Sunday, November 21, 2010

There's No Whining in Baseball?

I realize this post will classify me as a first class cry-baby, but I'm sorry, it can't be helped. I know that most people are all gaga over the Hot Stove, free agent frenzy, blah, blah, blah. Of course, the whole process is captivating, but does it hold a candle to actual baseball being played? I'm gonna have to shout a resounding 'No' from the top of a ten story building. It's only November. Pitchers and catchers don't report until February 13. May I kindly ask what I am supposed to do until then? I may have to break down and attend Tiger Fest in January. I'll be desperate by then.

I recognize that I'm annoying you beyond all reason, and come off as a pathetic, sniveling loser. I know that this is a horrible way to keep readers. I must apologize, and I do. Sincerely. I offer to you a genuine "I'm sorry." But don't you find yourself just pining, yearning, longing for some baseball? Doesn't seeing the CoPa shuttered, the diamond tarped over, the grass going dormant, just make you feel like Ndamukong Suh's muscled fist grabbed your heart and squeezed as hard as it could?

I even missed the AFL championship, because I had a stinking eye exam. Is there any justice in the world? That was probably my last shot at live baseball for the next twelve weeks. Again with the whining. I know.

If I had MLB network, there would be some pretty cool archival baseball watching in store, but do I have MLB Network? Nooooooooooooooooooooo, indeed not. Excuse me while I go write a nasty-gram to my cable provider.

Do you think that lame movies, or even good movies, or even great baseball movies make a nominal substitute for our nation's past time? No. They don't.

I've already endured the devastation of Austin Jackson losing out on Rookie of the Year. I'm still a mite bitter about the empty spot on Jackson's mantle. Now I find myself guarding my heart against Cabrera getting the snub for MVP. Today, the Freep gave us the cheery news that a Tigers hitter hasn't won the MVP since 1940, when Hank Greenburg brought home his second MVP. Sigh.

You can depend on me for countless uplifting posts like this one throughout the off-season.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Who Stuffed the Ballot Box?

I am sorry, but is there anyone else out there that feels our poor boy got the shaft in this whole Rookie of the Year voting process? I know I may be biased, but really now, REALLY NOW, I believe that Austin Jackson should be bringing home some hardware today. Neftali Feliz was brilliant. No question. I give him all proper credit for a spectacular season.

However, Austin Jackson was in some rarified air. He joins only three other rookies EVER to accomplish the following:

180 hits, 100 runs, 30 doubles, 10 triples, and 25 stolen bases

The other three blokes?

Hanley Ramirez, Juan Samuel, and Shoeless Joe Jackson

That's not enough for Rookie of the Year for sobbing out loud?

Apparently that effort was good for only eight first place votes. Puh-leeze tell me this is a crazed nightmare and I will soon awake in a cold sweat. Eight out of 28 first place votes? Did the esteemed BBWAA writers watch Young Jackson in action at all this season? Did they not see at least twelve catches in which it at first appeared that there was no chance at all that Jackson would catch up to the ball? He hauled it in each and every time. He saved a Perfect Game. He made countless over the shoulder catches. He hit the ball. Well.

Ok. I'm done whining. I apologize, but my feelings were just a mite wounded this afternoon around two o'clock.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Idle Hands...

What in the name of balls and strikes does a baseball freak do with the mind-numbing down time during the off-season? You take three-plus hours out of every day, and there's a mighty big chasm to fill. Well, I don't know about other people, but I am stuck doing things like knitting scarves, watching the World Series of Poker, and baking a thousand batches of chocolate chip cookies. Does that sound like a life to you?

My mantra is simple. Life without baseball is hard.

Now, we've got to sit by as the Yankee brass goes down to Arkansas to meet with Cliff Lee. Wooing him. Wowing him with wheelbarrows awash with cash. Whacking him over the head with propaganda about what it means to "Be a Yankee." To wear the pinstripes. To be clean-shaven. Excuse me a moment while I go clean up the vomit I just induced.

OK. I am back. There are a few remaining chunks on my shirt, but luckily for you I'm not downloading photos of it to this post.

Hopefully things will pick up soon. We'll get news that Dave Dombrowski and his suitcase full of sailboat sweaters have spirited off to who knows where to negotiate with some top tier free agent. Yes. It will happen. Then the dark days won't seem so long.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Your Mouth is Big, Size Extra Large"

Scott Boras has been out there doing what he does best--talking up his 2010 free agent crop. And when I say talking up, I am referring to bombastic braggadocio about how many teams are battering his door down to sign his clients.

I know he's doing his job. I know this is what he's paid the obscene dollar to do. I know he's good at it.

That doesn't mean I like it, even one little bit.

Kurt over at Bless You Boys has a nice analysis of Boras' jabber about Magglio. I totally agree that there WILL be significant interest in Ordóñez, and of course Boras wants to capitalize on that interest and engage everyone in an escalating bidding war. Here's what bothers a me just a smidge. Magglio told Venezuelan reporter Augusto Cardenas that he would like to return to the Tigers. Here are his exact words:

"I want to stay in Detroit, obviously. I have my friends, my teammates. I know the organization has been very good to me and the fans have treated me great. ... I think there is a great chance to stay in Detroit, but let's see what happens."

If that is really what you want, why let Scott Boras spew steaming, inflammatory rhetoric from here to his swanky offices in Newport Beach, CA? Don't you remember how Kenny Rogers let Boras go after he slung one sneer too many about exploring Rogers' options? Rogers said look, if I wanted to go out there and find the biggest contract, Boras would be my man, but since I know in my heart I only want to play for Detroit, his services are not needed in this instance.

