By:  Holly Horning

It’s official – I live in the city of champions. The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018. The Mystics just won the WNBA Championship. And the Nationals, of course, just won the World Series.

My hometown team finally won that ring. And yes, I’m kinda being sarcastic.

So why am I toggling back and forth between cheering and crying?

Maybe because all of my favorite Tigers in the World Series – for the third year in a row now – are wearing different uniforms.

I guess when you wish for the Tigers to win the World Series, you need to be much more specific with those who hear your prayers. You need to include that they do it when they are actually playing for Detroit.

Just in the past 3 years, 10 Tigers (excluding minor and short-term players) have received their World Series rings: Dave Dombrowski, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Cameron Maybin, Rick Porcello, David Price, Fernando Rodney, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

And now, the entire 2014 Detroit Tigers starting rotation has earned World Series championships with each pitcher playing for other teams.

When you get to these kinds of numbers, it no longer classified as a coincidence.

So why am I bringing this up?

The intent is not to cause heartache. It is a desperate attempt to prevent what happened to the Tigers from happening again. As George Santayana wrote,
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Somebody, please, put a copy of The Life of Reason into Chris Ilitch’s hands.

Over the years, I’ve written about how much the Tigers and Nationals are similar. Two elderly owners who, later in life, started pushing for that ring. Both men’s phone numbers found on Scott Boras’ speed-dial. Both eventually ceding control of their teams to their sons.

Even a number of athletes who have played for both teams with Washington laying claim to 3 former Tiger pitchers just this year.

Two organizations with a tremendous amount of talent but somehow never able to successfully make that final push. Years of division titles with variable success in the playoffs. That is, until Wednesday night.

With all the similarities, there is one big difference. Only one owner has a ring.

Let’s explore just some of the reasons as to why the Nats succeeded where the Tigers didn’t.

The Nats are only 15 years old. And in those years, they finished 1st four times, playing in 5 divisions series and winning 1 World Series. They have played solid, often exceptional, baseball for the last 8 years.

The turning point for this team was the big changes they made. Approximately 10 years ago, President Stan Kasten was forced out and GM Jim Bowden resigned abruptly after learning that the FBI was about to indict him. Enter Mike Rizzo who brought in the winning ways.

In 11 years, Rizzo didn’t hesitate to change his managers when he didn’t see what he wanted. It is also said that owner, Ted Lerner, also had a big say in the employment of his executives.

Five different managers in 11 years. No one lasting more than 2 years. Two of them fired despite winning both division titles and Manager of the Year during their last year there.

A little excessive? Maybe.

But the Nats did this because they thought they could do better given the absurd amount of talent they had. And they ended up finding the perfect fit in Dave Martinez who cut his teeth with Tampa Bay (known for their managerial and creative strengths) and later becoming the protégé of Joe Maddon.

And unlike the Tigers, this team had a sense of urgency. They knew that as their team aged, and top players inched closer to free agency, they had to move more quickly.

Teams who make bold moves and don’t settle for less than the very best tend to be winners. Remember, “fortune favours the bold.”

The Nats are not afraid to make changes. Not just in their Front Office but in other departments as well. That is the biggest difference between them and Detroit.

Several years ago, when injuries prevented the Nats from going to the post-season, ownership broomed the entire medical, training and conditioning staffs. They did an exhaustive search and hired an international expert to study their organization and find the best experts to advise the team. It seemed to have worked.

The Tigers, on the other hand, don’t fire and don’t address the consistent problems they’ve faced year after year. They don’t make changes. They simply recycle personnel, changing titles instead of people.

The Nats did take a lot of heat for changes they made, especially when it came to managerial hires. But they recognized that they needed to take these additional steps and weren’t afraid to do so.

In an early playoff run, they pulled Stephen Strasburg from the roster in an attempt to preserve his arm for the future. That did not sit well with fans but it paid off in future years. And Strasburg was named MVP of the 2019 World Series.

In another bold move, they allowed Bryce Harper to walk. And look who’s watching the Series from home.

Which brings up the question as to whether it’s better to have one big star or a larger handful of players who are always clutch. Historically, stats show that players like Bryce don’t give their teams any advantage in winning the World Series.

It is believed that losing Harper made for a better clubhouse. Much was written last year about a clubhouse full of players who didn’t interact with each other at all.

