Tag Archives: don’t be a dick

NOT HELPFUL, DELMON

Are you freaking kidding me with this??

Okay, look, Delmon.  Let’s talk about this for a minute.  New York City is an exciting place.  I know you were probably excited that the team got in early enough to enjoy a little time in the city.  But New York is a great place.  There are many, MANY things to do that do not involve drinking and staying out until after 2am.  And, hell, if you were going to drink?  Have a beer.  Maybe two.  Meet some locals.  Go to bed at a descent hour.  But you are on a team that is slumping.  Drinking to a degree that impares your judgement the day before a game against the NEW YORK YANKEES is a STUPID IDEA.  One of your OWN TEAM MATES can provide you with endless reasons as to why this is true.
Also?  Your team just lost 6 of 7 games at home, 3 of those against the Mariners.  Fans are angry.  Your manager is frustrated.  The longest employed player in the organization, whom some of your team mates have known for 10 years, was just fired.  For one second, did you think that MAYBE putting yourself in a situation that COULD lead to trouble was the absolute LAST THING any of your team mates or bosses needed right now?  They’ve been through this before.  Recently.  I have a feeling their patience for these kinds of shennanigans are wearing very, very thin.

And, if we’re being really honest?  You’re no Miguel Cabrera, and you’ve been in trouble before.  You’re a free agent at the end of this year, and you’ve seemed very concerned about that fact whenever anyone thinks that maybe your lack of range in left may mean you should be a full-time DH.  Do you really think this kind of behavior is going to help you get a job next year?  Really?

One of the reasons I love professional baseball is because this kind of crap doesn’t seem to happen with nearly the frequency it does in, say, the NBA or the NFL.  I want the athletes I root for to be good role models for my kids someday.  Good people make mistakes.  Good people make poor choices.  But the information coming forward that this may have a anti-semetic aspect to it makes it harder for me to write this whole situation off as “one of those things”.  Drinking lowers our inhibitions.  It doesn’t change who we are as people.

Jim Leyland stood up in front of a room full of people just days ago and praised your team for who they are as people.  Do you remember what he said?

“We just have a wonderful group of guys. In fact, to be honest with you, if we’re going to win this thing, we’ve got to find that little mean streak that’s in all of us. We need that, and we’re going to have to have that. We are going to need that little mean streak, I can assure you, that little swagger, because we’re the hunted. But I’ll take my chances with this group. We’ve got a lot of characters, a lot of wonderful guys with great, great personalities.”

“I’ve never really seen many good players or good teams that didn’t have a little mean streak, a little selfishness in them, to be honest with you. I mean that in a good way. … In our case, I think it’s particularly important because a lot of people have talked about our club, blah blah blah.  There’s time to be a real nice guy and a gentleman, but it’s not when the game starts. You have to have a little bit of [a-hole] in you, if you want to know the truth.”

This isn’t what he meant.  Not at all.  I’m sure he’s embarassed by what happened this morning, and I hope you appologize to him and the fans for representing the club in this way.

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The Tigers prove they’re capable of losing, fans promptly lose their minds

::sigh::

Okay, listen Tigers fans.  Come over here and have a seat.  Don’t worry, I have tissues and beer.

Here’s the thing, you guys.  You’re all sports fans, and what’s more, you’re all TIGERS fans.  You know how this works.  Sometimes, teams lose.  In baseball, with the season lasting the better part of a year, the odds of this happening frequently is actually pretty high.  And, sometimes, your team will lose in a way that is so soul-crushingly, mind-numbingly, yell-obscenities-at-the-radio-and-nearly-drive-off-the-road terrible that you will question why you ever chose to put yourself through following them.  Do you all remember That Twins Game?  Yeah, you do, even if you try to pretend you don’t.

Yes, it is completely infuriating that Justin could pitch THAT WELL for 8 innings (I mean, less than 80 pitches?  What?) and blow it in the 9th.  It is more infuriating that Schlereth and Valverde gave back-to-back walks after he left the game and broke the tie.  And it is just BLISTERINGLY INFURIATING that Fernando Rodney, FERNANDO, could put down Cabrera, Prince, and Peralta in order.

Give me a second, I need to take a breath…

Okay, I’m better.  Look.  You can Monday morning quarterback this all day long, but here’s the truth.  The way Justin was pitching, no one could have guessed he would look that different the next inning.  Even after he started to struggle, fans were booing when Leyland went out to talk to him because they thought he was getting pulled.  Was Schlereth a good choice for the next pitcher?  Probably not.  Was it a good plan to put Valverde into a non-save, bases loaded situation?  Maybe not.  But statistically, it was probably just as likely for them or Verlander to blow the lead.  The manager has to make these choices, and if it works, he’s a hero.  If it doesn’t, fans wail and gnash their teeth, calling for his head.  After this team won the first four games of the season.  You know how many teams were undefeated this morning?  The Tigers.  You know how many wins the Twins had this morning?  Zero.  Just think about that for a minute before you start mentally firing the whole team.

