Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Third Annual Authoritative Detroit Tigers Season Preview: Vol. 2

This is a continuation of my Tigers season preview, hence the Vol. 2 in the title, if you missed Vol. 1 you can find it here, or if you don't feel like clicking around, just scroll past my haughty, patronizing and condescending post insulting Jeremy Bonderman's intelligence (In full disclosure, I did feel terrible after writing that post and had to walk around Detroit to clear my head and look for some understanding....instead I came across a pack of feral German Shepherds, who were infected with "The Madness", and lacking in empathy.....jerks). Well, my liege, I won't bore you with some lengthy introduction, but the same rules apply as with my other season previews, there will be no mention of that sorcery commonly referred to as sabermetrics. I know I probably just lost about 90% of my readers with that last statement, and I'll get a series of e-mails from people explaining how I should embrace the concept of VORP, runs created and some crazy thing called a "home" run. I'm sorry but I don't think Ty Cobb cared about his adjusted OPS or Hank Greenberg lost any sleep over his PECOTA......whatever the hell that is, and if the traditional statistics were good enough for Hughie Jennings (are these old Tiger references annoying you yet?) than they are good enough for me Consarnit! If getting a history degree taught me anything it's that the best way for society to live is to fear change, be hostile towards innovation and ignore new ideas and if anyone deviates from the norm they shall be burned at the stake, (raises pitchfork menacingly)! On to the preview!

Owner Mike Ilitch: Anyone whose familiar with this website knows Mr. Ilitch has been the butt of many of my jokes, and has gone through many incarnations here. First he was a lonely old despot ravaged by leprosy who was disinterestedly watching his team and body rot away. Then he became a werewolf, then a leprechaun (I was tripping balls that day), to his current role as a vampire living in the deep recesses of Comerica who uses puppies and kittens as his only means of sustenance. This was completely justified as his time as owner had coincided with the coldest, bleakest period in the storied 100+ year history of the Tigers, but now that he's oversaw one World Series appearance everyone wants to lionize him as a baseball owner and are clamoring for him to buy the Lions and turn them around. I'm sorry but I'm going the other way on this. It's going to take a hell of a lot more than one postseason to make me forget about the Randy Smith era, the decade of losing, and namely that 119 loss season when the Tigers were an outright embarrassment to the game of baseball leading to Zombie Abner Doubleday rising from the grave to tell the media the Tigers were "an abomination of the highest order." Hang on a sec, Count Ilitch is tapping at my window right now..."Go away, I'm not letting you in here unless you've brought a second guitar for Co-op Guitar Hero, you archfiend."

Jim Leyland: Leyland on the other hand will always be O.k. in my book. I don' care what he does this season, he could come out and shoot pitchers dead on the mound (Jason Grilli) to facilitate a pitching change, steal my identity and ruin my credit (more so), and make off with my girlfriend (if I had one), and I still wouldn't be mad at him. To put it succinctly, Jim Leyland is the balls.

Catcher:

Ivan Rodriguez: Pudge had a great bounce back season, and responded very well to Leyland's management after acting like a petulant, malcontent of a wimpy puss under Alan Trammell. I picture Leyland coming into the locker room for the first time last spring similar to a new principal walking into an inner city school. Pudge is sitting in the back wearing a leather jacket, smoking and saying something like "Hey, holmes, eez chu the janitor or the new jefe," while Alexis Gomez laughed uproariously. Leyland would then respond by saying something like, "Get f***ed Pudge, theres a new sheriff in town." Everyone in the room goes "Ooohhhh", Pudge would get up slowly and walk towards the front of the room all calm and cool, laughing incredulously before getting real intense and in Leyland's face, saying "You don't know me old man, you don't know what I've been through." Followed by Leyland responding in Spanish for about 20 seconds, an awkward pause and then Pudge breaking down crying in Leyland's arms, earning Leyland instant credibility and respect throughout the room.

Vance Wilson: Wilson has my dream job so I'm a little jealous of him. He makes about 750k a year to play in 50 games, lay down some sacrifice bunts, pick up groupies who have no idea if he's an All-Star or a nobody, and throw out some baserunners. He also broke the Curse of Matt Walbeck, by being a competent back-up catcher and making it to a third season with the team but not without paying a price. While defeating the ghost of A.J. Hinch, Wilson suffered a serpent bite on his left elbow leaving it inflamed and irritable and landing him on the D.L. O.k. that's not what really happened but I'm sure it's a hell of a lot more interesting than the truth.

Infield:

Sean Casey: I'm going to try to do the impossible and write about Casey without mentioning Chris Shelton. Umm........(looking around).......the thing is........(fascinated by my own freakishly long and fine arm hair)........o.k. I cant' do it. I'm in the Pro-Shelton camp. This doesn't mean I'm Anti-Casey per se (I am learning something in law school, per se, teriffic). I'm sure Casey is a nice guy and all those hitters that reach first base would rather talk to him than be frightened by
this mugly fug, but Casey just seems like a stopgap, while Shelton is the wave of the future. There is no question Shelton struggled over the last half of the season but so what? He's young and it's not like he's Babe friggin' Ruth, who can just roll out of bed and hit 60 homeruns, but with experience I think he could be a very productive first baseman. Instead we've got Casey and his .270 average and nine homeruns. But at least he's a nice guy for whatever that's worth.

Placido Polanco: Here is my bold prediction for the upcoming season. Polanco will win the A.L. batting title. I know this statement practically guarantees Polanco will bat .230 and get hurt for the season in late May because of my incredible jinxing powers, but right now in my heart of hearts, I believe he'll wrestle the crown away from Joe Mauer in a mostly peaceful, slightly bloody coup. Speaking of slightly bloody, how great does that Polanco for Urbina trade appear now? I'll have to make a mental note to select Urbina in my upcoming fantasy baseball league and lobbying for my commissioner to allow his statistics in the Venezuelan Correctional League to be included. I'll even volunteer to move to Caracas and work as the official statistician, sure it's shanked or be shanked in there, but I think I could survive long enough to take home first place.

Carlos Guillen: Guillen is my favorite current Tiger, I'll unabashedly make that statement and whenever Granderson walks by I'll start being really affectionate with Guillen and loudly proclaim how Carlos satisfies me in ways I didn't think were ever imaginable, just to make Curtis jealous. (If you're confused I'm only writing this because Granderson charged me 25 bucks for an autograph at the mall, which lowered him on my list of favorite Tigers temporarily). My favorite thing about Carlos is how laid back his on-field demeanor is, it appears as if he couldn't be more annoyed that he has to play baseball for three hours when he could be at home watching The Venture Bros., which is what I would be doing in his situation. I was worried that his impending free agency may be a distraction but the Tigers stepped up big today and re-signed Carlos for 4 years and 48 million, which seems very reasonable given his caliber of play over the past few seasons and his importance to the team's present.


Brandon Inge: My second bold prediction for this season....(drumroll).....Inge will win a Gold Glove at third base this season. I think he'll cut down on the routine errors that have plagued him in the past and his range and throwing arm are just disgusting, but in a good way, not like a Dr. Pepper and Arby's kind of way. I'm glad the Tigers rewarded Inge with a four year deal this off-season, especially since he is one of the last vestiges of those terrible Tigers teams from earlier in the decade. I'll be honest, when the Tigers signed Pudge I thought Inge was curtains. I thought he was one of those guys who I would stumble across on baseball-reference.com late at night, which would lead to me calling my friend T.J., and saying "Remember Brandon Inge?......yeah....uh-huh....that guy sucked." Good for Inge.

Omar Infante: I've always been a big Infante fan and have always been curious as to what kind of numbers he would put up if he played full-time on a mediocre team like the Orioles. I think he is a great athlete and supremely talented but just can't get any playing time on a contender like the Tigers. Wow, that was strange, writing the last sentence, juxtaposing the word Tigers and contenders without some kind of sarcastic comment following it, this is going to be a great season.
Neifi Perez: Ugh. This guy.....I mean he's just.....he just sucks. O.k. can everyone agree to that, can this officially enter the lexicon of obvious statements, like "the sky is blue", "dogs and cats hate each other" and now "Neifi Perez is friggin' terrible". What exactly does he do again. Hit for power? Ha. Average/OBP? Absolutely not. Steal bases/Speed? Nope. Defense? Yeah, like seven years ago he was pretty good, I think, and now he's entering his mid-30's so he's only going to get worse, sooo.....yeah.

