Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Bottom Five Least Favorite Tigers #3

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was going to randomly count down my bottom five least favorite Tigers, starting with #2 Juan Gonzalez, this post is a continuation of that series so if you want read the criteria for selection or how it all began, scroll down a couple of posts, or...I guess I could link it....nah, just scroll down.

# 3: Bobby Higginson: Had I been creating this list in 2001 it would have been unthinkable that Higgy would have cracked the top 5. Just as recently as six years ago Higginson was the face of the franchise, granted it was the most downtrodden, terrible franchise in baseball and a complete laughingstock, but he was the star player nonetheless. Coming off a career year in 2000 when Bobby became the first Tiger to bat .300 and hit 30 homeruns in a season since Norm Cash corked his way to a similar feat 40 years earlier, Higgy seemed to be on the cusp of becoming a perennial all-star outfielder, on a team that had just had its most promising season in nearly a decade and appeared to be turning the corner under the stewardship of Phil Garner (haha, yeah right, Phil Garner was terrible, we weren't going anywhere with that jerk...yeah I said we...because I was on the team...or at least I pretended I was). Higginson had also cemented his status as team leader, having openly challenged public enemy #1 Juan Gonzalez who in turn fled town after a disastrous 2000 season, (You may notice that Gonzo came in at #2 on this list, what an enjoyable group of guys) and Higginson further endeared himself to fans by eschewing free agency, where he reportedly would have drawn interest from the Yankees and Braves, by signing a lucrative 4 year contract extension to stay in Detroit when free agents were avoiding area like the plague, and the team had trouble re-signing their own star players....you know...had they had any. Fresh off the Juan Gonzalez debacle, Luis Gonzalez becoming a star in Arizona after Randy Smith traded him for peanuts, (wait no, that's an insult to peanuts, they actually have value, even though you can buy hundreds of them from a homeless guy outside Comerica for a buck, all the Tigers got was Karim Garcia), the Higginson signing on the eve of Opening Day seemed to be a harbinger for change, a ray of hope, a reason for optimism, a....well you get the idea.

Of course all of this optimism was crushed in the first month of the season as the Tigers got off to an uninspired 8-15 start thanks in large part to a mediocre rotation anchored by a young Jeff Weaver, aging knuckleballer Steve Sparks, and Chris Holt....wait, seriously? Chris Holt? whatever. But I was undeterred in my optimism and in early May my friends Kevin and Mike and I decided to skip our Prom to go to Comerica for Bobby Higginson bobblehead night (Sure this was a conscious decision on our part to skip the game and had nothing to do with the fact that none of us could get dates, although my friend Kevin would vehemently deny this to this day, and if you hear him saying things like "maybe those losers couldn't get dates but I had 9 girls lined up and they were all clamoring to have sex with me.", don't believe him because he's full of shit. He used to by R. Kelly cd's so he "could have something to play for the ladies", and they would sit unopened in his backseat for months, before he tried to pass them off as birthday gifts....wait, this post isn't about how much I hate my friends, back to Higgy.) Anyways that game ended up being the greatest Tigers game I'd ever been too, we got our bobbleheads, moved down to kick ass seats behind the Angels dugout after a rain delay chased away most of the crowd and watched as Bobby Higginson ended the game with a walk off homerun in the bottom of the 11th.

