Joe Knows

When it comes to baseball, Erie can be classified as either Tribe turf or a Buccos burg.

Sure the Yankees and Red Sox frontrunners will always be present. You’ll have that.

But under no circumstances can the Gem City be labeled a Tigers town. No way. Period. End of story.

Justin Bieber may disagree with me, but in this instance the word “never” is appropriate.

Maybe it’s just me, but hearing Erie baseball fans talk about Justin Verlander and Curtis Granderson as if they’re one of their own makes me want to wear a Giants cap into Chavez Ravine.

The most obvious reason for why any Erieites could gravitate towards the Motor City Kitties is that Erie’s minor league team, the SeaWolves, is the double-A affiliate of the Tigers.

And this makes sense because Erie loves its SeaWolves so much. So much so that it has made them second-to-last in average attendance in the Eastern League each of the last two seasons and has seen to it that they finish no higher than ninth in the 12-team league in any of the last seven years.

And if it wasn’t for the offering of dollar beer every Monday, the SeaWolves may be able to leave Jerry Uht Park and call Sam’s Club their friendly confines. It’s certainly spacious enough, and the players could grab a free sample on their way around third base.

Others maintain they are a regional team.

But if one does the research, they will find that the distance between Erie and Cleveland is 103 miles; Erie and Pittsburgh is 128 miles. Detroit, meanwhile, is a remote 270 miles away.

By comparison, Toronto lies just 153 miles—or 247 km — away. So where are all the Joey Bats jerseys?

With that said, prior to the Tigers affiliation, the SeaWolves were a farm team of the Anaheim Angels in 1999 and 2000. Having lived in Erie my entire life, I don’t recall anyone walking around in Tim Salmon jerseys during those years.

Could it be that Erie is suddenly so devoted to following its native sons through the ranks of the minors and takes great satisfaction in seeing them succeed once they don the Tigers’ uniform? Or is it because they won 95 games last season and maintain a 132.3 million-dollar payroll, good for fifth-best in the majors?

The answer to those questions should be as clear as the bases will be after Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder come to the plate this season.

 

 

JOE CUNEO

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