This year, the opposite is true. Stories are leaking about how the Nats don’t miss him. And a belief that the clubhouse grew stronger and more cohesive without him. Multiple players, including Max Scherzer, became leaders, especially after their horrendous start this year. A start so bad that rumors were spreading that the team would begin dismantling and selling off their stars.

Speaking of Max, the Tigers may not have had that right mix of players back in 2014. The same player who claimed he was “spent” and came out of the game in the playoffs against Boston while still pitching effectively – and ceding control to that infamous bullpen. You know the rest of that story.

The same player this year who insisted on pitching Game 7 despite back and neck problems that prevented him from even raising his arms. The same man, it was revealed, who couldn’t get out of bed and had to roll off onto the floor in order to stand up. The same man who couldn’t even dress himself and slept in a neck brace.

His gutsy performance will go down in history.

A stark contrast to his days in Detroit. A contrast that potentially is due to better team chemistry and leadership.

Two factors that may also be responsible for dispelling the excuses used by the Tigers to explain away their failure to win more than one World Series game. First, the full week layoff the Nats had before the start of the World Series. Second, their bullpen. The Nats undeniably have MLB’s worst relief core. So bad that it’s the worst pen in playoff history.

More than a handful of Washington’s players said that the secret to their success was that everyone pitched in. There was no singular “star” who was expected to provide the broad shoulders. And they did it as baseball’s oldest team and by defying the conventional rules of pitching. They leaned heavily on their starters instead of the bullpen.

Rather ironic that the Tigers had one of baseball’s all-time best starting rotations in history and won only 1 game. And you have to believe that it wasn’t talent that did them in. It was something else.

And that’s what fans here in DC ask me all the time. They can’t fathom that the Tigers couldn’t do more with the vast amount of talent they had. That those same players were crucial in taking their new teams – Houston, Boston and Washington – to the World Series and winning. If they could do it every year for the past three years, why couldn’t they do it when they were all together in Detroit?

The local fans also wanted to know what the Tigers did to address those serious concerns. They wanted to know what questions were asked by the organization. What explanations were given by the team to change so they could experience success in the future.

I tell them about the excuses – the layoffs, the bullpen, etc. Excuses the Nats refused to use.

And these fans are dumbfounded to hear that the same people are still in charge.

Meanwhile, the most poignant moment of last night was the scene of Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez seeking each other out on the field after the Nats won it all. Anibal is heard saying “We won one. We finally won one.” as they fiercely hugged each other and cried.

I spent the night both cheering and crying. Cheering for a team that rose to the challenges presented and made the changes necessary for winning.

I cried, too, for reasons that go all the way back to Detroit, wondering what could have been. What should have been.

And I know that Tiger fans are crying, too, but not for the same reasons as Anibal and Max.

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By:  Alex Hosmar

As a lifelong baseball fan, not just of the Tigers and Diamondbacks, but of the game overall, nothing compares to the spectacle of the World Series, no matter the matchup. And as a current Washingtonian, the Fall Classic was going to be played in my backyard for the first time in over 80 years. It was the Wednesday morning before Saturday’s Game 4 and I decided to get tickets. By lunchtime, I convinced my younger brother, Andrew, a fellow baseball fanatic, to fly out from Los Angeles to take in the spectacle with me. At that point it hit me that I was going to World Series Game 4 on Saturday at Nationals Park!

Mild weather at game time was met with intermittent sprinkles toward the end of the game, but overall ideal conditions for October baseball. After Andrew and I braved the mobs of fans outside the park at the popular “Bullpen” bar, we made our way to the centerfield gate. Compared with the seamless entry into the park, it felt like more people were congregating outside at restaurants, bars and apartment buildings than were going into the park, which, sold out with a paid attendance of over 43,000 fans. If fans weren’t packing into seats, they were cramming into every square inch of concourse space with a view of the field. Palpable excitement was rampant; fans were as content cheering from the outside as they were in. After all, until this season, the Nationals had never won a playoff series in their 15 year history.

