Detroit Tigers fans have heard about the problems with left field and they know who is available. The trouble with the currently available players is that they want big dollars and long contracts. Yoenis Cespedes reportedly wants $150 million for six years and Justin Upton made $14.5 million with the San Diego Padres last year. The Tigers are scraping their hats on the luxury tax ceiling, which makes it difficult to give a big contract to a top player.
But, there could be an option. An exciting, hometown option that could be inexpensive and will certainly fill seats: Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. The future NFL Hall of Famer released a statement last week about his thoughts for the 2016 football season. He could retire from the game because his body is beat up and he has had enough. As a drama-free player who has been with the Detroit Lions for his entire career, Johnson rarely issues statements which makes this statement big deal. Now that the Lions have hired a new general manager, there are even more questions about Megatron.
Since the Lions and Tigers work in the same neighborhood, Megatron and some of the Detroit Tigers have spent time together. They also support each other by attending each others games. Johnson has hit with the Tigers during batting practice and he has played a little catch with Miguel Cabrera.
Here is my proposal: As a natural athlete with amazing upper-body strength and speed, Calvin Johnson could be the puzzle piece that could fill the spot in left field. He can hit the ball out of Comerica Park – which is not an easy feat. He can certainly cover the territory anywhere in the outfield – another difficult task. He can catch a football with his “bare” hands while being covered by a handful of huge defensive players. It’s safe to say he can catch a baseball.
At 6’5 with his 45-inch vertical, and 6’10 arm-span, not much would get past Johnson in left field. Just standing with his arms in the air, he can reach 8’8. The left field wall is only 8 feet tall. The math makes sense.
In 2007, he ran a 4.35 40-yard dash in the NFL combine. That is plenty fast to cover the outfield. And, to run from home to first. Picture CJ stealing 2nd. Every. Single. Time. Sure, he’s older now, but he is still fast and he can cover routes.
All that the Tigers need to do is invite Megatron to Lakeland and give him a fair shake. As a multimillionaire and a rookie, Megatron could be signed for the league minimum. He could even play in a platoon for those days when the football aches and pains return. In his nine years with the Lions, he has been nothing but a gentleman on and off the field, so Al Avila would know what kind of a man he would be getting.
Of course, there have been other professional athletes who have tried to make the transition from one sport to the other. Michael Jordan did it in the minor leagues and he did not do it very well. Deion Sanders also played baseball and he actually led the league in triples in 1992. Sanders will never be in the MLB Hall of Fame, but he did contribute. Bo Jackson was another NFL player who was successful in the MLB; he even played in an All-Star Game in 1989.
The only question with Megatron is whether or not he could hit a fastball.
Megatron has actually said he would have played baseball if he did not play football. Check out the video of him hitting a home run at Comerica Park. How exciting would that be if he donned the Old English D? Number 81 is available, right?