March 15, 2004



When we last left The Rev. Joe Kendall, Side Salad's Spring Training correspondent, he was mixing with the profane dual logo-wearing Toronto Blue Jays fans in Dunedin.

His latest stop: Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium, spring home of the Detroit Tigers. Quasi-officially, it is known as Tiger Town. He dropped by to see them play the Montreal/San Juan/Wherever Expos.

The Rev. Joe said he was pleasantly surprised by Tiger Town, which is just off State Road 33. The stadium is one-year removed from getting a $10 million radical facelift that turned the facility into one of the nicer venues on the Grapefruit League circuit.

The game between the Tigers and Expos should have only been so nice. In the top of the third, the Tigers committed three errors and the Rev. Joe heard a shrill voice from the stands scream, "Come on!" every time the Tigers booted the ball.


Here's a view from the press box.


As we stated earlier during trips to St. Pete and Clearwater stadiums, grassy berms are all the rage now among small park designers.

To refresh your memory, "berm'' is German for "the patch of grass where no beer vendors visit.''


The view from the berm is very nice. Not unlike the view available at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

If, you know, the Little League World Series was played half-speed by overpaid underachievers like the Tigers and Expos.


There are no beer vendors on the berm, but you can get some tasty barbecue out there.


And if you sit in premium seats, the DQ lady brings you some rather tasty menu items.

*Editor's note: For you Tigers fans who happen to be reading this, DQ does not mean disqualify. At least not at this point in the season.


Considering that the games are played around lunch time, might the DQ sign in right field be a bit of a distraction for Tigers hitters?


It's good to see the Tigers mascot taking it slow. Seasoned baseball professionals all know that you never want to go full-speed until the last week of Spring Training. I like the fact he's sitting next to the EMT and his medical emergency "crash box." Very prudent positioning on the mascot's behalf, considering temperatures were in the 80s and he's wearing a Tigers jersey over his fur.

Rev. Joe reports that in person, the mascot "looks like Tony from the cereal box."


Tiger Town and Detroit's new Comerica Park are the site for a vicious and brutal mascot war. It's Tiger versus Toga for the soul of this team, with the old-school Tigers fans going for the big cat and the pro-Illitch faction backing up the pizza-friendly family that owns the team.

When asked for comment, Little Caesar would only say, "PAN PAN!"


It was Katharine Hepburn Big Hat Day at Joker Marchant. First 100 fans over 65 received a straw hat that kept the UV rays at bay.

Good to see that you can have a promotion and do some good at the same time.


Apparently, former Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson is serving beer now in the Cecil Fielder Bamboo Beer Garden out behind the right field bleachers.


You know, if he squints tries real hard from behind home plate, newly acquired superstar catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez - fresh from his World Series MVP outing with the Florida Marlins - can see 100 losses just beyond the gap in right-center.


Tour Stop No. 1: Clearwater; Philadelphia Phillies.
Tour Stop No. 2: Tampa; New York Yankees.
Tour Stop No. 3:
St. Petersburg; Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Tour Stop No. 4:
Dunedin; Toronto Blue Jays.

Posted by Jeff at March 15, 2004 08:06 AM | TrackBack

Ah, Lakeland, Fla. I probably first heard those words when I was 6 or so, in the days of Al Kaline and Mickey Lolich and Mickey Stanley and Bill Freehan and Denny McLain and Gates Brown and Willie Horton. No, not THAT Willie Horton. I miss you, Motor City. Well, no, not really, but sort of.

Posted by: Bill at March 16, 2004 02:58 AM