Friday, April 30, 2010


When I read on the Tigers website that Magglio Ordóñez was one hit shy of 2000 going into Thursday's day game against the Twinks, I was thrilled. I was going to be at that game, and I smelled my shot at seeing My Tiger hit the milestone. Even better, my seats for the game were in the front row in right field, so I could give proper acknowledgment to the feat, should it occur.

Somehow, fate has decided to befriend me. I was at the game in August 2008, when Magglio hit two home runs in one inning. This time, I was fortunate enough to see Magglio get knock 2000 and 2001, a single and a double. Both were indisputable hits, something Ordóñez himself alluded to before the game. He didn't want hit 2000 to be an infield single that could arguably have been ruled an error or some such thing.

Well, he got himself a couple no-doubters, and I was thrilled. Our whole section gave a standing ovation when Magglio came out to the field in the next half inning. He looked so modest, almost blushing, and giving just the smallest hint of a smile.

Acknowledging afterward the significance of his feat (he's only the sixth Venezuelan born player to log 2000 hits), Magglio seemed calmly pleased. I guess I jumped, shouted and clapped enough for both of us.

Dontrelle Willis pitched really well, I mean really well, not just for him, but for a starting pitcher. He allowed no runs, four hits, two walks, over 101 pitches through six innings, and no baserunner advanced past second base. I realize that the absence of the M & M boys puts a little bit of a qualifier to this start, but I'll take it, really, I'll take it any day of the week. Some of our other starters would do well to emulate his final line. Who'd have thought we'd be saying THAT at the end of April? I thought more than likely Armando Galarraga would have been called up by now to own the truth.

Carl Pavano, while going the distance in most economical fashion, was not able to toss 8 scoreless frames, so we came out winners of the game and the series. HOOORAY! I hate losing to the Twins, even more than usual after last year's game 163.

Now, Angels come into town for a redux of our series just over a week ago. Eat 'em up Tigers, eat 'em up!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Avarice and Greed

I'm currently reading Bill Simmons' book "Now I Can Die in Peace." It's his homage to the 2004 Red Sox season. It's pretty good so far. In his introduction, he mentions that after the strike of 1994, he gave up on baseball for a time, figuring "if they don't care about me, why should I care about them. And then during the 1995 season, he "remained bitter until the Red Sox started winning again." That statement reminded me of my own boycott of baseball during the 1995 season.

The 1994 strike fueled feelings of outrage in almost every fan of the game. How dare players and owners allow their differences to cause the cancellation of baseball's fall classic? I was no different than most. I vowed not to attend any games during 1995. Filled with dark, self-seeking motives, my husband told me that if I were truly boycotting, I shouldn't watch any games on TV either (he doesn't like baseball). I did not fall for this thinly veiled ploy, but I didn't have much enjoyment in baseball that year either.

Circumstances conspired against me in the strangest of ways. My younger sister was coming down from the Upper Peninsula for a visit. She was riding with some friends, who were going to attend a game at Tiger Stadium. She asked if we could meet them at the game to pick her up. My first reaction was, ABSOLUTELY NOT. I'm not really sure why we didn't just arrange to pick her up before or after the game. Anyway, somehow we ended up going.

Hold on to your judgement for just one moment! I did not sell out. I did not weakly cave and end the boycott. Listen to what I did at the game.

I made a two-sided sign that read "We Don't Need Any More Greed" on the first side, and on the other "Our Nation's Pastime is a Disgrace." Creative, no? Actually, it's not nearly as impressive as what a friend of a friend did. He and two buddies attended Opening Day at Shea Stadium wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the word "Greed." Each of them took quite a number of one-dollar bills with him. They stormed the field and threw the dollar bills at players. If you don't believe me, click HERE and scroll down to "Post-Strike." I was filled with awe and admiration when my friend related the tale of what they'd done.

My little act of defiance was nothing in comparison. However, I went to the game, sat in the bleachers WITH MY BACK TO THE FIELD THE WHOLE GAME, and held up my sign. An usher came over to me and stated that I could not hold up the sign during game play. No problem. I put it down. In between innings, I put it back up again. The same usher came over, snatched my sign without ceremony or explanation, and snapped it over his knee. I had used a small thin piece of wood in between the two giant pieces of posterboard used to make a "handle" for my sign. I did not know that sticks are prohibited on signs. Anyway, I know the usher was just being vindictive. He could have told me to remove the stick from my sign, but he didn't want me holding up a negative message. I sat staring at him with my mouth wide open in disbelief.

