I’ve been really having fun seeing where all these people have been writing in from. One guy says he’s down here in Covington, La. And then there’s Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Ga.; Lawrence, Kan.; southern Illinois. It reminds me of that Johnny Cash song, "I’ve Been Everywhere," when he starts running off all the cities. If you want to continue writing in response, just let me know where you’re writing from, whether you’re out of state or wherever, and then also share some of your stories — not so much personal, like what’s going on with your Little League team and whatever else, but moreso tell me stories of when you actually put in a rally chew, whether you were at a game or watching a game or listening to a game. I’ve been getting a few of those, but it’s fun to hear when that actually worked for you.
I don’t know if you realize this, but we’ve made ESPN a couple times now — not just the clippings of it but the actual Gum Time drops. Verlander was watching the other night in Tampa Bay, and they had a little drop. And I actually had someone write into the blog saying they dropped Gum Time either on Baseball Tonight or Sportscenter. I haven’t seen it personally, but we’re nationwide now.
The thing is the guys that are real diehard with it, our starting pitchers, we have a little more time to sit around the bench, but we pick and choose our times. This isn’t just something we do every inning and hope it works. Friday night, sixth inning we did it, got a couple runs. In Tampa Bay, when we were down in the seven or eighth inning, we ended up scoring a five spot to go ahead. After it works, we’ll just let whoever else wants to pick it up for the other innings.
Another pretty funny drop was Mickey York of FSN Friday night. Right after the game was over, the camera shot went right to him, he had a big ol’ wad in his jaw. That was pretty funny, so there’s a shout out to Mickey. Good job, buddy.
I have a buddy that I played Minor League baseball with when I was in the Marlins organization. He now works with the Andretti Green racing team. They just had the race out there at Michigan International Speedway, and he blogged in to me and said he was going to take himself some of the gum to the race and see if it worked. I haven’t seen the results of that, so he has to get back to me and let me know if it works. But we’re not just into the game of baseball. We’re going into racing now, too.
I just want to respond to section 104, let them know that I read their entry and I will be looking for them. They have a little section out there. Of course, I don’t think there’s just any one section that’s big on this anymore but they sound like they’ve been one of the loyal ones. From what I’ve retrieved, they’re actually bringing their binoculars out looking, scanning the dugout to see when we start. When they see us start, they roll with it, too.
And then obviously, all the big swings we’ve been getting lately. That’s who the props really go to. We’ve had some big-time clutch hits from guys. Craig’s been amazing in big situations. Guillen, Maggs, Pudge, you can go down the whole list. They just so happen to do something big when we need it most. It’s a contagious feeling. Gum aside, this team is just good. With the atmosphere that we have and I think the fans and the feedback we’ve been getting on this site, we feel like there’s a belief that no matter what it is and when it is in a game, we feel we can win. And that separates a championship team from the teams that are just kind of there. So we have something special going on here. Let’s keep it going.
Like I said, if you just want to write back and let me know some or your stories and where you’re writing from, it would be kind of cool. Let’s see if we can cover the country. We have to have at least one Tiger fan in each state that’s following along with this thing. When we came back home this week, that was the most Big League Chew signing requests in the mail that I actually went through. People send in this gum, most of the time to sign, but some of them are sending because they think that’s the special pack that’s going to give us a win.
We let in our new first baseman, Sean Casey, on Gum Time in Tampa. Me and Bondo, Verlander and Kenny, we all threw it in and had to explain it to him. I kind of started to explain it to him when Grilli had just come off the field in the seventh. This is what typically happens when these guys do this. Sure enough, we put a five-spot up, and I said, "Welcome to the whole Gum Time thing." He said, "I love it." And then I told him the other night that in the sixth inning when we put it in, we only do it one time a game. We pick a time, and the inning that he went up there and doubled. And he was like, "Let’s roll, man." Obviously it was a huge double that got us right back into things, and he loves it. I’ll tell you what, he’s a great addition. He has fun. I mean, Sean’s 32 years old, and he’s like a little kid. Just another little sideshow.
Where to begin? Well, I would say those first-inning rallies were completely without gum. But you know what? I don’t think there’s ever a time that is without gum. I’m pretty sure somebody in the stands somewhere opened up their pouch and said, "This is my rally chew. These are my five runs." Whoever’s doing it early on like that, it’s working pretty well. First time since 1891, that’s unbelievable. That was incredible. So it’s working early just as well as it’s working late in games.
