Tag Archives: fans

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.

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Open letters from opening day

Tragically, I was at work for the majority of the game yesterday.  Not nearly as tragically, I was at home in front of my television in time to watch Austin Jackson work some magic!  Through the magic of technology, I was following the game as closely as possible and have some open letters to our dear players for the start of the season.

To Prince Fielder, Please keep being adorable with Cabrera in the dugout.  Rubbing his back?  Hugging him from behind?  Priceless.  Maybe having a hetero-lifemate will keep him happy and out of trouble.

Jhonny Perlata- People said that there was probably no way you could have another season like last year.  They said that, based on your career numbers, last year was a fluke.  Well.  You quietly went about your business having a ridiculous spring, and no one talked about it.  And then?  Three-for-three with a walk on opening day.  You just keep doing your thing and we’ll keep laughing that no one seems to notice.

Dear, dear Austin Jackson, THIS.  That’s all I can say.  Do this, always, and maybe you can earn a small piece of the love that we had for Curtis Granderson and help us to heal.  Obviously, you loved it, too.  Did you see the replays of your smile after you hit the game winning run?  Be still, my heart!

Miguel.  Listen, buddy.  We’re not going to worry about the hitting, because you took three walks and they had the balls to walk you intentionally to get to Prince.  We laugh at that strategy.  And your ridiculous roll after catching the foul fly?  Adorable.  But what happened on that error?  That wasn’t even a ranging play.  The only thing I can imagine is that you had a flashback to the exploded face incident and balked.  And, honestly, I don’t blame you, but you’re out to prove something, and that something is not my lingering fear that you won’t make it as a third baseman.  Get it together.

Dearest Papa Grande, I don’t blame you.  Those people who apparently booed when you finished the inning?  They’re ungrateful idiots.  You weren’t going to stay perfect and everyone knows that.  Granted, blowing it on opening day was not ideal, but at least the monkey is off your back and you can start a new streak, right?  Please don’t ever change.

Oh, Tigers fans.  Speaking of booing, I have a note for you, as well.  Stop.  Booing. Your.  Own.  Team.  Stop it.  Did you really boo Inge when he was announced, on opening day, even though he’s on the DL and not playing?  Seriously?  I know you’re fickle when it comes to Inge, but that’s a new low.  And those of you who booed Valverde when he blew a save?  After all he did for the team last year?  Disgusting.  Please don’t start the year this way.

Justin, Justin, Justin.  Did you think I forgot about you?  How could I?  105 pitches, 8 innings, 1 walk, and 7 K’s.  I love you.  I love you so, so hard.  My in-laws sent us boxes of Fastball Flakes this week.  You have your own cereal, that’s how hard we love you.  DO THIS ALWAYS.

I love you, team.  Keep this up, and we’ll be just fine.

 

Spring training update 5- Tigers at Braves

Husband and I headed out to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the opening Tigers game of the Spring against the Braves.  Typically, this game is a night game and the weather is delightful.  This year, we were faced with an afternoon game during an unseasonable heat wave with 15+ mile per hour winds.  In case you were curious, 30 SPF sunscreen without reapplication is not sufficient.  My shoulders are spectacular.

Anyhow, if you’ve been following any of the media surrounding the Tigers this spring lately, you’ll know that a) the press is confused by Leyland’s raging man crush on Clete Thomas, b) Inge’s playing time this year is wholly dependent on his ability to hit, c) Leyland loved how Santiago played at second last season, and d) there is some kind of created battle between Worth and Inge for playing time (… I have no idea).  All of these points will be important as I give you some highlights.  Pictures will come after that.

– I hate to tie a team to their fans because they have no control over them, but I’ve been going to Braves vs. Tigers games every March for a few years now and there’s a definite pattern.  While most fans are great, the ones who are not are obnoxious, drunk, and rude.  We always sit in the grass seats along the third base line and there’s a beverage stand on the other side of the fence behind us.  As the games progress, the heckling gets more and more crass.  Today, there were some guys who started in from the first inning with stunningly tasteless comments about Cabrera’s drinking and Fielder’s weight.  Stay classy, Braves fans.

