A sad day…

Two of Baseball’s great personalities passed today. Harry Kalas, who made baseball seem all the more magical with his wonderful voice, and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, who is a legend despite the fact that he only had five short years due to injury in the Majors. Thank you to both of these men who made our National Pastime that much better.

Some personal sadness, too, today. A friend of the family passed early this morning. All three too sudden and too soon.

RIP

Swept Away…

large_Twins_Tigers_Baseball_MICO1.jpgApparently, the Tigers have a pitching staff.

After seven games, the Tigers are 4-3. If the Twins lose today, they’ll stand alone in first place in the Central. That’s a stark difference from last year, when they were 0-7 at this same point facing a mountain climb out of the cellar. They never really made it.

This year is different. You can tell that already. I’m not saying that they’ll go the the World Series or anything, but it is different. After losing the opening series in Toronto 3-1, the Tigers came home and swept the Rangers out of town. Last year negative momentum would have followed them for two weeks. This year, they came out swinging.

On Opening Day, I was there. It was a blast! I saw my first live Grand Slam. Miguel Cabrera had 6 RBI. Galarraga was fantastic. The Tigers won 15-2. It was very, very exciting.

Game 2 of the series saw Verlander improve dramatically over his first start. He allowed only two hits and one earned run while striking out 8. His ERA dropped by 10. A pair of errors, by Brandon Inge and Adam Everett, brought in two more runs to give Texas the lead, but Everett made up for it by going 2-3 with 2 RBI’s and scoring the winning run. Robertson pitched two hitless innings and Rodney struck out the side in the 9th inning for his first save. Robertson may just be a reliever, after all.

So, the Tigers went into the Easter Sunday game with their first series win of the season and a chance to sweep. Jackson pitched very well, despite giving up two home runs. He held the lead to four long enough for the other pitcher, Kevin Milwood, to be knocked out of the game. Once he was gone, the Tigers took over. Inge hit a home run, his AL leading 4th of the year, and they sent all 9 men to the plate. Another clutch hit by Inge put the Tigers ahead 6-4. Lyon and Rodney combined for three perfect innings for the win and the save, respectively.

Does anyone else notice a pattern here? The Texas Rangers lineup is filled with some of the most feared hitters in the game. Last year, they scored more runs than anyone else in the American League. Yet the Tigers held them to only 9 runs over three games. The Detroit bullpen, one of the worst last year, has a streak going of 24 retired batters. If you remove the meltdown in the first game in Toronto, the staff has an ERA under three. Even when those runs are factored in, they’re below the league average. This from a team for which pitching was it’s biggest concern?

Also, can we talk about how happy I am that Inge is back at third base? He’s made two or three spectacular plays in this series alone and he’s currently hitting .304. Obviously I don’t expect him to hit like that for the whole season, but he was so happy to be playing everyday at third that he’s working extrememly hard to keep his job there. Last year, he would have been unwilling to work on his stance the way he did this past offseason and the dividends that it’s already paying will no doubt keep him going for most of the season.

Monday they get their first taste of divisional play when the White Sox come to town. This will be the real test, since the Tigers were 27-45 against the Central. That’s .375. Still, they have momentum on their side, a couple of white hot hitters, they’re pitching well, they’re perfect at home, and when it comes right down to it, they’re looking down instead of up. That’s a good place to be.

Happy Easter.  

Series 1: @ Toronto Blue Jays

miguel-cabrera.jpgWell, the first series of the year is in the books. And you know what? I’m pretty happy. I think that there are more positives than negatives, despite the fact that we lost the series.

Things that make me happy:

1. Miguel Cabrera: He’s looking to have a stellar year. As it stands, his batting average is .615 and his OBP is like, .800. He’s hit two home runs, one of them landed in Germany. He’s yet to play outside in the cold weather, but something tells me his start last year had more to do with pressure than weather. This year he’s relaxed and boy, is he swinging.