It’s funny, when we got into town in Cleveland on Sunday night after the Oakland series, we were walking through the lobby of the hotel and I realized we aren’t the only ones recognizing this. I had a Cleveland fan sitting there in the hallway as I’m walking by saying, "Don’t be bringing any of that gum here." Somebody I’ve never seen before, had no idea who they were, but obviously a Cleveland fan. Also on the blog, there was a Cleveland fan who was skimming web sites and saw that we had this blog, and wrote in on it. They stated their loyalty to Cleveland, but felt pretty threatened by the gum, knowing we were coming to town.
Now, when we’re still leading those games, but it’s close, do we bring out the gum? Absolutely, and there’s another story. In the Oakland series on Sunday, it was 8-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Guillen had come up to the plate with a single, double and a triple. Obviously, everybody’s pulling for him to maybe hit for the cycle. So I look down, and there’s Craig and DY sitting right there, and everybody knew what would happen if he were to hit the home run. So I told them to throw in a pack, and DY took his first try at it. And DY isn’t afraid to tell you he’s got a big mouth. He can pack quite a bit in there. I don’t know how much he had in there, but it looked like it was over a pack. He threw in the big wad, and Guillen didn’t get the home run, but he rallied out a walk right there. So something good happened, but we can’t dictate quite yet what we get out of the rally.
It’s been good. The biggest one of the week was the only time that we did it last Wednesday in the sixth inning against Chicago. For the first time, we actually saw it flash up on the boards in the stadium. You know when they say, "Make some noise," or whatever? Well, they said, "It’s Gum Time." We had bases loaded and Craig was up. All the starters and a couple of the guys on the bench had the gum in, we all decided that was the inning. And Craig hits the grand slam.
If we do it on the bench, we’re going to get a majority of the starting pitchers, because we’re sitting around and we’ve got to stay in the game, too, do our part. But from time to time, some of the bench guys will join in, just like DY and Craig Sunday. Gomez has done it. Even if they’re in the game, some guys are jumping in on it. We’re having fun.
The thing is, it keeps things loose in tense situations. You’re talking about big-time moments — big, big moments. You come up in those big situations, and if you don’t have something that keeps you loose, you’ll tighten up to the point of focusing too much on the moment to relax. Enjoy the moment instead of letting the pressure overcome what you’re supposed to enjoy about it. So we’ve had some great moments, obviously. We did it again in the sixth inning of the next game [Thursday] against the White Sox and we tied it up in the sixth and eventually went ahead in the seventh. The only time I put it in was the sixth inning. It’s been a pretty good spot for putting it in.
Again, we’re getting the early rallies, too, that have certainly helped us. I looked at Vance on Monday said, "Dude, that’s three straight games where we’ve scored at least five runs. That’s not easy to do." Early in the game, the pitcher’s pretty fresh. Now that also means he can be a little anxious, getting the ball up in the zone, things like that. But some things have to happen. We’ve gotten some errors to extend innings. You’ve got to have the other team help you, or you’ve just got to be crushing the ball, and we’ve had a little bit of both.
Even now, with the footage that gets on ESPN on the highlights, our camera crews have been switching back and forth to our guys on the bench during a rally. But when ESPN shows it, I’m not sure the people at ESPN know about it. I know ESPN the Magazine had a mention, but the people who are actually doing the highlights, they don’t necessarily know what we’re doing. They probably just think we’re a bunch of nuts chewing a bunch of bubble gum. But it’s definitely popular in Detroit, and it’s not just in Detroit anymore. That’s what I want people to know. Everywhere we go, now it’s not just Detroit people saying, "Hey man, will you sign this gum." Now it’s, ‘Hey man, don’t bring that gum here." Again, it’s the team making this what it is. It’s been great.
Beyond all that, it’s still good to see people from back home on the blog writing in. It’s hard to respond to everyone, but I am reading them all. I want people to know that I read every entry. The poems are still coming. They’re getting longer, more imaginative. But on the next entry, we’ll definitely talk about some of the more interesting entries. And we’ll continue the stories.
As for this weekend, we need some gum. We need some gum. That’s going to be tough. It’s going to be Liriano, Radke and Santana. I had a feeling they were going to do that.
