Monday, June 25, 2007

Revisiting the 2003 Tigers

I didn't get a chance to write about the Mike Maroth trade because I had one of those busy summer weekends (family cookout, birthday party, bonfire) that kept me away from the computer. I won't write a lot about Maroth because it's already been covered by all the other Detroit blogs but I would like to add a couple of things. Even though Maroth was easily our worst starter this season, I would be lying if I said I wasn't sad to see him go. I was in attendance when Maroth made his major league debut against the Phillies back in 2002 and I remember my friends T.J., Kevin and I had no idea who he was or why he was starting that afternoon. Hell, we couldn't even pronounce his name correctly calling him Maroth with a long O vowel sound the whole game. We just assumed that Maroth was going to be one of those obscure minor leaguers who made a few starts for the Tigers before floating around in the ether alongside Andy Van Hekken, Shane Loux and Dave Borkowski (wait Borkowski still plays at the Major League level? Jesus, the National League is terrible. If I'm Greg Gohr I'm having my agent set up workouts with the Reds and Pirates). Much to our enjoyment Maroth pitched an excellent game, throwing seven shutout innings before, surprise, Danny Patterson blew the lead and the Tigers lost 2-1. Heading into the 2003 season Maroth had become the de facto ace of arguably the worst pitching staff in history, (somewhere Felipe Lira, Omar Olivares and the rest of the 1996 Tigers staff are indignant at the previous sentence...maybe not though. I don't think Lira can read.) and went on to become the first pitcher to lose 20 games in a single season in 23 years. He then, unwittingly, became half of the worst joke I've ever heard in my life. Of course it was uttered by none other than corny-ass Mario Impemba who called Maroth, Maroth-ra during a showdown with Hideki Matsui, an overwrought and painful reference that flew over Rod Allen's head and alienated me for life. Despite Mario's lame joke, Maroth turned it around and pitched effectively for a couple of atrocious Tigers teams and last season was in the midst of his best year before succumbing to an injury late in May that effectively ended his season. Now he's been unceremoniously dumped onto the St. Louis Cardinals for a player to be named later. Kind of sad but I wish him luck with the Cardinals.

Anyways my friend T.J. and I were talking over the weekend about the trades of Mike Maroth and Wil Ledezma and the dissolution of the remnants of the historically bad 2003 Tigers outfit. (It's not until I re-read my posts that I realize what a semantical and syntactical nightmare my sentences are...yikes.) We decided to keep a "Flying Hellfish" style list of the remaining players from that team with the surviving member winning prized artwork stolen from Nazi's during World War II. (Wait, that's what actually happened during that episode and we don't own any artwork outside of a drawing of a panda bear that I purchased at Goodwill. Hmmm I guess I could give that away along with some CD's we don't listen to anymore like Deion Sanders' "Prime Time" and Spacehog we'll have to work on the prizes, but I digress). In compiling the list the two of us went to the indispensable to make sure we didn't overlook anyone and while we were browsing T.J. and I became curious as to what happened to the rest of that team in the years following. After a lot of research on my part and a lot of pot-smoking and pornography watching on T.J.'s part we were able to compile the following information regarding the 2003 Tigers following their 119 loss season.

Still Tigers:

1: Brandon Inge: Inge may have been the worst everyday player on the worst team in the 100+ year history of the American League. When the Tigers signed Pudge before the '04 season everyone assumed Inge was a goner given his poor performance at the plate. However Inge turned himself into a utility player extraordinaire in '04 before settling in as the starting 3rd baseman and becoming a genuine bottom of the order power threat. He signed a four-year extension this past off-season and has arguably come the farthest of any player on the team over the past four seasons.

2: Craig Monroe: C-Mo on the other hand is the Tiger who has improved the least since 2003. In fact he's on pace to have a worse statistical season than he did four years ago. Despite this Monroe is still pulling down regular at-bats for one of the best teams in baseball, while Marcus Thames is glued to the bench. You know what this is just making me angry, let's move on.

3: Omar Infante: Played a limited role as a back-up infielder much like he has this season.

4: Jeremy Bonderman: It's a miracle that Bonderman wasn't irreparably damaged during his rookie season. As a 20 year old Bonderman was thrown to the wolves and after successfully vanquishing them, (this was Bob CLuck's way of testing a young player's mettle), Bondo was allowed to join the rotation. He nearly joined Maroth in the 20 loss club before the Tigers shut him down for the season to safe him from the humiliation. Thankfully Bonderman has blossomed into an elite pitcher despite the rocky start to his career.
5: Fernando Rodney: Struggled in limited playing time before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the entire '04 season.

6: Nate Robertson: Made his Tigers debut in August and went on to start 8 games long after everyone ceased caring.

Still in the Tigers Organization:

Ramon Santiago (Currently playing for AAA Toledo), Andres Torres (Currently with AA Erie).

Still in the Majors:

Carlos Pena: Currently teasing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays into thinking he's a potential star. I can't wait until he bats .100 in the month of September and the D-Rays agonize over whether to bring him back for another full season, that was always fun...I mean excruciating.

Dmitri Young: The All-Star rep for the worst team ever, he might even make a return appearance this season repping the Nationals, which would have to make him the worst 2-time All-Star ever. Sorry Scott Cooper

The Rest: Hiram Bocachica, Cody Ross, Mike Maroth, Jamie Walker, Eric Munson, Wilfredo Ledezma, Chris Spurling.

Kicked Around for Awhile Before Disappearing

Alex Sanchez: Easily the worst baserunner I've ever witnessed. He was the first Major League player suspended under the new steroid policy and provided instant proof that the games top sluggers (Sanchez career homeruns: 6) were nothing more than steroid fueled monstrosities.

Bobby Higginson: My #3 Least Favorite Tiger ever and this was about the season I began to sour on him. Continued to steal the Tigers money for two more seasons following '03

A.J. Hinch: Ghost continues to haunt the Comerica Park confines and assault back-up catchers, recently claimed Vance Wilson as it's latest victim.

Gary Knotts: Works at a 7-11 in Southfield where he would totally score with those 16 year olds he sold beer to if his hard ass manager McLain didn't have him cleaning the Slurpee machine.

Matt Anderson: 2003 ended up being his last hurrah in Detroit as he blew his arm out in an octopus throwing contest, easily my second favorite Tiger who came within inches of having this website named after him.

The Rest: Danny Patterson, Kevin Witt, Ernie Young, Adam Bernero, Franklyn German, Steve Sparks, Matt Roney.

Never Played in the Majors Again:

Warren Morris: Currently resides in Pineview Estate's Mental Institution hallucinating that he mans second base alongside Ray Oyler to form the worst offensive double play combo in history.

Matt Walbeck: Currently resides in Pineview Estates Trailer Park in Mt. Morris, Michigan.

Sir Gene Kingsale: Was knighted by The Netherlands monarchy shortly before the season began as a reward for being a below average major leaguer that hailed from the island of Aruba (that makes sense), instantly becoming the most unnecessary and overrated knight since, oh I don't know, Paul McCartney.

Chris Mears: The teams saves leader with six he had to leave his lucrative baseball career behind to return to his native Canada and become a doctor in a rural town in order to repay student loans.....wait that was the set-up for "Northern Exposure", I think Mears just sucked.

