October 01, 2016

The Great American Playoff Race

Great playoff race 

It's 2016 and the Tigers are back at it again, making things real. If the 2016 season isn't a reminder that every single game counts, there's no season that would express that truth (see 2009, for more information). In 2009, the Tigers starter in game number 163 was a young rookie named Rick Porcello. In 2016, Rick Porcello is a good candidate to be the Cy Young Award winner on the American League East Champions, the Boston Red Sox.

What It Means to Be An Ace

Ace starters throughout the baseball landscape include former Tigers Max Scherzer (Nationals), Rick Porcello (Red Sox), and David Price (also Red Sox — along with former Tiger GM Dave Dombrowski). Drew Smyly didn't have a good season for the Tampa Rays but he still has potential. The Tigers young pitchers Mike Fulmer, Daniel Norris, and Matt Boyd all look to have some high upside at much less cost than the aforementioned aces. Also, Jordan Zimmermann should recover next year after a season of injuries. Scherzer and Price are both making more than $200 million over the course of their seven–year contracts and Porcello is making $20 million a season for a few more years. The Tigers' own Justin Verlander seems to be fully back to ace status, by the way.

Five More Games

The Tigers should have won at least five more games at home this season. You almost have to win 50 home games and finish .500 on the road to make the playoffs. The Tigers played decent on the road but should have been better at home. Perhaps if injuries hadn't taken games away from Jose Iglesias, Cameron Maybin, and Nick Castellanos to name a few, the Tigers could have won a few more games. Of course, injuries are part of the game and ask the Los Angeles Dodgers what it is like to overuse the disabled list. And they're going to win the National League West.

Can the Tigers Still Get In

The Tigers have a good shot to make the playoffs, but it could be a wild ride.

August 28, 2016

Offense Concerns

This is from a few years ago. The Tigers go through these things every season. We were five–and–a–half up on the Twins at this point in 2006. Just because the tribe is up on us, doesn't mean we can't win the division. #keepthefaith

AUGUST 25, 2006

Where is the offense?

The Tigers just lost their third game in a row, 4-2, in Cleveland. The Indians did not play that great, but they outplayed the visitors. A rookie, Jeremy Sowers shut the offense down. Yesterday was ugly against the White Sox' Jon Garland, and the day before Freddie Garcia looked incredible against the Tigers. Bonderman gave up a lead for the second straight start.

These guys look exhausted, wore out, and disinterested in playing right now. It's almost like the Texas Rangers series last week-end took its toll on the Detroiters. Right now, they're not looking good, but they are still 4-1/2 games up in the American League Central Division.

Let's hope that the rest of the week-end goes well because it will notbe easy in the Bronx next week!

August 26, 2016

Fall Is On The Horizon

When Fall Arrives 

As another summer winds down, I thought it would be good to look forward to the fall. Spring is my favorite season and fall probably falls third. Nothing comes close to my favorite season: baseball! Today, is all about the fall.

  • One of the highlights of the fall is watching the season premiers of our favorite television shows. Television has changed so greatly in the last few years. Not all great shows are on the major networks, many are on cable or streaming channels — and their "drop" seasons vary. We used to have several that we looked forward to, but now we don't watch much more than The Blacklist, Hawaii 5–0, and Criminal Minds. I think Criminal Minds might be on its downward path. It got so unrealistic toward the end of the season that I didn't even watch the finalĂ©. And you're reading this and thinking, "Yeah, and The Blacklist is so realistic …" It didn't spend a decade pretending to be. 
  • The winding up of the baseball season. I have even adjusted to the wild card — and kind of like it. Not the one–game play–in, mind you, but the concept works. I think the baseball season schedule, including the playoffs, needs some adjusting but the MLB folks are on the right track. 
  • High school football season has always been a favorite part of the fall. I haven't been at a school that has a football team in about seven years and you can actually get used to not having to participate in Friday Night Lights, but there certainly is something "real" about high school football. I hope that eventually we get back to kids playing a bunch of sports and not feeling like they have to specialize, but that's a column for another day. I have many friends who are coaches. So many high school football coaches live for the season. 
  • The changing of the leaves is also a night aspect of the fall season. Living in northern Michigan, you truly get to watch the color change. 

August 20, 2016

Still Reading

The Struggle 

This has been a lifelong struggle.

I have four books going right now. Most of the books are non–fiction and one is fiction. I was at Brilliant Books in Traverse City the other day and talking to one of the booksellers. He was recommending a book by Tom Perrotta, Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies. I asked if he had read Little Children by the same author. He said it's on his list. I replied, "Yeah, and our lists are only 200 books long, right?" (I also have several books by Elmore Leonard to work on …)


Sleep Smarter, by Shawn Stevenson, has 21 considerations for good sleep. The book was a great read for three–quarters of it, but then started to sputter. I have been reading it since May. I will finish it but it's not been easy.

Ted Talks: The Official Ted Guide to Public Speaking, by Chris Anderson, is a good piece by the CEO of Ted. It gives background and ideas. I've been reading it slowly because I'm still in the middle of Sleep Smarter and …

But What If We're Wrong: Thinking About the Past As If It Were the Present, the latest by Chuck Klosterman, is not his most engaging work. Klosterman is on my list of authors whose book I buy as soon as it comes out. This book is a slow read, and deep. While reading four books at once is tough, reading this book, sadly, has been a struggle.

Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiaasen, is an interesting read. I'm listening to it while driving and reading the rest when I'm not in my vehicle. It's been a fun read, as his usually are.

I don't know why I have never been able to read one book at a time, from beginning to end. It's been the way I read since I started reading.

