Tiger Town

Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers who reached the World Series yesterday. To add icing to the cake, they swept the New York Yankees to do it. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to get there. Now I’m pulling for the Giants to come back against Cardinals because I think the Tigers match up better against them. Either way I’m looking forward to watching the games with my kids. And I'm jealous of my brother who lives in Michigan. It's probably a lot funner when everyone is excited about a Tigers playing in the World Series. Here? Not that big of a deal.

Go Tigers! Enjoy the highlights of their last game below.

Tiger Town

My youngest brother is in the middle of his first semester of law school at Michigan State University. Since he and his wife moved there in August it’s been interesting to hear him talk about how many people are excited about the Detroit Tigers. For example, the bus driver is always talking about their latest game when he boards her bus every morning and his law school classmates will stop their late night studies to watch a couple of innings here and there. According to my brother, the energy level has only gone up exponentially since the Tigers made the postseason. Since Tiger fans are a rare breed in Utah, I’m envious that my brother gets to experience that communal sports delight.

No doubt the energy levels been tamped down somewhat since the Tigers season came to an ignominious end at the hands of the Texas Rangers tonight, they made it farther than anyone thought they would back in April. And Tigers did knock the Yankees out of the post season and that alone made their trip to the postseason worth it. Besides, my brother says the bus driver and his law school friends won’t be down in the dumps for long. The Detroit Lions who are off to their first 5-0 start in over 50 years and everyone’s excited about that too. Here’s to hoping the rest of the Lions’ season will give sports fans in Michigan something to cheer about all the way ‘till February.

Handling Setbacks with Class

Last week a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce cost the Detroit Tigers Armando Galarraga a perfect game—one of the rarest feats in baseball. (See video above.)

As a lifelong Tigers fan, I’m used to seeing my team end up on the wrong side of history. (Two other Tiger pitchers have lost perfect games with two outs in the ninth.) But I have to admire the way Galarraga and the Tigers handled the situation.

There could have been long-winded, obscenity-filled rants at the post-game press conference, an appeal to Major League Baseball to overturn the decision, and diatribes about the need for instant replay in baseball to make the games “fair.”

But there wasn’t any of that. At least not from Galarraga and the Tigers organization.

After the game Joyce watched the replay and admitted his mistake and apologized to Galarraga. Galarraga accepted his apology and shook his hand. The next night Galarraga was treated to a standing ovation. Joyce umpired from behind the plate. The Tigers won. Life went on.

In a world full of people who rant and rave when life doesn’t turn out the way they want it to, Galarraga’s reaction was very refreshing.

We live in a harsh, unforgiving world. Life is rarely fair. We work hard and devote our lives to building up families, businesses, and dreams only to “watch the things you gave your life to broken” by our own mistakes or the actions of others. What’s important is how we react to life’s setbacks. Do we complain and give up on our goals or shrug off the disappointment and “stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools”?

Armando Galarraga may have been robbed of his place in baseball’s history books, but his reaction to a very disappointing setback will always make him a class act in my book.

Boys and Baseball

While in Phoenix my friend Brent and I took his oldest boy and my two boys to a Diamondbacks/Tigers baseball game. Considering the ages of my boys (three and two) I was taking somewhat of a chance on whether or not they’d be able to sit through an entire game. A game typically lasts between two and a half and three hours and most of the actions takes place between the pitcher’s mound and the batter’s box – not exactly the most interesting thing to watch if you’re young, full of energy, and have a typical little boy attention span. Yet all three kids had fun time. And I really have to thank Brent who has done this enough times with his oldest boy that he knew exactly what to do to keep them occupied and entertained when they weren’t watching the game. Between learning how to shell peanuts, drinking root beer, watching the world’s largest HD television in center field, letting them take pictures with my digital camera (gulp!), looking at all the people in the stands, watching a few pitches each inning, and playing with each other they had a good time. Their favorite part of the game, however, was the 10 minute firework show at the end. (At least I know they’ll enjoy any fireworks shows I take them to this summer.)

As young as they are, a few years from now they probably won’t remember the game or the fact that Tigers lost a game they should have won. But seeing the smiles on their faces and how much fun they had, I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life.

I’m looking forward to taking them to more games in the future.

Where's Those Tigers At?

Has anyone seen those Tigers?Has anyone seen those cats? Here kitty, kitty, kitty Here kitty, kitty, kitty Where’s those Tigers at?