– Austin Jackson struck out to lead off the first inning.  You could feel the Tigers fans (and there were a LOT of us) groan inwardly.  Then Boesch and Cabrera proceed to strike out, as well, and things didn’t seem so terrible.

– Fister looked like his usual, awesomely efficient, self.  Worked through the first two innings cleanly with fairly quick outs.

– Speaking of awesome pitching, a combined 1 hit game?  Awesome.  Granted, starters started coming out in the 6th, but still.  Pauley was the only troubling one with back-to-back walks.  Guh.  Way too familiar.

– Clete Thomas started in left field and made me wonder why on earth we continue to play Delmon at that position.  He could have let that ball go foul, but no, he wanted a job and proceeded to chase it into foul territory, crash over the left field fence, fall into the bullpen, and come up with the ball still in his hand.  INSANITY.  Full confession- I’ve had a crush on Clete since his debut with us, so I don’t really blame Leyland.

– Inge walked in his first at-bat and didn’t do much else at the plate, though still, it wasn’t a strikeout!  HOWEVER.  It was like he told Leyland “I’ll see your Inge Can Play Second But Still Must Hit” and raise you two web gem plays at second.  It was RIDICULOUS and the fans ate it up.  (I realize the Inge haters are vocal, but every time I go to a game, he always gets crazy cheers when his name is announced.)  First play- stretched out fully horizontal and snagged a ball scorched up the middle, saving a run.  Second play- I missed while getting food, of course.  I came back to our spot and asked my husband what I missed, to which he replied, “Inge being a bad ass”.  Apparently he made some insane underhanded flip to the bag to get the last out of the inning.  Both plays also required different movement than any of the plays he’s made at third, meaning this was just a direct skill transfer.

– Keep your eye on Ryan Strieby.  He was impressive during batting practice today.  His swing is crazy smooth and has a ton of power behind it.  Four balls left the park off his bat during batting practice.  Head hit a lovely ball out during the actual game, earning him a second look in my book.  Keep your eye on Luis Marte on the pitching end of things, as well.

– Turner was great to see pitch in person.  He looks fantastic, and there’s not much more I can say there.

And now, pictures!

Continue reading

Spring training update- pitcher and catcher report continued

When I left off, the pitchers and catchers were stretching and warming up.  There was a LOT going on from here on, so I’m going to mix pictures and bulleted thoughts for the majority of this entry. 

– Throughout their stretching routines, someone kept singing the chorus of “La Bamba” at the top of their lungs.  Having been at training some last season, I knew immediately that this person was Valverde.  There was also random whooping and shouting.  If you’ve ever wondered if Valverde’s schtick on the mound is an act, believe me, it is not.  More on that later.

– Pitchers and catchers broke out for workouts, with the catchers heading over to one field and the pitchers dividing up between the remaining four fields.  I followed the catchers, where Avila and Laird were playing catch together.  Avila looks excellent- smiling, relaxed, healthy, and moving well.  That was a massive relief to see.  He and Laird seemed happy to be working together, which was also great.

Laird

He's baaaaaaaack!

Alex smiling

I much prefer smiling Alex to the grimacing Alex from the end of last year.

– It seemed like the pitchers were broken into four groups, each with one of the four known starters and a various selection of prospects and relievers.  Got a look at Justin’s group first, which included Oliver, Balester, Hoffman, and a few I couldn’t identify.  The were working fielding drills, which with our history, was a very good thing to see.

Justin running

Justin running to first base.

– Saw Fister’s group next.  Fister is tall.  So, so tall.  I mean, we know that, but you don’t really get a sense of his legs until you see him person.  His group included Schlereth, Pauley (remember him?), Below, Villareal, Owen, and friends.  At one point, Schlereth was standing next to Fister and I almost died laughing.  I mean, look at this:

Pitching huddle

Height difference hillarity.

