June 23, 2017

The hot seat, the rumor mill, and what to make of it all

The Hot Seat is Getting Hotter 

The Detroit Tigers have an off day on Monday, June 26.

The Detroit Tigers are playing the San Diego Padres in San Diego this weekend. The Tigers have lost a half dozen games in a row. I predict they'll lose an even dozen before things turn around, er, they win a game.

Clearly, something is amiss in the clubhouse. Granted, one of the complainers is the perennially troubled "closer," Francisco Rodriguez, but when Miguel Cabrera is annoyed, something isn't right. We haven't seen his bright smile more than three innings the whole season, so he is either in extreme pain and paying through it or he is completely unhappy.

While it's clear the Tigers have regressed under Brad Ausmus, it may not be completely his fault. I believe that the players have aged and it's coming through in their performance. The Tigers made the playoffs for several seasons in a row, making long runs, so the players played more games that other team's players. So, in addition to showing their age, the players also have additional games behind them. That's part of the reason they play, though — make the playoffs and win a World Series.

Ausmus has shown some inability to manage in game situations, especially the ill–prepared bullpen; however, he has also been inconsistent in developing the team for the running game, defense, etc. When Ausmus arrived, the team came out running; suddenly, they stopped running. The focus has been on the three–run home run for so long in Detroit that you have to wonder if Earl Weaver was the team's skipper at one point.

I don't know if changing managers makes any sense at this juncture. I do believe that Rich Dubee has been a complete failure as the pitching coach, and as much as I hate to admit it, Jeff Jones may have been okay in that role. And, where oh where is Wally Joyner? With Legendary Lloyd McClendon back, the Tigers bats have become as soft as they were when he was the hitting coach originally. Dave Clark and Omar Vizquel do okay on the bases, I suppose, but something is amiss.

Maybe it starts with the General Manager, Al Avila. Mr. Avila runs a much looser ship than previous GM Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski didn't allow for leaks on any issues whatsoever. He ran the show and everyone knew who was in charge. Maybe that's what happened to the relationship he had with Mr. Illitch. Perhaps, Mr. Dombrowski thought he truly was the person in charge of the Detroit Baseball Club. Mr. I made all the big decisions, and when he said get rid of the potential free agents and bring back some prospects in a "reboot," Dombrowski did just that. David Price never fit in Detroit, nor did Yoenis Cespedes. It was fun to watch Cespedes during his time in the Motor City. Still, I'm amazed that we traded him away for a prospect. That day in 2015 is one that will resonate for years in Detroit baseball and sports lore.

If the rumors are true and Ausmus' seat is HOT and the Tigers are going to make a change on Monday, then excitement could be returning to the team. Under Ausmus, the team just simply plays boring baseball. This incarnation of the Tigers is the most lame I've seen since about 1998. Even the 2003 team was fun to watch, and their dismal play was expected. Maybe we're jaded in Detroit; however, a team with baseball's highest payroll should look like it cares on the ballfield.

Who could replace Ausmus? These are the most likely names to replace Ausmus if the current front office regime stays employed.

  1. Lloyd McClendon — The brain trust didn't bring McClendon back to the major league dugout without some thought of his taking the reigns if the season sputtered as it currently shows. McClendon will get serious consideration, and the way things played out in Pittsburgh and Seattle, um, never mind. 
  2. Omar Vizquel — Vizquel was a future manager in waiting in many minds until his Venezuelan team played so poorly in the World Baseball Classic. He seems to be a favorite of the Tigers front office, but we'll see if they give him a chance to run the show. 
  3. Gene Lamont — Lamont is a great friend of Jim Leyland's and that's how he ended up back in Detroit. Lamont was going to work with Ausmus for two years and retire, but he is still around. Why wouldn't the Tigers give him a chance to run the team? 
  4. Jim Leyland — the rumor will be out there, especially after he energized the USA team in the WBC. Leyland claims he's retired and there's no reason not to believe him. This team is talent in search of team, but it may be in too much of a disarray. 
  5. Alan Trammell — Brought back to be a marketing ploy back in '03, the Tigers might owe it to Trammell to let him manage this squad. However, with failure imminent, one of the greatest Tigers would be the manager before and after the historic playoff runs. That wouldn't be a good mix. 
Now, who should replace Ausmus? 
  1. Ozzie Guillen — I will get attacked for making this suggestion, but Guillen has shown an ability to get the most out of his teams. With the Tigers' large Venezuelan contingency, Guillen might be the person to command the clubhouse and salvage something from this season. Yet, do we really want to salvage anything? 
  2. Kirk Gibson — Again, I'll probably be knocked down a peg or two for this suggestion. Gibby is a solid baseball mind. His insights in the broadcast booth are much better than Rod Allen's rambling observations when he tries to break everything down. Gibby has managerial experience and was unceremoniously let go from his gig in Arizona. The brain trust who ousted him ended up looking clueless in retrospect, and they are gone from the desert as well. Gibby was part of Trammell's staff in Detroit. I don't know how that would play out, but you can bet Gibby and Tram would be working together again. 
  3. Ron Gardenhire — I've been a longtime supporter of Gardy and thought he would be a great choice to replace Leyland, but as far as I know the Tigers didn't even consider him. He would be a good choice; moreover, he's on the staff of another guy the Tigers overlooked, Torrey Lovullo in Arizona. 
Well, it's going to be quite a weekend for Detroit Tigers fans. From the highs of a historic era in their history to the lows of having the highest payroll and struggling mightily. Changes may be coming …

Camino Island

Would you dare buy any rare manuscripts? 

