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Birds of Prey
Tim Kurkjian
April 05, 1993
THE ORIOLES ARE READY TO BRING DOWN THE BLUE JAYS
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April 05, 1993

Birds Of Prey

THE ORIOLES ARE READY TO BRING DOWN THE BLUE JAYS

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4) Excluding division winners, which team won the most games last year?

A) Brewers; B) Reds; C) Twins; D) Orioles.

The Brewers, with 92, thanks in great part to manager Phil Garner's upbeat, aggressive style. But as good as Milwaukee was a year ago, the team lost too much in the off-season to win the division in '93.

Mike Ilitch, who is the new owner of the DETROIT TIGERS, is turning Tiger Stadium into a fun place to visit again. The refurbished facility will have a new scoreboard and sound system, a food plaza, Ernie Harwell back at the mike, peanut-tossing vendors, Friday Night Fireworks and Monday Night Runarounds (kids are allowed on the field after the game to run around the bases).

The Tigers are going to be fun to watch too—if you like 10-9 games three times a week. The Detroit offense is awesome, maybe even more so this year than last, with the return of Alan Trammell, who missed most of '92 with an ankle injury. "Who are you going to pitch to in our lineup?" asks catcher Mickey Tettleton, who contributed 32 home runs to the Tigers' '92 major league high of 182. Last year Detroit led the league in runs scored, but the Tigers were still outscored.

The hope is that newcomer Mike Moore will anchor the rotation. However, in his last five seasons, four of which were spent pitching home games in Oakland's big park, Moore was 41-25 with a 3.11 ERA at home and 34-36 with a 4.10 ERA on the road. And Tiger Stadium is a great park for hitters.

Detroit won't be a contender again until it gets more pitching, but the organization appears to be on the right track with Hitch, who spends money and markets his team. The Tigers have to hope they get off to a better start at home than they did last year, when they did not have a lead in any of their first eight games at Tiger Stadium.

In February a local columnist wrote that BOSTON RED SOX manager Butch Hobson should be fired and that, in fact, the organization was letting him twist in the wind. The day before the story ran, the writer told Hobson about it. Hobson didn't slug him or snarl at him; instead he said he appreciated being told, adding, "You can come in here [Hobson's office] anytime."

That's how bad things are in Boston. It's clear even to Hobson that if the team doesn't have a good start, he's going to be axed. "I don't pay attention to it," Hobson says. "I know my players like to play for me. If I don't manage here, hopefully I'll manage someplace else."

Hobson's players do enjoy playing for him, but he just doesn't have a good feel for the job. A former Alabama quarterback who likes to tell Bear Bryant stories, Hobson seems better suited to being a football coach. He has better players than last year. New outfielders Andre Dawson and Ivan Calderon are certain to upgrade what was a pathetic offense, and first baseman Carlos Quintana returns after missing all of last year with injuries suffered in an auto accident. But with little speed, shaky defense and weak starting pitching after Roger Clemens and Frank Viola, major improvement is unlikely.

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