Monday, January 31, 2011

Do I?

Do I want Vladimir Guerrero to be a member of the Tigers? I have always loved watching Vlad swing at a ball just above his shoe tops, and stroke it for a hit. I also like his no batting glove wearing, pine-tar helmet sporting look. However, I'm so ambivalent right now, because the effect of Vlad on our defense would be, um, borderline catastrophic. If we add Vlad at DH, that bumps Victor Martinez to everyday catcher. Cue the shrieks. I mean, I was really happy with the Martinez signing, but I don't want to see him behind the dish every day.

Now let's just say hypothetically, that Dombrowski decides NOT to put Martinez at catcher every day even with Vlad on the roster. Now everyone is set up for discontent. Either Guerrero or Martinez will be squeezed out of playing time, and I don't see either of them being happy with that. Some might say Vlad could play right field some days, since Magglio is now 37 years old. Uh, did you see him in right field during the playoffs this year? OK. Let us put that idea through the shredder post-haste.

I haven't mentioned Alex Avila here, but he's young enough that he can wait to be a full-time catcher. He can use more time to develop. He hasn't proven himself offensively. I feel like he'll be all right.

I don't want the defensive troubles of the 2008 team to be repeated in 2011. I don't want a roster full of guys who are chafing at their roles. Don't you remember Pudge asking to be traded, and how we got Kyle Farnsworth in return? I apologize for taking you there, but it's a necessary reality check. I shuddered as I was typing it, believe me.

I can't come to a conclusion here. My brain is conflicted and fragmented. I want Vlad. I want good defense. I want happy ball players. I want it all.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Running Man

In an interview during TigerFest, Phil Coke reveals his reason for sprinting to the mound from the bullpen. It's not to make us all laugh. It's not to burn a few extra calories. It's not because he can't stand the other Tigers relievers.

Coke explains that it's because "I don't want anything to enter my mind, except for 'Get to the hill, get the job done'."

I guess he doesn't want the adoring, but frequently brain-dead fans (people who reach over and interfere with balls still in play, people who try to start the wave in the 7th inning of Justin Verlander's no-hitter, people who boo Todd Jones' first blown save in 20 opportunities) to mess with his game mindset. I can't say I blame him there.

When asked whether there was an advantage to him being the only lefty in the starting rotation, Coke shrugged his shoulders up to his ears and quipped, ""I don't know, I'm just a baseball player, man." This echoes the sentiments of many ball players who probably think that zealous fans, media and bloggers overanalyze everything. Curtis Granderson said that he doesn't even know what the stat WAR (wins above replacement player) is. During the celebration for the 40th anniversary of the 1968 World Series, Rod and Mario had various players from the '68 team in the booth during the game. I remember one of them saying that he doesn't really watch baseball and never has. He just enjoyed playing it. Yes, I realize this means that many of us are attached to baseball in a way that could be perceived as "Fatal Attraction." So what? I've come to terms with it. I hope you have too.

If you want to see the Coke interview in its entirety, here's a link, but you'll have to go to the "TicketTube" section on the right side bar and then scroll through the video options until you see Phil Coke in a light blue dress shirt.

These are the things that have to get us through until there is baseball again.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

FreezeFest 2011

Did you know that certain extremities refuse to be warmed when exposed to icy temperatures? My nose was frozen and red all day at TigerFest yesterday. That didn't stop me from enjoying myself. I was armed with foot and hand warmers, and the Tigers were also passing out free hand warmers to the hardy fans who defied the weather.

Although I had several failures yesterday, my friend Nicole triumphed in a way I hadn't imagined possible. I had brought my scorecard from the no-hitter in hopes of meeting Justin Verlander in the autograph lines. NO. Of course, I wanted to see Mi Magglio. Well, I saw him, all right. I got to the photo booth area in time to see him LEAVING! I would have liked to meet Max Scherzer. He did walk by my friend and I, and she gasped audibly, but I was busy digging in my bag, so I barely glimpsed him. Sigh.

Now, allow me to regale you with my friend's tale of victory. Nicole follows both Will Rhymes and Casper Wells on Twitter. We were standing in an autograph line, when Will Rhymes walked by us. Nicole told him she followed him on Twitter and he high-fived her. She tweeted it, with a shout out to Wells to top it, and Rhymes proceeded to retweet it. That was quite exciting, needless to say. Well, a while later, we get to the front of an autograph line, and who is there, but Casper Wells himself. Nicole shows him the tweet and the challenge. You could see the wheels turning in his mind for a moment as he signed her hat. Then, he slowly stood up and enveloped her in a big, genuine hug! Then he told her she better tweet THAT to Will. Holy cow, a twitter war had broken out! Nicole's feet didn't touch ground for while after that. I was happy for her, despite my epic failures.

