Wednesday, March 28, 2007

If You Don't Like Opening Day, You Don't like Ice Cream

Opening Day is less than a week away. It always has special meaning to me, but, I must admit, even more so this season. It’s kind of like baseball is back in town. I didn’t rediscover baseball last year when the Tigers won the American League pennant after having their first winning season in 13 years. The game never went away from me. It never will. But I did rediscover the joy the game brings to so many people who aren’t obsessed with the game the way I am. Before last season, being in the Detroit area, when I would bring up the thought that an argument could be made that baseball is just as popular as football, I would get the strangest looks. I would point out how baseball is easily the No. 1 sport in New York - and probably Boston. Same can be said, I think, in Chicago - although the Bears now have a stronghold because they are winning. Los Angeles doesn’t even have an NFL franchise. In the Bay Area, the Giants and A’s pretty much equal the Raiders and 49ers. Those are most of the nation’s largest cities. I truly enjoy the NFL and football, but I think sometimes baseball was overlooked just because the Tigers were awful for so long. I do believe what the Tigers did last summer was even bigger than the titles won by the Red Wings and Pistons in recent years. If the Lions win the Super Bowl, it would be massive, but I am not sure it would be bigger than if the Tigers won the World Series. What I love about baseball, as much as anything else, is that it is an every day event. There are no breaks. There are continuous episodes. It sucks you in that way. There is nothing like the day-to-day drama of a pennant race. The Tigers could push three million in attendance this season. That’s a lot of tickets being sold. A lot of enjoyment of the game. And honestly, it can’t begin soon enough for me.

Random Thoughts

- I know it’s a rough game, which naturally lends itself to tough characters, but the off-the-field incidents involving NFL players has hit epidemic proportions. It should be the NTL - the National Thug League. The league is so paranoid about everything, but doesn’t levy enough suspensions for criminal behavior. Pac Man Jones is becoming the poster child for all that is wrong with the league. Great athlete. Troubled person.

- Do people believe in Todd Jones? He has put together two solid seasons in a row, but if he doesn’t get off to a fast start, the fans undoubtedly will be clamoring for Joel Zumaya to close games. That doesn’t seem fair to Jones given his track record.

- I am surprised Marshall Faulk has retired. I thought Mike Martz would bring him to Detroit to join the Rams North. But give Martz time - Dane Looker could be wearing a Lions uniform any day now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm one of those fair-weather fan's - baseball lost me with the strike. I hadn't watched a complete game till last year, and I have to admit that the Tigers sucked me in. I still see lots of warts and a lot to dislike with the professional game itself, but they are a fun, feel-good cast of characters right now. It's not just their recent success.

I'm afraid that hockey has lost me like baseball did. Even if the wings do something in the playoffs, I can't see myself caring like I used to.

Do you really blame Marshall for opting out of this mess?

8:45 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I see your point about baseball. The labor stoppages were maddening and did a great deal to hurt the sport. Even the home run heroics which helped to bring it back were almost a mirage because of the steroid issue. But you know something, I still get that feeling on opening day like I'm a kid again, and no matter what is happening in the world, everything is OK because baseball is there. Albeit a flawed one, the game is still a friend I can't help but embrace with all my heart. I just love it.

11:46 AM 
Anonymous Andrew Winklepleck said...

To the Book,

I like ice cream so much Baskin-Robbins doesn't have enough flavors to satiate me. When Mother Nature blessed us Michiganians with that 70 plus degree day on Monday I to keep checking the calendar to make sure that the MLB season hadn't commenced. Then I went to the store to buy a new watch because the old one must have been broke.

Neifi Perez staying with the club while Ramon Santiago starts the season with the Mud Hens has a familar stench. Smells very similar to the one from two springs ago when Bobby Higginson went north to Detroit while Marcus Thames started the season in Toledo. My water closet has that same odor every morning after that first cup of joe.

I've got a bad feeling in my gut that this year's Tigers may be a clone of last year's White Soxs. Having a very good team that is in the chase until the bitter end. Yet in the end they may be left off the invitation list to the post season party. That's my tragic side.

My comedic side feels that this will be the first Tiger team to repeat as AL Champs since my dear old Dad was in kindergarten. If the Fates allow the Tabbies will even get to face the Cubbies in the Series just like '35.

Now if the Wings could meet an orginal six opponent in the Cup Finals that would be exciting. I would feel like a freshmen in High School bumping into a senoir cheerleader.

12:43 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winklepleck,
It would be beyond great if the Red Wings played an Original Six team in the Cup finals. I hear you on the White Sox, but if the Tigers are in the race that long and play that much exciting baseball for the entire summer, I don't think it would be a disaster. It's tough to reach the playoffs in baseball. I just want to see them in a really good pennant race again. Anything from there is kind of gravy.

2:09 PM 
Blogger ThinkingMan said...

I love Opening Day, too. Although I have to admit I get just excited about early March ... the start of spring training and the NCAA Tournament. I've never had a chance, but one of these years I'm going to take a week in the middle of March and tour Grapefruit League. That and I want to do a Tigers' Fantasy Camp.

But yes, Pat, it's wonderful to hear people in Detroit so excited about baseball again. I got so sick of it being the red-haired step child.

1:50 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It was the red-headed step child of sports in this town. I can remember talking about baseball on the radio and you could almost hear people clicking off their radios. They were totally turned off by the sport. Part of it was the labor stoppages, especially in 1994. Part of it, too, was how bad - and boring - the Tigers were.

3:52 PM 

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