Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 8:32 AM

An open letter to the Tigers.

Dear Tigers,

Hey guys, how is it going? I have a question for you guys and I was wondering if maybe you might be able to provide me with some answers. Well, maybe it is not so much a question I have as it is an issue. Well, maybe it really isn’t an issue either; so much as it is a strange feeling I am having. See, look how confused I am right now, I don’t even know how to describe to you what it is that is exactly running through my mind. I can’t eat, can hardly sleep and am running my mind ragged trying to get this feeling to go away, but I can’t seem to shake it. There is just something there that I have not felt for you guys in some 15 years and I am not too sure how I should react, let alone feel. That something that is there, that feeling making my daily functions complicated is hope and I am not sure how the hell to deal with it.

See, I grew up on two things as a child – U of M football and Tigers baseball. My grandfather and father force fed me those two things in my early life and the love still remains today. In fact, one of my greatest memories from my youth is that memorable 1984 season, the “Bless You Boys” times if you will. I went to game #5 of that World Series, accompanied by none other than my dad and grandpa. I still remember vividly sitting there in the upper deck, looking down on that field and seeing those ugly brown road uniforms the Padres wore at the time. I remember very little from my childhood, but who the hell could forget those ugly things? I still remember the atmosphere, the feeling, the smells, sounds, sights, excitement. In fact, in my basement at home today, hanging on the wall framed behind my bar, light shining on it and all is one of my very prized possessions. It is the original newspaper shot from that 1984 World Series victory, Gibson’s tattered frame jumping in the air, arms raised to heaven. I have seen it for sale in a duplicated version many times, but I saved the original, along with my ticket stub from that game #5, hoping to add more to it as I grew up. I remember it all with a seven year olds foolishness, thinking that baseball in Detroit would always be like that, but we all know too well how it has turned out.

You guys have not made the playoffs since 1987, a drought of some 18 seasons. Will this year be any different? Can this season be the one where that drought finally comes to an end? I have been blessed with three sons of my own, but not a single one of them truly know who the Tigers are. They all know my love for the Pistons, my strong dislike of Joey Harrington and each one of their second words (after “daddy” of course!) was “GO BLUE!”, but none know the Tigers really even exist. But here comes that confusion again, here comes that strange feeling that has plagued me lately, could this be the year they get to know you like I once did?

I am not even asking for you to make the playoffs here, just be in the damn race from start to finish, make it interesting, make it exciting, etc. Shit, finish at .500 or a little above, even in second place for goodness sakes, and this town will be hopping like you have never seen before. We all know you will have to win the Central to get in, that is all but a forgone conclusion. The Yankees/Red Sox divisional loser will get the Wild Card, at least it appears that way on paper as of right now. So make that push, don’t let me or the other fans down, I truly believe this could be a special year for you. Furthermore, with the NHL lockout in full swing, you have the opportunity to turn this town, again, into what it should have always remained – “Tiger Town”. I mean, I know you are owned by Illitch, who owns the Wings and all, but "Hockeytown"? Guys, come on, that never should have been allowed to happen. Here is your opportunity to seize the moment, erase that stupid nickname and give this baseball town its true roots back, not the NHL, but the MLB.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a brief thought and again I will bring up my children. The nearly 20 seasons of garbage baseball that this town has been stuck with has all but alienated an entire generation of youth, my generation, of baseball. I always said the Tigers were my favorite team, but never truly rooted for them because I knew it was a lost cause. I hoped you would do well, but always “adopted” a different team that was, you know, actually winning?!?! But with my kids, and all the kids in this area today, actually give them a chance to root for a winning baseball team that also happens to be in their hometown. Let them grow up with you, root for you, get to know you and come to love you like I once did. It is too late for me, the scars will always exist from these past 18 seasons of garbage baseball I have been forced to grow up with. But, at least with my kids, there is still hope they can grow up with you and enjoy watching you, not be embarrassed by it. For me, I can at least watch it all through their eyes, and maybe, even if for only a little while, feel like that seven year old back in 1984 again. Bless you boys!

Sincerely,
The Sports Dude.

Anonymous Evan said...

I am UNQUESTIONABLY more excited this year than I have been in quite a while for baseball. I always have a passing interest -- after all, it's the Tigers!

But man... Young, White, Ordonez, Pudge, Guillen... Inge and Infante are playing better... The beginnings of a bullpen that's going to make people afraid for once... I mean, who wants to sit there wondering, "Hey, is it Farnsworth or German who's going to blow 95 mph fastballs by me in the 6th or 7th?" And then to have Urbina and Percival late? Ha!

I mean, it's still the Tigers who lost a bunch of games last year. But they're good enough to be EXCITING -- and that's all that matters...for now.

And it's great to see that these guys are cool. They put this team together without having to find an Albert Belle-like jerk to be the centerpiece. All guys of pretty good reputation and character. Always a plus (requirement?) on a Detroit sports team.  

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Blogger the sports dude said...

Very true, there really doesn't seem to be a jerk in the locker room. I attribute that to Dombrowski for weeding out the asses (see Jeff Weaver) when he got there, as well as Tram and his entire staff. Are you going to be the one to mess with Gibby? The coaches all have a rep, and the players are the ones that have to answer to that rep the staff has.

Yes, there are a lot of intimidating arms in the bullpen and that is a nice luxury to have. If all goes right there is no reason why they can not be at .500 or better. They blew something like 19 saves I think last year, do you think Percival will even blow more than 5? Couple that with guys behind Percival - Urbina (for now), German, Farnsworth - there are legitimate people in the bullpen now, not just some arms that you hope "get it done". To me the biggest sign of improvement in the bullpen is Tram's desire to only keep 11 pitchers - they don't need that extra arm of "hope" anymore. Plus, they have extra arms to even just keep it at 11 - when was the last time the Tigers had too many pitchers for Christ sakes!?!?

The line up gets me excited as well - Inge, Guillen, Pudge, Maggs, Young, White, Monroe, Pena, Infante - everyone of those guys should hit double digit homers, a couple at least in the 20's, then the 30's and maybe even a couple in the 40's. If the starters can at least get it to the bullpen... man, am I excited!

Later!  

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Blogger Leelanau Sports Guy said...

Great post! Brings back alot of my own memories reading through yours.

I am also very excited about the Tigers and hope they can continue their climb to respectability.  

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Blogger billfer said...

Loved the post. I was just feeling the same way, especially after classic replayed Game 5 on Saturday.

Let' s hope they can do it  

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