Once we entered the park and received our red rally towels, Andrew and I had to visit the Fox pre-game set in left field, with David Ortiz, A-Rod, and Frank Thomas making their selections for the game. While we couldn’t hear what they were saying with all the noise around us, I can imagine it had something to do with starting pitching. Was Patrick Corbin, the former D-Back, now hotshot with Washington, going to shut down the Astros’ offense in his WS debut, or would AJ Hinch’s decision to pitch a bullpen game (in a National League ballpark, no less) stave off the Nationals as Garret Cole and (our friend) Justin Verlander rest up for the home stretch of the series? Fans were cautiously optimistic and exerting their nervous energy in anticipation of the first pitch. Lots of chatter about the matchup, the predictions, and analysis. Based on the lopsided outcome, the Astros looked like their old selves, much like many predicted before this series.

As we navigated the sea of red jerseys to our section, Andrew and I took in the park, with a few notable observations. In much the same way as Nationals Park and MLB promote recycling, Nationals fans have mastered it, too, by reinventing their Bryce Harper jerseys. Fans were creative with cheeky sharpie-on duck-tape remarks that covered his name and number. My favorite one says: “Harper… Is Watching from Home”.  Instead of burning or throwing out his jersey, they instead re-purposed it to still exude their continued support of the Nationals but remove themselves from Bryce. Ten years and $300 mill probably looks pretty good to him now!

We also couldn’t get over how many people dressed up in shark costumes. Yes, shark costumes. Teeth, dorsal fins, shark necklaces, the whole bit. DC is certainly not known for sharks, although some may argue they lurk about K Street (the ancestral home of both lawyers and lobbyists)…Come to find out that the shark has become a rally symbol this season for the Nationals. Outfielder Gerardo Parra, was struggling at the plate and decided to change everything from the mechanics of his swing, his mental strategy, and even his walk-up music. Unfortunately, he didn’t choose the theme from Jaws, but rather the children’s viral sensation “Baby Shark” that his two-year-old daughter watched on TV. Ever since Parra made the switch, Nationals fans get out of their seats and go crazy. They even borrowed the Gator Chomp to round out this spectacle that likely has trademark lawyers from the University of Florida considering a lawsuit! In the interest of our continued readership here at Totally Tigers (and my job), I will spare everyone from saying anything more about this severely auto-tuned, yet catchy children’s song. I’ve been uncontrollably humming it since Parra came to bat. Consider yourself warned.

After navigating the sea of red and sharks, we got to our seats and I wondered who the Nationals would bring back to throw the first pitch or deliver the game ball, having such a short history and little playoff success to this point. Interestingly enough, they invited 95-year old Norman Willis, who attended the last World Series in Washington. A fan of baseball in our nation’s capital since the 1920’s, Mr. Willis belted out a profound “PLAY BALL”. The crowd erupted.

Mr. Willis’ appearance made me think about the history of this franchise, including the Senators and Montreal Expos. The ring of honor contains a number of former Senators and Expos, along with (our friend) Pudge Rodriquez as the only former National. Baseball was not new to DC, as it was in Arizona 25 years ago, but rather was dormant for a time. The fans, both new and old, had decades-worth of excitement bottled up for this moment. And they let everyone know that baseball belongs in Washington. In another 10 years, the Nationals will have to allocate more space in their ring of honor to fit the unforgettable members from this era.

Coming to the game as an appreciator of baseball, rather than because of one of the teams, allowed Andrew and me to set aside some of the anxiety of hoping my team wins in the big moment and focus on the bigger picture. In many ways, core members of the Astros and Nationals have roots with the Diamondbacks and Tigers. While sad to see Patrick Corbin leave Arizona to join former Tiger and D-Back, Max Scherzer, Andrew and I were pleased to get to see him start Game 4, hoping he could be the difference-maker that Scherzer and Strasburg had been in their rotation. While he did get smacked pretty early, the fans sitting around us were nothing but supportive. When Patrick would get into a jam, we heard “Come on, Patrick! We’re with you!” and “You got this man!” Fans got to their feet for any 2-strike count and roared at even the most routine play. Patrick, while not sparkling, limited the damage. Washington was still in this game.

In the middle of the 5th inning, the most powerful moment in the game was not a home run, strikeout, or web gem on the diamond, but rather MLB’s Stand Up 2 Cancer moment of solidarity to recognize those who have, or have loved ones, who have suffered from cancer. Everyone in the stadium, including players on both teams, umpires, and even Joe Buck and John Smoltz in the Fox broadcast booth, held up a sign to recognize those they know who have been affected by the disease. It was a powerful moment of unity in which everyone could set aside what was going on in the game and reflect on the bigger picture of life. It’s hard to get 43,000+ to be silent at once, but this moment made it happen. There was not a dry eye in the park.

