microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.

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


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By:  Kurt Snyder

It’s been so long. Do we really remember how to do this?

It hasn’t been easy to follow the Tigers over the years. The frustration of unrealized expectations has continually  burst our balloons when so often we hoped for them to reach the greatest of heights.  And even when they failed, there was always a good level of winning that offered hope for the next season.

But when the winning stops. What do we do?

Optimism has its limits. In a year where losing will far outweigh the winning, we are going to continually be tested. Interest will be tested. Dedicating the kind of time we normally do will be a challenge. Whether to attend games or not will be scrutinized more, based on where the Tigers find their place on our list of priorities.

You want to be a fan? A real fan? Well, you don’t pick and choose. You take the good with the bad. You watch when they are losing just as much as when they are winning. All very easy to say. But all very tough to do.

I have looked at lots of beautiful summer days out my patio door while I sat inside watching the Tigers. I’m not Holly. I don’t DVR games and watch them later. I watch them live or listen on the radio, always trying to find time for one or the other.

But winning always has a way  of dictating what we choose to do. What kind of fan will you be?

It’s all still baseball, isn’t it? We all still love the game. Losing never made us love the game less, right? You, out there. Yeah, you, reading this right now, are you looking forward to the season to begin? We always do, don’t we? Regardless of all the prognostications, for the pure love of the game, anticipation is the one emotion that fuels us today.

And that enthusiasm should drive us and force us as real fans to critique the losing, value and dissect the winning and dig deep for the little morsels of satisfaction.

It is going to be a test for all of us. And we may all need a manual to help get us from Game 1 to Game 162 with the same level of interest that we have 1 week before Opening Day.

So while this team restructures, we must restructure as fans. Ron Gardenhire wants to win. But he knows that will be a tremendous challenge and highly unlikely in his Year 1.

We all want to win as well, but we see what the challenges are and what will keep us from winning most nights. This all brings about a very difficult proposition for all of us. But I would like to challenge everyone.

Can you be a fan of this team while ignoring the record? Because that’s what we’re going to have to do.

We have to embrace the rebuild and not concentrate on how bad it’s going to look at first. How do you do that?

Well I don’t know how you are going to do it. But here’s what I’m going to do. I am going to start the season with a set of guidelines which I believe will help me get through the year and, along the way, be able to offer readers the most useful analysis possible, aside from dwelling on wins and losses.

If you like this method, have at it. This can be my therapeutic gift to you.

*Dig deeper into games. Watch things you don’t normally watch.

*Watch the new players who intrigue you. The players you feel have the most upside. Follow their progress.

*Watch the players that don’t move the needle, for the purpose of determining what they lack and why they lack it.

*Concentrate on the fundamentals. Keep track of the good plays and record who makes them, identify their strengths.

*At the same time, critique the poor plays, examine technique, and look for lazy play.

*If you are interested in the rule changes, concentrate on how effective they are in improving pace of play.

*Finally, is this team working hard? Are they enthusiastic? Are they having fun? Are they improving, making progress, playing better baseball as the season moves along?

This can be fun, really it can! But, do us all a favor and share the things you intend to focus on this year. If there is ever a season to be creative, this is it.

Good luck!

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By:  Holly Horning

“Never let the past spoil your present or govern your future.” – Author Unknown

In order to understand what the future holds, we need to analyze the past. History is always a great teacher. That is, if you take the time to understand the cause and effect from past actions.

Which is why I was initially heartened by the news that the Tigers had started investing in the roots of their system after Dave Dombrowski had ignored it for 13 years. All that money Dave was given was poured directly into signing MLB-ready players.

In an interview, Dave Littlefield, VP of Player Development, mentioned that the team now has a structured (no longer voluntary) nutritional program. The Tigers, under Avila and Littlefield, have hired a mental skills (aka sports psychologist) coach who works with both the major and minor league players. And, they’ve added more resources to the strength and conditioning staff. Littlefield was quoted as saying that all aspects of the game have to be addressed which is why there is now this focus.

