Category Archives: Tram

some honors for our friends


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Barry Larkin was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I guess he played in Cincinnati for a while or something, but that’s not important. Barry Larkin, Michigan Wolverine, is in Cooperstown. That’s all you need to know.

The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Mario Impemba the Michigan Sportscaster of the Year. Mario has swag.

Sorry guys. I just don’t know.

World freakin’ Series Game 2: Kenny Rogers Owns My Soul

was at this game. tired and incoherent. better post tomorrow (later today) probably.

kenny rogers was sick. SICK. had no idea what the deal with the umps coming out to talk to him was until the car ride home; no telling what’s going on from up in the 300 level. sure some cards fans will whine it was pine tar. he pitched great after he cleaned his hand off. no doubt. kenny rogers owns my soul. and yours.

never been to a world series game before. insane. INSANE. mostly: SO FREAKIN’ COLD. also, packed. also, towel waving looks much cooler in person than it does on tv.

brandon inge’s first postseason hit, and me there to see it in person. obviously it’s because he loves me.

sat next to a very loud, very friendly, very very drunk woman. craig monroe was her tiger.

players made a point of coming over and individually hugging alan trammell before the pregame ceremonies, don’t know if they showed that on tv or not. so cute. tram’s bald spot: ginormous when viewed from the 300 level. bondo came over to say hi to sparky anderson and shook his hand in a weird half-bow like he was in awe.

juan encarnacion got hella booed. also, many ‘weeeeeeaaaaavvvveeeerrrrr’ chants.

the sound in the ballpark when they replayed the pitch that bounced up and hit molina in the gonads was great. a kind of collective male squeal.

spotted jeannie zelasko wandering around the sideline before the game, was wondering who the dude with awful hair with her was. then i realized. ha ha, oh eric byrnes, the long black jacket is incapable of classing up that dead echidna on your noggin.

took photos, of course. 300 level, so they’re not great, but i took them anyways. in southfield for the night, can’t get the photos on the internet until probably much later monday. will post a link when they’re up.

so, so very tired. world series baseball in person. i still can’t quite believe it.

better post, and photos, eventually. caps, even, if you’re good.

In which I finally talk about it.

Well, it’s been a bit. I’ve let the season ferment, by which I mean I’ve watched rather a lot of league championship baseball, and I’ve screamed myself silly at a couple of home Michigan games, and I’ve stayed the hell away from Detroit newspaper sports sections.

I’ve got my desk set up (bear with me here, it’s relevant, honest) with baseball cards tacked all along the top of it, so I can look at them while I work at the computer (read: all the frigging time). I put up players I like, but they’re from all different years and such, so it’s a mixed bag… I’ve got John Olerud in a Blue Jays uniform, Dennis Eckersley in an A’s hat, Magglio Ordonez in White Sox pinstripes, Orlando Cabrera in Expos colors. I’ve got Terry Francona in his Brewers uniform and Brandon Inge in catcher’s gear. And, sandwiched between a double card of Andruw/Chipper Jones and a shiny Kevin Youkilis card, I’ve got two old cardboard ones. Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell.

So it’s been at the forefront of my mind, you might say, and I’ve been mulling it over.

I know the Trammell Managerial Era is over here in Michigan, and I know there’s rather a lot of disgust (dismay? fury? horror?) over the results. But I stuck by Tram during the year, and I’m sticking by him now. I still don’t think that anyone could have done much more with this team this season. Oh, I know most of you lot are frothing at the mouth right now to tell me that I’m WICKED FRIKKING WRONG and that Tram LOST THE CLUBHOUSE and that his players DIDN’T RESPECT HIM ENOUGH and that he had NO CONTROL OVER THEM and that PUDGE RODRIGUEZ SPANKED HIM LIKE HE WAS A BAD BOY WHO DIDN’T EAT HIS VEGGIES AND IT WAS BACK IN A DECADE WHEN COPOREAL PUNISHMENT WAS STILL SMILED UPON.

It’s very, very hard to say that Pudge was not some sort of raging prima donna by the end of the year, and possibly the whole way through, but do you really think he was that different in 2004? Was he that different with the Marlins? Maybe it was exacerbated this season because of the divorce thing, and the weight loss thing, and the bitterness about losing thing, and the media getting on his case because of the weight and the losing thing, and the psychotic breakdown and subsequent rapid trading of his longtime boyfriend thing. But I really don’t think he suddenly developed some sort of crazy personality that he hadn’t had before.