Then the seventh inning happened. The Nationals were now down by 3, and the Astros had 2 on. The tone of the fans was getting nervous, but still hyped and energized. Enter former D-Back and Tiger, Fernando Rodney, a well-traveled veteran with experience in every playoff round in both the National and American leagues. Who better to calm the chaos? Well, I thought too soon. After loading the bases, Alex Bregman hit a no-doubter grand slam to left field. Were it not for a few rows of Astros fans sitting ahead of us, you could have heard a pin drop. There was as much air in Nationals Park as there is on Mars. Even the Houston faithful looked stunned. The gentleman sitting ahead of us, who just one inning ago belted cheers of encouragement for Patrick, muttered (among a few other choice comments I won’t relay here), “This did not just happen.”

At this point, the game was 8-1 Astros, and once the air came back into Nationals Park about 5 minutes later, Nationals fans began jeering, even booing at Dave Martinez’s decision to keep Rodney in after the grand slam. I was shocked. Boo birds coming out for the home team in the World Series. It was unthinkable and diametrically opposed to the seemingly unflappable support for the Nationals just a short time ago. Martinez wanted it to be Rodney’s inning to finish, with nobody else in the pen, but after a few more baserunners, he had to pull him. The well-traveled veteran at 42 can still throw over 90 mph, and despite 4.5 scoreless innings pitched to that point in the postseason, Game 4 just wasn’t his day.

From this point forward, some fans began to slowly file out, although most just stayed seated. Cheers were not as loud and a sense of defeat had come upon the faithful. It was at this point that a light rain began to fall that one fan near us remarked as “fitting.” This seventh inning was, in my opinion, a turning point in the series. Houston looked like their unstoppable selves. Their pitching and defense was stout and their offense began exposing the Nationals middle relievers, which, to this point hadn’t been tested in the postseason. What had been concerns at the beginning of the series were now becoming realities. Despite going down 2-0, Houston is here to play. Even a pinch hitting appearance from Gerardo Parra and the playing of “Baby Shark”, while it instilled some life in Nationals fans, wasn’t enough.

Being a witness to the World Series, no matter the outcome, was incredible. With divisiveness in our world and everyday lives, it is these experiences that remind me about how lucky we are to live in a society that allows us to enjoy baseball and experience it with loved ones. It is these experiences that bring about a feeling of unity, whether remembering individuals in uniform who have fallen, those suffering from cancer, or even singing “Baby Shark”. It is these experiences that Andrew and I will remember for a lifetime. And if we’re lucky enough, we’ll be able to cheer for as long as Mr. Willis.

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By:  Holly Horning

This is the time of year when baseball reigns supreme. The news is focused solely on two teams with everything else baseball-related taking a backseat until that trophy has been hoisted.

Or at least it’s supposed to be.

During a time when the Houston Astros were supposed to be focused on preparing to battle the Washington Nationals, they became their own worst enemy – and it might be part of the explanation for a team, almost invincible at home, to lose the first two games of the World Series there.

A problem that happened the night the Astros clinched the AL title but some say had seeds planted earlier in the year.

It’s the story about female reporters, an assistant GM and MLB’s stance on domestic violence.

First of all, the story has rarely had all the details completely reported about what happened, so let’s cover it here. All of the following has now been corroborated by numerous witnesses.

It happened in the Houston clubhouse during the victory celebration in which the entire media covering the game was invited to come in and watch the champagne festivities. During that celebration, Assistant GM, Brandon Taubman, singled out a female reporter who was wearing a visible “stop domestic violence” bracelet standing with a group of other female reporters.

He stood near them and yelled not once, but six times, how glad he was that the Astros signed pitcher Roberto Osuna, who had recently served a 75-day suspension for domestic violence. It was seen by everyone who witnessed it as a taunt. Laced with f-bombs, a number of journalists were shocked at the action and clear intent. An Astros executive, who was nearby, actually came over and apologized to the women. Other male reporters were also shocked and confirmed that the incident happened.

