Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Magic Is Gone?

I have failed you in a tragically catastrophic way. Wednesday night, I braved certain rain showers to attend the game. I felt confident that Justin Verlander would put down a stellar performance. I even hinted that he might touch greatness again. I had a “feeling” about it. I never doubted my ability to bring home a win for the club. I’ve never been more wrong.

What in the name of balls and strikes happened here? Verlander threw exactly 100 pitches over five innings, and went on to pitch the sixth for a total of 114. He gave up a three run homer to Justin Smoak in the first inning. Why did we even pitch to Smoak? Cust is scuffling so badly right now. Sigh. Justin wasn’t horrific, but he wasn’t spectacular as I somehow mistakenly felt he might be.

The rain. It was almost plague-like. It would come down lightly for ten minutes, then taper off. Then I’d just take of my rain jacket hood for five minutes, and down she’d come again, sometimes picking up in intensity for short periods, but never lasting too long. Relentless, she reappeared again and again. I have to give it up to the fans, though. It wasn’t a large crowd, but hardly anyone left (until the wheels came off and we gave up six runs in the 9th, then it was mass exodus.) I was duly impressed with the hardiness of those in attendance. It was no fair weather bunch.

Although I’d like to blame the rain for my inefficacy, I can’t do it. It would be a cop out. Thankfully, I have a proper scapegoat. I invited Rogo of DesigNate Robertson to join me at the park, but was brutally rebuffed. He said something about Lost reruns, or watching birds eat vomit or something. Loser. He should be the target of your ire. If he had been there, Justin would never have given up a three-run homer to Smoak. Never woulda happened. Yes, I am selling it, and you are buying. Would you prefer me to provide details of the meltdown from the top of the ninth? Didn't think so.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Other Guys

I was driving home from the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo today when the game started. The only station I could find that had the game on was (gasp!) a Sox station. Hey, I was just happy to have a feed at that point. Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson are the Sox' radio guys. It was actually quite enlightening to listen to the game from the opposition's point of view.

Farmer and Jackson were (rightfully) incredulous about Brad Penny's weight as listed in the media guide. He's listed at 6'4", 230 pounds. Both agreed that 250 is more like it. They also said it "looked about right" that Penny is from Oklahoma. These cracks were mild and no laughs were had (on air) at Penny's expense, but they were duly noted by yours truly. I am happy to go behind enemy lines to dig up dirt and report back to you.

As the game wore on with Brad Penny throwing a no-hitter, the Sox guys felt the need to downplay his performance a bit. They said that there were some hittable pitches in there, and the Sox players just weren't hitting them. I guess there's probably truth to that. They did admit that Penny had thrown a few very nice pitches here and there. The funny thing is, that when I started to lose the Sox station, and tuned in to a Detroit broadcast, Dan and Jim said Penny was brilliant. I guess we're all homers.

The other notable characteristic of the Sox broadcasters was that they were very intent on telling the listener what pitch Edwin Jackson should be throwing next and why. For example, they said that with the count at 3-2, and having just thrown a slider out of the strike zone, you better come right back with that same pitch, because it's the last pitch the hitter will think you're throwing. This went on pretty much the whole time I was listening, which was through the fifth inning.

Overall, I found the Sox broadcasters to be boring. I wouldn't want to listen to them over 162 games.

Now, I must say that today's game was all kinds of fun from the Detroit perspective. A no hitter into the sixth, Tigers hits all 'round, I got something to write about (even if I had to make a run into enemy territory to do it), and a 9-0 shutout, and EIGHT IN A ROW TAKEN FROM THE EVIL SOX! Triumph, plain and simple.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Herald for the Unheralded

During last night's game, I mean during today's early morning game, Jose Valverde had finished his warmups and was kind of just standing around, warming his hands, waiting for the top of the ninth to end. The camera zeroed in on Papa Grande several times, and each time, standing next to him in his gear, was bullpen catcher Scott Pickens. You may have missed this because it was after 1:30 am Eastern Time. I am currently evaluating my own sanity after staying up. It was worth it, don't get me wrong, but today I am like the walking undead.

I have always been intrigued by the bullpen catcher. When I first became aware of the existence of the position, I had many questions I needed answered. Is this person on the roster? (No.) Is he on the coaching staff? (No.) How is his position defined? (Non-roster personnel.) How much does he make? (The Wall Street Journal states that most make less than $60,000 per year, and many much less. Many supplement their incomes with other jobs in the off-season, and the Diamondback's bp catcher Jeff Motuzas does many strange feats for money--like eating contests and Jackass-style stunts.)

