Just how good can they be?
By Ken DeLaat
“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for Spring.”- Rogers Hornsby
Thursday is a big day.
Yes, we know it’s St Patrick's Day, a day when bars across the country are filled with Hibernian wannabees quaffing green beer and possibly diving into some corned beef and cabbage or Irish Stew with soda bread.
But it’s also when baseball begins Spring Training games (Tigers start Friday)and the looming stoppage of play that threatened to extend for weeks into the season has been settled.
And while others may have long been turned off by the bickering between millionaires and billionaires I for one am just glad they will be playing again.
Because I truly believe (naive as I might be) that the Tigers are going to be a much improved product. A team perhaps on the very cusp of being really good, as in contender good.
The talent of their youthful pitching, bringing in a solid starting catcher, signing a shortstop who is adept at going yard, signing a front line pitcher and the possibility of seeing whether Greene, Torkelson and Clemens can bring their impressive Triple-A stats to a major league level combine to give me hope.
It reminds me how after several ‘rebuilding years’ that earmarked the end of the last century and the first few years of this one, the team got serious about winning.
In ‘03 they came a game away from tying the New York Mets record for most losses in a season when they came up short no fewer than 119 times.
Three years later they were in the World Series after they somehow talked Pudge Rodriguez to bring his substantial skills to the Park in ‘04 thus giving them credibility enough to recruit Magglio Ordonez the following year. They had already traded for Carlos Guillen. Then they promoted a raw but talented Justin Verlander and brought in veteran pitcher Kenny Rogers.
And in ‘06 they got in as a wild card, took out the Yankees and A’s and made it to the Series only to lose to the longtime NL rival Cardinals.
Three years ago the Tigers lost 114 games.
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