Saturday, July 31, 2010

Who are these f-ing guys?

Back in March, as hope sprung eternal, I saw a bet that had lock written all over it. The Detroit Tigers were paying even money to win 82 games for the season. Surely, with Cabrera, Damon, Guillen, Ordonez, Verlander and Zumaya, the boys could ride out a .500 season. Naturally, I laid a sizable bet on my boys and rested easy throughout the first three months of the year. The bet was all but money as the Tigers took their last three series before the break, finishing ten games over .500 before the All Star game.

Now, with injuries to Zoom, Mags, Inge, and Guillen, my bet looks fragile at best. Last night, significant playing time went to Brennan Boesch, Will Rhymes, Jeff Frazier, Enrique Gonzalez, Danny Worth and Robiie Weinhart. I never heard of these guys when I made that damn bet. To say nothing about Andy Oliver, Jay Sborz, and Ryan Strieby. Seriously, who are these f-ing guys? It's amazing they're still over .500 and only six games back.

Jeopardy takes a shot at Lions with easy question

OK lady, you're really smart and unattractive but I suggest venturing out of the public library. Any self respecting American should know the Lions are the most inept football franchise in the NFL's history. This is Bush League.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Surveying The Wreckage Of The Matt Millen Era

Surveying The Wreckage Of The Matt Millen Era today, the Lions recently released Daniel Bullocks, the last player remaining from a 5-year stretch of drafts. That's 0-for-40. Here's what became of them all, and I warn you, it's not pretty.

I'm not going to name names (to protect those involved), but see if you can match up the fates of those 40 picks with this draft history:

•Spent 4 solid seasons with Detroit. Traded for a 5th round pick. Hasn't played since 2007.
•Out of the league.
•Currently thriving in Denver.
•Never played an NFL down.
•Caught 5 passes in his 3 years with the Lions.
•Out of the league.
•Never played a down.
•Out of the league.
•Played one game in 3 years.

•Legal troubles, character issues, washed out of the league in 2005.
•Had a few good years in Detroit, now out of the league.
•Started every game for four straight seasons. Then went to a good team, and doesn't start anymore.
•Out of the league.
•Out of the league.
•In the CFL.
•In the UFL.
•Out of the league.
•Cut by a CFL team.
•Never made a team.
•Never made a team.

•Consistently underachieved. Now consistently underachieves in Dallas.
•Had great rookie year. Never equaled it.
•Had excellent rookie year. Never started again. Reigning UFL champion.
•Started 5 games in 5 years with Lions.
•Out of the league.
•Played in Arena Football, CFL.

•Spent 2 years with Lions. Traded as part of a package for a 4th round pick.
•Spent 4 "meh" seasons with Lions. Left as a free agent.
•Out of football.
•Is Dan Orlovsky.
•Managed to play 8 career games without recording a tackle.
•Died in a motorcycle accident.

•Had a good stint. Traded.
•Injury-plagued. Released.
•In the CFL.
•Solid few years, after the Lions cut him.
•Never played a down.
•In the UFL.
•Out of the league.

From five consecutive drafts, I count only two unqualified successes: Andre' Goodman and Ernie Sims. And of course, neither is plying their trade in Detroit anymore.

Just remember this list next time Matt Millen appears on your television, getting paid to analyze football.

This article blatantly swiped from

Old English D makes Top 10 List for gang-affiliated hats

Apparently, Bobby Kelly isn't the only straight up gangsta rocking the old English D these days. The symbol of Motown finished at a respectable #7 on some horseshit blog that specializes in such things. The Gangster Disciples have an affinity for Tiger ball caps and apparently idolize Tiger great Lance Parrish as they wear their hats backward. I'm happy to say that Minnesota finished behind Detroit at #8 with their affiliation to the Maniac Latin Disciples, punk bitches that they are. I'm happy to know that some youth from Chicago are patronizing our team, helping to pay the hefty salary of Nate Robertson which we are still responsible for. Not mentioned in this article is that the Gangster Disciples wouldn't last ten minutes on West Road, one of many mean streets in Trenton, Michigan.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lard likes juicy sliders

Shame on the Texas Rangers. In the second inning on Wednesday night, they served up a delicious morsel that rotund Tigers catcher, Gerald Lard, has enjoyed since childhood. "I just love them. I could take down 20 in a row if they keep serving them to me.", boasted Lard. With a tie score in the second inning, Rangers started Colby Lewis served up the one pitch that Lard yearns for, the slider. Lard devoured the pitch and hit his first home run in over a month. When asked about how if felt to his third tater of the year and lead the Tigers to victory, Laird replied with "I typically like taters french fried, the curly kind . . . and I like to dip them in mayonnaise. They go well with sliders."

Indeed they do Mr. lard.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Like the Lions, fans can't blame these Tigers for what's happening

I want to blast these Tigers. I want to curse the lineup from top to bottom for laying down. But, that would be irrational and the Lions have taught me humility after years of sleepless nights. The Tigers didn't lie down last night. On the contrary, they fought like hell and came back from two deficits against a team with arguably more talent. Damon's base running miscue was horrible but we're not even in the 11th inning if he doesn't fight back from an 0-2 count to tie the game in the 8th inning. The Rangers bullpen outlasted ours but we held a nasty AL lineup scoreless for six innings until the 14th. Our big bats showed with Cabrera knocking two bombs and Boesch delivering what should have been the coup de grace in the 11th.

Some time in the last decade, I quit throwing my hat at the TV screen when the Lions fell apart in the fourth quarter. That type of emotion is completely unfounded for a team void of talent and would be akin to buying a shitty stock and fretting over it every day as it continues to lose value. I can pick my investments but I'm stuck with the Tigers and Lions. Just as it easy to see a company for what it is through it's operating metrics, it's easy to see these Tigers for what they are. The 2010 Detroit Tigers are an above average hitting team, 4th in the league in hitting and have a 1-6 as good as any lineup in baseball. Conversely, they are well below average in pitching with an ERA that ranks 22nd, strikeouts at 24th and team WHIP at 20th. Defensively, they rank second to last in the American League. You don't win divisions with bottom third pitching and defense. Like the Lions, we saw this throughout the 90's in the Barry Sanders era when the Lions would hang crooked scores on everybody just to finish 9-7 and bow out in the first round of playoffs.

Hitting can power a team to a respectable record at the All Star break but pitching and defense are the difference with teams that can run in the stretch. Since 2006, the Tigers have been in first place at the break three times (2006, 2007 and 2009). Those teams failed to win a division championship and only the 2006 version squeaked into the playoffs on the last day of the year. With a first place lead one game before the break, the Tigers have ripped off six straight losses giving that feeling of deja vu all over again. The Sox are built to run away with the division this year as they are far superior in pitching to the Twins or Tigers. These Tigers have been fun to watch as were the Lions of the 90's but until Dumbrowski can put together a dominant 1-2-3 pitching rotation, I can't see how they won't continue to suffer the same fate. Being the devoted and retarded Detroit fan that I am, I will sit through all of it with them but sleep will come easier having resigned to the facts.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tigers spend first two days in Cleveland with head up asses

While the Tigers were busy reading their mid-year report cards and admiring their gaudy stats from the first half of the year, they failed to notice a 4-game series taking place in Cleveland. The Tigers have the look of a team that expected the Indians to lay down and give them four games in their home. In less than two days, they dropped three games to these sorry sacks of shit. The Indians were twenty games under .500 heading into the break and the Tigers played like they knew it.

The pitching has been average and has let the 7-8-9 hitters dominate, a clear sign of a lack of focus. The lineup that these injury-depleted Indians threw at the Tigers yesterday was a statistical joke. Four players in their lineup were hitting under .200 - I can't remember the last time I saw a MLB team with a lineup this shitty. To his credit, Ricky did his job and looked great for eight innings. He pounded the strike zone, throwing 22 of 29 strikes on the first pitch and struck out six versus zero walks. He did his job but where was the lineup? At one point in the game, Rod Allen mentioned that he had never heard of some of the guys Acta was pulling from the bullpen and yet we were outscored in all three games. Our Big Three (Ordonez, Cabrera, Boesch) was a combined 5 for 30 in the first three games and a paltry 2 for 16 with runners in scoring position.

In Game 2, we give Verlander an early three-run lead and he can't hold it proving that he still should not be considered in a conversation about aces. Three runs should be all that an All Star started needs to beat a lineup filled with cherries. Sure, it would have helped if the Tigers would have kept scoring but in their defense, Cleveland was lights out on defense turning three amazing double plays.

Every year, the Twins make a run in the second half and they seem intent on doing the same again as they took two from the red-hot Sox yesterday. The Twins will indeed heat up in the second half but the real question is whether another Leyland team will fall apart after the break, an all too disturbing trend in his tenure as skipper of this club. Wake up Tigers, I am not ready to start writing about the Lions yet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Screw Lebron, wait until Boesch's decision in 2016

If you thought this year's NBA free agent dog and pony show was intense, just wait until the entire world gets caught up in the Brennan Boesch sweepstakes of 2016. After another five years at this pace, Brennan will be on track to break every MLB record. We should expect the Tigers to sign the young lady killer after this season to at least a five-year deal as the league has yet to realize how silly this kid is. We won't be so lucky in 2016.