Also, I kept thinking, this must be one of the coolest jobs on the planet! You get to be at the ball park at all times. (I must ask you, is there anything better than being at the ball park? Many of my waking hours are spent scheming up ways to be at the ball park more often.) You are working with the players. You are seeing every game up close and personal. You are important. You throw batting practice. You get to play catch with pitchers. You tell them if their arm slots are consistent.

Detroit bullpen catcher Scott Pickens was personally selected by Magglio Ordóñez and Brandon Inge to pitch to them during their respective appearances in the All Star Game's Home Run Derby. Is this not all kinds of awesome?

Now, I may well be romanticizing this position, and the bullpen catchers may feel underpaid and unsung, and they may tell us it's a whole lot of grunt work for minor ducats. They may be afflicted by the unflinching reality that they weren't good enough to make the major leagues as a "real" catcher. I don't know. But I do know that I find bullpen catchers supremely cool.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Trauma Chronicles

Sigh. Joel Zumaya has been moved to the 60 day disabled list. The only good news here is that a spot on the 40-man roster is freed up. Poor Zoom is simply doomed to be hurt....all...the...time. It would be so wrenching to see him join Mark Fidrych in the hall of fabulous flameouts. I hope that doesn't happen to Joel. He might not handle it as well as The Bird did. Not many would.

Carlos Guillen has NOT resumed baseball activities. Thank you for that bit of disheartening news, Rick Eymer. I feel like sobbing now. Kevin Rand says he's working on strength and movement, and IS NOT READY for baseball activities. I guess it's not surprising. A much younger Grady Sizemore had microfracture surgery in June and is just now coming back. Carlos just had surgery in mid-September 2010. Also, to put everyone further into a dark cloud, is Carlos going to have the lateral movement needed to play second base when he is cleared to return???? Think of the young gun Scott Sizemore coming off ankle surgery last year. He could not move right. What makes us think that Guillen, who is old in baseballian years, can do better?

Ryan Perry is recovering from a strange eye infection and secondary corneal damage (due to him rubbing his eye like a two-year old). A course in fundamental medical principles should be required for our ball players, people. They have plenty of down time during travel. Just hire someone to do presentations on the team plane. Be sure to follow up with quizzes, and require passing grades. Anyone who fails will not be permitted to partake of team subsidized snacks during games. That's right, no giant gum balls, no sunflower seeds, no Big League Chew. Yeah, I'm one tough cookie.

Victor Martinez has a gimpy groin and will not catch tonight, for sure, says Skip. Possible DH. Um, yeah, I would think that squatting with a bad groin would be......a very delicate matter. Let us hope together with all our collective powers that this is not a lingering thing.

Magglio Ordóñez' ankle fills up with fluid periodically, and is often sore-ish. These things make me very uncomfortable. This is my Tiger. I want him to excel always. His defense is already oft maligned. Now his ankle is very sensitive and prone to being irritated. No. Not. Good.

I would like to encourage the establishment of a M.B.S.H. unit for our Tigers. They appear to need it very much. Besides, I always loved Hawkeye and Trapper.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Today is Jackie Robinson Day. It's a day I'm very excited about, but it's hard to express something meaningful without sounding clichéd or sappy. My son is reading a biography of Jackie Robinson right now. I am hoping it impacts his view of baseball, because after attending a baseball camp last fall in which he was the only African-American kid, he told me "baseball's a white kid's sport." I tried to tell him it's not. I recited a laundry list of black players in MLB today. But the truth is the number of African-Americans in baseball has been declining for a long time. It's good to see programs like Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and companies in the Detroit area funding urban youth baseball. I can only hope my son will stay with baseball, because I absolutely love going to his games.

How can you quantify someone being willing to endure slurs and worse hurled at him not only fans, but players as well? I'm not that strong. I know it. He's not the only brave one. He was just the first. Many other qualified players were denied membership in the elitest of clubs, the Major Leagues. Others got in only during the twilight of their careers, and never got to show the country the true measure of their talent.

I'm glad there is a Negro Leagues Museum to provide a showcase for these players who went largely unrecognized in their time. I'm glad that the league has Negro Leagues weekend each year. Seeing the Detroit Stars uniforms always stirs me up.

