Tag Archives: Gerald Laird

JV tries to kill us, Inge kills the internet, and this is only week 2

(This was written yesterday, FYI, so assume this was all yesterday morning after JV’s start.  I forgot to e-mail the post to myself from the work computer.  Oops.)

Why do I feel like this season has been at least a month long already? My heart should not be litterally pounding during the 10th game of the year. Insanity.

And speaking of insanity, this team (and the fans, actually) has rendered me incapable of coherent speech multiple times over already, so here’s a collection of disjointed thoughts for you.

– At some point during the third game against the White Sox, I had completely transformed into the “Y U No” guy and found myself screaming at the television:

TIGERS OFFENSE Y U NO HIT BASEBALLS?

BULLPEN Y U NO THROW STRIKES?

LEYLAND Y U NO KILL SCHLERETH?

PRINCE Y U INJURE OWN STARTER?

DELMON Y U NO LIKE RUNNING?

DUNN Y U HIT BASEBALL NOW?

FANS Y U NO LIKE OWN TEAM?

And so on. Thank God for Porcello and his rediscovered sinker. When you are reduced to meme-speak this early in the season, you know you’re in for a long summer.

– Boys, I know it is self-preservation, but you’re supposed to protect your pitcher. One of you couldn’t have stood still or knocked down that foul ball or something and kept it from hitting Wilk?

– I guess if you’re going to pass sinus infections and strep around the clubhouse, best to get it out of the way this early in the season. Maybe you don’t want to give it to your broadcaster who just went through chemo, though. Just a thought.

– The fan panic continues at a level that is so ridiculous that I can’t even read Twitter during games if things are going badly. Ryan Raburn should be burned at the stake! Miguel Cabrera is ruined! Jim Leyland should be fired because we lost a game/for leaving JV in/taking JV out/ever using his bullpen/using statistics to compose a line-up/breathing! After last night, it turns out I can’t even read Twitter during games when things are going WELL. I hopped on after Inge’s homerun of majesty last night to see if Samera was gloating (heh) and check the feeds of the few other Tigers fans I can stand to follow. According to a few of those folks, people have such a deep hatred for Brandon Inge that they were actually angry that he hit a home run. That broke a tie. And ended up being the difference in the game. And gave JV a chance at his first win.

… I don’t even know what to do with this information. If you hate a guy so much that you can’t tip your hat and say “huh, good job, I guess”, or even acknowledge that he might have changed the outcome of an entire game, I don’t want to know you. You might call yourself a fan of the team, but we have very different definitions of the word “fan”.

– Along that same line, should we really be upset that the bottom part of the order is stepping up to win games when the middle is so clearly slumping? I love you, Gerald Laird.

– I hate to get my hopes up, but I kind of want to marry this version of Austin Jackson. Never leave us Austin Jackson Who Hits Balls and Takes Walks!

– The MLB Tonight commentary during their live lookins during the 9th inning last night were hysterical. They were utterly convinced that Leyland had gone out to pull Justin during his mound visit and had been talked out of it. Having watched far many, many mound visits during Justin’s starts, my husband and I believed that, after his last start, Leyland was absolutely going to leave Justin in, even if he lost the lead. We never for a moment thought that mound visit was anything more than a “Look, you need one out, just get this done”. I even told my husband that it was all probably some sort of psychological thing for him after the last start and Leyland was letting him work through it. The reactions and expressions of pure relief and glee on Avila and Verlander’s faces after the final out confirmed this long before the quotes from MLB.com did. Do I agree with letting your star arm throw that many VERY FAST pitches in April? No, I do not. But I kind of get it, even if it almost KILLED ME DEAD.

– I hate the White Sox. I hate them in their stupid White Sox faces.

 

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Spring training update- Tigers vs. Orioles

For full disclosure, I was also at the Nationals game on Tuesday night, but a) have very few pictures from that and b) really don’t feel like talking about the unmitigated disaster that was Strieby at first base or how Below struggled through his outing.  As Lynn Henning pointed out to me on Twitter, however, it was a lovely evening at the ballpark!  So there’s that, anyway.