2. Brandon Inge: No, Brandon Inge will not break the home run record. He probably won’t be as hot for the whole season as he is right now. The fact that he seems to have found a swing that works makes me happy, but the fact that he’ll be standing on third all season makes me very happy. He made an absolutely spectacular play the other day; throwing a strike while he was basically falling down to start a double play. I can’t even fathom how many runs he’ll save and right now, it looks like he might add some, too.

3. Starting Pitching: Edwin Jackson and Zach Miner were very good. Edwin Jackson, in fact, was very, very, very good. Rick Porcello was doing very well until a couple of homers spoiled it. He worked efficiently and most of the outs came from ground balls. He’s very promising and for a first start in the majors, it wasn’t bad at all.

4. Fernando Rodney, Bobby Seay, and Ryan Perry: Fernando Rodney actually looked like a closer last night. He got three quick outs and his pitches just…looked different. His fastball seemed to glide over the plate and he didn’t seem to be throwing himself into a tailspin. More importantly, he was throwing strikes. In fact, he threw a first-pitch strike to all three batters. Ryan Perry went 1-2-3 in his major league debut. Bobby Seay came out twice and quietly did his job. On Wedensday, these three men not only held the lead, but didn’t give up a hit or a walk. Not sure that happened at all last year.

Things that may seem bad, but that I’m not worried about:

1. Defense: Four errors in four games doesn’t seem good, but I think the defense will be much better this year. I think that the turf is responsible for all but one of those errors, and once the Tigers get back on the grass and into the groove, watch out.

2. Verlander: I may be the only person on the planet who’s not worried about Justin Verlander. I’m just not. I think that he just needs to calm down. This is a man who won rookie of the year, started a World Series game, threw a no-hitter, and started an all star game in the first two years of his career. Then he had a bad year. Then he gets to start the season as staff Ace and hears everyone talking about how he needs to get back on track, or the Tigers won’t go anywhere. He was pitching Opening Day, too. He lets his excitement/anixeity get to him a lot. That could continue and mess him up for the rest of the season, but I don’t think it will. I guess you can just call it a feeling, but I still think it’ll be a bounce back year for Verlander.

My only major concern is the bullpen. Besides the three mentioned above, everyone else has been pretty horrible. Juan Rincon, after burning through Spring Training, has a 5.40 ERA. Every pitcher except Seay who was given runners let them score. That’s not good. Brandon Lyon ruined a nearly perfect start by Jackson. It was painful to watch and even worse to watch Jackson watching it from the dugout. I’m guessing that DD and Leyland are trying to figure out what to do about him at this point. He was unimpressive (at best) in Spring Training and he blew the first save of the season. They gambled on him, and it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna pay off. Of course, if Rodney keeps pitching like he did last night, it won’t be an issue. I’m not sure when or if Zumaya may be able to come back. Every time I read about him I think about Mark Fydrich. Mega talented but too fragile to make it. We’ll see.

My only other concern is that my television won’t survive until May, because Fox Sports Detroit might make me throw things at it. See, they held a song contest called “April in the D”. April is usually a pretty exciting month in Detroit, sportswise, since the Pistons and the Red Wings are perennial playoff contenders and the Tigers are starting a new season. So they said, “Write a song about it!” The winner, a song called April in the D by a band called the Goodluck Joes is being played EVERY TIME the station goes to commercial. It’s going to drive me insane. 

 

It’s not a bad  song. I just don’t need to hear it every half inning, as well as two or three times during the pre and post game shows.

I know this has been a novel, but I would like to close by extending my condolences to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Organization as well as the family and friends of Nick Adenhart, who died this morning just hours after pitching his Major League debut. He was 22. It’s a tragic and senseless death that could have been prevented. Just another in a string of constant reminders that drinking and driving is wrong. 