Outfield:

Craig Monroe: Monroe has deservedly developed a reputation for being the most clutch Tiger due to a string of late game heroics last July and a great post-season performance against the Oakland, forever shedding his previous label as Target belt stealer. I know that happened like two years ago but I still think it's funny and try to bring it up whenever the opportunity presents itself. My friend T.J. is still drunkenly driving the Monroe bandwagon coming dangerously close to slamming it into the retention wall, and annoying the hell out of me along the way. I get the feeling that the Monroe era is coming to a conclusion in Detroit, especially with an already deep outfield and emerging phenom/superstar Cameron Maybin seemingly only a season away from contributing. So it appears the writings on the wall and this may very well be the last time I'll be previewing Mr. Monroe, which is making me a little misty-eyed, like there should be a Sarah Mclachlan accompanying this paragraph.

Curtis Granderson: I alluded to this earlier, but this past off-season I had the pleasure of meeting Granderson at the Fashion Square Mall in Saginaw. My only complaint, and I wasn't aware of it before I got there, was that it cost $25 to shake his hand and get an autograph........ummm, what? I'm not a cheapskate but I wouldn't spend $25 to smoke crack with Tony Phillips let alone shake his hand and get something signed. I know it's not Granderson's fault because it was being put on by a couple of overly tanned 5'2" comic book/card shop owners who were total pricks, (like there is any other type of card shop owner) but I was a little disappointed that I had to finally meet Granderson under such cold/callous circumstances (I had always pictured it happening where I would run into Granderson while carrying a bunch of papers, comically sending them flying in all directions, and him nicely helping me pick them off the ground, but I digress). The one thing of note was Granderson had the largest hands I've ever seen in my life, and this is coming from someone who has long, skinny, mortician like digits. How's he going to do this season, you ask......pfft. How the hell would I know......how's that for some analysis.

Magglio Ordonez: Maggs hair is amazing. I believe it contains all of the secrets of the universe and/or a place for gnome-like creatures to frolic through gaily. I understand Maggs reluctance to cut his hair as I've been wearing my hair long for most of the past five years, (except for right now), and you get the feeling that your hair contains all of your knowledge and superpowers, kind of like that one Bible story.....ummm......no, not Jesus finding out Darth Vader was his father, uhh....I don't think it's Moses enslaving the Egyptians either, shit this is embarrassing, I never really went to church.......ah Simpson, wait, Sampson and Delilah, that one. I think Maggs is going to have a big season this year and that's why I drafted him way to early in my fantasy draft this evening. If one thing is guaranteed to ruin someone's career its being a member of my fantasy team. I'm sure Maggs shuddered and felt pain in his knees when I selected him.


Marcus Thames: The Tigers had been jobbing Thames for a couple of seasons before he made the team coming out of camp last year. Sure enough he established himself, almost immediately, as a power hitting DH with a very impressive homerun rate, and the Tigers rewarded him by asking him to switch positions and battle for one of the final roster spots again. Huh? I feel the same way about Thames as I do Infante, I think they could both be above average starters on lesser teams. For example if you throw Thames on the Royals and give him 500 at bats he could probably put up a 35 HR 100 RBI season with ease, but I'm thankful for the depth our team has, and I'm sure Thames is thankful to be hundreds of miles away from Kansas City.

Gary Sheffield: Sheffield has always been one of my top five favorite non-Tigers, (don't worry this isn't going to devolve into another list.....yet) and when I first heard the Tigers had traded for him I was thrilled. It would be like finding out that Kate Beckinsale (Warning, Gratuitous Kate Beckinsale photo imminent) was moving into the apartment next door only with less stalking and slightly more bat speed. I'm actually scared to sit anywhere down the third baseline this season for fear that my face will be torn off by a Sheffield foul ball. Also anyone who thinks Sheffield isn't going to have a monster season is insane. If anything motivates Sheffield it's his bi-polar disorder coupled with spite, (more the former than the latter), which he has a lot of thanks to the Yankees and the way they handled his situation dating back to not playing him in the ALDS finale. The only thing that I'm not sure about with Sheffield is how I feel about him wearing No. 3, making him the first Tiger other than Trammell to wear that number in the past thirty years. I guess the real question should be why isn't Trammell's number retired in the first place? Was 20 years of service, a World Series Title, and the thankless job of coaching some of the worst talent ever assembled for three years not enough to keep his number from being retired? Did that last sentence make an iota of sense theoretically or grammatically? These answers and more on the next.......wait this isn't a television show......where am I?

Central Division Standings Predictions:

1: Detroit Tigers: Did you really expect me to pick somebody else? Anything less than a World Series parade that travels through my apartment would be a disappointment, and you don't want to see me when I'm disappointed. Seriously, I'm hysterical, tears, thrashing, everything, it's pretty pathetic.

2: Minnesota Twins: Every year I write them off, and every season they contend for the division title. They are a very well managed team with talent and it makes them dangerous.

3: Chicago White Sox: I think this team has one last good run in them before they start to re-tool, just not enough to win a very competitive division.

4: Cleveland Indians: They seem to be the sexy pick to win the division and not because they have Jeremy Sowers. These picks always seem to fall flat on their face and I think they play to sloppy to win the toughest division in baseball.

5: K.C. Royals: They have no chance to win this division. None. They should petition to move to the International League, they might have a chance there.....maybe.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"I Done A Bad Thing"

In my last post, previewing this season's Tigers pitching staff, I mentioned in passing that I couldn't believe Jeremy Bonderman re-signed with the Tigers this past offseason for a reasonable $38 million dollars over the next four years. This was doubly surprising given the outrageous amount of money teams were throwing at any starting pitcher capable of throwing 200 innings regardless of whether they were any good. The fact that Bonderman, who is still only 24 even though it seems like he's been around forever, signed for (marginally) less money than both Ted Lilly and Jeff Suppan is mind-boggling. Not only is Bonderman better than both of those pitchers right now, but given his young age and big league experience he will continue to improve over the next four years while Suppan and Lilly will inevitably begin to slowly decline, (as a quick aside I've never been a big Lilly fan, I've seen him pitch a few times and have never really been impressed and it seems like people always say he's on a verge of a breakthrough but now he's 31 and it still hasn't happened, however, I am an idiot so remember that I said this when he's starting for the N.L. in the All-Star game this summer) and, if you believe the soulless robots that produce Baseball Prospectus every season, Bonderman is going to improve exponentially this season and possibly move into the upper echelon of A.L. pitchers. I'm also aware that Bonderman wasn't a free agent this off-season so it's slightly unfair to compare him to Lilly and Suppan and had he hit the open market Bonderman would've likely received a much larger bid than both of those pitchers. I also realize that by signing this deal Bonderman is making more money in the first two seasons than the Tigers would have likely been forced to pay him in arbitration. On the flip side I'm sure the game will still be flush with cash in two seasons when Bonderman would've initially become a free agent, especially for experienced and talented 26 year old power pitching aces, (I can't wait to see the haul Zambrano gets after this season, I just hope its enough for him to be able to afford to wear a jewel encrusted baseball cap for his next team or at least a top hat....something classy). Trust me I'm not killing Bonderman for signing this deal, just the opposite, I'm thrilled that he made a commitment to the Tigers and that the Tigers are attempting to keep their young core of players intact, especially since it was Detroit's first successful season since Schoolboy Rowe stalked about the pitcher's mound at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull (I don't know what that last sentence was about it would've sounded better if it had been read by a fast-talking reporter on an old news reel, but I digress). My only problem is that the deal is reasonable.....suspiciously reasonable if you ask me. So I did a little intrepid reporting and after successfully breaking into Dave Dombrowski's office and rifling through his desk and cabinets I was able to procure an old 70's style audio tape and transcribe the negotiations between Dave Dombrowski, agent George Milton, and Lennie Small.....errr....i mean Jeremy Bonderman.

Dave Dombrowski: "Hello you two, please come in, take a seat, get comfortable and I'll pour you a drink, what'll you have." ( Dombrowski opens a large, fully stocked liquor cabinet).

George Milton: "Well that's mighty kind of you sir, but I don't drink spirits, bad for the soul...I'll take a sarsaparilla, and Jeremy'll take a glass of water."

DD: "O.k.....I don't think I have any sarsaparilla, how about a Canada Dry? Say, George I couldn't help notice that you don't look like a normal sports agent but more like a 1930's Okie dirt farmer. No offense, but instead of slicked back hair, a sharp suit and talking really, you're wearing a straw hat, twill pants and talk in a slow, measured, southern drawl.....are you really a sports agent?"

