By:  Holly Horning

Nick Castellano probably never dreamed that he would be the biggest name and attraction at the annual TigerFest given the Tigers’ yearly star-studded team. But that’s what happened this past weekend after a year in which more than 10 familiar faces were either traded or released.

And then there are 3 others, one a franchise face, who also didn’t show for the event. Coincidentally, all of them due to “health” issues.

And it was at TigerFest that Ron Gardenhire admitted that he had yet to talk to Miguel Cabrera, one of those missing. Not that he hadn’t tried. He did leave messages for Miggy.

After a year in which the Tigers offered a myriad of excuses for Cabrera all season long – Venezuela, his mother, injuries, World Baseball Classic, different injuries – they extended their strategy into the off-season. This time, more health concerns and some time out of the country. The latter, rather a reach considering that this is the 21st Century, where everyone has the ability to stay connected 24/7.

In one respect, it is admirable that the organization remains professional and doesn’t throw its members under the bus as we’ve seen this off-season with other teams.

Yet it continues to point to a continuing problem that just becomes more visible each year when it comes to certain players.

Gardenhire was signed on October 20th. He has spoken to every player on the roster except for 2. And somehow, in over 3 months, Miggy hasn’t been able to find the time to return his new manager’s calls.

Can you guess the other player who doesn’t practice proper phone etiquette?

The same one who was declared at the end of the year to be a significant clubhouse problem with both management and fellow players. The same one who was fraternizing with enemy Yankees during the infamous brawl, angering his own teammates. The same one who tried to take a swing at Justin Verlander before being held back by Nick Castellanos.

VMart. The guy who had a hard time connecting with the ball in 2017 and is now having problems connecting with his manager.

Regarding TigerFest, Miggy, in reality was busy preparing for his big court case that starts in a couple of weeks. And while Al Avila reported that Victor was back to preparing for baseball, he was excused from TigerFest because of the concern that riding a bus would be too taxing on his health.

Someone in media relations either has wonderful creativity or a sense of humor.

In actuality, it was a good idea to exclude these two from this annual event. One needs to focus on getting his personal issues successfully behind him so he can focus on getting back to his usual high level of performance without having to continue to deal with last year’s distractions. The other, let’s call him “DH Downer” (for you SNL fans), probably more for the comfort and enjoyment of the event by his teammates.

The concern though, is what happens when spring training starts. When the clubhouse fills up and a new manager and coaches take the helm.

So far, we’ve yet to see some tangible proof that Miggy and Martinez are willing to play ball when it comes to the team’s priorities. They are ignoring the new man in charge.

These are 2 players earning a total of $48 million this year. Over one-third of the team’s total payroll. Salaries that seriously need to be earned because they have entirely sucked up the funds available to do anything else to this roster. But their failure to connect and communicate supports the story that both are focused on themselves. Not on their team.

And when you’ve got 2 players, conceivably 2 of the most important ones on the team, unwilling to do the basics, it doesn’t bode well when it comes to putting the team’s needs first.

I hold out hope that Ron Gardenhire will be able to resolve or at least mitigate this issue. He has a strong presence and personality with a resume of inspiring athletes to play well together. And according to correspondence between a Tigers’ official with our loyal reader, Chuck Terry, it was mentioned that hiring Gardy was done, in part, with the hope of changing the clubhouse culture.

Don’t expect Gardy to try to force two strong-willed individuals to change right off the bat. He’s more of what the French call “the iron fist in the velvet glove.” He’ll likely have a steady process and strategy that he’ll incorporate into his managerial blueprint.

But there is one thing we do know. Gardy will certainly have his work cut out for him – both on the field and in the clubhouse.

Totally Tigers reminds readers to follow the rules found above the Comment box as well as those listed under the Rules tab.  Comments not meeting these requirements cannot be published.



On this holiday weekend, please enjoy a blog published almost a month ago but still as timely today as it was then.

Totally Tigers

By:  Kurt Snyder

Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.

That’s the most positive way to explain the position the Tigers are in as a franchise and the missteps that have led them to this day.

Every baseball franchise, regardless of the method they use to get their team in a position to contend, has a window of opportunity.

But there is a timeframe. Once you have built what you think is a team that can win it, your opportunities are not endless. Of course, teams try to make smart decisions with their roster every season to sustain and expand that window of opportunity. And some have been very successful in lengthening that timeframe, having success and winning championships along the way.

On the other hand, some teams are not smart with their window. But for the purposes of a Tiger baseball discussion, I am not talking about an open window. I am talking…

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On this holiday weekend, please enjoy a blog published several weeks ago but still as timely today as it was then.

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

It was a crazy end of the year, wasn’t it? And no, I don’t mean Al Avila’s late summer give-away program.

