Friday, September 28, 2007

Detroit Tigers Final Season Grades Vol. 1 Starting Fielders

Yo. I have returned from my nearly two month long sabbatical completely recharged and ready to blog about the Tigers deep into October. I'm sorry that I left in the middle of the pennant race but I felt as though my writing had become boring, stale and stilted. I needed to get away in order to find my voice and rediscover the magic that made me the winner of "Detroit's Funniest, Most Handsome Blogger of the Year" 3 years in a row and counting, a fictitious award that I just created 10 seconds ago and retroactively bestowed upon myself, but legitimate nonetheless. The purpose of my furlough was to broaden my horizon, open my mind to new cultures, styles of prose and to visit the places that inspired the greatest writers in history.

My journey initially took me to the Montparnasse section of Paris, where I purchased an ostrich skin notebook, dined in the cafes near the River Seine and engaged in intellectual arguments over the existence of "God" with thin fingered, wispy moustached, chain-smoking Parisians until I realized how gay it all was and left for Amsterdam. While there I experimented with drugs, drank Absinthe, explored my sexuality, and raved at 220 bpm until it felt like my heart was going to explode in my chest and I had to be pulled from the dance floor and put on a plane to Thailand. One night in Bangkok I was romanced by a millionaire transvestite businessman from Japan who placed a bag of diamonds in my hand and begged me to travel the world with that moment I knew it was time to return home and update this site.

Now that I've returned let me just check the standings and see how far the Tigers have distanced themselves from the rest of the field in the American League. Holy shit!?! The Yankees came back and won the Wild Card! They were like 100 jabillion games out of it at the All-Star break and the Tigers had one of the best records in baseball. How did this happen?

Wait, wait, save your breath and don't explain it because I have something to tell you guys. My whole first two paragraph were a lie. I didn't leave the country on a two month sabbatical but rather I was living and dying with the ups and, mostly, downs of the second half of the Tigers season just like the rest of you. I would sit down to write a post about the Tigers but everything about them was so frustrating and depressing that my posts swung so wildly in tone from hopelessly optimistic and positive to hate filled, disparaging, bitter and negative that no one would have been able to make sense of it, and this is coming from someone who already scoffs in the face of proper sentence structure, comma use, syntax and leaves hanging antecedents like they are going out of style (although my spelling is impecabel....immpeccabble, impec....oh fuck it.) So instead of publishing my manic depressive posts, I would just end up watching American Gladiators re-runs, eating Cheeto's and reading my Criminal Procedure, or if I really wanted to punish myself Conflict of Laws, casebook. So now that the Tigers have officially been eliminated from the postseason I thought I would trot out my favorite gimmicky writing feature...handing out grades for the season. On to the subjective judgements and overly harsh criticisms!!!

Ivan Rodriguez: I'll admit it. I'm responsible for that string of mysterious and grizzly murders in northern Genesee County a few years back. Whoops wrong admission, let's pretend that last sentence never happened and no one else will have to disappear. What I meant was I was never a big believer in sabermetrics as recently as two years ago. I was never hostile towards sabermetrics either, it's just that I never took the time to think about it for more than two seconds and now I can't believe I ever followed baseball without an understanding of it. What I'm trying to say is in years past Pudge's 9 walks in 500 at bats wouldn't have bothered me but now it keeps me awake at night. Batting .280 isn't all that impressive when you swing at every friggin pitch you see. I mean, just by pure dumb luck at least 28% of those balls are going to drop in for hits. However, on the bright side history shows that catchers usually peak at the age of 36 and after 2,000+ games caught, which augers well for a bounce back season in the final $13m year of his contract. Ugh. Grade: C

Sean Casey: Let the record show that I was firmly entrenched in the Anti-Casey camp from Day 1 and if I had the money to hire a court reporter to dictate all of my inane ramblings/predictions, I would present you with the report and a gigantic arrogant self-satisfied smile. I was screaming for the return of Chris Shelton to at least platoon with Casey but my pleas fell on deaf ears, which caused me to stop arguing with the old people at the nursing home. However, I would plead with other less feeble minded and decrepit people by saying things like, "He has the lowest OPS of any starting 1st baseman in the league, and provides little force to the premier power position on the field." And the reply was always, "Oh well, he's a good clubhouse guy, he's always smiling, and high fiving, and whispering words of encouragement into young players ears, and telling jokes, and tying balloons in the shapes of animals and performing magic tricks to cheer up Brandon Inge when he's feeling blue." Who cares if he's a nice guy? I would rather have Chris Shelton down at first with his grotesque appearance, and creeping people out with dead baby jokes if it meant having a first baseman who hit 20 homeruns and slugged higher than Ramon Santiago. Also I bet Casey is a real douchebag. I'm sure he's genuinely nice and friendly but I get the feeling he's one of those guys that's so nice he comes across as a big douche. I would explain this theory further but I dont even know what I'm trying to talk about. Grade: D+

