illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Onwards to the ALCS.
illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Onwards to the ALCS.
illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
You all know this story already. The Tigers attempted to kill us all on Sunday. They played as ridiculous a game as they could possibly play. It came down to the very last at-bats of the very last inning. With one out and the bases loaded, the big cats already stashed safely on first and second, Don Kelly came up. And what did he do?
He did not hit a towering grand slam of a home run into the center field foliage. He did not ground into a double play. He did no more and no less than what he absolutely needed to do, which was simply hit a ball far enough to score the cat on third. Not flashy. Not dramatic. Just Don Kelly– just baseball.
Also this happened: for those two of you who somehow didn’t see it/haven’t heard about it yet, AlAl fielded a huge out, and kissed the ball before tossing it to first. Was it a little hot-dog-ish? Sure. Was it a little rude? Sure. Was it premeditated? Absolutely not. Was it hilarious and sort of endearing? You bet your tiger-striped tail it was.
I know the A’s are all surly about it, but quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Game 1 was nice too.
Now, given the way the Tigers played going into the postseason, I had low expectations. I honestly had a hard time envisioning them making it out of the first round. Yet here we are, up 2-0, needing to win just one more game out of the coming three. Of course, all three are in Oakland, and it is not at all out of the realm of possibility for the Tigers to completely muck that up, especially as Verlander and Mister Fister have already pitched, and as we all know, things get a bit thin behind them in the rotation. But this is already so much better than I had dared to dream.
I mean, Don Kelly, you guys. The Tigers are heading west in this best of all possible positions thanks to Don Kelly. Roll that one around in your mind for a while.
illustration by Samara Pearlstein
There, there, Rick Porcello. It’s ok.
Did last night’s game start to lose cohesion while you were on the mound? Sure. Four runs in six innings, that’s not great. I mean, you hit Jorge Posada, then gave up hits to Russell Martin and Derek Jeter. You don’t want to let Jeter start the scoring, FredFred. It gets the Yankee fans too excited; it’s almost indecent. Think of the children.
In the next inning, nobody scored, but you hit Mark Teixeira. I don’t object on principle, mind you– hit Teixeira as much as you want on your own time, or in nominal garbage time during the regular season. Not a great thing to be hitting dudes left and right during the playoffs, though. I’m not trying to make you feel any worse than you already do, FredFred. I’m just saying.
Victor homered and it started to seem like things might be OK. But that’s where you started to lose it. Martin singled, again. Gardner singled. Jeter did a bunt-thing. Then Curtis Granderson hit an RBI double, striking at the very heart of Tigers fans everywhere. Then A-Rod hit a sac fly to score Jeter, which is also just disgusting. Think of the kittens, FredFred.
After that most of the damage can be attributed to the bullpen, and to the curious failure of the bats, but it was already too late. And it was your very first postseason appearance, FredFred– we know how you were SO looking forward to it.
BUT IT’S OK! We are here to tell you that the blame is not yours. You are the victim here, my kittenish friend. You are the victim of your own teammates, and a victim of the unimpeachable fact of Curtis Granderson’s awesomeness, and the latest in a long line of victims to the Yankee regime.
There there, Rick Porcello. Dry your tears, raise your head, and go help Paws turn Yankee Stadium into his own personal litter box.
illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
Win, but terrify everyone first.
It is difficult to discuss these last two games in any coherent way. We survived them, obviously, but now when I try to force my brain in that direction, it just starts gibbering and screaming nonwords into my skull. First there was the ASFDGLIJA; and then there was the GGGLARLIASLDFJK and then they all ASDL;KFJAS;DLKFJSWS!!!
It all started with the rainout, which was continued with the incredibly painful loss. Then Max Scherzer pitched so well for 6 innings, and the bullpen VERY NEARLY lost it, and Papa Grande threw ALL THE PITCHES but somehow the Tigers scraped through.
The game was briefly and horrifyingly prolonged when Alex Avila, pursuing a foul ball that should have been the last out of the game, slipped on the stupid Yankee Stadium on deck circle patch and fell down, missing the ball. Unlike Comerica or, say, Fenway Park– CIVILIZED ballparks– the on deck circles in New York are these rubbery Yankee logo’d things. When it rains, they get slick. Then they become HAZARDS and DANGERS and they should be BANNED because the Yankees are FILTHY BALLPARK CHEATERS.
