Monday, September 21, 2009

Collective Exhale

I hope we're all using this last off-day of the season to catch up on some non-Tiger-related areas of our lives. However, I admit that most of my life is consumed by the Tigers and Tiger-related themes. See, I'm writing this post right now. I've read Tiger blogs today, along with the Tigers web site, and local newspapers' Tiger coverage. The phrase "get a life" does come to mind, but I shove it aside dismissively.

This weekend's series nearly became my undoing. After Saturday's wretched loss, I found myself near tears contemplating our season ending without the playoffs. Get a hold of yourself, woman!

Well, we got the win yesterday, behind unlikely starter Nate Robertson. I'd imagine he feels pretty satisfied right now, contributing in large part to a significant victory. It's a far cry from losing a spot in the rotation out of Spring Training, grousing about it openly to the media, and hearing cries for his outright release.

Will any of you be attending the 1984 anniversary celebration on September 28th?

Could you take a moment to share memories of that fabled season? If you're too young to remember it first-hand, tell us some stories that were told to you. You may have also watched some of the games as "classics." Tell us what you thought of the '84 squad.

I'll tell you this, I'll never forget Kirk Gibson and Sparky Anderson talking about how Goose Gossage didn't want to walk Gibby, and the glorious shot Gibby punished him with that day in Game 5. How Sparky's hand went to his mouth as he watched the ball get launched into the stands. How Dick Williams must have kicked his own tail quite literally for letting Gossage talk him out of that walk. Glory days.

Here's to having some glory days to savor from 2009.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Apology Is In Order

In my post yesterday I said that only Justin Verlander and Placido Polanco showed up for yesterday's game.

That was oh so wrong.

Gerald Laird continued his brilliant dominance of would-be base stealers, cutting down Carlos Gomez! and Denard Span. I can't believe some people persist in grousing about his lack of offense. Are you serious?

I'll take this guy any day of the week. Our problem isn't that our catcher isn't hitting, it's that our entire team isn't hitting. I'm far more inclined to forgive a light-hitting catcher than say a light hitting third baseman. Just sayin'.

Anyway, I'm very sorry Gerald Laird. You showed up in a big way yesterday.

Pounding the Pavement

I can thank the Tigers for being the source of a unique experience for me tonight. It marked the first time I was so angry after a game that I had to run it off.

I'm no fitness freak. Far, far from it, as those who know me will attest. I likes to eat. However, there were a truckload of toxins coursing through my system after the Metrodome meltdown, and I was just enough in my right mind to know that I didn't want to start abusing my family members or punting my 11-week old kitten across the living room like a football.

So, I pulled on the sports bra and some shorts and took off. I only wish I had left right after Lyon surrendered the three run shot to Cuddyer, because at that moment my adrenaline would have propelled me for at least 10 miles. I am a "loyal" fan however (translation "stubborn and stupid"), so I stuck around for the rest of the debacle. Glad Verlander and Polanco showed up for the game, since noone else seemed to feel the need.

I'm really not one to make excuses, so I'm not going to mention that the Metrodome is evil incarnate and must be destroyed. I'm not one to lay blame in a team sport, so I'm not going to fault Jim Leyland for putting Don Kelly in left field at the aforementioned Dome. I'm also not a liar, so I'll tell you that I was ranting like a madwoman when Kelly lost that fly ball against the accursed Metrodome ceiling.

I've already been a wreck for these past two games, and now Nate Robertson is starting tomorrow. Not quite sure I'll be making it through the game without a ventilator or intravenous tranquilizers.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Out Walking the Ledge

Sooooooooo, how do you feel this morning? (That is, if you're able to drag your tail out of bed and stagger to the computer.) Like someone worked you over like Ali's punching bag? Like you're hung over but you didn't even drink? Like your best girl (or guy) dumped you unceremoniously and without warning? All of the above?

Myself, I'm still reeling. Better recover soon, there's a day game today, folks.

I'm trying to get some perspective and quell the panic, I really am. But the way we've been playing is not helping matters at all.

Porcello did his job, I mean he didn't give up any three-run homers (cough, Jackson, Galarraga, Washburn, Fien, Bonderman, cough).

