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COACH KURT AT-LARGE.....M, 1/25/16
Posted on: 01-24-2016

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    Which lame duck boss
has the hotter hot seat,
Brad Ausmus or Jim Caldwell?

    Both had underachieving
teams in 2015.

    Both have made in-game
decisions that have often
backfired.

    Both have first year GMs
who inherited them, rather
than hired them.

    Both are on the last year
of their three-year contracts.

    Both have aged owners who
say they want winners.

    I submit that it's Ausmus who has the shortest leash.

    While 90-year old Martha Firestone Ford says she wants to
"win" for long-suffering Lions fans, the 86-year old Mike Ilitch
of the Tigers wants to "win it all."

    Knowing his and the team's prime players time is running
out, Ilitch took the bold step of approving the free agent signing
of OF Justin Upton last week, which puts the Tigers above the
$189-million payroll luxury tax threshold.  That makes Detroit
one of only five (of 30) big league teams over the limit.

    If the Tigers falter, even a little bit, after VP/GM Al Avila's
off-season roster makeover that added nine new players, Ausmus
will feel the axe.

    Why do I think so?

    Because the Tigers have already hired Ausmus' replacement.

    The under-the-radar signing of Lloyd McClendon to replace
the retired Larry Parrish as Toledo Mud Hens manager this off-
season wasn't only done to fill a hole at the Triple-A level.

    Former MGR of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners,
McClendon was the second most trusted coach on former Tiger
MGR Jim Leyland's staff (next to current Tiger bench coach
Gene Lamont, also an ex-big league manager). It was McClendon
who was interim skipper when Leyland would get ejected.

    Just down I-75 are the future Tiger players destined for 2016
call-ups.

    Don't be surprised if McClendon ends up coming north of the
Ohio border too.

       

    There has been significant noise this winter concerning the
very real possibility the National League will FINALLY adopt the
designated hitter rule for 2017.

    In the last week MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and St. Louis
Cardinals GM Mozeliak have both been quoted as saying sentiment
is shifting toward the NL implementing the DH.

    National League owners who have $100--$200-million invested
in long term contracts to star starters belatedly are realizing the
injury risk of pitchers hitting and running the bases is too dangerous.

    The MLB Players' Association headed by former Tiger 1Bman
Tony Clark would certainly approve the change as it would likely
create 15 more high-paying jobs for heavy hitters.  

    It is ridiculous that Major League Baseball has operated under
two different sets of DH, no-DH rules since the American League
adopted the innovation in 1973.

    Imagine if the NBA Eastern Conference played with the 3-point
arc and the Western Conference without.  What if the NHL West
used the shootout rule and the East refused to adopt even the
five minute overtime concept?  Cross-over games would require
different sets of rules.

    Silly?

    Not really.

    With interleague play, AL clubs are forced to play minus the DH
in NL parks.  The Tigers will open and close the 2016 season in
National League stadiums at Miami and Atlanta and DH Victor
Martinez will be limited to pinch-hitting duty.

    National League teams have a decided home field advantage
in the World Series where American League visitors must sit their
DHs.

    All of the minor leagues use the DH.  Colleges, high schools,
heck even the Little League have a DH rule.  National League clubs
use it too in spring training games.

    I understand there are those who like to see exceptional hitting
pitchers take their turns at bat.  An NL-DH rule wouldn't prevent
that.  A brave manager could still let his pitcher hit.

    However, for every Madison Baumgarner there's a Bartolo Colon.
When I was a kid for every Earl Wilson there was a Hank Aguirre.

    Ever since I was a yonker I cringed when pitchers came to the
plate.  They were inning killers.

    The National League is the oldest professional sports league.
The NL has been set in its ways since the 1890s.  It was slow to
accept the concept of the World Series. (The 1904 NL Champion
New York Giants refused to play the AL Champ Boston Americans.)
The NL was second in allowing unprofitable franchises to move to
new cities and likewise second in adopting expansion.

    Eventually, the NL caught up to the AL in making change.

    It's time they did so again.


COACH KURT


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