Steve Avery: Former Brave phenom and native Michigander who hadn't pitched in four years before becoming the team's left handed specialist, as you could probably guess this didn't turn out so well.

The Rest: Shane Loux, Ben Petrick, Dean Palmer, Craig Paquette

Listed on but We Have No Recollection Of Them Nor Proof They Even Existed:

Brian Scmack, Danny Klassen, Erick Eckenstahler. Seriously TJ and I watched about 90% of the games during the 2003 season and neither one of us could recall seeing these three guys play. I thought I remembered Eckenstahler but I was thinking of Jeff Farnsworth, I bet those two guys get confused for each other all the time. Haha....I have no life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Detroit Tigers 43% Report: Hitter's Edition

This post is a conclusion to my Trimester Report that I started a week ago breaking down the Tigers progress this season. Do to sheer laziness, (what else), the Tigers are now closer to the midway point of the season than the ....uh...thirdway (sic?) point, so I ditched the Trimester portion of the title and created a more timely/appropriate one. Anyways here is the hitter's progress report in all it's glory. Enjoy.

Let me begin this post by bidding farewell to Fredo Ledezma, a former favorite here at the Mickey Tettleton Memorial Overpass, and one of the few remaining vestiges of the "Dark Ages" when the Tigers carried multiple Rule V picks and lost 100+ annually. When I first started this site a little over two years ago I favorably compared Ledezma to a young Pedro Martinez and wrote that Fredo had some intangible dominating mound presence that all the great young pitchers possess (and can be seen in Verlander and Bonderman this season). Luckily I had a readership of about 3 people in those early days, unlike the monopolistic sports blogging empire I currently run here at Beefshower Inc. with a daily readership in the hundreds, but they still bothered to e-mail me and tell me what an idiot I was and how insane my prediction looked. Now two years later Fredo is out of my life, traded away for a reliever who will likely be sent to the minors to make room for the return of Kenny Rogers. I feel like I should be the one to drive Ledezma to the airport, see him off to his gate and never be able to muster the courage to tell him how I've felt all these years. Then go sit in my car, crying, while playing "Starlight" by Muse really loud as I watch his plane take off for Atlanta and 2,000 miles away from my heart.....but that's just me.

Alas, the Tigers offense this season has been amazing, leading the American League in several offensive categories. I could probably list the categories but that would require a two second Google search and don't really have the time for that. Wait, I have an idea that will be fun and save me from being slightly inconvenienced. We'll make this a scavenger hunt. You the reader have to bring me up to the minute MLB team statistics, a photo of Kwame Kilpatrick, a bus schedule and the skeleton of Harry Heilmann. The winner will receive whatever is laying around my desk at the moment, which currently consists of half a bag of Ricola's, floss, a plastic fork and some Hi-Liters. Have fun!

Ivan Rodriguez: Pudge is having a solid season except for his outright refusal to draw walks. He seems to have reverted back to his 2005 form when he drew only 11 walks in over 500 at-bats and had a league low .290 OBP for players who qualified. I'm not saying that Ivan should turn into Tony Phillips or anything, even though it would be cool to see him morph into another player or an animal like a panther or something like that, but it would be nice to see him be a little more patient at the plate.

Mike Rabelo: I think I had this guy as a virus last summer. Wait, no I had rubella...or was it syphilis...maybe both. Oh well, that's neither here nor there. The main thing is Rabelo has filled in ably for the injured Vance Wilson, batting a solid .281 even though he started off the season 1-17 and had me lamenting for the days of Matt Walbeck. I do feel really bad for Vance Wilson though. I always joked, usually to myself (pathetic), about how the Tigers went through a series of terrible back-up catchers (i.e. A.J. Hinch, Javier Cardona, Bill Hasselman, etc.) over the past decade and none of them were ever able to stick around for more than a couple of seasons. That was until Vance came along and gave the team some stability behind Pudge culminating in a two year contract extension before this season. Of course Vance went down in spring training with a sore elbow and after Tommy John surgery a couple of weeks ago Wilson will miss nearly two whole seasons. Apparently the Ghost of A.J. Hinch and his army of serpents is impossible to defeat.

Sean Casey: Before the season began I predicted Casey would hit nine homeruns and so far this season he has Oh well, historically first base hasn't been a position that supplied a lot of power which explains why such all-field and no-hit fringe players like Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols and Justin Morneau are first-sackers. With that in mind Tigers fans should be thankful to get any homeruns out of Casey and not be saddled with the punchless trio I just mentioned. O.K. I'll stop being sarcastic. Casey was atrocious the first month of the season, which had to lead "Sloth" down in Toledo wondering what the hell he had to do to make it back to the Majors before becoming frustrated and gobbling down a whole bag of Miniature sized Baby Ruth's and tearing at the chains restricting him to his locker. In Casey's defense he has picked it up considerably over the last two months on the offensive end despite his lack of homeruns and if he's not careful he might even hit another one out this season.

Placido Polanco: Before the season I predicted a batting title for Polanco and so far that statement is holding up pretty well. I'm only mentioning this because I think it's the first time in my life that a prediction I made has a chance of actually happening. I was almost certain when I wrote my season preview that my prognostication would jinx Placido and he would currently be hitting .219 after two stints on the DL. Maybe my luck is changing and all my forecasts will become true. Let's try this out. (Clears throat) I predict that next year Avril Lavigne will break up with her Lilliputian douchebag husband and move to Detroit where she will fall in love with a stately and august recent Wayne State Law School grad named Andrew. Hold on. Storm clouds are gathering and lightning is flashing outside. I think something strange is afoot, this may be working. What's this? YARRGGHH! A large rat just bit me in the throat. Nevermind, I guess my luck still sucks.

Carlos Guillen: Guillen has been amazing this season. I don't think there is any question Carlos is one of the most criminally underrated players in baseball. He's on pace to become the first Tigers shortstop to have a 100 RBI season since Alan Trammell twenty years ago. He's also a model of consistency having hit .318, .320, .320 and .317 during his four seasons in Detroit. Hopefully Leyland finds room to take Carlos with him to San Francisco for the All-Star Game and actually get him into the game unlike the last time Carlos went in '04 and Joe Torre let him rot on the bench and have the distinction of being the only position player not used in the game. Fuck Joe Torre.

Brandon Inge: Brandon Inge is having another solid Brandon Inge type season. He's hitting in the .250's, drawing some walks, showing 25-30 homerun power, playing above average defense at third and going through some stretches where it looks like he couldn't make contact if the pitcher was throwing a watermelon (surprisingly the watermelon pitch was banned in the late 1920's effectively ending the career of Ira "Seeds" Donovan...that was lame and a total waste of time. My apologies). I almost bought a Inge t-shirt jersey this season before I realized that I would be the only person wearing one who wasn't either 1: an awkward 14 year old girl who swoons when Inge bats or 2: a delusional 38 year old mom who thinks it's young and hip to talk about Brandon Inge's butt when it's really uncomfortable and sad. I opted for the Zumaya shirt and his finger promptly exploded.