"We fully expect Brennan to command a record-breaking offer in five years. It's simply a matter of time. We just hope we can win 3-4 World Series rings with his bat before that time comes.", reported Dave Dumbrowski on the hottest asset to hit the sports world since Matt Nokes in 1987 or maybe Chad Krueter in 1992.

Brennan was humble as usual. "Look, I'm young and still learning the game. Let me get 500 home runs under my belt before we start talking about the next contract. I'm just focused on helping my team win games, solving the unemployment problem in Detroit and landing a few action hero roles in the off-season." Indeed, this humble young man is obviously grounded and completely unaffected by his recent success.

Knowing full well that a spot on Brennan's entourage could set one up for life, Gerald Lard has taken to carrying Brennan's bag to his car after games. "Look, I've got two, maybe three weeks left in the bigs the way Avilla is hitting. I need to think about my future. Brennan is going to need a crew and every good crew has a fat guy. Think about it, Turtle in Entourage, Chunk from Goonies, Carnie from Wilson Phillips. I think I add value."

Detroit fans are already fretting over his potential defection to the Yankees or Red Sox. Most imagine that the announcement will precede a Presidential address beamed via satellite across the world. "You know, Brennan Boesch doesn't think about those things because Brennan Boesch plays it one game at a time. I'm still the same kid from Southern California that I was two months ago.", Boesch stated from his new Maserati. He hollered "Hurry up!" and Lard finished pumping his gas before the two sped off.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Partying like it's 1993

Last night had a retro feel and it wasn't just the Elvis Night promotion. The Tigers entered a series with a hated rival a slight lead in the Division. This Tigers team has been riding it's offense to the Division lead and were facing the Twins during a stretch where they have seemed, well ordinary. I was at Comerica after flying in from D.C. for my best friend's wedding (he was genious enough to host his rehearsal dinner at the ballpark). The Tigers pounced on a dominant pitcher in Liriano, scoring early and keeping the crowd into the game throughout. Verlander went to work and our bullpen held Minnesota off for the win. After the game, the capacity crowd was treated to fireworks and more Elvis music.

Flash back to June 11, 1993. The Tigers were hosting a four-game series to a hated rival with a slight division lead against a dominant pitcher. This time we were playing the Toronto Blue Jays and the opposing pitcher was none other than Jack Morris. Once Jack Morris left the Tigers, I always looked at him like Hulk Hogan after he went Hollywood. It was surreal to see Jack as the bad guy and I was always waiting for him to shave the beard and switch back from the dark side. That night, my best friend and two other guys headed to Michigan and Trumball on a perfect summer night and watched the Tigers rock the Blue Jays. My hero, Mickey Tettleton, hit a bomb to deep right field off Morris and the party was on. After the game, the capacity crowd was treated to fireworks and Elvis music. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

What I don't want is a repeat of what came next. The Tigers took three of four in that series and then feel apart. Starting with a four game lead in what was then the AL East, the Tigers won two more series before losing 13 of 14 games in a murderous stretch that exposed an average pitching staff with such intimidating figures as Doherty, Gullickson and Mike Moore. The Tigers contended some through July but were never the same team and Toronto ran up the scoreboard for several months with what I feel is the best lineup ever put together. The Tigers finished 10 games above .500 but that didn't get you much other than a 3rd place finish in the league back in those days.

The 2010 Tigers can hit like that team, though with considerably less power. The difference in these teams is the pitching staffs. That team did not sport a legitimate ace or even a legitimate #2. With Scherzer emerging, I think this year's team can boast both. That team had a lame bullpen at best. Henneman was our best reliever and he posted a 2.46 ERA versus Papa Grande at 0.95. That team would roll out Buddy Groom, Sean Bergman and Storm Davis whereas this team can hit you with a plethera of arms. Above all, that team had to contend with a truly dominant team in their Division. The Blue Jays of early 1990's were akin to the Yankees of today. Dominant in every fashion and clear cut above the Tigers who valiantly hung with them through four months of that season. This year's Division is a toss-up with the Twins, Sox and Tigers all sporting strengths and obvious weaknesses. I don't believe anyone is running away with this Division.

That 1993 weekend series is cemented in my head like as a snapshot of how beautiful baseball can be and how perfect a game it is. It's also a picture of how I want to remember my youth, let the rest of that season be damned as we were #1 that night while listening to "Jailhouse Rock" and watching fireworks. I will have the same great memories of last night however the rest of this season finishes. A night with great friends and family, capped off by Elvis and a decent little fireworks show. That's summer at it's best.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Orioles are who we thought they were!

This was a game the Tigers had no business winning. The Tigers gave up 17 hits, six walks and tossed in two errors for good measure against a hapless Orioles team that went a combined 3-17 with runners in scoring position. The Orioles put at least one runner on base in every one of the 11 innings it took them to lose. In another four-hour spectacle, the Tigers did everything they could to lose this game.

But, these are the Orioles and even when they took a 4-1 lead in the 8th inning, you still had the feeling that they were itching to give us back the lead. They did. With one out and Damon on first base in the 9th inning, Orioles closer threw one slider too many and Cabrera did what Cabrera does. As if he knew it was coming, Miggy unloaded with a softball swing and sent the game into extra innings. Why anyone pitches to Cabrera in close situations is beyond me but again, these are the Orioles.

Once this game went into extra innings, it was only a matter of time before Baltimore figured out how to give us the outright win and that chance came in the 11th when Mr. Walk-Off did it again. Johnny left no doubt with his 15th walk-off shot of his career. Sure, this win felt nice given how the Tigers had to battle back several times. But, you were left with the feeling that had the Tigers been playing a team like the Twins or Yankees, this game would have been over in the 5th inning.

- Damon's home run was #2,501 of his career. He is now 16 hits away from passing Joe Morgan, which will make my grandpa happy. Pops hates Joe Morgan.

- Cabrera is riding a 15-game hit streak among his other accomplishments. Along with his dramatic home run, he also posted a single and triple. It was 92 degrees in Detroit and Cabrera looked like a man in need of an oxygen tank after his triple. Hunched over and sucking air, he reminded me of Shaun Rogers after his interception return against the Broncos two years ago.

- Leyland Stupidity Exhibit A: Donnie Kelly led-off for the Tigers which makes no statistical sense at all. I'm all for giving AJ a blow in center field, especially against a dog shit team like Baltimore but Leyland's insistence on playing every reserve exactly in the lineup as who they replace is antiquated and stubborn. With three of the top run producers in baseball in the 3, 4 and 5 slots, you can't afford to put your worst hitter in terms of OBP in the leadoff slot. To top it off, we were facing a pitcher with a 5.86 ERA who was among the baseball's leaders in walks allowed. This plays more to Santiago's skills than Kelly's, who has drawn less walks than any Tiger and is a free swinger who misses more than he connects. Donnie can play some defense and deserves some PT but bat him 9th where he belongs.

- Leyland Stupidity Exhibit B: While trying to keep the game close in the 8th inning, Leyland chose to intentionally walk Miguel Tejada to face Nick Markakis with Dan Schlereth pitching. Look at your statistics Jimmy - Markakis is leading all left handed hitters in MLB with a .378 average against lefties. In comparison, Tejada is hitting .233 against lefties. So, we intentionally put a man in scoring position (walking Tejada put men on 1st and 2nd) to get to a matchup with a 15% higher chance of costing us a run. Of course, Markakis prompty singled to right field which scored the run that we just put on second base.

- Carlos Guillen has the sixth best batting average ever against the Orioles. In his career, he is hitting .365 against the orange birds but more impressive is the list he is on.

1. Ted Williams .374
2. Ichiro Suzuki .372
3. Ty Cobb .370
4. Al Simmons .370
5. Jimmie Foxx .365
6. Carlos Guillen .365

- I will give kudos to Leyland for calling two pitch-outs correctly from the bench. Both resulted in throw-outs by Avila. Some of that "old school gut coaching" came in handy at least.

- The at-bat of the game came from my boy Brandon Inge. Down two runs in the 8th with a man on first base, Inge looked terrible on two swing and miss sliders from Orioles closer Simon who had come in early to finish the Tigers off. Inge went to work - fouling off five pitches and taking two balls before raking a triple into the gap and bringing the score to within one run. Once again Brandon, you've escaped my wrath.

Monday, July 5, 2010

War and Peace is easier than this epic Tigers win was to watch

1. I started reading War and Peace this week, all 1,355 pages of it. After about fifty pages, I have to put it down and come back to it. Watching today's game felt eerily similar to reading the 19th century epic, translated from Russian. By the end of the second inning, both starters had been pulled and a game that started at 1:05PM was already pushing 90 minutes. At this point, I had to record the game and come back to it. On a positive note, Ilitch did well on beer sales today with a game that lasted nearly four hours and saw eleven counts go to 3-2.