Anyways, the Tigers got out of that one, but it should not have been quite so drama-laden. Death to the Yankee Stadium on deck circles. AS IF ALEX AVILA HAS NOT HAD TO DEAL WITH ENOUGH THIS SEASON.
Tonight Verlander was not at his sharpest (neither was Sabathia, who gave up the same number of runs but lasted only 5.1 innings to Verlander’s 8. Rain situations like the one that started this series ruin everything for everyone). The Yankees tied the game up in the top of the 7th. The crowd was stunned, appalled, filled with a sense of foreboding and dread.
But Delmon Young stepped up in the bottom of the inning and hit a ball over the wall, all YAY DETROIT and TAKE THAT YANKEES ON BEHALF OF MY TWINKIE SERVICE. If you were watching, you know what it was like. If you were not, I cannot describe to you the sense of relief this home run generated. The game was not yet over, but to get the lead back after everything had seemed to be slipping irrevocably away… holy cats.
And then there was Papa Grande, tired out after those many, many pitches in the previous night’s efforts. He threw a ball that almost murdered Derek Jeter in the head, but he recovered for the save and the Tigers win. He did not do much of a dance, but he did make a fancy upward motion with his arms that gestured to the sky and pulled his jersey out of his pants at the same time.
This is what I have been like while watching the games:
FredFred tomorrow. No matter what happens, remember: he’s still just a kitten. Be nice to him. Go Tigers.
photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
FSN is replaying the Tigers’ postseason victories on Mondays, and of course I watched it tonight. Game 2 of the ALDS, which, as we all know, the Tigers won in New York, 4-3.
I totally had forgotten some of this stuff, like when Morgan was insisting to Jon Miller that the Yankees didn’t count their season successful unless they won the World Series, while every other team just wanted to get there. Holy freakin’ cats Morgan, NO, I am pretty sure that most teams do not dearly wish to get to the World Series only to lose in some horrible embarrassing fashion once there. Pretty sure everyone wants to win the World Series. Small children and Tampa Bay Devil Rays do not dream of the bright lights and crushing shame of crumbling before the Yankees in October.
It is nice to know that my disgust for Joe Morgan remains as gloriously intact as ever even in the middle of the most barren stretch of the offseason.
After seeing this game, let me reiterate how much I do not want to see Gary Sheffield at first base. Granted, most of the plays he missed were either not REALLY his fault (error on the Jete) or else plays that, say, Shelton or Casey wouldn’t make anyways, BUT! totally plays that Carlos Pena would make. And I KNOW WE DON’T HAVE CARLOS PENA ANYMORE I KNOW THAT OK, but it’s the PRINCIPLE of the thing. If I am going to have to deal with a defensively inept player at first, I at least want it to be someone I like (Casey) or someone I am amused by in an “aww, lookit you, also please don’t procreate, ever” kind of way (Shelton). Not someone whose spleen I would like to see bloodily removed at midfield by Kyle Farnsworth in a bout of righteous anger.
Also I hate Johnny Damon so hard.
How hot was that play where Inge didn’t even see the ball until it was practically on top of him, and he still made a great play on it? Super freakin’ hot. I know I actually blathered about this at the time (‘tho you can’t see it because the archives are still in transit– soon, my patient little readerlings, soon), but it’s still SUCH a wonderfully understated play, the kind of quietly amazing thing that us mere mortals cannot do, and Brandon Inge CAN do.
Of course, this time around, it also set me and semi-roommate Derek off, attempting perhaps to recreate the heady feeling of being Joe Morgan and Jon Miller in the booth.
“He’s actually blind, he had no idea what was coming at him.”
“Right, but he knew it was SOMEthing! He was ready to field it.”
“It could’ve been anything.”
“Could’ve been Johnny Damon’s head, bouncing down the line.”
“But he was there, he was ready for it.”
“Actually, he plays by sense of smell.”
“Deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean baseball.”
The moral of the story is, NEVER WATCH A BASEBALL GAME WITH US.
