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MEANINGLESS GAMES ARE STARTING! The Tigers ‘top’ Spring Training Storylines

Good work everybody. Now let’s all take five from the Red Wings.

It’s February 20th. The NHL playoffs are still two months away, the trade deadline is still a little over a week away,  and despite an historic home winning streak, there’s just not much going on in regard to Detroit’s hockey team right now. They play at home. They win. It’s as simple as that.

As cool as it is for fans, I need something else to write about. The Lions aren’t on the radar and I don’t watch much basketball, especially the NBA, so I refrain from watching a 11-22 team if I don’t have to.

Fortunately, your De-Troit Tigers have already made their way to the un-ironically named Tiger Town for Spring Training. That’s good news for me. I have a rule: Any time you have the opportunity to talk about a team who is 45 days away from playing its first meaningful game, you take it. And I am.

Chances are you read some sort of other online or print publication dealing with the Detroit’s professional sports teams. I’ll tell you right now: they’re probably going to bore you with the top storylines going into Spring Training. You know, things like how Miguel Cabrera is adjusting to third base and how Jim Leyland is going to push his guys and how he’s looking for the winning mindset over everything else. Basically, everything you’ll forget about by opening day.

That’s not what we do at The Hustle. We provide things that matter, ideas that will stick with you and storylines you can watch not just throughout Spring Training, but into the regular season.

It's a work of art

Here are the three top story lines for your 2012 Detroit Tigers Spring Training season:

Prince Fielder’s beard: It’s the one thing no one has talked about in the few weeks since Fielder’s signing. What happened to the beard?

As a man who appreciates solid facial hair (possibly because I am terrible at growing it myself), the third thing I thought after learning of Fielder’s signing was, ‘His beard is going to be an excellent addition to the club house.’ (Thought No. 1: Is this real life? Thought No. 2: Doesn’t he play first?)

The fresh cut

For most of his time in Milwaukee, Fielder sported well groomed, but bushy beard. It was a classic look. Yet, he showed up to the Tigers’ introductory press conference clean shaven, much to the dismay of beard aficionados everywhere.

Apparently nobody thought to ask about the beard when he was made available to the media. That’s just lazy journalism.

Is the beard going to come back? Do his new braids indicate he’s going for a cleaner and more streamlined look? We’ll know more throughout the next few weeks.

How many Justin Verlander/Taco Bell jokes are we going to get this season? If you missed it, Verlander went on Conan O’Brien’s showand told the world that before every start he goes to Taco Bell and eats like a stoned high-school offensive lineman.

I know how these things work. Every  reporter has an innate need to make the athletes they interview laugh. It has to do with the primal need of being accepted. The problem is most reporters aren’t funny, so they take funny things from the past and make lame, played-out jokes that get a pity laugh from the athlete.

The Taco Bell jokes are coming. They’ll be flowing all season too. Spring Training will give a barometer for just how much of it we can expect. My gut reaction: It’s not going to be pretty.

Who has the new tattoo? This is just a hunch, but I feel pretty good about it.

What the?

It’s been a few years since Brandon Inge shocked Tigers fans when he unveiled the forearm tattoos of his two children. It led to one of the greatest reactions from fair-weather female fans ever. They went from thinking Inge was a stand-up guy to, “Oh my God, what are those?” with more than a hint of disappointment in their voice. Once everyone figured out the tattoos were his kids’ names then the conflicting feelings subsided and respect was slowly regained.

We need more ‘did he seriously just get two giant tattoos?’ moments, where we can’t decide to laugh at the player or give him a lot more respect. I got a feeling one is coming this year.

My money is on Austin Jackson. I can’t wait until he shows off his barbed-wire face tattoo.

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