The regular season is so close you can taste the sound of the goal horn, and it’s still hard to know what to expect for a lineup let alone points.
Jeff Blashill typically holds his cards close to his chest, and it’s not crazy to think that he will never roll the same lines two periods in a row and the pipeline between Grand Rapids and Detroit will be like Chutes and Ladders.*
*Don’t @ me with Snakes and Ladders nonsense
However, I managed to infiltrate the parallel universe fandom across the street and have braved many dangers to bring back what I’ve learned. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about Detroit Tigers fans and it turns out they’re not so different from us this year.
Let’s see, an injured superstar (although Miggy will be back)? Check. Aging veteran with bad knees’ last hurrah? Check. New faces galore? Check. Predicted to tank? Check. Started off hot? Check. A goose on the loose? Check.
So what can we learn from them?
HEAR ME OUT.
(I have also provided a glossary at the end of this article for anyone interested in learning more about the baseball and its peculiar ways.)
Three Observations for Hockeytown from the 2018 Detroit Tigers:
The Hive Mind Knows More Than Google
Who’s on first? No seriously, has he been on the team the whole time?
For many, being a Tigers fan in 2018 was like going to a party where everyone knows your name but you have no idea who they are, so you pretend you do until someone finally says their name later.
Which you then instantly forget, and the cycle continues.
We Wings fans do know our rookies more than we know some of our relatives and we hurl our feelings about them through the internet. But then you see them without their gear on and suddenly they’ve gone incognito.
New players, new prospects, the Toledo Walleye - this is your Van Halen Eruption moment! Please never stop sharing the most random facts you know about every player! Are they colorblind? Do they eat nothing but oatmeal? Do they have a pet mantis named Crunchy?
There are some things Google just won’t give up easily, but the collective intelligence of Detroit fans is infinite and there is so much for us to learn about our players this year, new and old.
An Unexpected Hero Will Rise
They call it the Niko Goodrum Effect*
We got a little bit of this vibe last year with Martin Frk and Nick Jensen just kind of showing up and fitting right in, but the Tigers showed that someone may just kick down the door and rearrange the furniture before even introducing himself.
We may end up calling it the Libor Sulak Effect.
We expect our larger sons like Larkin, Mantha, and AA to step up in the absence of #40, but what about our fragile defense?
Preseason has given us a lot to think about, and a lot of chatter was about guys like Hronek, Hicketts, and Cholowski and then Sulak shows up and suddenly the competition for a roster spot is even more real. Combine that with injuries and the mystery of Mike Green’s illness and the possibilities are endless.
How about on the veteran side? Well, Victor Martinez was kind of the Niklas Kronwall of the Tigers. In the absence of Miguel Cabrera he had to be a more vocal leader. Once he announced his retirement, he really started having fun and ended the season - and his career - with some great performances. And a successful bunt.
It was like Kronwall scoring on a breakaway, surprising and hilarious and beautiful.
Not to neglect our forwards though, we have a lot of kids fighting it out there too. Plus, Nyquist is sneaky and might show old geese have new tricks.
And Bernier? He could go bonkers crazy bananas insane and backstop us all the way to the play-[tackled by Team Tank].
*I just made that up
It Starts With the Skipper
It’s time to loosen the reins
The Tigers had a new coach this year in Ron Gardenhire. Brad Ausmus was more like Jeff Blashill, and Gardenhire is...hard to compare to hockey because he’s old and weird and fun.
You may have seen Jeff Blashill’s new catchphrase, “60 Minutes of Hell”, so it sounds like he’s going more the “if we can’t be winners, we can be SPOILERS” route and trying to create energy from preaching misery.
Which is on brand as we’ve seen Blashill’s tight grip on kids if he perceives they lack HEART, HUSTLE, and/or GRIT. Sometimes it seems like even saying the word “fun” in his presence might get you benched.
On the Tigers side, Gardenhire was pumping up the players with a they think you’ll lose 100 games, well they don’t know you so, [expletives] style speech and that never changed. He pledged to have his players’ backs through thick and thin, and yes they did stink but they had a lot of fun along the way.
Also, Gardenhire has a Kelly Clarkson ringtone, and it may be specific to general manager Al Avila.
The Tigers heard over and over how they would stink this year, just like we hear about the Wings. Can you imagine Jeff Blashill letting the Wings keep a plastic goose on the bench for good luck, and skate around with it after a victory?
Can you imagine the Wings taking bets for goals they score on Mrazek?
Maybe Blashill does give effective motivational speeches and allows f-u-n to infiltrate the team, but we’ll never know it because right now it’s just [GRIT INTENSIFIES].
Do you have more intel to share from Woodward Avenue? Let us know in the comments!
LET’S GO RED WINGS!
BWWWRRRAAARRRRRARRRRNNNNN (that’s a goal horn noise)
- base·ball: a spherical white puck.
- bat: a stick used to hit a baseball (see #1), often made of wood so you know Mickey Redmond is excited.
- balk: the goaltender interference of baseball
- er·ror: a mistake by the defense, you may have encountered the term “Errorsson” in our own lexicon.
- foul·ball: the puck over the glass of baseball except they don’t get punished for it
- TOOTBLAN: Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop. Like the feeling you get when someone turns over the puck and ruins an offensive rush.
- TTBDNS: Tigers Threaten But Do Not Score. Like a failed powerplay.
- GIDP: Ground Into Double Play. Like the feeling of an intercepted pass that leads to a great scoring chance for the opposition.