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Introduce Yourself: 2011 version

It's a yearly tradition around these parts. Before the season starts, we like to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves to each other. After all, the season lasts six months at the minimum, and this one we anticipate something closer to seven (right?). Since we're all going to be seeing a lot of each other in the threads, we should probably get to know each other a bit first.

And this is an open thread, so feel free to reply to people. Just get to know each other!

So here goes:


I spent half my childhood in the city of Detroit, but I've lived in Marquette in the Upper Peninsula for the most part of the past 10 years and don't see any reason I'd want to live elsewhere anytime soon. I began my writing career in earnest when I wrote for The North Wind at Northern Michigan University, where I spent three semesters before transferring to and graduating from Michigan State. I returned to Marquette, even went up to Chassell* -- near Houghton -- for a year to pursue at bit more education at Michigan Tech.

*If you think you know snow, you don't know anything until you lived in the Chassell-Painesdale lake effect snow area. By the end of January it was halfway up my cabin's windows. It was incredible. That was one of my favorite places to live ever but I couldn't do a second year on the Keweenaw Peninsula without a Starbucks.

Finally, I settled into a sportswriting job in Marquette with The Mining Journal. where I won first place for sports columns in our circulation size from the Michigan Press Association among other top three finishes. I didn't see a great future in sportswriting, though I still love to do it, so I work mainly at the high school sub teaching during the day while continuing to do freelance writing and editing.

As for this blogging thing, I started Mack Avenue Tigers in 2006 during a time the Tigers blogosphere was limited to about three bloggers. MAT kept growing in popularity and acclaim, but I thought joining SB Nation would get the widest audience so I moved to BYB in December 2009. Once or twice I've thought about hanging up the laptop but I'm too opinionated and need an outlet, so that'll never happen.

When I'm not doing something involving writing, baseball or writing about baseball, I also enjoy hockey and soccer, and I try to spend as much time as I can photographing the awesome wilderness that is the Upper Peninsula.

Big Al:

Short version: I'm a Detroit based sports blogger & podcaster best known as the writer/editor of the 5 year old Detroit Lions blog, The Wayne Fontes Experience, and as an editor for the SBNation Detroit Tigers blog, Bless You Boys.

I'm also the co-creator and co-host of the weekly Detroit sports podcast, The Knee Jerks - Detroit Sports Talk with Eno and Big Al, recorded live every Monday night at 7 PM on the Sports Geeks Radio network.

But more than anything else, I'm a huge fan of Detroit sports. But I have lived and died with my first sports love, the Tigers, my entire life.

Long version: I’m a life-long Michigander, born and raised in the farmlands of Monroe County, closer to Toledo than Detroit. I’m now happily living with the girlfriend and her two sons in the wilderness of Oakland County, otherwise known as Lake Orion.

As for my Tigers cred, I started attending games as a wee lad in the late 60’s. I was in the stands when the Tigers beat the Red Sox to win the East in 1972, and when they blew the Central division crown on the last day of the 2006 season. I pretty much lived at the Corner for much of the 80’s, as one of my best friends was a manager for a stadium concessionaire. I got to see pretty much every nook and cranny of Tiger Stadium, from the pressbox to the clubhouse, and saw with my own eyes in what sad, dire shape the old place was really in…and this was 10-15 years before the Tigers left for Comerica!

I started writing about Detroit sports over five years ago when my arthritis took a turn for the worse, as I became disabled, unable to work and drive. So I started a blog to kill the time, in hopes of keeping me busy. The Wayne Fontes Experience began as an all-around Detroit sports blog, and I wrote extensively about the Tigers, along with all the other local teams. Over the years it gradually morphed into the Detroit Lions and NFL-centric blog it is today. I also do a weekly Detroit sports podcast called The Knee Jerks - Detroit Sports Talk with Eno and Big Al with my good friend Greg Eno. We record live via streaming every Monday night at 7 PM. We talk all things Detroit sports, meaning there's plenty of Tigers talk...and Lions, Red Wings, Pistons, Wolverines and Spartans talk as well.

As for my tenure here at BYB, I had covered for the former head honcho, Ian Casselberry, a few times in the past when he needed to take time off, and enjoyed the experience immensely. So when Kurt asked me to regularly contribute to BYB last year, I jumped at the chance. After writing almost exclusively about the Lions and the NFL for the past three years, I had really missed writing about a team with a chance to win more than once or twice a season. Plus, baseball was my first sports love, even though I consider the Tigers A1 and the Lions A2 in my personal sports pecking order.


I spent my first 18 years growing up in Dearborn Heights. It was only a 20 minute drive from Tiger Stadium and while we didn't get to a lot of games - probably one or two most years - I've had good fortune as a live attendant of Tiger games. When I was a stats obsessed kid, I used to keep track of their record when I attended games. I remember them losing the first game of a double-header against the Brewers and thinking that my 10th game was the first one they lost. I've since given up keeping track, but I've been at some historic Tiger games.

I was at the only playoff game they won in 1987. Pat Sheridan's home run seem to pass right before my eyes. I was sitting out in the center field bleachers when a dude hopped over the wall and proceeded to strip down naked and streak around the outfield. If you want a little more genuine history, I was at the final game at Tiger Stadium and Game 4 against the Yankees in 2006. There have been a lot of times where they have driven me crazy, but I love being a Tiger fan. It's inextricably tied to where I grew up, my family and my personal history.

But we all know we're each Tiger fans, right? I'm supposed to give a little more personal background. After my first 18 years, I got my Bachelor's in Mathematics from Michigan Tech and moved to Toledo with a desire to be a fiction writer. I know that sounds weird, but it allowed me to meet my wife of nearly ten years, so no complaints. Anyway, after breezing around from job to job for a little while, I decided to go back to school for city planning. That allowed me to get a job as a planner, which I've been doing for the past seven years. I started blogging in 2006 and have been blogging about the Tigers' minor leagues since 2007. Back then, it was at the now defunct Take 75 North. I moved to Bless You Boys near the end of last season and now have more readers in a day then I had in a month at T75N.

The rest of the BYB staff will post theirs in the comments.