I am 23 years old and been a Tigers fan all of my life (anyone who has read this site before already knows this because I mention it in every post) and during the time I have followed the team, which has been through some pretty lean years, I have never ever EVER witnessed a pitching performance as masterful as the one Kenny Rogers delivered tonight (although I think John Doherty might have......no, no). When I write a post I try to write something humorous, (often failing miserably........ nahhh Im going to stop being modest. Everything I write is hilarious, I am a comedic genius, hahahaha........oh no I think that last sentence alienated everyone, I was joking......come back!!!!) but tonight I'm going to write in reverential and highly formulaic tones. Note: It's 4 A.M. I'm coming off an emotional high that Ive hardly felt before and I'm watching Parental Control on MTV, we'll see how this turns out.
Heading into tonight's game my friend Bill and I were discussing what we hoped Rogers would give us and agreed that if the Tigers got 6 innings and 3 earned runs out of The Gambler then the Tigers would be in good shape. That seemed like a reasonable best case scenario given Rogers playoff history and the Yankees success off of him. In the first inning Rogers looked good, had his fastball pumped up into the mid-90's and had a rather uneventful inning. On the other side the Yankees chicken faced 6'10 fireballing mutant was pitching well and it looked like we were in for a good old fashioned geriatric pitching duel, with both guys trying to get home in time to watch Diagnosis Murder on PAX. Then the Tigers in the bottom of the second strung together a few singles and with the aid of some kick ass base running took a 3-0 lead. That's when something happened in the top of the third. Kenny Rogers had an out of body experience. Seriously, if someone took a photo at the top of the third you could probably see Rogers soul escape from his body, like those photos on the cover of Weekly World News. Incidentally I think I experienced the same thing sometime after the Granderson homerun but I digress. For the rest of the game he didn't miss one spot, and I'm not exaggerating. Pudge didn't move his glove once, and the ESPN K Zone backs this assertion up. The only analogy I can think of is in a baseball video game, (seriously I can't relate to anything but sports and video games, this guy on Parental Control, which has been fantastic by the way, has gone on more dates in 30 minutes then I go on in 2 years...........so, yeah) where you get to chose your spot and throw it with pinpoint accuracy, so if you have a good enough pitcher you can live on the black all day and watch every batter you face roll the ball over to second. For example I used this method in All-Star Baseball 2005 for the PS2 and had every one of my pitchers with sub 0.50 ERA's, except for Nate Cornejo, he was a lost cause and the one that keeps me up at night........I feel like I failed him, where was I...........oh yeah, Rogers was like that tonight. He was making perfect pitches, like huge Zito-esque curveballs that started out at his eyes and hit the very bottom inside corner on the K Zone. Everytime. And to the credit of home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, he was very consistent with his strike zone and nailed 98% of those calls. Seriously has Kenny Rogers ever thrown a curveball with that much break in his life. Anyways after the third inning I knew this game was over. Rogers was pitching the game of his life. He had every pitch working for him, was changing speeds and locations, and was supremely intense and confident. He even threw a screwball to Bobby Abreu for a strike. A screwball. A SCREWBALL!!!!! It was as if the ghost of Willie Hernandez had inhabited his body and compelled him to throw a screwball. Wow. In the end Rogers went 7 2/3 and left to a standing ovation from a fantastic Comerica crowd. After a performance like that I will never say anything bad about Kenny Rogers again, (and I supported his signing, check the archives, gloat, gloat, gloat) ever. He could run over my dog while speeding in an old roadster, with my girlfriend/PS2 in the passenger seat snuggling up to his arm while laughing and blowing cigar smoke in my face, and I'd be fine with it. Seriously. He could go out next season and pull a Doyle Alexander 5-18 special and I'd be cool with it after tonights performance. It was the first playoff game in Detroit in 19 years and it was worth the wait. Now they just need to win tomorrow.
Finally, how great was it to have Ernie Harwell in the booth for a few innings tonight. Is there any doubt that he's the greatest broadcaster of all time. Any? He even made Joe Morgan seem competent tonight. Also there is no way this guys pushing 90. No way a guy can be that old and spout the statistics for a baseball team from 85 years ago off the top of his head. And not just wins and losses but batting averages down to the percentage points. And the references, Steve Dalkowski, Harry Heilmann, J.R. Richard, and I'm missing numerous others. After listening to the mind numbing drivel that the abortion that is Mario Impemba and Rod Allen spew on a daily basis, listening to Harwell melted my fucking brain. I've proposed this before but would anyone, ANYONE be opposed to Harwell broadcasting Tigers games from his home (well you might be opposed if your a baby eater or former Nazi but thats it). Is it really important for the announcers to be on location with all the camera angles and technology we have now? I feel so strongly about this that I'm not even open to counter arguments. Bring back Ernie.