Instead, let’s talk a little bit about this afternoon!  I woke up this morning talking myself out of going to the game, but when my husband pointed out that Verlander was pitching, I lost my resolve and bought a bleacher ticket at the gate.

Game notes:

– Hi, Wilson Betemit!

– So, THAT Verlander showed up today.  They actually had the radar going in the park today and he stayed right around 93-94 mph.  Oh, is that all?  Gave up a lead-off homer, which . . . yeah.  That happens.  Moving on.  I was in sporadic conversation (or near constant) with the sweet young boy from Tennessee for the first 3 innings and wasn’t counting strikeouts but definitely saw a lot of them.  I was surprised when Verlander was pulled before the last out of the 4th inning so I pulled up At Bat to check for a pitch count and thought for sure their score keepers had made a mistake.  8 K’s?  Seriously?  In 3.2?  But, yes, that was indeed correct information.  No wonder he hit his pitch limit so quickly.  Holy God, JV, save some for April.

– Pitching in general was impressive, which was nice to see after the last few games of shaky outings.  Balester looked strong again, Valverde came out and promptly struck out the side with ease, Benoit was Benoit, and Stohr did a nice job closing things out.  Well done, boys!  Only 2 walks between you!

– Unfortunately, this also held true for the Baltimore starter Matusz, who struck out 6 of his own and induced 5 incredibly anemic ground ball outs.  It was impressive to watch him mow through the lineup we put in front of him.

– The only iffy moment was a throw from JV to Fielder on a pick-off.  My section thought the error would go to JV for basically throwing it into the dirt but it was instead given to Fielder for not picking it out of said dirt.  Anyhow, moral of the story, I hope the pitchers are taking extra practice throwing to first, what with a new first baseman and all.

– Danny Worth had a great day, with two hits and a stolen base!  And Laird, again, with the two RBI’s!  Patterson tripled, Raburn continued to fuel my inner conflict with a beautiful double . . . Really, the A lineup wasn’t able to put much together, which allowed us to once again showcase just how much depth and flexibility we have on this team.

– Jackson struck out twice.  Yep.

– Cabrera made a fairly sweet play at third.  Nice backhanded grab followed by a throw to first.  Excellent reaction time, but it honestly didn’t require him to move much, and that’s where most of my concerns come in with him playing at third.  His reaction time is good, but watching him try to get to a ball quickly is about what you would expect.  It isn’t quite lumbering, but it definitely makes you miss Inge.

Verlander is king

Justin Verlander, doing what he does best.

Betemit

Wilson Betemit the Oriole.

Verlander

One more of Verlander, just because.

Swing

Whoosh!

Mound visit

Verlander leaves the game after striking out 8 but throwing too many pitches doing it.

Prince

Prince Fielder in the box.

Valverde

Jose Valverde sets awesomely.

Valverde

Stay awesome, Big Potato!

Stay tuned this weekend as husband and I catch the Saturday game against the Cardinals.  Expect crap pictures because we have crap seats.  Hooray!

Spring training update- Tigers vs. Mets

I have Spring Break this week, which means bonus baseball!  I headed down to Lakeland this afternoon to catch the Mets against the Tigers.  After yesterday’s cancelled game, this proved to be a parade of pitching prospects and did not disappoint in that regard.  It DID disappoint in that it was the third tie game in a row, but, Spring Training, doesn’t count, whatever.  A few notes from today:

– Smyly’s line looked good and people seemed pleased with his start, but I need to point out that watching him pitch felt like watching Penny.  His pace was so. so. slow.  I don’t know if this is normal for him or if he was being extra careful because he knows he’s competing for a spot, but it was tiring to watch.

– Jackson had good contact, for which my section cheered heartily.  Inge also had good contact, also earning cheers from us.  Cabrera was Cabrera.  I don’t get to see him hit in person often but am always so impressed with his swing.  Everything people say it is and more.  Avila had two beautiful hits and Laird, LAIRD, hitting a double!  Amazement!  Really, overall, the hitting was what it has been all spring.  Nice stuff.

– Turner needs time, which I think all of us know and saying so is kind of beating a dead horse.  He got beat up pretty badly.  I don’t worry about them rushing him through the system after seeing what else we have out there, but I still feel the need to plead with people to give him time to develop.

