Monday, January 26, 2009

Almost Time for the Boys - and Girls - of Summer

Summer can't be too far off in the future.

We are already talking baseball, so summer must be close at hand.

Yes, I know we are still two months shy of spring.

Saturday, I took my two little girls Alannah and Ashley-Rae to the infamous Turtle Club clubhouse to register for the 2009 season.

Alannah is excited for ball this year. "This year I get to hit from a pitching machine", she explained. Rookie ball starts the season hitting off a tee, then progresses during the season to taking pitches from a pitching machine.

Ashley-Rae just yawned.

Ashley showed little or no interest in playing ball last year. Her only interest lay in "when do we get juice boxes and hot dogs", and "can we play in the park after the game". Although she did become fairly adept at catching her ball glove in her cap last year.

So when I announced this year that Alannah would play ball and Ashley-Rae would instead try her hand at gymnastics or dance – I was stunned at her response. She cried and cried and demanded that she wanted to play ball too.

So Ashley-Rae is playing Jr. T-Ball.

I expect that during this week, we will get a call or email from each of the girl's new coaches to explain that Winter Clinic's - which take place in the gym of a local elementary school - will be starting in a week or two.

So baseball is practically here.

And then there is the Detroit Tigers. The object of my affection and attention from February spring training until hopefully the first week of November.

Saturday they held Tiger Fest at Comerica Park. I didn't go (although I would have loved to) because I had to sign the girls up for Turtle Club baseball.

Tiger Fest sold out. A new closing pitcher was announced. Old and new faces spoke about what happened last year – a dismal last place showing when they were supposed to break all kinds of records on their way to the World Series ; and what is expected this year – a strong team with slight re-arrangement, who hopefully will rebound – led by the recharged starting pitcher Justin Verlander – to a team in contention for the post season this year.

How will 2009 pan out for the Tigers?

Personally, I think they could be anywhere between great and awful.

It all depends on how they come out of the gate this year. Last year they started the season by losing their first seven games.

It depends on the starting pitching returning back to the form of 2006 and 2007.

It depends most of all the ability for the bullpen to close out the later innings and shut the door on the opposition in the ninth.

It all depends on who stays healthy.

It all depends on whether bats heat up.

It depends.

But if there is one thing positive a summer-loving person like me can possibly say about January, it is that in January there is always hope. This year is still next year.

And I can't wait for next year to get here.

Those bums can't play any worse than they did in 2008.

I would say that the Tigers making the post-season is as likely as Ashley-Rae really enjoying Jr. T-Ball.

It's not likely, but I would sure be thrilled if it happened.

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