GM: "None taken. (pulls his hat brim up, wipes brow with handkerchief from back pocket) Now Mr. D I may not have some impressive law degree from some fancy rich-boy school like Harvard, Princeton, or Wayne State but I've got honesty and integrity, and well, I've known Jeremy a mighty long time and I just want to make sure he gets what he wants not what someone wants for him."

DD: "That's very honorable Mr. Milton, and we would like to accommodate him. We believe Jeremy is a great young pitcher who is just starting to put it all together and is posed for a breakthrough season. We would like to keep our young core of players together because we think there is a bright future ahead for this team and we want to remain competitive for a long time. We are prepared to make a very substantial offer to Jeremy."

GM: "Those are some mighty kind words, Mr. D. (leans forwards and looks into Dombrowski's eyes intensely) But Jeremy is a different breed. He's not looking to break the bank or take advantage of your hospitality, he just wants to live offa the fatta a the lan', ya knaw, maybe tend ta some rabbits. He would also like something soft to hold, ya knaw, like a puppy, Jeremy's just a really gentle guy."

Jeremy Bonderman: (racing forward excitedly) "Puppy!!!......(trailing off) they are so soft."

DD: "We can do that, let me just draw it up, in return for four years of service, we'll give Jeremy a small farm in northern Genesee County and this adorable little scamp that was left over from Mr. Ilitch's breakfast. Now Count Ilitch requires contracts to be signed in blood, so if you could just sign here......and we're all set."

GM: "Thank you Mr. D we really appreciate your generosity and I know Jeremy is happy to be here."

JB: "Yes Mr. Dombrowski, thanks for little Curly......he's....so....soft, (pets hard, holds puppy eye to eye and whispers)....puppy.

After a round of handshakes and back slapping, Bonderman and Milton leave and a content Dave Dombrowski opens the liquor cabinet and pours himself another drink before putting the newly signed contract in his desk drawer, tidying up around the office and leaving for home when he runs into a distraught looking Jeremy Bonderman in the hallway holding a lifeless puppy.

DD: "Jeremy what's the matter, where's George, what happened to Lil' Curly?"

JB: "Well George went home and me and Curly were playing around in the locker room and I couldn't stop petting his soft little head and he started whimpering like and.....and.....I done a bad thing." (staring in the distance forlornly).

DD: "No, No, Jeremy, you didn't do anything wrong, this was just an accident. Oh, man this is terrible, I've got to make this right. O.k., o.k. let's see what's your jersey number? 38, o.k. umm I'll just keep adding zeroes until you tell me to stop, (counting zeroes 1....2....3....). Jesus Jeremy thats up to 38 million I can't go any higher than that."

JB: "O.k. Mr. Dombrowski sir, will that be enough to buy me another Curly?"

DD: "Yeah Jeremy....all the Curly's you want."

JB: (smiling slightly)....."puppy."

So there you have it, after consulting the audio tapes The Mystery of the Reasonable Contract has been solved in the only way possible....Steinbeck style.

Disclaimer: It wasn't until after I finished this post that I remembered Bonderman suffers from dyslexia, which forced him to quit high school and was a major obstacle in his pursuit to become a MLB player. I was in no way attempting to make light of this or portray Jeremy as some kind of bumbling idiot, it was purely coincidental.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Third Annual Authoritative Detroit Tigers Season Preview: Vol 1

Tonight I was presented with a conundrum as many different options presented themselves on how to spend this pleasant Saturday evening in Detroit.

1: Study. I have exams beginning in a few short weeks and am hopelessly behind in my reading, so the most practical and responsible use of my time would be to catch up on said reading. However, practicality and responsibility are not two of my strongest traits and I don't know what it would be like to actually be on schedule and have free time, I would probably turn into an alcoholic or something.

2: Identify the strange smell emanating from my kitchen, which I've narrowed down to one of three potential culprits. A) The pot I made macaroni and cheese in about a week ago, which has now been soaking for so long the stagnant water has developed a film on the top akin to pond scum. B) The overflowing trashcan next to the refrigerator that's perilously close to tipping over and in turn unleashing a smell capable of incinerating everything within a half mile radius. C) The pickled human hand in a jar at the back of my refrig....errr...that was here when I moved in, honestly..../nervous laughter/.

3: Watch "Gleaming the Cube" on Comcast OnDemand, and not in painstaking detail every way its inferior to "Rad", so I could present the findings during my Best Man speech at my friend Alex's wedding, decisively ending this argument between the two of us once and for all, before it devolves into some sort of, "Pistols at Dawn" tragedy.

4: Finally getting around to writing my Tigers Season Preview, for you my friend, confidant, and reader.

I choose option 4. Now you're probably sitting there saying "Why the hell should I read this? What kind of insight and information could you, an outsider, possibly provide that would be of any use and or interesting?" To which I would reply, "What's with all these questions, huh, just sit down and read it and I'll give you the antidote for the poison coursing through your veins...jerk." Seriously though, you should listen to me because

1: I've been running a Tigers blog since before it was cool to have one....what's that you say it's still not cool to have one...well, what else are you supposed to do on a Saturday night? Go on a date with a woman, you say....touche.

2: I know I'm humble to a fault, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that I am single handily responsible for ALL of the Tiger's success last season. Granted the addition of Leyland, Zumaya, and Verlander played a marginal role in their success, but I'm the one that picked them to finish in Second place in the A.L. Central and contend for a Wild Card spot, a position that was very controversial at the time and led to me not being able to walk about the streets of Detroit without hunch backed old ladies hissing at me and throwing a variety of fecal matter in my direction, but I persevered and after the Tigers clinched a playoff spot for the first time in 19 seasons and I was cleared of witchcraft charges in the subsequent and much publicized public trial, (I plead to the lesser charge of wizardry and practicing the dark arts and took two turns on the dunking wheel), I was able to hold my head high and basically turn into a smug insufferable jerk who constantly pointed out the fact that he finally got something right.

3: Seriously though, is there anything more exciting than the beginning of a new baseball season. It signifies the death of old man winter (he was 84, survived by "life partner" Michael Arnold) and the return of warm weather, unbridled optimism and
Ernie Harwell and his Singing Turtles...or something like that. If that wasn't enough to get you excited think about this, for the first time in twenty years the Tigers head into the season with the expectation that they will be good, as in legitimate World Series contender good. I've never consciously experienced this before, (I was 4 the last time the Tigers were relevant) and it's both exciting and unnerving, similar surely to what a caveman experienced the first time he ever witnessed fire, excited for the future, nervous knowing his life would change forever...do you need me to spell this out for you anymore or do you get the point I'm trying to make...man I'm a terrible writer.

Alas!!! Here is Part 1 of Authoritative Season Preview detailing the pitching staff and others.

Rotation

1: Jeremy Bonderman: I love Bonderman and think this will be the season he breaks out and enters the upper echelon of pitchers in the American League. I believe the success of the team throughout last season and Bonderman's personal success in the playoffs, (especially the series clincher against the Yankees when he had the most devastating slider I've ever seen) will go a long way towards him becoming a more mature pitcher. If his change-up becomes a pitch he can develop and trust he will be absolutely unhittable at times. I also love the fact that he made a commitment to the Tigers by putting off free-agency for two seasons and signing a reasonable 4 year $38 million contract, or two million less than the vastly overrated and half as talented Ted Lilly. A contract so reasonable it seems suspicious, especially given the fiscal insanity displayed this past off-season, where the Cubs gave the ghost of Mordecai Brown a two year deal $20 million deal. Prediction: 17-10, 4.00 ERA, 220 k's

2: Kenny Rogers: Roasters is fresh off one of the greatest post-season performances in the history of baseball aided by a mysterious substance on the palm of his hand. The Tigers should devise a plan to hypnotize Rogers into believing every one of his starts is a playoff game even going as far as hanging up those frilly red, white and blue banners along the upper deck. That way he can have that razor sharp focus and borderline insane intensity, throwing every pitch for a strike, screaming for the ball back, and pumping his fist maniacally after each strikeout. Sure his head and heart would simultaneously explode after a shutout performance in a meaningless late June game against the Royals but it would be worth it. Prediction: 15-9, 3.90 ERA.