After all, that statue of himself he’s got in his yard has been there for years.

So, for all the chatter about how Pudge tore the clubhouse to weensy little pieces because Tram couldn’t control him any more than he could control the (considerable) size of his bald spot, I don’t think it was as big an issue as people are making it out to be. At the very least, it was a problem, but not such a new one. If you ask me, which you didn’t but you’re reading this so too bloody bad, the issue was not clubhouse friction. The clubhouse friction only became an issue because the team was losing, and not just 2004-losing, because expectations were much higher this season.

Now, I do believe that a good clubhouse will help a good team through rough patches, but I also believe that a good team can play well even with a bad clubhouse. Maybe they can’t survive the rough patches as well as a team of dudes who like each other, but if they’re a good team they’re a good team. Period.

I don’t know how responsible Tram was for everyone in the clubhouse sniping at each other, but I don’t think he was all that responsible for Magglio’s stomach lining erupting, or Rondell’s shoulder liquefying, or whatever the heck happened to Bonderman down the line. I don’t think he was responsible for Carlos Pena being more back-and-forth than a pendulum, or for the pitching being on only when the hitting was slumping, and vice versa.

So he couldn’t manage a bad team into being good. I don’t think there’s ANY manager out there today who could’ve managed this team, such as it was, into the playoffs. Into a .500 record? Maybe. But maybe not. And I do think that Tram could manage a good team into a winning season.

Nothing much more to be said, it’s done and over with. But I don’t like the idea of a Tiger legend being reviled for managing a team about as well as anyone else would have managed it. When you get right down to it, it’s the players on the field who win or lose games the vast majority of the time. Maybe we would’ve been better served throwing Tram out there at shortstop. I’m sure his knees can’t be any worse than Guillen’s.

Alan Trammell and the Grim.

Leaning on the dugout railing, Alan Trammell sighed to himself.

Life was hard. Everyone was against him these days, even his mom, who had called him up to say that she thought he had horrible instincts when it came to bullpen use. His team was just now finally getting some runs, on the one hand, but they were coming against Jose Lima, on the other hand, which was kind of like getting runs off of a sweet little old lady with an arm withered from arthritis and a circle change grip.

Glancing up from the ever-inspiring sight of Vance Wilson stepping up to bat, Tram received a nasty shock. There in the stands, staring back at him with terrifying glowing eyes, was… well, he wasn’t entirely sure. It looked like… but, no, it couldn’t be…

It looked like the horrible, ravaged visage of Lee Mazzilli.

The next time Tram looked up into the stands, after patting Chris Shelton on the butt following his homerun and making a note to himself to wash his hands as soon as he possibly could, the specter was no longer there. Holding his hands carefully away from his body, Tram decided to forget the incident.

After the game he decided that, in the face of a victory, the team could forgo their usual postgame ritual of hysterical sobbing and self-flagellation and just go straight to the spread. A hankering for cold cuts led Tram to gravitate over to the neatly folded selection of thinly sliced deli meats. Shifting them around with his fork to find some choice slices, he nearly jumped out of his skin when a loud shriek issued forth from directly over his left shoulder.

“Oh my GAWD!” Omar Infante squealed, wringing his hands in dismay. “Look at it!” The team crowded around to see what had so distressed the small infielder. “It’s THE GRIM!”

Tram spun around to see Pudge vigorously crossing himself and gazing supplicatingly at the ceiling. Everyone else just looked confused.

“What the f!#& is a grim?” asked Chris Spurling, looming ominously over the table and idly bending and unbending a metal fork in his hands.

“It is a SIGN,” whispered Omar, his eyes becoming huge like saucers of Fear, or perhaps saucers of Warm Soup, as he gestured at the cold cuts. “It can appear anywhere. It is a terrible, terrible legend, the Grim. It takes the horrible form of the face of Lee Mazzilli, and those who first see it next see Death…… of their careers!