Neifi Perez: Neifi made a spectacular play that helped save Verlander's no-hitter. However outside of that singular incident Neifi has been his usual awful self. I don't have anything else to add other than the fact that in the last 5 days I've heard that Jimmy Eat World song "The Middle" like twenty times on the radio and TV. Did I travel back to 2002? Am I a freshman at State again? Why is this happening?

Omar Infante: Omar has been great this season in a limited role. Umm, again I have nothing to add about Omar so.....End Transmission.

Magglio Ordonez: Magglio has been amazing this season. I have never seen someone so comfortable at the plate as Magglio has been this year. After going 3-4 tonight he's batting a robust .383 and is on pace to smash the single season doubles record by about 614 and banish that devil-worshipping, wife-beating, alcoholic Earl Webb from the record books (I actually know nothing about Earl Webb but if I imagine him as an evil person I won't feel bad that he's about to lose his only piece of relevancy in baseball history). Maggs has also been stellar in the outfield this season making a series of nice catches and not making adventures out of routine fly balls or standing around taking line drives to the chest. Maggs also owns the funniest nickname my friend T.J. has ever come up with, which happens to be a name so offensive I won't even write it down because it would make me feel dirty and this is coming from a guy who throws around the C-word at weddings and funerals. I remember being nervous about Magglio when the Tigers signed him and thought it was going to end disastrously but in year three of his deal Maggs seems like a bargain.

Curtis Granderson: When the season began I was upset with Curtis because he charged me $25 bucks to get his autograph and shake his hand, but I'm glad to see our fighting didn't effect his play on the field. Granderson has completely redeemed himself with me for two main reasons 1: The triples. Curtis now has 13 on the season and every time he hits one in the gap I immediately snap to attention and start shouting for him to go for three. 2: His highly entertaining blog. My favorite entries so far were the ones where he wrote about running into Vance Wilson buying patio furniture at Wal-Mart, a scenario that cracked me up for reasons unbeknownst to myself and when he wrote that "Little Big League" was his favorite baseball themed movie ever. In case there is anyone out there who hasn't seen "Little Big League", I suggest you leave work or school or whereever you are reading this and rent this movie. 99% of this movie is lame as hell save for one scene that happens to be the big-screen debut of none other than Mickey Tettleton. I remember seeing this movie at my friend Kevin's house shortly after it came out on video. Once I saw the scene where Tettleton catches the ball in foul territory and then leans over the railing to trash the kids mom, I lost it. I started walking around with my hands on my head in disbelief. That one line has to go down as one of the greatest in cinematic history right up there with "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." "Here's looking at you kid" and "Ass to ass!!!!" from "Requiem for a Dream. As a matter of fact if I'm ever elected Emperor for Life my first act will be to tear out Marlon Brando's plaque on the Walk of Fame and replace it with Tettleton.

Gary Sheffield: After a slow start my friend T.J. bailed off the Sheffield bandwagon and started talking about how Sheff was washed up and how it was a huge mistake to bring him to Detroit, blah, blah, blah. I tried to reason with him but he wouldn't listen, mainly because he was engrossed in his game of Pokemon on Gameboy (did I mention T.J. is 24 years old? If I met my friends today I don't think I would ever talk to them again, yet I continue to hang out with them on a daily basis.) Almost immediately after T.J. bailed Sheff began to play like one of the best hitters in the league. Since then T.J. has tried to rejoin the bandwagon but I have been steadfast in denying his re-admittance and I've enjoyed every second of it. I also love how Sheff has given us a taste of all his personalities. We've got crazy Sheff, when he flipped out on the umpire which earned him a three game suspension, controversial Sheff, with his statements in GQ about keeping Omar Infante on a leash or something, now all we have to see is lovesick Sheff and scientist Sheff. I can't wait.

Craig Monroe: C-Mo is the only Tiger on offense that has consistently struggled this season. He's also revealed himself to be an arrogant and big-headed athlete in the past couple of weeks. First he made comments in the paper where he referred to himself in the third person three times in two sentences. Then he unveiled his personalized cleats with C-MO embroidered on the tongues. I remember I tried to pull these stunts when I played Little League and all it did was get me laid all the time. I mean severely beaten and ridiculed. I get those two things confused.

Marcus Thames: I'm just giving Marcus a grade: B+. I would elaborate but I've written too much already and if I continue it feels like my eyes will melt out of my head because it hurts so much right now. I hope you understand and if there are any Thames fans who read this far and didn't get what they wanted. Too bad, hahahahaha.......ow.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Roman Colon Has a Bad Taste in Music.....

....and he's an asshole. He's also infinitely better at breaking teammate's faces then he is at getting opposing batter's out. If you haven't heard or are just to lazy to click on the link I was so gracious to provide for you with and read like three paragraphs, (and if this browbeating isn't bad enough to make you click the link or leave this site while muttering about what a jerk I am) then here's the story. Before Tuesday's game Colon got into an altercation with numerous teammates that led to a fight and ultimately an innocent peacemaker facing reconstructive face surgery like The Joker in Batman (1989) (for reference I'm throwing the relevant scene [as opposed to an irrelevant scene involving Harvey Dent] from the movie at the end of this post, just because I remember seeing this film in theaters when I was 6 and being completely unnerved by it, but I digress). Contrary to popular belief I am not a lonely blogger far removed from the inside of sports locker rooms with no contacts or sources capable of providing me with accurate and trustworthy news stories. In reality I have a network of fast-talking guys who wear fedoras, suspenders, dress shirts with the sleeves rolled up and slacken ties all of whom take blinding flash photos of the days events while saying things like, "Whatta scoop." Luckily one of my news agents was in the Mud Hens locker room before the altercation allowing my site to have an exclusive recitation of the facts surrounding the incident. For reasons known only to me, my dog Sadie, God and God's God, a six armed molten lava creature with a kitten's head named Glormax, this account will be told more like a play then a news report. Why? The answers lie's a gimmicky device used to gloss over my inability to write coherent paragraphs that don't mysteriously change tenses and are rife with grammatical errors, shit I already spoiled the mystery.

(Jordan Tata, Virgil Vasquez, Kevin Hooper and Jason Karnuth sit around the locker room discussing their respective cups of coffee with the Tigers over the past couple of seasons when Roman Colon enters the locker room, stage left, with a large grin on his face.)

Tata: Hello Roman would you like to join our conversation about our respective brief stints with the Tigers over the past couple of seasons. I was just regaling the group with my story of how Tigers fans were so delusional following years of losing that they were actually excited about me following my 13-2 season in the low level minors. Why I was the toast of Motown. A certified Donruss Rated Rookie, and then those bastards Verlander, Zumaya and Miller stole my thunder and now I rot down here with Chris Shelton on the Team of Forgotten Souls.

Colon: No thanks, Jordan but I do have a special treat for you guys. I've noticed that our clubhouse is kind of dull before games so I made a pre-game mix on my iPod to help us get fired up before we take the field. Do you guys want to hear (the room enthusiastically nods in agreement as Colon hooks his iPod up to the speakers.) I put a lot of time into it and I hope you guys like it. (Colon pushes play)

Lita Ford: "I went to the party last Saturday Night, I didn't get laid I got in a fight, uh-huh it ain't no big thing...."(Colon turns to teammates and smiles before beginning to sing along with the next verse) "Late for my job and the traffic was bad......"