2. Mags set the tone early in this game with an incredible at-bat in the first inning, drawing ten pitches from Millwood and ultimately taking a base on balls. He fouled off four pitches with two strikes. This is winning baseball, especially in July heat and against a team with a horrible bullpen. As would be expected, Cabrera came to the plate with two on and demolished an outside fastball off the center field wall, driving in two more and taking his RBI tally to 71 on the season. Brennan followed up with another outstanding at-bat, drawing seven pitches and taking a walk with a full count after falling behind 0-2. With Millwood sweating on the mound, Guillen pounced on a soft fastball for a single followed by Inge with a ground rule double. All said, it took Millwood 45 pitches to get out of the 1st inning but not before the Tigers took a 5-1 lead. Not to be outdone, rookie Andy Oliver couldn't close the door. He immediately relinquished the lead and mirrored Millwood's first inning by allowing the Orioles to bat around in the 2nd inning.

3. With a name that rhymes with "Fat Albert", how can you possibly not grow up as a fat ass? This is the sad plight of rotund Orioles middle reliever Matt Albers who must have been doomed to buffet tables from a young age. If you're at the ballpark Wednesday or Thursday, give him a "hey, hey, hey!" shout out.

4. The Baltimore Orioles wanted no part of dark horse MVP candidate, Brennan Boesch. He walked four times, tying a Tigers rookie record held by Steve Boros, whoever the hell that is. Way to go Brennan, you're swell.

5. Working with two men on and the game still hanging in the balance, Ryan Perry impressed by throwing his curve ball three straight times with two strikes. The last was a doozie, hitting the outside corner and buckling Julio Lugo's knees for a called third strike to end the inning. With his velocity, I question whether the curve ball needs to be his second pitch. A two-seamer or splitter would be easier to locate and might put less stress on his elbow (OK, I'm sensitive after Zumaya's injury).

6. The Tigers are leading the American League with a 28-12 home record.

7. Papa Grande gave up three hits today, taking his total to a staggering total of 14. Yes, in 36 innings, he has only given up 14 hits. He also let two runners score, taking his league-leading ERA from 0.50 to 1.0 - seriously Papa, let's pick up the pace a little.

8. MVP shoe-in, Miguel Cabrera, has accounted for 30% of the Tigers runs in 2010 which is the highest such total for any player in MLB. No one means more to their team than Cabrera who is also leading in home runs and RBI.

9. Inge had another great game, offensively and defensively. Inge has given me little to bitch about in the last two months with an average at .260 and clutch hits every other night. His slide in the 7th inning was an incredible show of athleticism as he twisted his body while already into the slide to beat a tag on a throw that beat him by two steps.

"Gay Tigers frolic after another home win"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Laird upset to miss hot dog eating competition

1. No confirmation yet as to whether Gerald Lard was thinking about hot dogs when he tossed a perfectly called pitch-out into center field in the second inning. The portly Tigers backstop seemed distracted all morning and Leyland considered starting Avila knowing how much Gerald likes hot dogs. "Sure, I've got a great job but boy would I like a shot at that Nathan's title. I want Chestnut!!"

That being said, Lard's error which sent Gutierez to third base was the type of play that has plagued Bondo's career; more pointedly, his inability to pick a teammate up when something goes wrong. In this case, Bondo showed his new-found maturity by pitching intelligently with only one out. He unintentionally intentionally walked Kotchman, throwing him nothing but junk that he would either not swing at or would swing and miss. With Kotchman on first, Bondo set out to get his double play ball and keep the run from scoring (all the more important with a one-run lead on Cliff Lee). He threw Wilson nothing but sliders and change-ups down in the zone, just the type of pitches that turn into ground balls. Luckily, this lineup isn't good enough to make contact and Bondo's pitches were located well enough for two strikeouts and Lard's wiener dreaming didn't hurt the Tigers on the scoreboard. In this inning at least, Bondo was able to control his emotions when something out of his control didn't go his way . . .

2. This just in, Cliff Lee is good. Of his first 50 pitches, he threw 41 for strikes. An 82% strike ratio is "off the chain" as Rod would say. The difference between good and great major league stuff is the ability to throw multiple pitches for strikes and not get hurt. Lee can make his fastball move in or out depending on the batter and locates his off-speed stuff as well as any left-hander in the game. It took Lee exactly six pitches to strike out Inge and Lard with men on 1st and 2nd in the 4th inning, never throwing the same pitch twice. The contrast between Lee and Bondo is stark. Bondo has to work with deception and pitch out of the strike zone, hoping to fool you into swinging. This is why he worked every inning with at least one runner on base today. Lee attacks the zone with different speeds and confidence that you won't get good wood on the ball. Damn, I hope he doesn't go to the Twins.

3. So much for Bondo's new attitude. In the 5th inning, a few close pitches went against him and he started railing against the umpire. Noticeably rattled and throwing his hands in the air, it was clear that the wheels were coming off. With his attention clearly on the umpire, Bondo served up another three-run shot to right field and was ejected moments later with the game out of hand at 7-1. Crying about balls and strikes is bush league. It screams of desperation and he might as well be yelling "Jesus, I can't make a pitch that good two times in a row! What am I supposed to do now that I'm in a 2-0 hole? My stuff isn't good enough to get out of this situation! You're screwing me because I'm not talented enough to pitch my way out of a jam like the Cy Young winner pitching for the other team!" Look, umpires vary wildly on strike zones but they're typically calling a game the same way for both teams. If you're getting squeezed, man up and fight through it. You like a rookie whining to an umpire about your inability to consistently hit the plate.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Verlander becoming a legitimate ace - Tigers now in 1st place

1. JV was exceptional tonight, twice striking out the side and working his entire repertoire of pitches all night. He threw 15 pitches at 95 MPH or higher in the first inning and then went to work with his off-speed stuff. His most devastating pitch was his slide. This is a nasty pitch and must have the same arm motion and look as his fastball as opponents are swinging at some terrible pitches that reach the catcher in the dirt. He also used a nice changeup to entice Figgins into a soft ground ball to end the 7th with bases loaded. With a 100 MPH fastball, anything in the 80's with the same arm motion is going to be lethal. If Verlander can continue to perfect these pitches, he may ultimately become a true Cy Young candidate and not simply a strike out pitcher.

3. Great two-out rally in bottom of 4th inning capped by an improbable Inge single for two ribs after he got down 0-2. Brandon laid off two high fastballs and fouled off two more strikes before smacking a hanging curve ball through past a diving Jack Wilson at shortstop. Kudos Brandon, I will refrain from trashing you until tomorrow. Speaking of trash, Lard struck out swinging the very next at bat, stranding two runners.

4. I found it interesting in the 5th inning when Mario called a ground ball to second base "routine". There has been nothing "routine" about the Tigers defense this year. With 55 errors this year, they are among the Top 10 worst defensive teams in MLB and 3rd worst in the American League. Conversely, they were among the Top 10 best in 2009 which is why they led the Division wire to wire (almost). Compare this crappy fielding to the Twins who have only made 31 errors, which is tied with the Yankees for best in MLB. This is also why Minnesota is in the race every single year. Teams that field their position tend to be in the hunt late into September.

5. JV "shut the door" in the 5th inning which is what an ace does. After a great rally in an inning where your offense made their starter work, your ace needs a 1-2-3 inning. Put your opponent right back on the mound without rest - almost like an extension of the last bad inning. Vargas had to run right back onto the mound and proceeded to surrender four more runs before getting the axe for the night. Baseball is a game of moments that change the outcome of the game. JV's 1-2-3 5th inning might not have been memorable but it was the most important moment in the game.

6. Brennan Boesch is silly - hitting .450 against lefties with .850 SLG and had another two hits against Vargas tonight. He narrowly missed pulling a deep home run in the 5th (just foul) and adjusted at the plate to take an outside slider to the opposite field for a single. Seriously Brennan, cut it out.

7. Ryan Perry made his first appearance since June 7th tonight. His fastball was overpowering at 94-97 MPH. He threw five straight, well place fastballs to Milton Bradley, the last being of the swing and miss variety. His curve ball was average which is about all it needs to be for a middle reliever. Given the loss of Zumaya for the year, Perry will need to be solid for the Tigers to continue to dominate out of the pen.

