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Showtime for the 2014 Detroit Tigers House of Cards


Say what you will about the Detroit Tigers off-season, but don’t call it boring. It’s a matter of opinion whether the team improved or declined, but not for long. Soon the proof will be in the playing, Spring Training is in the air, literal tons of equipment have arrived ahead of the players at the Tigers’ second home in Lakeland and the Tigers fanbase anxiously waits to see what the players Dave Dombrowski has put together will look like as a team.

So many questions have loomed over the winter months, as they always do; but this time it feels different. It’s a new era for the Tigers, and with this era comes a new culture.  An emphasis on speed and defense over sloth and power. An attempt at returning to sleek and saavy that comes with more questions than answers, at this point. And it’s these questions that make me, and countless other fans, love baseball.

When thinking on this Tigers team and what is to come this season, I can’t help but liken it to a well built, but still unsettled, house of cards. Of late, every time I’ve made a positive or optimistic prediction, there always seems to be a big “IF” that follows. And while some may see that big IF as a negative, I see it as everything beautiful about baseball. Baseball has been called a game of inches, and perhaps a game of millimeters would be more accurate.  At any given moment between the first and ninth innings, anything can happen. And anything usually does.

So what does that mean for the Tigers? The same thing it’s meant all winter. Austin Jackson will succeed IF he can make the most of his (predicted) new, lower slot in the batting order. Alex Avila will rebound IF he can stay out of his head and keep relaxed at the plate. Ian Kinsler will put some speed on the bases IF he can keep base running mistakes to a minimum. The Tigers starting rotation will dominate IF all the starters return to form and Smyly and Porcello perform. The bullpen can succeed IF Al Alburquerque, Bruce Rondon, and Joba Chamberlain pitch the way they’re capable of pitching and throw strikes. IF. IF. IF. The IFs are endless,  but not for long. Soon these unknown IFs will become statistics. Cold, hard, undeniable facts to analyze and fret over. And all this will lead to even more IFs to plague the fans over the course of the season. That’s baseball, a game of inches and IFs. And I, for one, cannot wait.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • louwhitaker

    But isn’t this always the case? Don’t championships to a great extent depend on good fortune, on random chance? This is why the World Series hasn’t gone to the same team in consecutive years since the Yankees at the turn of this century, who had three enormous strokes of luck–four superstars emerging simultaneously, winning the lottery in terms of avoiding injury, and infinite money. Branch Rickey famously said “Luck is the residue of design.” Well, OK, but a lot of extremely well designed teams have fallen prey to injuries and other unimaginable misfortunes.

    • Josie Parnell

      Oh, I absolutely agree, that’s what I meant about the beauty of baseball. It just feels a little more intense and different this year because there have been so many changes, which to me amplifies the unknown feeling. Which in turn amplifies the excitement and electricity surrounding the season, in my opinion. But all the speculation is coming to a close, and while anything can happen over the course of the season, we’ll at least have some more solid info coming out of spring training.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate it!

  • Yuma 3:10

    Josie,

    Great article. every single team has “ifs”….and the overhaul the tigers have gone through this off-season makes it fun and interesting. Finally, DD had begun to develop a team somewhat akin to a model of that which play 81 games a year in a pitchers ballpark with big alley ways that favor speed on the bases and in the OF. I don’t know for sure if they will be better or worse, but it should be fun to watch. I think if even just a couple of these IF’s come through they can win 100 games. Yup…I said it 100 games. – YUMA

    • Josie Parnell

      Hey Yuma! Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. You make some great points, I agree completely! I’m always pumped for baseball, but this season seems to carry an electric charge that I haven’t felt in recent years. Oh man, 100 games would be sooo sweet! I hope the ifs come through and that you’re right! Thanks again for reading and commenting! I appreciate it.

  • John Dials

    Love the article. Great job. Baseball is right around the corner and i am also pumped to see what this year brings. I live for tigers baseball and im starting to smell it. And your absolutely right about the inches and ifs. Getting more excited every day that goes by. So heres to the greatest team in the greatest sport in the world. Go tigers!

    • Josie Parnell

      Woohoo! I love the optimism, being an eternal baseball optimist myself. So glad you liked the article and thanks for taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it.