Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Tigers Amateur Analysis FAQ

Okay, I’ve hinted at it for the past couple weeks, but now come the more “formal” features of Spring Training. A lot of this will be stuff that I originally published on the Xanga site, but I’ve worked on getting everything updated, so there will be some new stuff as well for those of you who have read them before. I will post these features intermittently, culminating in my 2009 preview, which will probably be up about a week before Opening Day. And we’ll get things started with the Tigers Amateur Analysis FAQ…

Q: Okay, so who the hell are you, anyway?

A: Most of you already know me to some degree, but for those of you that don’t: My name is Erin, I am 25 years old, and I live near Toledo (home to the Triple-A affiliate Toledo Mud Hens and the hometown of Katie Holmes, Jamie Farr, Jim Leyland, and, unfortunately, Joe the Plumber). I am currently a pharmacy student at the University of Toledo, and I work as a pharmacy intern. I’ve been a lifelong Tigers fan, carrying on the family tradition (both my grandpas and my dad root for the Tigers as well; my grandpa on my mom’s side was especially enthusiastic, but unfortunately, he never got to a game, so I’ve made a resolution to take a picture of him with me to any game I go to). My other hobbies include movies (in fact, there is nothing I’d rather do than edit movies), playing computer games, reading, and fencing. I also speak four languages (to varying degrees) and am very, very ADHD, so watch out.

Q: Why is this called the Tigers Amateur Analysis (formerly Total Amateur Analysis)?

A: Isn’t it obvious? I’m far from an expert when it comes to the subject of baseball. I mean, I know enough to enjoy it and to be able to figure out what’s going on most of the time, but a lot of the details escape me. Granted, I’ve gotten a lot better in the past couple years. I no longer capitalize “grand slam” and I am aware that the Montreal Expos are now the Washington Nationals (and by the way, I’m even more clueless when it comes to the National League). I’m also getting better when it comes to players’ names. Prior to 2006, the only Tiger on the current roster that I’d ever heard of was Kenny Rogers. And as for the rest of baseball, well, I knew Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, and about three or four other guys, but that’s about it. While the NL still mostly remains a mystery to me in that department (with the exception of the Florida Marlins), I’ve gotten a lot better with the AL. At any rate, it does make this blog different from Those Who Know More Than Me, and it’s kind of fun seeing how much singular devotion and gut instinct matches with real expert analysis.

Q: How many games have you been to?

A: Exactly three, all of them at Comerica Park, and all of them in the last two years (August 3, 2007 against the White Sox, August 6, 2007 against the Rays, and August 9, 2008 against the Athletics). I’ve also been to one Mud Hens game. I would dearly love to go to more games this season, but I’m not sure how feasible that is. It’s becoming kind of a tradition that my dad takes me to one game for my birthday, but with the economy being the way it is right now, it’s a little bit dicey this year.

Q: So, have you ever actually played?

A: Short answer, no. Long answer, probably not. I’ve never played on a bona fide team, but in middle school and high school, we normally played about six weeks’ worth of softball in gym class. It was rather crude, though. I remember playing a lot of first base in middle school (first base was my favorite position at the time, likely because Cecil Fielder was my favorite player). In high school, I tended to play third base most of the time, but there were never very many balls hit in my direction. From an offensive standpoint, I don’t recall getting a lot of hits, but I was really good at moving runners over and getting them in cuz I didn’t strike out very often and the kids in my class couldn’t turn a double play if their lives depended on it. I do remember hitting a lot of ground balls to second base. I must’ve been out in front or something. In case you were wondering, I bat and throw right-handed. If I were to play now, I’d probably catch (I have the body for it, plus my legs are still strong from fencing). And I’d be interested in playing in some sort of summer adult recreational league, but I’m not sure if anyone would take a 25-year-old with a good deal of raw strength but not a lot of athletic conditioning. For what it’s worth, I can throw a softball about 60 feet with regularity.

Q: Hey, remember back in the day…?

A: Actually, no. I don’t. I’m not one of those people who get all teary-eyed and sentimental about Tiger Stadium and Ernie Harwell, because…well…I can’t. The only memories I have of Ernie Harwell are of those couple games that he filled in for Rod Allen two years ago, as well as the occasional appearance with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, or on the radio. I have been to Tiger Stadium once, but I don’t remember it all that well, cuz it was about 10 years ago. Our eighth grade field trip was to a Tigers game against the Baltimore Orioles. Long story short, the game was postponed cuz it wouldn’t stop raining, and had I not been sitting in our class’s section when the announcement was made, I would’ve been able to get Cal Ripken’s autograph. Yeah, I might be a tad bitter about that. Other than that, I watched the occasional game on TV, especially when I was about 10 or 11 years old, cuz I always watched the after-school cartoons on FOX (Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and-yes-Power Rangers), and every once in a while they would show a Tigers game instead. Since my grandparents didn’t have cable, and since I didn’t want to watch Oprah or soap operas, I’d go ahead and watch the game. However, I really don’t remember those games. I have brief flashes and images in my mind. I remember watching Cecil Fielder, and I have some fuzzy and not-at-all concrete memories of one game in particular. I’m pretty sure that it was a home game (at Tiger Stadium) and for some reason, my gut’s telling me it was against either the Toronto Blue Jays or the Texas Rangers (and yes, if it was Texas, the irony does not escape me, and in fact, for sentimentality, I’m kind of hoping it was Texas). But I couldn’t tell you anything about the score or what year it was (sometime between 1993 and 1997 is my guess) or about who played in it. I’m pretty sure that the Tigers were still in the East Division, though. You also have to remember that I was a year old the last time the Tigers won the World Series, and I was only ten in 1993 (the last time they had a winning record prior to two years ago). Essentially, in my experience, the Tigers sucked until 2006.

