“I always turn to the sports pages first, which records man’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”
- Earl Warren
Let the countdown officially begin. With the annual TigerFest over the weekend at Comerica Park, the next time you see your Detroit Tigers, it will be in Lakeland, FL as they report to Spring Training. I didn’t personally get to attend this year, but I enjoyed watching the online stream. Matt Wallace of Bless You Boys fame ( and Take 75 North before that) was there with his camera, however, and BYB has the photos. The weekend also brought an encore presentation of the late Ernie Harwell’s appearance on MLBNetwork’s “Studio 42 with Bob Costas.” I watched it twice on Friday evening. I know this probably is getting a bit off-track before I really even get into this post, but man how I loved hearing his voice again. It will always never be the same without him.
Of course, Ernie wasn’t the only Tiger to be taken from us this past year. Former manager Sparky Anderson will be honored during the upcoming season with a uniform patch that will be worn by the Tigers all year long. In addition, Dave Dombrowski announced that Sparky’s number 11 will be retired at a ceremony at some point this season.
I was there when the Tigers honored Sparky and his 1984 Tigers with a pre-game ceremony in 2009. It was the last time he was in Detroit. Like many of his players, Sparky was the main reason I made the trip to the game that night. The weather was terrible -it was cold and rainy- so much so that the game itself was postponed. But I got to see my World Champion Tigers again and hey, I even won a few bucks at Greektown once the game was called. A ceremony to retire his number won’t mean quite as much without Sparky in attendance, but I imagine it will be a tough ticket anyhow. An honor long overdue for Captain Hook.
In news involving some former Tigers, outfielders Johnny Damon and Marcus Thames each found new homes recently. Damon signed a one-year deal with the Rays, joining Manny Ramirez, and Thames will vie for playing time with the Dodgers this year. It will be interesting to see how it plays out with both clubs, really. Thames figures to be a platoon partner with Jay Gibbons in left field for L.A. while Damon will see plenty of left field time as well for Tampa. As we saw with both of those guys in Detroit, neither is really any good at all with the leather, but there’s no DH in the National League and with Ramirez also signing in Tampa, Damon will be bumped into the outfield as well.
Also of note, left hander Nate Robertson has caught on with Seattle. Robertson inked a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. If he pitches well, he could compete for a bullpen spot with the M’s. Even with a club as bad as the Mariners figure to be, I don’t see Robertson making the club. The Mariners will be his fifth club in the past 10 months.
You know that pesky little tag line I like to throw at the bottom of posts like this one? It talk about how you can like our facebook page and follow us on twitter and whatnot? Well I realize that because that line is always there, most of you don’t even think to read it anymore. Consider this a friendly, mid-post reminder to like our Facebook page. One of our new year’s resolutions is to make an much larger effort to interact with our readers via facebook. If you’re too shy to leave a comment on our articles, post it to our wall instead. You don’t even have to mess with silly CAPTCHA codes and all your friends will know you’re a Tigers fan. Really, its a win-win.
One last thing this morning before I go about digging up the latest on the impending Armando Galarraga trade; did you see Kurt’s announcement last week about the 2011 Maple Street Press Tigers Annual? I’ll let Kurt explain it in detail, but the long and short of it is that all your favorite Tigers bloggers (and many of your least favorites as well) got together and joined up with Maple Street press to bring you a comprehensive look at the upcoming season. The annual will hit newsstands state-wide on March 1, but you can pre-order your copy from the MSP website right now.
I know I can speak from our own Matt Snyder when I say that we were deeply honored to be asked to be involved in this project. Online writing is something I began doing as a way to talk Tigers without boring my wife to death. I’m still humbled and flattered that there’s anyone out there at all who takes time out of their day to read what I have written. Being a part of the Tigers annual this year is something I’m very proud of. We have a tremendous list of writers, including Will Rhymes, we have features, interviews, minor league stuff, stats, predictions. Everything you could want in one place, packed inside 128 color pages all with the expertise of the Maple Street Press staff. The finishing touches are being put on it as we speak, but from what I’ve seen of the book, you will absolutely love it. I’m not just saying that because I wrote two pieces for it, either. Personally, I can’t wait to read what guys like Ian Casselberry and Lee Panas and Bill Ferris have contributed to the book. Do yourself a favor and pre-order your copy today.
That’s all I got this morning kiddies, check back later for more from MCB. I promise I’ll have fewer shameless plugs in the next piece.