We attended one of the panel discussions, which featured Justin Verlander, Joaquin Benoit, and an empty chair for a tardy Phil Coke. Rod and Mario were allowing audience members to pose questions, and people kept asking Justin the most pointed questions. He took it all in good grace, laughing at how Jim Thome owns him, talking about how he has ZERO major league hits, and discussing his April woes. Funny stuff. Then Phil Coke finally walks in the room and flashes an expression that put the whole room in stitches. You just had to be there, I can't describe it. Then he says the reason he was late is because he was down in the team store trying to find out why there were no Coke shirts in there. He's priceless. Really.

I did get to tell Austin Jackson he was robbed for ROY, and how much we appreciated his season here. He is very humble, trying to deflect all that praise coming his way. Here are a few snaps from the frozen tundra.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stay Tuned for These Messages from our Sponsors

In yet another sign that the end of life as we know it is near, I guest-wrote a Tigers Season preview article for i70 Baseball. In case you are not hopelessly obsessed with tonight's Packers/Falcons showdown (as the rest of my heretical cheesehead household is), here is the link:

Sorry for the shameless self-promotion.

I do promise to make up for it by providing a scintillating report from TigerFest, where I plan to fan it up with fellow individuals who don't mind braving sub-zero temperatures for a glimpse of some ball players. At least I realize how stupid I am.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Timo! Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back!

Update: In my excitement over Timo's return, I failed to give proper credit to Matt Anderson of TigsTown for breaking the story on Twitter, and to John Parent of Motor City Bengals. Sorry guys. Great work!!

When we last heard of our hero, he was toiling away in the Mexican leagues, far removed from his former Toledo days.

There is cause to rejoice in Mudville, baseball fans!

Timo Perez has signed a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers. My heart delights in Timo's return. You may be thinking that I've become a mite unhinged in the midst of the off-season. Why in the name of balls and strikes would I be going batty about the return of a 35 year-old career minor leaguer?

Well, I'm sorry, but I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Timo, and so it's just poetic justice to have him back. Apparently Dave Dombrowski hides a little Timo-love in his heart, too!

So, Timo, here's to you! I'll be making a special trip to Toledo this year, you can be sure of that. I intend to drag Rogo of Designate Robertson with me, because he shares my inexplicable affection for Timo.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Old English D on Blog Talk Radio

I know. The offseason has become a droning, interminable, black hole devoid of all meaning. Did you refresh your favorite Tigers news sites 20 times yesterday only to find that there is NOTHING doing? If you've reached the end of your rope, and have begun actually longing for Rod Allen and Mario Impemba, you are obviously in dire need of a baseball fix. You're in luck. Tune in tonight at 11 pm Eastern time to:

I will be joining host Bill Ivie of i70 Baseball and Baseball Digest, along with other AL Central bloggers to talk some baseball. I realize that it's an alternate universe akin to the final season of "Lost" when yours truly appears on a radio show that features credible baseball writers. But the apocalypse is apparently underway, so why not go with it? (Or at least listen just to laugh at me. It's ok, I'm not afraid of sacrificing myself for the common good, remember?--scroll down to the last big paragraph to read about how I made a fool of myself, but helped the team win. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Anyway, listen in and call in tonight. You can even heckle me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Angst, Anxiety...Armando

Who's the Tiger you're most worried about going into the 2011 season?

For me, it's Armando Galarraga. We need him to pitch like that guy who pitched a perfect game, not like the guy who was afraid to throw a strike most of the time.

Could someone get in Armando's ear and brainwash him with positive thinking? I'll pay Tony Robbins to pump him full of clichéd, atta boy, rah rah psycho-babble. Yes, it would be worth every penny.

Galarraga ended the season with a WHIP of 1.34. He really only had one decent year--2008. He has asserted that he deserves a spot in the starting rotation, and got his undies in a twist when he got sent down to Toledo, but he doesn't always trust his stuff. He'd better dig deep and find a way to believe that he's got a big league arm, pitch to contact, and be a productive part of the rotation.

We've got Verlander and Scherzer--rock solid. I believe that Porcello will be just fine. Who really knows how Phil Coke's attempt to turn starter will go? I love Phil Coke. He's a great personality, and he pitched really well most of last year. But I really have no idea if that will translate over to starting pitcher. Therefore, it's all the more important that 'mando does his job.

So.......Armando Galarraga, stand up. Cowboy up. Pitch your potential.