Two days ago, obviously, coming back from the All-Star break can be a little rusty, moreso the pitchers than anybody. Bonderman didn’t have his best game, but obviously pitched well enough to win. Our offense
has been great the last few days. That game, down 4-1 at the time, walking along in the dugout, Verlander and Miner come up to me and ask, "What do you think?" and they point to the gum. I said, "Well, I think it’s time." Both of them go wad it up, and sure enough, we put a five-spot up and take the lead and don’t look back. That was the first time all game. It’s fun, because it’s not something you can go and do all nine innings and hit or miss. This was the first time in a game, and here we go, five runs score. It wasn’t just hits, it was the crazy things that happened. Everybody, fans included that are big on it, they pick a time of the game to throw it in. It may or may not work, but each person has the belief that it was their time, their pouch, their gum that started it. That’s what makes it so fun.
And then again Friday night. We got into the ninth inning, and I hadn’t chewed gum all night. Shelton told me that it was time. I said, "Nah, let some of the other guys do it," but he said, "No, it’s time. Get it in there. Get it done." Sure enough, I throw a whole pack in, and two batters into it,
Guillen hits a walkoff and we’re all running out there. There’s five or six of us, and you can see it in the paper, you can see a couple of the guys, Verlander and Maroth, have some big old wads. It’s just hilarious, man. I mean, we have so much fun with it that earlier in the game, our assistant clubhouse manager, Tyson Steele, he came down there and we tied it up. Nobody was doing it, and we looked down the bench and there’s Tyson with gum in his mouth. He didn’t say anything. He just came out there quietly and threw some gum in his mouth and we scored three runs that inning. He goes, "You can thank me for that," and walked back up to the dugout and back to his business.
Answer Time at Gum Time
As far as the responses on some of the blogs (spelling yours) …
NATE ROBERTSON… U ARE A GOOD MAN… wich brings me 2 my next point… i was looking for some freaking big leag- i mean magic gum at a bunch of freaking gas stations rite aids and grocery stores and they didnt have any. not one freaking pack… ware do u guys get so much?
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org | June 28, 2006 04:33 PM
This is a frustrated fan right here. They’re really wanting some gum. We talked a little bit about this last time as far as getting it into the ballpark and things like that. I will say this: Big League Chew has no problem providing gum. It’s still a matter of the interest of getting it into the ballpark. That is kind of an ongoing situation that may or may not happen. It would be good if it did. Again, people are bringing it in.
I’d like to give a little shout out to my friends and family back in Wichita and back in Kansas. I’m getting a few reponses from them, fans who are from there and are following along and really enjoying it and having a ball with it now, too.
I wrote somewhere on here eairler, but I want to write again. I respect you and look up to you. One day I want to be a pitcher as good as you are.- Katie #1 Fan
Posted by: email@example.com | June 29, 2006 10:29 AM
Thanks. It’s nice to see the fans following along.
Thundersticks? Rally Monkeys? Stupid White towels??
Heck no!!!! We have:
Gum Time Rocks. We all love it. Go Tigers!!
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org | June 28, 2006 08:48 PM
Thanks. I really enjoyed that post. We will continue to ride this horse.
Hope to see you guys in KC in the fall. Maybe it will be wrapped up by then!
Saw the Bird pitch back in Mo-Town many years ago…this reminds me of that (his whole approach to having fun and keeping it a game).
Hope your TV is working well….
Dan in Wichita
Posted by: email@example.com | June 29, 2006 09:29 PM
Thanks. I don’t know if they see this as The Bird. I don’t know if they saw him as sane or insane, but he sure did have fun. That’s what we’re doing right here. Just to let everybody out there know, we are sane. I don’t talk to the gum.
Holy cow, this is the best thing I have seen all day!!
I’m not sure if you would ever remember this Nate, but I was one of the girls with the "119 Reasons to be a Tigers Fan" at the last game of the 2003 season.
Anyway, I never missed a single game until I actually grew up and got a job and had to move away from home — but I caught a game in Milwaukee last week where you guys played amazing again!
It is AMAZING as a life long tigers fan to see what you guys are doing and Gum Time makes it even more entertaining! Keep it up!
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org | June 29, 2006 10:46 PM
Thanks. The fans who were behind us in ’03, those are the ones that stick with me. It’s fun to see they’re still around, still following, and they’re now having just as good a time as we are. They had to endure it, too.