3: Justin Verlander: Verlander had a sensational first year, walking away with A.L. Rookie of the Year trophy. So far he's having a pretty rocky spring going 0-2 with an ERA over 8. I know spring training stats are useless, (I remember my friend Bill drafted Ryan Vogelsong of the Pirates after a sterling spring training and....well...we know how that turned out...) but these numbers are a little disconcerting. I think Verlander will struggle a little bit at times this season, mainly because of all the success he had last season. I guess I wouldn't be surprised if Verlander had a bit of a cavalier attitude this year because everything was so easy for him last season. Think about this, he came into spring last year, won the fifth spot in the rotation, won 17 games, almost made the All-Star team, and pitched on a team that made it to the World Series all in his first season. If I won every case my first year after law school (hahahaha) I'm sure I would stop giving a shit and preparing until one day I got nailed with a malpractice suit and disbarred, it's only natural. Prediction 14-11, 4.20 ERA.

4: Nate Robertson: Robertson went from being one of my least favorite Tigers to being among my favorites in a little over a year, (there is hope for you yet Jason Grilli....wait....no there isn't). As much as I hate to admit it, I did enjoy the whole Gum Time gimmick last season, even though Impemba tried his damnedest to make me actively hate it, but I can't be opposed to anything that leads to Big League Chew becoming more prominent in my life. Also Nate stopped starting every fucking game I was in attendance for, which was the main reason I didn't like him, as a matter a fact out of the 10 or so games I went to last season Nate only started one that I can remember. Robertson was also one of the unluckiest pitchers in all of baseball last season when it came to his record reflecting how well he had pitched and he handled it very well, unlike that no talent ass-clown Jason Johnson who would have a bitch fit after every error and implode for a six run inning. Hopefully Robertson's record reflects his talent this season because he deserves it. Prediction: 13-8, 3.70 ERA

5: Mike Maroth: Maroth makes me sad. He was such an important part of those terrible Tiger teams from earlier in the decade and took his beatings as the de facto "ace" without complaint, before settling into the number 4 spot last season and enjoying quite a bit of success over the first couple months. Then came the elbow discomfort, followed by surgery that ended his season even after a valiant comeback attempt in September. I wonder if the other guys in the clubhouse talk about how much fun they had last season and revel in the success and popularity they enjoyed before someone makes the "cut it out" throat gesture and everyone looks over at Mike sitting in the corner staring at them forlornly. I just hope Maroth enjoys some success this season and avoids any further injury. Prediction: 12-9, 4.40 ERA

Relievers:

Todd Jones: Oh sweet Jesus, it's Jones....again. I know it's fashionable to rip on Todd Jones, and that's why I'm doing it, because I'm shallow, easily influenced, and too damn lazy to form my own opinions let alone have reasons for them. Not only that but Jones recently took a shot at Matt Anderson saying he wouldn't mind handing over the closer role to Zumaya because unlike Anderson, he actually likes Zumaya. Anyone who reads this site regularly knows I have quite an affinity for Mr. Anderson so this comment did not fly over well at the lonely, depressing, MTMO headquarters. At least Jones bailed on having his entrance music be that grating Mr. Jones Counting Crows song and is now........some lame ass Christian rock band music !!!...God this guy is lame as hell. Prediction: 38 saves, 4.50 ERA, 700 heart attacks induced state wide.


Joel Zumaya: Zumaya is the rockstar of this team. He is the one guy coming out of the bullpen who changes the whole atmosphere of the ballpark, kind of like Rick Vaughn in the last scene of Major League, only instead of big haired, acid washed jeans, denim jacket wearing skanks with headbands deliriously belting out "Wild Thing.", Zumaya is greeted by overweight factory workers wearing ill-fitting Lance Parrish jersey's and chotch engineers more interested in the girl they brought than the game itself clapping tepidly. Zumaya also gained a lot of credibility with me, which I'm sure will please him immensely, by steadfastly refusing to blame his post-season injury and subsequently give up Guitar Hero. I'm still a relative newcomer to the game, only owning it since this past Christmas, but if I had to chose a game to leave my hands permanently crippled and unrecognizable as anything more than a gnarled clump of joints and stumps it would be Guitar Hero.

Jason Grilli: He is the polar opposite of Joel Zumaya, and completely drains the life out of the ballpark...at least for me. If Joel Zumaya is the Tigers rockstar, then Jason Grilli is that creepy uncle who has to register as a sex offender and no one really wants to talk to him but they have too because he's family, (Translation: Me at Christmas........kidding, kidding, kidding). I would be more excited to see Pol Pot, John Wilkes Booth, or Antonin Scalia, (ooooh, political commentary in a sports blog.....edgy) come strolling, or in the case of Pol Pot, sprinting, out of the pen. My friend Bill always tries to argue with me that Grilli is passable as the 12th man in the pen and I'm willing to give Grilli a chance, so let's take a look at his Spring Training stats. Let's see...... mmhmm......ok....HIS ERA is 8.00!!...This guy sucks end of discussion.

Jose Mesa: For some reason Mesa scares the hell out of me. Not from a performance perspective, I think he'll fill his role ably.....whatever the hell that is, but physically. He's such an intimidating and imposing presence at 6'3" and 235 pounds with an on-field demeanor that could only be described as surly. He seems like the kind of guy who if he weren't playing baseball would be walking around a prison yard with his shirt off, chest covered in tattoo's of flaming skulls and organizing an attack on a rival prison gang. I'm sure I'm dead wrong about this because I'm a terrible judge of people's character, and Mesa is probably an affable and good-natured team mate and....what's this post about again?.....Who cares, let's move on to.

Fernando Rodney: Speaking of being a terrible judge of character I've made numerous jokes about Rodney in this space over the past two seasons. Joking about him appearing on an episode of COPS and freebasing cocaine in the bullpen, and all sorts of other passive aggressive/ borderline racist remarks. Then I read in the dailies that Rodney is one of Leyland's all-time favorite players and is a very worldly, cosmopolitan, articulate, intelligent man. The idea of Rodney sitting in the clubhouse wearing a smoking jacket, smoking a pipe, reading an Abraham Lincoln biography and discussing the prudence of diversifying your portfolio and investing in Detroit's crashing housing market blew my mind to shreds. What are you going to tell me next, the friendly guy who used to host the Frugal Gourmet sexually assaulted every male that came within a fifteen foot radius of him? What? He did. Jesus I need to lay down for a few minutes.

Wil Ledezma: Fredo has been one of my favorite Tigers since his arrival via the Rule V draft a few seasons back. I'm legally obligated to mention that I said that Ledezma was going to become the new Pedro Martinez when I wrote my first season preview two years ago, but in my defense Wilfredo had been.......I'm sorry, there really is no defense to that statement. I still think Wil is on the verge of a breakthrough season though and will do an excellent job replacing Jamie Walker as the lefty coming out of the pen.

Zach Durbin: The fight for the last spot on the pitching staff is between Chad Durbin and Zach Miner. I know nothing about Durbin other than the fact he is a Royals washout and Lynn Henning advocated for him to replace Kenny Rogers in the rotation during the Tigers late season slide last year, which prompted me to write a late night, slightly intoxicated, e-mail to Henning during the playoffs calling him out for that article and asking why he doesn't look at me when we make love anymore. However I do know a little about Miner who was superb filling in for Maroth before tailing off badly late in the season and....you know what, who cares, this "last man out of the bullpen" is the most fluid position on the team and will likely fluctuate between several people during the course of the season, many of whom I haven't even heard of, I know this is a cop-out way to end Part I of this preview but it's late, I'm tired, you're bored, let's just leave friends and check back soon for the Hitter's edition.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Housekeeping


Here's the deal. I am currently working on two items right now.

1: My Third Annual Authoritative Detroit Tigers Season Preview, which is hands down my favorite post to write each year. I spend a lot of time writing it, including hours of painstaking research, under candle light in the deep recesses of the Detroit Tigers Archive located hundreds of feet below
Hooks Dauss crypt in left center field of old Tiger Stadium, wearing a fedora and dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, banging out draft after draft on my typewriter, before finalizing a preview that will hopefully be nothing short of life-changing....I hope I'm not setting the bar too high but that's what I'm aiming for.