– Avila had two beautiful throws to Inge at second but didn’t get the call on either of them.

– I feel like Balester has kind of been lost since we’re so focused on who our fifth starter will be, but I’ve been impressed with him so far.

– Speaking of fifth starters, I think I’m officially casting my vote for Oliver.  Yes, he was pitching against mostly second string today, but he looked great doing it and his control has improved significantly.  No walks in four innings!  Two broken bats!  Hooray!

This has nothing to do with the game, but I’m sure you’ve all heard that Pauley was released.  I could hear the Tigers faithfully collectively saying “No, really?” in a sarcastic tone at hearing this.

You all want pictures, right?  Here you go:

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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!

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Spring training update 4- MOAR PICTURES!

Really, just a continuation of the last update.  Apologies for taking so long.  The laptop went in for a hard drive transplant and is now back and running.  Also, there was a birthday and a Flogging Molly concert in there, somewhere.  Anyway!  To the pictures!

When we left off, the infielders were doing drills with some assistance from a few pitchers.  The rest of the pictures were with Kenny Rogers learning how not to commit errors.  A few of the starting pitchers started throwing from the mound without the screen but the hitters weren’t really taking swings (though I did see a few balls fly…).  Fister and Scherzer were throwing on the front to fields so I could actually watch them.  We weren’t watching what everyone important- and I’m talking Leyland, Verlander, Al Avila, La Russa, Kaline- went to the back to watch.  Wunderkind Turner was throwing his session from the mound.  Early reports are pretty impressive, but I have no first-hand information on this.

Fister pitching

Doug Fister pitches while being incredibly lanky.

Max Scherzer pitching

Scherzer pitches from the mound while being Scherzer.

Of course, the outfielders had very little do to while waiting for actual batting practice to start.  Prince Fielder took some time chatting with our corner outfielders while not shagging balls.

fielder boesch and young

I'm 99% certain that Delmon Young is the one with his back to the camera as he talks with Fielder and Boesch.

HALL OF FAMER ALERT!

Willie Horton

Husband and I were standing out by the road when a golf cart rolled past (not unusual during spring).  After a beat, we were both like “Holy crap, Willie Horton!”.  We had pretty much the same encounter with Al Kaline, who was warmly greeted by everyone he passed.  His cart also drove within inches of us, which was just awesome.

Everyone broke into rotations at this point between the four fields.  On the near fields, where we were, they were working on base running and batting practice.  The base running was actually fun to watch.  I got a good luck and the guys taking leads from first and taking off.  This, of course, will be important this year because we have possibly the slowest line-up in all of baseball.  I have no data to prove it, but I’m fairly certain this is a fact.

 

base running

You can see out entertaining they found this. Don Kelly takes a lead while Laird laughs at him.

 

Jackson running

Help us, Action Jackson, you're our only hope!

first base

Brandon Inge and friends wait for first base to move or something.

Batting practice was fairly exciting.  Fielder, Young, Boesch, Cabrera, and Avila were all in the same hitting group and it was delightfully terrifying.  And by typing that, I may have just jinxed our entire season, of course.  Boesch whiffed at probably 4 or 5 pitches in a row off the pitching machine which had Cabrera practically doubled over laughing.  After that, he looked crazy good.  As many, many have already said, Austin Jackson looks great with his new stance.  His swing looked quick and he was the only one who cleared the fence while I was watching.  I watched one group of prospects that looked surprisingly good.  If we don’t trade them all away, we have some nice hitting on the farm right now.  Inge looked much better than last year- nice bat speed, good eye, hitting multiple parts of the field- but no one will even talk about that until he starts seeing real pitching this week.

Jackson hitting

Austin Jackson pops one over the fence while everyone watches.

Inge and Thomas

Inge and Thomas watch the ball fly.

And now for some bonus “Awwwwwww” shots:

Leyland and Leyland

The Skipper checks in with his son.

Awwww.

Leyland and Leyland. I'm cynical as all get out and this makes me warm and fuzzy.

Kaline's scooter

We were on our way out for the day, saw this, and nearly lost our minds. How incredibly COOL is this?! Kaline forever, dude.