Of course, this all takes time in order to see results. But the fact that they are now, finally, addressing these issues, offers hope.

With the passing of the reins to Al Avila, the Tigers have adopted analytics and developed their own software program. And they finally started revamping the minor league system. For a team that is in rebuilding mode, these are all steps in the right direction.

But the alarm bells went off in my head after watching the game the other day. It was nothing that I saw. It was what I heard.

Kirk Gibson reported about how involved Jim Leyland is with the team.

And it’s worse than we thought.

Gibby reported that JL meets with Gardy every single morning to give his feedback and insights about the team. He offers his opinion on who should make the team, what the roster should look like and what waiver decisions should be made. He’s even been asked to weigh in about future draft picks.

So much for hoping that this team was finally shaking off its old formula.  A formula that resulted in one of the biggest collections of the most talented MLB players ever assembled – and one that was unable to win more than a single World Series game.

Say what you will about the Tigers having many years of success and division titles. And if you don’t care that there has been a 33-year drought since the last World Series title, that’s fine, too. But the truth is that Mr. I hired Dombrowski, Avila and Leyland to get him that ring and they had 13 years to get it right.

But didn’t.

So logically, this track record would tell us that the old methods didn’t work and that an entirely new strategy needs to be developed for winning. And logic also tells us that the same people responsible for the failed ability to reach the designated goal are not the ones to lead this team to the promised land. That new people, new ways and new thoughts are needed.

But for all intents and purposes, the same people, minus the new manager, are still in charge. And that is the definition of insanity.

Jim Leyland is not just a “special assistant.” He is impacting policy and decisions. And he’s doing it every day. He’s even going on many of the tv and radio broadcasts to give interviews that portray him as an essential cog of the organization.

Look around MLB. How many other teams keep their former managers around to impact policy? For allowing them to hover over their managerial successors? To have a significant amount of influence and not even hold the title of an upper executive?

It is a singularly strange and impractical way of doing business. Successful business, that is.

To give someone who managed his team to be good, but not good enough, that amount of influence, how can you expect real change to happen? For mistakes to be corrected? For different strategies and methods to be implemented?

Simply, you can’t. The Tigers, in effect, are trying to move forward, but their rear bumper is still firmly chained to the old mile post.

Is the decision based out of loyalty? We’ve written about that trait in these blogs.

Is it out of fear? A fear of change? Is that fear part of the reason why this team is always among the very last to catch up to the newer strategies in baseball?

Or is it based upon the corporate culture? Examples not being set? An unclear vision that lacks the necessary outline and steps?

Or a combination?

Your guess is as good as mine.

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By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

We are now inside 10 days until the start of the 2018 season. So it’s time to start thinking about one of the greatest and most celebrated days of the year in Detroit. That’s right, Opening Day!

Our writers have chosen to address a question about the home opener, a day we have grown quite used to watching Justin Verlander run out to the mound to start the game. This year it will be someone else.

Our writers have not shared their answers to the following question about this year’s Opening Day starter. Let’s see if they are aligned on the topic.

Here’s the question.

Jordan Zimmermann was named starter for Opening Day. Did Ron Gardenhire make the best decision?


Michael Fulmer, if he can avoid injury, is going to pitch plenty of Opening Days. But how important is it for him to be that guy this year? I think it has very little importance.

It appears like Ron Gardenhire is looking to build some character. Most assume Michael Fulmer will perform well this season. But how many can honestly say they are optimistic about Zimmermann?

Jordan has had his moments this spring; Chris Bosio has worked with him on quickening his pace which has done wonders for his rhythm. When they signed Jordan, the Tigers were banking on the consistent, bulldog of a pitcher who had so many successful seasons in Washington. But they have only gotten half of one season in Detroit.

Gardenhire is clearly injecting a high dosage of confidence into the psyche of JZ, and I think it’s a low risk, calculated and smart idea.


Maybe not the “best” decision, but it was the “right” one – for 2 reasons.

