illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
When your team reaches the postseason, it is a time of great excitement. Just making the postseason is not the big Win, of course, but it is the first step along the way, and it signifies a year in which at least some things got done properly. The players feel good and you get to watch them feeling good, usually with goggles and plastic sheeting and carbonated alcohol. Your artificially selected tribe has triumphed in some small way, and as your reward, you get to care about baseball for just a little bit longer.
And hey, we’re not just talking about the postseason here– the Tigers won the division! All the other players on all the other AL Central teams must spend the winter on call, catering to the needs and whims of various Tigers, whether that be snow shoveling duties (for that one insane Tiger who lives in the midwest year-round [we still have one of those, right?]) or babysitting duties or taking Astro for really long walks and scooping up all his leavings when David Price is just too dang tired and also it is rainy outside. That is why it is such a big deal, winning the division.
Here is the problem: the Tigers, for much of this year, have just not been that good a baseball team. Obviously they have very good parts, and they have had very good stretches, and these things combined to get them into October employment. But anyone who has watched the team consistently this season has seen that their Dark Side is not so much a couplefew aberrations and bad luck moments, but is instead a constant shadowy companion, always almost perfectly in lockstep with the good bits of the team, ready to leap to the fore at the slightest stumble or hesitation.
And now that the Tigers are in the postseason, without the comforting buffer zone of large sample sizes, this is becoming incredibly obvious and visible to everyone– to casual fans, to normally oblivious national TV broadcasters, to that super annoying dude in your office who like really does not follow baseball but every year come October starts behaving as if he is practically a beat reporter who’s been watching games all year long and pronounces Nick Castellanos’ name some wild kind of inaccurate way.
There have been good things. Miguel Cabrera is Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinez has been hot. JD Martinez has been the pleasantest surprise named JD this team has ever known. These cats are off and running. Certain other members of the team are having a, uh, let us say harder time keeping up.
And meanwhile, out in the bullpen…
That, quite plainly, is a problem.
Sunday the Tigers will either go on, or they will not. They will stand a chance of advancing to the next stage of ‘won some stuff that’s not the big Win but is still pretty nice’ victory, or they will not. The dual Martinez threat will lead the offense to spectacular victory, or Joba Chamberlain will lose a finger playing with explosives. Comedy or tragedy. Playoff baseball.
illustration by Samara Pearlstein
If that horrible bundle of creatures deep in the bowels of the earth there is the rest of the AL Central, I think we can call this a mostly accurate view of the Tigers right now.
Hang on, Paws! Hang on!
illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Nineteen inning games that go on for hours and hours and hours and end in tragedy? Multiple players hitting the DL at once? Verlander’s shoulder getting so sore that he has to jam his tender limb-bits into an MRI? Getting bumped from the top spot in the division by Kansas City, of all teams? Losing, and losing, and losing some more?
Apocalyptic rainstorms that dump so much water on the Metro Detroit area that basements are soaked and roads are flooded and all cats are sodden and sad?
Truly these are unpleasant times.
If you’re in the flood zones, stay safe, watch out for mold, and I hope your damage was not too great. If you’re in Toledo, I hope you’ve recovered from your own water-based drama, and have laid in a store of bottled water to last you a month. If you’re a member of the Detroit Tigers… please stop the deluge.
illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Honest truth: after the Red Sox/A’s trade earlier today that saw Jon Lester and Yoenis Cespedes swapping sides, I was not expecting too much from the Tigers. The trade deadline loomed ever nearer as the afternoon wore on, and I figured, eh, Mr. Dombrowski made that solid attempt to shore up the bullpen in the acquisition of Joakim Soria; that’s probably as big a move as we’re going to make. Sure, if all goes as planned we will be having to deal with Oakland in a real way come autumn, but we’ll tackle that big ol’ elephant when we get to it.
Mr. Dombrowski contemplated this line of reasoning, and he cackled a mad cackle, and he rejected it. Hell naaaaaw! he almost certainly yelled to his subordinates. We’re not goin down that easy! Bring me my phone! Bring me the scouting reports! Bring me my set of giant brass balls! Bring me a slice of Little Caesars pizza!
Armed with these essentials, he set in motion a series of moves that ended with Austin Jackson going to Seattle and Drew Smyly going to Tampa Bay and DAVID PRICE coming to Detroit.
