The Sports Pages: Anniversary Edition


“I always turn to the sports pages first, which records man’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.” – Earl Warren

Today marks my one year anniversary with the FanSided Network and as the lead writer for this site. I was a bit of an internet nomad before coming “home” for the first time on February 3, 2010.

I had launched two independent blogs, written for a couple of random sites. I even spent a couple months posting at Bleacher Report (I still can’t wash away that smell). At one point, I had also written for another network, one who I won’t name because they simply don’t deserve the publicity my words here would provide. Suffice to say that when Wally Fish contacted me about taking over for Joe Dexter on this site, it was a day that truly changed my life.

Joining the family -and that’s what FanSided is- here has not only given me a soap box from which to share my thoughts, but it’s given me an ever increasing number of loyal readers. For you all, I am forever thankful.

But this post isn’t meant as a goodbye at all (though it’s beginning to sound like one, no?), it’s meant to illustrate to you, my fellow Tigers fans, that I will work harder than ever to bring you the best Tigers blog that my staff here and I can provide. In the upcoming year, we have some changes we’ll be bringing you which hopefully will enhance your experience with us and give you new angles of coverage you haven’t found here before.

But enough about me. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Willis on Comeback Trail again…

I thought it fitting that since I wrote so many pieces on Dontrelle Willis in the past year that I start year two with him as well. Willis will be going to camp with Cincinnati on a minor league deal and has been working out with Reds pitching coach Bryan Price for the past several weeks, as details. So far, so good says Price, who can’t figure out why the D-Train came off his tracks so severely.

"He doesn’t look like he lost anything. I’m scratching my head on why he struggled in Detroit"

I’ll give you a hint, good sir, it has something to do with an extreme case of wildness. Willis has spent the better part of three seasons looking great in bullpen sessions only to implode when facing a real-life hitter in the games. I’ll say what I’ve said so many times before, I’m pulling for Willis to return to form.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be one of the very best in the whole world at throwing baseball. I also can’t fathom how difficult it must be to suddenly, and without explanation, lose the ability to do what has always come so naturally. Willis has made a pile of money plying his trade, but that surely doesn’t make me less compassionate about his situation. He’s facing stiff competition to make the Reds club as a lefty reliever, but the biggest hurdle he’ll have to overcome won’t be Aroldis Chapman or Bill Bray, it will be finding again what he used to own; the strike zone.

AJax wants 40 bags…

No word on whether or not Tigers centerfielder Austin Jackson plans on hanging batting gloves on his wall to commemorate stolen bases (ala Willie “Mays” Hayes), but he does have his eye on swiping 40 bags this year. As Jason Beck notes, no Tiger has stolen that many since Alex Sanchez in 2003. If you don’t remember Sanchez, he was the first player ever suspended by Major League Baseball for using steroids, not that it’s relevant to this discussion, but I figured I’d throw in a trivia answer for you in case you want to stump your friends.

Jackson stole 27 bases in 33 attempts last year, but says that watching Carl Crawford and Juan Pierre has made him realize that he needs to be more aggressive in taking off. Regardless of who’s hitting second, Jackson would do well to be in scoring position when Magglio Ordonez comes up, as the right fielder has been known to ground into more than his fair share of double plays. If he can maintain his success rate, I’m all for AJax stealing as many bases as he’d like. Start taking RBI chances away from Miguel Cabrera too often, though, and I’ll be singing a different tune on this one.

Bondo to Cleveland…

The signing isn’t yet official but there’s a lot of smoke around the Jeremy Bonderman to the Indians rumors. Word is that Bondo would get a major league deal to pitch for the Tribe. It’s a good opportunity for Bonderman to have a chance to start and re-build his career, being one more year removed from surgery might bring a touch more life back to his fastball.

Our own Chris Hannum is worried that Bonderman could find success when facing his soon-to-be former club, as the right hander is tough on right handed hitters. I’m less worried about that, I suppose. Bonderman is a competitor and he’ll challenge hitters. If you challenge the likes of Cabrera and Ordonez too often, you’ll get burned.

Around the Tigersphere…

Allison Hagen has taken her talents (and her website) to the G9 sports network. It’s a brand new venture entirely run by women. Congratulations on the new digs, Alli! Now (ahem) about adding MCB to the blogroll…

At Bless You Boys, Matt Wallace delves into breaking down the pitchers who spent last season at Erie. Lots of good names to keep an eye on here. great work, Matt.

Speaking of prospects, Corey at AL Central in Focus has an interview with Tigers outfielder Daniel Fields.

That’s all I got this week, kiddies! Go Tigers!

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