Today I am the Tigers beat writer.
The Detroit News allows me to do that every now and then to give regular beat writers Tom Gage and Lynn Henning a day off. I enjoy doing it and the highlight of my visits to Comerica Park is talking with Tigers Manager Jim Leyland before games. Do you watch the beef jerky commercials “Messing with Sasquatch” where people mess with the legendary monster only to get stomped at the end? Well it is sort of like that with Leyland.
A group of writers ask questions and play a game of poke the dragon. Sometimes Leyland is cool. And sometimes he tees off. I think he likes me because he usually smiles when he gets uncomfortable about some questions. The funny thing is before the session is over we usually talk college football.
“Well look whose here,” he screamed last time I hit the dressing room.
Here is a dirty secret about Leyland. He is a Notre Dame fan who also loves to talk University of Michigan football.
Leyland loves to talk. He talks so much and spews out so much information that you never have to go into the dressing room to talk to players if you are a Tigers beat writer. He fills your note pad with issues inside and outside of baseball. And when he erupts all you do is turn your tape recorder on and listen. You never have to ask another question again.
If you want a calm Jim Leyland don’t ask about the line up. He keeps saying he won’t talk about the lineup and gets real testy. I don’t get it. Fans are always curious about lineup changes and tweaks. They always think they can do a better job and one of the complaints we hear is that Leyland rests players too much. He wants to keep guys fresh for the entire season although it doesn’t seem to work considering the Tigers are always worse the second half than the first.
Sometimes Leyland sits behind his desk and talks to us. And sometimes he lays on the couch in his underwear and baseball stirrups. I call it sexy Jim Leyland although I don’t think anybody has been turned on by the Tigers skipper.
I will update you later today about my visit with him. You just never know what will happen.
Who will he go off on today? Or will we see the cool Jim Leyland?