illustration by Samara Pearlstein
The Tigers played split-squad today, with no Detroit cameras. But the Phillies had their guys out at one of the games, and the MLB Network decided to replay it at 8pm for some reason. Initially I could not understand why this was happening, but I wasn’t complaining, because baseball! Tigers baseball! On my TV!!
I soon realized the game had probably been chosen for broadcast because CLIFF LEE, MAN OF PITCHERLY WONDERS was starting. As you will see. Liveblog from my notes follows.
Top of the first
–We join the broadcast in action to find that Will Rhymes led off the game and was beaned by Cliff Lee. So… thanks for not showing me what I would actually kind of like to see? Good start, MLBN.
–Ugh, I guess I had assumed this would be a neutral MLBN broadcast, but it’s not, they’ve just ganked the CSN Philly tape, so it’s Tom McCarthy, “Wheels”, and “Sarge”, although only two are in the booth at any given time. Wheels is Chris Wheeler, Sarge is Gary Matthews the Elder. Naturally enough they are concentrating on the Phillies. I don’t blame them, but I just want more Tigers focus. Stampy feet!
–One of them says this is Cliff Lee’s first appearance in a Phillies uniform. But… but…? I stare at the TV, begin questioning my own memories of 2009. Maybe they mean… first appearance back? First appearance this season? Maybe they should say that. Deep breath. Spring Training for everyone.
–Tigers scoring happens. Ryan Raburn triple! Don Kelly has high socks on. Ryan Strieby looks nice and solid, I don’t know why I’m commenting on this, it makes me sound like Rod Allen.
Bottom of the first
–Andy Oliver gets the start for the Tigers. Placido Polanco is batting second for the Phillies! I draw four sadfaces in a row on my notes. The announcers are still talking about Cliff Lee.
Top of the second
–I left the room to do some stuff, and when I came back, it was the next inning and they were still talking about Cliff Lee. CLIFF LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
–Brian Wilson is in the MLB 2K11 ad. “Digital Brian, I will come through that screen and rip you apart.”
–”Nobody has ever touched the beard. There’s a reason for that– you can’t. It’s too full of magic.”
Bottom of the second
–The ballgirls down the lines are Hooters girls. Don’t even know what to say to this.
–Is the Phanatic here? I wish they would show him. It’s a Philly broadcast, if he’s in the park they really ought to put him on camera.
Top of the third
–Placido Polanco throws out Audy Ciriaco. I draw another sadface in my notes.
–Kyle Kendrick has replaced CLIFF LEE CLIFF LEEEEEEE. He comes way inside on Rhymes. After Cliff The Precious Lee already beaned him! THEY ARE PITCHING HIM INSIDE WITH INTENT TO HIT, OOOOOO PHILLIES, YOU DID NOT. YOU DID NOT. No they aren’t, Kendrick immediately throws two balls carefully far outside. But it’s the principle of the thing.
–Raul Ibanez is currently bald up top, with a scruffy beard. Announcer: “Some folks said, you look like a professor!” Other announcer laughs. I didn’t realize bald + beard = professor. Is that a thing?
–On Jose Valverde: “He’s something to watch.” Stuff about his outings being “an adventure.”
“There’s not enough mustard in the world to put on that hot dog.”
“Most closers are put on this earth to drive fans crazy.”
Bottom of the third
–On the bench in the dugout, CLIFF MOST SACRED OF LEEs, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and even Joe Blanton are all sitting in a row. Announcer says, “I like the way they all hang together.”
–They aren’t even in our league and I have to admit that’s a hell of a thing to see. All those cats on the same bench. Like… that’s some All Star Game stuff going on over there. If you’re a batter and you look into a dugout and you see that, you probably pee your pants a little bit. Just a little.
–Directly transcribed notes: MY PLACIDO, walks, oh he looks amazing ugggggh healthy sleek handsome
–No shame, ladies and gentlecats, no shame. This is baseball.
Top of the fourth
–Cliff Lee on-field interview EVERY INNING IS CLIFF LEE INNING
–Cliff Lee talks about getting to know the pitchers on this staff, this amazing ridiculous hyped-to-death-and-back-to-life-again staff, and he namedrops Placido Polanco. All the stupendous pitchers, and he has to mention how he’s been getting to know Placido. The only position player he names. PLACIDO.
Bottom of the fourth
–Adam Wilk is pitching. He majored in criminal justice.
–Gary Matthews says that Andy Oliver was penciled in as the Tigers’ fifth starter. Um… this is news to me? Where did that even come from?
–Another direct notes transcription: Rhino —> Rhymes threw out S Victorino @ second trying to run stretching a single oooo! snap snap
Game continued AFTER THE LINK!
Top of the fifth
–I can’t watch these Golden Corral ads, they are grossing me out. Oh holy Paws look at that fish. Urk. I need Tums or something.
–Eddie Bonine pitching for the Phillies. Oh boy. Awkward. There are a couple kittens in the lineup he might not know, but in this inning he still has to face Clete Thomas, Will Rhymes, J(h)onny Peralta, and Ryan Raburn (Rhino blasts a two-run homer off of him). WICKED AWKWARD.
