When a team is down in the dumps and is out of a pennant race at this time of year it is usually easy to pick one or two players that stand out as the team MVP or at least one that plays well and is a fan favorite. Yet, with this year's Tigers we already know that the team is filled with hard-working, everyday players who don't starve for media attention. With all of the Tigers being so statistically close, it makes a fan favorite even more difficult to choose.
Since so many other aspects have been compared to the magical 84' season I want to look back at those middle 80's years when I was a youngster. Like many other kids, the obvious and logical choice for a boyhood idol was Alan Trammell. The youthful shortstop had an incredible work ethic that helped him put up huge numbers for a shortstop in those days. If player's jerseys would have been more popular then I am sure that #3 would have been donned more than any other around old Tiger Stadium. Although Tram was my clear cut choice, his double play partner "Sweet Lou" had to be a close second. I almost felt like Sparky batted them in the order that I liked them.
Because I was so young, I was never too impressed with pitching, so Morris, Petry, and Tanana were not big enough names in my book. In fact, despite their greatness wearing the Olde English "D," I never followed a pitcher until Mike Henneman came along. I know that not all people shared the same feelings as I did in those times.
My brother had a few items around his room that I will never forget, such as, his Superman bed spread, some fire-engine red curtains, and also the most visual aspect of his room, an oversized Lance Parrish poster. For some reason #13 is the lucky number in my family and Lance was the reason why my brother would catch and go on to wear that number throughout his little league days.
There were many others who liked Gibby with his football size and mentality. Some could only be pleased once every five days when Jack Morris took the hill and was sure to give a solid performance. There may also have been a few who did not have a favorite player, but were more interested in how Sparky pulled his teams together. It sure seems like some people may feel the same way about Jim Leyland today.
For some of today's favorites I did not look to ask the youngsters, but relied on my own family who has suffered for the past fifteen years of losing baseball. My brother and I share many of the same sentiments in life and we both agree on the sweetest and smoothest player the Tigers have. There is no better swing than that of the left handed stroke of Carlos Guillen. My brother, who calls him "Los," also loves the fluidity of his grace in the field, despite having an increase in his error total. The play against Jermaine Dye in Chicago speaks greatly for his defensive prowess.
While my dad strongly disagrees with my brother—he still cannot and will not get over the Guillen's error in the Tigers 4-3 loss in the recent Chicago series—he has grown attached to Marcus Thames. This choice was even before I made my dad aware that Thames had been in the National Guard, something which my dad had served in almost thirty years ago. I think he has enjoyed Thames' ability to contribute and to work hard as a player who wasn't supposed to figure in the mix. When the season is on the line I am sure that my dad would love to see the former guardsman come up to hit a game winning homer (a prediction for the playoffs).
It shouldn't be such a surprise, but for a guy who has hit less than .250 for most of this season, my uncle's hands-down favorite is Brandon Inge. My uncle's reasoning is obviously the fact that Inge will go out and scrap, dive, get dirty, and be an everyday gamer. He accepts the fact that he may not get a big hit or make the fantastic play all of the time, but that he is always trying and sometimes will. I guess it shouldn't surprise me because Inge has also hit over 20 homers this year.
When it comes down to it I cannot make a choice or cast a vote for team MVP or even favorite player. I was in Kansas City for opening day and I will be there for the end of the regular season. At 26 years old, I found myself awestruck to be watching these guys take pre-game BP and later on when I met Jason Grilli and Joel Zumaya after the game. Pudge and Maggs have given the big names to this team. Monroe and Thames are players who have given the office and are relishing their days in the sun. Verlander, Zumaya, and Granderson have stormed the scene with youthful energy. Infante, Wilson, and others have been a part of this special season. I can honestly say that I have fallen in love with this team, from the everyday starter to those who have been sent to Toledo and will be back up September 1st.
Don't make me choose now because I am having too much fun being a kid again and looking for the star of the day at hand. I hope these players are having fun, because right now each one of them is the hero for some kid out there.