedly make changes in personnel.

NATIONALS – I’ve lost count how many managers have come through the revolving door. The only constant is a meddling owner combined with a GM who don’t have a clue about how to hire competent personnel. In what has become an annual tradition, expect the bloodletting to once again commence in October.

DODGERS – No team spends as much as the Dodgers. And few teams have routinely disappointed more. And now, manager Dave Roberts has gotten the dreaded “vote of confidence.”

Nine teams with obvious issues. Ironically, there may be more personnel movement within the Front Offices than there will be of free agent signings this off-season.

It will be interesting to see which of these teams will actually recognize that they have issues to resolve.

And the Tigers? Will we see definitive signs of a real rebuild and new direction? Or could maintaining the status quo simply be a holding pattern strategy as ownership explores selling the team?

Let’s watch for the clues.

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