It’s finally here: The Detroit Tigers baseball season.
After suffering through the long, cold, stormy fall and winter seasons, being surrounded by all the noise of basketball, hockey and playoff football, we’ve survived. After being teased with the drumroll of spring training and the World Baseball Classic, we can finally have what we really want: No, not graduation (although that would be nice), but Tigers baseball.
Cue the 1984 song: “Bless You Boys” by Curtis Gadson.
There is so much to be excited about this season, as expectations are running high for the defending American League champions. Anything less than winning the AL-Central Division for the third year in a row would be a huge disappointment. Some fans around Eastern Michigan University’s campus like senior Nathan Perry expect the most out of this team.
“Win the World Series,” Perry said.
Perry said having “four legit starters” in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez will take this team to the promised land.
Rick Porcello went into spring training fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation against Drew Smyly, and as was announced on Tuesday, Porcello emerged victorious, largely in part due to the fact that he hasn’t allowed a walk down in Florida this spring.
This preview wouldn’t serve any justice to Detroit if we didn’t discuss the batting lineup. Hungry for a world championship ring, 37-year-old Torii Hunter will be the primary right fielder and will bat second in the lineup after center fielder Austin Jackson.
A torn ACL before last year’s spring training kept switch-hitting, designated hitter Victor Martinez off the field last season, but he’ll be more than fine swinging in the fifth spot in the lineup.
Let’s not forget we still have third baseman, reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera batting third, followed by powerful first baseman Prince Fielder in the cleanup spot.
Second baseman Omar Infante can bat second, but we should expect to see most of his at-bats come from the ninth slot, where hitting coach Lloyd McClendon sees him as another leadoff hitter.
If you’re as excited as I am, it can be disheartening at times to see others not as excited as you are.
Blossoming baseball fan and EMU student Kayce Hoppstock didn’t used to like the game, but ended up having a change of heart about it.
“I used to think baseball was boring,” Hoppstock said. “But everyone loved it, so I figured I’d give it a try. Turns out, I actually like it.”
It doesn’t take much to enjoy the game. You don’t have to buy all the shirseys (Editor’s note: shirt-jerseys are regularly known as shirseys) at Dunham’s, recognize every statistic on baseball-reference.com, nor do you have to watch every 162 regular season games. All it takes is a day in downtown Detroit. Find a cheap parking spot, walk down Woodward Avenue to grab lunch at Cheli’s Chili Bar (make sure you save room to grab a Ballpark hot dog without any ketchup from Charlie “The Singing Hot Dog Man” for later), maybe give a dollar to the “Eat ‘Em Up Tigers” guy on your way to the ballpark and just let the good times roll.
“My favorite memory from last season was their game against Cleveland,” Hoppstock said. “That was the first Tigers game I’ve ever been to. It was a beautiful day, and there’s something magical about Comerica [Park].”
It’s peanuts, Cracker Jacks and “I don’t care if I ever come back,” it’s relaxing with your friends and families at the ballpark, it’s the feeling of catching a foul ball, it’s celebrating the new scoreboard in left field’s first birthday (April 5, mark your calendars), it’s hearing the cheesy “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor in the ninth inning. It’s everything you need to enjoy your summer a lot more.
The Tigers start the season in Minnesota against the Twins on April 1 and will open up at home for a three-game series against the New York Yankees on April 5.