Hooper: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa. Is this some kind of joke Roman. I mean that song was terrible when it came out, like twenty years ago and it's only gotten worse with age.

Colon: No, no man this isn't a don't like it? (teammates plug their ears and literally howl with disapproval) Fine I'll play the next song.

Kim Carnes: "Her hair is Harlow gold, her lips sweet surprise. Her hands are never cold. She's got Bette Davis eyes."

Tata: Jesus Christ, Roman! That song is like 10 parsecs beyond gayness. What the hell else is on there because if I listen to five more seconds of this shit my ears will burst into flames. (Roman is becoming visibly flustered and skips to the next song).

OMC: (The Tigers are not openly hostile towards the song as it sounds vaguely familiar) "...Zina just hides her eyes, policeman taps his shades, "Is that a Chevy '69". How bizarre, how bizarre."

Tata: Aww. Aww. Aww. Christ, this song is terrible Roman. My patience is wearing out man. You've got like 10 seconds to play some "Cowboys from Hell" or some other face-melting cock-rocker or I'm walking over there and wrecking that shit.

Colon: (Frantically scrolling through his playlist past P.M. Dawn, Benny Mardones and Lou Bega.) O.k. o.k. I know you guys will like this. Give me one more chance please, I spent a lot of time on this.

Tiffany: "Children behave, that's what they say when we're together. And watch how you play, they don't understand and so we're running just as fast as we can." (Music goes silence as Vasquez has turned down the volume on the stereo)

Colon: (aggressively approaches Vasquez) Hey holmes, you can't go around touching another man's ghetto blaster and think he ain't gonna react, man.

Tata: Calm Down, Virgil was doing us all a favor Roman. Your taste in music is terrible. Also, who puts Tiffany on a playlist but ignores Debbie Gibson. Tiffany was the original Dog Faced Gremlin and wasn't good enough to bleach Debbie Gibsons hair let alone compete for the hearts of pre-teen girls.

Colon: Fuck you Tata!! (Colon shoves Tata and a minor skirmish occurs not unlike the Terminators fighting each other in the mall during T2: Judgment Day, wait.....very unlike that......Colon then proceeds to hop back three steps before cocking his fist).

Colon: "My super spin punch is totally tough!"

Tata: Shit, I've seen this before from Macho Man at the end of Tyson's Punchout. Everyone duck and remember he can't spin punch more than eight times.

Karnuth: What was that Jord......YAARRRFGGFGFGHHG!!!!!!!!!!! (Karnuth has been knocked unconscious by a Colon spin-hook)

Colon: "I don't smoke but tonight I smoked you." (Colon lights cigarette.)

Annnnnnnnnnddddd scene. Curtain falls, cast bows and I, director and playwright extraordinaire, come out to a deafening roar of applause. Seriously though, Colon also went on to make a few disparaging remarks about the Tigers organization and implied that race, and not breaking a teammates face open, was the reason why he was suspended while other non face-breaking teammates involved in the altercation weren't disciplined. I cant imagine that Colon is going to be in the organization very long after his suspension ends and I hope the Tigers do the right thing and cut ties with this ineffective reliever. I also hope Karnuth can recover and resume his pro career and that Colon is banished to a far away place where jerks like him go to see their careers die. Tampa Bay.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Verlander Throws a No-No

On Tuesday nights I have a Family Law class that lasts until 8 P.M. and causes me to miss the first hour or so of the Tigers game. Tonight we had some gawd-awful guest speaker droning on about parental rights for same sex couples and leaving me wishing I had brought my samurai sword to class so I could perform perform hara-kiri right there on the class room floor. Instead I was stuck feigning interest in the lecture however by the time 7:05 rolled around I abandoned any pretense of note taking and brought up the Yahoo! Game Channel to follow the action in the Tigers-Brewers game. As I've written in the past I love using Yahoo! Game Channel to follow games on the internet because (other then the fact they pay me in baggies of Double Stuf Oreo's each time I mention their product) the graphics they use to update the games make me feel like I'm watching a game being simulated on the Atari 2600. After I opened the browser window with the game in it I minimized it and quickly went to look for movies to dump into my Netflix queue. After browsing through their recommendations and being offended at the mere suggestion that I would enjoy "Krull" I went back to check on the game and was surprised to see Verlander had breezed through the first inning with two strikeouts in about 1 minute and 43 seconds. At this point I looked up and noticed that "Butch" was still lecturing about child custody laws and decided it was time to take a little sojourn around the law school halls. I left the room, stopped by the bathroom, went to the vending machine and text-messaged a friend in the hallway before returning to my seat. I checked the game again and was stunned to find out that Verlander had already breezed through three innings without allowing a hit during the seemingly few minutes I was out of the room. I remembered back to the last time Verlander was on the mound and how dominant he was against the Rangers and that's when I first sensed that something special was in the works. Even though I couldn't witness it, I could just imagine Verlander on the mound having command of all three of his pitches and carving up the Brewers lineup. This image made the last twenty minutes of class agonizing as I couldn't wait for it to finish so I could rush back to my apartment (thankfully I live right across the street from school and can be home from class in about 15 seconds, trust me there have been many days I've hurried to get the hell out of there so fast you'd think I was being chased by ravenous grizzly bears, but I digress) and catch as much of this game as possible and I was hoping the Tigers could put together a big inning to buy me some time. Unfortunately Suppan was essentially matching Verlander pitch for pitch making the game move along at a brisk pace. I was on the edge of despair and burning holes into the guest lecturer with my eyes, giving her a look that was imploring her to please shut the hell up because history was potentially being made about two miles from where we were sitting and I wanted a chance to watch it. Then, miraculously, she just stopped talking and dismissed the class. I immediately told my friend Matt what was happening in the game and we dashed back to my apartment in time for the top of the fifth inning. What happened after that was too exciting to write about coherently so I'm copping out and doing this bullet point style.

1: As the dashing frequent commenter Rudy pointed out in the comment's, tonight's game was just as exciting as any of last years playoff games including the Magglio walk off that won the ALCS. Of course the stakes tonight weren't nearly as high as a playoff game but the anxiety and ultimate exhilaration of the final three innings was equal to anything I felt last October. I was living and dying with each pitch Verlander threw over the last third of the game and by the ninth inning I was pacing back and forth in my apartment, intermittently stopping to kneel six inches from the screen, rock back and forth and try not to puke from nervousness. I can't imagine being in Verlander's shoes at that time, (I would have had to lie down in a fetal position between pitches) and I was afraid he was going to get too amped and make a mistake. Instead he got even more locked in and when the final out landed in Maggs glove I leaped off the ground, did a 360 spin and gave Matt the obligatory awkward high five, which was essentially the same reaction I had when Maggs won the ALCS minus the part where I tore of my clothes and ran through the streets nude while defecating.

