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.