Now today we have to face Carl I-Can't-Shut-Down-Anyone-But-the-Tigers Pavano. I've already set a plan in motion to sabotage him so he can't start today. It involves luring him under the I35W Bridge, where another collapse appears imminent. Wish me luck.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shaking in My Boots

Um, I'm what you might mildly term a nervous wreck for tonight's opener against the Twins at the Metrodump. We play like garbage there most nights, and it's no wonder, what with the giant garbage bag of an outfield wall they have. That place is a nightmare. Our record against the Twins this year at the dome is a terrifying 1-5. Let's all give thanks the place is being shuttered after this season.

Another reason for my trepidation is Minnesota's manager Ron Gardenhire. I respect him highly as a manger, and he squeezes more victories out of a smaller payroll than anyone I know. He also seems to be a genius in the motivational department, as the Twins are always making a late run at the playoffs.

Why is the fact that Justin Morneau and Joe Crede (wretched Tiger killer) are both out for the season not making me feel any better? Sigh.

I feel a great need for moral support for tonight's game. Shall we designate a sports bar to meet up, hold each other's hands and make it through this game together? Just name the place, I will be there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

About that Bat Flip...

I guess I'd better clarify what I said in my previous post about enjoying watching Aubrey Huff flip his bat after hitting a game-tying three-run shot off Toronto's Jason Frasor in the 8th inning of Monday's game.

I enjoyed watching the replay, because it appeared that Huff was overcome by the moment, the importance of the hit, and how much it meant in a pennant race. The flip came really quickly, and the look on his face was like "yes--I just hit a big home run for my new team that is trying to win the division."

I don't believe the flip was intended to show up Frasor. There is quite a little furor going over the whole incident in some discussions I've seen.

I don't condone showboating, but it doesn't really bother me that much when a player pauses for a moment after hitting a big home run. Sorry, it just doesn't. Does it bother you when a pitcher shows emotion over getting a big strikeout to get out of a jam, or preserve a slim lead? Not me.

Anyway, congrats to Huff, looks like we'll be needing some more of his heroics, what with the Twins deciding to win every game despite being without Justin Morneau and noted Tiger-killer Joe Crede.

By the way, if the Tigers don't win one for Ernie Harwell tonight, I won't be getting over it any time soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who Needs Offense? We'll Win on Errors

Aubrey Huff feels like a real Tiger now. No more cheesy fake-fur costume for him, those stripes are genuine. His three run shot in the 9th to tie up a game that felt lost injected the remaining soggy fans at the CoPa with fresh fervor. Watching the replay, and seeing him flip his bat after the no-doubter was especially touching.

When will people learn that you NEVER, EVER pencil it in? How did it feel to hear the walk-off win from your car, genius?

Marco Scutaro needed a few pats on the back last night as he walked to the clubhouse. Two errors (his 9th & 10th of the season) made the difference late in the game for our Bengals. Amidst the happy smiles and high fives after the game, I felt a small twinge. It feels odd to have the game handed to you like that. I wonder how Avila felt after hitting into a seemingly sure double-play, then getting mobbed on the field as the hitter of the walk-off...error? The feeling didn't linger for me, however. A win is a win no matter how cheap.

According to MLB Network's "Quick Pitch," the Tigers have now won 22 games in their last at bat, second only to the Yankees' 25 such wins, and tied with the Dodgers. Not bad company, and it makes for some high drama.

Oh Justin, will you ever exit adolescence? I know it seems totally unfair to pick on a 16-game winner, who has shown us at times this year that he is ready to put on some big boy britches. After getting out of a first-and-third-no-out jam to preserve his fifth scoreless frame, and just when I thought he had shown remarkable maturity, he melted down in the 6th. Sigh. It was mildly ironic to see some bleacher fans in right tracking Justin's strikeouts with large poster-board Ks. Justin Verlander--7 innings, 10 hits, 5 earned runs and 9 strikeouts! Woo!?

I remind myself that a win is a win.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Well, actually, I spell relief W-I-N. We got one of those today. It's a good thing, too, or the vestiges of my sanity would have waved bye-bye, and I would have stood by watching helplessly like a three-year old who accidentally let go of his helium balloon.

Nice time to slump, Tigers. It's a little disconcerting to drop five straight in September, people! Ok, ok, it's not time to panic, but I had to get that out.