I hate to have to bring this up again, but @catswithbats mentioned on Twitter that she really hoped she wasn’t hearing booing on the broadcast at the end of the game.  The only, ONLY reason I hope those people had was that they were expressing their displeasure for Rodney’s new-found abilities.  The Rays are a good team.  They swept the Yankees and, last season, beat them to make it to the playoffs.  Aside from the final inning, Verlander pitched like a master.  Shields also pitched a great game and we were frankly lucky to get the runs we did.  This was just one of those games.  If there were people booing simply because we lost, I’m frankly ashamed to call them fellow fans.

Valverde isn’t going to get every save, Cabrera and Prince aren’t going to get back-to-back hits every time through the rotation, Verlander isn’t going to pitch a no-hitter every outing, and we’re going to lose sometimes.  This team is made of win and magic and we’ll all enjoy this season a lot more if we can calm the hell down.  If we don’t, this is going to be a long, miserable season.

“isn’t the happiest camper . . .”

"Looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne. . . " you know the rest.

I feel like I should be running around all spastic with happiness over our assured 2012 World Series title like many Tigers fans are today, but the line-up situation bugs me so badly that I just can’t drink the Kool-Aid yet.  At least Michael Rosenberg at the Free Press agrees.

That, and I’m suddenly very concerned about my ability to get spring training tickets.  Jesus H. Christ, is Joker Marchant going to be a zoo next month.

Anyway, you can probably see what’s coming here if you read my last post.  Before you roll your eyes and leave the room, let me reiterate that I am in no way in denial regarding Inge’s ability to hit.  This is not going to be an argument for why Inge should be the third baseman for the team and how unfair it is to move him, or bench him, or whatever. I’m also well aware that this is a business and, in business, you can’t make everyone happy.

However.  There’s a way you handle this, and a way you don’t.  As the reports yesterday moved rapidly from “I bet Cabrera is going to DH” to “Cabrera is telling everyone he’s the third baseman”, and had a sick feeling as to how this was going to go down, and that was confirmed during the press conference this afternoon.  When this deal was discussed, the organization told Cabby he was moving to third full time, and no one told Inge.  Leland said that he apologized to Inge because they hadn’t meant for it to break before they told him.  He said that he had “not been at liberty” to discuss it with Inge beforehand.  Inge “isn’t the happiest camper”, but he can still be a valuable part of the team.  That last part is what you tell the press when a player is still on contract and but has effectively lost their job.

Here’s the thing, though.  The organization has said multiple times that they spoke to Cabrera during the winter caravan about the move.  No one talked to Inge until, what, yesterday?  I don’t know the operating model of a team, so I know I don’t have all the information, but to me, that translates as “Cabrera is our superstar hitter, so we need to make sure he’s okay with this, but you barely hit for average and are on the last year of your contract, so we’re not concerned about your feelings on the matter”.  And if that’s what happened, that Dombrowski or Ilitch (two men who, by the way, have always stood by Inge even when others didn’t) didn’t feel it was necessary to at least tell him this was happening before it broke in the press, that really sucks.  No, we’re not talking about a superstar player in Inge, but we are talking about the man who has played for them for his entire career and was the starting third baseman for most of that time.  Ten years.  Not only that, according to the team, he has always worked above and beyond others, done whatever it took to help the team win, was a force and a leader in the clubhouse when times were tough.  They’ve believed in him enough to sign him to contracts when fans thought we could do better and stood by him personally when he was struggling so seriously last season.

And no one talked to him.

I thought the Tigers front office was better than that.  My prediction?  I see this going two ways.  First, Cabrera doesn’t work out at third and Inge gets to play there at least part time.  Second, Inge is out of the organization by the end of the season.  This is what I think will happen.  I get the vibe that the only reason he’s still with them is because he’s on contract.  They’re either going to trade him or release him, period, and he’s going to go without a fight.  The Inge I know is going to fight like hell during training to prove that he can come back to at least his average.  He could come out of spring training at the level he was in 2009, but even if he does, it won’t matter, because there isn’t a place for him anymore, and I wish someone had at least given him the courtesy of telling him that to his face.

