Ian Casselberry

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  • Comerica Park on opening day 2013. (Getty Images)

    Baseball season just started so that means your summer ballpark road trip is that much closer! In a bid to help you with your upcoming journeys, Big League Stew has solicited the help of the locals. Over the next month or so, we'll be hitting up our usual guest blogger crew to feature 10 tips for enjoying each of the 30 ballparks like the locals do. Have a suggestion in addition to the ones listed here? Make sure to list it in the comments below.

    Next up on our list is our good friend Ian Casselberry, a noted Detroit Tigers fan who will take you through all the ins and outs of the first American League stop on our tour.

    Here's the first thing to consider when visiting the Detroit Tigers' home ballpark: Don't be afraid of Detroit.

    Yes, we're all aware of how the city is perceived by the rest of the country and even by people who live outside of the metro Detroit region. Even Comerica Park's namesake sponsor left Detroit for Dallas a few years ago.

    Drive to the ballpark and form your own perceptions, rather than lean on jokes about cars being set on fire in 1984. That was nearly 30 years ago. Get some new material. You're better than that. Or at least you should be.

    Comerica Park (or "the CoPa") is one of the more underrated ballparks in MLB. It wasn't built on a bay, there are no views of bridges or water beyond the outfield. But it's located downtown, is extremely walkable and offers great views of the game throughout the stadium. You will have a good time here, even more so if you follow these tips from Tigers fans.

    1. Find your pregame (and postgame) stop: No need to just go to the Tigers game and immediately hit the highway afterwards. The area surrounding Comerica Park is nice. Enjoy a stroll with your fellow baseball fans. Places immediately surrounding the ballpark where you can get a pregame drink or meal include The State Bar (right next to the State Theatre The Fillmore), Hockeytown Cafe and Elwood Bar & Grill.

    Read More »from Comerica Park: A local’s guide to enjoying a road trip to the home of the Detroit Tigers
  • Concession Speech: 2012 Detroit Tigers

    With the season now over, teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.

    But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is our old pal Ian Casselberry, a former Stewie who's now a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. He wrote the 10 best things about being a Tigers fan earlier this year.

    Thank you. Thank you. Please... thank you. All right. Thank you.

    People of Detroit, people of Tiger Town — I know this is the speech you were hoping you wouldn't have to hear. I certainly hoped I wouldn't have to make it.

    I know some of you are still stunned by what happened in the World Series. There was so much promise, so much excitement after the Detroit Tigers swept the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Anything seemed possible after that. Certainly, the first World Series championship in Detroit since 1984 seemed possible.

    However, I ask that you remember how special it was just to make it to the World Series. No, we were not just happy to be there. And being swept by the San Francisco Giants was a tremendous disappointment. But hope is still alive, Tiger Town. Let that warm your heart during a cold winter.

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  • Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman signs $100 million extension, averts distractions

    Ryan Zimmerman's new contract makes him the second-highest paid third baseman in MLB. (US Presswire)Nothing like a little bit of drama to make spring training interesting as full-squad workouts begin.

    That's the approach Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals took this weekend, with the team's franchise player imposing a Saturday deadline to agree on a contract extension. Presumably, Zimmerman wanted to stay with the theme of last spring and prevent himself from becoming a distraction to his fellow Nats.

    No worries, mates. There will be no distractions this spring in Viera, Fla. Not from Zimmerman, anyway.

    The Nationals and their third baseman agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract extension on Sunday, which will be tacked on to the two years and $26 million that the team had already committed to Zimmerman. The deal includes a $24 million team option for 2020, along with a full no-trade clause, which was reportedly the major obstacle to an agreement being reached.

    Only the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez will earn more money among major-league third basemen. Yet Zimmerman still won't be the highest-paid player on the Nationals. Outfielder Jayson Werth is set to earn an average of $18 million per year for the next six seasons, while Zimmerman will average $16.7 million through the duration of his contract.

    But hey, who's counting? (Other than Nats GM Mike Rizzo and owner Ted Lerner, that is.)

    Read More »from Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman signs $100 million extension, averts distractions
  • Chris Perez joins Grady Sizemore among Indians’ early injuries

    Chris Perez saved 36 games for the Cleveland Indians in 2011. (AP)Even if a player shows up to spring training in the proverbial best shape of his life, it's probably important for him to pace himself through the six-week schedule leading up to opening day. That appears to be a lesson Chris Perez learned the hard way on Sunday.

    The Cleveland Indians' closer will be out 4-6 weeks after straining his left oblique while throwing a bullpen session last Thursday. As reported by the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes, Perez stopped after 25 to 30 pitches after feeling a pain in his side. At the time, he thought it was a cramp.

    But did Perez try to go too hard, too soon? That seems to be what Indians' head trainer Lonnie Soloff was saying when he spoke about the injury with the media.

    "His body was clearly not ready for the intensity of that bullpen session," said Soloff.

    Uh-oh! Was Soloff saying that Perez showed up to spring training out of shape? No, said the trainer, but the session was more than his body was prepared to handle.

    Perez didn't think Soloff was criticizing him, either. Rather, he was saying that for the pitcher's first bullpen session of the spring, it was advisable to go 50 or 75 percent, instead of going all out with a 100 percent effort. However, Perez felt that to do anything less would've been a waste of time.

    And, Perez insisted, he is not out of shape.

    Read More »from Chris Perez joins Grady Sizemore among Indians’ early injuries
  • Twins’ Morneau fighting doubts in latest comeback effort

    Concussion symptoms have limited Justin Morneau to 150 games the past two seasons. (AP)Justin Morneau has played in only 150 games for the Minnesota Twins over the past two seasons, due to the effects from a concussion he suffered in July of 2010.