Placido Polanco: Not to toot my own horn again but before the season started I predicted that Polanco would take home the batting title, and he went on to hit .340 in route to a spectacular season at the plate and in the field. I know the Phillies have Chase Utley, who is one of the best players in the N.L. and a potential MVP candidate this season, and Polanco wasnt going to play in Philly for long anyways, but the Polanco for Ugueth Urbina swap has got to be one of the biggest heists in recent years. Lets quickly break it down once more. Tigers get: A career .300 hitting All-Star second baseman, albeit with a Milk Dud shaped head, who is flawless defensively at second base and sign him to a more than reasonable multi-year extension. Phillies get: 1/2 season of a deranged and homicidal relief pitcher who no doubt leads the Venezuelan Penitentiary League in both saves and shankings. I love Dombrowski. Grade: A

Brandon Inge: I'm torn on Inge. I just crushed Casey for being a swirling vortex of deep, cold and infinite sadness, yet he statistically had a superior season than Inge in just about every meaningful, and some meaningless, categories. However what Inge lacks offensively, which for some prolonged stretches can seem like everything, he slightly offsets because of his outstanding defense and range at third. I think my favorite play of this Tigers season was when Inge fearlessly launched himself into the stands in Seattle to catch a foul pop-up. The frustrating thing about that catch was how little play it got nationally. Had Derek Jeter made a similar catch in New York we would have been subjected to the replay a million times on Sportscenter, a Gatorade commercial lionizing it and a special half hour edition of Baseball Tonight where Karl Ravech, John Kruk and Steve Phillips quietly and continually masturbated to the clip. Now get that mental image out of your head. I still have faith in Inge turning it around next season but if he fails me and makes me look stupid let it be known that I will be openly campaigning for him to be publicly drawn and quartered in Campus Martius and replaced by Mike Hessman. Grade: C.

Carlos Guillen: Carlos was, as Mario Impemba would describe in the gayest way imaginable, "sparkling" this season. Carlos did what he always does, which is bat .300, hit 20 homers and drive in 100 runs, while looking like he would rather be doing anything in the world than playing baseball. Guillen is becoming so consistent with his play that I'm starting to overlook him. It's like I know exactly how he's going to perform so his consistency gets lost in Magglio and Granderson's historically great season's and the anger and irritation I feel every time Casey or Pudge steps to the dish. I for one can't wait for Carlos to make the full time move to first base whenever that happens. Not because I'm down on him as a shortstop but I'm excited about all the fielding range he would give us at first. Between Guillen and Polanco on the right side of the infield I don't think we'll give up a basehit in that direction all year. Grade: A-

Curtis Granderson: At the beginning of the year I was upset at Curtis because he charged me 25 bucks to shake his hand and sign an autograph at the mall. Now I would pay $100 for the honor of being in the same room as him, or to let him kick me in the crotch until I threw up (hopefully his management company isnt reading this and nodding their heads in agreement). What's not to love about Curtis? The blog, the fact that "Little Big League" is his favorite baseball movie, the way he interacts with fans, all the triples, being the first guy since Willie Mays to have a 20-20-20-20-20-20-20-20-20 season, a feature article in Sports Illustrated. Some of it makes me nervous that he'll burst onto the national scene and become a big star, and he'll forget about me and I'll be stuck raising the kids by myself while he's out hooking up with floozies in all the glamorous A.L. cities like Oakland, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. Oh that's right, we're not married.....yet. Grade A+

Magglio Ordonez: Wow. I've watched the Tigers for nearly 20 years and I've never, ever seen a player locked in over the course of a season like Maggs has been this year, not even Melvin Nieves when he managed to go back to back games without striking out has a Tiger looked this much in the zone. It's a shame that Maggs had to have his career season during the same year that A-Rod decided he wanted a 300 million dollar contract and play out of his skull. I've had this theory about the impetus for Maggs amazing season and here it is. I picture Maggs lazily playing Pokemon on his Nintendo DS during Spring Training when he roused Carlos Guillen from a mid-afternoon nap and told him that he was going to hit .360, to which Guillen replied "Cool" and, tired from all the exertion in waking up from his nap, slept for the next 12 hours. I would like to take this moment to clear up any preconceived notions that I think of Guillen and Ordonez as tired and lazy because of their heritage. I'm not some kind of racist who plays on antiquated stereotypes, o.k. However I can't explain away the fact that I picture Guillen and Maggs wagering their respective station wagons on Maggs proclamation. I think that just made things worse....moving on. Grade A+++++

