In lieu of starting this semester off on the right foot and getting a head start on the thousands of pages of reading that will be assigned over the course of the next thirteen weeks I'm going to write a post that I've been meaning to get to since I started this site but have neglected due to sheer laziness. I'm going to count down my five favorite players ever to don the Olde English D. This list is not based on performance, character, standing in the community or any other rational basis of judgment but rather a completely arbitrary decision by me, where something as small as a fleeting glance or a bat of the eyelashes means as much as a powerful homerun or overwhelming fastball. This list could just as likely include Raul Casanova (not bloody likely) as much as it would Cecil Fielder. I'll try to keep the sappy sentimentality crap to a minimum because I am an emotionless robot confused and irritated by this feeling you call "love". Enough...........on to the list.
Honorable mention: Rob Deer, Nook Logan: Deer almost makes the list for obvious reasons. 1: The absolute apex of the white trash look for baseball players (rivaled only by fellow Tiger Dan Gladden) with his mullet flowing from under his batting helmet and his infamous wispy moustache that made women swoon and bloggers name their sites after it. 2: He harkens back to the simpler times before sabermetric robots like Rob Neyer made stats like OBP important, and guys like Deer and Steve Balboni could justify their .192 BA's and 180 K's w/ 25 homeruns and be considered power threats instead of swirling black vortexes of lineup production, (sigh).
Logan would have had real chance of cracking the top 3 had his stay in Detroit lasted longer then half a season. I loved how fast he was around the bases, how he broke his hat off as far as possible, the bunt singles, his name, his laid back demeanor, everything. Also his robbing two homers in a game against the Orioles might be my most memorable and enjoyable Tigers moment ever before last season's playoff run. He's already my favorite Washington National, (sorry Mathew LeCroy) and if you read any of my blog entries from two years ago you'll see why I now have to stay 500 feet away from Nook at all times.
5: Deivi Cruz: During the 1999, 2000 seasons I would argue passionately with anyone who would listen, (my dog, my grandfather, a parrot, etc.) that Deivi Cruz deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as the other elite A.L. shortstops of the time (A-Rod, Jeter, Nomar, and Tejada), a position that was completely indefensible and insane, but I stood by it. I always thought he looked as though he was made out of plastic like a Starting Lineup and his rigid movement seemed to support this belief as he was a machine at grounding into double plays and had a range at shortstop that was one step to his right and zero steps to his left. A friend of a friend of mind nicknamed him "Shufflebutt", which I thought was the most appropriate nickname for any athlete.........ever. I was beside myself when the Tigers non-tendered him and let him walk as a free agent believing he would turn into the next Luis Gonzalez as a former Tiger who flourished after leaving Detroit, and as in many instances when I let my emotions get in the way I was dead wrong. Regardless I enjoyed the Deivi era enough for him to crack number 5 on the list.
4: Steve Sparks: I remember when Sparks came out of nowhere in a rather forgettable 2000 season as a 34 year old journeyman knuckleballer to go 5-1 in the month of August which was good enough to establish himself as the de facto "ace" of the staff. Sparks had the kind of persona that one would envision a journeyman knuckleballer to have, a kind of laid back, sarcastic sense of humor, (unlike that womanizing, alcoholic prick Hoyt Wilhelm) with a "I can't believe I'm pitching in the big leagues with a fastball that wouldn't break a pane of glass" giddyness. He also scored bonus points for nearly ending his career by injuring his shoulder while trying to rip a phone book in half, a feat of stupidity that sounds like something my roommate and I would try in a fit of late night boredom. After he signed an extension to stay in Detroit I seriously considered buying an authentic Steve Sparks jersey but didn't because apparently purchasing jerseys involves a monetary transaction, which was beyond my means at the time, and was fortuitous as Sparks struggled and was eventually released.
3: Curtis Granderson: He's quickly moving his way up the list and if he has a few more stellar seasons could pose a real threat to knock off the long reigning No: 1. I wanted to hate Granderson this season because I thought he usurped the centerfield position from the aforementioned Nook Logan. However Granderson was stellar from the start and Nook slowly faded from my memory leading to the inevitable emotional demise of me and Nook's relationship, (you knew what this was Nook). I like Granderson's style, personality, and he seems like a guy I could hang out with and go to Talib Kweli concerts in a vain attempt to not look like a nerdy white guy. As the season progressed I found myself doodling his name on my book covers, signing documents as Mrs. Andrew Granderson, and hanging pictures of him in my locker, and one day he actually said my name when I was outside his apartment, either that or "Hey you behind the bushes", whatever.
2: Matt Anderson: Anderson may be one of the biggest draft busts ever but he comes in at No. 2 on this list. The thing I like most about Anderson was his style, (like I said this list isnt based on any important facts/statistics), if I were a baseball player I would probably have a similar style to Anderson, ill fitting jersey from being tall and insanely skinny, with a three quarter length sleeve cutoff sweatshirt underneath, long hair, lackadaisical approach, (it's never a good sign when a closer has the same reaction to a 100mph strikeout as he does a walk off grand slam), although I might have slightly more movement on my fastball, ( this may be true because I have grotesquely long fingers, like a mortician in a Disney cartoon, if only I could throw hard, locate and develop a second pitch I would be thhiiiiiiisssssssss close). Also for the past five years I've wore my hair long and it's because of Anderson. In the summer of 2001 I vowed not to cut my long, flowing, beautiful locks until the next time Anderson blew a save, which I figured would be a matter of hours if not minutes. Of course he didnt blow a save until late September by which time I looked like disheveled homeless man, a look that I still wear to this day to as much success with women as Anderson was having in the Mexican Slo-Pitch Softball League this past season.
1: Mickey Tettleton: No one person had a bigger influence on my childhood then Mickey Tettleton. I was completely obsessed with him and emulated his mannerisms as much as I could. Froot Loops became my breakfast cereal of choice, I held my bat at hip level much to the consternation of my Little League coaches, I played catcher, was snubbed by the Little League All-Star team and exclusively chewed Red Man Brand Tobacco in 3rd grade. I developed an immense hatred for Chad Kreuter that continues to this day, sent Tettleton autograph requests on a daily basis none of which he ever returned, but that still wasn't enough to dissuade me from liking him. I still own nearly 10,000 of his baseball cards including this really creepy Leaf Studio card that frightened me so much I went and buried it in the back yard. Nearly fifteen years after he left I can still recall all of his statistics and when I decided to start this blog two seasons ago there was no question about who it would be named after. So there you have it you didn't ask for it but you received it.