Jordan Zimmermann is the Tigers’ second most expensive player after Miggy, still owed $74 million at $24-425 mill a pop and completely untradeable. Starting him is a vote of confidence that will hopefully help be the catalyst for a better year and potentially help salvage the signing.

Starting someone with only 2 years of MLB experience and making league minimum, like Michael Fulmer, would be a significant mental blow to J-Z’s confidence and a sign that the Tigers’ belief in him is waning.

But let’s also remember that the Opening Day starter, throughout baseball, is largely a symbolic selection based upon the most prominent and often most experienced starting pitcher.

Some quickly forget that Justin Verlander was the Opening Day pitcher every year (except 2015 when he was recovering from surgery) even when other pitchers had better previous years. In 2014, Max Scherzer was passed over despite his Cy Young Award in favor of JV. And when Max moved to the Nationals, he again was nudged aside for Stephen Strasburg despite having just won yet another Cy Young.

Opening Day is more about making honorific decisions than one focused on those who are most deserving. Fulmer would be much more understanding of his standing and how this tradition is calculated than Zimmermann would be.

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By:  Kurt Snyder

It’s safe to say on March 19th, heading down the stretch to Opening Day, that there are more questions than answers when it comes to the Tigers. The rebuilding Tigers.

A typical Q&A session provides questions followed by corresponding answers. We like questions, we ask plenty. But unlike many sites, we won’t pretend we have all the answers. It’s not taking the easy way out. I would rather look at it as finding them together. In turn, readers will unearth some things for us to expand on.

That’s what we try to do here.

So I have questions today. I will ask them and then I will provide a response. Not an answer, a response. Got it?  As always, we are most interested in having the dialogue help guide you to a conclusion. So read this, absorb it, contemplate it and tell me what comes to mind in response.

Five questions and responses await.

1. Do the Tigers have the right manager?

Ron Gardenhire is annoyed. In fact, he’s mad. He hates what he sees from his team when it comes to fundamentals. He has issues with some who occasionally don’t give a crap about where they ought to be on the field on a given play. Or, they are just mentally somewhere else. I wonder how surprised he is by what has been going on.

2. Does it surprise you that Alex Wilson would be someone called out for not having his head in the game?

It’s going to be on the manager in a year of rebuilding, in a year they will not compete for anything, to keep players focused on the basics, regardless of the team’s opportunities to win. I guess you begin to find out during times like these, who we can trust regardless of the team status.

3. Why isn’t the ace of the staff starting on Opening Day?

There has been plenty to consider. Fulmer’s injury history. Zimmermann’s injury history. Who could use more time? Who’s ready to pitch on March 29th? The rotation will sort itself out, but it hasn’t yet.

4. With Mike Fiers suffering from a back injury, is it fair to say he won’t be in the starting rotation to start the season?

This is a powder-puff, who cares, kind of question. It has more to do with Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris seizing opportunities, of which this is one more, to win spots and keep them. It is time.

To address the Fiers injury, few prescribe playing in cold weather to jump-start a healing process.

5. It’s your call. Do you add Rule 5 #1 pick Victor Reyes to the Opening Day roster or send him back to Arizona?

Ask yourself more questions to arrive at the answer. Is there risk in keeping him? Is there risk in letting him go? This is the easiest question to answer and I can’t believe there has been so much discussion on the subject as if there is much to think about.

Well, thanks for reading everyone. Hopefully I have given you at least a few things to mull over.

Obviously, this will be the year of the question mark. And it will take way past this season to find all the answers.

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By:  Holly Horning

On Wednesday, we learned from one of our loyal readers, Nick M., about the horrific story involving former ballplayer (and former Tigers minor-leaguer), Danry Vasquez who was seen in a video beating his girlfriend (and former fiancée) in a stairwell.

Of course, it was appalling. Of course, we are all incensed. And needless to say, we all felt that punishment should have included time behind bars.

But as much as this story angers us, let’s not cover a subject in which there is no debate. Let’s address what is not being done. Let’s look at the bigger picture.