8. Minnesota lost, Tigers won. We are now in first place, albeit tied with those bastards up North. I don't give a damn, I'm smoking a victory cigar and enjoying it as they play at 1PM tomorrow and I might not have time to enjoy this with Cliff Lee scheduled to start. I hope Lee spends some quality time at Bouzuki tonight and isn't feeling up to snuff tomorrow.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Schlereth's mustache will be the talk of Downriver

1. With two outs and men at the corner in the 2nd inning, Avila drew a clutch walk. Understanding his role, Alex took until he got a strike which never came. He watched four very close pitches which all would have ended the inning had he swung. As it was, his walk loaded the bases which eventually led to four runs in the inning (consequently, Donnie Kelly also showed his intelligence when he swung at the first pitch after a trip to the mound and a pitcher who just threw four balls - a dead red fastball that he smacked for a double). In the 4th inning, Alex drew seven pitches before walking with two outs again. This didn't lead to any runs but was a productive at bat nonetheless. Avila is proving to be one of the few Tigers who grasps the importance of a good plate appearance. With a .228 batting average, you're not expected to drive balls to the gap with two outs. In every situation early in a game, you should be taking until you get a strike. If you can't regularly do damage with your bat, force the starting pitcher to work. All too often, the Tigers are hacking at the first and second pitch. This leads to nine-pitch innings and negates out biggest advantage which is pitting our bullpen against theirs. Only Damon and Cabrera have a higher spread between batting average and on-base percentage, demonstrating Alex's intelligent approach at the plate. With more experience, he has a real shot at being a legitimate threat in the lineup.

2. Michael Saunders has the largest strike zone in MLB. At 6'5" and 210 pounds, there is no wonder this guy has a .211 batting average. You can close your eyes and still throw a strike against this mongoloid. He needs to be setting picks and not swinging a stick. You sir, are a goon and I'm glad you're not on my team. Eat more protein at the training table.

3. The double play combination of Santiago and Guillen is starting to look legitimate. Our infield is delivering offensively and defensively which bodes well if they can stay healthy late into the season.

4. Dan Schlereth was called up to the Tigers tonight. Schlereth came over in the Granderson trade and is a left-handed reliever with above average stuff and below average control. He had a rough spring and start for the Mudhens but like all pitchers that spend time with A.J. Sager, has improved dramatically. He has only given up two hits in his last five appearances and batters are hitting .200 against him. With Fu Te Ni struggling, this kid might be just what the Tigers need. In addition, he traded his goatee for a fine mustache which will undoubtedly sell a lot of jerseys in Downriver. Dan's father Mark is in attendance this weekend and we are missing a golden opportunity to sign the former Pro Bowl guard with Lewand in the clink.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Slowey delivers a Jean Claude kick to the schwantz

Kevin Slowey held the Tigers to one earned run over six innings. Of course, he did. This was his fourth over-powering outing in a row except in his last three starts, he gave up a total of 17 earned runs with that weak arsenal. Nice job making this bum look like a major leaguer Tigers. The only positive I can take this from this horrible performance is the consolation that this outing will ensure that he starts three more times for the Twins which gives the Twins a great chance to lose some games.

We held the lead in the AL Central for a grand total of 21 hours and boy did it feel great. I had a little bounce to my step on Tuesday until about 8:10PM that evening. The way I feel now can best be compared to the way it must have felt to bet on the biker in black leather against Van Damme in this classique.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mags picking daisies and f-ing Nick Punto

1. Mags has braces. I noticed in the first inning today and wasn't sure where I was going to go with it. Then came the 3rd inning when Mags must have been distracted by some beautiful butterflies as he let a duck snort from Morneau drop five feet in front of him to let the tying run cross the plate. I love you Mags, but quit picking daisies like a pre-pubescent little leaguer out there. If you're worried about cutting your lips with those braces, just get a mouth-guard.

2. Bonderman acted like a professional last night. He clearly didn't have his stuff and battled through 5 1/3 innings with a chance at a win. He threw only eleven strikes in his first 37 pitches and what was crossed white was not impressive. That being said, he kept the game in check with three double plays in the first four innings in a game that could have easily gotten away from him. The old Bondo would have caved mentally in at least one of those innings, knowing he couldn't rely on his natural gifts. He would have squandered that four run lead and been pulled in the third inning. Alas, this is not the old Bondo. He worked the corners and kept the Twins swinging at his offspeed pitches, staying in just long enough to hand the ball to the best bullpen in the American League. Kudos to you Bondo - you're still my Tiger.

3. Cabrera has a ten-game hitting streak to go with his 67 RBI. If you reading this blog, get to MLB's site and vote. I simply will not stand for the ass clown from New York making the team over Miggy.

4. Armando, you can't walk mainstay #9 hitter Nick Punto with two outs and a man on first base. It normally leads to a triple by leadoff hitter Denard Span and a two run deficit. Next time you're in that situation, heed this sage advice.

5. The Tigers are 6-17 in Minnesota since the start of the 2008 season. Our pitchers are sporting a 6+ ERA during that time, two full runs more than Twins pitchers. In addition, the Twins stole the AL Central Division from the Tigers in 2006 and 2009 on the last game of the season. Even when we beat this team, they keep it interesting until the last pitch of the game; no lead is ever safe. I hate these assholes.

6. The Twins have hit into a league-high 88 double plays this year. That is a staggering number that is doubtless higher due to the arrival of Jim Thome. Another way to look at this stat is that the Twins get men on first base with less than two outs more than any team in the league, a situation that puts high stress on starters and leads to high scoring games. If the Twins ever stop killing their own rallies, they are going to be dangerous. Great article on if you want to read more on this topic.

7. Note to Fu Te Ni, you can't walk #9 hitter Nick Punto with two men on and two outs. It normally leads to a triple by leadoff hitter Denard Span and a seven-run deficit. In fact, you should stay in the bullpen unless we are facing the Pirates, Nationals, Diamondbacks or Royals.

Seriously, Nick Punto . . . WTF?

8. This shitty outing by Tigers pitching makes me miss Zumaya already and now a quick work on Zoom. His injury is probably best case scenario. After the scene last night in Minnesota, I was certain that Zoom tore a ligament and would need Tommy John surgery. That kind of pain normally signifies the last time you'll see a pitcher on a mound. Fortunately, Zoom merely fractured his elbow which will not require surgery and he should be back at Spring Training next year. This must be getting old for Joel by now but it's understandable given the pressure an arm like his is subjected to on a regular basis. Joel has thrown over 400 pitches over 100 MPH in 2010 alone; the next closest pitcher has thrown less than half of that. Good luck with your rehab Zoom - we'll miss you.

9. Ricky Porcello Update: My old man and roving reporter Barry Mazeroski, scouted Ricky in Toledo tonight as he made a start for the Mud Hens.

"Looked like more of the same. He went six innings, gave up ten hits and five earned runs. Everything was up and he'd have given up more runs if not for some great defense behind him. He's not ready."

10. Ramon Santiago is looking more and more like a starting shortstop every game. He made an incredible play in the 6th inning, ranging deep into the hole off his backhand and firing a hose to first. He has been impressive at the plate as well, hitting .270 and shows the bunting skills of someone who should be hitting in the two-hole on a regular basis.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Note to Tigers: You are better than the Twins

When we started this nine-game road trip, I concluded that four wins would be a win. Facing three league leaders with some of the best home records in the Bigs, the Tigers just needed to survive until they could get back to the friendly confines. After six games, the Tigers have exactly two wins and if they can pull off two wins in Minnesota, will head back home in first place.

That being said, this is Minnesota and we have one exactly two series there in the last five years. It is hard not get a sinking feeling when I look at tonight's matchup of Bonderman vs. Liriano. I typically feel the camera guy in this video after a three-game set with the dreaded Twinkies.

When the Lions play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, I know they are going to lose. I hold out zero hope and subject myself to viewing only because I have nothing better to do on a Sunday. The Packers are normally better at nearly every position on the field, offensively and defensively. It's not a fair matchup, I understand it, and I don't harbor any illusions that the Lions have a chance. This should not translate to the Twins and Tigers. The Tigers can match the Twins for talent at just about every position on the field (except catcher). I would give the nod to the Tigers starting rotation and bullpen. Seriously, name more than three total Minnesota pitchers. You can't, because they are no-talent journeymen and kids fresh from AAA just like every year. I like our offense as much if not more than the Twins and the only thing they have on us is defense and base running, which shouldn't be enough to overcome areas 1, 2 and 3.

Just take a look at the comparison in lineups:

1. Denard Span vs. Austin Jackson

Span is a contact hitter that will make you throw him strikes. He's batted .294 and .311 in two seasons as lead off hitter and is incredibly hard to strike out (only 37 in 309 at bats in 2010). He has above average speed and has swiped 15 bases so far this year. Jackson has been dynamite as a rookie. In spring training, most fans were not sure if he would still be with the club in May. I personally thought we would see Damon as a fixture at leadoff in 2010 but AJ never gave Leyland a chance to bench him. He is leading Span in batting average (.305 vs .275), on-base percentage (.335 vs .346) and slugging percentage (.408 vs .369) but lags in strikeouts (73 vs 37), walks (18 vs 31) and stolen bases (12 vs 15). Both excel in the field and are capable of the highlight reel catch. Span may be more proven but AJ has been electric this year.

