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 Baseball-Reference.com 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 Baseball-Reference.com 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.

1 comment:

Faupel said...

Holy shit, a Northern Exposure reference...that's hilarious.