This year was the first time when we clearly saw the visible changes going on with baseball’s managers.

We had a manager who was finally set free after 4 very long years. Problem was, he should never have been hired in the first place.

Five other managers did not survive beyond early October. Two of them reasonably terminated because of their team’s results.

But the other 3 took their teams to the playoffs. When was the last time that happened?

Boston’s termination of John Farrell wasn’t a complete surprise. But the Nationals firing Dusty Baker, who had a team that led all of MLB in wins, certainly was. And then there was the curious case of Joe Girardi who took a “rebuilding” Yankees franchise to the…

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On this holiday weekend, please enjoy a blog originally published earlier this month.

To our many readers, thank you for your continued readership and thoughtful comments. Have a most Happy New Year!

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

I listened to an interesting interview on MLB Radio the other day from an author who wrote an extensive history of the Chicago Cubs but not in the traditional sense. It was about the many years of losing, the culture, the finances and the many other aspects of the organization that contributed to their historical record.

And the more I listened to him talk about why the team, one of baseball’s oldest, had won so few World Series titles, the easier it became to simply change the name of that team to the Detroit Tigers.

The two teams have operated very similarly over the decades and have gotten very similar results. And when you hear the factors involved, you know it’s not a coincidence.

The bigger premise of the book is that the organization, and especially the owners, are the ones who determine the fate and success…

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On this holiday weekend, let’s take a look back in time as the Tigers were just starting to make changes after the 2017 season. How many of these signs have we seen? How many can we expect to see before spring training gets underway? Is this a team in full change mode or are they just tweaking? And will there be more changes than not?

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

For the first time in many years, we have very different expectations of the Tigers as they head into 2018. No longer is there any hint of being competitive and the word “rebuild” has now officially been uttered.

So how is a Tiger fan to remain sane? How should we be framing this coming year in terms of expectations? And how can we find ways in which to enjoy our team?

As we have discovered, we didn’t necessarily find a higher level of joy when the Tigers won games despite the clear lack of fundamentals, sloppy baserunning, defensive gaps and dumpster fire relieving. We certainly couldn’t find much emotion in enjoying the game when the players clearly appeared disinterested and unfocused on most days.

But now there is a new sheriff in town who brings hope that some of these things will get better. The winning certainly…

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! For the most part, our greeting from a year ago still works for today. So we rolled it on out again. Have a great holiday!

Totally Tigers

This is a day where we all give thanks. And we here at Totally Tigers want to show ours to you, the readers. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. So we send out a big roar of approval to those who read us every day, to those who binge-read us, the solid core who comment regularly and to the many who silently lurk in the shadows. Even those who read us occasionally. We love you all.

We are thrilled that you get us and why we started this blog. We love that you’re looking for conversation starters and not spin. And the fact that we often don’t give answers – and that explanations are often presented. All in a civil, user-friendly environment that encourages the sharing of thoughts and ideas.

And as we go forward, expect some tweaks from Totally Tigers. We’ll be expanding, adding new…

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During this holiday week, it’s time to revisit a multi-series blog. Perfect to read (or re-read) should you find yourself alone with the in-laws – or unable to move off of the sofa. Enjoy – and may everyone have a most wonderful Thanksgiving!

Totally Tigers

By:  Holly Horning

Did you think the multi-part blog analyzing the factors involved in the Tigers’ failure to win a ring over the past decade was over? Or that I had forgotten to finish it? Now that the World Series, the selection of a new manager and coaches and everything associated with Justin Verlander is over, it’s time to finish what we started.

So much information that needed to be analyzed and dissected that it was broken down into categories. If you haven’t read the series, or need to brush up on the factors (there will be a quiz later), here they are:

Today’s final installment is a curious one. Two opposites. The factual and the intangibles. The physical and the mental. The policies and the emotional. Both equally compelling in just how much damage each did to a team wanting to win it…

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By:  Holly Horning

Let’s continue the multi-part analysis about why the Tigers were unable to achieve their ultimate goal for over a decade. There are lots of moving parts, with some of them having greater impact than others.

If you didn’t read the intro and the first 3 installments of this series, catch them here:

Today, we’re going to cover 2 of the biggest factors. Let’s file them under “A” for…..


It’s interesting that despite different owners over the decades, the trend of the Tigers being among the very last to adopt the most important trends has remained a constant. The second-to-last team to integrate a full 11 years after the first. The last team to start using computers. Among the very last to include analytics and a correlating software program. Also near the bottom of MLB in developing a manual on the standard of play.

And the pattern of behavior carries out into the field as well. The continued failure to see the rise in importance of the bullpen for over a decade. The dependence upon using starting pitchers as long as possible and into the dreaded third go-around into the batting lineup when stats show this is where teams can lose games. Ignoring the importance of the defensive game and how it saves games. The list goes on.