Nate it’s great to watch all you guys in the dugout with huge wads of gum it really brings a smile to a lot of peoples faces especially mine it is nice to see the team clicking so well and having fun winning but i think what you guys need is to get Leyland and big ol’ pack of Big Nate Chew that would be hilarious!
love you guys and good luck
Posted by: email@example.com | June 30, 2006 02:21 AM
Thanks. But in response to getting Leyland to get the gum instead of cigarettes, it ain’t gonna happen, unless maybe there’s nicotine in the new Big League Chew. I don’t think that’s gonna happen.
It’s been fun following you these last few years. It brings out a little Maize pride. Andrea’s made it to a few games in Minnesota, her husband is a big fan. Tell Josh I said hello and I’m looking foward to watching you in the post season.
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org | June 30, 2006 11:21 AM
Thanks. Great to get a shout out for some Maize High School pride, my old high school following along.
There’s an army of Nate loyalists out in RF (Section 104, L) who will pack the chew with the best of them. Feel free to send some of the clubhouse rations up on any Friday night.
Posted by: email@example.com | June 30, 2006 10:58 AM
Thanks. But if you’ve got a whole section of people, that sure is a lot of gum to supply. We’ll be looking to section 104, though. Keep the loyalists strong.
Obviously I haven’t had a chance the last couple days to check the blog, but there’s a few things I wanted to respond to. First of all, the response has been tremendous. We just kind of threw it out there to see what kind of interest it would take on , and it’s just unbelievable. While we were in Pittsburgh, we had a family that had three boys, and they all had their Gum Time T-shirts on, and each kid had a pack of Big League Chew that they had me sign. I signed about three more at the hotel Saturday, too. It’s not going anywhere. They all say they were going to be chewing a lot of gum at the games.
There was the comment from firstname.lastname@example.org, who was frustrated over trying to find the gum and wondered where players like me are able to get so much of it.
One of the things we’ve talked about trying to do is selling the gum at the park. The difficulty of trying to do that is the stadium crews probably aren’t really big on that. It’s something we may look into and see if that would actually fly. Also, with the actual Big League Chew pack, we may be able to get one specifically for the Detroit area that kind of ties in the Tigers, Big League Chew and myself so that it kind of appeals to all sides, can be fun too, and would make it available. Plus, the fans have been bringing it into the stadium, anyway. They’re chewing it in there and I’m sure there’s gum being stuck on seats. Typically, you’d want people to be a little bit more responsible in how they dispose of it, but to address that issue, that’s something we’re looking into trying to get done.
On to the poem . . .
Hey hey big Nate
I think you’re great
I am a fan it’s true.
"Gum Time" is boss
saves Tigers from loss
Long live the great big pink chew!
Posted by: email@example.com | June 28, 2006 08:37 AM
That’s creative. The fact that people are tying a poem into Gum Time and the Tigers is obviously a testament to how much they’re actually catching onto this and believing in it. It’s fun to see that.
There’s another response from a girl named Katie …
I think the gum thing you started is cool. My team strted it and in late innings.one by a few runs, we start scoring-it is amazing. We not only win because of your amazing pitching, but because of all that work your jaw has to do! Great job today Nate! You Won the game! P.S. I am number twenty-nine on my softball team. I am pitcher too. Every time I do good, it seems you do to. Love Ya Nate,
Your #1 fan
Thanks. It’s good to see there’s a faithful following, not only in baseball but softball as well.
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: i’m in milwaukee and watch on mlb extra innings. every rally, i’m stuffing my face. i was at the 1st game in milwaukee behind the home dugout, stuffing a wad into my mouth and passing chew to everyone in tiger gear. my jaws were so sore, my girlfriend asked me what was wrong… she just doesn’t understand baseball
Thanks. It’s not only something that’s going on in the stadium. It’s fun to see the Tiger fans across the country that are having fun with this. They’re watching the games at the stadium or on their computers or on TV, and they’re throwing it in and believing it’s going to help. That’s a good time.
Also, some of the adults have been writing in. Just talking about this has really helped them remember when they were playing baseball when they were younger, throwing in gum, seed-flicking, just having fun, the way was the game was built to be. This comment by email@example.com was quite a humorous entry:
Nate – You and the rest of the boys represent what the true meaning of baseball really is; the chance for adults to escape and be kids again. Seeing you dipping the Big League took me back to highschool baseball. The porta-john tipping, hot-foots, sunflower flicking and the most fun "Road Trip!". Keep it up!!
I know a little bit about porta-john tipping. I never actually did any tipping, but I know all about it.
