March 28, 2014

#Miguel Cabrera

Big Bucks. Big Bucks. No Whammy. 

I usually don't like contracts like the one Miguel Cabrera just signed.

Prince "Floppy" Fielder

Contracts like that scare me. The Prince Fielder contract excited me but also scared me. I could only imagine what Prince was going to be like at the end of the contract. I guess I imagined some old, slow slugger weighing in at 400 pounds and providing little to the team. I never envisioned he would do a whale–like belly flop as the American League Championship Series died.

Miguel's contract excites me.

Miguel Cabrera. One of the greatest ever. 

Let's look back to that fateful day in December 2007 when the Tigers suddenly and quickly acquired the young slugger from the Marlins for a gaggle of talent including the Tigers' top two prospects. We even were able to land Dontrelle Willis in the deal (um, insert comment).

Miguel will be a Tiger at 40. That's all right with me. He is such a great hitter. He is a great teammate. But, he's also become a great person. Early in his time with the Tigers he had bouts with alcohol. I may even have written on this blog that they should cut their losses and trade him before he bottoms out.

To General Manager Dave Dombrowski's credit, he stood by Miguel and helped him grow and battle his demons. Miguel has become a personable ballplayer. He also seems genuinely interested in winning. It has never seemed like it's about statistics with Miguel — or that he just wants to rack up numbers. He wants to win.

He is a true, genuine superstar. He is so great. During the baseball season my wife Lori gets tired of me saying (every day!) "It is so cool to have the greatest baseball player play for my favorite team. I've never experienced this my whole life. And so few people get to experience it." He is just phenomenal.

But there's more to it than that.

I have met Miguel Cabrera. A couple times. He is a superstar. Maybe even the face of the franchise; however, he and Justin Verlander may battle for that title. Heck, the best pitcher and the best hitter. I must be living through a good time to be a Tigers fan. But since I lived through the '90s and through 2003, I've earned my stripes ...

Miguel Cabrera and one of his fans. 

Miguel attends that Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Detroit Tigers Bar-b-que every year. I remember when we saw him there in 2013. We were amazed. Here was a dude coming off the greatest offensive season in years — a Triple Crown winner — and he was mingling with the Tigers fans. I was shocked. I gained a new appreciation for Miguel that night. Especially after he talked with folks, took pictures, and hung out for a couple of hours.

He didn't have to do that. But he did.

It takes a special person to get a contract … like that.

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