Saturday, October 31, 2009

Are They Watching?

Do you think our Tigers are watching the World Series? In past years, I've heard mixed results from players who didn't make the playoffs. I remember Magglio Ordóñez saying he couldn't watch the 2005 World Series, because he had just left the Chicago White Sox, and they won it all the next season. He said something like it was the worst year of his life. Not to mention that the Tigers were awful (71-91, good for 4th place in the AL Central), and he had a hernia that year to boot.

It would be interesting to poll the wearers of the Old English D and find out whether they've been viewing playoff baseball. If not, what activities are taking up their evening leisure hours--Texas Hold 'Em and Guitar Hero? If yes, is it tough viewing, or are they rooting for friends, having parties, eating Doritos and talking about A-Rod?

Did they let go quickly and move on, because it's their job and whatnot, or was it a lingering pain that festered like mine did? Inquiring minds want to know.

I'm available for a World Series party, Tigers. Just in case you wanted to know.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Looking in from the Outside

Today I had to drive in to Detroit to purchase some Lions and Red Wings tickets. Why didn't I just buy them on-line you say? Well, I saved myself over $50 in fees by driving into the city and going to the box office.

Since Ford Field is right next to Comerica Park, I got a chance to see the old girl. In fact, I lingered, and looked longingly in at the field with blue tarps over the mound and home plate, the turnstiles covered in plastic, the bronzes of Gehringer, Cobb, Kaline, Horton, and Newhauser, the lonely Big Boy statue. A somber scene to be sure. I felt it all the more since the off-season has really only just begun, and it will be a long time before I enter the gates of the park again.

Just wanted to let you know the old girl is all right, latently waiting for the boys of summer to return to Detroit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Girl Gets Desperate

I'm not all aflutter about the Yankees or the Phillies being in the World Series. There will be no rooting for either of these teams. In fact, my intense abhorrence of the Yankees always waxes, never wanes. However, I am feening for some baseball, and for that reason the World Series will have my full attention.

I'll be watching as an observer. One who loves baseball. One who will soon be without baseball for an extended time. This time will be dark. It may involve coping measures such as watching games from seasons past. I do solemnly swear not to break down and watch the 2006 ALCS Game 4, however. It wouldn't help to watch it now anyway. We didn't make the playoffs this year, and trying to revive some past glory would feel trite and hollow.

I do have in mind to track down a game or two of Mark Fidrych's and watch those. I was a little young when he pitched to really remember. I've mostly seen wacky clips of him smoothing the mound and talking to the ball, and I want to watch a some full-length games.

I'm surprised and disappointed that MLB Network isn't airing some Arizona Fall League games. I'd be all over that. Maybe it will (hope springs eternal) after the World Series is over.

Anyway, just pining away over here 'til Spring. Don't worry about me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just What You Wanted to Hear

More on the Carlos Guillen soap opera.  Well, I'm not going to rehash what's already been said well elsewhere.  You can check out the Detroit Tigers Weblog, Bless You Boys and Mack Avenue Tigers for that.

My theory is that aging players have difficulty coming to terms with an erosion of their defensive skill set.  They cannot see it clearly or objectively at all.  It's not surprising.  These are premier athletes who have "yes" men stationed around them at convenient intervals.  Remember Sheff claiming he was more than capable of playing the field, and we're all like, yeah, right, one false move and your 40-year old tendons will rupture like flimsy rubber bands.

I saw Patrick Ewing play a game at the Palace during his last year in the NBA.  He looked like a dinosaur, and his knees were so heavily braced had no lateral movement at all.  Please don't get me started on a certain player who now wears purple in the NFL.  We understand that it's hard to let go.

I like Carlos.  A lot.  He's been a great leader on and off the field (I especially liked his insight into the feeling many Latin players have that MLB could just ship them back home if they make waves, his work to get the Venezuelan WBC team shaped up, and the way he used to have a few calming words for rattled pitchers when he played short).  I'm not sure why he didn't settle this internally before coming to the media.  Maybe he tried and got the brush off, who knows.  He obviously had frustration building for some time, and that can lead to eruptions that are later regretted.  I'm not going to brand him a malcontent just yet, because he's earned my respect over the years as a gutty team player.

