taking the Jays in hand


the jay has been held, photo by Samara Pearlstein

Oh look another lengthy random spring game rundown. The Epic Rainstorm of DOOM flooded out some major streets here, which forced me to remain at home– but the televisual presence of Rod and Mario made it all better.

The Game, With the Wonder of Rod and Mario Hereby Restored to Us, the Fans

–We start out strong. Mario says that Armando Galarraga couldn’t command his slider last year and that was his problem. Rod says that his issue was “he didn’t have that look in his eyes.” What look is that, I wonder? When he’s throwing well, do Armando’s pupils mutate into tiny K-shaped pits of blackness? This is a new potential superpower.

–Now we get around to blaming Armando’s struggles on the WBC. He didn’t get the reps he needed to be ready, blah blah blah whatever. I can’t wait for the next WBC. What in the universe is better than 4am games from the Tokyo Dome with Orestes Destrade? NOTHING. Haters can go suck a wombat.

–The Jays are definitely not running their A-lineup out there today. This isn’t even their B-lineup. This is, like, the Q-lineup. The first two guys in the order are Jarrett Hoffpauir and Brad Emaus. You can’t fool me, Jays, I know those aren’t real baseball players. Stop making things up.

–Marc Rzepczynski pitching for the Jays. Pronounced “zep-CHIN-skee”, according to Mario.

–Scott Sizemore leads off with a home run, his first of the spring. First pitch and everything. Well, hitting it out of the park means that he doesn’t have to slide, so that’s good for his ankle. It’s wicked windy in Lakeland today, which may have helped some.

–Traitor Damon wearing the high socks. Rod and Mario say a number of praising things about him, his smile, his behavior in the clubhouse, “he sprays the baseball all around the baseball diamond” (Rod, of course). They are trying so hard to make me like him. Maybe I’ll start calling him TD and you can substitute a word other than ‘Traitor’ in there if it makes you feel better. He walks. This pitcher is a wreck.

–Magglio worked out with the U Miami football team in the offseason. “He says they lift a lot of weights,” thank you Rod, thank you Magglio, we never would have guessed. There’s a weird lump on his left forearm. Like halfway along, looks to be about the size of, I dunno… a baseball footprint? Did he get hit sometime recently? It is swollen but not really red-looking. Hmm.

–Miguel Cabrera homers. 3-0 Tigers. Apparently Rod told him they were going to be on TV today and asked if he was going to homer. Miggy wouldn’t commit to that but he did say he was going to get three hits. Well, there’s one. [note: he ended his day 2-for-3 with a double and the homer]

–Talking about Brandon Inge’s knee surgery and how it was not arthroscopic. Rod: “He’s got a couple of zippers on each knee, so it was major surgery for Brandon.”

–Randy Ruiz and Miggy standing at first, both their uniforms flapping around wildly in the wind. This is a testament both to the wind, and to the baggy unis. Those ‘old school’ tight pants would not be playing airport-wind-sock like these pajama monstrosities are, just sayin’.

–Your Wolverine baseball update: the Racist Logos assigned Zach Putnam to minor league camp today.

–Travis Snider is trying to grow a little goatee thing. Trying to kill the babyface. Not really working. The next Jay up is Chris Aguila, who looks 13. I want to give him a juice box and tell him to go finish that math homework. I mean, he’s adorable, but I feel like he should be angsting about who he’s going to invite to the school dance.

–Yes MLBN dude Barry Larkin, I AM ready for the new season. I am ready for the new season with you. Please come narrate the season to me. We can talk about Michigan baseball while eating ice cream, it will be the best of times.

–The exact opposite of Chris Aguila: Scott Sizemore looks like he could plausibly be ten years older than he is.

–Creepy closeup on a baseball with Armando showing his grips and slowly, softly saying the pitch type. Ummmm. I don’t know why this is so uncomfortable but it really, really is.

–Three hits in a row to start the third, that will bring two Jays home. 3-2 Tigers. All three swung at the first pitch and all three have gotten hits. Rod suggests Armando start them off with something other than a fastball. Sound advice.

–Oh thank cats, finally. Somehow I had managed to avoid hearing anyone say “Dunedin” (where the Jays make their spring home) and I had no idea how to actually pronounce it, because I only knew it as a written word. Today Mario says “dun-EE-din,” which is nowhere near how I had been saying it. Good to know.

–Talking about Brian Dopirak, the Jays’ DH today, who is some sort of 8-9 year career minor leaguer.
Rod: “I know a little something about that. I spent some time in the bushes myself… eventually you need to go get a real job.”
Mario: “What are you saying? [laughing] There’s a cut-off date?”
Rod: [laughing] “Yeah!”
Mario: “There’s an expiration date?”

–I know it’s an ad and I’ll probably get sick of it eventually, but right now I do kind of love the MLB2K10 ad where Verlander is drawing on the Longoria cut-out, and then he holds up the fruits of his graffiti-ing labors with this absolute guano-eating grin on his face. Spectacular.