2: Speaking of Maggs he had one of the two necessary amazing defensive plays that occur late in every no-hitter. When Corey Hart (notice I'm not making a "Sunglasses at Night joke) lined that ball into right field in the seventh inning I thought the no-hitter was over. I even muttered out "Oh shit" and slapped my hands together before I saw Magglio come sliding in on his back and catch the ball next to his face about a foot off the ground. I've always been critical of Maggs seemingly indifferent attitude in the outfield and when the ball left Hart's bat I was expecting to see Maggs taking a siesta on a pile of blankets in rightfield as much as I was expecting him to come sliding in to make the catch. Also I take back every bad thing I've said about Neifi Perez (which is a lot) after the double play he started tonight. That was amazing and is almost enough to justify not only his spot on the team but his existence in the universe, which I called into question during my Season Preview

3: It's official. Verlander has arrived. I've thought he's been pretty underrated nationally given the spectacular start to his career but now everyone knows who he is. I don't just mean knowing him by name only, but recognizing that he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Here is a 24 year old R.O.Y. with three plus pitches, a fastball that tops 100, playoff experience and, if he continues to pitch like this for the next 3 weeks or so, a potential All-Star game starter. That's pretty amazing for a guy three years removed from being drafted and is my age, (Oh shit, what have I accomplished........umm I met Burt Reynolds at a car dealership this became depressing fast).

4: The atmosphere at tonight's game was extraordinary. I used to be bitter about the emergence of bandwagon fans over the past year or so and the increasing difficulty in getting tickets but I'm over it (at least until playoff time when I'm pressing shoulders with homeless guys trying to get a spot to peer through the fence in right-center). I'm glad over 33,000 people were there to support Verlander tonight and stand on their feet in appreciation for the performance they just witnessed. I've always wanted to be in attendance for a no-hitter or brawl more than any other feat in sport aside from winning a championship and I'm a little jealous of those who were able to witness it. I also loved the fact that the whole team got caught up in the moment. The fist pumps, the way Casey sprinted off the field following Neifi's double play and Pudge ripping his mask off and running out to Verlander as soon as Hardy's ball left his bat. I love this team and the fun they have playing with one another. It's everything the Pistons were before they turned into whiny and unaccountable jerks. Yeah, I'm still a little bitter about the whole way the Pistons season ended.

5: Tony Graffanino had no chance tonight. None. I've never seen so many uncomfortable, check-swing hacks from one player in a whole season let alone a single game. Also I bet J.J. Hardy's reaction to the 102 MPH fastball on the black in the ninth was similar to Spottswoode seeing Michael Moore in "Team America", "Jesus T***yf***ing Christ".

6: I didn't get a great look at Verlander's girlfriend after the game but from what I saw it looked like a pretty nice pull on his part. Man I wish God had given me a talent that allowed me to be fabulously wealthy and date beautiful women, oh well at least I know I could kick Justin's ass in Tecmo Super Bowl.

7: Anything that leads to clips of Jack Morris during his Tiger days is alright with me.

Go Tigers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Detroit Tigers Trimester Report: Pitcher's Edition

I realize I haven't been writing much about the Tigers this season but as always there is a rational explanation for this. Nearly six months ago I was kidnapped and tortured by a man with a striking resemblance to Dick Dastardly as an evil replicant of myself (Did I just expose myself as a nerdy Blade Runner fan......Jesus) was released in an attempt to ruin my life of romancing supermodels, fighting crime at night, winning Formula 1 championships, partying across the Atlantic with Pharrell and Jay-Z in my own personal G5 and, when I wasn't busy with all of the above, writing the best god damn sports blog in the city of Detroit. I won't bore you people with the details of my miraculous escape other than it involved stealth, grappling hooks and a maxim gun but I will express my displeasure that you readers didn't realize something was amiss when "I" wrote a post about Avril Lavigne. Then again, I can't think of a time when you guys aren't disappointing me, like when you readers gave me "coupons" to rake the leaves and your baseball mitt for my birthday when all I asked for was bourbon and a son who wasn't gay. Christ. Wait, wait, wait......Wait. None of this stuff ever happened. The only thing I've done the last month is take summer classes, eat individually sold Hot Pockets and Nerd Ropes from the gas station, watch reruns of Wacky Races and Batman: The Animated Series, have flashbacks to my dad's 45th birthday party and search in vain for a reason to live, all of which seem to explain how I dreamed up the above scenario. Anyways...I figured it was time to give a trimester report on the Tigers as, according to my abacus, they have now played slightly more than a third of their games. I also hope that trimester is the correct term and applicable to things other than pregnancy because I couldn't think of a more appropriate term unless it's "triaderly" but I don't think that's even a word. 'Nuff bullshittin' though and on to the report.

Justin Verlander: When the season began I was concerned about Verlander. He was struggling on the mound, riding an old motorcycle he had just purchased, coming home smelling like cigarettes, listening to "Twisted Sister" really loud and hanging out with that smart mouth Johnny Strabler boy. Seriously though beyond being a concerned parent I really thought Verlander was going to have a sophomore slump based on his early spring struggles and the heavy workload he experienced in his first big-league season. Turns out I was completely wrong regarding Verlander and his youthful rebellion as he has established his standing as an ace of the staff and one of the premier pitchers in the American League. In his twelve starts this season Verlander has allowed three runs or less in eleven of them, and if you throw out his one bad outing against Cleveland he would be third in the A.L. with a 2.44 ERA. In his latest start against Texas, Verlander was absolutely brilliant, carving up the Rangers lineup with three pitches (fastball, knuckle curve and changeup) that ranged from unhittable to completely unfair. Normally I don't like to laugh at people with Down's Syndrome but I couldn't help giggling at the way Sammy Sosa looked after his two punchouts following Verlander curveballs. At the pace he's on I think Verlander is going to be an annual Cy Young contender within the next year or two or, who knows, maybe as early as this season, (I'm just trying not to jinx anything).
Jeremy Bonderman: On most teams Verlander would be the clear-cut No.1 and most exciting young pitcher on the staff. In Detroit however Verlander has to vie for that title alongside Jeremy Bonderman. Before the season began many people, including yours handsomely, predicted Bonderman would vault into the upper echelons of the A.L. pitching elite, a place where pitchers wear powdered wigs, drink 1775 Sherry, and discuss Salieri or in Bonderman's case kittens (I'm sorry I can't get past making jokes that Bonderman has the understanding of a 6 year old, I know it's not true). Despite missing a couple of starts with a blister, Bonderman has continued to fulfill his promise, rocking faces to the tune of a 3.63 ERA and unleashing one of the most devastating sliders in the game today. Bonderman's only downfall this season has been a struggle getting out of the first inning without getting touched up. He's got a double digit ERA in the first frame but settles down afterward to putting up zeroes across the board. There must be a way to correct this by tricking him into thinking the game starts in the second inning and......wait everyone's already made this observation. didn't really come here expecting a modicum of originality did you?

Andrew Miller: I know he's only made two starts but he's rejoined the rotation to replace Nate Robertson who went on the DL with a "tired arm", whatever the hell that means. The Free Press intimated that if Miller performs well in his next couple of starts he could be staying in the rotation permanently. This bit of information made me literally orgasmic, (sorry about that detail I just thought it was important). Most people in my position would probably be excited about finishing law school, establishing a career, getting married and starting a family but those people probably aren't morbidly depressed. That's why of all the potential things that could occur in my life over the next ten years I think I'm most excited about the prospect of the Tigers rolling out a rotation that contains some combination of Verlander, Bonderman and Miller at the top and dominating the Central Division into my early thirties.

