As I'm posting this I'm sitting in Secured Transactions, and I have no idea what the professor is talking about, nor do I care. So instead of paying attention, (there is currently a slide on the projector with a code on whether timber can be used as collateral, which may be the most boring, pointless slide in the history of mankind, and the people in the class are riveted, on the edge of their seats taking notes, I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone), I'm going to list my bottom five least favorite Tigers in a series of posts in random order, because for some reason it just seems to make the most sense to do it this way. I got the idea to write these posts after reading John Paul Morosi's article a few days ago in which Dombrowski and the Tigers refuted a report that the team was interested in re-signing former Tigers-Fan Enemy #1 Juan Gonzalez to a minor league deal. Also these postings are a flip of the one I wrote a couple of weeks ago in which I listed my Top Five Favorite Tigers, so the same rules apply and all decisions are completely arbitrary, and not based on any rational reasoning, sentimentality, statistics, nor multiple regression analyses.....well maybe a couple. I would just sit down and write all five but I don't have the time because class is ending in a little bit and I don't want to miss those amazing slides on secured interests in farm equipment and produce....ugh, why am I here again?
#2: Juan Gonzalez: I remember the day the Tigers traded for Juan Gonzalez in the winter of 1999. I was in 10th grade that November and logged onto AOL one last time before heading off to bed, when I saw the headline that instantly grabbed my attention. Tigers Trade for 2-Time MVP Gonzalez. I couldn't believe it, and that's not just some lazy throw away description of my astonishment, I actually couldnt believe the news. So I calmly went to the phone and called my friend Kevin at about 10:30 P.M., which doesnt seem that late...but you don't know Kevin's parents. I think everyone has a friend like Kevin when they are growing up. He's the really nice, affable, gregarious kind of guy, who has completely insane, overbearing, strict, irrational parents, who will only be able to rest after crushing the spirit, the very soul, of their child by demanding absolute perfection via draconian measures. I had witnessed Kevin get grounded for letting a screen door close behind him instead of pulling it shut, leaning against his dad's car, and for making errors on his mom's tax return, his house was like the surreal landlords home in The People Under the Stairs minus the compassion and with more gimp suits.
So even though calling Kevin's house would probably result in him having to break rocks for 2 weeks I had to verify that Gonzalez was actually a Tiger. I dialed his number and listened for half a ring before Kevin answered with a meek "Hello?". I dove right in, "Kevin, I know I called your house after the sun went down, which is a big no-no and your parents will treat me as if I had tried to sell you heroin instead of disturbing the deafening silence in your house, but this is important. My computer screen said the Tigers had traded for Juan Gone and I can't believe this so I need you to go online and see if your computer says the same thing." Kevin was stunned too, and amid shrieks of "Who is it?" from his step-father, set the phone down, logged online came back and said, "It's true, the Tigers trad....". That's all I needed to hear the darkness started in my peripheral vision and moved across my eyes until I landed in a heap on the floor with the stupidest grin plastered across my face.
When I regained consciousness it all started to make sense, the Tigers for the first time that I could remember were going to be relevant and contend. The excitement was palpable, the Tigers were moving into the newly minted, cavernous, Comerica Park with a legitimately dangerous lineup, featuring Palmer, Clark, Higgy, Easley, and now a two time MVP, perennial all-star, future Hall-of-Famer, who was still in his prime, and all for the cost of...who? Justin Thompson? Sure he's promising but he's no JUAN GONZALEZ, maybe wunderkind Randy Smith isn't a completely incompetent jackass after all, what could go wrong? Everything. The always mercurial Gonzalez, who once refused to play a game because his pants didnt fit right, immediately soured at the prospect of playing in Detroit and went so far as to turn down an 8 YEAR $140 MILLION extension to stay in Detroit. Juan started the season slowly, complained about the cold April weather, the spacious Comerica, clashed with team mates, had an entourage that overwhelmed the locker room and front office, openly bitched in a Sports Illustrated cover story, and most telling watched a bench clearing brawl between the Tigers and White Sox as a disinterested observer 50 feet away from everyone. The Tigers realizing they made a mistake tried to unload Juan Gone on the Yankees for Drew Henson, a deal that ultimately fell apart shortly before the deadline, and with the Tigers trying to stay above .500 and in the Wild Card race in August, Juan missed a key stretch of games as the Tigers tumbled in the standings. Gonzalez walked as a free agent at the end of a season, signed with division rival Cleveland and had an explosive bounce back season in which he doubled his stats from his season with the Tigers. He then returned to Texas for two injury plagued seasons, milked 4 million from the Royals for another injury plagued season, and then 600k from Cleveland before getting hurt for the season in his only at-bat. Now Juan is a vagabond, ex-Independent League player, who left about 100 MILLION on the table after everything is said and done (had Juan signed that 8 year deal it would have hands down been the worst contract in the history of pro sports, think about it, Juan would be making 20 million this season, there would be no Pudge, no Maggs, no playoffs, no World Series, the Tigers would've been buried by that deal, even Royals fans would be saying, "sure we overpaid for Gil Meche but it's not like he's Juan Gonzalez", and probably relocating to Portland Oregon after 7 straight 120 loss seasons) and looking to deceive one of his former employers into thinking that he still can offer something, anything, before ultimately being exposed as a complete fraud when he retires with the first career ending ingrown hair.
If I were Ilitch I would pick up the phone and say, "Hey Juan, I feel terrible about how things have turned out, how about 3 years 30 million and a guaranteed roster spot......(long pause)......nah just fuckin' with you man, see you in hell.....(short pause)....no I'm not there yet I only look like a corpse, asshole." Or, better yet, have Dombrowski meet with Juan's agents like the Tigers are serious, and when exchanging numbers have Dombrowski counter with a two-year contract, for $6.55 an hour delivering greasy-ass Little Caesar's Hot N'Ready Pizzas with a Ford Festiva, with the parties going dutch on gas.....nevermind, I don't think Juan's worth that much either.