I'm sorry I can't be more eloquent on the subject, but I think a lot of people have similar feelings. Let's remember together.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Did I Stutter?

I hope you had faith in me. I delivered. Indeed. I am not smug or full of braggadocio. No, I am just happy to back up yesterday's promise. We needed this W. Badly. I'm just happy to be here, glad I could help the ball club.

When Victor Martinez drove Ryan Raburn home in the fourth on a sac fly, a young fan in our section calmly said, "Ha ha, Texas." It was so great. In fact, it's my new catch phrase.

Brad Penny, in a Tigers uni, has not inspired the highest levels of confidence. Today, I'm not gonna lie, some balls were hit hard. In particular, a potential three-run shot by Michael Young had to be reeled in by the Rhino in an against-the-wall-over-the-fence effort. Whew. A one-run sac fly was a happy result under the circumstances, folks. After a rocky, but ultimately one-run sixth, I thought Penny was through. No way Leyland would put him back out there. WRONG! Groans were audible all over our section when Penny took the hill for the seventh. It seemed like tempting fate too much. Penny got Torrealba to ground out, then gave up a single to Moreland, and got Moreland on a fielder's choice. Leyland finally brought the hook, and Villareal came out of the pen. All he did was pick Borbon off first before throwing a single pitch! Spectacular. Stupendous!

Then Benoit had to make things queasy by giving up the tying run in the eighth. Granted, it was his first run allowed this season in five appearances, but it did lead to consternation. Let us revert back to the clean inning from now on, Joaquin.

After Victor Martinez drew a walk in the Tigers half of the eighth, he was lifted for pinch runner Don Kelly. Rangers' reliever Strop threw over to first at least twenty times in an attempt to hold Kelly on, but he STOLE THE BASE ANYWAY! HA HA TEXAS! Sadly, Boesch and Peralta K'd right after that to kill the rally.

In a show of confidence, Leyland had Valverde pitch the top of the ninth, and he gave up a quick single, but then got a flyout and a double play to face the minimum three batters. Thank you Papa Grande for not breaking our spirits by giving up run(s).

Now, the Tigers' ninth was like a little story book. Inge ignored my mutterings about his strikeouts and produced a leadoff single. Avila laid down a beauty of a sac bunt to advance him. Jackson walks. Santiago strikes out. RABURN DRAWS A WALK TO LOAD THE BASES FOR CABRERA, I DEFY YOU TO SCRIPT A SCENARIO BETTER THAN THAT!! Bases juiced, two outs, bottom of the ninth, club on a skid. You know the fairy tale ending. Miguelito laced a single through the left infield to lift us to a walk-off win. A little tear of happiness rolled down my cheek, and my friend and I high fived our way out of the park. Too perfect.

I hope you realize now that I can be trusted to bring a halt to losing streaks. Count on me throughout this season to deliver a win when it's needed most.

HA HA Texas!

Monday, April 11, 2011

In Which Hand-Wringing Begins in Earnest

So, our offensive impotency is beginning to make me cranky. To be sure, Jim Leyland's addled lineup cards may have something to do with it, but our big boys have been up in clutch situations and failed to produce. Now, my brow furrows, my face darkens, and a funk settles down over my household.

Well I can see I am just going to have to stop fretting and do something about this situation myself. Tomorrow, I am heading down to Comerica Park. I will be there as the gates open. I will align myself with the baseball gods during batting practice. You can put me down now as guaranteeing a win. Yes, I am tempting fate, but how could she be any worse to us than she's been so far?? I am going to will us to win tomorrow. Sheer will, folks. That's what I bring to the table. Well, that and a whole lot of frenzied screaming.

Jim Leyland can bat Will Rhymes leadoff again tomorrow if he wants to, but I stand by my guarantee. He can drop Peralta down in the lineup again, even though he's been hitting the ball very well. We are going to win. He can run Brad Thomas out there for all I care. Put tomorrow's game in the W column. Brad Penny is tomorrow's starter for sobbing out loud, and here I am making a covenant with victory.

In case you doubt my powers, I have an excellent track record. Last year, the Tigers went 9-3 in games I attended. The year before, they won 18 of 22. Clearly, I am a charmed individual. I will turn this ship around. You have my word on it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Why do the powers that be in sports assume that only males are interested? Why is every commercial full of scantily clad women? Why does FSN use a sexy girl dolled up in some Tigers gear for its segues? I must protest. There are a lot of women who love ball. I am one of them. Do I want to watch bimbos during every break from play?