Hopefully, he can stay healthy and earn the role he wants on the team.  By the same token, he should be able to accept a gradual shift in that role and playing time as health and skills dictate.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Former Tigers Interview With Tribe

The Freep referenced an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that detailed the interview process for a new Indians manager. Included in the interviews were two former Tigers, Travis Fryman and Torey Lovullo. Fryman did not make it as a finalist in consideration for the job, but has been managing the Indians A club at Mahoning Valley. I did not know that Fryman was managing already!

Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro was impressed with Fryman, and thinks he will get his shot at some point.

Torey Lovullo has been managing the AAA Columbus Clippers. He played for the Tigers from 1988 to 1989. Lovullo is a finalist for the job at this point. Also possibly in the running are Don Mattingly, Manny Acta and Bobby Valentine.

I kind of thought that Eric Wedge was scapegoated by the Indians. I mean, Mark Shapiro traded away Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez. I understand Lee, but why trade Martinez, who wanted to stay with your club, and who shed tears during his presser? Really, you get rid of a guy like that? OK. Whatever. There were some pretty significant injuries and under-performers as well. But, someone had to be the fall guy I guess.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see who takes the helm for the Tribe.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Have to What? To Whom?

Well, the time has come for me to evaluate Brandon Inge's season and determine whether an apology is indeed owed him by yours truly. I had scoffed this pre-season when the media and the Tigers were going all gaga over Inge's supposedly overhauled swing. I also said I would withhold judgment until after the season had ended and apologize to Inge if the stats so dictated.

And, the numbers do not lie........

AVG .230
OBP .314
SLG .406
OPS .720
HR 27
RBI 84
SO 170

Ahem. If Brandon had finished the season with a batting average of .250 or higher, I would have conceded that I owe him said apology, no question about it. That would have been a huge season for him. But .230? It is better than last year's abysmal .205, but we're not comparing Brandon Inge to himself here.

To be fair, I think that in light of Brandon's increased home run and RBI production (coupled with his stellar defense) I may owe him half an apology. Also, I saw something that showed him as being one of the top five in the AL in home runs in the 9th inning, or some such obscure stat that baseball is great at showcasing. Don't you love that about baseball? In the third inning when the sun is shining and a runner is on first base, Brandon Inge bats .342. We saw a lot of that spin on the scoreboard during the dark years of the late 90s and early 2000s. It was a kindness really. If all they had shown us was the hard stats, many fans would have impaled themselves on the nearest sharp object.

Also, Brandon showed us once again that his heart is tender toward little suffering children, visiting them in hospitals, hitting home runs for them and having them autograph his forearm. Many humanitarian, warm fuzzy points earned by Mr. Inge.

So, here you go Brandon...

I'm sor.......

Remember, half an apology, that's all you'll get from me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Putting the Screws to Zach Miner

I have been questioning a perception I hold about Zach Miner. My thinking was that he doesn’t perform that well under pressure. I decided to be fair to him and take a look at the numbers. Baseball Reference has this cool stat known as aLI, Average Leverage Index. It measures the pressure a pitcher is under in a given outing. The stat uses 1.0 as average pressure. Anything below that is low pressure, anything above it is high pressure. I’m also going to look at inherited runners that came around to score when Miner entered a game (because inherited runners that score make me want to break things).

It's been well-publicized that Zach pitched 12 scoreless innings before the fateful October 6 outing in which he allowed 2 earned runs and also earned the ire of many fans. I'm not hanging the loss on him by any means. It just got me thinking when many questioned Leyland's choosing him to relieve Porcello. The twelve innings in which he put up zeros came over eight outings. Of those eight, four had an aLI of over 1.0. In that same span, he only had two inherited runners. They both came from the outing on September 29 vs. Minnesota, and neither of those runners scored.

