Monday, March 29, 2010

Charles Darnay or...

I was going to welcome Rogo of Designate Robertson back to the Tigosphere, but since he took a swipe or three at me in his last post, I'll go with door number two....revenge.

Rogo likes to paint himself as a crusty ne'er-do-well, full of complexities too deep for us common folk.

I have evidence to the contrary, however.

Rogo has a very sensitive side. He once stayed up all night with his sickly feline, no doubt nursing and fretting over her.

Rogo bears a striking resemblance to...Sydney Carton--seeing himself as beyond reclamation, but ready to sacrifice himself for any beloved thing.


I am truly one of those born every minute, bait for sleazy snake-oil salesmen the world over, gullible fools. Just when I said I was through with the stupid, meaningless "pretend" games of Spring, I sat watching the Cards/Twins game today on ESPN. A promo spot for MLB comes on called "This is Beyond Baseball." It starts out with video of Joe DiMaggio, and says your grandpa may have told you how he saw Joe play the field, then it goes on that maybe your dad tells stories about seeing Hank Aaron go yard. Then it ramps up to the finalé--now it's your turn to tell your kids you saw Albert Pujols do...everything. Sentimental music plays in the background. And I actually FALL for this! I find a smile curving my lips upward despite myself. Just the thought of baseball greats and watching the drama of a terrific game or play unfold turns me into a sappy, sniveling idiot.

Wow. MLB. They had me at play ball.

With such power at its hands, there is bound to be abuse. Go ahead, lose 119 games, I'll still buy tickets. Sure, trade Curtis Granderson, I'll still pay outlandish prices for officially licensed Tigers gear at the MLB store. Raise ticket prices? No sweat, I'll just raid my son's college fund to make up the difference. Player strike? Well, that kept me away for all of one year, and I came crawling back like the addict I am.


A Watched Pot...

Every time I click on the Tigers web site, the stinking countdown to Opening Day stares me in the face. It does not seem to be moving toward Opening Day at a rate I can bear. I am done with these Spring Training affairs. They are meaningless and stupid at this point in March. I'm ready for REAL baseball. Seven more days? I'm expected to wait seven whole days more to witness regular season ball?

To make matters worse, we open on the road, and the Opening Day game has first pitch going at 4:10 pm. Not the familiar 1:05, or even an acceptable 2:05, but four-freaking-ten. Even in Kansas City, you'd think an earlier start time would be preferable in early April. Whatever.

Who is going to the home opener? I am not, but I am going on Saturday, April 10 and Monday April 12. If either of those gets rained out, expect a tirade here. I kid, but I was in a huge funk last year when my first game got PPD. In 1997, I attended a frigid opener at Tiger Stadium. It was in the low 30s and the concrete beneath my boots turned my feet into ice chunks. I sent the husband out to get some hot chocolate, in hopes of warming my hands and insides. It was stone cold by the time he got back to our seats. Nice. I'm prepared for any weather, as long as the game gets played.

I have begun my daily rendition of the Opening Day Song. My family is already begging me to stop. Too bad. They've got to wait seven more days, just like I do.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Old English D Does Lakeland

Well, not exactly "does" Lakeland. More like blows in and out of town. I was staying on Anna Maria Island, almost an hour and a half away. We had four kids in our group and almost had mutiny on our hands trying to tear the kids away from the ocean and the pool to go to the game. Consequently, I missed all the pre-game warmups and whatnot, which are kind of important at Spring Training games....sigh.

Roy Halladay started for the Phils, and it was great to see him. He did not have it all together (thankfully, as we scored our three runs off him in the second inning). The best part of seeing him was not his pitching, however. You may be aware that he legged out an infield hit! off Ni. It was most AMAZING to behold. First, it was great that the Phils went without the DH because Halladay needed to get some batting reps in. Then Halladay gets the infield single. I swear, our whole section was giddy and giggly with delight when that happened. There were a lot of Phillies fans at the game, as the Phils play in Clearwater, not that far away, and I saw at the Tampa airport that there was some kind of Phillies group tour thing going on that weekend, so they probably hit a bunch of stadiums. Sadly, Polanco did not play due to the tweaked knee, but Phils fans assured me that he is adjusting well to third base. Best of all the best to you, Placido!