That's ok. I felt vindicated when my husband told me several players in the outfield had looked up and seen my sign before it was confiscated and destroyed. My message was delivered! As I mentioned in a recent post, my resolve lasted only one season, and in 1996, I was back with the Tigers like a person with low-self esteem going back to an abusive partner. I apologize again for being weak-minded.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the Midnight Hour

In a miraculous turn of events, I stayed up for last night's game. We really needed to come away with a W. I mean, things were getting ugly. We had dropped 2 of 3 to the Mariners, and were staring 3 straight losses to the Angels in the face. Enter Miguel Cabrera. One mighty swat tied the game at three in the ninth. MVP candidacy has been filed. What? It's only April? Ok, ok. Calm down. It's just a little dramatic-come-back-late-innings-victory hyperbole.

The remainder of the Tigers' half of the ninth was filled with a see-saw of emotions, with Carlos Guillen taking a base on balls, Brandon Inge striking out (the predictability of this at bat is painful), Gerald Laird entering the game as a pinch hitter (with curses heard 'round the world), Guillen stealing second, Laird drawing a walk, Carlos getting picked off attempting to steal third, but staying in a rundown long enough to get Laird down to second (or he may have been drawn and quartered upon returning to the dugout), Ramon Santiago hitting the unlikeliest of bloop singles to left off his shoetops, and Gerald Laird hauling himself admirably around third, and executing a gorgeous slide, swiping the bag with his hand to avoid the tag.

Papa Grande garnered the save in merciful 1-2-3 fashion. I would've whooped and hollered in jubilation, except everyone else in my house had already entered their REM cycles, and it would've been a little rude to wake them all up. Oh well, I settled for silent glee.

Our RISP woes subsided a bit last night as we went 2-4, while the Angels managed only 1-7. Five runners were marooned on the basepaths, which compares rather favorably to 10 on Tuesday, 8 on Monday, and 12 on Sunday.

Is it asking too much to split with the Angels tonight? Come on Justin, let's bring that 6.88 ERA down a smidge.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Game 14 Stream of Consciousness

Uh oh. Ryan Fields is in the booth with Rod today. His spiky hair is dangerous and could be the cause of scratched corneas. Consider yourself warned, Rod. Check that, Mario must've just been late getting to the park or performing some unknown duties, because Fields was only up there for the pregame. Eyeballs are safe.

For some inexplicable reason, I dislike Scott Kazmir. It may be reprehensible to hate on someone without cause, but I can't help my prejudices. I hope the Tigers can continue the barrage the Yankees began on Kazmir in his other start this season. Unfortunately, our numbers against Kazmir are abysmal. Well, his ERA against us isn't good, but all the people who hit him well must be gone, because Cabrera tops our current lineup at .273 against Kazmir. Um, not exactly confidence-inspiring, but let's hope we can get some RISP home tonight shall we?

Holy chalk lines, it's been 15 years since the Angels have had a rainout at home. That is incredible. I've been soaked at the park on many a night. So much, in fact, that I pack my rain jacket for every game, regardless of the forecast. That's because at one game, I had checked the weather carefully and it said 0% chance of rain. I left the rain jacket at home, and a storm cloud parked itself over the stadium and didn't let up all night.

I finally saw a shot of Damon's mohawk during the pregame, after reading all the stories about it--none of which featured photos. Damon has decided the long hair look's time has passed for him, but he wants to show us he's no longer a Yankee clone. Avila purportedly gave him the cut, and it looks pretty professionally done, actually. My son sports a faux-hawk, so I don't mind them. I'm just not a fan of a true hawk, with the shaved head. I know, you could care less about my opinion. Feel free to click over to Rob Neyer's blog at any time. Mario says Damon will walk into the clubhouse with a new harido every day, and "his teammates love it." Yes, Mario, I'm sure everyone's on pins and needles every day to see how he looks when he walks in.

Kazmir said he didn't have his slider last outing, and he's thrown all fastballs here in the first, so here's hoping that helps our cause. Kazmir strikes out mi Magglio in the first. See, I told you I don't like him. I knew I was right in this thinking.

The Tigers are 7-52 with RISP right now. Viewing that stat made me feel like someone just punched me in the stomach without warning. Please, Carlos, don't make it 7-53. Curses, it's now 7-53.