I was actually a little nervous for Porcello today. I know he's pitched great, but it's always in the back of my mind that he could crack under pressure, or finally hit the wall. No need for such piddly worries today. Thank you, Pretty Little Ricky! He also reduced some stress by going six deep, eliminating the need for long relief.

The bad news is, yes, we have to play the Jays one more time. I'm going to be at the park tomorrow for the wrap-around finale, so I hope I can influence the outcome in our favor. Justin Verlander will take the hill and try for win number 17.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Game 141 Notes

I'm still riding high from Michigan's last minute (literally) comeback win over the Irish. Hail to the Victors! RichRod silences his critics with a win over Notre Dame. Woo hoo! Rogo seems to think some poor officiating affected the outcome. Does is surprise you that a Notre Dame fan is a whining sore loser? Also, Michigan State lost to Central, so I got to heckle my brother. Good day so far.

Now, for the Tigers to stop the skid. I thought about going up to the ballpark and taking one for the team by offering myself up as a slump-buster, but....

Oh, Miguel Cabrera swatted a mighty drive to break a 3-3 tie in the 5th. What a thing of beauty. Both the sound and sight of it were so majestic and thrilling. Thank you Miggy for that little piece of perfection. Chicks really do dig the long ball. Later in the game, FSN showed a replay of the homer and celebration. Miggy almost knocked Clete Thomas over with a massive chest bump. It was so adorable, I giggled with delight.

On to the horror show. Edwin Jackson must get nervous pitching in front of family. Mama and a whole row of relations were there to cheer EJ on, but we had to witness his mother shaking her head after Edwin served up home run shots to Vernon Wells and Marco Scutaro. Let's not have the family come to Comerica again this season, OK? I know I've said I'm not superstitious, but there's no point in being reckless with the post-season on the line.

Fernando Rodney made me cry tonight. Why, 'nando? There were two outs. TWO! We realize it wasn't a save situation, but you've gone too far. You could have just talked to Jim privately after the game, in his office, and let him know you can't handle the non-save. You could have pulled up your pant legs and worn high socks in protest. But a two-run homer? That was over the top.

That's all I've got. Any more and I'll be sobbing afresh.

17, A Number I Loathe

I'm brimming with disgust right now that our magic number stands at 17, after four straight losses. I know that the Twinks and Sox continue to help us out by losing when we lose, but I'd like to put a dent in this number already. We have to play the Twins and White Sox seven and six more times respectively. That scares me more than the fact that my house is now worth less than a big bag of cat litter.

We need to win tonight. I'm sorry, but that's just how I feel. I'm not in panic mode, but I don't want to see us take this thing to the last game of the season. That was exciting in 1987. This year, it would cost me several thousand neurons.

OK. Our pitching is scuffling big time right now. Our bats are trying to enter early hibernation. Well, let's break out of this funk now, seal the division and focus on the playoffs. Please? I'm not too proud to beg.

I will say one thing about Fernando Rodney's suspension. I didn't see it happen, but watched the replay. His weak attempt to say he was tossing the ball to fans has no credence whatsoever. The penalty was excessive, but why appeal? Serve it right away and get it over with. We will need him down the stretch. I really find that whole move totally bewildering. Don't take a stand on principal when you're in a pennant race. If it had been like 10 games, fine, but three? More disgust.

I would like Sean of Trumbull and Michigan to break out his preseason blogger predictions and see how many of us thought the Tigers would make the playoffs. I believe that I responded yes to that question. Let's hope that holds up so I can brag about my foresight, defying baseball analysts and whatnot.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Yesterday's News

Well, I don't know whether any of you remember the Cleveland series last week. It seems an age ago now, what with the sweeping of the Rays, and the Holiday weekend.

However, I'm going to bring that series back to life for you for just a moment here. You may ask why, since it was the lowly Indians after all, and we've since swept a much better team. Well, it's purely selfish reasons making this train roll.

It's not that often that I take in a full series at the ballpark. I got a chance to do just that for the Cleveland set. It was kind of a fluke, but I was pretty happy nonetheless. So, I kind of want to recap the series here in the ol' blog--hence the selfish reasons. I can only hope that what comes next is worth the time you're spending here, stale subject matter and all.