Let's look at his season in total. Zack pitched 17 outings in which he inherited runners. Of 28 runners inherited, 10 eventually scored for a total of 36%. As far as knowing whether that's good or not, the only data I could find was this older chart from Baseball Reference in 2007. It showed the top 25 in inherited runners scoring percentage. The minimum was 80% relief appearances and 20 inherited runners (with a funny reference to Kyle Farnsworth, so click over). Tops was .05 , and the 25th ranking guy in the league was at .21.

With regard to pitching under pressure, Miner had 21 appearances in which the aLI was over 1.0. In the five most pressure packed outings, he fared pretty well. Here's a brief summary of those:

Game H R BB aLI

6/24 1 1 1 2.68

8/1 2 1 0 3.38

8/22 2 1 0 2.87

9/3 0 0 1 2.30

9/5 2 0 0 3.31

Overall, Miner performed better under the gun than I had anticipated. His strand rate is not the best, so lets just bring him in at the beginning of an inning from now on, shall we?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Skipper Gibby?

Kirk Gibson recently got a two year extension to remain the bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I heard someone (cannot for the life of me remember the source) say he might soon get a shot at managing. I had wondered about that.

I heard a radio interview with Gibson during last year's season. It was with some of the local sports talk guys (again, can't remember who--geez, should I be worried?), and he was very bitter about how things ended for him with the Tigers. So much so, that I was surprised he came back for the '84 anniversary celebration. I don't blame him for being upset. He Tramm and Parrish were set up for failure. They had so little talent on the team, and were brought in for their draw at the gate. I'm very glad he did come back for the fiesta, because he was my Tiger from that era. His intensity on the field always got me hyped. He thrived on clutch at bats, creating some of the most memorable moments in Tiger and Dodger history.

I would relish the opportunity to see Gibson manage. I hope he does get his shot. I'll be rooting for him. It's funny though, good players do not always the best managers make. Remember Magic Johnson's miserable attempt at coaching the Lakers? For one thing, a coach/manager can't be pining to be on the court/field himself. That can not work. He's got to be at peace with being out of the game as a player. Johnson clearly was not there yet. And I sympathize, since his retirement did not come on his own terms. However, he also had the unfortunate mentality that "these kids just aren't the same as when I was a player." A coach has to adapt the players/talent he has. Johnson couldn't or wouldn't do that. Hope Gibby fares better on that front if he ever takes the helm. Can't wait to see him at it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pulse Check

Soooooooooooooooo, mournful Tiger fans, how are you feeling three days removed from crushing disappointment? To be honest, I’m a little slow to shake this one off. Rogo of DesigNate Robertson was laughing at my pain yesterday. One good turn deserves another, so here are some funnies about his beloved Fighting Irish.

Sunday is the day I should have been attending a playoff game at Comerica Park. Hmmm. THAT’s gonna be a good day--more depression, another round of anger management classes, numerous tears to be shed. Sigh.

Arizona Fall League, I hope you’re full of interesting story lines this year. We’re going to need a distraction.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Walking Away Empty-Handed

When the game-winning run crossed the plate for the Twins on Tuesday, here's how I felt in the following moments. "He felt something cold and soulless enter him like another being and he imagined that it smiled malignly and he had no reason to believe it would ever leave." (Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses) A little hyperbolic perhaps, but a true enough representation.

Now, I’m finally in a frame of mind to put a coda to this season. Well, maybe not all the way there, but coping well enough to write without spewing incomprehensible garbage all over the place. Yes, I believe I do have what psychologists might term an “unhealthy emotional relationship” with Tiger baseball. Admitting you have a problem IS the first step you know. I may yet determine that abstinence is the only treatment for addiction, and begin following rhythmic gymnastics or race-walking. Twirling ribbons and gait-policing is where it’s at.

Yesterday was black, and I had to stay away from all media. All I saw after the end of Game 163 was the interview with Orlando Cabrera. Then I had to go underground for a little bit. I didn’t see any post-game pressers, didn’t watch one minute of ESPN, banned reading of newspapers and blogs, and most definitely stayed far away from sports radio. A friend let me vent a little via text. Thanks for saving innocent people from blasts of misdirected rage. Last evening, I gingerly tested the waters by clicking on the Tigers web site, and reading a couple blogs—in small doses, mind you.

