Corporate marketing and cheerleading! Two things that baseball doesn’t need more of, together at last!
The Tigers are looking for fun, energetic fans to be part of the DTE Energy Squad — a promotion, entertainment and fan-interaction team. The squad will help rile up the crowd at Comerica Park.
Members of the DTE Energy Squad will welcome fans to the park, distribute giveaway items and work alongside mascot Paws, dancing atop the dugouts and entertaining fans, according to the Tigers.
Due to my deep and personal connection to Tiger Stadium, I made it a point of principle not to visit Comerica Park for the first few years it was open. After awhile I got realistic about things and dropped the protest, but I never have managed to make it up there for a game yet for a number of odd reasons. In light of the pep squad, I may go back to avoiding the place on principle.
All I know is that if my Great Uncle Harry — the man who first took me to Tiger Stadium and was a season ticket holder there going back to the 40s — were still alive to see this, he’d take a sledge hammer to the place. And that’s saying something considering that he’d be 103-years-old now.
At the risk of crotchety old fogeyism, let me say that baseball in Detroit should smell like beer and cigars and should be watched by knowledgeable fans who have no time or patience for some amped-up teenager tasked with “riling them up.” You know: like it always has been.
Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.
For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.
So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?
The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.
Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.
But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.
United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.
Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.