Tuesday's game was fun, because Polanco and Guillen homered back-to-back in the first inning, and we went on to score two more runs in that frame. Also, Aubrey Huff broke out that game, with a single double, two walks, and three RBIs. The fifth inning was mighty troubling, as the wheels fell off for Jackson. He did manage to get out the inning, but that left four frames to be covered by the pen, which they did quite admirably, other than that homer Miner gave up to Andy Marte (who has a career total of 14 home runs in 614 at bats). Just a question--why do the Tigers LOVE to give up the longball to the unlikeliest of players?

Wednesday's game? Well, I was thrilled to see Porcello go seven strong with only two earned runs and ZERO walks. It was also very odd to see Jhonny Peralta make three errors in a slop-fest on the part of the Tribe. He did make a couple decent plays, too and has a grand total of four errors on the season. So, I'm sure he thought that someone was holding a voodoo doll and was working the pins to perfection every time the ball was hit to the hot corner. Shin-Soo Choo had DHed on Tuesday, but played right on Wednesday, and it was cool, because a guy sitting in my row was a fan of his--they're both from South Korea. I didn't know a ton about Choo, so I quizzed the guy for info. He said that Cleveland didn't want him to play in the WBC this year, but he did, and you may or may not remember that South Korea made it to the finals.

On Thursday, I dragged the kid down to the park to see Nate Robertson's second start of the season. It went pretty well, pretty well indeed! I missed bits of the game here and there, what with trips out for snacks, the bathrooms, an abortive attempt at the ferris wheel (line...miles long) and all, but it was such a beautiful day for a game, and we had a terrific time. Ni had a bit of trouble in the 8th there. That was a little scary. But it kind of worked out, because the game went to extras. And extras, I love extras, well at least I do when they end in a walkoff win! What a 10th. Raburn leads of with a huge double, then they get "smart" and walk Cabrera on purpose, but walk Magglio not on purpose to load 'em up with NO outs for Polanco, who had pinch hit for Avila in the 8th. Mighty Polly steps up the plate, and......hits a sac fly RBI walkoff. Hey, you may say that it was a little anti-climactic to hit a sac fly. I say no way, it's just what we needed. I love someone like Polanco who doesn't try to do too much, but works with what the pitcher gives him. Hurrah Polanco, Raburn, Cabrera and Ordoñez. Hurrah Tigers, because in case you didn't get the subtle subliminal message from the Tigers web site, the Pennant Race is ON!

Here's a little public service message for you, register now for the playoff ticket lottery drawing scheduled for September 16.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Saturday Afternoon at the Park

You’d think that with his blog’s namesake starting a major league game for the first time this season on Saturday, someone like Rogo of DesigNate Robertson would honor the occasion by attending the game in person. Dedication ain’t what it used to be, folks. Although Nate's debut wasn't a total trainwreck, the cars did seem to want to teeter off the track a bit at times. He got hit around a little, and wasn't helped out by some shoddy defense. He was only out there for four innings after pitching on three days rest, so I'm sure judgment will be reserved for another outing.

Mi Magglio had the Tigers' only RBI of the game in the 8th inning. That pretty much tells you our offensive anemia was in full effect.

A funny thing happened at the game. A friend of a season ticket holder I know was there and we were chatting about baseball. He was a casual fan of the game, saying he liked all sports, and has season tickets to the Pistons. Somehow, he got it in his head that I knew a lot about baseball. Some of us were talking about how Galarraga would be back up soon with the club, and he asked whether Robertson would be sent down to make room for him at that time. I said no because of roster expansion September 1. You'd have thought I deciphered the Rosetta Stone, he was so impressed. I felt like such a sham. He kept high-fiving me throughout the game for what he saw as my many baseball triumphs. I promise you I wasn't trying to impress him. He had had a few beers, too, so that should tell you something as well.

I was a little concerned about the bullpen, seeing as we were a man short at the time with two more games left in the series, but Zach Miner did a nice job eating some innings. Ryan Perry looked terrific in the 8th, but was the victim of another error in the 9th.

Anyway, I don't know about you, but it's exciting being in a pennant race, even if we haven't been playing our best baseball all the time. Fun to see the White Sox go on tilt. I'll be at the Cell later this month for a Tigers/Sox game, so I hope Ozzie is in rare (I mean, usual) form.