Elmore Leonard's The Hunted has been on my list for months. Sometime soon I will read it.

August 19, 2016

Dick Morgan Roast, Bold 'n' Hearty

Grandpa Morgan: Just a Few More Words 

Several years ago, we happened upon a unique opportunity to have lunch with Joe Falls, the sports editor of the Detroit News. I don't even remember what precipitated the lunch, but I wasn't going to give up the chance to spend some time with such a great writer, someone who I had grown up reading day in and day out — but especially on Sundays. On Sundays, he sometimes mentioned my Grandpa Morgan or Uncle John or maybe he would just reference Morgan's Service.

Joe Falls told the story of how Grandpa once headed down to Lakeland, Florida, during Spring Training because he wanted to watch the Tigers. When he got to Joker Marchant Stadium, the line was too long and he didn't want to wait so he jumped in his car and drove back to Clarkston.

I was fortunate to spent a lot of time with my Grandpa, especially as he got older. I've written about a couple of trips out to Maine where I learned to eat the whole lobster, no waste, and enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A few times, I went to Morgan's Service and had coffee with the guys who had coffee there every day. I just kind of stayed out of the way but it was cool. I always thought starting the day like that with coffee and conversation would be the right way to live.

Morgan's Service has moved from 28 S. Main, and in its place will be a new restaurant called Honcho. It's owned by the same person who owns the Clarkston Union — home of the world's best Mac 'n' Cheese — and the Union Woodshop. One of the differences for Honcho and the other restaurants is that Honcho will be open for coffee and baked good early. Uncle John, my Dad, and I recently toured the new Honcho extravaganza. The coffee will be roasted at Honcho using an old Italian Roaster.
Don't worry — there will be a Dick Morgan Roast. 
Curt Catallo is the owner of Honcho. When we were talking and touring, he mentioned that there would be the Dick Morgan Roast, don't worry. How cool would that be? A real roasted coffee — bold and hearty — named after my Grandpa. That would be a hard working cup of coffee, for sure. I can't wait to see what becomes of Honcho. The motif is incredible with a blend of the old and new that you have to see to understand. The new restaurant in Clarkston will probably open in the middle of October.

August 14, 2016

The Lopez & Hernandez Show (Nothing Like It Today!)

Tales from a Bullpen … Cursed 

Remember when I said I trusted the Tigers bullpen?

I lied.

Granted, Shane Greene and Francisco Rodriguez did get the job done last night against the solid, first place Texas Rangers, but it wasn't without a little bit of stress. In fact, I had heard that Greenie was about to go on the disabled list with an oblique strain. He certainly looked tight, uncomfortable.

It's been a tale of the fractured bullpen during the five–game losing streak. Justin Wilson looks wore out — maybe that's why the Yankees jettisoned him. He's been solid all year. I had at one point thought maybe he would be the future closer. I shouldn't write this, but Bruce Rondon has been solid, as has Alex Wilson (lately). The Tigers bullpen has to be spectacular if this team is going to make the proverbial run to the finish. The Tigers are a decent team; I think they could make a deep run. It's going to take the whole team to make it happen: starting pitching, relief pitching, and solid offense.

The Tigers do not have anything resembling a balanced offense. The Tigers hit the ball and get on base and (sometimes) someone drives them in or hits a three–run home run. They generally don't steal bases, either. The catalyst has been Cameron Maybin — and he's out right now. I was suspicious when Manager Ausmus said that Jose Iglesias was getting a routine day off the other day and Mike Aviles was filling in. Yep, he's on the DL now. So, you can count five guys the Tigers are relying on as "out of commission" right now: Nick Castellanos, Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Pelfrey, and the aforementioned up–the–middle duo.

Hold out hope, Tigers fans. This team will put it all together and enjoy a great September run. That doesn't bode well, though, because the Tigers, these masters of the rollercoaster, have mostly been great for a period, then terrible. A great September could lead to a rough October. Then again, October is a new season, so …

This bullpen, though, is making me nervous.

August 12, 2016

Harbor Days and Short's Fest

The New New Thing in ER

Harbor Days in Elk Rapids, Mich., is an annual holiday for my family and many of our friends. Harbor Days features the midway, the parade, and some other traditional activities. Harbor Days has grown stale. It's the same thing — year in and year out. The parade hasn't changed. It's gone dull. Having said that, it's still a great event in a wonderful little town. It's a chance to reconnect with friends every August.

Harbor Days means the end of summer. My dad has been saying that for years.
"Well, now that Harbor Days is over, so is summer." 
For the past six or so years, the Short's Brewery has hosted an event called Short's Fest. Short's Fest has invigorated Harbor Days. It added a new element to the annual excursion. Short's Fest is always packed and it's a great place for ERHS alums to catch up. Short's Fest is Saturday afternoon and it somewhat clashes with the events that happen Saturday night.

The main event Saturday night is the fireworks display that usually starts at 10:20. Except in the past few years, the event has been cancelled due to weather. So, I'm suggesting that the Harbor Days folks consider a MAJOR adjustment to Harbor Days: move the fireworks show to Friday night (so they would presumably have Saturday as a "rain" day). Short's Fest has been such an injection of fun for the Harbor Days fans as well as the community (and, I think, many additional visitors.)

All I'm suggesting is moving the fireworks to Friday night. I'm sure there are detractors to the idea who will say, "Then no one will stay for Saturday." I don't think that will be true. I think it would bring more excitement to the big event. Harbor Days has been around for 61 years — a little adjustment in the schedule is going to be okay.