Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How do you know you have a good baseball team?

When spring training is boring.

Has there been anything at all exciting, controversial, or unexpected during the first weeks of the Detroit Tigers spring training? Think about it. What have been the biggest spring stories up to this point?

Magglio's lovely long locks has Jim Campbell spinning in his grave...

Magglio Ordonez's hair.

Gary Sheffield's interviews with the national, New York and Boston press.

Andrew Miller being sent down.

Marcus Thames learning to play first base.

Boston pitching beans 3 Tigers, pissing off the Marlboro Man.

Who will be the back up infielder, Ramon Santiago, or the Black Hole of Suck?

Who wins the one position open in the bullpen?

That's been about it. For the most part, there hasn't been all that much to talk about when it comes to the Tigers. There is very little competition for roster spots, as the lineup was set last winter once Sean Casey signed and Sheffield was obtained. The same goes for the pitching staff, once Jose Mesa was picked up.

Remember the bad old days? It wasn't long ago that spring training was the highlight of the Tigers season. Damn near every position on the team was up for grabs. Competition was fierce between the wannabe's, never-were's and used-to-be's for roster spots. Who would be this year's AA ball spring phenom to make the trip north to learn at the big league level? How many "Rule V" pickups would remain on the roster? Which non-roster invitees would play their way on to the big club? There were all kind of plot lines to follow...

It made for some fascinating March stories, but God awful Tigers teams.

This spring, for the first time in well over a decade, is nothing like we used to witness. The players are going about their business preparing for the season. Jim Leyland has been experimenting with different batting orders, but he knows who will be going north, and what they are capable of accomplishing.

There's an aura of confidence around the Tigers. They now have the swagger that contending teams have, the same swagger that the Marlboro Man said was missing from the Tigers last spring.

Just a year ago, I was concerned that the Tigers would still be what they were for damn near 2 decades. the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. I was hoping against hope that they would take a baby step and play .500 ball.

Just 1 year later, the Tigers are one of the favorites to win the American League again, and have a championship team's swagger. It's amazing how quickly things have changed for the better.

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