    The constant struggle with post-concussion symptoms has clearly taken a toll on Morneau, judging from comments he made while speaking with the media on Friday.

    From 1500ESPN.com's Phil Mackey:

    "I don't think there'll be a career if it's something I'm dealing with," Morneau said. "That's the reality of the whole thing. I've kind of come to grips with that. I'm obviously not going to continue to mess around with this if it continues to be a problem. There comes a point when you can only torture yourself so long. It's something I love to do, but you keep preparing and keep being let down, that's something that nobody wants to go through, obviously. It's been a tough winter that way. I try not to think about that kind of stuff."

    Dealing with so many setbacks while trying to return to the lineup, let alone his former MVP-level performance, has obviously created plenty of doubt and uncertainty for Morneau. How long can a player keep trying to come back when he's being constantly thwarted by his body, especially from a condition that is so difficult to handle properly?

    Read More »from Twins’ Morneau fighting doubts in latest comeback effort
  • The 10 best things about being a Detroit Tigers fan

    The request we're sending to bloggers of all 30 teams this spring is a simple one: What are the 10 best things about being a fan of your favorite team? What features of the franchise have you excited for opening day and what keeps you coming back year after year?

    Over the next few weeks, we'll give each of the 30 teams a day in the spotlight, showcasing the icons and traditions that make each big-league hamlet special. Starting off the series is our own Ian Casselberry, the editor emeritus of Bless You Boys and a tried-and-true Detroit Tigers fan.

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  • Who benefits more from Tim Lincecum’s new two-year deal with Giants?

    Despite a 2.74 ERA last season, Tim Lincecum finished with a 13-14 record for the San Francisco Giants. (US Presswire)Yes, something else happened in baseball on Tuesday besides Prince Fielder and the Detroit Tigers joining forces to shock the world to the tune of $214 million.

    On any other day, Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants would've been the top story. The two sides agreed to a two-year, $40.2 million contract, which buys out Lincecum's final two years of arbitration eligibility. He'll become a free agent after the 2013 season.

    Lincecum was looking at a sweet raise, regardless of how the arbitration process worked out for him.

    Last week, he asked for a $21.5 million salary for 2012, the most ever requested by a player with less than six years of service time. The Giants countered with a $17 million contract offer that was the highest ever offered by a team since salary arbitration was instituted in 1974. And oh, by the way, it would've given Lincecum a $4 million raise.

    So this is a win for both sides, right? Well, yes and no.

    Read More »from Who benefits more from Tim Lincecum’s new two-year deal with Giants?
  • Omar comin’! Blue Jays sign 44-year-old Vizquel to minor-league deal

    Omar Vizquel will turn 45 years old in April. (US Presswire)If you were worried about preparing yourself for a baseball season that doesn't include Omar Vizquel, the 44-year-old infielder is doing his best to make sure you won't miss him.

    Vizquel will try to keep this baseball thing going for a 24th season, agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. The news was first reported by ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, then confirmed by Vizquel himself. All on the Twitter, as the kids say.

    Set to turn 45 in April, Vizquel won't be the oldest player in the majors if — and when — he wins a job with the Jays. He has Tim Wakefield (46 in August) to thank for that. (Both of them would cede seniority to Jamie Moyer, 49, if he earns a spot with the Colorado Rockies.)

    Vizquel appeared in 58 games with the Chicago White Sox last season, batting .251/.287/.305 in 182 plate appearances. But as his 11 Gold Gloves will tell you, Vizquel has always been known more for his glove. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos either feels that Vizquel can play John McDonald's former role of backing up every infield position, or he's hoping that bringing in another infielder might challenge incumbent utility man Mike McCoy and recently acquired Luis Valbuena.

    Read More »from Omar comin’! Blue Jays sign 44-year-old Vizquel to minor-league deal
  • Torn ACL likely ends Victor Martinez’s 2012 season before it even begins

    Victor Martinez hit .330 and drove in 102 runs for the Detroit Tigers in 2011. (AP)

    A relatively quiet offseason for the Detroit Tigers just got noisy.

    But for all the wrong reasons.

    Read More »from Torn ACL likely ends Victor Martinez’s 2012 season before it even begins
  • He’s no Prince, but Cubs trade for Anthony Rizzo

    Anthony Rizzo struggled in his first big league season, batting .141. (AP)Should we start with the bad news, Chicago Cubs fans? Your team won't be signing Prince Fielder this offseason.

    But the good news is that the Cubs will still be getting a new first baseman, one who could eventually man the position for years to come (and will be arriving in town with a much lower pricetag than Prince).

    Anthony Rizzo is a familiar face to the Cubs' new front office. GM Jed Hoyer was with the San Diego Padres when they acquired Rizzo from the Boston Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez trade last winter. Team president Theo Epstein was the Red Sox GM when the team drafted Rizzo out of high school in 2007.

    The 22-year-old struggled in his first taste of the big leagues last season. In 153 plate appearances, Rizzo batted .141/.281/.242 with one home run and nine RBIs. He showed big-time power in the minors, averaging 25 homers and 100 RBIs over the past two seasons. But Rizzo became expendable in San Diego when the Padres got Yonder Alonso from the Cincinnati Reds in the Mat Latos trade.

    Hoyer admitted that he probably rushed Rizzo last year and sees him starting in the minors next season, with Bryan LaHair — who hit .331/.405/.664 with 38 homers and 109 RBIs for Triple-A Iowa — being the Cubs' starting first baseman. While that's probably disappointing for fans who were hoping for a flashier move, this is more in line with the rebuilding approach Epstein and Hoyer have taken thus far.

    Read More »from He’s no Prince, but Cubs trade for Anthony Rizzo

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