As you might tell from my blog, I am a big sports enthusiast. I participate in almost all sports, and follow many closely. One of my loves are the Detroit Tigers and the great game of baseball. Here in Serbia there is one nice baseball diamond on Ada Ciganlija and I have seen a team practicing. I am not sure the extant of Serbs that understand and play the game. I grew up playing and watching a lot of baseball, and later on I coached Little League baseball teams. I am teaching my sons the game and hope to get them to play a bit in this summer. My eldest son Owen is a left hander, and I am already working on his pitching. He is my retirement plan.
Joking aside, the purpose of this blog post is to give my thoughts on my favorite Major League baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. My mother was a fanatical Tigers fan and that is where I get my enthusiasm for following them. In the MLB, every team plays 162 games a season, so it is an everyday rhythm that one needs to follow a team. Unlike other professional US sports, there are no salary caps for teams, so the payrolls for the teams are very unequal. Luckily, the Tigers have the sixth highest payroll out of the 30 teams in the league, but with $122 million, they are still far behind the $206 million of the NY Yankees. Now I know that payrolls don’t necessary determine winners, but it helps to have enough money to get and keep good players.
The Tigers are currently 1.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central division. They lost to the Twins last year in a one-game playoff after both teams finished with identical records after 162 games. The Tigers are on a better pace than last year, and after 48 games this season so far, they are on pace to win 93 games, 7 more than last year. I predict they will win their division this season. Let me tell you why.
They lost a couple of good players to free agency. Two All-Stars, Placido Palanco (Phillies) and Curtis Granderson (Yankees) left for higher salaries. I was concerned in the off season as I really liked these two players. But, they did get Austin Jackson from the Yankees and he is turning out to be just as good as Granderson, and maybe even better. They also have an MVP candidate in Miguel Cabrera, who after a drunken meltdown at the end of last season, is putting up monster numbers this year. Add Johnny Damon from the Yankees and a comeback year from Magglio Ordonez, and the Tigers have more batting power than last season. They also got unknown rookie, Brennan Boesch, who has been very impressive in his debut season.
The pitching has started off shaky, but shows signs of coming around. They always have Cy Young Candidate Justin Verlander, one of the top pitchers in baseball. Rick Porcello will also be a great pitcher. Behind the big two, if they can get a comeback year from Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis, they will be tough to beat in the playoffs. One addition that will also help, is that of closer Jose Valverde, who they got from the Houston Astros. He is a huge upgrade from Fernando Rodney, who blew so many save opportunities.
The team also has some good chemistry, with Damon leading the way and improved attitudes of the Venezuelans. I am really keen on this team and hope they can overcome the Twins and make the playoffs. It will be fun following the Tigers all season long! I bought the MLB.com radio package so I listen to some of the games and always watch the highlights of each game.