Nate Robertson: Nate went on the DL last Wednesday after giving up six runs and failing to record an out in his start a week ago. This was the latest in the string of bad outings for Robertson and according to the dailies has apparently left his role and future with the team a little murky especially if Miller excels in Robertson's absence. I hope this isn't the case as I've come a long way in my relationship with Nate. I went from being openly hostile to his mere presence two years ago, to enjoying watching him blossom into one of the most consistent left-handed starters in the A.L. over the course of last season and the first few weeks of this year. Now after a month of struggling and reverting back to his 2005 form Robertson might be unceremoniously dumped (really though is anyone ever ceremoniously dumped, because I would prefer this, it would make the whole process easier and less painful then being dumped via MySpace or text messages, which if anyone says happened to me is a complete was through facebook) out of the rotation. I really hope Robertson can turn things around and become a useful member of the pitching staff this season, and if he isn't I guess they will have to throw him into the tumbrel and lead him to the guillotine, or trade him for bullpen help......whatever.

Mike Maroth: I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to think of something new to write about Maroth but I can't. I'm tapped. He's just not that interesting and always does the things that Mike Maroth does. So if you are really interested in my thoughts on Maroth just search for him at the top of the page. I guarantee it will be more fun than getting high and watching Season 2 of the Venture Bros.........not really.

Chad Durbin: Durbin was thrust into the rotation at the beginning of the season when Rogers went down with a shoulder injury and after appearing completely overwhelmed in his first few starts Durbin has settled down into being a competent fifth starter capable of holding down the fort long enough for reinforcements to arrive. In fact Durbin has pitched well enough to create a bit of intrigue not seen since the National Assembly during the French Revolution, about who should lose their spot in the rotation when "The Gambler" returns from the DL in the next 2-3 weeks. Durbin is still the most likely candidate to lose his spot but I assume the list now includes both Robertson and Maroth. It will be interesting to see what the Tigers do with this sudden surplus of starters once the trade deadline rolls around towards the end of July and see if that can't trade their piddling back of the rotation crap to a postseason pretender desperate for starting pitching help and if that's the case.....Go Mariners.

Todd Jones: Jones always pitches well enough to deceive people into believing he is a competent closer. He'll put together a few weeks of decent outings and people will say, "You know, Jones gets a lot of heat but if you look at his numbers he's not that bad. He makes things interesting but in the end he gets the job done and that's all that matters when you're a closer." These people smile contently when Jones enters the game, thinking they know something everyone else doesn't and watch as Jones just explodes right in front of them. Completely self destructs, and leaves his fans standing there stunned and covered in the blood and guts of another Jones blown save. Exhibit No. 4,515 in the case of Tigers Fans v. Todd Jones was the Cleveland game on June 1, 2007 in which Jones gave up seven hits and five runs in one inning to lose a game against the division leaders and our biggest rivals this season. I mean look at his k/bb ratio, it's 11/11 and that's completely unacceptable for a closer or a Little Leaguer. I could go on but I'm getting all worked up about it and I'm not going to let Jones ruin my life during times when he's not pitching.

Jason Grilli: A few months ago I compiled a list of my least favorite Tigers of All-Time and could only come up with four players whom mustered the requisite amount of antipathy required to make the cut. Well I think I've found No. 5 and he's quickly working his way up the list. A few appearances ago he entered the game with an ERA of 6.66 and I couldn't think of a more appropriate number to associate Grilli with. There are times when Grilli looks to be an adequate 12th man out of the staff and then there are times when he looks like he would be one of the first cuts from a JV high school team. He throws in the mid-90's which is excellent velocity for a reliever but it has to be the straightest 94 MPH fastball in the history of baseball. I've seen more movement from balls coming out of a pitching machine at the local putt-putt golf course. My friend Bill was always an adamant supporter of Grilli, which led to many 4 A.M. arguments over the phone while looking at and put a serious strain on our relationship. However yesterday he capitulated on this matter after Grilli faced four Mets without recording an out, by sending me a text message that read "I can't believe I ever defended this guy." which is possibly the most important surrender in the U.S. since Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House.

Fernando Rodney: Rodney has been an enigma this season. He's allowed a run in each of his last four appearances and seen his ERA balloon into Grilli territory. However his statistics outside of ERA are excellent. He's got a 23/9 K/BB ratio a low BAA and nearly a strikeout an inning although he's given up four bombs in 24 innings which is a little disconcerting. I have this nagging feeling that Rodney is injured and is trying to keep it quiet. I really hope that's not the case and Rodney regresses back to the mean.

Tim Byrdak: When Byrdak was called up I panicked and thought the Tigers had reverted back to the 2003 team and that the past 18 months had been only fantasy because Byrdak and his career ERA over 7.00 would have fit in perfect on that squad. However Byrdak has been a revelation and appears to be the consistent lefty out of the pen to replace Jamie Walker, something Bobby Seay and Wil Ledezma weren't able to accomplish. Byrdak is also another example of why my son might mysteriously hurt his arm when he's young and be forced to become left handed. And if any nosy doctor tries to insinuate child abuse, well be warned, because I've been working on my throat punching.

Wilfredo Ledezma: I've been stumping in favor of Fredo for the past few years but my patience is wearing thin. I thought he had the potential to turn into a solid starter (o.k. I compared him to Pedro Martinez and I'm legally obligated to remind you of my stupidity every time I mention Ledezma, who knew the legislature had the time to pass such mundane laws?) or a dominant reliever but I don't think either will happen. He's also worked his way into Leyland's doghouse which is pretty remarkable given how shitty the bullpen has been over the past several weeks. His control this season has been atrocious with 23 walks in only 30 innings, which is the same number he had all of last season in twice as many innings. I really don't want to resort to the cliche Fredo/Godfather/"You broke my heart" jokes at some point this season and have Bill Simmons cronies come kick my ass on the street for joke-stealing but I may have to.

Bobby Seay: To me Seay is the most anonymous Tiger on the team. He's appeared in nineteen games this season, including two that I attended, and I don't remember ever seeing him. I don't even know what he looks like or if he even exists or is just a figment of my imagination. If anyone can vouch for Seay's existence by presenting me with his head on a pike and corresponding dental records I would be greatly relieved. You guys are the best.