Obviously, Ordóñez DOES want to test the market. He's done nothing to stop word one coming out of Boras' unmuzzled pie hole. It's fine if that's what he wants to do. It's his right. No problem. Just be forthright. I'm not too fond of a player going out there and telling people what he thinks they want to hear, but then going out and doing something else. Ordóñez' conversation with Cardenas took place in mid-October, well after the Tigers' season was over. There was no need for politicking.

I will say this. Boras' clap-trap about Ordóñez is NOTHING compared to what he's been saying about Jayson Werth. He outright taunted the Phillies, saying they did not need to let Werth go, that they had made good decisions in the past, and could do so again. By all means, Phils, allow yourselves to be bullied by Boras' dizzying verbosity. Boras appears to think his intellect is superior to...oh, just about everyone, and he can whamboozle even the shrewdest of GMs with a little word-wizardry.

In a serio-comic twist, the Phillies reportedly may have an interest in Ordóñez, too. Imagine for yourself Scott Boras finessing the Phils on behalf of BOTH his clients. At least for his soulless innards, there will be no concerns about conflicts of interest or other such moral trifles.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Losses Begin to Pile Up

It's been a year full of sorrow for Tigers fans. I'm not talking about missing the playoffs. I'm referring to the losses first of Ernie Harwell and now Sparky Anderson. It's a little much to be honest. I'm not too fond of the feelings I've been having today.

We just learned that Sparky had entered hospice care yesterday, and he's already gone today. I mean, I'm glad he didn't suffer for a lengthy period. Dementia is bad enough without that. It's just that we didn't have time to prepare ourselves for losing him.

I admit that I loved Sparky because I didn't know any other manager. However, everyone else I've read loved him too, so I guess I wasn't that far off base. Sparky has been universally acknowledged as a great manager, and a wonderful person.

I'm so glad Sparky made the trip here last year for the 25th anniversary of the 1984 World Series. I went to that game, but had some mishaps. There were some pregame festivities, in which members of the '84 team visited with fans and the media. I missed all of that. Sigh. Then the rain blew in. My mother and I watched from the right-field bleachers as they introduced the 1984 Tigers one by one. We were kind of far away. It was still pretty great. Then the game was called for rain. It was deflating. A night of revelry cut short.

However, Sparky got to spend time with his players, and they got a chance to see him. I'm glad they all had the opportunity to go over old times. In addition to Lou Whitaker and Aurelio Lopez, you know what was missing? Tiger Stadium. You know what though? Sparky wasn't overly melodramatic about losing her. I couldn't find the interview, but I seem to remember him saying something to the effect to keep the memories of her and move on.

It's all well and good to say "move on" when it's an inanimate object you're dealing with. We won't be "moving on" without Sparky. We'll work to keep his memory alive. That won't be hard. I'd be thrilled to regale you with a few stories any time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Fading Spark

I'm not gonna lie. My feelings were hurt when George Sparky Anderson went into the Hall of Fame as a Cincinnati Red. It made me feel like the lesser-loved stepchild. What did the Reds have on the Tigers? Didn't he love our guys as much as those fellows from Cincy?

Now those petty concerns pale as Sparky is now in hospice care at age 76. It feels like he should have so much more time left. Time to watch and enjoy baseball. Time to continue his work with CATCH, one of the longest running charities for sick children in our area. Time to play in more golf tournaments. Time to enjoy seeing Kirk Gibson manage the Diamondbacks (and maybe offering some advice here and there).

I became a Tigers fan in 1983, so Sparky was all I knew. I was young and completely uninformed about baseball. My aunt and uncle just decided one summer day to take me and my cousins down to the park. I didn't know I would fall in love at first sight that day. But I did. And I loved Sparky with that blind, all-trusting new love. He didn't disappoint. All he did was take our boys to the Series the very next year. All I did was go along for the wondrous ride of my life.

It's going to be hard on Tigers fans if we lose two icons in one year. Our grief will be protracted. But we'll be brave. And we'll never forget.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Breezes and Big Knocks

Pat Burrell struck out eleven times in five games in the 2010 Fall Classic. That total is two whiffs shy of Ryan Howard's record 13 Ks in six games, set just last year. Willie Wilson had maintained his grasp on the World Series Strikeout King title belt since 1980, when he fanned 12 times over six games.

Watching Burrell's futility at the plate was, um, rather brutal. I'm sure that noone felt this more keenly than he did. When he struck out yet again, with runners on second and third, it seemed like the hole in his bat might cost the Giants game 5.

Edgar Renteria swatted Burrell's troubles away with one stroke. I never saw a ballplayer lock another man in a death grip's embrace. I wasn't sure Renteria would be able to extract himself from Burrell's clutches. Edgar certainly did rescue Pat from lasting humiliation and self-condemnation. Renteria went on to win the MVP for the Series. Many sighs. Once again, I must ask, Whyyyyyy could you not perform well in the American League, Edgar? I don't understand it. You were hitting AL pitching in the Series, Edgar. See? It's not that hard.

Ah well, soon we'll see how the Tigers manage a pretty nice bundle of cash. We'll see how well they compete with the New Yorks and Bostons of the league for free agent talent. We'll see if Dave Dombrowski goes from the Hot Stove to the Hot Seat. We'll see if the Puma and little Ajax can come home with some hardware. Can't wait.