Staying loose during the stretch run
Thanks to everyone who has checked in on the push-pin map. The response has been unbelievable. They’re coming in from all over.
Obviously this past week or so we haven’t had a whole lot of stories to tell. It was funny. FSN did the Tigers Weekly piece on it, and did a really good job on it, too. And it seemed like as soon as it showed on Friday, we’ve had chances, and every time we put in, man, nothing happened. We were looking around thinking maybe we have to get a new supply or something.
There’s the reality of baseball, though, for fans reading in on this. You play 162 games, there’s magic throughout the year and obviously for the teams at the end making a run and contending for a championship, they have a little more magic than the next team. But it obviously was a rough week. One thing that hasn’t swayed is the chemistry of this team, although right now we’re probably falling on our toughest stretch of the year. We haven’t really been used to that. It’s funny, because people say we haven’t had one of these. Listen, there’s a group of guys here that had a lot of these three years ago. I was talking to Inge the other day about that. It’s like, this is nothing compared to falling on real hard times. So there’s still the attitude here, just so people know. I think it’s important, not only the fun of the game and the light-heartedness of the game with the Gum Time and all that, but on the serious side of things people following along, fans are probably uneasy about things. But just to let them know from what’s going on here with the guys, there is no true fall-off or panic or anything like that.
Guys are still having a good time. And the people that follow along need to still be having fun, too. That’s the one thing that you can fall into is that you stop having fun and you start worrying. Continue to have fun. Continue to enjoy this year. Continue to follow along and follow the stories and have fun with it. Because if you don’t enjoy it, it can turn into a miserable season real quick if you don’t think about what’s been good. So that’s what the focus has been in here is on not just going out there and trying to produce and everything like that, but just enjoy it, enjoy what we’re doing. Know what we still have to do but enjoy what we’ve been doing here.
That’s the biggest thing for this week. It’s been fun with the rally strikes again and we come back and it’s like everybody expects it. Well, you know, it’s baseball, and the month of August has been a torturous one. It’s tough.
The other thing about it is the parity in baseball. What people should really enjoy is the fact that baseball is not one-sided. There was a stretch for 10 years or so when the payroll-dominant teams just kind of wiped everybody out. That’s not the case now. It seems like it gets more competitive year to year as time goes on. That has a lot to do with the fresh talent coming in, guys that maybe weren’t expected to come in and have big years that are having big years. We have several of those guys on this team. That’s fun. That’s beautiful when you have however many teams are in it still. Probably half the teams in the big leagues are still hopefuls, still within striking distance. That’s what’s fun about it, and that’s what people should look at. Their team has a chance to do something. Not only what we’ve done, but just in baseball as a sport, as a game, to enjoy that. And like I said, unfortunately, this past week or so, we’ve come up dry, you know? It seems like every time we put it in, we’re looking around.
But certainly, just because we haven’t had a whole lot of stories to report on that, doesn’t mean we won’t have a lot more coming up. We go to New York for a big three-game series. People said our schedule in September lightens up. What? You’ve got Minnesota on that schedule. You’ve got Toronto on that schedule. You’ve got the White Sox on that schedule, the Angels on that schedule. These are all contending teams here all the way to the end. But the guys in here are certainly excited about the challenge of it all and we still, regardless of how it’s been doing, we still have our chew here, man.
We got four cases shipped to us in Cleveland, so we haven’t given up on that. That’s one thing we’ve agreed on is we’ve stuck with it all year. Those rallies helped us get to where we are today and we ain’t gonna give up on it now.
That’s the biggest thing about baseball — really any sport, but especially baseball, because of the longevity of the season — is sticking with what got you there — no pun intended on the sticking — and still believing in it. It would be easy to say things aren’t working right now, let me try something different. Well, what’s different isn’t what got you there. Adjustments? Yeah, but not some dramatic big change. So we’ve not giving up on that.
We’ve still got our gum supplies in there. Our clubhouse manager, Jim Schmakel, made sure we have plenty. I might try some different flavors, though, because I popped on that sour cherry and it ain’t working. That’s what I’ve had the last few times. That one and regular are about the only two I can handle when I throw a full pack in. We may try something different. There’s some cotton candy flavor in there. Maybe it’s the stuff that’ll work. I have a buddy who’s a scout. He told me they had it up in the press box. That’s so funny.
I’ll tell you what, the one thing is, though, is that there’s a city that has come together because of a baseball team that’s doing so well and people follow. For us, people that have been here since 2003, we get to see a change in attitude of the team and what we’re doing. I’m not saying the love and the faithfulness wasn’t there before, but the appreciation of what’s going on with this team and the following — people coming on road trips and just passionately wanting to be part of this whole thing — that’s awesome. We as a team really, really enjoy that. Really, the funny thing is the fans aren’t giving up on what got us there. I go out there over the weekend, I had a rough start in my last outing, are people are out there with their Gum Time t-shirts on and say they brought their rally chews. They say they don’t want to use it. They want us to jump out and stay out front, so we don’t have to rally or anything like that. And I said, "I hear ya, bro. Stick it away. I don’t want to use it, either."
Todd Jones made a good point the other day. He said, "We don’t ever want it to be Gum Time, do we?" I said, "You know what? You’re right." Because if it’s Gum Time, we’re either behind or it’s late in the game and it’s knotted up. But we’re still having fun with it.
One thing about the t-shirts: There’s people out there, they see an opportunity and I guess you can’t blame them too much in a free market out there. But we do have people that have trademarked the Gum Time phrase, and there’s a couple places that I have endorsed as far as doing the t-shirt deal with, Fanatic U and a company by the
name of EA Graphics, which gets the t-shirt out. And the only official t-shirts that are out, that I’m aware of, are the ones at Fanatic U that say, "It’s Gum Time" and then the blue ones that say "Detroit Gum Time" and has "Gum Time 29" on the back. I’ve seen other ones that say "Detroit Gum Time — Just Chew It." I had nothing to do with that one. So if people want to know what the official ones are, there it is. They can do whatever they want. Enjoy it. But aside from that, the official ones are the ones at Fanatic U and you’ll see the other ones dispersed throughout the city. There’s actually a new one coming out, and it’s top of the line. It really does kind of blow these out of the water, and it’s not out yet. It’s called "The Chew Crew" and it’s got a Big League Chew pouch, and this guy did a caricature of me on a pouch of it. And it’s a good one, too. People who followed along on the original Gum Time moment, they’ll like this one. The other ones were more of a general t-shirt that kept me out of it, something more universal. And that’s what it’s about, it’s about everybody. We’ll have a couple more t-shirts out. But like I said, there are official ones and there are unofficial ones.
Pitching in New York will be different. My first start there was in ’03, and that was just a moment type of thing. Obviously, we were pretty far out of it, but I pitched pretty good there. I haven’t pitched there since ’04 and it’ll be special. The thing is, teams like New York, especially in that atmosphere, those are the types of atmosphere that we’re going to play in. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a playoff atmosphere. Looking forward to the challenge, and looking forward to bouncing back from a tough outing.