I’ve always maintained that I’m not superstitious. That goes out the window as of right now. I’ve now twice had post-season tickets go unused. In 2006, I had tickets to World Series Game 6. I still break out into a pathetic blend of maniacal laughter and sobs when I think about that. This year, I foolishly purchased ALDS Game 3 tickets off the Tiger web site the day they went on sale. Never again. I vow to scalp tickets at outlandish prices from now on and stop jinxing my team. You have my word on that.

On Tuesday, some irrevocable commitments kept me from watching the game right at 5:00, so I DVRed the game and started watching it around 6:00. At that point, I had to put myself in a bubble and stay away from the computer and not read the texts that kept arriving at my cell phone. I had no idea the journey I was in for. I kept thinking I’d catch up to real time at some point. Then panic set in as I actually had to contemplate that I might run out of “tape” since I had set the recording for a total of six hours.

As to the game itself, it was incredible. I don’t take any issue with my team or its effort. Both teams battled like Titans. MLB must’ve been giddy over this contest.

Whining about the officiating is strictly verboten here. I saw plenty the Twins could have argued over in Marsh’s strike zone, and they did get a little chippy here and there. I will say that I believe he should have appealed on the Inge HBP, because his sight line was not good on the play. But to point to any one play and hang the game on it? No way. We had our chances and could not come through, creating a fitting microcosm of our whole season neatly wrapped up in the final game. I hate excuses.

I will call out Jim Leyland for leaving Rodney out there in the 12th. I don’t care if he asked for the ball. He had performed his job, and very well, but had already pitched 2 2/3 innings. No way he goes back out there. Sure, he’s the best person to close out a game, but he stops being that best person after he’s thrown 48! pitches. It’s not like we were completely out of options in the bullpen and were ready to start warming up a position player. I realize some of those options were not what you’d want for the situation at hand. Still.

The main source fueling my anger is our stretch-run play. Non-play is more like it. It was so horrific the only descriptor I have is schrecklich. Sorry to go other language on you, but that’s the best expression of my angst. We lost 4 of 6 to the Sox in the last week of the season. When the Sox acquired Jake Peavy in the final moments before the July 31 trade deadline, I knew it was going to haunt us. Everyone shot me down, saying “Peavy’s injured,” “Who knows when he’ll pitch again.” Well, he didn’t come back in time to help Chicago’s playoff cause, but he sure put a crunk in ours. Two shutouts. Blanked us twice in week’s time. GAHHHHH!

Maybe my anger is just a blustery front to cover up the brokenness inside. Maybe I need to face up to it and go have a little cry in a dark room somewhere, so I can come out and let go. Life’s hard without baseball.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Our boys of summer live to see another day. Mind you, it's a day in the Metrodome, but another day nonetheless. I was having a hard time shaking off the feeling that I was heading to a funeral today. The skies were gray and overcast, and clouds dark with portent threatened to open up at any moment. I rode the Nemo's bus down to the CoPa, and a lady helped me get into a more appropriate game-day mindset. She high fived me, talked up our Tigers, patted me on the back, and gave me some fist bumps. Thank you Jamie for the pep talk!

Ryan Raburn showed up with his big boy britches on today, and swatted two homers to left. Leyland's gonna be wishing he'd played him some more down the stretch here. He got a couple of really nice ovations from the left-field stands as he went back to the field. Kudos, young man.

Mi Magglio went 4 for 4, with a double and a home run, WOOOOOOOOOOOO! Batting Average now stands at .309. Take that y'all naysayers. Do you think we'd even be in a one-game playoff right now without him? No. We would not. Go apologize to him.

Curtis Granderson saved the game for us in the top of the 8th. Holy cow, that ball was coming down, and I didn't think there was any way Curtis was going to get to it. That circus-catch-diving-grab sent the crowd into hysterics. Glad I wore my discreet urinary protection garments. Whew.

Rodney gets a four-out save, giving us a nice non-ulcer inducing 9th. Thank you, 'nando. Not sure if we could handled any drama today.

OK. Now Pretty Little Ricky gets a chance to be a hero at the Metrodump on Tuesday. I'll be needing a full support group to watch this game. Help.