I hope I’m wrong about Cabrera at third.  I hope he can play it at least well enough to not cost us late leads.  I hope that, wherever Inge ends up next, he plays a hell of a third base for him, that he’s appreciated, and most importantly, that he’s happy just to play the game.  Most of all, I hope that, if they get that series ring this year, that Inge plays enough games with the Tigers that he gets one, too.

Always my Tiger (image credit unknown)

Brandon Inge and what it means to support your team

A few days ago, I was watching a random special about memorable moments from the 2009 season that was airing on MLB Network.  Inevitably, a good amount of attention was given to game 163 against the Twins, including the now infamous shot of Brandon Inge’s jersey getting brushed by a pitch.  The highlight they played started with Inge walking to the plate while the announcer declared something to the effect of “This is exactly what the Tigers want to see- Brandon Inge at the plate with the bases loaded”.

My, how things change.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a fairly shameless defender of Inge.  I harbor no delusions about his statistics over the past 10 years- you don’t make any friends with a .230 career average- but I also think he’s a valuable third baseman (fielding percentage generally above league, with flair) and have a bit of a soft spot for him as an overall player.  He’s only ever played for the Tigers AND survived The Dark Years of the early 2000’s.  He seems willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win, even if that means playing five different positions in one season.  Last year, he handled a demotion with humility and worked his way back to the team in time to contribute during the playoffs.  His recent feisty comments to the press about the possibility of being a platoon player this year seem to be getting a bit of “yeah, you talk big now” reaction from people but, you know, good for him.  He’s pissed at himself for last season, but if it comes down to it, I really think he’ll gracefully accept a platoon with Kelly if that’s what’s best for the team.  I respect him as a player, and I get irritated when fans inevitably start pinning the whole team’s failures on the fact that the Tigers keep letting Inge hang around and play good defensive third base.

And, let’s be honest, last year sucked.  A lot.  Even factoring in illness, it wasn’t pretty.  Lowest average since his rookie season, .548 OPS, 3 home runs, 23 RBIs, and I could go on and on.  The thing is, though, this is the same player who was an All-Star in 2009 because fans fought for it to happen.  27 home runs, .720 OPS, 84 RBIs . . . and a .230 average.  .230, people.  I hate BA as a statistic, but that is . . . very not good.  That’s just Inge as a hitter.  He’s up and down with the numbers but generally maintains an overall level of mediocrity that justifies keeping him around for his fielding.  Still, it was pretty obvious that he was struggling early last season, even for him, but with a possible playoff spot on the line, a player who was championed less than two years ago, who has been loyal and supportive to the city and generally gets hearty cheers when he comes to the plate, started to get booed.

I bring up Inge in particular to make illustrated a broader, more troubling point about last season.  Tigers fans have a twisted love for hating Inge and he became a crazy easy target for blame from the start, so the rise of the Inge haters wasn’t particularly surprising. It wasn’t even that surprising that nearly every Tigers fan on my Facebook feed felt that every problem with the team could be solved by shipping Inge (and Raburn) to a small tropical island.  What did surprise me was the booing and the observation that, as the team won more games and a playoff spot looked to be a lock, it not only continued but spread.  I wish I had been thinking of starting a blog at the time and had taken notes because I’ve lost track of how many different players got this treatment at home games, but I do know that there were instances in which I was truly speechless at the fans’ reactions to certain players.  Good players. It reached a point where I was disgusted, embarrassed and just prayed that Austin Jackson would make contact with the ball because I couldn’t bear what would happen if he struck out.  There was even a wonderful column in the Detroit Free Press addressing the issue, so I know I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

Booing the opposition isn’t cool, but booing your own team is completely uncalled for.  It isn’t like players don’t know when they’re struggling and they definitely don’t like it.  Psychologically, I’m sure it feels cathartic to be able to loudly express your displeasure, but it helps nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Why, when you want someone to do better at their job, would you do the least supportive thing possible?  For the player, the psychology of a slump is already a vicious cycle.  You aren’t doing well, so you become frustrated, then overly aware of everything you’re doing, which leads to trying too hard, which means to more mistakes, and so on.  Now let’s add the anticipation that, when you make a mistake, your fans will loudly express their displeasure, and you’re going to work even harder to avoid that.  Hard work can correct problems, but there’s a fine line between working hard and overworking.  They know they’re doing badly, their coaches are telling them this every day, and they don’t need you being nasty about it, too.

Supporting your team means supporting your players and cheering them on, even in the bad times.  Sometimes that’s hard, but we need to all be adults and realize that every player can’t be great every day, and that every team can’t win every game.  It doesn’t work like that, so suck it up and remember that players are people, that they’re probably actually doing a great deal to try to get better, and they’re ultimately the who are out there failing while the world watches.

Can we all just agree that Inge is Inge?