Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tiger Watching

Spring has finally sprung.

At least according to the calendar that hangs in our kitchen.

We have had several days in the low seventies, although never two in a row.

We have had more sunshine than I ever remember since the first of February.

My lovely wife Darlene and I have been taking inventory of the yards, listing what needs to be done, and what's needed to get it done.

But in spring – while my the external attributes of my property demand attention, my heart is really focused in a different direction.

The Detroit Tigers.

These last couple years have been odd springs – as the World Baseball Classic runs the duration of the Grapefruit league. This year, the Detroit Tigers have been split into the haves and have nots. Those that have been asked to represent their countries, and those that have not – and are stuck in camp in Lakeland Florida.

The twain have not yet had a chance to meet.

The core heart of the Tiger's lineup – Miguel Cabrera, Maglio Ordonez, and Carlos Guillen have been hitting in the Venezuelan line up. With them is 2008's rookie pitching sensation – and the only bright spot in the Tigers rotation – Armando Galarraga.

Cabrera hit respectably, but Ordonez only hit .230, and Guillen an even sorrier .210. Galarraga pitched reasonably well, but was not a lights out dominator the Tiger's so desperately need. Even so, The Venezuelan squad made to the final four, losing last night to Korea in a blow-out 10-2 route.

I think there will be more attention paid to the professional league in Korea from now on. There was some amazing talent there.

The only remaining WBC player for the Tigers is Curtis Granderson. And Curtis is – as Curtis always does – playing very good baseball for the USA squad in center field.

As well, the boys back in Lakeland are not faring so well, save Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry – who both may well find themselves with the team come spring. It would be quite 2006 like if the Tigers find themselves counting on Rookie Porcello – and semi-rookie Galarraga may be the key-pins to the rotation much like Verlander and Bonderman of the Tiger's AL Championship 2006 season.

I know it's only spring. It's not even April yet. But the more I see and watch and read – the more I think this version of Tigers will be lucky to maintain a .500 season.

If the bats come to life and the pitching is there, and the bullpen steps up – and if everyone – including Guillen and Sheffield and Zumaya stay healthy – you could see the Tigers make a run at the American Central.

But that is a lot of ifs.

But you never know. The boy's who wear the English D were only supposed to be mediocre team in 2006. Maybe lightning could strike again in 2009.

So as we work around our little house outside this spring – and relax on our newly painted deck this hot summer – I will savor every sip of beer as I listen to Dan Dickerson and Jim Price paint the picture that is a Tigers baseball game through the crackle of my radio.

Spring has indeed sprung. And opening day is less than two weeks away.

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