Anyway, Ni pitched well, Bonine pitched well, Ramon Santiago hit a triple, Carlos Guillen made a sliding catch in left, the weather was glorious. I could go on, but I'll let a few snapshots do the talking. Look how crowded the berm was. I just saw that the crowd was the fourth largest ever for a Spring game at Joker Marchant.

I just have to point out on an unrelated note, that Luke Scott, noted Tiger killer, got attacked by some seagulls! This is just too good to be true. But, the photo evidence does not lie...unless it was photoshopped. Oh well. I take it at face value. You should too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Hair Raising Experience

I hadn't heard much about Daniel Schlereth this spring, so I thought I'd take a look. Ouch. Batting average against: .458, WHIP 3.00, ERA 20.25 over four outings. Four innings pitched, 11 hits, 9 ER. Only one walk, but I guess that doesn't really help if you're getting shelled. However, control hasn't been his strong suit, so maybe it's a positive after all. Over 18.1 innings with Arizona last year, Schlereth issued 15 BB.

Schlereth is 23 years old. He was born in Anchorage, Alaska. How's that for a fun fact? Much more interesting than the fact that his father is ESPN analyst and former NFL player Mark Schlereth, right? That's because everyone feels the need to repeat the fact ad nauseum, ad infinitum. Actually, Mark Schlereth is from Anchorage, hence Daniel hails from Anchorage, so the two facts are sort of related. Bad pun intended.

Arizona selected him 26th overall in the 2008 draft. He was called up on May 29, 2009. After his call-up from AA Mobile, Schlereth must have watched Bull Durham to learn his clichés, because they were out in full force. Also, be sure to scroll down on that page to check out the hair. Holy light sockets, batman!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


All is right with the world. I got to listen to some Tiger baseball yesterday on the radio. It was the perfect harbinger of spring. Who needs robins? So overrated. Then today, the sun was out, and the mercury surpassed 40 degrees. Wearing a sweatshirt instead of a bulky winter coat? Priceless.

Anyway, a couple quick notes from yesterday's game. Sizemore misplayed a couple balls. On one play, Dan Dickerson and Jim Price said he would've had no chance at the runner even if he'd fielded the ball cleanly. On the other, a routine ball went off his glove. This is no big deal, but it's just a reminder that he needs some reps here in Spring Training. He broke his ankle and cut short his Fall League playing time. Regarding that ankle, I heard a radio interview with Sizemore on Detroit's AM 1130, and he said that turning a double play helped him clear a mental hurdle. He also said he's got more to do--a lot of turns and pivots with which to get comfortable again. All this rookie, broken ankle and defensive issues stuff has me fretting a little. I believe he'll be just fine, I do. Everyone says he's ready. I know. But it plays mind games with my head.

You know what it is? It's all the things that have to go right for the Tigers to have a good season, a contending season. We need Bonderman to come back to a form he hasn't had in the past two full seasons. We need Scherzer to make a smooth transition from the NL to the AL. We need a fifth starter to materialize. We need two rookies to walk onto Major League ball fields and perform at the Major League level. We need older veterans to stay healthy. We need Joel Zumaya to keep the ball up in the zone and finally learn to pitch, or at least listen to his catcher.

Ok. I'm sorry. I know that a lot of clubs are dealing with their own set of question marks. Take Seattle, for instance. They've got to pin hopes on head-case Milton Bradley behaving himself.

The other item of note I have from Thursday's radio broadcast is a little bone to pick with Dan and Jim. They kept raving about our young prospects, really gushing, going on and on. Now, Baseball America via Sports Illustrated has us in the "Worst of the Rest" category, which means a ranking between 16-25 out of 30 clubs. Keith Law at ESPN had us at 28 out of 30! Usually, one of the things I like about Dan and Jim is that they're honest. A little more up front than say, Rod Allen and Mario Impemba. If a guy makes a bad play, they general just say so. Maybe they were just caught up in the hype of Spring and all, but it was over the top for a system that is ranked so poorly.

In case you weren't aware, Spring Training games played on Saturdays and Sundays will be broadcast on the radio. Detroit listeners can tune to 97.1 FM or 1270 AM. Maybe I'll clear the snow off my deck, dig out a lawn chair, and listen outside.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Coincidence? I Think Not!

