To celebrate the start of the exhibition games, I will start to unveil the more “formal” features of spring training. A lot of this will be stuff that I originally published on the old site and republished last year, 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 (and I remain hopelessly optimistic that I’ve gained some new readers in the past year). In the past I’ve also posted the Tigers Amateur Analysis Glossary, followed by the Guide to Baseball Fashion, and then finally my season preview. However, I don’t really have anything to add to either of those (plus, the fashion guide is long and a pain in the ass to format), so this year I’m just going to link to last year’s edition. I’m still obviously going to do a 2011 season preview, which will probably be up about a week before Opening Day (But don’t hold me to that). And we’ll get things started with the Tigers Amateur Analysis FAQ…
Q: Okay, so who 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 27 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 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: This has kind of changed meaning over the years, to the point where it’s almost taken on a kind of tongue-in-cheek feel (In recent weeks, I briefly flirted with the idea of changing the blog’s name to “The Ghost of Armando Galarraga,” just because that sounded cool, but I ultimately decided against it because no one would be able to spell it). When I first started blogging the Tigers, I was far from an expert when it came to the subject of baseball. I mean, I knew enough to enjoy it and to be able to figure out what was going on most of the time, but a lot of the details escaped me. 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. I’ve also gotten a lot 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. My posts have gotten more “professional” in the past couple years (Seriously, the stuff I wrote in early 2007 is terrifyingly bad). One thing you probably never will see on this site are a lot of sabremetrics. I know what some of them mean or are supposed to indicate, but they remain numbers that I can’t visualize. I do regard them as valid stats, but I don’t think they tell the whole story because, well, these are human beings we’re talking about and to think that psychology doesn’t play a role is kind of foolhardy (The Tigers have an excellent example of how psychology can play into things in Magglio Ordoñez. Remember 2009?). And in a way, I find them to be dehumanizing and they take all the drama out of the game. So probably the most “advanced” stat you’ll see me write about is on-base percentage. 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 seven, all of them at Comerica Park, and all of them in the last four years (August 3, 2007 against the White Sox, August 6, 2007 against the Rays, August 9, 2008 against the Athletics, August 15, 2009 against the Royals, June 13, 2010 against the Pirates, July 3, 2010 against the Mariners, and August 21, 2010 against the Indians). I’ve also been to five Mud Hens games. I would dearly love to go to more games, but being a college student doesn’t exactly lend to a big cash flow (However, this year I will be on a clinical rotation in California in September, working with the pharmacy that does the prescriptions for the Oakland A’s, so there’s an opportunity there). I am planning on going to more games this season, and you already know that I’ll be in Lakeland soon.
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 also didn’t walk a lot and did a lot of first-pitch swinging). I do remember hitting a lot of ground balls to second base. 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 27-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 55-60 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 a few 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 15 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 AL East, 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 five years ago). Essentially, in my experience, the Tigers sucked until 2006.
Q: Have you met any players?
A: I haven’t met any players at Tigers games, but I have met several Mud Hens that have since joined (or re-joined) the Tigers, including Rick Porcello, Casper Wells, and Robbie Weinhardt (and I have the autographs to prove it; I actually made Porcello blush by telling him he’d pitched well the night before). I have an autographed baseball from my trip to Tiger Stadium in eighth grade, and after a little research on baseball-reference.com 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 former co-worker of mine. 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 pitched briefly for the Seattle Mariners in 2008 and is currently a non-roster invitee for the Pirates (he also saw a little big league time with the Pirates last year). 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 (My best friend and I have tried a little bit, but our timing sucks and we always come up empty). 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 am glad he’s set to stay with the Tigers for foreseeable future. Verlander was, until 2008, 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 seems to be quietly fading away with the Washington Nationals. 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” (after all, I am going to see a Nationals game while I’m at spring training), 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: There’s quite a gap between Verlander and the rest of the Tigers, but my top four are Justin (reasons already stated), Maggs (sentimental value), Inge (heart of the team), and Cabrera (very entertaining as long as he’s sober). Those are the only ones I bother to rank. And just to be clear, players rarely, if ever, “fall” in my standings. The only ways my rankings change are if one of them gets traded/leaves or someone else comes to the team that I like better. And of course, until very recently I had Armando Galarraga in there between Maggs and Inge. I’m not going to get into the whole reasoning behind that again because there’s no point (if you’re curious, feel free to read a few of my posts from January; I sum it up fairly well there), but again, it was a loss I sensed coming since the end of last season, but it was almost as crushing as when Pudge was traded away, and obviously since it happened recently, I’m still kind of in the grieving process.
Q: Are there any other teams in particular that you strongly like or dislike?
A: My favorite National League team is probably the Dodgers. I also routinely root for the Marlins and Rockies in the NL. Other American League teams that I generally like include the Rangers and Rays. I’m one of the few Tigers fans who don’t hate the Yankees. The Yankees and I peacefully co-exist (possibly because players I like keep getting traded there) 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, the vast majority of my pharmacy class consists of Indians fans). I’m also not crazy about the Boston Red Sox. 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. The difference is that the Yankees kind of accept what they are (and as a matter of fact I think some of them actually kind of enjoy the “Evil Empire” persona), while the Red Sox (and Twins and Phillies, for that matter) want you to think they’re this loveable, scrappy underdog team and that drives me crazy.
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. 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 (or, taking it a step further, I’d like to point out that they weren’t banned at all for a long time). 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?
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. Oh, by the way, I, like every other blogger, like to use cutesy titles for my game recaps, and if I repeat one from last year, it’s unintentional. It’s hard enough to come up with 162 different titles in the first place, but I’m not going to remember all of them a year later and I’m not gonna go looking. 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 a pharmacist that I used to work with (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. And you’ll oftentimes find me in the comments section over at Bless You Boys under the name SabreRoseTiger (which is also my Twitter account, if you want to follow me there).