2: A story that I've been working on that casts Matt Millen in the role of a manipulative power-hungry madman, which I was initially planning to post after the Thanksgiving Day game massacre at the hands of Joey Harrington. As I've been writing it over the past few months it's slowly expanded to a cast of thousands and is probably more suited to be acted out on a Broadway stage, or at least by a cast of fourth graders under my strict and unwavering guidance ("What kind of shit mood lighting is this little Susan, redo the play from the beginning until Susie stops screwing up"). I've always pictured this as being my last glorious blog posting and ending on a high note, hitting the publish button while simultaneously dropping dead from exhaustion. We'll see how this all turns out.
Anyways that's what's on my plate, so expect those to come rolling out ASAP, and keep checking back for updates. Thanks.
Andrew.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

SPRIIIIIIIINNNGG BREEEEEEAAAK !!!!!!

For the past week I was on spring break, that one glorious week in the middle of a stressful, tortuous semester, where you can sit back, relax, and forget about all the anxiety, pressure and Federal Rules of Evidence (wait I haven't learned anything to forget about Evidence yet) even if only for a short time. Spring break is often associated with warm weather, exotic locales (for example a guy I go to school with is spending his week off in Italy), hanging out with friends, and/or running through sprinklers. Unless you're me. I decided to come back and stay for a week at my parents home in Clio because option 2 was....well there really wasnt an option 2. Here's a quick rundown of all the exciting events that transpired over the course of my spring break beginning on Friday, March 9th. I hope everyone is in the mood for a healthy dose of pity and self loathing, because thats what I'm prescribing this evening.

Friday, March 9th: I make the 90 minute drive from my apartment in the second most dangerous city in America (Detroit) to the greener pastures and safe harbor of the third most dangerous city in America (Flint). So if you are keeping track at home I've lived in or around (I come from Clio about ten miles north of Flint) two of the most dangerous cities in the country, which makes me pretty fuckin' hardcore for a pasty 6'2" 150 lb. white guy...or at least I'd like to think so. I figure the next logical step is for me to open up my law office in Camden, New Jersey, or the most dangerous city St. Louis, Missouri....really St. Louis? I always pictured everyone in St. Louis, men, women, children, babies, looking exactly like Joe Buck, wearing polo shirts, and being really smug, but apparently the Gateway Arch is filled with homicidal hobos' and other forms of dangerous vagrants....who knew? Regardless, on my way home I made the first of what would be many mistakes over the course of the next week, by pulling into a Long John Silver's for dinner. Normally I try to avoid food that makes me panic and feel like I might die minutes after eating it, but I couldnt resist the call of the sea. I ordered the fish dinner, and some kind of lobster bites, which little to my knowledge at the time, were just deep fried crawdad eggs. I called my friends, none of whom answered their phone, watched the Pistons-Nuggets game, then Rocky IV, and then doubled over in pain at the feeling of 50 newborn baby crawdads coursing their way through my lower intestine in search of freedom. Little did I know at the time this would be one of the highlights of my week off.


Saturday, March 10th: Once again I spent most of the evening waiting for one of my friends to answer my phone call, but they were too busy enjoying themselves at a bar called "Down The Hatch", which is only half as classy as it sounds. This "Hatch" bar is the epicenter of white trash, a gathering place of all 40 year old, unemployed, alcoholic men whose idea of dressing up and heading out is putting on their brightest neon pink and green Polaris snowmobile coats, and the mid-twenty year old, Gillie's fish and chips waitresses who love them, whom my friends call "Hatch Rats". Anyways after relentlessly pursuing and ultimately being rejected by said "Hatch Rats", my friends called me on their way home and invited me over for some 2 player Guitar Hero. I obliged and brought over my guitar and laid down the most merciless beatdown ever administered on a video game. My friend T.J. knew I was on fire and gave up challenging me early on, but Mike, who you may remember from the previous Tecmo Super Bowl post, was to arrogant, proud and ultimately stupid to realize this. We were going through song by song and I was winning every time...decisively, until we got to "Ziggy Stardust", which I'm pretty certain I can play on Guitar Hero better than Mick Ronson could play it in real life. 70% of the way through the song I had yet to miss a note, while Mike was strumming something that sounded like "ting, ting, tong, a cat being strangled, ting.", so I did what anyone would do to incite a friend, I stopped playing. I knew my score was good enough to win, so I just sat the guitar down, tied my shoe, and walked into the kitchen looking for sandwiches. Leading to this exchange.

Mike: "Where the hell are you going"
Me: "Samiches"
Mike: (becoming increasingly enraged) "Get back in here and finish the song," (glancing over and missing a note). "Pick up your guitar!"
Me: "Why? This game is over, you're terrible, I'm hungry, everybody's happy."
Mike: (A series of curse words that I don't even feel comfortable typing).
Me: (Contentedly eating sandwich).

Tuesday, March 13th: Somehow I end up with $70 dollars, money that a responsible unemployed law student would squirrel away, but fiscal responsibility has never been my strong suit so I immediately raced out to spend it. Problem was there was nothing to spend it on. I wracked my brain trying to think of something I've wanted and came up blank. So I went to Best Buy looking for ideas, walked around for about 20 minutes, and left with Season 5 of Kids in the Hall on DVD, and a copy of Nas' "The Illmatic", and a little confused. Not finished blowing my money, I headed to Barnes and Noble and ended up picking up a couple of books, (The Areas of My Expertise, and The Tipping Point) that I'll never be able to read because I'm buried in hundreds of pages unfinished reading, namely 500 pages of Copyright Law. So in total $70 dollars helped me kill about two hours, and provide minimal entertainment value.

Wednesday, March 14th: Nothing eventful just an ordinary night of grave robbing, and werewolf hunting. Actually this was just a long night of playing Guitar Hero II by myself, before coaxing my mom, that's right my MOM, into playing and then coaching her through "Mother" by Danzig, only so I could try to find some humor, or irony in my mother playing "Mother", but there was none...only lameness, sad, lonely, depressing, lameness.

Well, I'll stop boring you with the details, I feel like this post turned into a conversation with Mike's girlfriend, where I would ask her how her day was, out of politeness not because I cared, and she would answer with a rambling 45 minute answer detailing the smallest minutiae of her day. This would lead to me looking around the apartment for a piece of rope to hang myself because it seemed like that would be the only way to get away from her incessant babbling, before she would finally stop. Oh well......this post doesn't seem to be of the quality I would normally strive for, and I apologize (of course if I had stated this at the beginning nobody would have read it....suckers), I've been in some weird space lately kind of like the floating baby in that one Stanley Kubrick movie........uhhh...."The Brave Little Toaster".....yeah that one.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Top 5 Sports Video Game Countdown #1

Continuing my theme of laziness, I'm going to finish a countdown that I started last August and has now taken nearly 8 months for me to complete. I know my writing is erratic and I've been apt to take weeks, and occasionally months, off between postings but even I can't believe it's taken this long for me to finish this list. In my defense I didn't forget about the list, it's just the #1 game holds such a special place in the heart and soul of my friends and I that I wanted to do it justice. I didn't want to slap together a few incoherent and rambling paragraphs and call it a day, no this game is much to important to receive such a short shrift. Now I fear I've raised the bar too high, I'm sure this post will still be strife with misspelled words, riddled with poor grammar, and contain many factual errors, so don't expect an eloquent post that will be included in the 2007 Best American Sports Writers book, (because 90% of that book is reserved for that asshat Rick Reilly....yeah thats why this wont be in there...). Also I apologize for these long ass introductory paragraphs before every post, they are probably really tiresome to read through, but I feel it necessary to explain all of my actions. I do this in real life and most people find it charming and endearing.....wait I mean painfully annoying, but indulge me on this. Anyways on to #1.

# 1: Tecmo Super Bowl: This is the perfect sports video game, no forget that, this is the greatest, most transcendent, video game ever created. Wait, that still understates the importance of this game, o.k. let me try again...if Jesus, Mickey Tettleton, Thomas Edison, Alfred Nobel and a thousand monkeys programming a thousand games for a thousand years combined their efforts they would not be able to come up with a game that equalled the sheer brilliance of Tecmo Super Bowl. That's how strongly I feel about this game as the absolute apex of human innovation. To put it another way if I had to chose just one item to put into a time capsule to be opened hundreds of years into the future as an example of American life and culture, it would be Tecmo Super Bowl. Forget "Catcher in the Rye", forget "Nighthawks", and forget Elvis Presley and rock n' roll, just leave Tecmo Super Bowl and watch (well I guess we'd all be dead by then, so we'll just have to imagine) as future generations worship Lawrence Taylor as a God and spend lifetimes trying to understand his power, grace, and ruthlessness.

