Frankie Ballard was born a Detroit Tigers fan. Growing up in Battle Creek, Michigan during the team’s 1980s heyday – a World Series win in 1984 was the pinnacle – he stuck with the Tigers through the two decades of futility that followed, and, as such, has thoroughly enjoyed their return to relevance, which has included two American League pennants in seven years (but, sadly, no championships).
And while the Tigers may have been his first love, country music was a close second. Even while playing on scholarship at Western Michigan University – “I like to say I went to college to play baseball and accidentally graduated,” he laughs – he had music on his mind, and he’s turned that passion into a successful solo career, highlighted by hits like “Helluva Life” and “Sunshine & Whiskey.”
Still, he’d probably trade all of that in for one more World Series win. Can Detroit deliver in 2015? Here’s his take on this year’s Tigers team.
I was really bummed that Max Scherzer left. That’s tough to take. He’s such a stud and I understand all the budgets and all that, but it’s really tough to say goodbye to a guy like that. But I’m happy that we got David Price, and I’ve always liked him. He’s actually a Nashville guy and went to Vanderbilt. I imagine he’ll be able to make up for some of the loss of Scherzer. But I’m excited. Dave Dombrowski, the GM of the Tigers, has done a great job. He’s really tried everything over the last six-or-eight years to get the Tigers to the mountaintop. And I think Jim Leyland did a great job; I’m sad he’s not going to be a part of the Tigers anymore as a coach, because I’ve always loved him.
But at the end of the day, the players have to execute and that’s just been the deal. They haven’t executed or gotten hot when they needed to get hot. But all of the pieces of the puzzle are there and that’s something that makes a Tigers fan excited. The front office and the coaches are trying. Now it’s just about winning and executing. But that’s out of their hands because they don’t get to play. But our pitching is going to be stellar, I think.
The only thing I worry about is Miguel Cabrera. We’re into him for a lot of money now. That’s one of the things that’s broken about baseball. All these guys are being paid into the twilights of their careers. So now we’re into this contract with him for the next eight years. Are the next eight years the prime of his career? I’m not certain. So I don’t know. I’m happy that the Tigers are contenders and are doing everything they can. That’s more than I can say about the Lions. I wish Dombrowski would go run the Lions!
Famous Fan Fearless forecast: 100-62. I always aim for the stars. I say they’re going to win at least 100 games. I want them to win 100 games and come into the playoffs hot. So much of it is about timing. And when you get hot. Some teams get hot late in the season and they ride that son of a bitch all the way out, man. I just want to see the Tigers get hot late and win 100 regular season games so that the bleachers are always full.