There was a scream and a thud as Carlos Pena clapped his hands over his eyes and dropped to the floor to curl up into a fetal position under the table. Everyone else pressed closer to peer at the cold cuts.

“Gee, I dunno,” Brandon Inge said, squinting at the meat and compulsively snapping his gum. “If you turn your head to the left, it kinda looks like Mazzilli. But if you turn your head to the right, it kinda looks more like Lou Piniella.”

“That’s not a better sign,” muttered the ghost of Eric Munson, which had been busily haunting the clubhouse since late July.

Tram stared down at the little pile of deli-style goodness. Rucked up by his fork, they did kind of look like a face. And that face did kind of look like… well, it had a certain despairing sagginess to it that recalled to mind the departed Mazzilli. He started to feel a cold knot of fear in the pit of his stomach. Or perhaps it was hunger. But he couldn’t very well eat the cursed cold cuts now.

“I think it looks more like Tony Pena,” Craig Monroe added, elbowing Magglio Ordonez out of the way to get a better look. Magglio immediately groaned in pain and clutched at his stomach, slowly curling to the floor and joining Carlos under the table.

“Looks like FOOD,” Dmitri Young rumbled, marching up to the table and scattering teammates so that he could shovel the entire pile of meat onto his plate, glaring left and right before scooping up an enormous forkful and jamming it into his mouth. Everyone stared at him, Omar with his hands over his mouth in theatrical horror. Carlos Guillen tried to step back from the terrible scene and slipped on one of Nook Logan’s ‘do rags, causing his knee to go out from under him so that he collapsed to the floor with Magglio and Carlos Pena. Dmitri burped loudly at Omar and wandered off, balancing his plate deftly on one hand.

Shaking his head, Omar turned from this spectacle and patted Tram gingerly on the arm. “I am so sorry, Tram. I will pray for you.” He walked solemnly into the video room, where he tripped over Pudge, who had been kneeling on the floor attempting to lash together a bunch of spare bats to make a giant wooden cross.

“Ah, I wouldn’t worry ’bout it, Tram,” growled Kirk Gibson, coming over and smacking Tram violently on the back, causing him and half the players in the room to jump. Jeremy Bonderman banged his arm on Placido Polanco’s massive skull and whimpered as his entire elbow swelled to alarming proportions, the pain making him crumble to the ground, where he was carefully rolled under the table by Sean Douglass.

“I mean, it’s not like you been seein’ ol’ Mazzilli around anyways, right?” Gibby winked and grabbed a handful of knives from the table. “Now, I got some hittin’ coachin’ to do. Where’s Vance?”

Tram felt the cold pit in his stomach grow colder yet. What if what he had seen in the stands really was Lee Mazzilli, or, erm, the Grim? What if his career really was doomed to a horrible death, as presaged by this horrible visitation? What if Lee Mazzilli was really his benevolent and wrongly-canned godfather?

Only time, Dombrowski, and Illitch will tell.

I am very very sorry if you do not get this post. All I can do is shrug and tell you to get with the rest of the known universe and read your Harry Potter already.

That whisking sound you hear is everything unravelling.

Shelton continued his hitless skid, although he did at least take a walk.

Inge still isn’t hitting.

Our backup catcher, at .143, is batting even worse than their backup catcher, Ken Huckaby, who’s hitting a cool .167.

They committed two errors and we couldn’t make them pay for it.

Their starter was chased an out sooner than ours and we couldn’t make them pay for it.

DINGMAN WATCH is at 2.25, and he gave up the game-winning hit. The allure of his career ERA may be proving too strong.

We don’t really have a closer, Pudge is allegedly sulking, the team is allegedly mad at Pudge. Tram has no control over the clubhouse, and no one is taking any walks.

The Wrong Sox keep on winning.

There are rumors of mass steroid test results lurking in the MLB offices, just waiting to be released, including some ‘big names’, which of course gets everyone buzzing about Pudge again.

I just want to watch baseball, OK? And I’d really like to hit .500. Is that so much to ask for?

edit: Oh fer….

OK, when I came over here as per Evan’s request, he only gave me one real guideline. He knows that my style of baseball writing often tends towards Completely Foulmouthed (remember, kids, born and bred in the Boston area. Baseball and violent swearing go hand in hand in my books), so he asked me to try to tone it down over here. On my other site I obviously continued as always, but over here, could I please, please, please not drop f-bombs all over the place. He knows how I write. He was practically begging. I think I’ve been reasonably (comparatively) good.