Q: Have you met any players?

A: None of the current Tigers. I have an autographed baseball from my trip to Tiger Stadium in eighth grade, and after a little research on and Google image search, I have determined that it was signed by Justin Thompson and Omar Olivares (I don’t know who they are either, but the ball also has Paws’s autograph, for what it’s worth). I met Gates Brown at one of the games I went to in ‘07, and I have his autograph. As far as other players are concerned, I met Ron Rightnowar (formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers, and the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question about who was the first replacement player after the strike of ’94) when I was in seventh grade. He was a friend of my seventh grade Language Arts teacher, and he is also the uncle of a girl who used to work at the pharmacy (until she graduated). He is currently the baseball coach for Toledo Christian. Also, there is a guy I went to high school with briefly (he transferred after his junior year) who is a lefty specialist for the Seattle Mariners. He likely wouldn’t remember me, but he might remember my mom, who was his art teacher. If I do make it to more games this year, I’d like to do a lot more dugout-stalking (Laura and I tried a little bit in ‘07, but our timing sucked and we came up empty; it was raining when we got to the ballpark last year, so we didn’t try). My problem is that I am desperate to come up with something intelligent to say whenever I meet someone famous, but for the life of me, I can’t think of anything, and when the time comes, I tend to clam up and I can barely speak at all. Plus, with baseball players, I have the added complication of wondering whether or not to talk to the Latin players in Spanish. I haven’t decided whether it would be nice, cheesy, or condescending.

Q: Who is your favorite Tiger?

A: I absolutely love Justin Verlander. He is so awesome to watch when he is on his game, and I hope he’ll be able to return to form in ’09. Verlander was, until recently, my second-favorite until circumstances beyond my control bumped him up a notch. My favorite Tiger had been Pudge Rodriguez, and even though I smelled that trade coming a mile away, it still sucked (adding to the suckiness was the fact that I found out about it while I was at work and that it happened only ten days before the game I went to). Pudge remains my favorite player, even though he is nearing the end of his career and right now does not have a team to play for. I know he’s somewhat controversial (not to mention he’s got an ego the size of Texas), but he was the only big name willing to play in Detroit back in 2004, and I really think that’s what jump-started the whole thing. They wouldn’t have made it to the World Series without him. Plus, I kind of have a thing for catchers (probably cuz they’re supposed to be the brains of the operation). And the great thing about catchers is that even when they move on, you can make a strong case that their influence is still there as long as there are still guys who are still there, especially young pitchers. At any rate, as the season goes on, I may discuss Pudge frequently, occasionally, or never. I’ll try to aim for “occasionally,” or more specifically, “where appropriate,” but we’ll see. By the way, the drawback to have a starting pitcher as your favorite is that when you only go to one game a year, you’ve only got a one-in-five chance of seeing him.

Q: What other Tigers do you like?

A: As a result of everyone being bumped up a notch last August, Magglio Ordoñez is now my second-favorite, which sets myself up for more trade deadline suckiness should the Tigers not contend in the first half (but let’s hope the whole issue is skirted by, well, contending, okay?). Pudge, Verlander, and Maggs were previously the only ones I bothered to rank, but for the sake of completeness I’ll say that Curtis Granderson rounds out my top three.

Q: Are there any other teams in particular that you strongly like or dislike?

A: Believe it or not, I actually like the Yankees. I think that’s mostly cuz I like the city of New York, but regardless of the reason, they’re probably my second favorite team. I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the National League, but I kinda grew fond of the Florida Marlins while I was watching archived games on to “scout” Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis last year. I mean, I know they’re not really a good team, but there’s this certain scrappy quality to them that I find endearing. I’ll also generally root for the Dodgers (despite Manny Ramirez, though to his credit, he DID behave himself there last year, although he’s being an idiot about it now), and the Rays were a great story last year. As far as teams I don’t like, well, I used to really hate the Atlanta Braves, but for some reason I’ve kinda mellowed that over the past ten years or so. I don’t like Cleveland, cuz, well, they’re the chief rival and their fans drive me nuts (and believe me, there’s a fairly large number of them here in the Toledo area; in fact, half my Spanish class last year consisted of Indians fans). I’m also not crazy about the Boston Red Sox (though I do kinda like the “bullpen band” that they had going during the playoffs last year). What I don’t get about the Red Sox is this: When did they suddenly become regarded as the “America’s Sweetheart” of teams? They have almost as big a payroll as the Yankees and they can be just as dominant as the Yankees. So why are the Yankees the Evil Empire and the Red Sox the Valiant Heroes?

