Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Detroit Tigers Are Just Not Fun To Watch

It probably does not come as a shock that I consider myself a Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers fan first and foremost (I do write a Detroit Tigers blog for after all). Don't get me wrong, I love all the Detroit and Michigan sports teams, and choosing between them isn't easy, but if I had to choose, I'd put football and baseball just a bit ahead of hockey and basketball. Just a bit. So I have watched at least 100 Detroit Tigers game a year the past, oh I don't know, the past seven or eight years. It certainly was not a new phenomenon when the Tigers got good three seasons ago. God knows I watched a lot of bad baseball, but throughout high school and undergrad, if I was home, I was watching the Tigers every night during the summer.

This season though, I haven't watched nearly as many games as I have in the past. And it's not because I'm working and am not home and it's not even that I'm watching the Wings and Pistons playoff runs instead (although I am, and certainly I have seen a considerable up-tic in my MSNBC-watching as compared to past years, but with my Slingbox, I could be watching the Tigers at the same time if I really wanted). It's just the Detroit Tigers are not fun to watch, in a way that even the embarrassing and laughable 2004 team did not turn me off as a fan. When the Tigers were the doormat of Major League Baseball, in a strange way, it was okay, because, they weren't even trying. But this season, with expectations high, and excitement palpable because of the trades for Edgar Renteria and Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, for the Tigers to be the worst team in baseball through just over 40 games (or second worse team in baseball to be completely fair) is beyond appalling.

Take tonight's great effort (sarcasm intended) against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Fresh off yet another sweep by the Kansas City Royals, the Tigers started interleague play, and most nights, Dan Haren versus Jeremy Bonderman, I'm in. Instead though, I fell asleep on my couch and made no real effort to make sure I was awake for the 9:40 first pitch. When I did awake from my slumber, I turned on the game. And what did I see almost immediately upon waking up? Carlos Guillen committing yet another costly error at third base, this time throwing what should have been the third out of the seventh inning into the dirt, and allowing what would be the winning run to score. I quickly learned the Detroit Tigers had given up three runs in the seventh, blowing a 3-1 lead (and Jeremy Bonderman's best performance of the year) and they never recovered. Guillen's making a habit of committing game changing errors at third base, a position he was moved to only because he couldn't learn how to play first base, and the Tigers $157 million man, Miguel Cabrera, couldn't play third anymore.

Honestly, the way this season has gone, blowing tonight's game was not a surprise. Every game, you almost just wait for the team to blow it somehow. The team is just not fun to watch. And that's so disappointing given how excited I was and frankly everyone was heading into this season. I don't know what the Tigers can do to turn their season around, but another lineup shakeup is in order. Brandon Inge, almost by default, is going to have be named the everyday third baseman at some point in the near future, and Carlos Guillen is going to have to become the everyday DH. And if Gary Sheffield isn't healthy enough to play the outfield, maybe he needs to sit out. But the Tigers must do something to improve their porous defense. How many games can Jim Leyland let his defense blow while having a potential Gold Glove third baseman sit on his bench? I don't care that Inge can't hit. Neither can most of the other Tigers right now. So at least Inge will provide you a dependable glove at third base.

I wrote over a month ago that the Detroit Tigers slow start wasn't cute anymore. Now, it's simply unacceptable. And while we as Detroit Sports fans can tolerate it for a bit longer because of the great runs the Red Wings and Pistons are on which are taking up most of our attention at the moment, soon the spotlight will be solely on Comerica Park and the Detroit Tigers. And if the Tigers cannot figure out what's wrong with their team, it might just be too bright for some in the Tigers lineup or coaching staff to survive.

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