But rather than address the problem, the Astros organization went out of their way to put the blame on everyone else. A statement was published that attacked the female journalist who wrote about the incident, saying she had “fabricated” it. It was an attempt to smear the reporter’s reputation and many wondered if it was a man who reported it, whether he would have been attacked in such a manner.

The Astros, meanwhile, made no attempt to investigate the incident until the uproar only grew and promised not to go away. They doubled-down on their story instead.

Days later, Brandon Taubman issued an “apology.” In it, he claimed he understood the concern over domestic abuse and because he was married, he claimed that he was incapable of mocking such a serious behavior. He apologized for his swear words, but not his intent or actions. His “apology” is one that is often offered these days where he said he was sorry, not for his actions, but that he might have offended some people with his cursing.

Oh, and he lied repeatedly to his superiors about the incident.

Only days later, after contradictory evidence was pouring in and MLB ordered an investigation, did the Astros do a 180. Kinda. They claimed they had been given misleading information which explained their refusal to deal with the incident.

In a press conference, they admitted that they had yet to apologize to the reporter who wrote the story because they had been busy. She was, in fact, sitting right there.

They sure sound sincere, don’t they?

If you feel that this team is arrogant, you are among the majority. The Astros, since their new owner took over, have been described as such by others in the industry. They only felt compelled to move in a different direction when they saw they were going to lose. They were deaf to what the rest of the country was saying and their Assistant GM showed he did not understand the problem.

The Astros waited 5 days before trying to repair the damage and as a result, their brand has been substantially harmed. Is there such a high level of arrogance that you miss all the signs, refuse to admit mistakes and hurt your organization down to the core?

This begs the question about how their team makes decisions. It also provokes thought about the team’s corporate culture.

It also begs the question about how a team that says they fully support MLB’s policy on domestic violence, actually rewards those who commit it. If you’re against domestic violence, why on earth would you sign a player who committed it?

Roberto Osuna was initially a member of the Blue Jays, who then tried to trade him after the domestic violence suspension. Twenty-nine teams roundly rejected him even despite the fire-sale price. The Astros were the only team interested because they could get a good deal and he could help them in a playoff run.

It appears that sticking to one’s stated principles isn’t as important as your team states it is.

To be fair, the Tigers turned a blind eye back in 2009 when Miguel Cabrera was taken into police custody for a domestic violence incident with his wife.  It happened the night before the disastrous final tie-breaking game of the season that lost them the division title .

No punishment was administered by the team and one has to wonder if circumstances would have been different if the player involved was not a star.

Nor did the Tigers penalize Brad Ausmus for making domestic violence jokes back in 2014 – a year before MLB released an official policy on the subject. Other teams have taken it upon themselves to address these serious social matters before MLB got involved.

Speaking of the Tigers, Justin Verlander was a very vocal opponent of the Astros signing Osuna. He was disgusted at the move. He was also upset with the Tigers for the same reason when they signed Derek Norris several years ago, which created quite a bit of blowback for the Tigers.

But the Astros are a team that prides itself and touts the level of information they use. But in this case, they didn’t do their homework re Taubman. Maybe they knew what they would find. Maybe they thought talent overrides all. And maybe they thought they could overcome it.

In either case, Houston chose not to use all the information at their disposal until it was forced upon them.

When you get bad information, you make bad decisions. And it makes you wonder about a team’s principles no matter how successful they are on the diamond.

And in the end, it damages your brand as well as your relationships with fans.

It would be interesting to know just how many fans have now switched their allegiance to the Nationals because of what the Astros failed to do.

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microphoneIt’s the last Sunday of the month, 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:




The Saturday Survey offers another way for readers to weigh in on a relevant topic.   So here is a poll to gauge the pulse of our baseball-lovin’ peeps.

As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons ( 4 sentences max!) for how you voted in the usual comment box.  Don’t forget to come back later and view the results!

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By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

The first 2 games of the World Series are in the books and, of course, they have had a Tiger flavor to them.  Ex-Tigers have been on both the winning end and losing end of the Series. But just the fact that they have moved on and continue to play for championships gives Detroit fans reason to pause.

Holly and Kurt have not shared their answers to the following question for the purpose of offering a wider range of perspective.

So let’s get to it and see what our writers have to say.

This is the third post-season in a row in which multiple former Detroit Tigers are playing in the World Series, many having already earned rings. What are our two bloggers’ thoughts about seeing these individuals succeed with other teams?