Q: What about other sports?

A: I’m an Olympics junkie. I will watch almost any event that comes on during the Olympics. Obviously, this will not really affect my coverage of the Tigers until 2012, since the 2010 Winter Olympics are in February (I think). As far as more regular sporting events are concerned, well, I’m a lot more sporadic. I watch the Super Bowl every year and I’ll occasionally watch other football games here and there, but I don’t have a favorite team. I just pick a team to root for on a game-by-game basis. Generally, I’ll root for the Steelers, Cowboys (which was my favorite team when I was a kid), Giants, and any of the teams with “cat” names (although rooting for the Lions or Bengals is kind of a lost cause right now). I really dislike the Packers, Browns, and Ravens. Oddly enough, I don’t watch hockey at all but I do have a favorite team (Go Red Wings!). I do not watch professional basketball at all, nor do I have a favorite team. As far as college sports go, well, a lot of you are gonna hate me for this, but I happen to be that rare breed of person who roots for the Tigers AND Ohio State (this is apparently offset by my co-worker’s sister, who is both an Indians fan and a Michigan fan). I do not watch a lot of college sports, though. I will watch the Ohio State-Michigan game and whichever bowl game Ohio State happens to be in, but that’s it. I will watch college basketball during March Madness, but only because I like filling out those brackets, even though I know nothing about the teams involved. Hey, the first year I filled them out (senior year of high school), I pretty much made arbitrary picks and I ended up being right on all the first-round games except one.

Q: Steroids suck, don’t they?

A: Yes, they do, because I’d much rather talk about other things. As a sports fan and future healthcare professional, I absolutely do not condone the use of steroids. They’re not fair play and they’ll do serious damage to your body if they’re used in that manner. However, since my favorite player has been implicated in this whole steroid mess (though, contrary to popular belief, he was NOT named in the Mitchell Report), and yet remains my favorite player, I do not feel that I have the right to be morally outraged about it. To do so would be hypocritical. Still, I’m not sure what they thought would happen when steroids were banned without any means of testing or enforcing. It’d be like cops not giving out speeding tickets. Main Street would look like the Autobahn. However, does anyone else find it strange that it seems like the vast majority of the suspected steroid users played for either the Texas Rangers or the Oakland Athletics (or both) at some point during their careers? What’s up with that? As far as A-Rod goes, well, he never played for the Tigers, so I really don’t care. I’ve always thought of him mostly as someone that a Tigers pitcher needs to get out. Now, he’s a chemically-enhanced person that the Tigers’ pitchers STILL need to get out. And it’s not like A-Rod was particularly beloved before this revelation anyways. Yankees fans hated him because he didn’t do much in the postseason. Everyone else hated him because he played for the Yankees. They’ve just got more ammo, now. Still, now that A-Rod can’t “save” the all-time home run marker from taint, well, what do you make of Albert Pujols’s chances?

Q: Anything else I should know about?

A: Well, there’s probably several things, but I can’t think of all of them right now. The principal thing is that I’m a filmmaker/editor at heart, and as a result, I see baseball seasons as movies more than anything else (hey, once I found the drama in it, I was hooked). Many people in this world have problems with seeing fantasy and thinking it’s reality. I’m just the opposite. A lot of the time I forget that the players are real people and I just think of them as characters. I’m not sure what effect that has on this blog, but now you know. Also, I rarely utilize the venomous tone that sometimes characterizes other blogs. I will get sarcastic, but that’s about it. And that probably has something to do with the fact that my mentality is different from most fans. Most fans have a “replace it” mentality. I have a “fix it” mentality. I’ll use one of the pharmacists (who happens to be a Tigers fan) as an example. If there is a player on the team who is struggling, his first thought is, “Who do we replace him with?” My first thought is, “How do we get him right again?” The only times I’ll break with that is if a player has never shown me anything in the first place and pretty much sucks from day one (**Farnsworth**), or if a player’s struggles go on for a really long period of time (and even then, my thoughts will usually turn to hypothesizing that said player is either hurt or could use some time in the minors, not towards trading or releasing them, though they may eventually end up there if the struggles continue even further). At any rate, you’ll probably pick up on that tone fairly quickly.

Next Time: The Total Amateur Analysis Glossary. Find out what the hell I mean when I talk about the Reyes Effect, the Milestone Curse, or Umpires on Crack.

No comments:

Post a Comment