–Announcer calls Audy Ciriaco “Andy See-reek-oh”. Congratulations, you have butchered the poor kid’s name in every possible way.
–Talking about Bonine’s knuckleball. Matthews asks how hard he throws it. They start talking about other knuckleballers… they mention the Niekros, then RA Dickey, then stop. Um, how about TIM WAKEFIELD? Gosh.
Bottom of the fifth
–Apparently Matt friggin’ Anderson pitched for these Phillies yesterday. Yes: THAT Matt Anderson. They’re talking about his outing, saying that he impressed Charlie Manuel, that he was “lighting up the mound”. What is this parallel universe in which we are now dwelling?
Top of the sixth
–McCarthy calls Ryan Strieby “Steeby”. It’s cool, man, he wasn’t using that R anyways.
–Josh Barfield bobbles a ball, but manages to get it to first in time for the out. McCarthy says, charitably, that it’s still early and he’s probably breaking in a new glove. Matthews says that if you’re trying to break in with a new team (Barfield of course has been with the Racist Logos the past few years), you better leave the new glove at home and go to work with the old one you already know.
–Andy Dirks and Adam Wilk keep mixing up in my head. Not sure why, although I suspect it’s the number of letters and the A-names.
Bottom of the sixth
-Jimmy Rollins, now out of the game, walked down the Wall of Fans trying to hide his face with his hat. When he got to the end he took the hat away, smiled and laughed, and started signing for people.
–AHHHH PLACIDO POLANCO ON-FIELD INTERVIEW JUST HEARING HIS VOICE AAAHHHHHH. Talking about how excited he was to come to camp this spring, “to see my family– I call everyone here my family.” AAAAHHHH
–Al Alburquerque is pitching, with some new catcher, dunno who. It had been Avila before. Too bad they switched; the Alex Avila/Al Alburquerque battery promises to be Absolutely Amazingly Alliterative.
–Gary Matthews asks questions that have so many parts, and he kind of rambles through them. Placido is visibly struggling to follow the thread of the question through to its end, biting his lip, looking concerned as he waits for the question mark at the end of yet another complex composite statement. I WANT TO HUG HIM FOREVER.
Top of the seventh
–The Brian Wilson video game ad again. At least it’s not the Randy Johnson/Tim Lincecum/Plastic Lincecum shower scene again.
–Jeff Larish playing at first base now for Philadelphia. Wow, so… awkwardness abounds here in Clearwater.
–Cut to the broadcasters, my brain goes, “WHOA, Gary Matthews turned into a white guy!” Matthews left the booth and was replaced by this Wheels fellow, but they are similarly shaped while seated and are wearing the same shirt and were in more or less the same pose, so there was a moment of fearful concern there.
–Talking about Cale Iorg’s dad and uncle (both former Major Leaguers): “That was a name. When the first Iorg arrived, you didn’t know how to pronounce it. First time up, that was Eye-org!” It’s properly pronounced “Orj” with the G sounding like the J in “juice”.
Bottom of the seventh
–The announcers thought the Iorgs were from Utah, although they are not (Cale went to high school in Tennessee; his uncle and father were both born in California). Then they had to spend some time working out why they associated the Iorg name with Utah. Cale’s uncle went to BYU, and they’re all Mormons. So: Utah. That was the connection. And half of the inning.
–They spent the rest of the inning explaining the Rule 5 draft.
Top of the eighth
–Jimmy Rollins is still out there signing. FOREVER SIGNING.
–Danys Baez pitching for the Phils, which weirds me out for some reason. My brain still does not want to see him as a Phillie. Get out of here, Danys Baez. Go be an Oriole or something.
–Rob Brantly was the kid who replaced Avila at catcher. According to his college website he majored in “history and law and society”. I don’t know what that actually entails.
Bottom of the eighth
–Short version of that Detroit Chrysler ad. I know exactly how it’s playing on my emotions and I still like it. UGH. Dammit, Chrysler.
–Jeff Larish’s batting face is super focused and serious. He looks wicked locked in. He looks like he’s seeking justice and/or revenge. He strikes out looking. Sigh.
–The Phillies have this big kid in to play first. Matt Rizzotti. They’re giving his stats as 6’5, 265lbs. Rod would LOVE this kid. Meaty. Announcer sez, “Looks like Thome, don’t he?”
Top of the ninth
–Spring Training for everyone. At this point I fell asleep on the couch.
When I woke up, Mitch Williams was on my TV wearing a suit and objecting to something about dances celebrating home runs, and then he got into some sort of argument with Kevin Millar over who you would pick, Ryan Braun or Carlos Gonzalez. Millar picked Braun (for whatever this is), Williams looked at him like he had just leapt up, dropped trou, and taken a dump on the MLBN desk.
I can’t even. I’m pretty sure the Tigers won, and nobody got injured, so it was a good day. I’m going to bed. Goodnight, kids and kittens!