By Jeff Moss
August 13, 2013
All it took was one day for Detroit 105.1 Sports to break a big story in Detroit. During the “Rico and Ryan” program this afternoon, the brand new sports station had Tigers right-fielder Torii Hunter on as a guest.
While being questioned by Rico Beard and Ryan Ermanni, Hunter mentioned that Prince Fielder struggles were potentially related to an off-the-field issue. Hunter intimated that he knew what the distraction was and instructed Tigers fans to give the big guy the benefit of the doubt.
After Hunter spilled the beans, I started digging into the story, which basically means I opened my inbox to find plenty of information.
I was told by one source that Chanel Fielder traveled on the road with the team extensively in 2012, but has not done so this year. That source also directed me to a website for one of Prince’s charity functions.
It seems that Prince and Chanel were supposed to jointly appear for “Uncork for a Cause with Prince Fielder” this summer to benefit various charities. On June 29, 2013 the event was cancelled. The website for the charity stated that the fundraiser was postponed until 2014 “due to circumstances beyond our control.”
I then received confirmation from a Tigers employee regarding Chanel’s absence on road trips and that source went one step further by stating that Chanel has barely been around the Comerica Park suites this season and that she was a fixture there in Prince’s first season in Detroit.
This could explain why Prince is having such a miserable season. Since an outstanding April, Fielder has struggled mightily at the plate and is currently having his worst offensive season as a professional.
The usually-disciplined All-Star slugger has had many bizarre plate appearances where it seems that the spirit of Delmon Young enters his body as some sort of impatient demon. Swinging at every first pitch. Attempting to hit balls way out of the strike zone.
Fielder’s slugging percentage (the reason he earns almost $24 million a season) is at a career low. Prince’s on-base percentage hasn’t been this bad since his first full season. Fielder has basically put up “Replacement Player” stats as an All-Star accustomed to being among the elite.
The other bizarre part of this story is that Fielder appeared to be sitting on a career year in 2013. He didn’t seem to have any trouble adjusting to the American League in 2012, unlike his free-agent counterpart Albert Pujols. Fielder was also projected to be the biggest beneficiary of Victor Martinez’s return to the lineup.
In another strange statistical quirk, Fielder is having unprecedented success against left-handed pitching in 2013. If his numbers versus righties were even at his career average, he would be earning every penny of that $214 million deal.
The DSR has checked the courts in Oakland and Wayne County and hasn’t found divorce filings between Prince and Chanel Fielder. I am awaiting word from an attorney friend in Florida to see if there is anything going on in Orlando, where the couple make their offseason home.
Potential marital problems would be stressful for anyone, but Fielder could be more susceptible to these issues as he has two young children and his parents’ divorce was not a pretty one.
Details of Cecil and Stacey Fielder’s broken marriage were splashed all over the pages of the Detroit News years ago by investigative reporter Fred Girard.
And it is no secret that Prince and Cecil’s relationship was fractured by that mess and is still a sore subject for the Tigers current first baseman.
Considering the history of his parents’ breakup, the money involved and how this could impact his relationship with HIS children, a marital dispute would be a logical explanation for Prince’s subpar season.
Of course, there may be other health-related reasons why Chanel wouldn’t be traveling with the team or making appearances at Comerica Park; I am sure the many Tigers beat writers who get paid to cover this franchise (allegedly) will be all over this story tonight now that Torii Hunter and 105.1 has done their job for them.
Imagine that. When you interview an athlete or coach, you can actually break news. Wow. I am just shocked that turning your entire station over to Bob from Wyandotte and Lisa from St. Clair Shores didn’t result in 97.1 getting this story first.