Sailing on a sea of negativity

mylittletiger copy.jpgAnd so it begins. The Tigers lose one game (Opening Freakin’ Day, no less) and every starts acting like it’s game 6 of the World Series. One blogger even started a countdown of losses before the Tigers pass their losing streak of seven games at the beginning of last season. That’s bad sportsmanship and poor fandom. It was ONE GAME, people. There’s always tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and then 158 days after that. Given that only ONE AL Central will have recorded a win come tomorrow, I don’t think that the loss tonight automatically disqualifies us from the playoffs.

Now, I don’t enjoy watching my team get beat 12-5, but let’s be honest here, did anyone really think that they were going to win tonight? Verlander was more wound up from all the hype of a fast start that you could probably spin him like a top. Roy Halladay has dominated the Tigers for his entire career. The fact that they even got the five runs off of him was pretty remarkable.

What I also don’t enjoy seeing is things being thrown at my players. That is totally unacceptable. I’m not going to blame Blue Jay fans, because for all I know, it was a Tigers fan. Still, totally juvenile and a display of the worst sportsmanship possible.

Here’s a fun fact for all the negative nancies: the only time the Tigers have given up more runs on Opening Day was in 1908, when they gave up 14 to the White Sox.

The Tigers went to the World Series that year.

So, maybe it’s not such a bad thing, huh?

Lighten up, people. It’s gonna be a long summer.

The Tigers will finish the season, that we’re sure of…

Tigers_release_Gary_Sheffield.jpgHey, remember when I wrote about MLB Network’s predictions for the Tigers this season and the analysts thought they were going to finish in every position except fourth? Well, guess where Sports Illustrated is predicting they’ll finish?

That’s right, fourth place.

So, basically no one knows what the hell is going to happen. That includes me. The only certainty at the moment is that the Tigers will finish.

Here are some other certainties:

Going, Gary, Gone

Gary Sheffield is no longer a Tiger (as if you didn’t know). A very large part of me jumps for joy at this concept; I don’t mind someone being a total ******* as long as he’s good. Gary just wasn’t good as a Tiger. It would have been nice to see him hit his 500th in the D, but I’m sure someone else will get there (Cabrera perhaps? Has eight years). The fact is, this guy had become a black hole and he was the DH. A DH that can’t hit has to go, especially on a team with five or six DH’s. I literally screamed “YES!” when I read it in the car and nearly made my friend swerve off the road. His departure gives a real chance to some of our younger players (by the way, I’m very happy that they decided to take Porcello and Perry north). Not only is he gone, but he’s left us with one of the best things he’s ever said, and this is a man who says a lot:

“Jim (Leyland) said, ‘We’re going to go with
versatility.’ When he said that word I thought to myself, ‘I’m probably
the most athletic guy on this team.’
But they’re entitled to their
opinion”

Yeah, sure, Gary; and I’m an Olympic gymnast.

I Will Be Stylin’.

I bought myself a new hat. I decided that my white hat with pink D, though still beloved, is not a game hat. Oh, sure, I might whip it out now and then and wear one of my girly Tigers shirts, but I’ve bought several things in team colors that I’m very excited about. Oh, and my girlfriend just bought me this to wear to “80’s Night” at the Ballpark. Thanks, hon! As a side note, I was not originally going to go to the May 4th game; that was one of my “sell” tickets. However, upon discovering that  the DeLorean, the Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles, and Darth Vader were all going to be at the game, I couldn’t resist. As a second side note, this is the second time that I’ve bought said hat; the first one was ruined by a fluffy tornado.

Well, that’s not many certainties at all. No matter. I have my tickets in hand, my new hat, and the roster is set.  If the season weren’t starting this weekend, I would probably explode or something. I don’t plan on missing a second of a single game this season, and modern technology means I don’t have to. I’ll be at 15-16 games (including Opening Day), we have a great local sports station that will broadcast every game that isn’t being broadcast nationally, in the car I can listen to the radio, and if I’m neither at the game, at home, or in the car (read: school) I can use this absolutely fabulous app for the iPhone to distract me thouroughly (seriously, if you have an iPhone and are a true baseball fan, you need this app).

