Category Archives: Alex Avila

cartoons from the recent Tigers games


illustrations and photos by Samara Pearlstein

This past Saturday was Max Scherzer’s 29th birthday. July 27 is always extra special, because not only is it Max Scherzer’s birthday, it is also Mr. Dombrowski’s birthday. This year it was extra extra special, because it was also a Max Scherzer start. It was extra extra EXTRA special because Max pitched with the blue eye, and it was extra extra EXTRA EXTRA special because his teammates all chipped in to get him 10 runs of support so that he could get his 15th win. A happy birthday for all.

The Tigers acquired Jose Veras. The excitement was infinite. Who needs an incontrovertible closer when you have 10,000 middle relievers? Not these cats.

On Sunday the great Tigers vs. Umpires War of Major League Baseball continued, as Miguel Cabrera was ejected in the third inning for no immediately and readily discernible reason. It soon turned out that Chad Fairchild, the homeplate ump, had taken a dislike to Miggy’s dislike of his strike calling. Apparently Cabrera said something after the first pitch, Fairchild told him to can it, and when Miggy piped up again after the second pitch, Fairchild threw him out with great immediacy and extreme prejudice. Thing is, Cabrera had not even turned around to voice his complaints or show up the umpire in any way. Even if he really said something that bad, it was as much to himself as anything else. It was a totally uncalled-for ejection in the opinions of Miguel Cabrera and the entirety of the crowd, which proceeded to scream at Fairchild sporadically throughout the remainder of the game (a repeated opinion: “We didn’t pay to see you, Chad!”).

Also deeply unimpressed was Jim Leyland, who stormed onto the field and was ejected in his turn. Of course, his feelings about the umpires are well known.

I was at the game, and let me assure you, he was quite displeased.

On Tuesday Alex Avila hit the first grand slam of his career. Even if you were not watching the FSD broadcast, you already knew in your heart of hearts that Rod Allen called it a grand salami. You knew, and you were glad.

As I said, I was in Detroit this past weekend for the games. Both were highly enjoyable for a variety of reasons, but something extra special and exciting happened at the Saturday game. Here is a little preview:

But you will have to wait a little bit to get the full photographic report.

Happy New Year from Roar of the Tigers!


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Perhaps not the most appropriate or likely Tigers for a New Years image in many ways, but in one way they are the most appropriate of all. Happy 2013, kids and kittens!

Things of late, as Terrible Cartoons, of course.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

I’m just going to lead with that one because it makes me happy in my optic nerves. Everyone in the wide world of Tigers fans has his or her own opinion about the team. There is naturally a great deal of disagreement. But there is one thing upon which we can all agree, one thing that may be safely and universally acknowledged as an unequivocally beautiful sight: Alex Avila, pleased with his own walk-off hit, being doused in purple Gatorade by an almost unhealthily giddy Papa Grande. It is a fine thing, a fine thing indeed.

Especially when Avila’s jersey then gets all wet and it’s all sticking to his torso and it’s a home jersey so it’s white and bits get translucent when soaked, and you get all mad at FSD for not getting longer and more torso-inclusive shots post-soaking, and now I’ve said too much. Thank you, Papa Grande.

This keeps on happening, and I suppose it too is a fine thing. Every silver lining, of course, has its cloud, and Scherzer’s high K-counts are still tagging along with the logically attendant high pitch counts, but for now we will accept it.

Doug Fister injured his groin. The jokes came thick and fast and inevitably. Everyone is just real sorry about that, Mister Fister, but what do you expect from us? We are baseball fans. We are all ten years old.

Miguel Cabrera’s ankle has been sore for a while, and Leyland is finally paying attention, giving him some DH time and just now a day off. I haven’t seen anything more specific than “sore” to describe the State of Miggy’s Ankle, aside from this Mothership blurb earlier in the month:

During the Boston series, Miguel Cabrera fouled a ball off his left shin and, as a result, the third baseman has been experiencing some “drainage” in his ankle, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said on Sunday morning.

“He’s just getting some drainage in his ankle from that,” Rand said. “His [lower] leg gets sore just the more he’s on it.”
Jason Beck/Anthony Odoardi, DetroitTigers.com

What in the world does that mean? How can an ankle be experiencing ‘drainage’? That sounds anatomically difficult and worrying. I cannot know, I can only draw.

Drew Smyly is back! He got a spot start and should be sticking around in the bullpen even when he gets bumped from the rotation.

The persistence of Delmon Young’s mustache should be a source of concern for us all. But he has also been on a bit of a hitting tear lately. Does this… does this mean that the mustache is actually doing the hitting for him?? I think this is a possibility that we need to deeply consider. It would explain how that upper lip d├ęcor has hung around this long, despite (what must surely be) the strong recommendations of everyone who knows Delmon personally and also has eyes.

Just throwing this one in for good luck. The mantises have been back in attendance, all over MLB, and yes, they have been spotted– and occasionally photographed– in Detroit. Praise be!

Handle with caution.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Good:

–Quintin Berry hitting a walkoff single for the win.

