People are getting very excited about baseball this year.  The Detroit Tigers are considered a real contender for the World Series.  And, if spring training is any indication, they just might have a terrific season.

All that enthusiasm filters on down to the West Michigan Whitecaps, too.  But it's not just because the Tigers look so promising.   It's the top prospects on this years team, not to mention the changes at Fifth Third Ballpark.

Of course the food is one reason to get pumped up, with the addition of the Smoked Turkey Leg, Deep Fried Dill Pickle Chips, and the West Side Po' Boy sandwich  loaded with kielbasa, sauerkraut and pierogies and marinara sauce.  Mmmmm, that's good eatin'!

But, those prospects playing for the Caps this year should make for an exciting time at the ballpark.  Second-year manager Ernie Young has put together a roster that features three of Detroit’s top-five 2011 draft choices, along with a number of players tied to the Tigers past and present.  For instance, there's Marcus Lemon and Patrick Leyland, the sons of former Tiger outfielder Chet Lemon and current manager Jim Leyland. Al Kaline’s grandson, Colin Kaline, has made the roster as well. Nick Avila, the cousin of Detroit’s Alex Avila, will pitch for West Michigan.

Add in over $1 million worth of stadium improvements, and it’s no wonder why the buzz is back.  Fifth Third now has a retro look off the field  since officials have installed a very cool manual scoreboard in leftfield, which will remind fans of the one in Wrigley Field in Chicago. A very large and much more high-tech video board has popped up in centerfield, too.

The season opens today, Thursday, April 5th, for the Whitecaps, who will play at Dayton in the first of a three-game series. The Whitecaps will have Sunday off, then return to Comstock Park for its 6 p.m. home opener on Monday versus Bowling Green.

The Whitecaps are also returning with five more Tiger Fridays, with greats from the past participating in autograph sessions prior the game time. This year’s guests will be Lance Parrish (June 8), Bill Madlock (June 22), Willie Horton (July 6), Jon Warden (July 20), Howard Johnson (Aug. 3) and Elroy Face (Aug. 24).

It's all very exciting and we can't wait.  PLAY BALL!