Cough, Choke, Gag (Sniff, Tear, Sob)

Well, all I can say is, I didn't sleep well last night. I was having a recurring nightmare that we didn't make the playoffs. Oh, wait, that was just reality staring me in the face.

We now know how the Mets fans felt during their historic collapse. It's a scary feeling, I can confirm that.

I know, you say we're not out of it yet. We have Verlander going today. The Twins may pull a choke job of their own and lose to Hochevar today. Yeah, right.

My feeling is just that if we can't handle our own business, we can't rely on someone else to help us out. We failed miserably in the handle our own business department over the past three games.

I feel like the pressure is so great now, many horrible things could go wrong today. It's not that I don't have faith in my team, but I'm scared--really scared for today's game.

I'm going to today's game, so my fears will be played out in technicolor before my eyes on the field.

I know Leyland said yesterday that there is no need for motivational speeches in the pros. If these guys don't know what's at stake and how to get ready for it, there's a big, fat unsolvable problem. However, I now believe Leyland should go for the "win one for the Gipper" type speech today. Tell the guys he didn't want them to know, but he has lung cancer from all the Marlboro Reds. He's only got three months to live. He won't make it to next season, so let's win one now fellas. It could work, right?

Well, I've got to go prepare myself for battle. I must arm myself properly with my Ordóñez jersey. I must assume a hopeful, happy expression. That won't be easy.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I had such good feelings at the beginning of yesterday's finale with the Twinks. We had some great defensive plays (even one by Magglio!) that told me our guys were zoned in on clinching. So much for that.

During the rather strange unraveling of yesterday's game, rife with hit batters, retaliations and ejections, my constant thought was, "Don't do anything to get yourself suspended!" My hands frequently went up to my head as if to protect myself from possible brain explosion lest somebody do something rash that would have disastrous consequences. I'm sure it was in everyone's mind, as the dugouts and bullpens emptied harmlessly, with people in seeming slow motion toward each other. No one was rushing to throw a punch or anything, but it still made me nervous, because people who are angered can make some very unwise decisions in the heat of the moment, you know? When Marcus Thames bored holes through Scott Baker with his eyes, I was very, very concerned. Also, did you notice Miguel Cabrera getting REALLY chippy with the first base umpire? I had to plead with him to keep his head and not get tossed. He heard me, surely. That's because we met in Chicago and now have telepathic powers.

I knew when I was at the game Wednesday that Angel Hernandez would be Thursday's home plate umpire. I smelled trouble right away. Players tend to take issue with his strike zone, and that leads to frustration building up, tempers flaring, all kinds of bad, bad things. So, when Santiago was called out for leaving to early on a tag-up, I could see it all coming. Again, I'm imploring Leyland not to bump Hernandez. Sheesh, it's all a little too much stress for a fan to handle.

OK, Edwin, show us what you got tonight. We're all behind you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ghosts of Weekend Past

Once again, I bring you day old bread. I won't bore you to tears with weak apologies about being out of town, having houseguests, helping with homework, blah, blah, blah.

I sojourned in the City of Wind over the weekend to celebrate my anniversary and take in some Tiger baseball. There were moments of solidarity on the L, as many Tiger faithful made the trek to the Cell. As we awaited our transfer to the Red Line, a man fully decked out in Sox gear was standing next to me. He espied my Tiger jersey, and gave me what I can only term the "stink eye." It was SO great. His disgust and ire were expressed in one small look. No words were exchanged. It was pure gall to him, standing next to me. He had no idea that his gesture made my day.

Everyone else was surprisingly good natured. I was prepared to have beer poured on me. No such tales can I provide here. Quite the contrary. Get a load of this "moment" between opposing fans. A rabid Sox fan behind us had her ring fall off and go bouncing down several steps to who knows where. Everyone pitched in to look for it, and I finally came up with it after a protracted search. As I handed it to her, I was stunned to receive a hug of gratitude. I hope SportsCenter got that--Sox and Tiger fan embrace!