Because you see, the incident that everyone is talking about happened over 2 years ago, not just recently. While Vasquez was with the Astros and then released after they viewed the footage. His fiancée failed to press charges but the team could have done more. Instead, they kept this concern internal, allowing Vasquez to continue pursuing a baseball career. And he signed with another team immediately afterwards. A team that did not know his history.

That is until some good Samaritan within law enforcement re-released the video via social media in order to garner world-wide attention. And the reason they did it was because justice had not been served. For everything he had done, Vasquez received a slap on the wrist and had his case dismissed.

Justice that was unable to be served and the Astros who preferred not to tarnish their organization’s image by allowing this to simply fade away.

And given that Vasquez was initially signed by the Tigers out of Venezuela (and played within their minor league system), there was no coverage of the story in the Detroit papers. Everywhere else, this was major news. Everywhere, it seemed, but Detroit.

But then both Justin and Ben Verlander tweeted about it. Ben who was a teammate of Vasquez’s. But the Detroit media didn’t focus on the assault angle – they wrote about what JV and his brother said. And there were no quotes from anyone associated with the Tigers about Vasquez.  It also appeared that no one within the local media asked.

The bigger picture about how this serious incident was handled is not necessarily about how teams prioritize their image over addressing and trying to send a message to wrong-doers. It’s about how seriously MLB guards and controls its own image. Much more so than the other professional sports associations.

An organization that is focused on the positive stuff, especially the “feel good” stories and occasionally offers window dressing policies that are not uniformly enforced. Including domestic assault incidences in which some players are punished and others aren’t. And no one gets kicked out of the sport.

But it even goes beyond that.

The lack of balance in reporting MLB news is everywhere. You see it in all the games you watch. Every game, no matter the feed, is sanctioned by MLB. They have to give their approval for whatever is shown or said on the broadcast. A policy that has the broadcasters thinking twice before they say what they really believe. We saw it with Ron Darling when he dared to criticize a team’s medical staff and got threatening phone calls from above immediately afterwards.

The same goes for and MLB Radio. And also MLB publications. The writers who are hired to cover each team are under the auspices of MLB. Look at the tiny print at the end of those articles that indicate the connection between the two. In fact, MLB owns each team’s website – and runs it.

What this means is that you will never get the real or balanced stories from these groups. You will never hear critical dialog discussing the problems with players, managers, teams or owners. It is all sanitized. Just like the Vasquez attack several years ago that no one, other than the Astros and the Commissioner’s Office, knew about.

How many of you read the story about the forced retirement of MLB’s rainmaker? The guy in charge of MLB’s Advanced Media, widely considered to be the #2 person in MLB because he created a digital and media cash cow for the association? If you did, you didn’t read it in an MLB-sanctioned media report. But it was covered extensively in the non-baseball media.

A guy who was allegedly known by many within the industry to practice sexual harassment, have inappropriate relationships with his subordinates and created a toxic workplace environment. Major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported that his behavior was widely known within corporate MLB and by the current and previous Commissioners. All of it ignored for over a decade until it couldn’t be ignored any more.

And yet, he wasn’t fired or disciplined for his behavior. He was allowed to go away quietly.

MLB continued their practice of protecting their image with the plane crash of Roy Halladay. A pitching icon and fan favorite who died after crashing his plane into the water. His autopsy showed that morphine, amphetamines and Ambien were found in his system at levels deemed consistent to impairing his ability to fly. And again, a story ignored by media associated with MLB.

Should we even be surprised that the Vasquez video only recently surfaced to the public because someone within law enforcement felt it was necessary?

Sure, we all understand the importance of protecting our organization’s image. But how far should it go?

And at what point does your ability to control the message start hurting other people?

Can you protect your image while also doing good?  By raising awareness?

All good questions that MLB needs to start addressing.

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By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

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

Another Grapefruit League week is in the books and Opening Day is only 12 days away. So, what has gotten the majority of our writers’ attention this week?

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


Chris Bosio may just be the most important acquisition the Tigers made in the off-season. This week alone, Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, Shane Greene, Blaine Hardy and Daniel Norris were singing his praises and detailing exactly how he had helped them. With Greene, his slider and with Zimmermann, picking up his pace which vastly improved his last outing. And Daniel Norris said Bosio’s advice is exactly the opposite of the coaching he got the past 2 years.

