Top 10 Things For Tiger Fans To Look Forward To In 2011
But alas, the end of the miserable existence that is winter in the Midwest is almost over. Pitchers and catchers report to Lakeland in a week. It’s our first glimmer of hope that the baseball season is near. The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the idiotic babbling of Lynn Henning and Jamie Samuelsen…it’s all just around the corner. And though Your Party Host tends to focus on the negative stuff at DNR for comedic purposes, I can’t help but think positive thoughts as we near the 2011 season.
After the jump, here are the top ten things I’m most looking forward to this year in Detroit, in no particular order.
1. AJax Season 2.0
I love me some Austin Jackson. His defense is spectacular. His speed his superb. He’s a snappy dresser. But can he avoid the dreaded sophomore slump that so many before him have succumbed to? Can he cut down on the K’s? I root for all of the Tigers (except Don Kelly), but something about Jackson has me rooting for him even more.
2. Protecting Big Mig
I can’t wait to see what Miguel Cabrera is capable of now that we have acquired some actual protection for him in the lineup in the form of hitting machine, Victor Martinez. I already think of the big guy as the Venezuelan Superman, but if we take away the kryptonite that is the intentional walk every time there’s a runner in scoring position, the guy could really put up some scary numbers. If everyone stays healthy, no crackhead in Arlington is going to steal the MVP from The Big Fella this year.
3. Will the “H” Remain Silent?
Jhonny Peralta is in a make-or-break year. You could say that for about a dozen guys on this team, I guess. But Jhonny’s got something even more to prove, I think. He was very good when he first came up in Cleveland and had some support around him. But since the Tribe has turned into a AA ballclub the past couple years, Jhonny’s numbers dropped off a cliff. With a very good lineup around him this year (sigh, plus Inge & Avila), Jhonny has no excuses on not putting together a solid season at the plate.
4. Baseball’s Most Underrated Matchup
Rod Allen vs. The English Language. Watch a Tigers game on Fox Detroit with someone that’s not used to hearing Rod Allen call a game. They’ll probably be horrified. I used to be the same way. But Rod has grown on me over the years and I now take his sometimes off-the-wall comments as what they really are: another form of entertainment to enjoy while watching Brandon Inge strike out.
5. Cat Eyes
JV and Mad Max. This is the best 1-2 punch the Tigers have had in the pitching rotation since Morris/Petry in the mid-80’s. And I think they’re a hell of a lot better than those mustached heroes of yesteryear. I’ve always been more of an offense guy when it comes to enjoying the Tigers (probably because our pitching has been an abortion for 20 years), but I’m generally excited whenever either of these guys takes the mound. Add in the fact that JV’s death stare and Max’s multi-colored eyes are the best 1-2 eyeball combo in the game, well, we’ve got an entertaining duo on our hands.
6. Getting Coked Up
Phil Coke is awesome. We haven’t had a Tiger with an actual personality in SOOOOO long. I love it. But moving him into the starting rotation scares the tiger droppings out of me. Why mess up such a good thing? Coke was amazing out of the pen for us. If he fails as a starter, we’re stuck with replacing him with an unproven rookie, as our organizational pitching staff has the depth of a kiddie pool with all of our decent prospects in AA or below. Coke, not Rick Porcello as so many have suggested, is going to be the real X-factor of this pitching staff, in my opinion.
7. It’s Raburn, Not Rayburn, You Dickbags
No more excuses, Ryan. You’ve finally been handed the ball. Run with it. Ryan Raburn is going to be the starting left fielder, barring Brennan Boesch making a humungous impact in spring training. Raburn has shown flashes of brilliance at the plate, despite playing defense resembling that of a nearsighted, mentally challenged chimp. It’s up to him to finally put it together for an entire season and prove that he belongs as a starter in the big leagues. Also, Ryan, a little bit of advice: Keep your tongue in your mouth. That stuff is only acceptable for Michael Jordan and lesbian porn actresses.
8. Glass Joel and Creaky Carlos
Joel Zumaya and Carlos Guillen are borderline brilliant at times, but both are yearly casualties of the disabled list. The patience of Tiger fans has been taken to the limit with both men, especially Carlos with his fat contract, and 2011 may be the final seasons in the D for both men if they can’t stay healthy and produce. The success of the team this year will, no doubt, be impacted by the health of both Zoom and Los. If they can’t go, Ryan Perry and the two-headed question mark that is Scott Sizemore and Tinkerbell Rhymes will have to step it up a notch.
9. Jacob’s Ladder
I have never been so hyped up about a minor leaguer as I am on Jacob Turner. The guy has been built up so much that I’m dying to see him in the Old English D. But he needs to continue his climb though the organization and work on his stuff. The Tigers have a history of rushing their young pitching talent to the show and possibly hurting their progress by doing so. By all indications, he is the jewel of our farm system and a star of the future. If he finishes the season strong up in Toledo, his season will be a success. Just don’t get hurt, kid.
He’s back, though he never really left. My favorite current Tiger was re-signed for perhaps his final go-around in the D this year. He’s had so many awesome moments for us over the years and I’m thrilled that he’s going to anchor the #3 spot in the lineup again. The Maggs/Mig/VMart combo in the heart of the lineup has to potential to be just as good, if not better, than anything the Twins, White Sox, Yanks, Sawx, Rangers, or anyone else has to offer. Enjoy it, folks. Unless someone gets hurt. Then enjoy your drinking problem that will most likely develop when Clete Thomas starts hitting third again.
Pitchers a catchers reporting in a week…that’s music to my ears.
Oh, this just in: I was just told that more snow is coming…Mother Nature, you can get f-cked with a broken broomstick. Ugh.