It seems that every time I turn on a baseball show lately, I’m being reminded by the analysts about how – somehow – the Tigers “super rotation” of one of history’s best, coupled with Miggy, JD and others, inconceivably couldn’t win more than 1 game in 2 World Series.

It’s 3 years now that I’ve had to watch some of my favorite players in the World Series, otherwise known as the Tigers Alumni Reunion.

So far, 6 have earned their rings – Cameron Maybin, Ian Kinsler, JD Martinez, Rick Porcello, David Price and Justin Verlander. Three more – Anibal Sanchez, Fernando Rodney and Max Scherzer – are conceivably 2 wins away from winning theirs.

The Tigers are finally getting their rings – they just aren’t doing it with Detroit.

It is natural for 1 or 2 players to move on and play the ultimate successful October games for someone else, but 9 of them – and most shocking of all, the entire starting rotation????

All those great years, all those stars, all that payroll and that starting rotation for one measly win in 2 World Series requires some serious soul-searching about what the Tigers organization failed to do or even recognize what was needed. It can’t be blamed solely on the lack of a bullpen, taking the starters out too early or even the “long layoff” excuse that the Nationals have now heartily disproved.

It just wasn’t one thing and it points to issues that go deeper than the roster and potentially directs the attention to leadership lapses, Front Office actions and ownership influence.

I enjoyed those years of division titles and regular October appearances but the hurt and upset feelings over not getting that ring will remain. Yet, given all of this, I am happy for all those ex-Tigers who are playing for it all in October.


We are not the first city to lose our favorite players to other teams. The difference, however, is how many former Tigers have continued their successful careers and have key roles in helping their new teams compete for or ultimately win championships.

This is what makes it the most difficult for me; knowing that so many of these players are either still in their prime or have raised their performances with their new teams.

Max Scherzer has gone and built quite a resume in Washington and seems on his way to earning his first ring if the Series continues to go the way of the Nationals.

JV? Well, he may end up on the losing end, but he is in another World Series. It is the culmination of one of his greatest seasons. Only his teammate (Gerrit Cole) could keep him from another Cy Young Award.

Strangely enough, I don’t shake my head watching these guys continue to star with their new teams. I enjoy watching them as much as I ever have, of course, minus the competitive spirit I had when they were wearing the D.

So much of their talents are still on display, even having left Detroit. However, some have thrived more with their new teams, having received the kind of coaching and tools that have helped them become markedly better. If anything bothers me, it’s the fact that we couldn’t maximize their talents while they were Tigers.

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uBy:  Holly Horning

“It’s a failure.

“In spring training, we talked about winning the division and putting ourselves in a good spot in the postseason to win a World Series. We came up short. No matter how many games we won in the regular season or what else we did, this season is a failure.

“It’s black or white: Either you did your job and got where you wanted or you didn’t. We never cared about how many guys got hurt. We knew we’d get the job done and we didn’t get the job done when it counted.”

– NY Yankees Aaron Judge (after NY was ousted from this year’s playoffs)

This, from a player on a team that won 103 games this year. This, from a player who refused to use the vast number of player injuries as an excuse for losing.

This from a member of baseball’s most successful team in history with 27 World Series titles. More than double the number of rings of the next closest team.

And no, don’t argue that the Yankees are that successful because of the money they spent. This isn’t about the money, it’s about the attitude. It’s about the mindset.

It’s about the culture of winning that permeates this organization from top to bottom.

Until this decade, the Yankees played in the World Series every decade dating back to 1910. Was it just luck or was it the winning culture that doesn’t tolerate anything but the best effort that made them this successful over the long haul?

Consider this: The next team with the highest number of World Championships is the St. Louis Cardinals. Another team with one of the strongest winning cultures out there.

A winning culture is one in which the best is expected from everyone. A winning culture is one where everyone commits to the job that needs to be done. A winning culture is one where excuses aren’t given.

A winning culture isn’t happy with “good enough.” A winning culture is about everyone being on the same page and understanding that less than the best is not acceptable.

A winning culture holds everyone accountable. They don’t pat someone on the back and say “it’s OK” when they fall short of their goals.

A winning culture isn’t afraid to make changes to something that is “very good” in order to step up and achieve “excellent.” That’s what the Yankees did in dismissing Joe Girardi who took them to 100 wins and the playoffs in 2018.

