Tigers’ Treatment of Sparky Descends from Sour Grapes to Bush League

Thumbs Down2.jpgI suppose it was inevitable that the Tigers would retire Sparky Anderson. The only question, at least in my mind, was whether it would happen before or after owner Mike Ilitch moved on to the next life.

Two months after Sparky’s death, todaythe Tigers announced they’ll retire his number 11 and wear a patch with the number all season.

I understand his passing happened after the season and there wasn’t much they could do, but couldn’t the Tigers have chosen another time — any other time — to honor (or at least announce their intention to honor) their winningest manager?

Here are just a few opportunities they wasted:

  • 1994: The 10th anniversary of the 1984 World Series championship
  • 2000: His induction in to the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • 2004: The 20th anniversary of the ’84 championship
  • 2005: Comerica Park All-Star Game festivities
  • 2006: Any time during the postseason
  • 2009: The 25th reunion event for the ’84 club, when it was clear that Sparky’s health was declining.

Yes, the fact the Tigers are honoring Sparky is a good thing — and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Dave Dombrowski that finally convinced Ilitch that the Great Sparky Schism needed to end.

But still, two months after his death? 18 months after the last, best opportunity?

Sorry.

“Better late than never” just doesn’t work for me in this instance.

News Galore on the Way Out the Door

It’s not often Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski gets loose and talks at length about the club’s plans, but on Sunday in Baltimore he did just that, breaking some news and confirming a few long-anticipated decisions:

  • Inge.jpgBrandon Inge gets offered an extension. As Ian wrote this summer, Inge is either loved or loathed in Detroit — with little in between. But I think even those of us who are frustrated by his lack of a strategy when he’s at the plate feel better about third base next season and maybe in 2012, too. In our recent Fungo Pulse Check, 79 percent of respondents (207 of 263 votes) preferred bringing back Inge over Jeremy Bonderman.

  • OrdonezHead.jpgMagglio Ordonez might be back. This isn’t a surprise. The Tigers aren’t picking up the $15 million option on Ordonez’s contract which means he’ll be a free agent, but the Tigers are open to re-signing him. I kept thinking that sentimental Mike Ilitch would tell Dombrowski to pick up the option for old time’s sake. I hope he comes back. If he does sign elsewhere — and you know Scott Boras is already firing up his hyperbole machine — I just pray that he doesn’t go back to the White Sox.

    Continue reading “News Galore on the Way Out the Door”

Tigers Today: July 20, 2010

EmbarrassedGuyXSmall.jpgTigers’ Record:

48-43, 2nd place; 2.5 GB Chicago

Today’s Game

Tigers vs. Rangers | 7:05 p.m. ET – Comerica Park | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Armando Galarraga (3-2, 4.45 ERA) vs. RHP Tommy Hunter (6-0, 2.39 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Rangers 8 – Tigers 6

Continue reading “Tigers Today: July 20, 2010”

D-Train DFA’d: The D Stands for Disappointing

Wow.

So that’s how the Dontrelle Willis Era ends in Detroit? With him being designated for assignment? Who thought he’d be the Tigers’ version of Brian Glynn*?
Dontrelle Willis.jpg

In my post from Saturday in which a I speculated about the fallout from Max Scherzer‘s recall, an anonymous commenter was stunned — to the point of calling me a dufus! — that I didn’t include Dontrelle in the list of possible roster moves. I suppose that’s fair.

But here are the two reasons why I thought the Tigers would stick with Willis come hell or high water:

Continue reading “D-Train DFA’d: The D Stands for Disappointing”

The Yin and Yang of Johnny Damon

BallBatGrass.jpgYahoo! Sports’ Steve Henson says Scott Boras — bagman for Johnny Damon — saved the Tigers’ season. Them’s fighting words.

[Tigers owner Mike Ilitch] whipped out his checkbook and, just like that, Damon became the Tigers’ left fielder for 2010.

Luckily for Dombrowski. And for manager Jim Leyland. Both are consummate pros with solid track records, but without Damon they were headed pell-mell for disaster.

Were the Tigers headed for disaster without Damon? No way; they’d have made some other move to steady the offense, but probably not as nifty a move as Damon.

Continue reading “The Yin and Yang of Johnny Damon”

Wednesday Walewanders: Just Barely

spaghetti.jpgThere are about 29 minutes left of Wednesday, so I can still file this collection of Tigers thoughts and make my self-imposed deadline.

  • Did you see that Hall of Famer and Detroit Stars centerfielder Norman “Turkey” Stearnes will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame on Friday? The article in the Nashville Tennessean begins with this anecdote:

    Norman “Turkey” Stearnes could work for Walter Briggs. He just couldn’t play for him.

    During the offseasons between leading the Negro League in home runsseven times, the Nashville native worked in a Detroit car factory owned by Briggs, who also owned the major league Detroit Tigers.could work for Walter Briggs. He just couldn’t play for him.

    Stearnes hit .400+ three times and posted a .350 career batting average with the Stars, the Nashville Elite Giants, the Montgomery Grey Sox, and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

  • I’ve had it with the Johnny Damon saga. Here’s hoping that Dave Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch gave up dealing with Scott Boras for Lent. Assuming they’re Catholic, of course.

  • I tweeted about this but it’s worth repeating (at least I think it is): On this date in 1995 Sparky Anderson lit the flame that burned his bridge to Mike Ilitch when he refused to manage replacement players. He was put on an involuntary leave of absence but probably would’ve been fired if someone hadn’t talked Ilitch down from the ledge. Quick quiz: Who managed the faux Tigers in Sparky’s absence? Answer: Tom Runnells.

Whew! I made it.

Wednesday Walewanders

First, let’s raise a glass — or mug of hot chocolate — in celebration of Magglio Ordonez‘s 35th birthday. ¡Felíz Cumpleanos, amigo!

  • I wonder what was going through Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch head today when Lynn Henning of the News asked him about the team’s off season progress — at a press conference in which Ilitch was committing $72 million to Henrik Zetterberg.

  • Remember all the panic from 2006 and 2007 as the Tigers dealt away blue-chip pitching talent? Things are already looking up.

  • I was about to crack wise about poor Nationals fans who will be subjected to Rob Dibble as the new television analyst on MASN broadcasts. Then I realized Tigers fans have a problem of their own alongside Dan Dickerson in the radio booth.

  • I’m with Ian: Timo Time es muy bueno.

Finally, Yahoo! Sports‘s Tim Brown recently pitched in his two cents on the 2009 Tigers in his Hot Stove Daily column.