This has been a team that historically is always the last to change. They are a reluctantly reactive team, rather than a proactive one. And teams that are slow to change are often those actually afraid of it. But is the failure to heed the lessons of adapt-or-die the result of the same established group in charge, the lack of knowledge, resources and even leadership? Or it is the result of all of them?

And now this failure to address the future has left the team significantly behind as they attempt to rebuild. How long will it take them to catch up? How long of a rebuild will this actually be?


Before we can even discuss this aspect that is now a major contributor to the sport, we need to understand what analytics is – and what it isn’t.

It’s not just number-crunching. It is not a system that ignores the expert eye or the human element. It is not a computer named Hal that takes over from an organization or a manager. It is also not a system that reduces the manager to sitting in a dugout tapping at his keyboard instead of looking at the field.

Analytics is an extremely thorough collection of data from a variety of mediums – scouts, coaches, historical data, trends, numbers, video and an assorted collection of stats that are correlated to performance. All of this is run through supercomputers and then shared among the Front Office so they can discover which potential players will fit their needs the best. It is shared among the manager and his coaches so they can determine lineups and in-game strategies. And it is shared with the players who use it to enhance their performance and help them develop a strategy about how to pitch to a batter or where to stand in the field.

And any member of that organization can request the analytics department to run a program that is specific to what they want to learn, correct or enhance. Which brings us to…..

Justin Verlander.

We all know Justin has had the tools but didn’t have the success with the Tigers that correctly reflected his effort or potential. Now with the Astros – a team that has the best analytics in MLB – he is 8-0 with a miniscule ERA. Coincidence? Think he simply went to a team that gave him run support? Of course not.

Reporters are now doing stories on JV’s move to Houston. Interviews with him describe a system where he felt like a “kid in a candy store” when presented with what the analytics department could do for him. Their reports helped him add another highly-effective pitch to his arsenal – all in less than 2 weeks. They had a super high-speed camera that showed him every frame of his pitching form and that is where he saw how his grip could be improved to turn his forgotten slider into a highly nasty one. He spends days preparing for each start with all sorts of info he custom-orders from the analytics department.

And within these stories are quotes from an “anonymous” former Tigers pitching coach who said they were forbidden to use analytics in their work. A long-term manager who refused to use the tool or even look at any info given to him. And a former GM who didn’t believe in it. Let me now also refer you back to the ANCIENT category above.

This is what analytics can do for you if you have it. It is also a cautionary tale about how your current talent is not fully utilized or effective when you can’t offer them what other teams are giving theirs. And a warning about how seriously compromised your team becomes when they don’t have the tools everyone else does.

On Sunday, we’ll continue the analysis as we talk strategies, money and the intangibles.

Totally Tigers reminds readers to follow the rules found above the Comment box as well as those listed under the Rules tab. Comments not meeting these requirements cannot be published.


Now the real fun begins!

If you were looking for Kurt’s and Holly’s dueling blogs today, we’ve got a surprise for you…

Now that the off-season is here, Totally Tigers is just getting ramped up. This is the season of intrigue and even more in-depth discussion. Hopefully, lots will be happening with the team over the next 4 months, and we plan on covering it all. So stay tuned and visit us every day because there will always be a new blog to read and discuss.

But we have something more. We want our readers to weigh in and help craft our vision for the off-season. We want your ideas! Today, we ask that you leave comments about what you want to see. Ideas re topics, new formats, new ways of interacting. Tell it all to us and don’t be shy. We can honestly say that we have the best and most thoughtful readers on any Tigers’ blog. We know you won’t disappoint us.

We’ll publish your comments so everyone can get inspired. Come up with your own – or add onto someone else’s. We’ll even break the rules and allow you to post more than once! (You can always suggest topics and ideas throughout the year via the comment box.)

And to get you excited about the upcoming months, we’ll have a mystery guest writer who is an expert on the Tigers sit down with us for a little Q&A.

So grab your keyboards and let’s get crackin’!

Totally Tigers reminds readers to follow the rules found above the Comment box as well as those listed under the Rules tab. Comments not meeting these requirements cannot be published.  


By:  Holly Horning

No doubt about it, last Thursday’s epic marathon bench-clearer will be remembered by everyone who saw it. We’ll even be telling our grandkids about this “brawlgame.” And it may just go down in history as the biggest hellacious baseball battle ever.

Personally, I lost track of how many fights broke out. How many times the dugouts emptied. How many pig piles of players were formed. And how many players got hit. I only remember how many got ejected and the list of names resembled a lineup card.

It’s taken me a few days to sort out this mess and try to make sense of it. As they say, “It’s complicated.”