-- A mocking sports chant used when the opponent's mascot is a Tiger

***

$138 million doesn’t buy what it used to.

Just ask the Detroit Tigers.

In the old days it could buy enough stars to guarantee you a playoff spot, even if it didn’t come with a World Series title. The Yankees are proof of that.

Nowadays it can’t even buy you a victory.

The Tigers, who have the second highest payroll in baseball, are the only team without a win after being swept by the White Sox and lowly Royals in Detroit.

Their performance is utter disappointing and embarrassing even for Tigers fans who are generally accustomed to mediocrity.

And things don’t look much better for the struggling Tigers. Twelve of their next 14 games are on the road staring with a three games series against the Red Sox today. I can honestly see them coming back from the road swing and giving the 1988 Baltimore Orioles a run for their money. (The ’88 Orioles started the season 0-21.)

The only bright side of the Tiger's struggles is that there will probably be an abundance of available Tiger-Diamondback tickets when the family visits Phoenix next month.

~sighs~

Finally, A Vacation

Phoenix, Arizona

The phone call came like an answer to a prayer.

For several days Marathon Girl and I had been discussing when to take some time off and where to go on vacation. The phone rings. On the other end is my friend Brent.

Brent calls just to see how things are going and then mentions that the Tigers will be in town soon to play the Diamondbacks.

The Tigers are coming to Phoenix? I’m stunned. I looked at their schedule back in March and didn’t remember seeing that. I get online and discover that the Tigers do have three game series in Phoenix in mid-May.

Suddenly family vacation plans materialize. A trip to Phoenix to enjoy the company of friends, see their two kids, and squeeze in a Tigers baseball game.

And our trip would coincide with a wonderful event for Brent and his wife. The adoption of their second child is scheduled to be finalized that week and they have some fun things planned in celebration.

We’re still working out the details but it looks like the family heading to Phoenix sometime in mid-May.

Suddenly, I'm not so tired anymore.

Bless You Boys

Many thanks to Laura who was listening to a podcast, heard them mention a pretty cool blog on the Detroit Tigers, and sent me the link. Of course I'm dying to know what podcast she was listening to that would even mention that blog. (Laura: That's a hint to once again sign the guestbook.) 

Are you a closet Tiger fan Laura? Now that they've had two winning seasons in a row including a trip to the World Series, there's not as much stigma being associated with them. If you aren't ready to come out of the closet and admit your love for them publicly on my blog, just send me an email. :-)

Stupid Tigers

The Tigers' season is all but over. Should the Yankees beat the awful Devil Rays tonight, they'll clinch the AL wild card birth leaving the Tigers out of the post season. The Tigers had the best record at the All-Star Break. Then they sputtered, gave up leads, let lesser teams beat them down the stretch. In a way it's a blessing they aren't joining the post season because they aren't playing like the team that won the AL pennant last year. Instead they're playing like the team that gave the World Series to the Cardinals.

After years of losing seasons and awful performances, you'd think I'd be happy with the fact that the Tigers put together a winning season and are a team that could still contend for a post season birth next year.

While there is some consolation in those facts, I'd have an easier time living with their failure to make the playoffs if they hadn't given that spot to the Yankees.

Feels Like 2002 All Over Again

For the least six years I've subscribed to an email alert that sends me the latest Detroit Tigers games summary as soon as their game is over. For most of that time these email alerts were just kind of a way for me to keep in touch with the Tigers without reading about just how awful they were actually playing. Then last year everything changed. The Tigers, much to the surprise of everyone, became a contender in the American League and made it to the World Series. Instead of drudgery, these emails became my way to read about their latest success and savor the possibility of playoff run -- something I really hadn't experienced in over 15 years.

This year the Tigers entered the All-Star break as arguably the best team in baseball. They were hot and it looked like only the Red Sox might stand between them and a shot at another World Series.

Then something happened. The Tigers began to sputter. Their roar turned into a quiet meow. Since break they've gone an awful 18-27 and have only won one series against the lowly Twins. (They thankfully split a series with the hated Yankees this weekend.) They're now 2.5 games behind the Indians for the lead in the Central and 4 games behind the wildcard race.

Now those emails alerts have become drudgery. I open them waiting to read how the Tigers blew their latest game. It's like 2002 all over again.

Yet I still subscribe to those email blasts and probably always will. I'm still a Tiger fan no matter how awful they play.

I just wish those Tigers hadn't gotten my hopes up by playing so well the first half of this year.

I was just getting used to enjoying those emails.