Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Merry Christmas to All....

May visions of playoff berths dance in your heads. May Justin Verlander's MVP trophy reign on your mantle vicariously. May Miguel Cabrera's batting title bring back giddy recollection of doubles, triples and moon shots. May Alex Avila's Silver Slugger never tarnish. May no-hitter number two not be JV's last. May the memory of beating the Yankees on the "hallowed" turf of Yankee Stadium never fade. May Rod Allen's "Oh, Jackson" ring gloriously eternal in your ears. And may Dave Dombrowski make all of our Christmases by getting that fifth starter we need....and a third baseman.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Proof That Awards Voting is Rigged

There's an exclusive little club for Detroit Tigers baseball bloggers. It's called the Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes (DIBS). You may say, "I've never heard of DIBS." That's right. You haven't heard of it, because IT'S EXCLUSIVE, comprende? We don't want every idiot on twitter clamoring to get into the club.

The prestigious DIBS held its own post-season awards voting recently. I received a ballot, placed my votes, submitted them, naively believing that my vote would be included in the tabulation. Alas, Kurt Mensching, the malevolent dictator of DIBS, deliberately flushed my vote down the Internet toilet. I'll show HIM! I'm going to publish my votes here and sign Kurt up to receive fifty yarn catalogs a day until Christmas, along with a tsunami of spam ads for male enhancement supplements that will cause his email inbox to spontaneously combust. (Just kidding, something went haywire on the internetz, and my vote never made it to Kurt.)

Here's the official press release, along with my votes:

Most Valuable Tiger -- Justin Verlander

With AL Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player victories, Verlander has a cupboard full of hardware already for his 2011 season. Unsurprisingly, he added another laurel after receiving 15 of 22 votes. Miguel Cabrera, Justgruel Cabrander, Alex Avila and Victor Martinez also received votes, but Verlander put in a season that won’t soon be forgotten.

I voted for Justin. He IS THE MAN. Miggy was deserving. Totally. And if he doesn't win an MVP soon, I pledge to riot.

Best Rookie -- Al Alburquerque

When Alburquerque was signed during the last offseason and immediately put on the 40-man roster, a lot of people thought, “I know he’s got a cool name, but aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves?” When he started using his slider-fastball combination to rack up strikeout after strikeout, he quickly became a fan favorite. In fact, he played so well it was hard to remember there were other rookies. (Andy Dirks, Duane Below and Adam Wilk may have been the chief contenders for the award.)

Again, I was with the crowd on this one. Alburquerque's slider had jaws dropping all over the place.

Best Role Player -- Ramon Santiago

Recently, another group of voters named Don Kelly as the Tigers “10th man.” DIBS tackled the same question, but came up with a better answer: Ramon Santiago. It feels like he’s been a Tiger forever, but he has really come into his own during the past three years as a valuable member of the middle infield. Don Kelly, Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and Alex Avila also received votes.

Don't tell Rogo of Designate Robertson, but I voted for Don Kelly. He filled a lot of roles.

Best Moment -- Austin Jackson’s double-play throw to defeat the Indians on Aug. 21

This was a season with many great memories, including the team’s first division title since 1987 and another AL Division Series victory over the Yankees. But the wise voters of DIBS remembered that before all that could occur, the Tigers had to dismiss Cleveland from the equation. On Aug. 21, the Tigers did just that when Austin Jackson caught a fly ball and threw out Kosuke Fukudome at home plate to end the game, 8-7, and secure a sweep of the Tribe. Other favorite moments include Victor Jose Martinez’s “Vote for my Dad” All-Star press conference and the ALDS victory over New York.

I voted for the September 3rd game in which Raburn and Miguel Cabrera hit back to back home runs to cap off a comeback from down 8-0 against the Sox. It was a cementing moment for our post season run, in my mind.

Team Clown -- Phil Coke

It didn’t take Phil Coke’s Brain to figure out who would win this award. Although Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera also received votes for their off-field shenanigans, Coke’s genuine goofiness won over almost half of DIBS’ voters. However, Verlander’s ode to Bert Blyleven, giving Don Kelly the hot foot, helped him cruise to a second-place finish.

I voted for Phil Coke, here, despite Verlander's best attempts to display two distinct personalities: stone faced game face, and goofy non-game day prankster.

Best Hair -- Alex Avila

Avila could shave before the first inning and sport a full beard by the third. His 5 o’clock shadow begins at midnight. He was the clear winner in a category that featured a plethora of responses. Runners-up included Justin Verlander’s arms, Jim Leyland’s mustache, Daniel Schlereth’s mullet-beard combo and Miguel Cabrera’s mohawk. Will Rhymes, Brennan Boesch and Brayan Villarreal also received votes.

I voted for Justin Verlander's arm hair. I mean, have you SEEN it? Needy children could be clothed with that stuff.

