Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beware Girl Scouts

After I glanced at the upcoming schedule and realized the Tigers would soon be out of town for quite a stretch, and then when they get back I'll be out of town, I knew I had no choice but to head to the park Tuesday night.  I knew it was searingly hot, but I told you, it wasn't a matter of choosing.  I had to go.  It happens.  There are nights when you just know that you must be at the ballpark.  At least I do.

Besides, it was Verlander Day!  A holiday every five days!  Who can resist its magic?  Not me.  The matchup with Lance Lynn promised to be a battle of the arms, a low scoring affair going down to the la.....wait a minute.  That pitcher's duel, hmmmm, what happened to Mr. Lynn?  Well, he didn't have pinpoint control and our boys pounced.  YAY RUNZ!  WE NOT SCORE JUST ONE!  I MIGHT PUNCTUATE THE REMAINDER OF THIS POST SOLELY WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!  Sorry.

As is the way with such things, the festival that is Verlander Day was not unmarred by various irritants.  The heat withered at first, and the sun threatened to give all of us in left field epic migraines.  Once the orb dropped below the outfield stands, relief came quickly.

Justin got a little wild in the seventh and Quintin Berry followed with a 2 run error on a playable fly ball.  Ahem.  JV had to pitch all angrified, scorching pitches in there at 100 mph to extract the boys from the inning without further damage.

Then, in the bottom half of the inning, the Tigers are batting, and the bases are loaded.  I see a group of Girl Scouts descend the aisle staircase with their leader.  I figured she was arranging them for a photo.  To my absolute horror, the troop proceeds to implore the section to begin the wave.  IN THE SEVENTH INNING. BASES JUICED WITH TIGERS.  I JUST....I RESTRAINED THE DESIRE TO RIP THEIR SASHES OFF AND POINT TO THE EXIT.  Now, I totally get the idea that it would be fun for a group of young girls to lead the crowd in starting the wave.  I have no issue with this.  Eight year olds can enjoy the wave with impunity.  But, could the leader have used a milligram of brainpower to orchestrate this activity at a non-critical juncture?

I don't want to be that surly, glowering fan that is annoyed by every person around me.  Just stay at home if all of humankind is a bane to your existence.  However, there seems to be no escaping the ignorant, sloshy fans who could care less about what's happening on the diamond.  Many sighs.  I will use these trials to increase my fortitude, to endure in the face of unrelenting stupidity, to overcome boorish behavior by "fans" who leave their seats in the middle of every half inning, oblivious to everything but beer and ball park snacks.  These people make it possible for us to sign Prince Fielder.  I repeat that to myself over and over.  Maybe someday I'll believe it.

In the end, it was still a great night for baseball.  We won the game, vanquished the stupid Cards (who should be our chief inter-league rival, since we face off against them in the World Series all the time) yay team, rah rah, etc. The question to be answered is how will we all survive this next road trip?  /Pouts.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Off Day Nonsense

I’m not going to write about Quintin Berry.  There are already a trove of articles out there on the speedster.  The horse has been beaten to death, and several blood feuds sprouted on twitter over the guy.  I like watching him play.  Our team is entirely lacking in the speed department, so having someone like him on the base paths from time to time is refreshing.  I’ll be happy to see him get time as long as he’s hitting moderately well.  But I don’t think he’s a huge piece of our team’s puzzle.  If he somehow pulls a Jose Bautista and sustains the tear he’s on, I’ll be thrilled to be wrong, because that can only mean good things for the club.  Wait, I said I wasn’t going to write about him.  Enough.

In a moment of unbridled irony during Sunday’s rain delay, FSN was broadcasting an episode of Tigers Weekly in which preventive conditioning was discussed, specifically core work.  OOPS!  Both Doug Fister and Austin Jackson were sidelined with core-related injuries recently, and countless others were dropping like flies and being added to the DL rolls.  Sigh.  I know it’s just bad luck, and I believe conditioning coach Javier Gillett is widely respected, but still.  Perhaps a little editorial prudence, guys….

With defensive woes hounding us, does anyone else find themselves bracing, cringing and tensing every time a potential double play ball is hit?  It’s ridiculous for me personally.  I have had to deliberately relax my muscles and tell myself to stop being such an idiot over ground balls.  Let’s not sacrifice muscular health for baseball, folks.  Or perhaps, in game, twitter-led yoga sessions are in order.

The whole “turning the corner” nonsense is also out of hand.  Buster Olney himself tweeted about the Tigers turning the proverbial corner at least a week ago.  Maybe we get above .500 before the conversation begins?  Ugh.  I’m not sure what people need to understand the nature of the baseball season.  All of this giving up the season and proclaiming the salvation of the season every game or two is just beyond.  It seems so emotionally exhausting, too.  I can’t imagine vacillating in this manner all season long.  By all means, people, use twitter as a place to vent, to release the angst of excruciating losses.  Just don’t declare the season’s death or revival with every L or W.