– Porcello’s group was next, including Coke, Valverde, Ortega, and a few others.  Now, I have no idea how these groups were formed, but putting Coke and Valverde in the same group proved the highlight of the day for the fans.  Poor Porcello (heh) was all Serious Face and working hard while Coke and The Potato worked hard . . . while being completely ridiculous.  Coke ran for a ball and was followed by the shout of “Get ’em, Cokey!”.  Valverde stood up against the fence, struck a pose, and yelled “Cheese!” to the fans.  A particularly amusing “hustle” from Valverde was awarded with the first round of applause I had heard on the back fields.  Coke completely biffed a ball coming to first and we all “ooooooooh”-ed dramatically.  He then turned to the coach, stared in disbelief, and exclaimed, “Come on, do I look like a hitter?!”.  Papa Grande made it to first and a fan yelled “Safe!”.  Without missing a beat, he retorted with “OUT!”.  The fans were into it and the whole experience was just beautiful.  It was why I love spring training in a 15 minute burst of bullpen awesomeness.

Porcello and Valverde

I don't know what was happening, but apparently both Rick and Jose found it funny.

Papa Grande

The Big Potato hustles! Go Potato, go!

Coke

Coke awesomely blames a coach for his error.

– After that crew, it was Scherzer with Benoit, Wilk, Downs, Turner, and a few others.  Scherzer is a clown, pretty much exactly as you would expect. It wasn’t that he wasn’t working hard so much as he seems to have a pretty laid back attitude about everything.  (Completely the opposite of Porcello, who seems pretty tense regardless of his years pitching at this level so far.  I have some thoughts on that for later.)  Benoit missed two grounders to the mound in a row and kicked the second one in frustration, but otherwise, he seemed loose and happy.

Pitchers

Wilk throws while the others look on.

Scherzer

Scherzer being himself.

– Have I mentioned Fister is tall?  I mean, come on:

Fister running

Holy legs, Batman!

– At this point, they were done and the hitters (those who were there) came out to practice.  Unfortunately, they took the back two fields where there really isn’t access for fans.  Through Twitter, I knew that Brennan, Prince, and Miggy were tearing it up back there, but I have no photographic evidence of this.  Instead, here are a few random photos and thoughts to finish.

Phil Coke

Phil Coke, man of the people. He signed for EVERYONE and had conversations with many.

Batters

Jackson and Boesch!

Prince

Prince, Kelly, and friends.

 

 

Andy Dirks- big damn hero!

I’ve been sort of half following the story of Andy Dirks and the Caribbean Series because, while I don’t know a whole lot about Andy (not his fault, he just kind of gets lost in the endless parade of young outfielders and hasn’t done much to draw attention), I like him and there’s pretty much nothing going on in baseball this week.  It seems like he’s been playing well and the video of his walk-off hit from the Aguilas game is hilarious.  This headline today on MLB.com, though, amused the crap out of me and I had to share it.

“Andy Dirks’ standout play makes him a star in D.R.”

Our Andy Dirks!  A star!  No, seriously, check this out:

‘Through it all, you can still make out one of the most popular chants at this year’s Caribbean Series, and that’s music to Andy Dirks’ ears every time he hears it.

“An-dee, An-dee, An-dee.”

The Detroit outfielder is a rock star in the Dominican Republic. He can’t walk out of the hotel room where he is living this week without fans asking to take a photo with him or get his autograph.’

What exactly did Andy do to achieve celebrity status in the Dominican?  Well, the numbers weren’t spectacular, but they absolutely give hope to the idea of depth in the outfield (though we’re getting Clete back, as well, but my adoration for him is for another post).  First 4 games of the Series- .250 AVG, 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored.  .262 AVG over 16 games with the Toros.  That’s pretty consistent with his numbers from the end of the season (small sample sizes, all).

Apparently, though, he was also all about the drama.  Not only was there the above video in which he finished a come-from-behind victory with the game winning hit, but he also had the game-winning RBI against Venezuela in extra innings.  Lest we think that hitting is his only talent, he then made what was called a “spectacular” catch against Mexico and saved a run.

How does Andy feel about all this?

“Baseball has been really good to me so far,” Dirks said. “It’s been good to get a chance to play, let alone get recognized for your play and have a great group of guys to play with. It’s been a pretty surreal experience.” (same MLB.com article as above)

There you go.  Andy Dirks: Dominican Hero!  Well done, Andy, and we’ll see you at Spring Training!

 


“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?