Tiger Organization Name of the Year -- Doug Fister

DIBS voters liked the double-entendre that was Doug Fister. In a close vote, he snuck past Deik Scram and Al Alburquerque. Other well-named Tigers included Montreal Robertson of the Connecticut Tigers, former Tigers Casper Wells and Charlie Furbush, Wilson Betemit and Justin Verlander.

I misunderstood this category and voted Miguel Cabrera. I thought it was sort of an alternative category to MVP, not about the "name." Sorry. I am a moron.

Goofiest Moment -- 3 way tie

Any 162-game season is going to be filled with plenty of heartbreak and plenty of fun. This one was no different. In fact, voters came up with so many suggestions for this award that we had a three-way tie at four votes and a couple more with two votes. The tie featured Alex Avila’s catchers mask throwing off sparks after being hit; Andy Dirks sprinting around the bases for an in-the-park home run despite the ball being caught, and Jim Leyland’s pantomime argument with the ump; and Verlander’s lighting Don Kelly’s shoe on fire. Other receiving multiple votes included Justin Verlander’s awkward balk against Oakland, Don Kelly pitching, Ryan Raburn’s attempt to catch a fly ball resulting in a home run, and Victor Martinez dancing around home plate.

I voted for Justin Verlander's crazy balk/illegal pitch. It was so strange. I had never seen anything like it. I've also never seen sparks fly off a catcher's mask, but...

Best Victor Martinez -- Sr.

When the Tigers signed “Victor Martinez,” they actually got two Victor Martinezes for their money. Although young Victor Jose Martinez may win the award for cutest Tiger, he father edged him in voting for the best Victor Martinez, 12-9, with one vote for both. Senior’s major league contributions give him the edge for now, but the smart money is on Victor Jose in the long run.

Little Victor is beyond cute. But given the season that Victor had, and given the fact that said season was overshadowed by Verlander and Cabrera, I had to give Sr. his due in this vote. I stand amazed in the glory of Victor's magnificence.

List of voting 2011 DIBS voting members in no particular order:

Roar of the Tigers -- Samara Pearlstein

Motor City Bengals -- John Parent

Tiger Tales -- Lee Panas

Phil Coke's Brain Matters -- Anonymous

April in The D -- Laura, Megan and Rosie

Fire Gerald Laird -- Greg Papke

Tigers Amateur Analysis -- Erin Saelzler

Where have you gone, Johnny Grubb? -- Greg Eno

Detroit Tigers Scorecard -- Austin Drake

Detroit Tigers Weblog -- Kevin Vela

DesigNate Robertson -- Scott Rogowski

Deetown Tigers -- Skip

Detroit Jock City -- Zac Snyder

Bless You Boys -- David Tokarz, Matt Wallace, Al Beaton, Kurt Mensching and Alli Hagen

Mlive’s Tigers coverage -- Matt Sussman, James Schmehl, Ian Casselberry

Old English D -- Jen Cosey

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holding On By My Toes

Ok. I'm finally ready. I never put this season to bed. I tried a couple of times. I attempted to muster up enough mental fortitude, but wound up a coward every time. In fact, last night, because it was the last day of November, and in light of the fact that it would be absolutely BEYOND to hang on any longer, I removed the miniscule remnants of my navy blue playoff toenail polish and put on a "normal" hue. It was a painful experience. I had to own up to all that had happened. I had to let this season be pried from my death grip, and then let it go.

I had to remember Nelson Cruz blasting 20,000 playoff home runs against us, notably off a 100 MPH Justin Verlander fastball, and one off Jose Valverde's "best pitch." I had to relive getting eliminated in a rout so ugly, Jim Leyland said what everyone was thinking--that it's a crying shame this team will be remembered by this game. /gnash-sob-hurl things against wall

I know. I know. We had a good run. That's all you can ask for. It's really difficult just to make the playoffs in baseball. We ousted the Gotham Yanks. We saw Austin Jackson start an outfield assist double play at the plate that elicited a throaty "OH JACKSON" from Rod Allen the likes of which we'll never forget, and which aptly captured the emotion of the play. We saw Ryan Raburn and Miguel Cabrera hit back-to-back jacks to drive a stake through the hearts of the White Sox. I KNOW these things. Really I do. I'm not generally an ingrate, either. But when it came right down to it, I was still devastated. I apologize for being a horrible, terrible, no-good person.

A friend and I mulled over off-season acquisitions and reminisced about Tiger Fest 2011 today, so that helped. We laughed over arctic temperatures and red noses, the salvation of hand and foot warmers, hugs from Casper Wells and gasps at an unexpected brush by from Max Scherzer. The countdown to Tiger Fest 2012 has begun.

Ok. I promise to leave 2011 in the past where it belongs. I'm not going to harp on the things that went wrong. I won't keep rehashing the seamy side of yesterday's news. Eyes front. Hot stove. Winter meetings. Yes sir.