Pretty Little Ricky looks very, very young tonight. I think it's the fresh haircut.

Bobby Abreu is a very good baserunner. It always amazes me, because he totally looks like he'd be slow. Defying appearances, I like that.

MLB wrote that many clubs are reporting record low attendance so far this season. This makes me sad, regardless of the cause. I don't want too see baseball get marginalized. It already seems like the only thing anyone ever talks about in this country is football. Stop it!

I do not kid when I tell you I took a nap this afternoon in order to stay up for today's contest. Pathetic? Perhaps, but at least I know myself, and prepare accordingly.

Oh dear, our stranding RISP streak continues at a most painful pace. I begin to fear extreme measures may be necessary here. I am conjuring up a traditional RISP dance as I type. Seriously? Raburn scorches a stand up triple and we fail to bring him around? No. I cannot accept this. /dances awkwardly around the room in attempt to appease the stingy RISP gods. Do not expect video of that.

Apparently my dance has angered some unknown baseball gods, because the Angels have ripped off four straight hits, and now lead 3-0. I am penitent. Shake it off Rick.

I have come up with a new strategy to break the Tigers unfortunate run of stranding RISP. I will get a tattoo of the Old English D. I don't even consider this a sacrifice. I am more than happy to take one for the team. You could expect a photo of my ink to appear on this site at some point.

Haha, Torii Hunter makes a rare mental error and fails to leave the batter's box on a ball hit down the third base line. He unsuccessfully tries to argue the ball was fouled off his foot. Umpire not biting. Haha.

Hard luck for Laird. He hits it hard , but it's speared by the third baseman. I hate to point this out, but he's not cutting down baserunners like he was last year, either. If he doesn't improve on both fronts, we may see calls for Mike Rabelo. Ok. That was probably mean. Sorry.

Ajax strikes out for the third time tonight. Sigh. Long sigh.

At this point in the game, I am called away for a family emergency, so I was unable to view any more of our latest defeat. Actually, I just fell asleep, but that's a pretty embarrassing admission, considering I told you I took a nap in order to stay up for the game. Sorry I suck. I will try again tonight to keep the eyelids propped open.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Wrinkle in Time

Today's off day gives me a chance to post a piece I had previously written, but didn't get a chance to finish. Here goes.

I know that I have already penned a post about Justin Verlander’s no-hitter, but I could not resist a little self-indulgent, nostalgic stroll down memory lane when I heard that FSN was replaying the no-hitter on the eve of the 2010 Tigers season opener. Besides, a fellow blogger revealed to me that he teared up when watching the replay. It made me smile and chuckle with delight to hear it. It really was a sacred moment in Tigers history.

By the time Pudge rushed the mound and lifted Justin Verlander up off the ground in a surge of emotion, I was flailing my arms around wildly, screaming and embracing my mother like we hadn’t laid eyes on each other in twenty years. I jumped up and down for so long it counted as a workout, and I could not leave the park for anything. I watched rapt as Justin Verlander stood down on the field, talking with FSN’s John Keating--not that I could hear a word he was saying. It didn’t matter. I could not believe what I had just witnessed. I remember telling my dad later that night in a breathless voice that a person could go to hundreds of games in his/her lifetime and never see a no-hitter. After all, this was the first home no-hitter for the Tigers since 1952 when Virgil Trucks hurled two of them in one year (but still went 5-19).

I had spent the previous hour and half or so in a state of rapturous agony. I was so nervous for Verlander, my stomach ached as if someone had taken my intestines and twisted them up like a downtown Chicago cloverleaf. Out after out, I clutched my pencil with increasing intensity, white knuckles showing. As the innings wore on, I made the marks on my scorecard with greater care, knowing now that it could be a card I would want to place in a shadow box with my tickets stubs one day.

After the game, I carefully penciled in all the zeroes across the card. Zero hits, zero runs, zero errors. There were four bases on balls, but am I one to quibble with walks when a no-hitter occurred? It was funny anyway that three of them went to one batter—Bill Hall. Who cares that the Brewers then went on to win the remaining two games of that interleague series? Is that important? No. It’s trivia noone will remember in the wake of Justin Verlander making the Brewers’ lineup miss everything that night. And that he did in spectacular fashion. He racked up 12 Ks as the whiffing hacks harmlessly swished air around the batter’s box.