It’s just fun to see how people, more than anything, they’re taking something as innocent as chewing some bubble gum, something that’s been around baseball obviously a long time, and tying it into a success story in Detroit and having fun with it. I do think it’s pretty cool have also placed a value on this. To take the time to actually write in, you have to have a desire to follow it, and they’re following it.
Keep on writing in. I read every one of them. It’s fun reading the feedback.
We haven’t had too many times where we’ve thrown the gum in and didn’t get a rally going. The first time it doesn’t work, we can’t give up on it. It’s going to happen. The big thing is what people can associate a rally with. A rally comes from a lot of different things. It’s a belief that there’s a chance of making something happen when it doesn’t look so good. When you’re down late in the innings, that’s when teams are supposed to bring in their big arms and shut things down. That’s where people need to develop a hope that says: "Hey, we have a chance here." Whatever you associate that chance with — in Detroit right now, we have gum — it gets guys going. It’s what the gum represents. It represents a belief in making something happen. When the fans see that, it kind of spreads in the crowd, and you can kind of sense that it’s going to happen again.
That’s the funnest part about it. It’s what we’re associating it with, and that’s the hope. There’s times in the last three years here where we kind of got down late in the game like that, and everybody just thought, "Let’s go," and if it didn’t happen, whatever. Now it’s like, "Where’s your gum at?"
In a game like Friday night in Pittsburgh, we haven’t come up with a rally-killing pouch yet. In a game like that, it’s nice to jump out and get a big lead early where you’re not always having to press for a rally. We had just enough runs to hold onto it. Defense and pitching typically are the rally-killers, making good catches, big pitches and huge plays, picking teammates up. That’s rally-killing.
Make sure you VOTE FOR VERLANDER! We’ve got to get him in the All-Star Game with the Final Vote. Put in some rally chew for that one, too.
Let’s start it off where this thing began. We were in the Yankees series a few weeks ago, and it was the day before I started. I had been miked up for the telecast. We were down 5-0, and I was doing the pitching chart that night, so I was only actually in the dugout every half-inning. And I told the guys on the mic, I said, ‘All right, I’ll give you something here, down 5-0 (in the third inning), nothing’s going on. I’ll throw you a bone. I’m going to throw in a rally chew and see what happens.’ And I stepped back there, opened a pouch. I threw a good portion of it in, and right as I was doing it, Pudge hit the ball up in the air. And as the ball was in flight, I started putting more in, and it gets over the fence. And then we begin with this whole fad.
I did it three more times that game, which resulted in a triple, a double and a walk. We ended up tying it up and losing the game. But the next day was when I really realized it made an impression on the fans. After the thing was over with, some of the guys on the TV crew came up and said it was some of the best television, if not the best television, they ever had. They were blown away by it. Because you know, in their side of things, they have to produce the visual aspect of the media as well.
So the next day I’m walking out there to warm up before the game, there’s a sign, and it has a huge picture drawn of me with a big wad drawn in my cheek. This kid’s holding it up, and it said, ‘Big Nate Chew" on it. The Gum Time phrase apprently came from Mario Impemba. I was kind of amazed. I’m sitting out there and it’s right before my start and people are saying, ‘Where’s your gum at, man? Where’s your gum at?’ And I’m thinking, ‘Dude, I’ve got to pitch tonight. I ain’t going to throw a bunch of gum out there on the mound.’ I was kind of brushing it off and it just didn’t go away.
So the next night, we were sitting around. We’re down by one, Kyle Farnsworth is in. The only time that night we throw it in, and we win the ballgame. And of course, the cameras are just scanning for us. At the time, it was just me. But as time has gone along and this thing has morphed, the guys are getting involved and having fun with it.
And that’s the biggest thing, keeping this game as a game, as an innocent game. We used to do this in Little League and have fun. We’d throw in a bunch of gum or some seeds and call it a rally chew. It was just a game, and that’s what we’re doing here. We’re kind of keeping the kid part of it. I think it’s good to humanize the game a little bit, especially for the younger fans. It’s been fun. But the funny thing is, it’s the older ones that are acting more like kids with this whole deal. The adults are the
ones that are acting like kids, which is even better. When Jordan Field, the Detroit Tigers Foundation Manager, came up to me and told me a signed pack of gum was the most popular item on their auction, I thought, ‘Dude, call the fans what you will, but they are dedicated.’ A pack of gum goes for $90. It’s taken on a life of its own.