June 18 • 10:10 PM

Cold Tigers earning chilly fan reception

April 09, 2008
The stands were nearly full for Sunday's Tiger game versus the White Sox, helping warm up an otherwise cool April evening.

While temperatures might have been chilly at the game's outset, the mood of the fans grew downright cold by the time the ninth inning rolled around.

The final score, 13-2 in favor of the Chisox, offered little comfort to the few thousand never-say-die fans who stuck around in hopes of a seeing a miracle.

It was yet another disappointment for those of us who thought we could bring some better luck to the team that had been hailed in the off-season as the second coming of the 1927 Yankees.

Despite the impressive career statistics compiled by this season's illustrious Tigers' batting lineup, they have done little to suggest we have another "murderer's row" in our midst.

In fact, what we witnessed Sunday was a performance so lackluster that even a grizzled, veteran manager like Jim Leyland could offer little postgame to explain the meager offense shown by his team thus far.

Of course, it's much too early to panic. It's a long season with many games to play.

But anyone who knows the game of baseball real- izes that the ones that got away early in a season tend to be the ones that haunt you at the end of the year.

So, this slump, that has left the Tigers with an 0-6 record after as many games, is not being taken lightly by fans, the players or the Tigers' management.

You can bet that owner Mike Illitch is particularly displeased with the team's performance, given that he's opened his wallet to the tune of about a gazil- lion dollars (or thereabouts) to assemble this team; includ-ing handing out a Tiger-record sum to new third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

There are as many reasons being tossed around about why the team has started off so poorly as there are opinions on the subject.

Curtis Granderson's absence from the lineup is glaring and nagging injur- ies are reportedly plaguing a few other key players. Then there's the pitching, which many expected would be suspect, save for a starter or two. But there is an even more troubling element to this early-season letdown.

You sense an absence of intensity on the field. We trust these celebrated Tiger players want to win badly, but so do the members of the opposing teams.

In a sport as competitive as major league baseball, the biggest difference between winning and losing can be how badly one team wants to win over the other. Which means never letting up on the field, even for a minute.

At first impression, this team appears to be going through the motions but is sadly lacking in emotion. All the big guns seem to be waiting for someone else to pick up the slack, to come up with the timely hit or the clutch play that wins a game.

Unfortunately, on a team loaded with All-Stars, not one of them has stepped up so far to provide the needed leadership or on-field heroics to inspire his teammates.

Until that happens, or until the players begins to gel as a unit, there will be growing dissatisfaction toward this team.

Once Sunday's game got out of hand, the boo birds could be heard from every part of the stadium, especially from the cheap seats where we were seated.

I guess $32, $6 in taxes, plus $15 for parking and another $30 or so for beer, pretzels and a couple of hot dogs for a seat way way out near the Tigers' bullpen, is a good deal. At least it might have been last year.

So far this year, though, the price seems a little steep.

At least the pre-game food at the Mexican Village was good, even if the waitresses' hurried, harried and brusque manner kept her tip limited to the minimum 15% noted on the bill.

Come on, Tigers! Let's play some ball!

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Castle Creek
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