But this…

WHAT THE FUCK.

No, really. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that information? How does that even happen on a team? Is Foster (a regular Detroit-area sports journalist who happens to keep a blog, for those who are unfamiliar with the Detroit media [and don’t even get me started on the fact that his blog is ‘presented by the New Bloomfield Ford’]) completely offbase here? Is he blowing this out of proportion? Is he absolutely spot-on?

Seriously, what the fuck are you supposed to do if that’s happening to your team? Are things this bad in the Royals clubhouse? The Devil Rays? Pirates? Mariners?

I’m not calm, but I’m calmER.

Well, first off we signed Plonkers to a 4-year deal. I’m OK with it. Seems a reasonable length given his age (29), we just have to hope he can stay healthy for the duration which, with our luck, he won’t be able to do. But if he does buck the luck, we’ve got ourselves a second baseman with a quality glove and a bat that has the ability to be pretty damn solid. I say Omar as supersub on the tigerstriped bench. Everyone gets down on him, but he’s just a wee stripling. Not everyone is going to be Jeff Francoeur coming up, OK? I think if we hold onto Omar he’s got lots of upside.

Ha ha, I used the word ‘upside’. That means I don’t know nothin’ ’bout nothin’ and am throwing out the fuzzy old baseball cliches. YOU LOVE IT.

I’m marginally less bitter about the Farnsworth trade. Marginally. It sounds like most Braves fans are upset about losing Colon and they keep talking about how special and potential-ridden he is… well, maybe. I still say the dude is going to be 26 in a couple of weeks, if he’s got wicked awesome potential he should have something to show for it by now.

I do understand that The Farns was seemingly intent on testing free agency at the end of this year, since he hasn’t done so yet in his career and seems enamored with the idea of “having the ball in his own court” for once. It doesn’t sound like he was down on Detroit, though, so who knows, maybe he’ll be back once he realizes they probably won’t use him as a closer at all in Atlanta. I do understand the value of getting prospects for him now instead of not much of anything when he walked at the end of the year. This still smacks of giving up on the season to me.

Now rumors are flying rampant… The Farns and his agent weren’t on the same page and The Farns didn’t necessarily want to leave Detroit; The Farns was angling to go to Atlanta all year long; Pudge thinks management is giving up and wants off the team; Trammell’s done after this year; Bobby Higginson eats babies; the moon is made of cheese; Jason Johnson is having a sex change operation. Rumors are rumors, trust me kids. I’m from the Boston media market. I know all about an entire region getting hysterical over a rumor that turns out to be nothing more than the chatterings of a guy who sometimes works in the park and is bragging to his friends.

Except the bit about Higgy is totally true. I mean, duh.

Billfer has done a good thing for the internet. He has found and is sharing with us a clip of Trammaker making a cameo appearance on Magnum PI. Dead hilarous, and so cute. It’s kind of a big download, if you’re in the stone ages of dialup, but it should be OK for everyone else and everyone should try to see it, like, NOW.

Tram’s cute but, not to put too fine a point on it or anything…. Whitaker? Oh man. He was hot in his heyday.

I missed DINGMAN WATCH in my agony the other day… he’s no longer unhittable. His ERA is now a cool 1.00. It’ll be interesting to see if he can live comfortably around there or if this is the start of a sad slide back to his career level of 7.74.

In the department of things that make me a sad, sad blogger:

:(

Kirk Gibson is my hero.

This does not require additional comment.

Even as a former football player, Tigers hitting coach Kirk Gibson wouldn’t grade Farnsworth’s take-down of Affeldt. But he did get a kick out of how manager Alan Trammell waded into the melee as a peacekeeper, only to get pushed around and slapped the way Sparky Anderson did during an infamous 1982 brawl against the Twins.

“We made so much fun of Sparky back then,” Gibson said. “We’d tell him ‘just stay out of it’ — but there was Tram in this one, he was up, he was down, he lost his glasses, he got spiked on the head. I say this knowing he’s OK, but that was my favorite part.”
Detroit News

*insert violent giggling here*