John Grisham is the only author who's book I buy the day it comes out and devour within a week. His latest book, Camino Island, dropped a week ago, and I finished it this morning.

This is not a typical Grisham lawyer novel, instead this one places a bookstore at the center of the action. The story centers around some stolen F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts, a broke writer working as a college professor, several writers, the bookstore and the bookstore's owner. The story keeps the reader's attention from the beginning to the end.

The characters were developed well, even the bookstore. As a book lover, the centerpiece of the story was a good, unique angle to take. Again, this isn't a lawyer novel, though a couple of lawyers show up. Grisham develops some ideas regarding the insurance company who is trying to track down the manuscripts, the FBI, and the young writer who is struggling and broke.

The reader will suspect things as the story develops, and — in the end — it is not just the reader who has the suspicions. The bookseller, Bruce Cable, also outlines some of his beliefs about writing, and they sound similar to those of Elmore Leonard.

An enjoyable story, Grisham may be expanding his popularity as this is not a typical work for the great author. Give yourself some time and read Camino Island.

June 22, 2017

The Fade

I'm sure that JV wants to blame Shane Greene for the loss last night; however, you can't be at 110 pitches in the sixth inning and believe that you actually have done your job. Sure, he only allowed a few hits and struck out 11, but you cannot be at 110 pitches in the sixth inning and expect to win. It feels like we're fading toward about a dozen losses in a row ...

June 21, 2017

Paesano's Pizza

Lori and I went to Traverse City for date night today. She has a counseling class at the University Center, so we planned to enjoy a delicious dinner. In TC, there are so many choices for fine eats. Tonight, we were both feeling the same thing about dinner. And, every time we go to Paesano's Pizza, I Snapchat the rest of the family with a short video doing my best "Pure Michigan" impersonation: 


When you visit Paesano's Pizza in Traverse City, Michigan, you cannot help but enjoy your delicious pizza. Just remember, you have to eat the first piece of pizza with a fork. That's just the way it is. 

Paesano's is one of our favorite pizza places, but definitely the favorite in northern Michigan. 

I stopped in at my favorite bookstore in TC, Goodwill. I was able to find several good books, including the history of ClifBar, a Jack Reacher novel, an Elmore Leonard work, a book about gluten–free eating, and about five other books. Not living in the TC–area anymore, I don't get to that Goodwill much, so there's always a chance for updated inventory. 

Happy eats! 

The Detroit Nine

Ch ... ch ... changes  

Sometimes I think I have to use a formula to put together an appropriate blog post. I think I have to have a headline, sub headers, photos, and all kinds of facts so my work has value. Then, other times, I think, "Why don't I just put some thoughts out there today and see what people think." Many times, I think I should just write about the Tigers, but then I think that might just simply be boring. I could write about education; however, then I feel like I do need a formula so the post can be followed.

Today, I'm going to write about both: 

"The Tigers are getting their education this season." 

I don't think this season holds any value for the Detroit Nine. They are losing regularly, and it likely won't improve. It's too bad that the AL Central seems so down in 2017. It's going to give all teams "hope" that they have a chance to make the playoffs. This Detroit team is poorly put together and the inconsistency is clear. The management of the team hasn't proven that the braintrust should be held together for too awfully long.

In retrospect, perhaps Mr. Dombrowski should have blown it up instead of rebooted back in the summer of '15. This conglomerate is tough to watch. I would even offer the word "boring" as an adjective for the 2017 Boys of Summer in Detroit.

June 19, 2017

Summer Means Fun

It's the first day without students or staff at school. It's so quiet here when no one is around. Summer cleaning hasn't started yet, nor has summer maintenance. The only person who ventured by today was the septic guy, so I guess summer cleaning has actually started ...

What does summer mean?

Summer means that I can stay up late tonight and watch the Detroit Tigers out west playing the Seattle Mariners. Game time in Michigan is 10:10, and when the Tigers visited the West Coast earlier in the year, I had a hard time staying up to watch the games, even on the weekend.

Summer means that kids get a chance to refresh their brains. Hopefully, they do something during the summer to keep their brain working like reading or getting a job. Reading text messages or Facebook posts doesn't quite count.