Gary Sheffield: My friend T.J., who I've written about on here numerous times before, hated Gary Sheffield. He bemoaned the trade as soon as it went down and complained the whole off-season about how Sheff was finished, washed-up and a clubhouse cancer. For months I defended Sheff against T.J.'s hatred and when Sheff got off to his slow start at the beginning of the season it only added fuel to T.J.'s fire. So when Sheff began to play out of his mind in May I saw to it that T.J. was barred from the Sheffield bandwagon in perpetuity. I wouldn't let him praise Sheff in anyway and after every Sheffield homerun I would call and leave him a voicemail reminding him he couldn't cheer Sheffield's success since he wasnt there for his struggles. Anyways, T.J. came down to stay at my place towards the end of July and hit up his first Tigers game of the season against the Kansas City Royals. While we were at the game he wanted to run to the Tigers team store and pick-up an Inge t-shirt jersey for his mom. I declined to go with him because it involved me moving and sounded tedious and boring, but when he came back I noticed there were two shirts in the bag. I asked him what the second shirt was and he played dumb like there was no second shirt and I immediately knew what that two faced bastard had done. I wrestled the bag from his hands took the shirt out, held it up and saw SHEFFIELD 3 on emblazoned across the back. I was horrified. I couldnt even talk to him. Of course that was the game that Sheffield hurt his shoulder while playing right field, which effectively derailed his season and hurt the Tigers playoff chances insurmountably. Of course I blame T.J. and his bad karma for ruing the season. Sheff's grade: B+. T.J.'s grade: F-

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What The Hell?

I was reading the re-cap of the Michigan Notre Dame game on Yahoo! and came across this sentence tucked away in one of the final paragraphs.

"You don't get much chance to enjoy the victory," said Carr, who was joined in the postgame by friend and actor Russell Crowe. "But it's a lot better than suffering in defeat, I can tell you that."

Lloyd Carr and Russell Crowe are friends? Can someone please explain how this happened?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Most Exciting Game of the Year? Part II

Wow, what a finish tonight. I'll admit it, after the double play I bailed on the Tigers. Not just on the game but the whole season. It was just a moment of intense frustration mainly over the teams level of play during the past few weeks and the rash of injuries the team has had to endure on a seemingly daily basis, including two more tonight (Zumaya and Bonderman). As I watched Timo Perez feebly hit a ground ball to short to set-up the 6-4-3 double play it became too much for me to handle. I sat on my futon and stewed. Here I was balls deep in reading for Conflict of Laws and Criminal Procedure and I had just pissed away a whole night of studying to watch Roy Halladay own the Tigers like he always does. However I couldn't stay mad at the Tigers for long and I turned it back just after Brandon Inge singled and the Jays went to the bullpen. I was intrigued about the possibility of a comeback until I realized that the Jays were probably bringing in a lefty to face Granderson and essentially end the game given Grandy's anemic batting average against southpaws. Seriously, if Granderson ever figures out how to hit lefthanders on a major league level he will be completely unstoppable. However, Jays manager John Gibbons inexplicably brought in a righty, whom Granderson absolutely crushes, and that small glimmer of hope that the Tigers could make a rally became much brighter. Granderson came through with a Texas Leaguer to right center that scored 2 and made the game 4-3. I won't bore you with the details of every at-bat but when Magglio smoked that final ground ball into right field to score the winning pair of runs I was jumping up and down in my apartment cheering, much to the annoyance of my neighbors I'm sure, but I didn't care. On the television I was surprised to see Jim Leyland acting the same way I was. I didn't think the man was capable of any demeanor other than surly or churlish much less unabashed jubilation. It was a complete 180 degree turn in emotions from how I felt about the team a mere 30 minutes earlier. I've written this before....wait no I haven't because once again I've neglected my site and alienated by readership base, but I know I've at least said this before, probably during a late night conversation with myself, but hopefully this is the kind of win that will be a turning point in this season and hopefully ignite a winning stretch run towards the playoffs. Go Tigers.