Interviewing Leyland:
talking about TDamon, “…he’ll hit number two in the lineup, that was my plan really prior to talking to Johnny and after I talked to Johnny it really confirmed what I was thinking.”

talking about how long it will take Sizemore and Everett to get used to each other as double play partners, “Probably a little longer than one spring training… I think it’ll probably be at least halfway through the season before they totally know each other.”

talking about Cabrera, “He’s getting himself in good shape now, probably came in a little too heavy… I think last spring he came in too light.”

–Jacob Turner in to pitch the 4th. He is 18 years old. His command looks good today, he’s throwing much more easily than Armando was, at least right out of the gate. Eighteen years old. I can’t even handle this, you guys. Rod says, “He hasn’t even filled out yet!” but in almost the same breath he starts speaking admiringly about how Turner already has “big legs.”

–Dontrelle is telling some sort of story down in the bullpen that involves a lot of gesturing and hopping around. I want him to make the team (and do well, natch) so, so badly. I feel that our Weird Baseball experience would be infinitely enhanced if this could happen.

–After a camera shot of Lloyd McClendon sprawled in one of the coaching folding chairs, legs way out,
Mario: “Lloyd kinda loungin’ today!”
Rod: “Chillin’! He’s chillin’!… He works hard though. As do all the Tigers coaches.”

–The Jays have a kid named “Pastronicky” playing for them.

–Turner doesn’t look as good in his second inning. I can’t get too worked up about it because THE KID JUST HAD HIS PROM, I MEAN SERIOUSLY.

–Rod on Cito Gaston: “Great baseball man, tremendous baseball man. Take that back: tremendous man.”

–Brad Thomas does a variety of terrible things on the mound. Rod and Mario mention the fact that he was playing in Taiwan and Japan about a billion times. I thought he was in Korea at some point? Anyways. Point is: not in MLB. Why do we expect this to work out well again? Just the unfamiliarity factor?

Interviewing TDamon:
“Seems like I knew a bunch of guys from playing against them in spring training for I don’t know, however long I’ve been in this league.”

“First I’ve got to pump some iron, make these biceps look good,” [flexing and stroking his biceps], “then I’m thinking about a hot dog.”

“I know this team got beat up a little bit in the early 2000s, I think it was 2002, 2003, but this team kept getting better and better. I’ve always enjoyed going to Detroit, you know, stay out in the Birmingham area, it’s a great place.”

“Anytime there’s someone like a Verlander or a Porcello or a Jackson on a mound it can be a tough go-round, like the Yankees in 2006… I mean Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman, he really shoved it up our rears.”
Mario: “Interesting word, Johnny.”
TDamon: “Well I couldn’t say the other word.”

“Well the uh, I mean that’s what you’re supposed to do in Yankee Stadium, you’re supposed to take a shot at that right field porch, it’s happened that way since Babe Ruth played. But when you go to different ballparks you try to do more of the field. So I can definitely adjust. My numbers on the road were just as productive as far as the RBIs… as you grow up in this game you start realizing what you can and can’t do, at Yankee Stadium you may as well try to swing for that right field fence… I know what I’ll have to do at Comerica park, I’ll try to use the gas a little bit more and I’m up for the challenge.”

–Oh no! The crawl across the bottom of the screen says that Placido Polanco strained his right knee trying to catch a foul ball today and had be helped off the field.

–Talking about the Tigers’ scheduled trip to George Steinbrenner Field this weekend (in Tampa),
Rod: “That’ll be fun on the weekend! That’ll be fun!”
Mario: “I think I hear some sarcasm in your voice there! [laughing] Might have to park in Clearwater for that one.”
Rod: “Did you take a cab to park last year?… Unless you’re Yogi Berra or Derek Jeter, you don’t get a parking spot there.”

–On Brad Thomas.
Mario: “He pitched in Taiwan, he pitched in Japan for a few years.”
Rod: “Have left arm, will travel.”

–A routine force at second turns into a run for the Jays. Gustavo Nunez, who is playing shortstop today, made a perfectly serviceable throw. Dlugach was trying to cover second and missed the ball. It might have clanked off his glove, hard to tell from the angle.

–Snider was apparently both a running back and a linebacker in high school. Rod says, “he looks like a former football player,” except that he doesn’t really. Like, at all.

Interviewing Alex Avila:
“Yeah you know this spring’s been a little different than last spring… so cold and rainy here at the beginning of the spring, we weren’t sure if we were in Lakeland or Detroit.”

talking about how he didn’t start playing catcher until he was in college, “Well um, you know, it’s been an extremely grueling process from when I started in Alabama, I started a lot of days just in catcher’s gear, I wouldn’t even hit, just trying to learn the position and all the fundamentals that go along with it… constant drills and repetition just trying to get as comfortable as I could back there, fundamentally… once I got the fundamentals down, it’s just game experience, getting back there and catching.”