“Boz” picked up on Jordan’s pacing immediately after watching and comparing video while it went unnoticed for 2 years under Rich Dubee. Maybe there’s a valid reason why the former Tigers’ pitching coach got fired by the Phillies and spent the next 2 years unemployed in MLB until the Tigers came calling. Now if Bosio can help Mike Fiers, who appears to be a very poor (and head-scratching) signing, he will truly achieve the status of miracle worker.

What did you think when you heard Miggy had run through yet another stop sign at third base and was again thrown out at the plate? Miggy’s at it again, ignoring his coaches, disrespecting their decisions, right?

Well, this is nothing new as Tiger veterans often disrespected and ignored direction from their coaching staff and their manager over the last 4 years.

When Gardenhire was brought in, there were  holdovers from the Ausmus staff who were heavily scrutinized; and Dave Clark was one of them. It may be that Miggy still doesn’t trust him based on a less-than-stellar reputation that Clark has had coaching third base in Detroit.

Additionally, Gardenhire has quietly put Clark on notice himself, as he supported Miggy heading home with 2 outs, not Clark. A unique message sent to one of his own coaches; and an endorsement of Miggy’s judgement regardless of the direction.

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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.

Which of the minor league pace of play rules do you see making it to the big leagues?  Would you like it?  Explain…

1.  Extra innings will begin with a runner on second base.

2.  At the Triple-A level , pitchers will be allowed 15 seconds to begin their wind-up or the motion to come to the set position when no runners are on base.

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By:  Kurt Snyder

This year represents a defining moment for the site where a great stadium used to stand. A new ballpark awaits intrigued visitors. A new field will be home to so many youth teams who will play on the very same plot of dirt where Hall of Famers once stood.

The next time I visit will be a celebration … completely different from my last trip.

Below are excerpts from a blog I wrote, years prior to Totally Tigers, about my one and only visit to The Corner after Tiger Stadium was demolished.

…we crossed Trumbull and made our way to the open gate, which in 1999, took you inside Tiger Plaza or what I remember most, where Dad and the players used to park.

It was very surreal standing and walking around that infield …This was my dad’s house. During his years as Tiger Stadium manager, his home in Roseville was merely where he laid his head. But Tiger Stadium was where he lived. His heart and soul were in this place. I could feel it as I stood there.

Standing near the third base line, I glanced out to the flag pole in centerfield, the only thing still standing other than the gates to Tiger Plaza. Old Glory waved to me at the top. The flag pole reminded me of the story Dad once told about the painter who used to shimmy up and paint it, with absolutely no fear of falling.

I then turned my attention to Brooks Lumber Co. and all the businesses and landmarks that you could now see from my infield vantage point. Everything was now exposed. To see the lumber yard from the field was unusual to say the least.   

Aside from all the evidence of what the geese had deposited all over the field, I still found the field beautiful. I thought I would be emotional, but I wasn’t. It was more confusion that I felt. Maybe because it has been so long since the Tigers left this great place. It was sad to see it coming down when Dad and I visited the demolition of the Old Girl several months ago.

But I wasn’t sad on this day. I have accepted what is now a closed chapter in Detroit Tigers history; a chapter now abandoned, a piece of history ignored and replaced by Comerica Park representing a new era in Tiger baseball.

It was definitely something that I needed to see. To close the chapter.

On March 24th, the Police Athletic League will celebrate what will be the culmination of a truly great initiative. The grand opening of the Corner Ballpark and Willie Horton Field of Dreams.

There will be a parade, a ribbon cutting and finally, baseball, will be played there once again. In fact, they’re gonna play two!

The new field shares the same dimensions of Tiger Stadium and that same flag pole  continues to stand. The site is for kids again, like it was always meant to be. Only now, kids can play the game at The Corner, instead of just watching.

It feels good … finally.