Aaron Judge is not the first Yankee to apologize to fans. His manager, Aaron Boone, apologized, too.

And George Steinbrenner, no matter how you felt about him, reached out to fans multiple years to apologize for not bringing home that trophy.

We all hate the Yankees, but dang, you have to admire their culture.

And not one single fan here would say they wouldn’t want their Tigers to have this same attitude. Maybe it would have resulted in more than 4 World Series championships in over 115 years.

If the Tigers had a culture of holding everyone accountable and instilled a habit of maximum effort and responsibility by all, maybe another flag or two would have been added to Comerica during the 2006 through 2014 stretch.

You’ve seen the variable levels of effort through the most recent years. Players who don’t feel the need to take batting practice. Others who don’t finish running to first base – and aren’t even benched for it.

Multiple players who come to spring training significantly overweight and out of shape. Others who throw their teammates under the bus to explain their poor performances.

And everyone using “that’s baseball” as the excuse for losing. It was the mantra of their former manager, Brad Ausmus.

The Yankees do not utter that statement.

And the Tigers don’t apologize to fans.

Back in 2013 when they were eliminated from the playoffs by Boston despite 93 wins and having a super rotation, crickets were heard coming out of Comerica. No explanations were offered. There was no sense that the organization truly cared about what had happened and the opportunities lost.

The day after elimination, Justin Verlander posted a picture of his newest 6-figure car on social media. An insensitive, “let them eat cake” action. As an Astro now, he has not made similar faux pas.

And Prince Fielder uttered his immortal “I got kids” comment which ended up, at least, infuriating Mr. I and was the final straw in getting him traded.

Today, we have a GM and Front Office being rewarded for being bad. Coaches getting contract extensions for taking the team to the bottom of statistical standings. No one being fired or held accountable in any way, shape or form.

We can only hope that these actions – or really, lack thereof – are because this team will be sold in the near future.

And if this is the case, what we really need to pray for is a new owner with a strong belief and practice of implementing a winning culture.

Because it all starts at the top.

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By:  Holly Horning

Last Friday, I blogged about the disconnect between the Tigers’ 114 – loss season and the team’s apparent unwillingness to make any changes to their strategy for rebuilding (or “rebuilding” if you prefer). And in that blog, the only rationale that made sense rests on the premise that the Tigers are on the selling block.

After all, if you have as bad a season as they did, don’t see things turning around anytime soon and still refuse to make any changes whatsoever, it is the only plausible explanation.

And in that blog, we identified reports that name Dan Gilbert as the potential new owner. We also gathered first-hand evidence from Comerica employees that something is going on within the organization. If you didn’t read Part One, well, shame on you. But here’s your chance at redemption:

Now, as promised, here’s the most important information that points to a sale of the team.

First, the timing. The Tigers are not expected to be competitive for a number of years, which means that attendance and viewership will continue to fall off. Attendance, in particular, will be a significant challenge. Revenue managed to stay consistent for the past 2 years, but as time moves forward, making a profit will be harder and hard to come by. The stats are already showing a significant drop-off for 2019.

Fox Sports Detroit was also sold to Sinclair Broadcasting this past year with expectations that changes will be coming. The Tigers’ media rights contract expires at the end of 2021 with estimates that any new contract may actually double from the current $50 million to $100 mill.

Enter Chris Ilitch. He has said that he is exploring starting his own regional network and has trademarked a number of names in anticipation of such a move. Half of all MLB teams have some part ownership in their regional network and this move has been a cash cow for each of them.

Owning a regional sports network gives you the best of both worlds. You no longer have to address the ever-changing expenses of running an MLB team. No more losing expensive players to injuries and still having to pay them. With a tv network, once the initial start-up costs have been paid, there is relatively little expenditure from year to year. And owning a network offers multiple revenue streams, not just one, when you consider broadcast rights, subscriptions and advertising.

Best of all? You don’t have to own the baseball team in order to profit from broadcasting the games. You could simply make the broadcast rights contract part of the deal when you sell the team. And the timing of the contract’s end falls into line with the strategy.

Two other significant issues loom on the horizon. The first is a potential players strike that is gaining ground and could happen sometime in 2021. It would mean that owners would take a big hit – unless they sold their team before then.