Summer means warmer temperatures and the chance to get up and go for a long walk with the dogs without having to put on all that winter and/or spring gear. During the summer, I can throw on shorts and a shirt and head out for an hour walk with Coke-o, Hemingway, and my wife, Lori. Walking in the summer is so much easier than in the winter. Plus, there are more hours in the day (well, daylight hours, anyway), so we can all get more done.

Summer means sitting around the bonfire and enjoying the company of whomever shows up to sit around the bonfire. Summer bonfires are the best.

Summer means the Fourth of July and celebrating our country's freedom. The Fourth of July is such an important date and we all need to be especially thankful for our country during these trying times in America.

Summer means a chance to visit family and friends who you don't always get to see during the busy school year. Summer means sort of slowing down and having a chance to smell the coffee. Summer means it's a time to enjoy.

Summer means that somebody is going to record a song that becomes the song of the Summer of 2017. It probably hasn't arrived yet, but we'll all know it when we hear it. Summer means a blockbuster movie that somehow requires everyone to see it. Summer means that new Netflix blockbuster that catches everyone's attention. But, this one you can watch in your living room.

Summer means … time flies! What does summer mean to you? Have a great summer!!!

June 17, 2017

Hemingway's Summer of Jumps

Hemingway, our Chessie, has discovered the art of dock jumping. I thought it might be something he would like, but our first month on the dock, he seemed much more interested in running from shore and just jumping into the water. Hemingway is an avid jumper and adventure dog. He loves to jump far into the Sturgeon River in Wolverine when I take him up there. He's an adventure dog, and sometimes he gets himself into tight situations on the river.

On Townline Lake, in Lakeview, he loves to swim far out into the lake. We joke that he might swim all the way to the island, but it might not be a joke … The other night, he suddenly discovered that he can get a running start on our dock and get himself a great jump. We throw his practice duck into the lake and watch him jump. And it works out well with the duck because he feels like he has a job and brings it back to shore. Without a "job" to do, he will just keep on swimming.

I'll post some photos and videos soon. It looks like Hemingway might have a fun, fun summer.

June 16, 2017

Ah, the last day of school

At Vanderbilt Area School we had 12 snow days during the winter. We had to make three of those snow days up, so today is our last day of school. Yes, June 16 is our last day of school! I don't know if in my 22 years in education that I have been at a school that ended later. But that's okay because our kids showed great growth, we were able to exit Priority School status, and are closer to getting out of deficit. The District had been a Priority School four four years and its been in deficit for over a decade (minus one year when the ARRA money helped to smooth things). Our belief is "Every Child. Every Day." and we are getting closer to believing that as a system. It's been a good, if not LONG, year. I'm proud of my teachers, students, staff, and all of the families. But it will be nice to exhale later today and realize that we all have some time to "recover" as we prepare for the (gasp!) 2017–2018 school year. Have a safe and enjoyable summer!


June 15, 2017

Writing, Planning (Using Various Mediums), and Organizing

I've been writing in a journal regularly; however, not as regularly as I would like. I've tried to do the "morning pages" approach, but it's hard to get up every morning and write three handwritten pages. I do feel like that "brain dump" is a total positive for me, and I wish I could find the time to start every day that way. It's also good to write at night to sum up the end of the day. 


Blogging

Since I've been young, I've always like to write. Blogging is a great way to write regularly, but I have this feeling that I should be writing something of substance. I've followed some formulas to put together solid blogs in the past, and that leads to good writing (in my opinion). 

Daily Plan Bar & System 

For my "daily planning" I have been using a variation of Mike Rohde's Daily Plan Bar (DPB). I combined some elements of the old Franklin Covey system into the DPB. I find that I am able to remember to do some of the items that sometimes get forgotten like making an obscure phone call that would be easy to forget. I've used the DPB since January. It's definitely a way to help me plan out my day. I might be a bit obsessive, though, because I keep a paper monthly calendar, a Moleskine weekly calendar, my DPB, as well as Google Calendar. 
  • The monthly calendar gives me a snapshot of every month. It also allows me to look back easily from month to month. 
  • The Moleskine weekly calendar gives me a focus from day to day — and I can also take it with me wherever I go. It's like an old school way to track things. 
  • Google Calendar gives me an overall picture of things, but as much of a techie as I am, I still think that the paper versions are important. Google Calendar is an incredible way to communicate dates and events to many people at once, much easier than paper reminders. But to use it as my main calendar no longer seems like a great idea. 
  • Finally, the DPB allows me to set up each day early in the morning so I am reminded of what I need to accomplish (what do I have to get done!), what I didn't finish the day before, and what some longterm items might be. The Bullet Journal that the DPB is somewhat based on has elements that I would like to learn more about, as well. 
The overall idea of my system is to make sure that I get done what needs to be finished in a timely manner. I used to be obsessive with my Franklin Planner, but as technology evolved, I tried out different formats like the Palm Pilot and so on. But, I often found myself wandering back to the elements of the Franklin.