By:  Holly Horning

Spring training is at the halfway mark, and for the Tigers, it’s a very different year than it has been in the past. The slate has been wiped clean. We still have a newish owner and a brand new manager. There’s even going to be a new roster in which more than half of the non-pitching field positions are going to have new players.

What this means for us fans, right now, is that we don’t have as much information as we’d like. “New” takes time.

We don’t yet possess enough insight about this year’s team in order to take a single topic and address it in the detail required or desired. And after all, it’s spring training, when stuff never really counts. Until it does.

But this is the perfect time to lasso a bunch of random thoughts and observations swirling around in my head. Little bite-size nuggets. Small in content, much bigger in meaning.

And unlike a certain lead Tigers’ beat reporter who stole Kurt’s idea, format and even writing style without giving him credit, I am fully admitting to borrowing from the best. Kurt’s original idea, 20 (fill in the month) Thoughts, several years later, remains the best way to share lots of ideas. Kurt, your commission check is in the mail.

But I’m going to give it my own personal twist – which is, of course, based upon what I have seen visually and factually with the team. Don’t forget, in our partnership, Kurt is the touchy-feely one. I tend towards irreverence.

Without further adieu, let’s give it a go, shall we?

1. The Twins just released Anibal Sanchez who will earn $7.5 million this year between the Twins ($2.5 mill) and the Tigers’ buyout ($5 mill), without having thrown a single pitch in the regular season. There’s a lot of people out there who wouldn’t mind being in his position.

2. Victor Martinez has hit 4 HRs (almost 5) in just 32 at-bats and an OPS of 1.011. He is also smiling. I am hopeful.

3. Can you remember a Tigers’ manager before Ron Gardenhire who dared to publicly breathe a word about the sloppy play of the team? Me neither.

4. First came Mike Pelfrey. Now, if Jordan Zimmermann can’t recover his form and if Mike Fiers turns out to be a bust, someone within the Front Office will lose their job in 2018. Chris Ilitch won’t be happy wasting $132 million just on those 3.

5. Speaking of Mike Fiers, can someone please explain the rationale of the Tigers doubling his salary from last year? The same year he went 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA, a 1.428 WHIP and ended up being dumped from Houston’s playoff squad. Anyone else thinking he may become Mike Pelfrey II?

6. I love the look of the new manager and coaches. Crisp, sharp and all wearing the same team uniform. Uniforms serve an important role in “unifying” a group and making them into one unit. Those who don’t wear what everyone else does, stand out and show others that they are not part of the group. Brad Ausmus didn’t wear the team uniform. Just sayin’.

7. Attendance this year could be worse than we think. Sunday’s game, on a beautiful day, had a half-empty ballpark with many seats behind home plate empty. And it wasn’t early or late in the game.

8. Speaking of attendance, the Tigers have had to resort to selling tickets for Opening Day on Groupon. When was the last time that happened?

9. While we go back through our memories, can you also remember the last Tiger to hit an inside-the-park home run like Leonys Martin did the other day?

10. Did you notice that the Tigers never released an official statement about their TV broadcast crew this year? At least not publicly. And I don’t think it was because they forgot.

11. When was the last time the Tigers had so many new players in so many new positions? Five non-pitching slots so far and conceivably 2 more may be added to that total at some point this year.

12. Ron Gardenhire is playing with the lineup. A refreshing change after the same lineup written in ink over the past years, but does this signal good news or concerning news?

13. The Tigers have taken their payroll from $208 million down to $142 million. A savings of $66 million. So why are some of the ticket prices going up? And why are the rest of the prices staying the same?

14. The organization continues to cut costs behind the scenes. While the team has played 21 spring training games so far, with over half of them advertised as being broadcast by Fox Sports Detroit (a financial partner), only 2-3 have actually featured the Detroit media team. The rest of the games could only be viewed via the other team’s broadcast system.

15. Saving the best for last! The new manager and coaches are gum chewers, not seed spitters. Even if the team doesn’t do well this year, it will be more enjoyable watching them. Especially when the cameras pan to the dugout.

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