I remember the first time I went to spring training. It was 1986. I had covered high schools at The Oakland Press the first two years I was with the paper and was on the Pistons beat when, after camp was already under way, I was being placed on the Tigers beat. I had never been to Lakeland before. I just remember seeing the films from there on the TV news. It always meant hope - that spring was on the way. Being a part of it was a dream come true. I have spent roughly three years of my life living in Lakeland. I guess you could say it is my home away from home. When I was on the Tigers beat for 13 years, I spent seven weeks each spring there. Now my stays are shorter. I was at the Tigers Fantasy Camp for a week and will be in Lakeland for a week doing columns and working on stories for our baseball special section in March. I always look forward to it. Lakeland is a good town. I have come to like and respect it very much. It’s not an exciting town, but it is a part of our tradition as much as anything in Michigan. Once in awhile people ask me if it is worth visiting. My answer is yes. Actually, I cannot imagine being a true baseball fan from Michigan and not going there at least once. And for the ultimate baseball geek experience, I recommend going to a Gulf Coast League game in July in Lakeland. They start at noon. The temperature is usually in the 90s with the humidity above 90 percent. You will, I promise, sweat. You will also get an real understanding of just how difficult it is for a player to go through the minors and reach the major leagues. I do find major spring training games boring and meaningless. It is impossible to get an accurate gauge on players. Scouts who don’t understand that are in trouble.Random Thoughts
- The only good thing about Barry Bonds approaching Henry Aaron’s all-time home run record is watching Bud Selig squirm. Famous Clowns: Yucko, Milky, Bud Selig, Bozo, Homey, etc.
- Haven’t we seen enough of Joey McDonald? Jimmy Howard was a lot better when he got his shot with the Red Wings last season. Regardless of what they do at the trade deadline, the Red Wings are so reliant on Dominik Hasek it is scary.
- I think they should pare down goaltending equipment even more. It is still too big. I would consider that option first before expanding the size of the net.