The two defensive plays that saved the no-no are as memorable as Justin’s work on the hill. First, Magglio Ordóñez, known never to leave his feet to make a play, made a nice sliding catch to save a sinking flare to right. Then, defensive specialist Neifi Perez turned a double play of the decade to keep things going. Leyland’s penchant for over-valuing certain players comes in handy now and again. I won’t ever gripe about Neifi’s spot on the squad, I promise. He earned it all on that singular play.

Thanks for putting up with a trip in the time machine. I know it can only stir up the fondest of memories. Tomorrow, King Felix. Bring it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

When The Stars Align

To euphemize, Friday's home opener was a smidge on the chilly side. Some people are ill prepared and easily irritated and find it impossible to enjoy a game under such circumstances.

Fortune smiled for Saturday's game, and I enjoyed blissful sun and temps so mild I didn't get to show off my new Tigers warm up jacket. Well, I did forget to put sunscreen on, and my nose glowed Ruldolph-style for the next two days. Just my nose. The rest of my face remained paste-white. That's attractive.

I have shared with you my status as a charmed individual. Ask me for some lottery numbers, because at Saturday's game, the guy I buy tickets from upgraded me from bleacher seats to infield boxes 26 rows behind the Tigers dugout for free (thank you Gary). I can't explain it people. Just accept it before it destroys you. The only downside to this whole development was that I didn't bring my camera, because its zoom doesn't perform that well from right field. I had wonderful views of players in the on-deck circle and coming into the dugout, and no way to capture them. That's ok. I just soaked up the vistas--when people weren't constantly getting up and down in our row.

I try not to be too much of a baseball snob, but really, I must protest. The bases were loaded...LOADED with Tigers, and idiot fans are doing the wave. Repeat with me now. "These vapid drunkards pay the salaries of our ballplayers. Without them, our starting lineup would include a bunch of no-names and has-beens." Does that help you at all?

Jeremy Bonderman looked really good. I was a little concerned before the game, wondering about some rust from his suspension, and that dreaded first inning. Imagine the excitement as Jeremy took a no-hitter into the fourth inning. Hafner broke it up with a single. I was actually relieved, because I think the pressure of a no-no would have caused Bondo to spontaneously combust somewhere around the seventh inning. Jeremy's day ended after the fifth when 90 pitches had been thrown. Very satisfying. I was glad to see him come back with a clean, quick fifth, after struggling a little with command in the fourth.

I cannot write this post without reminding you that in the third at bat of the Tigers' half of the first, Magglio Ordóñez launched a laser down the left field line. It got out so fast I almost missed it. But grinning and laughing, I jumped up and down with childish glee.

So you can see that the day at the park was shiny and perfect, wrapped up with a big red bow of a Tigers victory and a four-out save for Ryan Perry.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Many Happy Returns

While an Opening Day win does not signal a trip to the playoffs (though it was hard to tell based on how zotzed up the FSN boys sounded during the Tigers Live post-game show) it feels good to put one in the W column. It's hard not go with the feel good vibe after a Game 1 victory, because "winning, it's like better than losing."

I know this is a Tigers blog, but David DeJesus is one of my favorite players to watch. His mannerisms and reactions to things make me laugh--bonus points to him for that. He laughed at himself after dragging his face through the dirt on a botched slide. He pumped his arms like a little girl striding away from a bad play date in a huff after striking out. I love this.

Also scoring some make-me-laugh points is Phil Coke. He runs out from the pen looking like a total schlump. An 80s baseball player schlump, no less. He does a sort of WWF wrestler flex and growl (in keeping with his 80s persona) when a good defensive play helps him out of a jam. He's, um, bulky, and I dig that, because I can relate.

Joel Zumaya fans Betancourt on a high hard one. There.

Young Austin Jackson showed us what he got in a very satisfying way on both sides of the ball (please don't rain on the happy parade by saying the ump got the call wrong--I watched the replay too). His parents were there to see his debut, so that's just as warm and fuzzy as can be.

Johnny Idiot Damon showed up to play. Go ahead, do that all year, and then go show up for some other (show-me-the-money, glam-tacular) team next year.

Poor Kansas City. I think they got an all too accurate glimpse of their pen yesterday. Hey, at least they have Soria--too bad save situations could be um, limited.

Finally, I have to say that I like Ryan Perry, I like him A LOT.

See you tomorrow for the awkward partial broadcast.