Finally, if you haven’t noticed, it’s the year of the no hitter.  There have been FIVE already this young-ish season.  I’ll be referring to it as TYOTNH from here forward.  Not an awkward acronym at all.  Rolls right off the tongue.  Anyway, my point here is that if this is indeed TYOTNH, we sure as shoot’n better get one from Justin Verlander (sorry, I just watched the mini-series The Hatfields and McCoys on the History Channel).  I feel it would be an epic miscarriage of justice if we didn’t.  I mean, this is a guy from whom you feel a no no is possible almost any given start.  So, be ready for it.  It’s coming.  Justin’s third no hit game.  I feel it.  I will it.  I proclaim it.  I anoint him for it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blue Eye, Max, It's the Blue Eye

So, Max Scherzer.  I anointed him My Tiger after a protracted search following #30’s retirement.  /prolonged sob.  It’s kind of hard to fill Magglio Ordóñez’ shoes.  (By the way, Magglio is ALWAYS MY TIGER, along with Kirk Gibson.  I assert my right to have two “My Tiger” emeritus.)  Anyway, Max has been inconsistent this year, to put it mildly.  The bad news is that his mechanics are apparently more delicate than a hothouse flower.  The moment they get a hair out of whack, BOOM, Max gets lit up.  The good thing is that Max seems pretty adept at recognizing problems and making adjustments.  Maybe Jeff Jones needs to monitor those touchy mechanics on a day-to-day basis to keep them from going haywire.

Another thing I count as a positive is Scherzer’s general attitude.  In a recent interview, he was asked about whether he felt it was a particularly important outing.  He replied, no, he has to go out there every start and give the team a chance to win.  He doesn’t put special emphasis on any one outing.  He also talked about having confidence every start.  Of course, some of this talk is just your standard baseball clichés, but a pitcher has to be able to clear his head of a previous start and work with confidence on any given day.  We’ve seen what can happen when a pitcher lets things bleed into the next pitch (looking at you, Jeremy Bonderman, you head-case, you).

The inconsistencies from Scherzer are beginning to get worrisome, no doubt.  He’s got to be able to string strong starts together, not waffle back and forth like a kid still trying to put it all together in the bigs.  If he doesn’t have a rock solid second half, his value will take a big hit.

I’m rooting hard for Scherzer, not just because we need him for the team’s success, but because he is a good teammate.  He gets so excited when someone does something good.  He’s fanboy number one.  I love it.  Watch him in the dugout sometime, if you haven’t noticed this.  He looks completely silly sometimes.  It’s awesome.  It’s one of the reasons he’s My Tiger.  Go get ‘em tonight, Max.  I’ll go crazy fangirl for you.

Monday, June 11, 2012

In a Vacuum

Testing, 1,2,3.

/scans empty room

/clears throat

Ahem.  Despite the fact that I have lost my readership, I am proceeding with a post here.  If anyone comes across this by chance, um, hello!

I've been dealing with a pretty severe case of writer's block.  I have made several abortive attempts at writing pieces. I've stayed active on twitter, venting frustrations over this debacle of a season thus far by talking about what fragile item I will break next.

Anyway, enough about me.  Let's talk about the Tigers.  Let's talk about Drew Smyly's zip code sized blister, a picture of which he was "kind" enough to post on twitter.  Let's talk about Austin Jackson coming off the DL and returning to form.  Let's talk about Quintin Berry and the polarizing effect he's had on folks.  Seems Tiger fans like being polarized or something.  Seems like twitter is the perfect place for people to get their panties in a twist and yell at each other.

My sister came up last Tuesday for a rare chance to attend a Tigers game.  We left early for downtown to catch a pre-game meal at a bonfide restaurant since neither of us like boiled hot dogs (sorry, CoPa, get better food).  On recommendation, we tried Small Plates on Broadway, and it did not disappoint.  Great menu, delicious fare.  Highly recommended.  Reasonable, too.

My sister got a big kick out of Phil Coke's antics last time she was here, so I got seats in left field again.  I found some reasonable tickets on Stubhub in the second row behind the Tiger's pen.  She was thrilled.  We got to see the young whippersnapper Smyly warm up before the game.  Sis:  how old is he, anyway?  Me:  put it this way, I'm basically old enough to be the kid's mom.  Sigh.

Here are some shots of Drew during warmups (click to enlarge):

The game.   Many sighs.  We scored one run right off the bat in the first and then NOTHING.  Nothing until a false hope rally in the ninth.  Really now, boys, is that hospitality?

Luckily, Phil Coke entertained as per usual.  First, upon entering the 'pen, he body slammed/chest bumped EVERYONE.  Then, he grabbed someone, not Rojas, but not sure who, by the neck and gave him noogies.   I mean, the guy is still twelve.  Really.   TWELVE.  He waved back to my sister, talked at length to some beer vendor, and hopefully helped to make up for the hapless play of the fellas on the field.