talking about his grandfather, Ralph Avila, the Cuban scout who signed guys like Pedro Martinez and Adrian Beltre, “He just turned 80, we had a big party for him… he takes me outside to do catching drills, to show me the footwork, in the middle of his 80th birthday party…. This game is in our [family] blood, we live and breathe baseball, it’s all I’ve known since I’ve been able to walk.” [note: cool article here about how Alex's grandpa actually, um, revolutionized the heck out of baseball]

talking about the pressure of growing up in a baseball family, “…it’s been with me my entire life, growing up in a family like ours, there’s always been a little extra pressure to do well because of everything I’ve been able to experience as a kid growing up. At the same time, you know, as it should be, because… I have available all these tools and people to talk to and stuff like that, so there’s always going to be more expected of me, and that’s fine. It’s a privilege…”

“The only time there was Cuban food in Alabama is when my mom came to town…. Anything she cooks is fantastic, I don’t even have to ask her what she’s cooking, I just sit down and eat it. When you know everything is good, it makes it easier to eat.”

–Rod: “That’s what you’re supposed to do. Swing hard in case you hit it!”

–Everett has the day off. Where the heck has he been this spring? I feel like I haven’t heard much of anything about him. Should I be taking this in a ‘no news is good news’ sense or what?

–THERE IS A PITCHER FOR THE JAYS NAMED BUBBIE BUZACHERO. No. Freakin. Lie. Rod wants to call him ‘BB’. His real name is apparently Edward Dale Buzachero. He is from Tennessee, which does not in any way explain how he came to share a name with Jewish grandmothers all over the world.

–A fan fell over the short left field wall in pursuit of a foul ball. His hat and one flipflop fell off. FSND replays this for us because they understand what is important in life.
Rod: [gleefully] “Faceplant!”
Mario: “Is that what that’s called?”

–Sorry to just keep quoting them over and over, but I have been starved for Rod and Mario all winter. They had the following exchange when Brennan Boesch got into the game:
Rod: “Boesch was born where I was born, Santa Monica California!”
Mario: “You guys hang out?”
Rod: “Nah, he’s a little younger than me. But he hung out there!”
Mario: “He was born in… 1985.”
Rod: “I was a grooooown man.”

–Unlike the Nats announcers, neither Rod nor Mario calls him ‘Brandon’. Not even once.

–Jeff Larish hits a ball off of Bubbie’s foot, then it bounces off the glove of the second baseman, who was diving for it. Awkward. The game is tied up at 7.

–Rod: “Cito’s a big man, isn’t he?”
Mario tries to figure out how tall Cito Gaston is. “Six…”
Rod: [interrupting] “He’s a biiiiig man.”

–Dlugach clears the bases with a double, 10-7 Tigers. Much cheering, elation and so on. Bubbie, you throw like my grandmother, who is also called Bubbie. What a coincidence.

–Josh Rainwater closes out the game for the Tigers, looks fine out there. No shenanigans.

–Not relevant to this Tigers win, but I just want to point out that the Nationals have not yet won a game in spring training. They play again tonight though. Hope springs eternal!

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9 responses to “taking the Jays in hand

  1. I was so sad I had to miss the game today. Then I come here and realize I’ve got all the Rod and Mario highlights at my fingertips (eyeballs?). Thanks. ;)

  2. Oh, Rod and Mario, how we have missed you. What did we do without you guys all winter?

  3. Why do we expect this to work out well again?

    Well, it worked with Fu Te Ni. It worked with Cecil Fielder.

  4. I have to agree that the “guano”-eating grin on Verlander’s face in that commercial is PRICELESS. It’s at least 1,000 times better than last year’s over-played baseball video game commercial, the one with Tim Lincecum and his digitial doppelganger and Randy Johnson telling the doppelganger to put a towel on.

    “Have left arm, will travel.” Words of wisdom.

  5. FrogMan, I do what I can. For the people, you know.

    heitk1le, seriously! And lo, the days become brighter.

    rea, well, Fielder had ONE season in Japan, iirc, and he’d played a lot of MLB before that. That’s not quite the same thing as playing a total of 11 games in the big leagues and then being completely out of the league for, like, five years.

    Fu-Te Ni never flamed out of the majors, he’s just beginning his journey of glory. :)

    Swampy, nooooooooooooo why did you have to remind me of the horror of the Plastic Lincecum! NooooooOOOoooooo

  6. I like Johnny Damon. I’m happy that he’s on the Tigers. I think he’ll have a good season. He’ll be a fun Tiger to root for.

  7. “Traitor Damon . . . They are trying so hard to make me like him.

    Seeing a hostile face in the Fenway crowd, he fled in terror, first to New York, then to Detroit. But it did no good–he had an Appointment with Samarra.

    (http://www.k-state.edu/english/baker/english320/Maugham-AS.htm)

  8. 81371, I don’t blame you at all. You just gotta understand that we have a prior history, Damon and I. ;)

    rea, A freakin’ plus reference. And it’s true, I’m in Iraq, and also Russia. I span the globe!

  9. I get what you’re saying, Samara. Damon bailed on a team that you like in favor of a team you don’t like. Now he’s bailed on a team you don’t like in favor of a team that you do like. In a way, at least for this year, he’s untraited the trait that made him Traitor Damon.

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