Just a few blog notes for those of you who seem to have stumbled in lately (Thank you!):  I do plan to link to photo galleries.  I’ve taken a load of pictures and I seriously had a hard time picking which ones to put in these updates.  I’ll share, I promise.  Also, the blog and Husband will be at the Braves game on Saturday afternoon, so you can expect some pictures and an update later!

On a final note, is anyone at all surprised that Grady Sizemore is injured?  Anyone?  Not a good time to have the last name Sizemore right now, I tell ya’.

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.

 

 

Spring training update- it begins (part 1)

For most of the year, my husband and I pretty much hate living in Florida.  This time of year is a massive exception.  All the heat, humidity, traffic, tourists, terrible drivers are almost worth it when you live 30 minutes from Joker Marchant Stadium in late February.  My new President’s Day tradition is using my day off from work to wander around the practice fields and try not to implode from the awesomeness of it all.  My first visit to Tiger Town is when my excitement for the season truly kicks in to high gear.  This year, my day off happened to coincide with the first official pitcher and catcher work-out, Justin Verlander’s birthday, and the arrival of Prince.  I’m sure you can imagine the circus that ensued.  Small-scale, mind you, but still insane compared to the day I visited last year.

I haven’t figured out a good way to organize to work this into a neat narrative, and frankly, I don’t have the patience.  Instead, I’m going to use the best of my pictures, notes from my cell phone, and the random texts I sent to my poor, working husband to give you some highlights from the morning.

I’ve noticed that there are three groups of people who show up to watch the early workouts- snowbird/transplanted/vacationing fans who come to watch the players and see how they look (that’s me), local baseball fans who have some free time and want to see what’s up, and autograph hounds.  The autograph hounds are always the first to arrive so they can get a prime spot.  By the time I showed up at around 8:30am, this was the scene:

fan mob

Anticipation!

This was already more people than I saw last year and more kept coming.  There was some muttering from later arrivals that they wish they’d gotten there earlier to get a good spot, that they had no idea it was going to be this crowded.  I was wish I had left later or stopped to get breakfast and coffee since the rumor was that practice wasn’t starting until at least 9:30am.  It wasn’t all bad, though.  One of the things I love about Spring Training is talking to other fans, finding out where they’re from, why they’re there, throwing inside jokes back and forth, listening to rumors, etc.

pitcher parade

The pitchers emerge!

Notice that Coke is the only one letting his uniform fly?  Yep.  Pretty much everyone walked through (to applause) and didn’t stop to sign.  I think Porcello may have signed a few before moving on.  Scherzer and a few stragglers came out a few minutes after.  After another few minutes, the press started gathering and we knew that The Man was emerging.

JV emerges

This is what happens after you win an MVP and Cy Young.

Verlander actually signed for a good amount of time, which led to a woman loudly complaining about how this was all a big show because the cameras were running, since “last time” there were only four of them standing around and he didn’t bother.  She made the same comment repeatedly while Justin signed, which got old, especially since I’ve seen him sign autographs multiple times and had just listened to a man tell a story about how he’d taken pictures with fans at a movie theater once when he was out on a rain-out day.  Anyway.  After he finished and started to jog off, a few of us yelled “happy birthday, Justin!”, which got him to turn and wave with a big smile.  He was followed by the coaches and office staff…

boss men

Baseball is serious business.

…and, much to our amusement, Laird and Avila brought up the rear.

the catchers

Welcome back, G-Money!

They were running and Laird was having issues with the bag on his shoulder (aw.), but they both looked happy and were chatting away.  They stuck together pretty closely throughout the day and I’m hoping that they’re falling back into a nice routine together.  Alex looked healthy and energetic, which was a huge relief after the end of last season.

Tiger kids

There was also some ridiculously cute baseball going on.

 

charge

Ladies and gentlemen, The Pitchers.

After a seemingly endless meeting at the back of the field, everyone took a warm-up lap (running right by us in the process) with Justin, Benoit, and Coke leading the charge.  Do they look excited?  I think they look excited.

Next time: Pitching workouts, fielding drills, Papa Grande attempts to “hustle”, and Coke blames his error on the coach.