But the skirmish on the field was about more than a player – or 2…… or 3……..or 4 or…. – getting hit. It may have also been about the Tigers’ frustration over having MLB’s worst August record of 5-16. Or maybe the simmering frustration over 4 years of futility. Or maybe the realization that the baseball bubble has officially burst for the Tigers and that dark days are ahead. Or all of the above.

Lots of layers to digest. And lots of players to address. And thus, I feel this blog needs to be a therapy session for all of us. So here are all of my observations and perspectives on the game. Some smack-on combined with a heapin’ helpin’ of irony and humor to help ease the pain. Let’s dig in…..

1. Fans got to see three sports on Thursday. They came to see a baseball game that broke out into a hockey match and segued into a heavyweight fight.

2. Fans got to see a free fight instead of paying for the Mayweather–McGregor fight. Gary Sanchez threw more punches than either of Vegas’ headliners.

3. After the fight, the Tigers’ Marketing Department quickly huddled to discuss future strategies. They were overheard describing the day’s game as “genius.”

4. Too bad that it takes a massive brawl to see some passion exhibited by Tigers’ players.

5. In the olden days, teams were reluctant to fight the Tigers because of the threat of Willie Horton. Too bad Bruce Rondon was back in Toledo.

6. Speaking of Rondon, he is wondering why he’s the one who got singled out about this double-standard of fighting.

7. Tigers’ broadcasters may want to rethink their promos for future games. Especially when they say “This weekend, the Tigers will battle the White Sox.” Let’s also re-think “The Tigers will take on Chicago.”

8. Announcers may also want to define the term “slugging” whenever they use it going forward.

9. I’ve never seen Brad Ausmus so mad in his 4 years with Detroit. He didn’t spit once for an entire 5 minutes during one of the on-field fights.

10. Who says Nick Castellanos doesn’t move his feet quickly? He was the first one to vault over the dugout railing when the first fight broke out.

11. Where was Justin Upton in any of the melees? Oh, that’s right, protecting his future paycheck.

12. The game was truly remarkable in that Gene Lamont was actually seen getting up from his seat, standing and walking. He even left the dugout once.

13. Maybe someone needs to really tick off Iggy every day to get him to field and hit the way he did in Thursday’s game. He’s never been more fired up.

14. There is the “game within a game” analysis. The Tigers have introduced the “fight within the fight” with their dugout dustup between VMart, Castellanos and JV.

15. Contrary to what some have written, JV did not extend his middle finger to VMart. He’s got Kate to do that.

16. VMart should really be fearing Kate Upton. She posts really mean tweets that tend to freely use the “f-bomb”.

17. Miggy may have thrown the first punch but he wasn’t the one who started it. Romine grabbing him in 2 different situations and then throwing down his mask was the challenge to fight.

18. As we’ve often seen this year, Miggy had a hard time connecting. This time with his fists to a face.

19. Dellin Betances didn’t intentionally bean James McCann? Riiight……

20. Even Brad didn’t think Betances’ beaning of McCann was intentional. Yet another example of exemplary leadership and astute analysis on display.

21. No fine or suspension for Betances? This is what happens when you have a former Yankee in charge of punishing current Yankees.

22. The dirtiest player in all the battles, Gary Sanchez, got only a 4-game suspension. What a wonderful message to send to kids, MLB.

23. Want to bet that Gary Sanchez will do this again? So much for offering teachable moments to the young guys in MLB.

24. Who didn’t see the unfair and unbalanced suspensions coming? A NYer based in NY ruling in favor of his NY team taking into consideration the hell storm Yankee suspensions would have caused among the media, fans and loss of tv revenue for MLB.

25. Another wonderful MLB life lesson for parents to try to explain to their kids. ‘Fess up and tell the truth and you will be punished like Alex Wilson. Lie like a rug despite the obvious evidence and you will get off scot-free.

26. MLB has set so many wonderful examples and teaching moments with their decisions for families to emulate. If MLB was actually a parent, Social Services would have visited by now.

27. Analysts blamed Brad for not controlling his players during the numerous brawls. Just another example of Brad not managing well. Tell us something new.

28. Andrew Romine was heard on the phone saying to his parents “But Mom…….. Austin started it!”

29. Do you wonder how long it took the umpires to hit the bar after the game? Or how many drinks each of them had?

30. The Tigers have redefined the role of spoilers and taken it to a new level. Upcoming opponents are quaking in their cleats.

31. And we think NYers are dirty and combative. Detroit has put the world on notice that MidWesterners can hold their own!

Totally Tigers reminds readers to follow the rules found above the Comment box as well as those listed under the Rules tab.  Comments not meeting these requirements cannot be published.