Grass-Clippings, Transistor Radios & Ernie Harwell – Summer Memories of Tiger Baseball

“On summer nights, before anyone had air-conditioning,” recollects my friend Tony Shaieb, “you could walk down the street and listen to Ernie Harwell call the entire ball game through the open windows.” Tony’s memories are quite a bit more romantic than the eerie bluish-glow from my neighborhood’s 60″ plasmas tuned to Fox Sports Detroit My wife and I were taking the dog for a walk last night and I had a similar flashback to the legendary Tigers broadcaster. A few of my more enthusiastic neighbors who foolishly believe in fertilizer found themselves already mowing the young grass—and what better time to run the Toro than 8:30 pm?  (When our kids were toddlers, our considerate neighbor Thad would wait another 90 minutes before he’d begin.) A breeze blew to me the perfume of lawn-harvest and gasoline fumes. Despite my allergies I was in heaven– I only needed a tall thick Pepsi bottle and my dad’s transistor to… Read More…

Meet Your 2015 Detroit Tigers

As a displaced Detroit Tiger fan in New England and more specifically right on the Mason Dixon line of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, I need the Tigers to desperately win a World Series championship. The Red Sox have won three championships in ten years and the Yankees won in 2009 and have won 27 of them. I’m starting to need Marty McFly’s time machine to get me back to even remembering 1984. There’s been much angst with fans about our new manager, Brad Ausmus, and how he managed the worst bullpen in baseball. And there’s been the same angst towards Dave Dombrowski, our General Manager, who failed to solve the bullpen problem that prevented the 2013 Tigers from advancing (and causing me much pain and suffering in New England losing to the Red Sox). Some of the criticism is correct and some is displaced. This is a Tigers’ team that… Read More…

Defining the 2014 Detroit Tigers’ Regular Season

Perspective Somewhere amid Derek Jeter’s fourth or fifth finale on Sunday afternoon, John Farrell spent most of his time faking a smile, trying to be a part of all the pomp and circumstance as another baseball season came to a close. In many ways, the season for Farrell and his Red Sox ended months ago. No doubt the sting hurt more on Sunday, as mathematical elimination and inevitable closure became a physical reality as the sun finally set on Fenway Park, its home players and Beantown’s most faithful. I imagine John Farrell muttering about in his mind of what went wrong; surveying the field on the last day of the season, questioning and second guessing every decision and asking himself how the Red Sox went from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel. He’s been there before, looking up from the basement as the manager of Blue Jays…. Read More…

MLB Strikes Big with Snapchat. What’s on Deck?

Can Snapchat make baseball more relevant to Millennials? Major League Baseball’s marketing team sure hopes so. The league, stuck in a rut of plummeting ratings and ever-increasing apathy among younger audiences, is counting on the trendy social application to stop the bleeding. Or at least slow it down. The league announced in February that it would incorporate Snapchat into its social strategy, and so far it’s delivered on that promise. MLB and some of its teams have embraced the platform as a new way to engage fans and humanize its players. While MLB isn’t new to the social space – the league has nearly 9 million combined fans on Facebook and Twitter – its use of Snapchat is somewhat surprising. The league is painfully slow at adapting to social and technological paradigms (it didn’t even implement instant replay until 2014), so embracing an app that’s still in its nascent stages qualifies as a… Read More…

Old Passions in New Hands: The Ausmus-Abrams Effect on the Tigers and Star Wars

Opening Day has always been much more than the start of a new baseball season. For the players and teams, it marks a new opportunity. For some, it is a chance to put physical or statistical shortcomings behind them. For others, it’s finding someway to harness past success and release it in time for a brand new campaign. And for many, it’s the first taste of playing in front of the tall buildings. From the fan perspective, Opening Day is a celebration of the past, and a time to party and look towards the possibilities of the future. Who will surprise? Who will disappoint? Is our team destined for play in October? Here in Detroit, I don’t think there’s been a more intriguing Opening Day than this year’s in 2014. Considering what Jim Leyland did here in his eight seasons of managing and considering what he didn’t accomplish, Brad Ausmus… Read More…

Yom Kippur: Judaism’s All-Star Break

I don’t really consider myself a very religious person, but I do celebrate the Jewish holidays and participate as much as I can because, while I may not be religious, I frequently find myself digging spiritual concepts and spiritual philosophy, and I use Judaism, sports, film and music as avenues to tap into that vague spirituality. It could be The Muppets or Maimonides. Everything from “There is no spoon” to “Luminous beings are we” to “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” Or, even baseball.  That’s why I love Judaism. I find that—perhaps more than other religions—Judaism is celebrated and practiced in so many different ways, that there’s something for everyone. Especially given the religion’s history and what its people have been through, Judaism has transformed into a variety of vehicles traveling down the same road. In my case, I’m constantly trying to find new ways to experience… Read More…

The Great American Ballpark Tour – Any Man’s Dream

It all started four weeks ago as I watched it pour rain here in Connecticut and track the storms on the radar. I had a Friday night without the kids and desperately wanted to go to Yankee Stadium to see my Tigers take on the Yankees. It’s a trek down to the city, especially Friday rush hour. But some great tickets came through and I realized that I was on the brink of man greatness – four ballparks in four weeks! When I told some of my married friends they claimed that married men across America were building statues of me.   2:30 rolled around that Friday and I looked at my friend, Jason, at work and told him “you have 10 minutes to decide whether or not you want to go to Yankee Stadium with me or not”. He jumped at the opportunity and off we went on week… Read More…

The Anatomy of a Great Game

  As I write this, my favorite baseball team won their 12th straight game and 4th straight against their division rivals 10-3. Our ace went 7 strong innings to win his 17th of the year. The 3rd and 5th hitters in the lineup had 3 RBI each. And we taxed their bullpen so much, that they had to bring in their utility player in in the 9th inning to pitch. All that and yet—the excitement, fun and thrills didn’t come close to the game that preceded it.  On August 7th, 2013, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians fans were treated to what was absolutely the most exciting game of the year. Yes, Indians fans too, even though they were on the losing end. The August 7th match was one of those games that comes around once or twice a year, and goes the way of a team like the Tigers, who… Read More…