–A variety of scraptastic Tigers small-ballin’ it up to get into position for a Quintin Berry single to win the game.

–Taking two of three from the Cardinals, and hitting the road after winning four out of six games in Detroit.

–Prince Fielder’s big blast.

–An effective bullpen. MADNESS!

Bad:
–Jacob Turner issuing five walks in five innings.

–Don Kelly barking his knee on the wall.

–Very little offensive production over the course of the game, including the usual collective refusal/inability to work walks.

Most important:

Alex Avila is back from the DL! DO NOT INJURE HIM AGAIN, BASEBALL. This statement would hold true regardless, but it’s especially vital in the face of G-Money’s crampy sore hamstrings and the excision of Bryan Holaday. Just… just keep him in good condition, ok? I know that he’s far from a precious delicate snowflake, but I can’t stand to see him injured, you can’t stand to see him injured, the pitchers don’t like to see him injured, Jim Leyland doesn’t like dealing with him constantly whining about getting back into the lineup when he’s injured, and so on.

I don’t care how this is done. Mummify him in caution tape and bubblewrap, put him in a small unbreakable box, hire Kyle Farnswoth to physically threaten opposing players who attempt to slide sharply into him– whatever. He is (nominally) healthy right now. Keep him that way. There are important things in the game of baseball but keeping Alex Avila and his magical fast-renewing facial hair fresh and healthy and in front of our baseball-watchin’ eyes is one of the Most Important Things. See to it, MLB.

Happy ValenTigers Day!


drawings by Samara Pearlstein

Just a little Tigers affection for all you cats!

Stupid Awards Season

Well, here we are. The postseason is over. The preseason is many months away. Roar of the Tigers has stopped watching TV in the name of actually (gasp!) doing work. This season… what season is this? It is a season constructed by Major League Baseball in an attempt to appease us, to give us something to talk about that isn’t trades involving Melky Cabrera or the sad state of Oriole affairs. Yes, we are firmly in the midst of Stupid Awards Season.

Stupid Awards Season asks you to care deeply about these poorly determined awards. And you want to care! You want to care because you want your favorite super wicked awesome baseball player to be recognized by everyone for his super wicked awesomeness. At the same time, you don’t want to care, because you (if you are a sane, moderately educated baseball fan) recognize that these awards are at some essential level mostly what Jim Leyland would call, ahem, horsesh!t.

FOR INSTANCE.


drawings by Samara Pearlstein

Miguel Cabrera wins the batting title. Miguel Cabrera does not win the Silver Slugger. I would tell you how this makes sense, but I cannot, because it actually makes no sense whatsoever. Adrian Gonzalez is a good hitter and all, but Miguel was better than him at basically everything you can legally do with a bat in the game of baseball this year.

It’s ok, because Miguel loves his own bat and has no need for that stupid silver hardware, but it’s the principle of the thing.

BUT THEN

Alex Avila wins the Silver Slugger at catcher. Did he catch more games than anyone else in the universe? Yes. Does this mean that, in my biased little fan-heart, I think he deserves all the awards ever? Yes, yes, of course. Were his overall numbers better than, saaaaay, those of Mike Napoli, who basically hit better across the board and went to the World Series to boot? Erm. Well.

But, you see: this we like. Alex Avila’s durability and (perhaps more importantly) dogged tenacity convince voters that he deserves a metal stick more than Mike Napoli’s 1.046 OPS does. Stupid Awards Season!

Then Austin Jackson fails to win a Gold Glove. Okay. The fact that I wanted him to win is almost certainly, in this case, the tiny Paws in my brain guiding my thoughts. And again, it’s not as if he desperately needs it to tell us all that sometimes he makes plays so good that Rod Allen loses his mind and control of his vocal cords. Just more Stupid Awards Season nonsense.

We are still waiting on the MVP results. But Justin Verlander did get another award recently. It was Player of the Year (or something?) in the Players Choice Awards (or something?). These are even MORE made-up than Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves. They are nice because they involve charity, but basically they are a measure of how much a particular dude has impressed all the other dudes in the MLBPA in any given year.

Justin Verlander frightens his opposition and his stunning good looks have charmed his peers. He commands respect and he’s popular. This particular Stupid Award is perfect for him, and he has duly received it. Woo, yay, etc.

If a Tiger does not win the MVP award, it will not matter in the least. The award is not strictly based on merit. At root it is meaningless. But that won’t stop our righteous and strident indignation. Something to look forward to! Thanks, Stupid Awards Season!

what to do in the ALDS


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.

The miracle of life, in every way.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Congratulations are in order for Miguel Cabrera and Mrs. Miguel Cabrera, because today they have a brand new kitten! This one is reportedly a boy, and the third Cabrera kitten. Mazel tov, Miggy!

A happy event to be sure, but this was also a miracle of life on another level. His wife was induced, so the Tigers knew ahead of time to put Cabrera on the paternity list. This allowed them to to call up a replacement player for one day. Do you see where this going? DO YOU SEE?