Advantage: TIGERS

2. Johnny Damon vs. Orlando Hudson

Hudson is a talented second baseman who fields his position well and does everything right in the two-hole. Damon is always dangerous in any spot in the lineup and can do just about anything except throw. Their stats have been comparable this season. Damon leads in slugging percentage (.391 vs .387), OBP (.365 vs .356) and walks (38 vs 23) and they are comparable in runs scored, average and doubles. Damon probably offers more versatility as he can play all three outfield positions and DH.

Advantage: TIGERS

3. Joe Mauer vs Magglio Ordonez

I was surprised to put their 2010 stats side by side. Mauer is everybody's All American and the new poster boy of MLB. He is a hitting machine and plays the game hard on every play. But, he is lagging Maggs in every meaningful statistic leading up to the All Start Break. Maggs leads in average (.319 vs .304), slugging (.504 vs .433), RBI (49 vs 33), OBP (.394 vs .381) and home runs (10 vs 3). In fact, you can't really find a stat that Mauer is leading Maggs so far in 2010.

Advantage: TIGERS

4. Justin Morneau vs Miguel Cabrera

Morneau is a ridiculous athlete and a much better fielder than Miggy. That being said, you don't pay max contracts to first basemen for their gloves. This blog has already made the case for Cabrera over Morneau for MVP in 2010, though I piss my pants every time we have to pitch to this guy.

Advantage: TIGERS

5. Michael Cuddyer vs Brennan Boesch

I can't stand Cuddyer which is all you need to know about his skills. The guy is good and he is clutch. This guy routinely breaks your back after you throw 25 pitches to Mauer and Morneau, contain them and then allow Cuddyer to take you deep. That being said, our Rookie of the Year is better. Just like with Mags and Mauer, Brennan leads Cuddyer in every single offensive category. He is ahead in average (.338 vs .259), RBI (43 vs 33), HR (12 vs 7), OBP (.389 vs .327), SLG (.621 vs .409). Actually, this is a slaughter and Boesch wins going away even with 15 less games played than Cuddyer.

Advantage: TIGERS

6. Jason Kubel vs. Brandon Inge

As I lament about every week, this is where things get dicey for the Tigers. Kubel is another clutch ball player that takes advantage of tired pitchers who just spent all of their energy to get the M&M boys out. Kubel scares the hell out of me and I was the least bit surprised when he hit the first grand slam off Mariano Rivera in ten years. Inge, not so much and the stats are fairly lopsided. Kubel wins in home runs (10 vs 6), RBI (41 vs 29) and SLG (.448 vs .429). The six-spot gets a lot of RBI opportunities and Kubel makes the most of his changes while Inge leads the league in runners stranded.

Advantage: TWINS

7. Delmon Young vs Carlos Guillen

Though Guillen prefers the six-spot, he's rarely healthy enough to be in the lineup consistently. Guillen is a true professional and sports our highest baseball IQ. His versatility is apparent in the field and at the plate as a switch-hitter. Carlos makes pitchers work at the plate and can deliver the dramatic, clutch hit. That being said, Young is having the better year. Young has played in 20 more games, leads in average, home runs, slugging, and has more than doubled Guillen's RBI totals.

Advantage: TWINS

8. J.J. Hardy vs Ramon Santiago

Ramon may be a utility player but he has been a regular in our lineup all year, mainly because Leyland can't afford to do without his bat. Ramon is disciplined at the plate and will make a pitcher throw him strikes. He is also more than satisfactory in the field at either 2B or SS. Hardy is a liability and that is putting it nicely. His .217 average and .265 OBP are worthy of the Pirates lineup. Ramon dominates in every offensive category.

Advantage: TIGERS

9. Nick Punto vs Gerald Laird

Punto is a scrappy ball player with a great mitt but I don't worry much about making some nachos while he is at the plate. Gerald Lard is a similar player in that he is golden defensively but awful with a piece of maple in his hands. Punto leads Lard in every offensive category unless you're comparing them in bathing suits on a beach.

Advantage: TWINS

After going through that exercise, I feel that the Tigers have facts on their side but can't say that I feel any better about winning a series in Minnesota. Here's hoping they aren't as worried about recent history as I am.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Leyland strategic in his his argument with umpire

After Verlander hit into an improbable 6-2-3 double play with no outs and bases loaded in the 4th inning, Leyland went after the first base umpire with a vengeance and not a little bit of strategy. In the house of the future Hall of Fame coach, Bobby Cox, Leyland decided to light a fire under his team who is currently on a 1-4 streak. Arguing with umpires is a time-honored tradition in baseball, part showmanship and part calculation. No coach in MLB history has been axed as often as Bobby Cox who could fill more than an entire season with ejections.

This is one baseball tradition that I've never quite understood. A call is a call; good, bad or ugly. You'll never see an umpiring crew reverse a call based on a protesting manager. In addition, showing up an umpire rarely pays off later in a game as umpires have overblown egos that match the overpaid athletes that they officiate. Chewing the ear of a 20-year veteran umpire most likely won't have the game changing benefits it might have on a kid who is calling a little league game and desperate to make up for a mistake.

What are they arguing about? "He was safe! No, he wasn't. He beat the throw! No, he didn't! His foot was on the bag, I could see it from the bench! I'm closer and had a better look at it, he was safe!" These arguments can last 10-15 minutes depending on the severity of the call. How much do they really have to talk about and why are they so angry? The situation reminds of the overblown reaction of soccer players who fake injuries to stall for time, unnecessary.

Ultimately, you rarely see a winning coach pull this crap. When the Yankees were dominant, Torre never got off his ass unless they were going through a slump or Steinbrenner was yapping about his job security. The same probably goes for Leyland. He is aware that the verdict is out on his performance as coach and his relatively short-term contract extensions are clear indicators of how Dumbrowski feels. Yelling and screaming might be his way of showing DD that he is awake in the dugout and earning his money, even if it isn't showing in the dugout.

Tigers 7-8-9 is lame

Tigers are rolling out an intimidating 7-8-9 today with Donnie Kelly, Gerald Lard and Justin Verlander. That would be .214, .179 and .000 of sheer horror for Braves starter Hanson. Don't look for too many breaking balls every third inning. It might exaggerated today but the bottom of our lineup continues to keep the Tigers from being serious contenders.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Galarraga is the Tigers only pitcher, Cabby for MVP, Laird likes donuts

1. Jim Leyland's experiment with Gerald Laird in the two-hole lasted only one game and all parties seem to be happy. "I asked him if he wanted the two-hole. He obviously misunderstood me.", exclaimed Leyland before Thursday's game against the Mets. Indeed, Gerald most likely had trouble hearing Jim over the blaring salsa music in the Tiger locker room. "I thought he asked me if I wanted two holes. Sometimes, Miguel brings in Dunkin' Donuts after the game and I've got a real sweet tooth. The question was a bit weird as Jim knows I like donut holes. I was confused that he bothered to ask me." Laird's love for lard was apparent when he grounded into the rare 5-5-3 double play (3B unassisted to 1B if you're keeping score at home).

"Look, you live and learn. Next time, I will be more clear when talking to Laird on an empty stomach."

"I went 0-3 and worse, I never did get any donut holes. It really hurts."

2. Galarraga might be our only starting pitcher. We have other starting throwers but Armando is the only one that makes it look effortless and gets more with less talent than anyone on our staff. Verlander, Scherzer and Bonderman lean too heavily on the strikeout which elevates their pitch counts and puts early pressure on the bullpen. It has worked this year with a lights out bullpen but it's no way to win a pennant. The art of great pitching is disguising a bad pitch for a good one via movement. Galarraga's sinker is his primary pitch and hitters struggle to distinguish this pitch from his fastball. By the time they have started their swing, the pitch is diving in on their hands. His velocity is average which plays against the ego of the opposing lineup; this is polar opposite of JV, Bondo and Max. They have great stuff (much better than AG) but let their ego dictate how they pitch, looking for the swing and miss strikeout on every batter. Lineups are itching to swing against AG while they are looking to take pitches against our other starters. Armando locates well and pitches well in situations, helping him toss deep into ball games and keeping him injury-free throughout the season. I hope our other pitchers are watching but doubt their egos would let them admit that AG has something working.

3. I swore that I wouldn't use this media fame for political reasons but it is high time that I call on my legion of fans to right a wrong. Miguel Cabrera, this year's 2010 AL MVP, is currently 3rd in voting for the All Start game at first base. Worse yet, he is trailing a Minnesota Twin and NY Yankee both of which have stats that pale in comparison. Miggy is dominating in power numbers which is what a first baseman is paid to do. He has 20% more RBI than either of these bums and his batting average is 100 points higher than perennial ass clown, Mark Texeira. If I were Texeira, I would fake an injury to avoid the embarrassment of leading Miggy in this race. If you need further proof than the stats below, please read through some previous posts of Miggy's late game heroics throughout this 2010 campaign. Click on the link below and go vote your maximum 25 times.