Oh, one more certainty: It’s gonna be a great summer.

Thank God it’s Friday…

JesusPlayingBaseball-465x615.jpgSo, the Tigers’ home opener is on Good Friday this year. As are many others teams’, but the Tigers are the only team playing during the hours that Christ supposedly hung on the Cross. The game is at 1:05.

The point is not that it’s highly unlikely that Christ hung from 12-3 PM EST. I respect the traditions of the Church and those who choose to abide by them, no matter how odd they may seem to me. The point is that it is not the responsibility of the Detroit Tigers to keep track of their souls. The start time is not  “an insult to Catholics“. The temperature in Detroit after about 6 o’clock in April is generally in the low 30’s. That’s simply not acceptable for a baseball game. You’ll notice that many of the games in cold weather areas that have outdoor stadiums are during the day for the first few weeks.  God doesn’t want us to all get pneumonia.

 Besides, if you’re truly a devout Catholic, the decision on whether to go to the baseball game during this time shouldn’t be a difficult decision. Clergymen are saying that the game will keep people away from services. Well, then someone isn’t doing his job (and I mean the Priest, not Jesus). Hank Greenburg skipped a World Series game in 1934 because it fell on Yom Kippur (he was Jewish). A World Series game. And he wasn’t just watching the game, he was in it.

This year, Yom Kippur  begins on Sept. 27th at sundown and goes until sundown on the 28th. Should we demand that no games be played on that day? What about the fact that all 30 Major League teams are playing on Easter Sunday? No one seems to complain that there are Football games on Christmas.

The fact is, it sounds an awful lot like people are upset about the holiday is encroaching on baseball, not the other way around. One man interviewed said that they should change the time of the game since he’s decided to go to Church instead of the game.  So, he can participate in gluttonous revelry after Christ is supposed to be dead? In what universe does that make sense? Does Good Friday end at 3? Another guy is going to the game, but worried that he won’t be able to “quietly reflect” in the concourses of Comerica Park. Um, then don’t go? You’ve obviously already chosen between your Lord and your team. Don’t complain about it now to make yourself feel better.

This story has made national news despite the fact that it’s total nonsense. If you don’t feel comfortable being at a baseball game between noon and 3 on Friday, April 10th, 2009, then don’t go to one. The Tigers won’t mind; the game is already sold out. Stay home and have your moment of quiet reflection or go to Church. Just don’t assume they should change the game time and severely damage the enjoyment of the game for the rest of us (non-practicing Christians, moderate protestants, moderate Catholics, agnostics, atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindi, Buddhist…Wicca…) with freezing temperatures because the current time doesn’t fit into your schedule.

*Note: Please don’t think that I’m targeting Catholics in this post. Like I said, I have respect for people of all religions. I’m sure that most Catholics aren’t complaining. In fact, all the articles I’ve read quote the same four people over and over. My problem isn’t with religion, it’s with the sense of entitlement  displayed by these individuals. 

Ok, Rant over. Thanks for reading.

What? What blog?

I apologize for my negligence, friends. I’m down to the last month of my bachelor’s degree and it’s pretty insane around here. I have not, however, neglected baseball. I watched the whole WBC and have been following Spring Training. In fact, I was filling up my Twitter page with so much baseball that it was annoying my followers, so I started one strictly for baseball. It’s kinda fun; I’ll be tweeting live from Opening Day!

Speaking of Opening Day, I got my tickets! I’ve already put the first pair that I’m not going to use up for sale. Only 17 hours left. ;o) (Sorry, couldn’t resist the plug).