I cannot believe this. The post below was written during my son's basketball practice tonight, which was from 6:00 -7:30 PM eastern. The elementary school did not have Internet, so I just wrote the article in a word processor to post when I got home. I had to research some links, so it didn't get up until much later. Imagine my shock and dismay to later read this article on the Tigers official web site. Jason Beck posted it at 7:55 pm eastern. Actually, if you read my post (which I don't recommend) you'll see I did not plagarize, because the article clearly outlines how Cabrera has now been dealing with the pressure, while I stated that I didn't know what would help. Anyway, just wanted to assure that I did not rip off Beck's article.

A Modest Proposal

Miguel Cabrera. His off-field behavior may have impacted our shot at the playoffs last year. Some people can’t let it go, and I get that. Me? I still roll up into a ball and rock back and forth when I think about a collapse that rivaled the Bridge of San Luis Rey. Miguelito is making mad money, and many reckon that a giant performance yardstick is thereby created. The Puma better measure up, or the fans will crucify said cat.

My “muse” for today’s editorial is none other than the dreaded Sports Talk Radio, specifically Mike Valenti and Terry Foster on 97.1. Don't judge, you probably watch Jersey Shore. Some fans called in and said there is no way they’ll root for Miggy, no matter what he does this year, on or off the field. Mike Valenti agreed, and swore never to don his Cabrera jersey again. Terry Foster asserted that Cabrera’s got little margin for error, and because of his contract, fans in this (economically challenged) area will not embrace him unless he puts up Albert Pujols-esque numbers.

Persons who become incredibly wealthy playing a game rightfully do not receive a lot of sympathy. Persons who desecrate our hallowed pastime receive the unmitigated ire of ardent followers. Persons who imbibe obscene amounts of alcohol with the opposition the night and into the morning before a critical game are asking to be tarred and feathered and then defeathered by a hungry African tiger from the Detroit Zoo.

All that being said, Miguel Cabrera may have taken the weight of the Tigers’ world on his shoulders and found it too much. Much was made of his lack of clutch hitting last season. For quite a while, he had little protection due to slumps and injuries to other players. That’s part of it. The other part may be that a young kid who loves to play the game and have fun playing it was so burdened that he couldn’t stay loose enough to perform. Michael Rosenberg's piece is quite compelling. People who feel that kind of duress need an outlet. What’s it gonna be?

I’m not really under any undue strain, but when I do get stressed, my outlets are working out and Tigers games. Those are pretty healthy options (uh, the Tigers games are debatable), but it’s not always easy to make a good choice. Insert food binge and subsequent self-loathing here. We all know that working out is a proven physiological stress-breaker. Professional sports give adults all over the world an escape from the mundane. For athletes though, working out and playing games are part of their jobs, so they’ve got to get creative. Johnny Damon thinks the answer is naked pullups in the clubhouse. Um, don’t see how too many teammates would appreciate eye-level views of his package, but ok.

Another issue is whether Cabrera is in denial. He scolded reporters for saying he was an alcoholic, and said that his problems were not alcohol-related. Huh? I think getting drunk and using abusive language on an overweight teenager qualify as alcohol-related. Cabrera better have a little chat with Josh Hamilton. A lot people take exception to having a “babysitter” for an adult professional. I look at it more as a support system/outlet that some people might need. If calling in the Big Cat himself works, I’m all about it. Who wouldn’t want a player of Andres Galarraga’s caliber around anyway? It’s win-win-win-win....

Denial or not, Cabrera did the right thing this off-season. He got some treatment. I hope one of his assignments was writing a brain-stormy list of good alternatives to booze on one of those giant pads of paper with an oversize sharpie. Scratch that--too many inhalable fumes.

I think most of us fans make emotional decisions about players at times. We have our predilections about guys that we may not even be able to quantify. So if someone we don’t really care for anyway does something reprehensible, it results in permanent banishment.

What a windbag. What I should have just said instead of wasting time you could have spent catching up on these glorious Spring Training photos, is that I’ll be giving Miguel Cabrera another chance this year. If pervy, rug-wearing Marv Albert can get another shot, the Puma ought to get one too.