Friday, February 24, 2012

Brandon Inge, Usurper of Spring Training Headlines

Why is Brandon Inge dominating Spring Training headlines? I may have to retire to Bedlam. First, media are all atwitter (see what I did there?) over Inge showing up "on time" to camp instead of early. Spare me. Aren't there enough real story lines in Lakeland?

Now, when Inge finally speaks to media after today's first full squad workout, he says a few things that perturb me just a wee bit. I didn't hear the remarks in person, so I may be applying connotations improperly, but...

Jason Beck posted the following quotes on his blog:

On the Tigers’ decision: “It’s pretty simple for me, actually, if you think about it. Put yourself in a general manager’s position and not think as a player. I put myself in Mr. Dombrowski’s position and tried to figure out what I would do if I was in his shoes, and I respect that he’s going to go with Miggy. Miggy thinks he can do it at third. He’s going to go with him, and I respect that, because he’s sticking with his guys. Miggy’s done a lot to help the team. He’s a big part of the team, so he’s sticking behind him, showing faith in him that he can play third. And I appreciate that.”

Um, Miggy thinks he can do it at third? And Dombrowski is showing faith in him that he can play? sticking behind him?

These statements make it sound to me like Inge doesn't have much faith himself that Miggy can play third. It sounds to me like he thinks HE IS A VALID FREAKING ALTERNATIVE TO MIGGY AT THIRD.

You know what the problem is? Inge is quite simply full of delusions. He really believes he belongs in the lineup on a full-time basis. He thinks he's more than just a utility guy, which is what his career really should have been. These are the things that make me certifiable.

So here we are, reading article after article about Brandon Inge of all players, instead of things like how Brennan Boesch is doing, how Austin Jackson is eliminating his leg kick, how many grounders Cabrera booted at third today, and how many pounds over 350 Prince Fielder is. THE IMPORTANT THINGS!

So, please, do everyone a favor, and let ALL OF US stop talking about Brandon Inge. Let's just agree to leave him alone. Let him go about his merry way taking reps at second base. I don't want a daily update on his athleticism and grit. I don't want to know about Brandon's latest hideous tattoo. I'm don't want to hear about some feel good story of him beating the odds to earn playing time at second. You do realize he'd be taking playing time from a more competent Ramon Santiago, right?

Ok then. Stop the madness. Save my sanity. Preserve rationality for us all.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's Your Turn?

On March 5, the Detroit Tigers club is holding its annual open tryouts during Spring camp. The details about this year's camp were published by Detroit Tigers beat writer Jason Beck:

"All players ages 18-23 are invited to attend, as are players with previous pro experience. No pre-registration is required.The camp annually draws undrafted college players as well as veteran players looking for one more shot. The Tigers have signed players out of the camp to minor-league contracts in past years.

Registration for the camp begins at Tigertown at 8 a.m. ET, with the workout starting an hour later. Players need to bring their own glove and workout equipment, but the Tigers will provide wooden bats, helmets and baseballs."

This tryout has always intrigued me. Why do this? I think we all know that they're not going to find a number one starter at this event. But really now, who HAS been signed at open tryouts? I tweeted Jason Beck to see if he could think of anyone off the top of his head. He replied as follows:

"They've signed a player or two to minor-league deals once in a while for depth. But I don't remember any getting to majors."


"For media, it's more of a human interest story or to see if any former big leaguers show."

Also, Tigers blogger Matt Wallace (@MattinToledo) had this to say:

"I think the Mud Hens' closer from 2008, Blaine Neal, did just that. I seem to remember he was a special case, though."

One year, I read the account of a guy who went to open tryouts and blogged his experience. Very interesting, and I apologize that I don't remember his name. I am sure a lot of people do it just to take it all in, which would be amazing, don't you think? I may try to develop a knuckle ball, just so I can give it a go.

So, I researched Blaine Neal just to see how the whole thing went down.

According to Wikipedia:

"Neal signed with the Detroit Tigers for the 2008 season and pitched for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. Working as the team's closer, he went 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 26 saves. Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish gave Neal a vote of confidence: "To me, he has enough stuff to get back to the major leagues.

On July 16, 2008, Neal was named to the United States national baseball team for the 2008 Summer Olympics. He became a free agent at the end of the 2008 season and signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on December 17, 2008. Neal was released by the Phillies at the end of spring training. On May 11, 2009 Neal signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians and joined the Triple-A Columbus Clippers."

The always wonderful Baseball Reference tells us Neal was drafted by the Marlins in 1996. He debuted with the Marlins in September 2001, and also spent time with the Padres, Rockies and Red Sox. His last game in the Majors came in 2005. Over that time, he featured a 5.08 ERA, pitched a total of 124 innings, sported a 1.71 WHIP, stuck out 6.8 per nine, and players batted .319 against him.

So Neal was a former major leaguer looking to make a mark in an open tryout, get a minor league deal, and work his way back to the bigs. It came pretty close to happening, too. It would have been "The Rookie" all over again. Warm fuzzy human interest story.

Wikipedia also stated that Neal currently plays for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League. However, Neal is not listed on the Riversharks 2011 roster posted on the team website. Clearly, the man loves ball, and I can relate. I hope he gets the chance to keep playing somewhere. I wouldn't be able to let go either. says he is currently a free agent.

Compelling stuff. So yeah, I'll follow the open tryouts. Maybe Jason Beck will grace us with a few tweets from the day. Let me know if you'll be among those taking the field, or please relate your story if you've ever attended a team's open tryouts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blog Talk Radio Appearance

I will be appearing on "The Knee Jerks" tonight with Kurt Mensching of Bless You Boys. The Knee Jerks is hosted by Greg Eno and Al Beaton. Tune in at 7:00 pm Eastern as we talk Tigers on the eve of Spring Training!