O.k. I know what you're thinking, you are already two paragraphs in and I've said nothing but glowing things about Higginson, this is supposed to be about despising people, bitching, complaining, whining, moaning, all that noise. Well, you've been duped suckers, I just thought I would waste ten minutes of your life and alienate all of my readers, ha. Nah, I'm just kidding, however that Tigers-Angels prom game was the last positive memory I have of Bobby Higginson's era in Detroit. The 2001 season, which started with so much promise, ended up being another near 100 loss season, as Bobby saw a precipitous decline in his production. The next season saw Higginson battle injuries, namely a bad hamstring, which would become a recurring theme over his final four seasons in Detroit. Everything bottomed out in the 2003 season as the team nearly broke the all-time record for losses, and Higginson had career lows across the board, while making an astounding 11 MILLION DOLLARS that season (yes, all caps were necessary to emphasize the fact he made 11 MILLION DOLLARS...sorry that is annoying). Higginson became overly critical of teammates without including himself, openly lobbied for a trade, had an inflated sense of self worth, and fans began to blame Higginson for the franchises woes as the most visible and least productive member of a group of several overpaid underachieving veterans, such as Dean Palmer, Steve Sparks, Matt Anderson, Craig Paquette, and Damion Easley. Higgy's Corner, the #4 themed concession stand in left field closed for the summer, and he was roundly booed during nearly every plate appearance. 2004 was yet another disappointing season, and heading into spring training 2005 Higginson's spot on the roster was tenuous at best as productive minor leaguer Marcus Thames challenged Higgy for the final outfield spot. Higgy struggled immensely in spring training but to the surprise of everyone, including most of the team, he made the final roster. I believe this was the decision that began to undermine Trammell's authority as many of the veterans were outspoken in wondering if Trammell really made the decision in the best interest of the team. Higginson wound up getting only 26 at bats, managing a mere two singles, or 4.425 million per hit, before going on the disabled list for the season. After the season ended Higginson was granted free agency where he only generated interest in various recreational slo-pitch softball church leagues.

To recap Higginson spent 11 years in Detroit, all of which were losing seasons, and collected over 52 million dollars. His ultimate legacy was being the hideous, grotesque, twisted, gnarled, face of the franchise (figuratively speaking, in all honesty he was a very handsome man.....or so I've been told) during the most dark, depressing, bleak, era in the one hundred plus year history of the Detroit Tigers, a stinking rotting corpse of a reminder of all that was wrong with the Randy Smith regime, (I know it's some beautiful imagery, what can I say, I have a gift for painting a nice picture.) Now Higginson owns a limousine rental service in Clarkston, where he reportedly takes some limos out for a spin as a way to "unwind"/use tips for booze money that in turn will get some high school girls drunk on Mad Dog after their Prom Dance, and "hey did I tell you pretty young ladies that I used to play baseball." Oh well, maybe they should have went to a game instead.


Dr Huxtable said...

Posts on back to back days? Fuck yes!

Big Al said...

Ah, Higgy. The only other Tiger who went from being universally loved to outright despised so quickly is Willie Hernandez.

Higgy had that big year at exactly the right time, going into one of those offseasons, like this last one, where baseball was throwing absolutely crazy money at undeserving players.

To think that Bobby Higginson made over 50 million dollars, in what could be called an average career at best, is mind boggling.

zorak163 said...

Higginson is my least favorite Tiger. Not only did his performance dwindle but he had an attitude problem.

At Tiger Fest there was a game worn Detroit Stars cap autographed by Higginson for only $20. No one bought it.

beefshower said...

I can't believe I've posted on consecutive days either, I don't know where all the energy and ambition came from, I'm sure it will peter out shortly, no I'll try to keep it going.

I've heard that Guillermo was despised by the time he left Detroit, but I was a little to young to remember the circumstanses, and I've never really asked.

And zorak, I love the name, I'm a big space ghost fan and zorak was the glue to that show...That's a funny story about Tigerfest, I wanted to go this year but was unable b/c of a scheduling conflict

thanks for the comments


T-Storm said...

Wow, the love/hate mixture of that post is almost an exact echo of my own early affection and more recent antipathy for Higgy. By the time he finally got the hell out of my life I was giddy at the prospect of not having to see his outrageous salary listed atop the roster.

zorak163 said...

I decided yesterday that putting all of my baseball posts on my regular blog was too chaotic - hence I've started one just for baseball stuff - any interest in trading links? You can check it out at http://tigersandthedreamweaver.blogspot.com/