The other is the proposed overhaul being suggested by MLB of the minor leagues. It would include upping the pay for players which also means that owners would be spending more on payroll, system upgrades and other amenities.

All moves that would inspire an owner thinking of selling to move sooner rather than later.

Add to this at least one sighting of Steve Greenberg, Hank’s son, at Comerica. I have written about this before but it bears repeating.

There are pictures and interviews of him less than 2 years ago with the journalists’ questions centered around him visiting his father’s statue. The assumptions were that it was a friendly, informal visit as a fan. It was anything but. In fact, Greenberg looked slightly uncomfortable as his visit gained media attention. He is known to operate in the shadows and is extremely secretive about his work.

Greenberg, was dressed in a pinstripe suit and carrying a briefcase. He wasn’t there for a game. Or at least, let’s hope not.

Steve is the former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of MLB who went on to be baseball’s consummate dealmaker. He is also the brains behind creating MLB tv and has worked on regional network deals as well as media rights consulting for a number of baseball teams.

He also is the top expert on the buying and selling of sports teams. He put together the deal for client Dan Gilbert when he bought the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gee, what a coincidence….

Also, coincidentally, he is also known as one of Mike Ilitch’s “most trusted advisors” and worked on the deal to buy the Tigers. It’s only logical that he would also return to help with the sale.

Given Greenberg’s appearances at Comerica and these two clients of his, it’s fair to assume that they are working on at least one deal. Maybe two if you consider the creation of a regional sports network.

Let’s continue to add to this by including the strange dance between Chris Ilitch and Al Avila. An action that contradicts a statement of support.

As everyone knows, Ilitch extended his General Manager’s contract by issuing a very general statement. No examples were given. And he did it by press release. Questions directed to Chris were not returned.

It was a decision made suddenly and without warning. A press conference called literally at the last minute which made it hard for the non-local media to attend. National media that would be absent and unable to ask the hard questions that the local reporters are afraid to ask.

It was done on the Fourth of July holiday weekend, late on a Friday afternoon and caught everyone by surprise.

They specialize in this tactic in Washington when they want to bury a story and make it a “non-issue.”

Ilitch didn’t even attend the press conference and Al Avila was forced to announce his job extension himself. Talk about awkward……

But the most interesting part of the move was the information that the team refuses to reveal. The length of the extension. It is a secret.

And the Tigers are the only team in MLB to not reveal the length of their GM’s contract.

So you have to ask why?

What are they afraid of? Why is it a secret?

They did it for a reason.

Most importantly, you have to ask for what purpose could withholding this information satisfy?

Understand that within the next year or two, this issue is going to surface again. People are going to ask just how long will Avila be the GM. It’s a question that will only get more pronounced as time goes on.

And it will create continued controversy for the owner.

Unless he has no intention of being the owner down the road.

Let’s face it, logically it makes sense that Avila is merely a convenient place holder right now for Chris. He does not have Ilitch’s support. If he did, Ilitch would have presided over the press conference as owners do and talked specifics.

Instead, Chris was nowhere to be found.

The mysterious extension more likely is serving – on the surface – as a tool to promote stability among fans and keep away outside suitors from messing with the timeline. An “all is well” vibe is what is desired. A duck (an employed GM) seen on the surface of the water but underneath, he (ownership) is paddling furiously. Ilitch only wants you to see the duck, not his feet.

The purpose? This may be an open-ended contract that terminates with a change in ownership. New owners love this detail as it means they are not responsible for paying people they intend on letting go. It also makes it easier to fire people – a job everyone dislikes doing.

In a similar vein, Ron Gardenhire’s contract was supposed to end when Avila’s original agreement did. Avila was extended, thus ending his lame duck status. But Gardy’s was not – and it may not matter.

His coaches were also extended but unlike their original multi-year contracts, and like Avila’s, the length of their contracts was not released publicly. How convenient.

One could surmise that if a new owner takes over, he would not be committed to paying anyone beyond next year.

Let’s hope that is the case.

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It’s time again to hear from our readers!   Today is the day to let us know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Sunday 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:

How has bullpenning impacted the game vs building a strong starting rotation?

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As always, we welcome your comments, so please vote and then submit your reasons ( 4 sentences max!) for how you voted in the usual comment box.  Don’t forget to come back later and view the results!

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