This trade was so unanticipated by everyone that Austin Jackson had to be pulled from the field, in the middle of the game, and told that he was no longer a Tiger. Another honest truth: that sucks. That is a hard way to go, and I am sure that if there had been a saner way to do it, the Tigers would have preferred to do it in that saner manner. But Mr. D saw an opportunity (and/or a necessity) that, even as little as a day earlier, he had not seen. He decided that it had to be done, and so it was.
The Tigers now have the kind of rotation to make a pretty good lineup tremble, and a weak lineup weep copiously. May this be a bulwark against the inconsistency of the bats, now and as we totter unsteadily on into maybepossibly the postseason.
MORE IMPORTANTLY, David Price does not come alone! As you may already know, David Price has a FRENCH BULLDOG named ASTRO. David Price is obsessed with Astro and likes to take him places like the dugout and on the field for BP and on road trips and basically every kind of place. This is potentially HUGE news, just ENORMOUS, SUPER IMPORTANT news, and I am going to say right now:
Dear Brad Ausmus and the Detroit Tigers:
Please allow David Price to bring Astro into the clubhouse and onto the field and on the occasional road trip, for the good of the team and the well-being of your brand new pitcher and for the PURE JOY of the fans. Thank you.
hugs and kisses,
Roar of the Tigers.
Did you know that July 29 is International Tiger Day? I did not, but it totally is. Click for bigger, enjoy some fine tigers on this day, and let’s see if we can get a win for all things P. tigris.
photos and illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
So I was in Detroit, very briefly, and here are some of the things that happened.
There are so rarely opportunities to break out the 2009 Brandon Inge All Star Game jersey in Boston, you know?
Watching Justin Verlander during the anthem, I make a discovery…
Dude is balding! Truly the combination of stress and baseball hats is an inauspicious one.
Ian Kinsler slides–
Remains too hot for even his own self to handle.
The gentleman I saw chewing tobacco in the stands, spitting into an empty metal beer bottlecan needs to stop or be banned from the stadium or something. It is just gross. And what if an innocent child asks about what they are seeing? “Mommy, what is that man doing?” “He’s being f—ing disgusting, kiddo.” Do we really need to ruin the innocence of children with a bro in the lightest denim Ed Hardy-looking jeans I have ever seen out in the wild? Is this what you really want for your society, MLB? You’ve even banned e-cigarettes from the park. Think about your choices.
I got to see the Triple Crown, finally. It is an actual crown that looks like the cartoon and it has blue velvet and three ‘prongs’ around the fabric, each of which bears one of Miguel Cabrera’s trophy-winning stats. My only regret is that Miggy was not there, wearing it on his head.
What is probably the best office in Comerica Park belongs to Jerry Lewis, the Director of Fantasy Camps. It is astonishing and wonderful. There are Tigers things on every available surface, and there are Tigers things of all sorts, all eras, all levels of dignified gravity and high camp and everything in between. It is a little bit like a museum and a little bit like the den of a madman and if it was plopped down in a white box art gallery show, it would be installation art and nobody in the whole art world would fault its inclusion.
A few details that do not even begin to scratch the surface of everything that was here:
I don’t want to embarrass him by putting him on the blog if he’s not into that, but there is a certain Tigers employee who is a very good person and knows that this is exactly the sort of thing to make my eyes bug out of my head in a sort of overclocked delight, and deserves a great deal of thanks for finding ways to make me even happier to be in Comerica (as impossible as that seems).
What else happened?
Paws came over to our section and wowed everyone with his charm, his wit, his ability to communicate with ease while not uttering so much as a purr. His handler was not so much handling him as trailing helplessly behind, shaking his head as Paws repeatedly stopped to interact with fans instead of moving off to wherever he was supposed to be next. At one point Paws sat down behind me and took the hat off of my head and made it into a rally cap and put it back on my head and I made him take a selfie with me on my phone because I had the wrong lens on my real camera for selfies and I was afraid that if I took the time to change lenses he would disappear, poof, like Cinderella’s coach turning back into a pumpkin at midnight, because Paws is a magical creature and time spent with him is magical, delicate time indeed.
He is also a champion dancer.
The old crazed kitten-swinging-a-bat logo is making a comeback, which is all to the good… although one has to wonder how Paws will feel about it.
There were fireworks, but very little wind, which meant… smokeworks!
I also took a whole heck of a lot of photos of players, but for now there’s just this–
Austin Jackson offers Miguel Cabrera some advice after facing a new Cleveland pitcher late in the game. Because that is what teamwork is. Gossiping about the other team at every available opportunity: personal, professional, and otherwise.
Paws bless this game of baseball!