Joel Zumaya: Early this season I purchased a Zumaya T-shirt jersey to wear to future games and more formal gatherings like weddings and Quinceaneras. Of course Zumaya struggled slightly to regain his dominant form of last season and then while warming up in the bullpen in Kansas City he ruptured a tendon in his middle finger that is going to put him out a minimum of 12 weeks. I guess what I'm trying to assert is that I'm completely responsible for Zumaya's injury this season and subsequent collapse of the Tigers bullpen. Sorry. Leyland recently appeared on the radio and suggested that Zumaya may be out for the season before immediately backtracking after fans became apoplectic and throwing themselves out of windows like the stock market had crashed again. However, I believe Leyland was telling the truth and Zumaya won't return this season and of course that has me concerned. The Tigers have been linked to about every reliever on the market including Eric Gagne, that Chinaman on the Rangers Hong-Chong Ching-Chang (Jesus Christ, I'm sorry about that, this is the last time I let my Grandpa edit these posts. I meant Akinori Otsuka.), and uh.....other relievers.....I'm sure, I should have researched this more. My point is I think the Tigers are going to make a significant move to upgrade their pen and replace what Zumaya gave them on a consistent basis last season, and it's going to happen soon.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pistons Off-Season Preview

For the second straight season the Pistons season ends in bitter disappointment following a loss in the Eastern Conference Finals. The popular sentiment among the bloggers and newspapers is that this is the end of an era. That this second generation of "Bad Boys" is thrashing about in their death throes, gasping for air and pleadingly looking into the eyes of their killer LeBron James for some sort of mercy. I remember reading the same thoughts after the conclusion of last season, when people were talking about the Pistons demise and coronating Dywane Wade and the Miami Heat as the new rulers of basketball east of the Mississippi for now and the foreseeable future. Of course that turned out to be bullshit as the Pistons once again were the top team in the Eastern Conference and Miami limped through the regular season and was swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Chicago Bulls. This time around, however, I think the reports of the Pistons demise are spot on as the Cavs and Bulls both proved to be worthy adversaries on the cusp of sustained dominance in the East. So what do the Pistons do now? Are they going to be proactive and shake the team up, move a couple of core players, or bring in a new coach, or does Dumars have enough faith in the current nucleus and coaching staff to make only a few roster adjustments and make another run at the title next season? In times of crisis like this Dumars usually picks up a special red telephone behind a secret door activated when he pulls his desk lamp like a lever, which has a direct line to the only person he can trust. Where does this direct line go, and who is capable of giving such sage franchise-saving advice? Vladimir Lenin's deceased body in Red Square? The oxygen tent in Chuck Daly's house that he believes gives him sexual powers? Are all these questions annoying? How about now? Ahh, patience is virtuous my dear reader and the answer may surprise you, for in Joe D's moments of great doubt bordering on despair he turns to none other than yours truly for guidance. Normally these conversations with Dumars are strictly confidential, but in this one singular instance I shall bestow upon you the contents of our repartee and my profound advisement for the course of this off-season's dealings. Behold.

Flip Saunders: I expressed my displeasure with Saunders in my last post following Game 5 and nothing that happened in Game 6 changed my general opinion that Flip coaches like dump in the playoffs. If it were entirely up to me Flip's ass would already be out the door. However, and this may sound a little strange, but Dumars has to answer to a diminutive, ancient troll in a tan wind breaker when it comes to hiring and firing coaches. I believe this troll is in charge of paying the coaches from a little leather sack containing golden nuggets and, I presume, is a master of sorcery. Hold on, my assistant Samantha is trying to tell me something.....yes Sammie....why that shirt I bought you looks amazingly revealing on you.....mhmm.... holy shit that little troll figure is really the Pistons owner Bill Davidson. Jesus why didn't you tell me this earlier. I thought it was a mythical figure that had crawled out of Dumars toilet and cast a spell over his family. I look like a fool now. Sorry you guys had to see that, but in all seriousness I think Flip is coming back. One reason is the Pistons are on the hook for ten million dollars over the next two years to a coach who is a functional alcoholic and second there aren't any sexy options out there unless Jeff Van Gundy agrees to coach in a bathing suit with a nut hanging out. I would love to have Larry Brown back but he burned too many bridges on his way out the first time to be a viable option. Izzo would also be a kickass option but he's a god in East Lansing and would require a king's ransom to pry away from that situation and the Pistons are surprisingly short of sapphires and emeralds so that avenue is closed. Unless......Sammie, get my burglar kit and a ticket to London....I have a crazy idea.

Final Verdict: Saunders stays. Booooooooooo.

Chauncey Billups: Billups is the big free agent on the market this season and stands to make a ton of money from either the Pistons or Mystery Team X. Personally I think he's going to leave and that sucks. Chauncey has always seemed to carry a chip on his shoulder for the way he was traded around early in his career like a prison bitch. Seriously check his transactions on his bio and you'll see that he was traded from Denver to Orlando along with a bottle of toothpaste/lube for a carton of cigarettes, 2 dollars, and a 1992 Kathy Ireland swimsuit calendar. Chauncey understands the business aspect of the league and won't be hesitant to take the big contract offer. That's why I think a team (namely the Milwaukee Bucks who will be looking to upgrade over their own free agent to be Mo Williams) looking to make a splash in a shallow free agent class will show up at his door on July 1st with wheelbarrows full of cash and convince Chauncey to jump ship. Also don't think for a second that Billup's poor showing against the Cavs will irreparably harm his free agent value. He's still a durable, efficient, dangerous and elite point guard, who will only be 31 years old when next season begins. I would advise maxing Billups out and matching any offer he receives in free agency.

Final Verdict: Stays.

Rasheed Wallace: When Rasheed first came to Detroit I fell for him hard and fast. I loved the guarantees, the "Ball Don't Lie" yells after each missed free throw by the opposition, and the WWF style championship belts he gave the team after the title in '04. He brought personality and swagger to a team that had been sedate, stoic and business-like under Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown. When he was a free-agent after the '04 title season I remember standing in Hart Plaza and chanting for him to re-sign and was ecstatic when he finally did. But now our relationship is strained and Rasheed just wears me out most of the time. For example in Game Six there was abso-fuckin-lutely no doubt in my mind that Rasheed was going to get tossed when things started to unravel in the fourth quarter. Instead of being an emotional firebrand that was hoping to motivate his team by getting tossed, Rasheed's actions at that moment seemed to signify quitting, like he knew the Pistons didn't have a chance and he just wanted to get the hell out of there rather then dig in and attempt a last valiant attempt at extending the season. I don't know what Rasheed's value is on the trade market. He's a very good player but not a great one capable of carrying a team by himself, so it's not like the Pistons could get KG or a player of similar caliber for him no matter how dim-witted NBA GM's are.

Final Verdict: Trade him for the best offer.

Tayshaun Prince: Tayshaun had a poor series against the Cavs but is still one of the best young players in the league and an outstanding perimeter defender. He also has a reasonable contract for a player of his ability and the fact that he makes the same money as transgender Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. is laughable, considering Prince is approximately 200 times better than the young Dunleavy. I think the thing that would be the most helpful to Prince is some rest. Including the playoffs Tayshaun's played in about 470 games over his first 5 NBA season's and the fatigue was evident in this past series as he was able to jump only George Blaha's dick length off the floor to block shots, and perfected a new defensive move to stop LeBron's drives to the hoop that consisted of putting both arms over his head and ducking for cover. Despite the fatigue factor I think there is no doubt Tayshaun should stay as part of the nucleus for future Pistons teams.