I have never been so happy to see Omir Santos in my all my days.

Let it enter into the record: August 25, 2011, ALEX AVILA FINALLY GETS A DAY OFF. And it is all thanks to the brand new Cabrera kitten. New life for all.

No rest for weary Avilas, plus Phil Coke, Emergency Closer.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

1: It’s huge to get the win from a David Price start. He’s no Justin Verlander (then again, nobody is), but he can be really, really good, and sneaking a Tigers win off of him is an essentially unexpected bonus in this series.

2: ALEX AVILA TAKES A BALL OFF THE NECK, STARTS THE NEXT GAME, NO BIG DEAL. No rest for Alex Avila ever. EVER. Alex Avila scoffs in the face of totally irresponsible player abuse. Alex Avila denies his mortal nature, not because he feels he is above other men or because he believes he is somehow invincible, but because Jim Leyland asks him to do this and Alex Avila gives 110% when his coach asks. Even when that 110% is 110% of his good health and future soundness of body. Alex Avila plays as if he is made of solid metal. ALEX AVILA IS IRON MAN.

3: Here’s something creepy. I actually drew Iron Man Avila yesterday, and colored it during the game today. After the game I went to the Mothership to look at the box score, and what did I see? An article with this headline.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD, JASON BECK.

4: Iron Man totally would not give 110% if his high school baseball coach asked him to, but we are ignoring that. Also, Tony Stark totally did not play high school baseball. ANYWAYS.

5: Phil Coke, pitching Helper Monkey. Phil Coke, Emergency Closer. Phil Coke, Dude With a Save.


photo by Samara Pearlstein

With Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde both unavailable, the Tigers were hoping to see a blowout-type game with no stressful late inning pitching situations (ha!), or a complete game masterpiece from Brad Penny (hahaHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahaha!). So of course they ended up with a one run game in the late innings and all kinds of stress.

Phil Coke came in to pitch the 8th. Working around a double and an intentional walk, he struck out the side. Lacking any other real options, Leyland let him come out for the 9th. Things got Tense (Rays on second and third) but Coke set aside his concerns and got the job done like a boss. A boss of pitching.

6: In his postgame interview, Phil Coke refused to say anything about his personal accomplishments on the mound. In fact, he was so adamantly against this subject that when Ryan Field brought it up, Coke stuck his fingers in his ears and started saying, “LALALALALA” loudly. It was a special moment.

7: Why do I laugh so hard when Alex Avila hits a double off of Kyle Farnsworth? Why is that so freaking funny?

Winning is great, but stop this senseless abuse.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

It’s getting worse. As if the unrelenting schedule of play was not bad enough… as if the constant foul ball foot abuse, the whacks to the center of the mask, the bad bounces that strike unprotected hands were not bad enough… as if the collisions at the plate where 10,000 things can go wrong at once are not bad enough…

Now they’re going for his NECK! Holy Paws, this needs to stop. Alex Avila is going to end the season in pieces, or I am going to have a nervous breakdown on his behalf. Possibly both. Probably both.

Other things from this game:

–Justin Verlander gave up a leadoff home run to Matt Joyce, then settled in and controlled the heck out of the rest of the game. I’m willing to chalk the homer up to a donation to orphaned kittens. It didn’t get in the way of Verlander’s 19th win of the season, so it’s all good.

–Alex Avila homered, because he is stronger than a mortal man and can do things like that even while suffering inhumane amounts of catcher abuse.

–Don Kelly homered, because LOL.

–Papa Grande in non-save situations is rather nerve-wracking, but I would still rather watch him a hundred times than Fernando Rodney once in the same situation.

–I really like when the Verlander/Avila battery catches someone stealing, or picks someone off (it was a CS today, of Ben Zobrist). Verlander’s move is a deadly cobra strike and Avila’s arm is as mighty as his beard. We all know this, but it is nice to remind the rest of the league every so often.

–In the dugout, at some point in the middle of the game: Scherzer up by the rail, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez talking to someone (Porcello, I think?), with someone behind them sitting on the bench. Magglio started putting his shirt up over his nose, acting all ridiculous and coy, and so did the guy on the bench. Rod and Mario realized that there was Fart Fun happening in the dugout, and lost their minds giggling.

A shot a minute later made it seem like Miggy was accusing Max of being the offending party, but I suppose we shall never know.

–Victor Martinez was a late scratch from the lineup with BACK SPASMS. Miggy DH’d and Kelly played first. Obviously not good, since back spasms can and do recur, and especially not good because changes in gait (such as one might have from a KNEE INJURY) can lead to back spasms. VMart might be setting himself up for a deathspiral of unhealing hurtiness here.

–The emergency catcher role was allegedly shifted from Kelly to Inge today, even though the word on the electronic street had been that the FO didn’t think Inge’s knees were healthy enough to catch, even on rare occasion. Of course, since there is no backup at the moment, the emergency catcher is technically also the backup catcher. We may see something come of this, that’s all I’m sayin’.

–I feel like there was something else, but I forgot. Oh well.