I remember the day I purchased Tecmo Super Bowl. I was 8 and my mom and I were browsing through the electronics section at the local Big Wheel (Clio used to be a sprawling metropolis, we even had an Ampitheater) shortly before Christmas looking for gift ideas. That's when I saw the huge display touting the release of Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES, and I knew I had to have it.....right now. I begged my mom for the game and after much wrangling, and promises that I'm sure went unfulfilled I managed to procure a copy of the game two weeks before Christmas morning. After I got back home I raced to the basement, where the NES was set up, loaded the cartridge and started playing....and I never really stopped.

When I was a kid I was much more patient and easily amazed, and whenever I would rent or purchase a game I would always watch the title screen and whatever back story the game had programmed. These screens always ranged from terrible to just not making any fucking sense, (see Monster Party), with the lone exception being the intro to Tecmo Super Bowl. I remember sitting there in the basement and hearing the first strings (I know I wrote strings, like the game's music was produced by an orchestra, when in real life it was a grating synthesized MIDI file) of that memorable music as the camera panned over a packed out stadium. Then came the cut screens came. Wow! Joe Montana dropping back to pass. No way! that's Barry Sanders and the Lions, Holy shit! Lawrence Taylor is pissing on Mark Rypien after a sack.

Anyways, I always forget how groundbreaking this game was for the time, as it was the first game I can remember that had a full 16 game schedule and playoffs, compiled player statistics, and had in-game injuries, which were always amusing because two little trainers would come sprinting on to the field as the crowd sat stunned, and dramatic music started playing before Webster Slaughter limped off the field. This was the first game that contained all the elements that would make sports games so addictive for me, culminating in the 30 season franchise option available on the most recent version of Madden, which in turn means Tecmo Super Bowl is responsible for ruining any semblance of a social life I might have had....so thanks a lot you big sweater wearing Tecmo rabbit who mockingly smiles at me every time I turn on my console...jerk.

I'm not going to continue to bore you with the technical details of the game and anyone who is reading this and doesn't know how amazing this game is or has never played it before, just stop. Stop reading this, stop working, stop going to class, stop everything, and go out and buy this game or download an emulator and play it on your computer, and then a couple of weeks from now when you've grown a scraggly beard, you reek of body odor from not showering, your girlfriends left you and you've lost your job/flunked out of school you can e-mail me and thank me for changing your life...for the better. Instead of the technical nonsense I'm going to close this post out with a rundown of the top four games of Tecmo I've played in my life. I know a list within a list is a new apex for my lack of creativity and re-affirms my disinterest in transition sentences and writing coherent, cohesive paragraphs, or cause some shift in the space time continuum, which could cause the earth and moon to collide into each other, but I'm willing to take that risk. On to the list.

#4: Stephone Paige Goes Crazy: My friend Bill is the only person I know who is my equal in Tecmo Super Bowl, (o.k. I'm exaggerating, I'm slightly better but we're splitting hairs here). Anyways when we found out about our mutual affinity for the game we immediately engaged in some good natured trash talking before we played our initial game against one another. Bill, being an amateur, insisted on a warm up game because he hadn't picked up the sticks in a couple of years. I grudgingly agreed to this match up and picked Kansas City mainly because its always fun to run over guys with Christian Okoye. However on my first play I picked a pass expecting Bill to guard against Okoye's power and select a run play. I snapped the ball and Shit! Bill picked this play and his whole front seven is coming at Steve DeBerg. Since I'm such a friggin' gunslinger and refused to take a sack I tried to zip the pass into double coverage and immediately regretted the decision, until Stephone Paige dove in front of both defenders and made the catch. Bill yelpped in disbelief and I sighed in relief. Next play same thing, Bill's defense does a jailbreak, DeBerg throws into coverage, Paige dives and catches, Bill becomes outraged and I sense something special happening. Sure enough Paige played out of his mind the whole game. Everything I threw his way he caught. He snared cut screen jump balls against defenders, and at one point, to really rub salt into Bill's wounds, I ran to the back of the end zone and threw a 110 yard bomb to Paige who leaped into the air snagging the ball while crossing the plane for the touchdown. By the end of the game Paige had accrued 15 catches topped 300 yards and made numerous trips to the end zone, hands down the greatest offensive performance I've ever had against a respected opponent.

#3: Al Toon Saves the Day: I introduced my college room mate Mike to Tecmo our freshman year at the Michigan State dorms. While everyone else on our floor was cutting loose and beginning the debauchery and boozing that make up college life, my friend Mike was getting a crash course in the finer points of Tecmo Super Bowl. I figured the best way for him to learn was through frequent beat downs at my hands and if he ever got discouraged, taunting, goading and humiliating him until his competitive nature took over and he played again, (I know I'm going to make a wonderful father, Marv Marinovich is going to be jealous). Mike got progressively better but never could get over the hurdle of beating me, until one day I was playing with the New York Jets against the Lions. I was losing 14-3 with about 1:45 left in the game and Mike was becoming giddy at the possibility of finally winning a game. That's when I took a Freeman McNeil screen pass about 50 yards for a TD making it 14-10, needing an onside kick and score to win and things were looking bleak. I recovered the onside kick with time for a single play. I snapped the ball, dropped back with Ken O'Brien and watched Al Toon streak for the end zone, lofted the pass and watched Toon leap. catch the ball and land on the five, where I was immediately tied up with Ray Crockett. Mike and I furiously tapped the A button and I shucked Crockett and ran for the end zone only to be tackled from behind as the ball crossed the plane, Touchdown J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! I jumped in the air to celebrate and immediately had the wind knocked out of me. See, Mike didnt take this loss to well and decided to time a right cross to my xiphoid process, knocking the wind out of me. I fell to the ground and Mike jumped on my back holding me down and working over my kidneys with a series of punches. I was desperate and out of breath so I used the one thing I learned from Jackie Chan movies (other than the finer points of calculus) and utilized the closest object available to defend myself. I blindly grasped about with my free hand for something, anything. A box of Kleenex? Too light. What's this? A full box of Capri Sun, that'll do. I grabbed it and flung it backwards towards Mike and heard it connect, then a howl reminiscent of a dying werewolf turning back into his naked human form. I had struck Mike in the face leaving him groggy, slightly bloody, and most importantly still a loser.

#2: Mike's Revenge: Over the four years Mike and I lived together he vastly improved in Tecmo, and became my equal, (honestly, turning Mike into a great Tecmo player is my proudest achievement from college) and eventually avenged his defeat at the hands of Al Toon several times. The most memorable being a game between his Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game went into overtime and I received the ball and began my drive towards victory moving within the Lions twenty. This is where I let my arrogance get in the way and I decided to score a touchdown to win instead of kicking the field goal. I picked a passing play and snapped the ball. However Mike had picked my play and Vinny Testaverde was getting rushed from all directions but was nimble enough to roll out and avoid the sack. Everyone downfield was wide open and I scrolled through my options before selecting Gary Anderson to throw to. Problem was Anderson had been wiped out during the blitz and was laying on the ground ten yards behind the play. This resulted in Vinny turning around 180 degrees and throwing into a pack of juiced up blitzing Lions, and into the waiting hands of Dan Owens. I was stunned, Mike was stunned and there was nothing I could do but watch as Owens sprinted 80 yards the other direction, protected by the other Lions defenders who were laying waste to everyone in their path, for the deciding touchdown.