Oh, and I just wanted to mention this. Posada ran into the railing and the Morgan/Miller genuismachine went on and on about how he maybe got a bruise from it or something. This is especially ridiculous to me because a) Posada showed no particular signs of being hurt, there was no need to talk about it for a good solid 5 minutes, and b) I just got through watching the Winter X Games (I know, I know, shut up), where people are HURLED THROUGH THE AIR, sometimes while attempting to ride 400 LB MACHINES, and sometimes they come CRASHING DOWN WITH THOSE MACHINES ON TOP OF SOME PART OF THEM, and these people more often than not GET UP AND WALK IT OFF. I love baseball, and I accept that it stops for rain and that hangnails are the end of the world sometimes, but really, come on now.
After the game: “How hard is it to do special things, when you are trying very hard to do special things?” That was our very own John Keating, to Marcus Thames. Because we are all 5 years old.
From this game we learned:
-The Moose, his bowels be loose.
-Brandon Inge is a superhuman.
-The people love Joel Zumaya.
-It is fun beating the Yankees in New York.
JEREMY FREAKIN’ BONDERMAN.
YANKEES WHUT WHUT?? BEST LINEUP IN THE HISTORY OF EVER, I’M SORRY, YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP BECAUSE I CAN’T HEAR YOUR BATS!!
I of course did not see this game, because I was busy watching the Wolverines BEAT THE GREEN OUT OF MICHIGAN STATE, but let me tell you, the Michigan people understood how much this meant much more than the TV jerkoffs who scheduled it at the same time did.
When the Tigers scored, they would show it on the big screens, and the crowd would go NUTS. Soooooo many “Yankees suck” chants, sooooo many “Let’s go Tigers!” chants. There were even several rounds of “Go get ‘em Tigers!”, which I swear I thought no one under the age of 35 actually knew the words to.
So I am still FREAKIN’ PISSED that I had to miss this game, and the postgame celebration, because of the asinine scheduling, but there was something nice about celebrating with 111,000 like-minded people (well, minus the Yankee fans; there were a few, but they were sorely outnumbered).
Yankees. HA. We weren’t supposed to win this series, so many analysts were even saying Yankees in three. TAKE THAT, NATIONAL MEDIA! TAKE THAT! AND SOMEA THAT!! AND A BIG FAT GLOB OF KENNY ROGERS TO THE FACE! TAKE THAT TOO!
BITE! OUR! BLACK! AND ORANGE! STRIPED! POSTERIORS!!
I can’t even talk about this anymore, I literally JUST got home from the Michigan game and I need to eat dinner before I lie down and die for a bit. Robertson/Zito in Oakland on Tuesday, 8 pm. I dunno what channel it’s on yet. Oakland wasn’t supposed to win either, so this should be an interesting series.
ALDS CHAMPIONS!!! GOOOOOOOOOOOO TIGERS!
Ah, there are few things in life sweeter than listening to ESPN rag on a guy all game long, and then watching him proceed to do everything they said he couldn’t. Thank you, Kenny Rogers. Never have poor postseason stats been so loudly trumpeted. It was almost as loud as the Jeter adoration.
No one was expecting this game to turn out like this. Tigers fans who’d seen Kenny pitch recently might have expected him to do well, especially if they were, like me, willfully ignoring all his numbers from previous years. But a shutout! Who would’ve thought it possible? A shutout of THE GREATEST LINEUP OF BASE BALL PLAYERS TO EVER BE ASSEMBLED ON THIS PLANET IN THE HISTORY OF ALL TIME (according to espn)??? Surely that is IMPOSSIBLE.
Only once, all game, did a Yankee batter advance beyond the base he initially reached, and that was Posada moving to third on Matsui’s groundout after his leadoff double in the 7th. After Matsui, Bernie Williams struck out swinging and Cano grounded out to first, and that was that. The Yankees managed 4 other hits, 2 walks, and ARod was nicked by a pitch, but every time, when someone got on, everyone behind them failed to do anything.