M Cabrera DET 258 .326 19 60 2
J Morneau MIN 252 .349 15 49 0
M Teixeira NYY 279 .229 12 45 0

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Five for the Cooler - 6/22/10

1. reports that "Gerald Laird Not Surprised by Start in Two-Hole". What Laird should be surprised about is that he still has a job with a major league baseball team carrying an anemic .180 batting average. The only thing Laird has hit this year was a security guard at a Phoenix Suns game. Leyland was quoted as saying, "I like to leave my guys in their spots." I'm sure Austin Jackson appreciates returning to the lineup with the fearsome protection of Laird behind him. "I think Gerald can hit and run." There is nothing in that sentence that I can make sense of. Jim, I think Gerald can NOT hit and what he does on the base path is closer to waddling and not running. The Mets TV announcer just commented on Laird's tag-up from 2nd on a fly ball with "That might be the slowest I've ever seen anyone go from 2nd to 3rd." In the 5th inning, Tejada got a first hand lesson on "Lard"'s playing weight of 225 lbs when GL stepped on his foot, creating a five-minute delay in the game. FAIL.

2. We are getting our asses kicked tonight as the game got out of hand after a long rain delay. I'm not sure I expected to win this series but we can't afford to get swept with the Twins playing the Brewers and the White Sox in the middle of their tear. With the score 10-2, I strongly feel we should do what any self-respecting hockey team would do early in a playoff series and down big. We should start a fight. Bring in Gonzalez and plunk Wright and Reyes. Clear the benches, get the juices going and at least the boys will come to the park with some fire tomorrow. I wish Joe Kocur was on this team.

3. Speaking of this road trip, I would be pretty happy with a 4-5 record. We're playing three Division leaders (Mets, Braves, Twins) who boast ridiculous home records. Of course, two wins against the Twins would be sweet but that might be wishful thinking given our recent history with Ronny Gardenhire who treats Leyland like Mr. Miyagi treated John Kreese of the Cobra Cai Dojo.

4. Speaking of deadly karate chops, Brennan Boesch continues to kill major league pitching. He hit his 11th home run in the 4th inning and knocked in another run in the 5th with a sharp liner into right field. Boesch is leading MLB in slugging percentage for any hitter with a minimum of 150 AB. His .638 is just ahead of Cabrera's .632 and Morneau's .617 clip.

5. The concept of the New York Mets is stupid. What type of wiener roots for this franchise when you can choose the Yankees? It's the same type of moron who drinks Mr. Pibb over Dr. Pepper. I feel like these fans must have been picked on as kids. If you come home with a wedgie one too many times, you start rooting for wiener franchises with horrible uniforms to get back at the bullies who clearly root for the Yankees. I'm clearly running out of material as the Mets just another field goal and now lead by a touchdown and two point conversion.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ten for the water cooler - 6/20/2010

1. This exceptional home stand was led by our 7-8-9 hitters who delivered consistently for the first time this season. Brandon Inge hit .400 in his last ten games, and .354 with men in scoring position in June. Inge raised his average thirty points in June and only needs to hit .250 to .275 for this offense to rise above average. Our catchers finally woke up, both Avila and Laird are batting over .300 in the last ten games. "Young" Ramon Santiago raised his batting average thirty points in June, adding a 4-hit game and several impressive sacrifice bunts to his production. I'm not sure why Leyland doesn't give Ramon a shot at the starting SS position . . .

2. Ricky Porcello takes his turn in Toledo. Like Scherzer and Gallaraga before him, Ricky will spend the next several weeks in Toledo. I applaud the move just as I did when Dumbrowski cut Dontrelle and Everett. Championships are won when the best available players are on the field and the Tigers are finally making the tough decisions to ensure our competitiveness. In Everett's place, Santiago has blossomed and is hitting a full .100 points higher than Adam before he was cut. Our pitching coach in Toledo is strong and will help Ricky's mechanics as he is not fooling big league hitters relying on an average fastball because his off-speed stuff is not accurate enough to throw in a tough count. I expect Ricky will be back with the club just after the All Star break and in much better form.

3. Sunday was second straight sell-out at Comerica Park and third this season. The Tigers sold nearly 120,000 tickets over the weekend series with the Diamondbacks. Hard to argue the passion of Detroit fans given that turnout amidst a decimating job market with unemployment approaching testing 20%. Kudos to the best people on Earth - the good folks in Michigan.

4. The Tigers have fourteen wins when once trailing by at least two runs. They have come from behind in 21 games total, including today when Kennedy was looking more like Koufax until he made several mistakes to the wrong guys in the 7th inning. Brennan Boesch's two-run, go-ahead shot was impressive given how strong Kennedy had pitched thus far and the pitch that he hit. Kennedy served up a hanging breaking ball and Boesch had to supply all the power which is not difficult given his farmboy frame. Boesch's stats have been silly this year. He is second on the team with ten home runs and third in RBI's, though he has only played in little more than a month's worth of big league games. He also has the most majestic home run swing in the bigs now that Griffey has retired. The Tigers may have the best 3-4-5 combination in the league right now, with Maggs, Cabrera and Boesch all hitting over .330.

5. My boy Giovani Soto continues to roll for Class A West Michigan. He just fired his second complete game shutout and has allowed zero earned runs in four of his last six starts. He is averaging one strikeout per inning and his 2.01 ERA is among the best in Class A for starters. This 19-year old is high voltage and should be moving up to AA or AAA in 2011. Our other phenom in West Michigan, Jacob Turner, has been turning the corner, allowing two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts. He is also leading the club with a WHIP of 1.15 and should move up the system in 2011 as well.

6. With men on first and third base today in the third inning, Diamonback pitcher Ian Kennedy tried the old "fake to third and turn back to first pick-off play". Are you crapping me? That didn't work in my little league with 12-year olds and you're trying that in the bigs? That's just Bush League Kennedy. Go shame yourself in the corner. You deserved to be booed by the home fans for that nonsense.

7. Scherzer was solid on Sunday, battling almost every inning and finishing the day by striking out the side just before the Tigers rally in the 7th inning. Since being recalled from Toledo, Scherzer is 3-2 and has struck out 41 batters in 30 innings of work. Mad Max is finding his stroke at a good time with a tough road trip ahead.

8. About that road trip . . . the Tigers now travel to face the Mets, Braves and Twins in a nine-game road trip. I'm scared. The concern for most Tiger fans is our 8-1 home stand was built against the league's weakest teams (no offense Baltimore). We'll learn much more about the Tigers in the next ten days than we did in the last, especially against the Twins who understand how to bury league opponents head to head and just took two impressive wins from the Phillies on the road.

9. Diamondback third baseman Mark Reynolds is my kind of ballplayer and hearkens back to one of my all-time favorite Tigers, Rob Deer. Like Deer, Reynolds has ridiculous power and also like Deer, he swings and misses more than anyone in the league. Reynolds has 16 strikeouts in his last 21 at-bats. He led the league in strikeouts in 2008 and 2009 with 204 and 223 strikeouts, the latter being an AL record. That wouldn't keep most in the league but Reynolds pairs his glorious K's with some raw power. He hit 44 home runs in 2009 and currently ranks 2nd in the NL with 16 home runs, including a bomb in the Dbacks win on Saturday. Rob Deer posted 150+ strikeouts in seven seasons, leading the league four times. My favorite year was 1991 in which his strikeouts almost eclipsed his batting average (175 SO, .179 BA). In that campaign, Deer was punched out in 39% of his at-bats. Why would a guy like this be one of my favorites? He swung like a softball player all 25 of his home runs that year were of the tape measure variety. In fact, Deer has the longest home run in the majors in 1992 with a 483-foot shot at Tiger Stadium, as measured by the "IBM Tale of the Tape".

10. The White Sox are making a case for a three-team race. The South Siders have put together win streaks of four and six in June, winning ten of their last eleven games. Sox pitching has been lights out and they've had some timely hitting. It is entirely way too early to count out the White Sox, who were favored to win more games than the Tigers in pre-season and have clawed their way back to a .500 record. I hate you White Sox - I hope a swarm of fire ants find their way into Ozzie Guillen's jock strap during their upcoming series with the Braves.

Thanks Dad

"Don't aim the ball, just step toward your target and throw it. Son, if you keep waiving at the ball, you'll take one in the head. You're not catching butterflies now, let the ball come to you and pull back with your mitt when it hits."

I'm six years old and learning how to play catch with my father on the side of our house. Everyone wants to teach you something when you're a kid and most of it goes in one ear and out the other. The same cannot be said for any words of wisdom that a father offers in the world of sports. I listened with intensity as I wanted desperately to do everything right and make him proud. I listened with the intensity of a soldier getting his final debriefing before a major battle. His words were with me always, every time I practiced he was in my head coaching me.

"See what you think of these and maybe we'll get you into a few other sets later."

