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The Midwest is home to tens of thousands of Polish-Americans. Now, here’s your chance to take part in a great Detroit tradition: Polish American Night at Comerica Park.

The Detroit Tigers are giving their Facebook fans the chance to vote for the polka band that will perform on Friday evening, June 1.

(Or basically, what our headline says.)

You can see videos and vote for these five polka masters: The Natural Tones; The Kielbasa Kings; The Big Daddy Orchestra; The Misty Blues and The Steve Drzewicki Band.

If you think Polish American Night is retro, we went to the Chicago White Sox version last season, and it was delightful. Great music, a festive atmosphere, and lessons in Polish baseball history. (We had no idea Stan Musial is Polish.)

Our favorite polka band isn’t among the choices, but put on your dancing shoes and enjoy The Brave Combo.

Chicago vs. Chicago: Round 1 from Nick Offerman

The folks at Funny or Die know it. Baseball can bring out the competitiveness in Midwesterners. We may have our disagreements – Cubs or Sox, Tigers or Tribe, Twins or Brewers – but no matter who you cheer for in the Midwest, chances are your local economy picks up just a little this time of year.

Major League Baseball’s Opening Day might not be the most productive afternoon in the office. But no one can deny the economic effects of the baseball season. Last year, we wrote about how our Midwest cities buzz on Opening Day.

As the season goes on, the economic ripple effects from baseball can grow or wane, depending on, say, how Justin Verlander pitches. There’s also the possibility this year that Detroit will get an extra economic boost from Prince Fielder, and Milwaukee will lose out. And if any of our Midwest teams make it to the playoffs, that’ll only make the cash registers sing for longer.

If the economic benefits aren’t enough to get you excited about opening day, here are some videos that might:

Are you ready to Go Get ‘Em Tigers?


Or do you have Indian Fever?

Wrong diagnosis? How about Brewer Fever?

No? Maybe you just want to see the 1991 Twins dancing.

By now, you know that Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers. But there’s also a Chicago connection in the deal.

Magic Johnson in his MSU playing days

Johnson, the Lansing, Mich., native, Michigan State and NBA star, led a group of investors who paid $2 billion for the Dodgers, a record for a baseball franchise.

Speaking with ESPN2′s Baseball Tonight on Wednesday, Johnson said he’ll be actively involved in running the club, and has loved baseball since growing up as a fan of the Detroit Tigers.

He admitted the price was high, but said marquee clubs do not come on the market often, so he thought the team was work it.

One of the people who’ll be making sure the deal pays off is Mark R. Walter, the chief executive of Guggenheim Partners, which has its headquarters in Chicago and New York. According to ABC News, he’ll be considered the team’s controlling owner, meaning he’ll represent the team in Major League Baseball activities.

Guggenheim is a private equity firm that manages more than $125 billion in assets. It has more than 7,000 employees worldwide, with 125 offices in 10 countries. The company is an active philanthropist in Chicago, supporting organizations like the Art Institute and the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Of course, Johnson will get the lion’s share of attention. We couldn’t find any of his commercials for the Quality Dairy, but here he is explaining how he got his nickname.

 

 

Spring training is underway, and avid Detroit Tiger fans are counting the days until April 5, when it will be Opening Day at Comerica Park.

Comerica Park, by Micki Maynard

This year, there’s a lot of attention surrounding the team, which stunned baseball when it snapped up slugger Prince Fielder. Opening Day tickets sold out in 45 minutes last Saturday, and demand for regular season games is soaring, which will bring a lot of people downtown.

And the impact will be even greater if Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch get his dream of a World Series.

We want to know what the Tigers mean to you. Are you a lifelong fan, or did you only catch Tiger Fever last year? What are your memories of Comerica Park (or as some of us won’t stop calling it, Tiger Stadium)? How do you think the interest in the Tigers will affect Detroit?

Take our survey. Send us your thoughts, memories, photos. We’ll feature them every day during Opening Day week.

Then re-live last year’s Opening Day. See you at the ballpark!


If you’re a baseball fan, you already know that the ground shook last week when the Detroit Tigers signed slugger Prince Fielder. His nine-year, $214 million contract cost the Tigers as much as Ford plans to spend on a new engine plant in Brazil.

Prince Fielder at his first Detroit Tigers press conference

But Crain’s Detroit Business says the Tigers — and Detroit — can afford the former Milwaukee Brewers star.

That word comes from Chris Ilitch, the son of Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch, and the president of Illitch Family Holdings, Inc., the family’s group of companies that includes pizza giant Little Caesar’s Enterprises.

Those companies, including the Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and Detroit’s Motor City casino, generate about $4 billion in annual revenue.

In 2010, the latest year for which information is available, the Tigers had annual revenue of $192 million, according to Forbes.com.

Crain’s says the Tigers’ upcoming payroll, is likely to surpass $110 million to $120 million in salaries and bonuses, as well as benefits.

The payroll includes $63 million alone this season to three players: Fielder ($23 million), American League batting champion Miguel Cabrera ($21 million) and Justin Verlander, the winner of the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards, who will earn $20 million.

“That spending is typical of markets larger than Detroit, but it isn’t thought to be financially stressful for the wealthy Ilitches, baseball insiders say,” according to Crain’s. Those salaries are “high-stakes bets on winning a World Series, which would provide the team millions in new revenue.”

Crain’s says the team is saving money in 2012 by not re-signing aging outfielder Magglio Ordonez, who was paid $10 million last season but who also has broken his ankle the past two seasons. Also off the payroll is second baseman Carlos Guillen, who got $13 million in 2011.

Together, their contracts have the same value as Fielder’s pay this season., Crain’s said. He also gets $23 million in 2013 before the team elevated it to $24 million annually over the final seven seasons. There also are several million dollars in potential bonuses in the deal.

Ticket prices are not going up for 2012, but If Fielder leads the team to a World Series, the team can expect a revenue bounce from a boost in season-ticket sales, suite sales, new corporate sponsorships, merchandise, and other things, Crain’s said.

Teams typically raise ticket prices after winning the series, and that bounce continues for several years. As Chris Ilitch put it, “There are opportunities to create revenue.”

What About Milwaukee?

As Tiger fans look forward to greeting their new star at the Tigers’ home opener on April, 5, how is Fielder’s departure playing across Lake Michigan?

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel looks at that today in the story headlined, “Brewers Focus on What They Have, Not On What they Lost.” Not only is Fielder gone, but slugger Ryan Braun could face a 50-game suspension over alleged steroids use, which he has denied.

On Sunday, the team, which won its division title last year, held its annual “On Deck” fan fest to promote the upcoming season. Asked what he might tell fans in need of a pep talk for 2012, effervescent outfielder Nyjer Morgan told the paper, “Don’t panic. Everything is going to be okay. We’re all professionals.”

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