Final Verdict: Stays

Rip Hamilton: I think Rip was bogged down in an unimaginative offense that took away the things he does best, (shooting off screens and constantly being in motion), and focused on the things he's only average at, (clearing out and running iso, standing around and spotting up) but welcome to the world of a Flip Saunders coached team, where up is down, black is white, and people have the audacity to think Family Guy is funnier than The Simpsons (wait people ACTUALLY think Family Guy is funnier than The Simpsons, I mean I love Family Guy but stacking it up to the first 7 seasons of The Simpsons is like sending a baby in to fight a crocodile). Like Tayshaun I think Rip should remain a part of the new Pistons nucleus moving forward regardless of what happens to Chauncey in free agency or other trade scenarios. I don't think the Pistons would be able to get fair value for Rip in a trade because many of the areas he excels at are undervalued by the functionally retarded men that hold the general manager positions of teams throughout the NBA.

Final Verdict: Stays.

The Rest: I think C-Webb and Lindsey will shuffle off this mortal coil and retire. Webber is practically decomposing and it would be sad if he stuck around and put up a seven point, four rebound season in a limited role just so he could try to chase down a ring. Lindsey can still play but will probably slide into the front office or get a job on the radio or television broadcasts given his personality and popularity among the fans. Dale Davis will probably hang them up too, but really who the hell cares. McDyess has a player option that I think/hope he will exercise and return for a fourth season in Detroit. He is a very valuable part of the team and the most reliable reserve on the team. I hope that Flip Murray opts out of his contract for the exact opposite reasons I wanted McDyess to stay for. Maxiell and Delfino will certainly be back under their rookie deals and depending on what happens with the front court (trades, McDyess player option) Maxiell could see a considerable uptick in playing time and overall importance to the team. Everyone talks about Nazr Mohammed being traded, but I'm not sure what for. I never thought he was terrible and the only way we could unload him was to take another bad contract back in return. The other interesting scenario is Amir Johnson who is a restricted free agent and could elicit a decent free-agent contract from a team willing to gamble on his considerable talent. I think the Pistons should match any offer for Amir no matter how high it gets, given the promise he's shown over the past two seasons.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Game 5: Yuck

Jesus Christ. That was terrible. I'm to angry about Game 5 to write coherent paragraphs with transition sentences, so I'm just going to write some lazy bullet point rants.

1: Flip Saunders sucks. I hate it when people blame coaching staffs for the failings of the players. I think its unfair unless the team is woefully unprepared for the situation or there is a blatant strategic mishap. I remember when Alan Trammell was managing the Tigers how it used to drive me crazy to listen to the radio and have callers nitpick his decision to let Chris Spurling face Juan Uribe in the 8th inning. Another example is how the fans at Michigan Stadium grumble and whine if the Wolverines don't score a touchdown on every single possession or go undefeated every season. I'm guilty of second guessing coaches and managers as much as anyone. I remember thinking Jim Leyland was certifiably insane for starting
Alexis Gomez in the ALCS, which turned out to be one of the best moves of the postseason and proved that I, even though I may be a hardcore fan who watches nearly every inning and quarter of every game of the season, ultimately don't know shit about managing. I only give these examples to emphasize how rare it is for me to turn my back on a coach and call him completely fucking incompetent. I'm not usually reactionary like this, but when someone is being out coached by a man who looks like a Mr. Potato version of Brian Ellerbe with Downs Syndrome then it's time to pack up your shit and get out. Before coming to Detroit Saunders had a reputation for being an innovative offensive coach who might be capable of tapping into the scoring potential of a team with a reputation for stingy defense built under Rick Carlisle and perfected by Larry Brown. Saunders offensive creativity was on display tonight at the end of regulation when Detroit received the ball with 9 seconds left and the score tied at 91. The Pistons inbounded the ball to Chauncey who set up at the top of the key and pounded the ball for 8 seconds before pulling up for a 3 from 25 feet away and hoping to draw contact. Really? That was the best play Saunders could come up with? Even Carlisle, who was so slow and grind it out that Mike Fratello was complaining about the games being boring, could diagram a play out of the halfcourt that gave the team a legitimate chance to score. Shit, even a group of preschoolers with fingerpaint and no sense of how the game was played could diagram a more creative and effective play than Chauncey's shot at the end of regulation. I've always thought Flip looked like a drunk, with his red bulbous nose, sleepy eyes, slightly disheveled appearance (it always seems like he has a loose knot in his necktie), mannerisms, and inability to talk in complete sentences during his press conferences. I mean if you threw a pink shirt and jeans on him he would look like Barney Gumbel on the sidelines. If I were Dumars I would administer the breath test on Saunders like he was my teenage son. I can picture Dumars standing there in a bathrobe, smelling Saunders breath of stale whiskey and turkey sandwiches, sending him to take a shower, and disappointingly shaking his head and Saunders skulked away.

2: LeBron James was amazing tonight. Incredible. Completely unstoppable. That was truly one of the greatest playoff performances in NBA history. Scoring your teams last 25 points en route to a double overtime victory is truly a transcendent performance and begins to justify all of the hype that has surrounded his young career. Not to take anything away from LeBron's performance but allowing 25 straight points is completely inexcusable on the Pistons part and is directly related to point #1. I don't care how you stop him just do it. Make someone other than #23 make a shot. If they have to triple team LeBron and leave some shitbag like Pavlovic open in the corner for a three, do it. If you have to send Nazr Mohammed out there for the sole purpose of shivving LeBron before he attempts a free throw, do it, make him earn that 30 million dollars somehow. But don't just sit back in a zone defense and let LeBron blow by Billups into the open lane and throw it down for an easy dunk, over and over and over and over and over again. Jesus that was frustrating.


3: If McDyess gets a one game suspension for his hard foul on Anderson Varejao then basketball will officially become a wuss sport on the same level as soccer. The fact that McDyess was ejected in the first place was laughable and I don't think it would have happened if LeBron wouldn't have reacted to the foul like he did. I would love it if McDyess called out Varejao for reacting to a semi-clothesline as though he had been shot by a sniper in the balcony, by saying he was going to show Varejao what a real hard foul feels like and then proceed to spear him out of mid-air into the backboard support in the next game. It seems the level of flopping and phantom calls has reached an all-time high this post-season and needs to be addressed before players are getting hauled off the court on little miniature gurneys in hopes of getting a flagrant foul called on the opponent.

4: I'm not giving up hope on the Pistons yet because they were in a similar position last year and rallied back to eliminate the Cavs, but I'm not feeling confidant about the chances of that happening again. What happens if the Pistons get eliminated? My dream scenario would be as follows. Flip would sit in his office and know the fans were disenchanted with his time as ruler of the Pistons as well as a growing discord between him and his players who are practicing silently outside his offices. Suddenly a short and shadowy figure appears in the doorway of the practice courts, which leads the Pistons players to cease performing their drills. Billups gathers the charges and goes to meet the mysterious figure who reveals himself to be former coach Larry Brown amid gasps and hushed conversation. An uneasy tension fills the court as Brown and the Pistons glare at each other not knowing what to say, before Rasheed steps forward and says, "Any ya'll cats want to turn yo asses on little man or shout at LB, speak ya shit naw.", and after a moment of silence the Pistons shout in unison "Vive L'Empereur". Saunders would overhear this in his office and realize his time in power was over, which would lead him to open his desk drawer and pull out a pistol with an ornamental ivory handle and......well I guess I don't want Flip dead but you get the point. I also realize that I stole this entire scenario from the return of Napoleon Bonaparte from exile but I figure I have to put my history degree to use somehow......