Dad just brought home the first birthday gift that I can remember, the 1984 Topps baseball card set. I spend the entire day looking at every single card, reading the stats from every single Tiger and marveling at their glorious mustaches. I loved this set of cards and must have reorganized it twenty times - by team, by last name, by division, by talent, etc. My father was an avid collector and I was proud to have an identical set that I knew he had in his collection. I secretly started to scheme on how I could build a better collection than his as at eight years old; all of his hobbies became one of mine.

"You won't be able to use this for a few weeks but there are some tricks to loosen it up. Let's tie some string around it with two balls in the pocket and I bought you this glove ointment that I want you to rub in for fifteen minutes every night. Let's make sure to leave some weight on top of it when it sits at night."

I am nine years old and Dad just bought me my first catcher's mitt and it's a dandy. The Rawlings black mitt (see pictured on left indent) was the same glove that Lance Parrish wore, and it came complete with the fluorescent orange ring around the lip to offer an ideal target for my battery mate. I treated this glove as if Mom had brought home a baby brother from the hospital and Dad taught me every trick to break it in.

"You're swinging with your arms still. You'll be nothing but a singles hitter if you can't learn to 'pop your hips'. I didn't say to 'step in the bucket', you've got to learn the difference. Imagine a straight line down your body, it's all in the timing son. You can't hit a ball deep with just your wrists."

I'm twelve years old and after 200 swings in the batting cage, I'm completely frustrated and it has nothing to do with the blisters on my hands. I'm making contact but that's not what I was born to do. I'm the son of a massive, oak of a man who regularly deposits softballs well beyond the fence at the games I go to. A steelworker with a barrel chest and Popeye forearms, my father was not raising a 'singles hitter' and I knew it. I wanted nothing more than to impress him and to be just like him in every way. I'm listening just as hard as a twelve-year old can but my body doesn't want to cooperate. Dad is firm but patient, he doesn't need to tell me but I know he is just as frustrated that I can't put it all together yet.

"You're guessing up there. It's obvious when you are looking for a curve ball because you can't get the bat off your shoulder when the fastball comes. Get ready for the fastball first because you don't have time to react if you're not looking for it."

I'm fifteen and playing J.V. ball in High School. I know everything there is to know about life at this age and stare blankly out the car window with my eyes rolled, not caring nearly as much as Dad about an awful 0-4 game in which I struck out three times. What does he know about curve balls? They probably didn't even exist when he was playing. I go back to thinking about girls and what I'm going to eat when I get home. Clearly, I don't need any help from anyone.

"Come here son, check this one out! I am pretty sure this is the swing when you hit the home run. Look at your hips! Look at your arm extension - we can draw a line down your body. Why did it take you so long to figure this out you hard-head? That is a beautiful swing. I'm proud of you son."

Dad and I have come full circle and he's still talking about my hips. I'm eighteen and Dad is leafing through the hundreds of pictures he took from the bleachers during my senior year. He is most thrilled with the action shot he snapped off when I hit a ball 400 feet to dead center in the district playoffs on our way to the state championship. Eighteen years of lessons and his son finally figured it all out. Dad sits back in the chair in his office and reflects on a job well done.

The relationship and most major moments between a father and son can be traced through the game of baseball. Every game was a teaching moment, a lesson about life, an exercise in perseverance. I'm a better man because my father spent so much time teaching me the game and on this Father's Day, I look to a future where I can measure up to one of the greatest fathers in history when my son is born. Thanks for everything Dad, you taught me more than you know.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Me, my dad, my grandpa and a ball game

"What in the hell are you swinging at?"

My grandpa's voice can be heard from his bedroom upstairs as another Tiger swings at a ball in the dirt.

"Watch, Leyland is going to leave him in too long and let this game get away. He cares too much about their feelings."

This, from my father who is perched atop his man-throne next to me in the basement.

"Why would Leyland bat Raburn 3rd just because he is filling in for Mags? He's hitting .180 and that's cost us three runs tonight."

This educated analysis comes from me on the couch next to my old man on his throne. The highlight of my trip back to Detroit is always watching a Tigers game with three generations in the same house. My grandpa and father, like me, live for Tiger games. Like me, they over-react to success and failure though both are faster on the trigger than I am after a bad loss. Grandpa doesn't like to make the trip downstairs to watch the game on the big screen, so he watches games from his room.

This was a great weekend to go home, being that the Pirates were in town who were aptly swept but not without some stressful moments. We questioned every move by Leyland. Grandpa bitched about Negro League uniforms and that "he can't tell who the hell anyone is out there with those clown outfits on". We gnashed our teeth at every bad at-bat and the seemingly endless number of runners we left on base. Even the announcers get pummeled for clearly not understanding the game as well as we do. My grandpa is 92 years old and knows his baseball. He's not afraid to cuss up a storm by himself when he doesn't approve, a habit my father and I find irresistibly funny. My old man and I were suffering through a miserable offensive night yesterday until we decided to play the "mute game". Every strikeout, error or poor at-bat evolved into an opportunity to mute the sound and listen hard for grandpa's harangues upstairs.

"Jesus Christ, this ain't no baseball! Aww hell, you ain't worth a damn. Get the damned bat off your shoulder! Stupid son of a bitch . . ."

Each profanity-laced tirade made us laugh harder and just like the good, fair-weather fans that we are, grandpa was all smiles when I ran up to high-five him after Carlos Guillen hit a walk-off shot in the 10th that capped a stirring Tigers comeback on Saturday night (though Carlos was a rat fink to him just two innings earlier when he left two on base).

"Yeah, that Carlos is my boy! He's hell with a baseball bat!"

Today, after an uninspired offensive showing, we had to listen to the last two innings in the car on the way to the airport. Just before the 8th, Dad is lamenting about our lame offense and declares that "we're nothing but a .500 ball club". Four batters later after cranking the volume loud enough to drown out the women in the backseat who are fruitlessly trying to engage us in their conversation, we're fist pounding and I'm hollering out the window when Cabrera delivers a three-run, come-from-behind shot with two outs.

This is what makes baseball special. Your team plays every day and the changes in pitchers makes each game unique. A bad outing today can be erased tomorrow by your ace. The emotional swings during a game are ever present and strategy plays enough of a role that everyone can second guess each managerial move. Most of all, the games are frequent and give guys ample topics of conversation, both during the game and for all the hours leading up to the next one. Baseball makes communicating easy for men and is a bonding ritual without peer in America. The three of us can go two or three innings without saying much at all, aside from the regular spattering of grunts with their own unique tones and pitches, decipherable only to Neanderthal men who have spent altogether way too many hours studying a child's game.

What made this weekend special was a chance to watch three games with two guys who have shaped my view of the world and have lived through far more rotten Tigers seasons to be just a tad more cynical than myself. If they are faster to jump ship on a season, I can't blame them - they have thirty and fifty more seasons of disappointing moments to fall back on. Father's Day is still a week away but I'm thankful to have spent so much time with both of mine on a topic so dear to our hearts.

I look forward to calling the house and smiling after Tuesday's game to hear grandpa reverting to form with something like, "What in hell is wrong with Carlos? He can't hit worth a shit these days!"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Leland's adjustments will dictate remainder of season

Typically, I would lead this blog with a sarcastic depiction of last night's vanquished foe, who happen to be the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates. I've decided against it after losing consecutive series to the Royals and Sox, teams who are sixteen games below .500 combined. In case the Pirates are also reading this blog, I'd like to state my utmost admiration for your stored franchise and believe you are a team on the rise, to be reckoned with for decades to come. Willie Stargell would be proud.

The Tigers are two games above .500 and 4.5 games out of first place. They are 5-5 in their last ten games, as are every other Central Division team. Clearly, this is an average Division and the Tigers have as good a chance as any team to win it (as do the White Sox who are not out of this season yet). The Tigers are treading water, having made no serious run at first place in the last several weeks despite playing a very soft schedule. The Tigers are in the middle of a schedule that started with last place Seattle in late May and finishes with last place Arizona over thirty days. In that span, the Tigers do not have to face a team with a winning record. At the midpoint, they have only taken one series.

The Tigers must take the next three series with a sweep or two mixed in. They play the Pirates, Nationals and Diamondbacks in succession. The Pirates and D-Backs have the worst two records in baseball - they should be swept at home. The schedule really doesn't get difficult until mid-July when we start back through the AL East again. In essence, the season hinges on the next 30 days and Leland needs to find a way to inspire a listless team that can't put all three facets of the game together.

1. Keep the pressure on all non-performers. I commend Dumbrowski and Leland for releasing Willis and Everett for non-performance. Leland needs to keep the pressure on non-performing veterans as we seem to have a stable of young talent ready for the bigs. Scott Sizemore is hitting over .350 at Toledo and might be ready this time if called up. This could shuffle up our infield to add stroke to our lineup.

2. Manufacture some runs. Leland absolutely needs to get more aggressive on the base path and at the plate. The bottom of our lineup is lame which is where a manager needs to find a way to squeeze production. This is how an NL manager has to operate with his pitcher at the plate every three innings. Bunt, squeeze, hit and run, steal - take an aggressive approach knowing you don't have much to work with.