Speaking of plugs, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the WBC; I even missed several episodes of American Idol to watch it, something I haven’t done since 2003. I do agree with Mr. Soule; the worst way to promote an event is to lambaste it while they’re playing the game. It’s like having Jime Rome call the World Cup. Also, I got real sick, real fast of people acting like paranoid Little League parents because a few guys twisted their ankles. No one was seriously injured, just pangs and dings, but you would think they had killed them. And no, the thing shouldn’t be played in January. The NFL playoffs are in January. They do need people to watch the thing. Although I do think the teams should be assembled earlier than a week before the tournament. Congratulations to Japan, again. At least the USA got further than last time; maybe their going one step at a time and will make the finals in ’13. I can always hope.

Speaking of hope, Tigers ST has had good news and bad news. The good news is, the first four starters, including Jeremy Bonderman, have looked very good. The bad news is, that the fifth spot isn’t decided yet. Most of the hitters look good, too, despite the fact that they got no-hit the other day.

Speaking of the other day, I’m going to bed. Goodnight, everyone.

Feast or Famine

I’ve noticed a trend in the WBC. In the 14 games played so far, there have been two one run games, one three run games, and one four run game. All the other games have been won by 7 or more runs. Three games have ended early due to the “Mercy Rule” (which I don’t think any red-blooded baseball fan should agree with). It seems as if the offense is either exploding or falling completely silent. For example, the US, Japan, Korea, and Australia (Australia?) have combined for over 80 runs in 8 games played. It’s been pretty exciting, as long as you’re on the right side of the bat. I’m sure that Venezuela, China, and Mexico didn’t think it was all that exciting. Here are my favorite moments of this shindig so far:

400,http _d.yimg.com_a_p_ap_20090309_capt.48f2dac0af104113827ffe80e03f3757.mexico_australia_world_baseball_classic_mxcc123.jpgThe Underdogs

I do love me an underdog. But when the Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic, the commentators on ESPN and MLBN immeadiately started calling it a “magical run”. I scoffed, but now I’m thinking they might be right (though they still only said it to create a story and grab ratings). Not only did they beat the mighty Dominican Republic team, but they’re currently beating Puerto Rico. It’s loads of fun, but not as much fun as Australia beating Mexico 17-7. Let me just say that again…Australia beat Mexico 17-7…in Mexico. The game had to be ended in the 8th inning because of the Mercy Rule. This was by far the most hilarious moment of the tournament (as an fan of US Soccer, I have a great affinity for anyone who beats Mexico at anything).

345,http _d.yimg.com_a_p_rids_20090309_i_r927392263.jpgPudge

I never got to see Pudge play when he was on steroids in his prime. I think I’ve gotten a glimpse of it in these two games. He’s been phenominal. I’m sure the phone started ringing this morning.

Adam Dunn’s Panic Attack

During what was by far the most exciting and best played game in the tournament so far, the US and Canada went at each other for nine full innings and it wasn’t clear who would win until the last out had been recorded. During the ninth inning, when it seemed as if the Canadians might tie the game…again…Adam Dunn was sitting on the bench taking his pulse. Made me smile.

Mario Chiarini’s Wardrobe Malfunction

An Italian outfielder named Mario Chiarini made a spectacular diving catch, robbing Bobby Abreu of at least a double. That wasn’t the great part. The great part was that when the kid got up, his belt was broken. No one could accuse Italy of not taking this thing seriously. They were playing their pants off.

345,http _d.yimg.com_a_p_afp_20090309_capt.photo_1236631866897-1-0.jpgWatching all those American Boys Run

I’m obviously a little biased about this one, but watching the Americans in nearly constant motion on Sunday night made me a very happy little Yank. The Canada game was still the better game, but seeing 14 runs on your team’s side of the scoreboard is never a bad time. It was also fun to be able to say things like, “6-4-3: Jete to Pedroia to Youkilis” or even more fun to say “Aramando Galaragga just made Curtis Granderson ground out to first baseman Miguel Cabrera”. That one almost gave me a headache.

At the time of this writing, the Netherlands is still beating Puerto Rico and Italy is beating Canada. Japan, Korea, and the US are going to the next round.