Zoom came in for one batter, ARod, in the 8th, and got him to fly out harmlessly. Jonesy, for once, had a nice and easy 9th with two flyouts and a swinging strike to end the game. Man, it’s weird even just typing that. I like bringing in Zoom for just the one guy… hopefully it won’t tire him out too much, and Kenny’d thrown well over 100 pitches at that point. There wasn’t a whole lot of game left, but no sense in tempting fate with that lineup. (see, I acknowledge the ability of the Yankee hitters, I recognize their skill and their WoahScary factor, but I do not FAWN UNNECESSARILY over them)
Keeping Sheffield out of the lineup in favor of The Ancient Bernie Williams worked well for Torre, as Bernie contributed two strikeouts and a line out to Inge at third on the evening. There is such a thing as playing the numbers too much. Again, it would be absurd to say that anyone predicted Kenny would pitch as well as he did, but given his recent performances, it would’ve been a little silly to expect him to suffer a postseason meltdown as he maybe has in the past.
Leyland decided to stick with his men, and just shuffle them around. Yes, even though his hitters are not SO MARVELOUSLY FEARSOME as the Yankees, they were good enough to all stay in the lineup against the Wizened Unit. Polanco, leading off, went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Casey, moved from third to seventh, went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Granderson, moved from leadoff to ninth, went 1-for-3 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI (he drove in Pudge on a fielder’s choice, and later had a solo shot). Really the only guys who did nothing at all were Craig and Inge. Craig’s very hot and cold and it’s impossible to tell how he’ll be on any given day, and Inge I don’t mind so much so long as everyone else is hitting and his defense stays up to snuff.
As for the two controversial calls in the game, eh. I say they cancel out. Pudge was out in the 2nd when ARod tagged him at third, and yeah, that safe call led to a run. But Polanco’s hit in the 5th was fair when it was called foul, and that ended up keeping the inning scoreless. So far as I’m concerned these are like offsetting penalties in football and we’re all good.
I am starting to wonder if maybe Jon Miller has been hanging out with Tim McCarver too much. The night before he called Verlander the wrong name TWICE (once he was “Jason Verlander” and once he was “Zumaya”), and tonight he said “Kaz Matsui” when he meant Hideki. He realized his mistake two out of the three times (Jason Verlander went uncorrected) and instead of just saying, “Whoops, my bad,” and going on with the game, he felt the need to stop and talk at length about his mistake. So we got a whole schpiel about how so very different Kaz and Hideki Matsui are even though, chortle chortle, they both played in New York.
The best bit of the whole night, of course, was Ernie Harwell showing up in the booth and doing some of the play-by-play. He was his usual Ernie Harwell self, full of stories and great strikeout calls (“He stood there like a house by the side of the road and watched it go by.” “Strike 3, he’s out for excessive window shopping, he looked at one too many.”) and he had Miller and Morgan in stitches most of the time.
Like Johnny Pesky in Boston, Ernie’s one of those guys you just feel good about seeing around the game of baseball, and it was nice to listen to him call the game as it happened in front of him and you could almost forget, for a brief second, that you were watching a highly polished and Yankee lapdogging ESPN broadcast.
Wright/Bonderman at 4 today. I would like to be told who decided that this game should not be a night game, because I don’t know about you kids, but I am IN MICHIGAN, therefore I am going to be AT ONE OF THE BIGGEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN THIS YEAR. I assume that many of you will also either be there or will be keeping a close eye on it. Seriously, SOMEONE at FOX or MLB had to know that the Michigan/Michigan State game was at 4:30, and SURELY someone would know how many Michigan folk are going to be all over it.
I mean. It’s MICHIGAN/MICHIGAN STATE. Almost THE ENTIRE STATE OF MICHIGAN is going to be watching it in some way or another. And the kind of people who, around here, care about college football deeply are also likely to care a bit about baseball. Scheduling the Tigers game at the same time is stupid. The Big House is going to have over 110,000 people in it today; assume only a THIRD of them would watch at least part of the Tigers game if it wasn’t at 4 (and I think you can assume a higher percentage than that, but to be conservative) and you’re talking about AT LEAST 37,000 people who are AUTOMATICALLY lost ad revenue. And that’s not counting people who will, instead of keeping their TVs on the Tiger game, flip back and forth between the two from the comfort of their couches.
At least the Tigers can’t be eliminated today, but I am really quite pissed off about this. Someone in MLB or at FOX is either incredibly ignorant about all things Michigan or is just a really big excretory exit site.