Spring has kind of arrived here in northern Michigan. And by that I mean that you can see grass (not just snow), and the temperature is slowly climbing above the freezing mark.
That being the case, it also means we have entered my favorite time of year. That would of course be Baseball season. I am something of a rarity these days, a rabid baseball fan in a time when everyone is a football fan. Don't get me wrong, I like football, and certainly watch plenty of it during the fall, but my first love is still baseball.
I will watch most any game when it's on TV, or listen to them on the radio, but at heart, I am a Detroit Tigers fan. They've been my team since I was just a 3 year old and they won the World Series in 1984. I grew up with guys like Jack Morris, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammel and Kirk Gibson. Then the early 90's and Cecil Fielder, Travis Fryman, Bill Gullickson, and Mickey Tettleton. Whether the team is good or not doesn't stop me from watching, and following them.
This year's team is a bit of a conundrum for me. On one hand, I'm looking forward to watching them this year. To see Miguel Cabrera with a year in the AL under his belt, Brandon Inge getting to play a full season at third base, and the hopeful bounce back of the pitching staff. Which is where the problem is. The pitching staff is a bit of a mystery. Justin Verlander needs to return to his form from 2006-07, instead of the man masquerading in his place in 2008. Will Jeremy Bonderman ever live up to his potential? And let's not even start on Dontrell Willis and his Anxiety disorder. But, I am still hopeful that they can turn it around.
The bullpen will also be an interesting thing to watch. Can Brandon Lyon be a solid piece? I have my reservations about Fernando Rodney ever getting the command of his pitches to be effective. And 2006's wunderkid Joel Zumaya needs to stay healthy and be able to utilize his 103 mph fastball, as well as fully develop something off speed.
All in all, I'm remaining positive about this years Tigers team. Especially given the wide open nature of the American League Central Division. All 5 teams have a legitimate shot at winning the division. Expect quite a few posts this summer about baseball in general, and the Tigers specifically. I'm looking forward to a good season.