*On a more personal note, I’d like to say with no small amount of pride that I’ve been featured on the front page of MLBlogs twice in the past couple of weeks. Once for my Manny post and once for my post about the WBC the other day. Thanks to whoever chooses those blogs and thanks to anyone who reads these nonsensical ramblings I call a blog. :)

~K

It’s a Classic

BaseballGlobe.jpgWell, there were quite a few things that were “classic” in today’s games of the WBC. The entire USA/Canada game was everything a baseball game should be. The two teams chased each other to the finish line, there were home runs, there were great defensive plays (on both sides), there were light moments. Pudge Rodriguez gave a truly classic performance in the Puerto Rico/Panama game. The Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic, which is just priceless, and while Venezuela beat Italy 7-0, Italy showed that they could play some serious defense. It took the positively legendary lineup four full innings to score. There was a bonafide highlight play by the Italian center fielder when he laid out and landed so hard that it broke the belt on his pants.

Here’s a preview of tomorrow’s action (in my time zone, EST):

5:30 AM- China vs. Korea: I love baseball, but only births, injured loved ones, or a natural disaster would get me out of bed at this hour in the morning. I do think Korea will win, though, which means that China will be going home.

2:00 PM- South Africa vs. Cuba: Now this is more like it. I don’t really know anything about South African baseball, but I know that the Cubans are very good at international baseball. So, I think they’ll win this one.

4:30 PM- Panama vs. Dominican Republic: This is an elimination game, too. I can’t imagine the Dominicans being caught sleeping twice. I predict Panama will be packing.

8:00 PM- USA vs. Venezuela: …I have no idea. I’m really, really glad that we won the game against Canada, because that means that this isn’t an elimination game. Even if we lose, we’re not out. I definately think that we can win this game, though. The US team is more balanced than the Venezuela team.

9:00 PM- Australia vs. Mexico: I think it’s extremely difficult to beat the Mexicans in Mexico in any sport. Also, baseball still has a secondary sport status in Australia. Cricket is still number one by far. Being able to play Cricket doesn’t mean you can play baseball. There’s a big difference.  Don’t believe me?  Watch some Cricket. I think Mexico will win this one.

Another day filled to the brim with baseball. This tournament will keep me nice and occupied for the next few weeks. During this week I probably won’t be able to get anything accomplished. Which is bad…because I have another draft of my thesis due next Monday.

~K

Someone Hire Pudge Rodriguez…

hometeams_2039_207364449.jpgPlease.

The most exciting and interesting part of a fairly boring and predictable game between Panama and Puerto Rico was the performance by former Tiger Ivan Rodriguez (*sniff*). This man, who’s headed to the Hall of Fame five years to the day after he retires, is unemployed. Not because he was swinging around a team’s front office by their nose hairs or because he’s the subject of a federal indictment, but simply because everyone seems to have forgotten about him. After tonight, I think that they’ll remember.

Because Pudgy wants a job.

He went 4-for-4 with a walk, scored three times, and hit two home runs. That means that 5 of the 7 runs that Puerto Rico scored are because Pudge hit the ball. Oh, and he stole a base (how old is this guy?). Oh, and he also caught a shut-out in the middle of all that running. Why isn’t this man signed?

I haven’t been able to figure out why he didn’t have a job even before the WBC started. I mean, we’re not talking about a hack here. Yes, he’s getting old. Yes, his offensive numbers stunk last year after his trade to New York. But he was hitting .295 before the trade and even if you add in the stinky numbers he hit .276 on the year. You could do a lot worse, considering you’re also getting one of the best, if not the best, defensive catcher whose ever worn a glove. Somebody sign him, please. I’ll admit, it hurts a little to see Pudge in any uniform without a D on it, but I can’t stand the thought of he being forced to retire because he can’t get a job. I think any fan of baseball will agree, Pudge should be able to decide when to end his illustrious career.

On another note, the game between Candada and the US was niether boring nor predictable. It was a great game. And we won. So, I’m a happy Yank.

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