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Welcome to Bless You Boys

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Welcome to blessyouboys.com, a site about the Detroit Tigers, their celebrated past, their rapidly-improving present, and their hopeful future.

What does the name mean? Blessyouboys.com is not, despite what you may think, a request to a higher power to bestow good fortune on the pre-adolescent readers that stop by, though we certainly wish them the best. On the contrary, the title refers to a nickname for the Tigers bestowed by Detroit sportscaster Al Ackerman in the late 1970s. Ackerman was sarcastic and occasionally nasty, and would give his facetious blessing to the local ballclub whenever they took home an infrequent win. He's the same guy who called one-time manager Ralph Houk "Fifth-place Ralph," and said of Hall-of-Famer Sparky Anderson, "Sparky came here two years ago promising to build a team in his own image. Now the club is looking for small, white haired infielders with .212 batting averages." But I digress, already. "Bless You Boys" turned into a nickname for the Tigers, people forgot that it started out as a nasty near-insult, and it became a rallying cry during the 1984 World Championship season. Now it's the name of this little corner of the vast, and yet somehow still crowded, internet.

Why another team fan site? Because the Tigers are, on the whole, neglected. There are some great Tiger blogs out there -- the ones I know of are linked in the right sidebar. They don't get much traffic, though, and there's no Tiger community out there to speak of. People talk about Red Sox Nation, they talk about Cub Nation, Blez has a thriving Athletics Nation up and running, but to talk about a Tiger Nation is to invite ridicule. Blessyouboys.com (BYB for those of us in the know) wants to be part of a Tiger Nation, and it wants to build a bandwagon that's ready for the late joiners by the time the Tigers get good again - which may not take as long as you think. We're going build this bandwagon with a lot of fan passion, a little bit of fan intelligence, and SB Nation's proven ability to build healthy communities on the net.

Who are you? My name is Jeff Gray, and I'm BYB's sole author, at least for the time being. I grew up in Ann Arbor, and though I haven't lived in Michigan since I went away to school, I've remained fiercely loyal to the teams of my youth: the Wolverines, the Pistons, the Lions, and yes, the Tigers. Lou Whitaker is my favorite player of all time and always will be. I like needlework, the glow of a warm fireplace, and moonlit walks along the beach. Actually, I like fantasy baseball, rock music, writing, hiking, and my girlfriend/muse, Eisa. But enough about me. Even I'm getting bored.

Not so fast. What kind of baseball fan are you? I believe that productive outs are better than non-productive outs, but that they aren't something to shoot for. I believe that saves are silly. I believe in Baseball Prospectus and Peter Gammons. I believe that small-market teams can win, but that they have almost no room for error. I believe that Detroit is not a small market. I believe that people who think they can ID a steroid user by looking at one are fooling themselves. I believe that the slow jog from an outfield bullpen to an infield brawl is one of the most absurd sights in sports.

But aren't the Tigers pathetic? How can you build a bandwagon on pathetic? Yes and no. Sure, they haven't had a winning record since 1993. Sure their all-out pushes to get to .500 are frustrating and more than a little embarrassing. But there are smart people in charge now, and there's progress in both the majors and minors. We'll talk a lot more about this later, but won't it feel good to be a part of the bandwagon before it gets rolling?

Should the Tigers buy or sell in 2005? Ah, the question of the hour. The biggest move so far in the 2005 season, the swap of Ugueth Urbina for Placido Polanco, is a move that doesn't commit the team to either direction, but still improves them in the shortest of short terms. I honestly don't know what Dombrowski and company should do. They have a team that's right at .500, but looks to be more than a couple of players away from a championship squad and is a couple of traded minor leaguers away from a scarily thin farm system. But aren't we here to win? Why not this year? Let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by, and come back often. There will be updates every day. Post comments, post to the diaries, and help build the bandwagon.