#1: David Fulcher: Fulcher was a safety for the Cincinnati Bengals and is the single most dominant player on the game. I will not argue this point either, I don't care about Jerry Rice, Lawrence Taylor, Babe Laufenberg....wait he sucks anyways. Even Fulcher's Wikipedia page has a small section devoted to his prowess on the game, and I could probably come up with a Top 5 most memorable David Fulcher moments list if I wanted too, but I won't punish you readers with that. Anyways the one defining Fulcher game, which is still talked about in hushed tones amongst my friends and I, is the game in which Fulcher intercepted seven John Elway passes in one game, returning one of them for a touchdown. Mike had selected the Broncos thinking Elway's strong passing arm would neutralize Fulcher's closing speed, a theory that seemed sound in reasoning, but proved fatal in execution (that sounded like something you would hear on the History Channel special about Operation Barbarossa before a commercial break, but I digress). The game started with Fulcher intercepting a pass intended for Clarence Kay at about the Denver 15 and running it in for an easy six, and that ended up being the highlight of the game for Elway, because it was the only time he would see a pass of his make its way to the end zone. By the time the game had finished Mike was scared to death to throw the ball with Elway as Fulcher was flying around the field snaring everything Elway dared put in the air leading Mike to continually pitch it to poor Bobby Humphrey who was pounded into submission by Carl Zander, James Francis & Co. For the game Mike ended up throwing more interceptions than he had total yards, and the Broncos were completely discredited as a team worthy of playing with. Only David Fulcher could single handedly ruin a Hall Of Fame quaterbacks career and leave an entire franchise in shambles.
Well, there are my top Tecmo memories, I would love to hear any other similar stories in the comments or through email, tettletonoverpass@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Andrew Stout's Top 5 Underrated Hot Women

In a previous post I wrote that making top (insert number) lists and handing out grades are the two most overused, gimmicky ideas for a column/post and are used primarily by alcoholic, disenchanted, lazy, uncreative writers who are obviously mailing it in before some deadline and hoping to make it to happy hour before the guy who brings the karaoke machine shows up and steals the affection of the desperate 40 year old bar flies the writer strives after. I'm not naming names here, (Mike O'Hara, Danny Knobler, Tom Kowalski, the entire Detroit Free Press sports section), I'm just concerned that I've fallen into the same trap, and if you need evidence just scroll through my last 2 months worth of postings, and you'll see what I'm talking about, go ahead, I'll wait 10 seconds until your back......no rush.....See what I mean? I've got Top 5 Favorite/Least Favorite Tigers, Grades for the Pistons, and my only post that doesn't fall into that category doesn't even pertain to sports. Normally an introductory paragraph like this would crescent into me swearing off the gimmicky ideas and vowing to write more coherent and creative posts...or so you would think. Instead, I'm going to do one worse and write a Top 5 list about things not pertaining to sports. Wait, why is everyone leaving, you can't go anywhere, that back button on your browser is just painted on, go ahead and click it......hello?

Enough nonsense, this post is pretty self explanatory, with one minor caveat, I deplore the word hot as a way to describe a woman, unless it has a qualifier in front of it, i.e. "retarded hot", but I believe standing alone "hot" is a banal, moronic and slightly demeaning adjective. So why did I use it in the title for this post? Because I couldn't come up with a synonym that didn't sound creepy and or old fashioned, like something Mr. Burns would say. But this should be no surprise as anyone who knows me, knows that even though I'm only 23 I'm pretty old fashioned in my, uhhh......, sensibilities. For example I wish I could ride a penny-farthing to the local box social and discuss with the bourgeoisie how my father conscripted a poor "labourer" into taking my enlistment in the Union, and then act surprised when its announced that I'm the "Gentlemen of the Season", as girls bat their eyes and wave fans......but I was born about 150 years to late for that. Also this list won't contain the obvious, there will be no mention of Angelina Jolie, Mandy Moore, Sophia Bush, or Estelle Getty, (although in full disclosure had I made such a list spots 1, 2, and 3 would go to Kate Beckinsale). It will, however, feature women from across time, and in one case medium. These are just five women who for reasons unbeknownst to even myself, I've been drawn too, and I don't mean that in a creepy stalker kind of way.....mostly. On to the list!

5: Moira Quirk: When I was growing up, the only shows that mattered after coming home from school were the Nickelodeon game shows, American Gladiators and syndicated episodes of Empty Nest....well not so much the latter, but everything else could go to hell. The Nickelodeon game shows consisted of Nick Arcade, Finders Keepers, and Double Dare, and they were all pretty entertaining save for that creepy Harvey guy who was the announcer for seemingly every one of these shows. Harvey looked more like the kind of guy that would be circling the playground in a van with the windows covered by leopard print curtains than someone who should be co-hosting a children's show, but I digress. Everything changed in 1992 with the debut of the show GUTS. GUTS was pretty much a scaled down, children's version of American Gladiators, which means it essentially rocked my nine-year old face off, repeatedly. The part of the show that made it infinitely more entertaining for me was the presence of Mo, the referee/co-host with the British accent. I don't know if it was the beginning of changes for me (I don't know anything about children and the ages they start functioning, I'm genuinely startled when I hear a 7 year old talk), but for the first time in my life I was attracted to a "celebrity", and would anticipate the moments Mo was on the screem more than the race up the Aggro-Crag. Mo also began my lifelong infatuation with British accents, and I imagined Mo saying really generic British sayings, such as yelling out "What's all this then, right?" when she got pissed at me and I would just melt and go "Awww, I'm sorry, lets go buy purses." Recently I saw a repeat of GUTS for the first time in over a decade on Nick GAS and was excited to see what Mo looked like now that I had grown up. I waited through Mike O'Malley's babblings, (I was jealous of him when the show first came on) and when Mo finally appeared on the screen before the first event I was......eh. She was alright, but I could see how the only other person who thought she was hot when I was nine was my friend Greg who became a gay vampire, (his words, not mine), later in life......wait whats that say about me?

4: Erin E-Surance: This is easily the strangest entry on this list, because for one, she's not a real human, and, well I don't even need a two, because the first reason stands alone in its creepiness. This attraction to a car commercial cartoon has drove every girl I've been around crazy and made them re-evaluate if they want to continue to be around someone who would leer at a fictitious comic book character that is trying to sell car insurance. In my defense whats not to like? The pink hair shows shes probably into the same music as me, there is a commercial where she plays basketball, so we share a love of sports, and during the day she wears glasses, so she has to be smart and we could sit around and talk about important, topical things over dinner. See, I told you it made sense Candace, so why do you keep blocking my calls! Wait, I can read that......they can read that....disregard that last sentence please.

3: Mid-70's Linda Ronstadt: Wow those last two postings spiraled out of control and I fear Ive revealed things about myself, to you the reader, that I didnt even know, but moving on. # 3 is the person on this list that I've probably come the closest to physical contact with....in a round about, vicarious, sort of way, similar to my contact with every other woman. You're probably asking, "What the hell are you talking about Andrew you weren't even born until 1983 how could you have met mid-70's Linda Ronstandt?" Let me explain. A few weeks ago I was having a variety of GI health problems that led to me visiting a series of doctors to find the source of the ailment. While going to the doctor I was subjected to a "test" that every man NOT named Mr. Slave fears. I was informed ahead of time about the exam and, after debating throwing my self out the window and fleeing to Canada, decided to accept my fate. So I laid on my side and tried to focus on something...anything, to distract me. But my options were limited in the sterile, boring doctors office, except for the music being piped into the room, "Different Drum". With the doctor looming over my shoulder I tried hard to focus on the song and commit the lyrics to memory. Unfortunately doing this made the song get stuck in my head for days, and not wanting to constantly relive this painful, emabarrasing and shameful moment, decided to listen to the song as a way of deleting/repressing it from my mind (this works for me). While looking the song up online I stumbled across a young Linda Ronstandt and was struck by how pretty she was, as I had never recalled seeing a photo of her outside of the Simpsons drawing from the Mr. Plow episode. So thats how she makes the list. Questions? Yes, in the back. "Umm, the physical contact you alluded to earlier was really a doctor sticking his finger in your nether regions....uhh....are you gay?" Huh?....I don't...know.....anymore.

2: Elizabeth Vargas: Elizabeth Vargas was the short lived host of ABC's evening newscast in the time between the death of the immortal Peter Jennings, (wait thats a contradiction, forget it I'm leaving it in anyways) and the cheesy Charlie Gibson. Normally I eschew the nightly news because I'm too young and hip to get my news at 6:30 on T.V., I mean what is this the 1960's, 90% of the stuff that happens during the day I've already seen online, processed, regurgitated and moved on before 6:30. However the one exception was the short period in which Elizabeth Vargas hosted the ABC newscast. Nearly every night that summer I tuned in and, most of the time, I couldnt tell you what the stories were about. They were just filler between the time Elizabeth Vargas was on the screen, and when she was reassigned to make room for that ass Charlie Gibson I was outraged. Here was someone who actually appealed to younger male viewers and she was pushed out because old men, like my Grandpa, couldn't stomach the fact that a woman, a Hispanic woman! was ruining their news. To this day I'm hostile towards Gibson's mere presence on the screen whenever I accidentally go past the news at 6:30. Vargas would have occupied the top spot on this list until I recently found out she was married to Marc Cohn the man responsible for what is quite possibly my least favorite song of all time, "Walking in Memphis". I was so disappointed in the fact that she would be into emotional songwriting types, who would cry at their son's piano recital, I hate those guys. I don't have any emotions and if I was at the piano recital I would be wondering why he wasn't out looking for a job. I don't care if he's 10, factories would pay a lot of money to have those little fingers cleaning machines.