3. Keep Porcello on a short leash. Ricky is going to be great but he's still just a kid and a trip to Toledo might make sense if he continues to struggle. Everyone we send down to Toledo has come back with a vengeance which leads to point four.

4. Change up your coaching staff. Leland should realize that his tenure is not assured if we keep losing (he's been to playoffs exactly once in his five years with the club). I am not sure what Knapp and McClendon actually do. It's strikingly obvious that A.J. Sager has done more with our young arms in Toledo than Knapp could do. Sherzer could barely find the plate with the Tigers, spent three weeks in Toledo and struck out fourteen in his first appearance back in the bigs. Gallaraga looked altogether average over the last season until he spent enough time with Sager and damn neat threw a perfect game in his second start with the Tigers. It goes without saying that hitters are not progressing under McClendon. Make some difficult moves with your staff or the pink slip might be on your desk at the end of the season.

5. Lose your temper in a very public forum. This team does not look inspired and Leland has taken the fatherly approach the last three years. I miss the days when he would blast the team in his post game interviews. Call this team out for under-achieving no matter how many years of tenure they might have. They need a wake-up call as they have the talent to win the Division.

If Leland can pull off a strong thirty days, the Tigers will be in position to make a free agent move or two at the deadline for a push at the pennant. It goes without saying that we could use a bat or two but it's premature to talk about that if we are not even in the hunt after the All Star break.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tigers didn't learn from Downriver Little League of 80's

Back in 1985 and 1986, the Trenton Angels dominated the 9-10 year-old division of the Trenton Baseball Association. That team was coached by Barry Mathews who was not only a cagey skipper, but a shrewd judge of talent and money in drafts. While most coaches were picking their son's friends, my old man made it clear to me that my friends couldn't hit worth a shit or had girlie arms. He showed up at the tryouts and actually did some scouting. Those juggernaut Angels teams went undefeated in two straight seasons, picking on weak teams filled with my friends and their girlie arms.

The Tigers seem to have fallen into the same trap as those ill-fated weak sisters of the TBA. In Tuesday's draft, the Tigers used five selections on family of current coaches, players and even a scout. In late rounds, the Tigers selected the sons of Jim Leland, Lloyd McClendon, and Rick Knapp. They took the brother of Justin Verlander and the son of scout of Barney Miller. I'm sorry, but no way these moves were all based on objective measurables. Hell, my old man might have passed on me if the league didn't mandate he take me by the 3rd pick (and if I wasn't so awesome at hitting baseballs).

I would call for a Congressional investigation if not for the draft track record of Dave Dumbrowski. Tongight's starting battery was Ricky Porcello and ALex Avilla who were both drafted in 2008. Justin Verlander has been a legitimate ace and Ryan Perry looks to have a long career ahead of him in the bullpen. Brennan Boesch was the May Rookie of the Month and was drafted in 2006 and Sizemore, Worth, and Jacob Turner all have bright futures with the club. One diamond that DD drafted in the 21st round last year is Giovany Soto. At 6'3" and 155 lbs of raw power, Soto is leading Class A West Michigan with a 1.99 ERA including 52 strikeouts in 54 innings pitched. IN his past four starts, he has only allowed two earned runs. Not yet Strassberg-esque but not bad for a guy who saw over 200 pitchers get drafted before him. Keep going you skinny little lighting rod, you.

The Tigers took a third baseman with their first pick in the draft. I hope Inge was watching. Rick Castellanos was one of the most talked about high school bats in this year's draft class. They took pitchers with their next two picks and a catcher with their 100th pick. Based on DD's track record, expect to see at least one of them with the big league team in the next three years.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

White Sox are horrible

What the hell happened to the White Sox? I just looked at their lineup and the batting averages read as such:


You're reading that correct, five players have worse batting averages on this team than Brandon Inge. How have these guys won 24 games with a bunch of turd-burglars swinging the maple? Carlos Quentin used to scare the hell out me but .205 isn't exactly enough to make me crap my pants. The South Side golden boy, Beckham, is following up his ROY campaign with a .200 average. Why is he still in the bigs? It wasn't enough that he robbed Porcello of the ROY award last year?

We need to sweep this series. The Sox are akin to a D2 lineup at an engineering school.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tigers Six Pack - 6/6/10

The Tigers won 4-2 tonight but it was way more stressful than it needed to be. First off, Verlander was awesome. He didn't try to strike everyone out as usual and didn't hit 100 pitches until the 8th inning; normally, he's at 100 by the 5th inning. Great job tonight JV!!
1. Alex Avila is wearing #13. If I need to repeat this, you're not a Tiger fan. No one should ever wear #13 unless their name is Lance. You are hitting .210 and the Tigers have lost the last seven games out of ten that you've caught. I think Alex has a chance to be a legitimate All Star one day but you should refrain from wearing a God's number until you hit more than three home runs in a season. It was different when I wore that number as a Trenton Angel as a 10-old because I led the Downriver Little League in 1986 (check the stats boyyy).

2. Why does this freaking Hochever own the Tigers? He won his first two starts against us, one with a shutout and another needing some runs. Today, he gives up one earned run in seven innings. For the record, this guy sucks when he's not playing us with a 4.72 ERA including games with the Tigers and well over 5 ERA against all other teams. Hey Hochever, I hate you and hope you quit.

3. Why does anyone pitch to Cabrera in close games? Seriously, are you mentally handicapped? In the 6th inning, Cabrera came up with two outs and Hochever actually threw him a strike. Seriously, did you think it would get past him? Cabby is so clutch this year that I am running out of superlatives to use. All I need to say is that's he's a legitimate contender for Triple Crown if some of his teammates start getting on base.

4. I hate you Billy Butler. You are an ass and kill Tigers pitching too often. Why don't you pick on someone your own size you fat ass. I feel better now.

5. Did anyone notice that Rusty Kuntz is the first base coaxh of the Royals? I'm sure he sucked but I can clearly remember Rusty's name during the 1984 season and had his 7-11 Slurpee card on my wall with the rest of that legendary team. Sad, that he's working for a crap organization now.

6. There were two clearly ignorant moves by coaches tonight. The first came with no outs in the fifth inning. With men on first and second, Leland let Inge swing away. Seriously? He's batting .237 and leading the team with 49 strikeouts. I can not think of a more clear situation to sacrifice bunt than at this moment. Of course, Leland passed and let him swing away which resulted in the first out of the inning with a strikeout. Great move Leland. The second silly move was pitching around Boesch to get to Guillen. OK, Boesch has been great in his rookie campaign and might smack one deep. But with the score tied, I will take my chance with a rookie than throwing a three-time All Star like Guillen a fast ball on the first pitch. He dropped that pitch against the wall, FYI.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Damn you Kansas City

I have nothing of note to report except that we lost to another dog shit team. This video is much more entertaining than anything that happened in tonight's game.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bondo is our Beautiful Loser

"He's your oldest and your best friend
If you need him, he'll be there again
He's always willing to be second-best
A perfect lodger, a perfect guest

Beautiful loser
Read it on the wall
And realize
You just can't have it all"

Bob Seger, Beautiful Loser

His split-finger fastball is downright un-hittable at times. His fastball still tops out at 93 MPH and he added a slider that splinters right-handed hitter's bats. Outside of Verlander, no Tiger starter has better "swing and miss" stuff than Bondo. Unfortunately, his stuff hasn't translated to All Star appearances or even mediocrity since his rookie year. Bondo lost another heart-breaker tonight, allowing only three earned runs in eight strong innings on another night of limp offensive production.

Bondo's career inability to live up to his potential has always been mental. He struggles with the big inning (at least it's not the 5-run first inning variety ala 2008 anymore). He often lets an error or bad call lead to a big inning rather than digging in. Yet, he shows enough flashes of greatness to endear himself to Tiger fans, including yours truly. What makes Bonderman so lovable is the fact that he carries himself like Bob Gibson when he's on the mound and if the scoreboard didn't take score, I'm sure he'd expect to be carried off the field each inning. Every time he strikes out the side, every time he goes four innings with no hits, every All Star that he befuttles at the plate, every flash of greatness and you think "Finally, he's going to realize his potential!!" This is usually when he hits the next batter, gives up two duck-snort singles and self destructs. It doesn't matter, I still get excited for his next outing and one has to admit that he is having an admirable year with a 3.72 ERA and 44 strikeouts to 22 base on balls. In his last six starts, he's given up only 11 earned runs and the Tigers are 5-3 in the last eight games he has pitched in. If Porcello gets it together and Scherzer's Sunday outing was not a fluke, the Tigers are suddenly looking like a team with a starting rotation to match their bullpen. Now, we just need a few less beautiful losers in our lineup because Bondo needs more runs.

"Beautiful loser
Never take it all
'Cause it's easier
And faster when you fall"