Tag Archives: Jim Leyland

Tigers @ Rays 6-29-12: David Price is Really Good

If it feels like Tigers starters have given up an inordinate number of home runs this season, believe me, it feels much worse when you’re watching the Rays hit solo homer after solo homer off your ace.  But let’s not dwell on the outcome, because I have pictures!  I’ll post the whole set somewhere and have a link at some point, but for now, I’ll give you the highlights.  Please feel free to share with a credit back to this blog.  Enjoy!

Coke pitches in the bullpen

Action Coke!  Tampa’s bullpen is on the field, so photo ops are easy.

Avila and Yong during BP

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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.

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.

 

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.

Signs of the apocalypse; fans feel the first stirrings of panic

For Tigers fans, there are very specific events that might signify a coming apocalypse.  Inge batting above .250, Scherzer pitching with control for two consecutive starts ( . . . can you tell I’m watching the game right now?), etc.  I don’t know if any of you noticed, because he doesn’t belong to us anymore, but something happened this weekend that makes me think we may not have much time left.

Fernando Rodney has a win and a save this season for the Rays.  Already.  In fact, he got a save yesterday on one pitch.

I know, right?  I really have nothing else to say about it.  Just thought you all might want to be aware.

In other news, while our bats have proven as magnificent as we could have hoped (get it together, Brennan), the pitchers are responsible for the first stirrings of panic in our hearts.  I’m not talking about the 37 pitches Scherzer just took to get through one inning, either.  Fister is the first regular season DL victim, which I declared The Worst Thing yesterday, proving that I am not immune to the hysteria.  For those of us freaking out, Jim Leyland offered these comforting words:

“[Brayan] Villarreal has joined the team and we will have a starter at the appropriate time. Who it is, I have no clue. None.” (MLB.com)

I thought it was obvious that Below would be the starter, especially since Below pitched well above my expectations when he took over for Fister and thus can be on the same rest schedule as Fister, and Smyly would be pulled up as scheduled.  However, this also happened yesterday

Smyly- 1.2 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO

Ladies and gentlemen, your fifth starter!

Spring training update- Tigers vs. Cardinals

It was St. Patrick’s day, and you know what that meant . . .

Green uniforms

Green for everyone!

Yes, it was that day every spring when both teams wear nearly identical green uniforms for no particular reason, thus confusing the heck out of the more casual fans in our section.  It also meant the bat boy was dressed as a leprechaun and other shenanigans.   I’m not even kidding about the bat boy.  I wish to God I was.

Miguel St. Patrick's

Miguel Cabrera as a leprechaun. You're welcome, folks.

Prince stealing

Prince Fielder stole second base! I can't even make that up, it is so ridiculous.

 

Grounds crew

The grounds crew always does the YMCA in the 5th. They do NOT always do it in green wigs, however.

Cabrera with grounds crew

Miguel Cabrera is amused by the grounds crew.

Somewhere in all this, a baseball game actually happened. Adam Wilk pitching.

Believe it or not, there was actually some pretty good baseball happening somewhere in all the Guiness-fueled insanity.  On top of stealing second, Prince went 3-for-3 and hit a triple.  A TRIPLE.  Quoth Leyland: “To see Prince Fielder leg one out, I got a kick out of it. I don’t expect to see many more of those. But in all seriousness, he’s much more athletic than I thought him to be”.  Awesome.

Adam Wilk struggled early and gave up a 2 run homer to Holliday, which, okay, that’s going to happen.  David Freese made it 3 and it was looking like we were in for a long day yet again.  That’s when the insanity started.  10 unanswered runs from our bats.  Cabrera, Fielder, and Young hit back-to-back-to-back twice in two separate innings and generally created havoc for the whole game.  Holaday caught the whole game and even got a hit!  We didn’t commit any errors (…until this afternoon. Seriously, boys?)!  Jackson didn’t strike out!  Again, standard spring training disclaimers apply, but we haven’t had a game with less than 7 hits all spring and are outscoring opponents nearly 2-to-1.  I think that’s cause for at least a bit of rejoicing.

It hasn’t just been the bats, though, which brings me to the pitching showdown we witnessed.  Wilk was definitely struggling a bit, but the story of the day was always going to be Oliver vs. Smyly, so that almost felt like an afterthought.  Oliver went two innings, gave up one hit, and walked none.  Smyly went out for the final four innings, didn’t give up a hit, but walked two.  Until yesterday, I was pretty heavily on Team Oliver, but now I’m buckling a bit.  He’s been around a bit longer but has a history of inconsistency with control.  Smyly is barely out of A ball but looks like he has a year with the big club already under his belt.  So . . .  I don’t know.  I think I’m still on Team Oliver because I’m wary of pulling him up too quickly, but I wouldn’t be upset if it goes to Smyly.  He’s clearly earning it.

Some other pretty cool, non-holiday related things were going on before the game, of which I have pictures:

Dirks with kids

Andy Dirks signing for kids.

We spotted Andy Dirks signing autographs for a little league team down on the field before the game started.

Martinez

Look who it is! Victor!

Then who should we spy by the clubhouse but Victor Martinez on crutches!

Al and Victor

Two of the wounded compare notes- Al Alburquerque and Victor Martinez.

Alburquerque was also hanging around and came over to chat with V-Mart, possibly comparing battle scars.  Victor was holding Alburquerque’s arm and squeezing it for some reason.

Little League

Baseball at its most adorable.

After  a few minutes, the little league players and their group came over to the clubhouse.  A few players came over to sign for them and I was trying to figure out if they were from Venezuela or the Dominican when one of the little players broke from the group and my husband and I immediately put two and two together.

Victor Jose

Yep. That's Victor Jose Martinez, greeting his friends.

Victor Jose started greeting the other adults with all the confidence in the world, like he owned the place and they were his personal friends.  Which they probably are.  I freaking love that kid.  He was working the crowd far before he made it over to his dad.  When V-Mart comes back for good and we still have Prince’s boys wandering around, the clubhouse is likely to implode from all the adorable.

Stay tuned for that second base post I keep promising but keep putting off writing.  My intention is to make it objective but that’s proving difficult.  It also becomes more difficult every time Ryan Raburn goes out there and drills one over the fence.  Sigh.

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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