Now to the game. Friday night, Eddie Bonine took a no-hitter going into the sixth inning. A Brandon Inge error planted Alex Rios at first, and the next thing you know, young Golden Boy Gordon Beckham goes yard (with two outs) to bust up the no-no most emphatically. I ask you this: when you get a quality outing from a spot starter, is it not criminal to then provide ZERO run support and lose the game, a game with pennant chase implications, no less? I'm sorry, it cannot be countenanced.

I was pleasantly surprised with U.S. Cellular Field. I wasn't expecting much, and our seats were fantastic, so perhaps I was unduly influenced. The Sox fans there were hype, despite the fact that their team was eliminated from playoff contention the previous night. I was impressed by the fervor. In fact, they put Tiger fans at last night's game to shame. I was there, and I was frankly embarrassed at the mausoleum Comerica Park seemed for such an important game. It was the ninth inning, and the place should have been on its feet screaming from Fernando's first pitch, and everyone was sitting in their seats like they were at the Opera (until there were two outs). WHAT...IS...WRONG...WITH...YOU...PEOPLE?

I love road games, because you get such great chances for player interaction. Our seats were four rows from the field about two section over from the Tigers' dugout, so I was standing down on the rail during warmups. Curtis Granderson, as you know, is from Chicago, and many people kept calling him over there to ask where to meet up with him after the game. He did a good job of not giving a specific location, rather speaking in code to them. Shucks. Anyway, he came over and was standing literally right in front of me about a foot and a half away, so I got to tell him how much I enjoy watching him play, and got a close-up photo of him. One guy who called him over (and obviously knew him) actually took Curtis' face between his huge hands and patted it. I could not believe my eyes.

Ok, so that was the supposed end of Tiger baseball for me for the weekend. I mean, I was in town celebrating a wedding anniversary, you know. Well, on the way back to the L, a Sox fan noticed my jersey and said it was a nice weekend for us and not so much for them, and asked whether I was going to all three games. I replied no, we had some other festivities planned for Saturday. He said he had lowers for Saturday's game 2 for $25. I tried to nobly shake him off, no, no we're going to a comedy club, we've got dinner reservations. My husband (insert picture of knight in glittering armor) says we have to take the tickets, it's too good a deal. What else could I do? I mean, when the stars align in your favor, you graciously accept, right? We checked the tickets for authenticity, and saw they were indeed for Saturday, and were only a couple sections over from where we were Friday night. The guy even gave us a tip on riding the L, so he earns five gold stars.

The weekend decided to bend itself over backward to please me. On Saturday afternoon, we went to some shops on the Magnificent Mile, splitting up for a short moment. Not sure why my husband didn't want to come into Crate and Barrel with me, but whatever. I was going to meet him outside of Niketown. So, I ambled over there, and he hadn't even gone in yet, because he was watching a street performer, who was spray painted silver from head to toe and was acting like a robot dancer. Quite a crowd he had, too. Weird. Anyway, I said I wanted to go into Niketown, too. We were looking at the kids section upstairs for a souvenir, when I gasped and blurted "TheresMiguelCabreraandRamonSantiagoIhavetogotalktothemrightnow." They were chatting with a friend, and I rudely walked right up and butted in. Miguel and Ramon were very friendly and gracious, as I gushed about how I was in town for the games, and so excited for the playoff run, and on and on like a babbling idiot. Then, I WALK AWAY WITHOUT ASKING FOR A PHOTO! Imagine my joy turning to self-loathing as I realize my mistake. Well, I directed another lucky Tiger fan to our heroes (sorry, guys) and he asked them for a photo right away. I decided to disgrace myself in a complete lack of pride and ask for one right after him. They obliged without any audible snickers, but I can only imagine the eye-rolling and worse as I walked away. I can only hope that I wasn't the subject of coarse clubhouse jokes Saturday night. Actually, even that's ok, because we won the game, and that's all that matters! Sign me up for buffoon duty anytime if it keeps the boys loose and helps us win ballgames.

Well, that's a wrap on yesterday's news, folks.

Magic Number: 2.

Stress level : 2000.

Game time: 1:00 pm Eastern.

Scott Baker's ERA vs. Tigers this year: 9.00