1: Stacy London: The co-host of TLC's "What Not to Wear" ......(sigh). What is it about Stacy London that I like, what makes her grab this coveted top spot on a list created by a lonely law student in his Detroit apartment at 3:15 in the morning, (because she WOULD care)? The first thing about Stacy is obviously her style. I have none, and I need help, I'm strictly a t-shirt (usually an animal, or an animal eating another animal, standard stuff) and jeans, and if I'm feeling really saucy...khakis. That's it. I need help with this kind of stuff, a way to look clean and not lazy and disheveled, and who better to help me navigate through the fashion terrain than a person with their own fashion show. Also I love her acerbic sense of humor, and the biting, catty remarks she makes to guests on the show. I have the same sense of humor and my perfect date with a girl, any girl, would be sitting on a bench, people watching and belittling strangers with cutting remarks after they were out of an earshot, because I'm just such a charming man. I also like the fact that she has such a polarizing effect on other women. Every girl I talk to thinks she's a snobby, cold hearted, mean spirited squaw, incapable of feeling. Even my sister couldn't believe I liked Stacy London, and when she showed me a picture of her online my sister said they should have called the show "How Not to Smile." Oh well, different strokes for different folks, I guess.

There's your list now that I've re-read it I have to go re-evaluate a series of things in my life but NOT my sexuality.........of course.....(nervous laughter).

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My Bottom Five Least Favorite Tigers #1

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was going to randomly count down my bottom five least favorite Tigers, starting with #2 Juan Gonzalez, this post is a continuation of that series so if you want read the criteria for selection or how it all began, scroll down a couple of posts, or...I guess I could link it....nah, just scroll down.

I know what your thinking, why would I reveal my #1 least favorite Tiger of all time before I revealed #5? This would be the equivalent of the Academy Awards announcing the winner for Best Picture before delivering the award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, but only on a much grander scale (yes. I just compared this countdown to the largest award show of the year, and yes I know exaggerated self importance is a sign of a mental disorder along with disorganized speech, give paper floor me school bus hop....moving on). But in all honesty I couldn't think of a fifth Tiger I despised enough to add to the four I had originally come up with when I first sat down to write these posts. Also I didn't want to write some even more uninteresting post about a player I don't have the requisite antipathy for, it would just end up being empty and meaningless, like my relationship with you the reader. So if you were anxiously anticipating #5 i don't know what to tell you.....uh....deal with it. Will that make things easier? (Sorry that was rude, in all honesty Craig Paquette came the closest to making this list, but I couldnt write about him for some reason).

#1: Shane Halter: This is probably a bit of a letdown because, like Chad Kreuter, Halter had a brief, innocuous career as a backup/utility player during the bleakest time in Tigers history. However Shane is the one athlete that I came the closest to having a Ron Artest-like player coming into the stands and wailing on a nerdy kid with glasses with type of incident...kind of.

From the beginning Halter always kind of struck me as being somewhat of an ass. He seemed to have an unjustified sense of self worth and entitlement, (wait maybe the two of us did have something in common). For example one season Halter bragged that he would win a Gold Glove if he was able to start every day. This led the other Tigers to spray paint his glove a shiny, metallic gold, and this was on a team where everyone hated each other so its not like they were pulling a prank in jest. I think the other Tigers thought Halter was kind of an a-hole too. Anyways Halter had somewhat endeared himself to Tigers fans by being a sort of sideshow, (like that Jamaican guy with no arms or legs that went around rolling cigarettes with his mouth, you know Prince Randian), a jack of all trades, capable of playing all nine positions on the field, culminating in the last game of the 2000 season when he actually did play all nine positions in one contest, an entertaining 12-11 victory over the Minnesota Twins that was arguably the highlight of a somewhat forgettable season. Halter followed that season with a surprisingly successful 2001 campaign, his first season as a regular at the meat-falling-off-the-bone tender age of 31. 2002 was a disappointment as Halter came back to earth and by the 2003 season Halter was relegated back to his role as utility man extraordinaire for what would be the worst team in American League history. But enough of Shane Halters history and onto the story of how he earned the #1 spot on this prestigious list.

The 2003 season started off miserably for the Tigers and my friend T.J. and I were completely out of patience with them after the first week of the season. So the two of us decided that during the next home stand we would voice our increasing frustrations with the team through the powers of posterboard, xeroxed photos, and permanent markers, just like the beginning of every other major revolution. Anyways T.J. and I went to Meijer and bought the supplies and a case of Mountain Dew for a long night of brainstorming, and after hours of hard work came up with a sign that parodied the "Priceless" MasterCard commercials (I know how original). The sign gave the salaries of Dean Palmer, Bobby Higginson (see #3), and Dmitri Young, along with their photos and the punchline "Worthless". Pretty clever, huh.......not really. So the next morning the two of us packed our sign and headed to Comerica for an exciting tilt between the Tigers and D-Rays and hoping to get to the game before it sold out. Lucky for us we got there just in time before they sold the last 30,000 tickets. (Actually we didnt pay for the tickets, a couple of girls dumped there tickets off on us after their dad had dropped them off and they were going to some party instead). We took the tickets and anticipated some trouble getting the sign past security at the gate, seeing as how it was a little derogatory towards the "stars" of the team, but fortunately for us the guy working the gate laughed at our sign and showed it to another worker who seemed to get a kick out of it as well.

T.J. and I looked for our seats and much to our disbelief we were about ten rows behind the Tigers dugout in a section that was about 90% empty (memories like this are why I get irate over the fact that I cant get a ticket to Opening Day now......stupid bandwagon fans). We couldn't believe our good fortune and immediately settled in for a long day of jeering and heckling paid athletes because, as any columnist will tell you, having a ticket to a sporting event gives you the license to act like a jerk even though everybody on the field could have broke T.J. and I in half. Anyways, T.J. and I set our sign facing towards the field on the seats in front of us, adjusted ourselves and talked to a couple of fans sitting by us when we heard, coming from the direction of the field, someone shout, "Hey...pussies!". T.J. and I looked at one another and he said, "Wow, we are close to the field, you can really hear the chatter", and that's when we heard the same refrain again only this time louder. The two of us turned to the field, where the players had been warming up before the first pitch, and saw Halter leaning over the top of the dugout wall staring directly at us. "Hey, pussies, I'm talking to you, what's your sign say." We sat there surprised that a major league player was talking to us, I mean we were totally star-struck at the fact that future Hall-of-Famer Shane Halter, was talking to us. Not wanting to look like idiots, we had to respond with something clever, so I stammered out, "uh, it says you guys suck, and you're all overpaid losers...yeah." Halter did not seem amused by this and said "Hey Dean, look what these pussies, (that seemed to be the only cutdown he had in his vocabulary), have to say about you." That's when Dean Palmer with his bulging, roided up Popeye biceps came ambling up the dugout steps and turned around. Halter pointed in our direction, and Palmer squinted in an attempt to read our sign, when some ancient security guard grabbed my shoulder turned me around and confiscated our sign. I tried to protest, with Halter yelling "Kick them out of here" in the background, but the power tripping usher was having none of what I was trying to sell him, and he folded up the sign and walked away. T.J. and I were dumbfounded, then angry, then mildly happy, and finally completely irate. We sat and stewed for nine straight innings of terrible baseball that featured way to much Jesus Colome, and when the Tigers won we raced down to the bottom row and leaned over the railing to shout insults at Halter, pretty tame stuff like "You suck, Halter, I hate you, Booo!", and then some fat, disgusting, tubby, slob, of a harpy, just started shrieking at us, "Shut up! Shane Halter's great, you guys are the ones that suck" so I turned to her and tried to explain what had happened earlier that afternoon and she just kept shrieking and shrieking at me, then she lost a bunch of teeth, and I don't remember anything after that (I made up the last part...of course /nervous laughter/).

So thats how Shane Halter grabbed the title of Andrew Stout's Least Favorite Tiger of All-Time. Sure he never did anything to offend the fanbase as a whole, and wasn't hated 1/1,000th as much as Juan Gone, the man who kicked off this list at #2, but he is the only athlete I ever got into any kind of confrontation with, and he'll continue to hold that position until the day I get into some kind of "Beyond Thunderdome" stlye deathmatch with Jason Grilli, which will probably happen sometime this summer.