Monday, January 15, 2007

Sheffield Will Ride The Bus, And It's Refreshing

Homerun hitters don't take the bus. They're Rolls Royce guys. Big-time RBI dudes aren't the Greyhound type.

Gary Sheffield, though, is on the bus, and that's the right place for him at this time, I do declare.

Sheffield, the Tigers' prized offseason acquisition and homerun hitter/RBI dude, is with several of his new teammates as the club's annual winter caravan makes its way across the state. He's on the bus, just like everyone else, as he gets his first taste of meet-and-greet as a Tiger.

It's nice to see Shef on the bus, because while most Tigers fans were joyous upon the news of his arrival back in November, the same ones, and the usual naysayers, tensed and held their breath a bit, too. This is because Sheffield has a reputation that precedes him as one who might start out warm and fuzzy, but who will inevitably turn bad, like cheese left out at room temperature. And often in Sheffield's case, the Cheese has stood alone. Often because it's smelled up the joint.

The annual caravan is a several-day tour in which Tigers players, coaches, newspaper reporters and other interlopers galavant across Michigan in big buses. In the past, it's been mostly like Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show, with various Tigers managers playing the part of the show's snake oil salesman. Hopeless drivel. Even last year it took on that feel, with new Tigers manager Jim Leyland on board as the snake oil salesman. Although, Leyland's snake oil pitch was far more subtle and far more free of blarney.

This year, the Tigers don't have to engage in Brother Love's Show. They have the histrionics of the 2o06 season to recall, and can use it as the best sales pitch since the bread slicer. No blarney needed. No snake oil to hawk. Just good, fundamental baseball to pump, and a brand new Rolls Royce guy to show off.

And the Rolls Royce guy will sit in the bus. Right up front, probably, but in the bus nonetheless. A good start to a new year, I'd say.


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