I'm gonna have to give you a big fat no on that one. Could we strip (pun intended) the chauvinism out of sports please? I mean, it's only 2011. Sigh. /kicks wall, stubs toe, refuses to cry out in pain

Anyway, I'm done with that topic. If I were to say anything else, I wouldn't trust myself to be rational and cool-headed. I was already going on tilt, so I will simply shut my mouth on the subject.

I must tell you that I called Jackson's RBI double tonight. I said he would get off the schneid moments before he swatted the ball (as my husband was deriding him for having a .174 batting average). I was right. Yes, you may bring offerings and gifts. Season tickets, for example, are always a tasteful choice.

Our pitching, outside of Justin Verlander's sparkling outing last night, has left much to be desired. Brad Penny will soon draw catcalls and jeers. Relievers are allowing runners to circle the bases at a dizzying rate. I was concerned about a few areas, but this...this is not pleasing. Let us hope that the healing properties of Comerica Park turn these fellows around.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Alex Avila. Early MVP Candidate

Tonight Alex Avila had a career game. He had 5 RBI, the most in his career. He STOLE A BASE. He had a home run and a double. His nomination has been filed. Just when Tigers fans were ready to start calling for Victor Martinez and his weak arm to get behind the dish, Avila steps up and says, "put the breaks on that freight train."

I jest, of course. Avila just had one good game. The first good game he's had in......a while. Do I hope he keeps this up? Um, does Justin Verlander wear his pants too tight? Do I think he will? Um, is Miguel Cabrera going to steal 40 bases this year? This is not a breakout moment for Alex. Maybe tonight will give him a little confidence boost, however, and allow him to relax and stop pressing.

Our ace had his stuff tonight, my friends. His curveball was falling off the table. I was so nervous going in, because last I read, he hadn't fully recovered from food poisoning. How could he pitch if he couldn't keep food down? Those concerns were quickly swept aside as Justin had a perfect game going into the fourth.

Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera went back to back tonight. Vmart kind of needed that. He hadn't been putting together the best at bats. I can confirm that it is impossible not to smile when you see back-to-back jacks. It's a physiological fact.

The other night, I nearly jinxed the game twice by smiling. I smiled first when the Puma hit his second home run of the game. I was chided for being happy, the Yanks proceeded to put runs on the board, and I vowed not to smile again until we put one in the W column. Then Austin Jackson made me lose my resolve by making an outrageous catch. I'm sorry, my mouth mutinied. When Papa Grande began to falter in the 9th, I knew it was my fault. You have my pledge that I will try to hold smiling at bay when games are in progress. Funny, I used to scoff at superstition. Now, I am a solemn adherent. Baseball's funny that way.

Will our home opener never arrive? The season seems artificial until our boys come home and christen the CoPa. Things hardly seem underway until I get to the park for my first game. Those games I've been watching on TV seem rather like elaborate video games. It's time for home whites and the Old English D.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bring Out the Slop Trough

Today's loss was marred by play so sloppy, I had to turn my head in repulsion multiple times. Rhymes threw a ball so wild, we were left wondering whether first base was his intended target. Brad Thomas and Alex Avila looked like keystone cops after neither went after a ball hit weakly down the first base line. They stood there looking at each other like a couple of stiffs. Austin Jackson had a ball go off his glove for an error. Penny had no command, so he looked sloppy as well, and his line showed it. My overall impression of our team today? Bush league.

Mark Teixeira has hit two three-run blasts off us in two days. He can pluck my chin hairs. When he stands in the batter's box, he has an expression on his face like he's smelling rotten eggs. I guess I can't argue with results, however. Jerk.

Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Their attempts at banter were painfully unfunny. I'm as annoyed with them as I was with the ESPN crew. It's a shame that I couldn't just turn off the sound on my tv and listen to the radio, but radio feeds are not synced these days. I found myself pining so strongly for Ernie Harwell. I need to hear his voice.

To cheer you up, I share that the Twins are also 0-2, so things could be worse. To panic you, the White Sox are 2-0. We're two games out of first. Cellar dwellers. Ha.

Tomorrow, we place our fragile baseball hearts in Max Scherzer's hands. I don't know about him, but I've got a big chip on my shoulder right now. Beat the Yanks or bust.