Category Archives: Ugie

FREE URBINA


illustration by Samara Pearlstein (click for bigger)

SWEET STABBY FREEDOM! Ugueth Urbina, as you all know, has been serving out a 14-year prison sentence in Venezuela since 2007 for attacking at least two of his employees with weaponry both bladed and flame-inducing. It has only been 5.5 years, but our old pal Ugie has been released! He’s free, free as the birds Comerica seagulls!

How did he get out? ESPN sez “good behavior,” which probably means he didn’t stab any other prisoners while he was there. Good job, friend!

I should be able to say that there is not a whelk’s chance in a supernova that Mr. Urbina gets a job back in Major League Baseball. He has been completely out of the game, aside from Venezuelan prison baseball, for over 5 years. He’s 38. Even putting aside minor things like the whole stabbing-and-slicing-and-burning incident, he was having drinking/rage issues in the clubhouse some time beforehand (remember the Tigers Plane Shenanigans?). Realistically, he should not be coming back…

…but there’s always that one incredibly stupid but hopeful (/delusional) team out there willing to take a chance on yer average whelk. I mean, the Cubs exist in real life. We shouldn’t forget that.

Anyways.

Even while Ugie was incarcerated down south, we made sure that he was still in some capacity out and about and enjoying himself. He went to Florence, he went to Seattle, he went to the Midwest. The fourth installment of Where in the World is Ugueth Urbina? has been in the works since this summer– progress slowed considerably due to a hilariously horrible time-suck called Grad Skool– but, fear not!, it will not be scrapped even now that Ugie is back out amongst the masses. I plan to have it done before Spring Training. Maybe even in January. Brace yourselves.

Where in the Midwest is Ugueth Urbina?

The ongoing photo journey of a very special former Tiger!


all photos by Samara Pearlstein

Where is Ugie? We rejoin our intrepid hero on the Irene Hixon Whitney Footbridge over I-94 in Minneapolis, Minnesota! This bridge is so freakin’ cultured that it has a John Ashbery poem all over it. Ugie just loves Culture.

The bridge leads to the Walker Art Center, where Ugie is happy to run from grass dot to grass dot. They’re like a series of pitcher’s mounds, representing Ugie’s varied path through the Majors, skipping from team to team.

The tags for the John Waters-curated Absentee Landlord exhibit at the Walker seemed to anticipate Ugie’s arrival.

Ugie poses with a Wolf Vostell print. Does this mean that Ugie has been qualified into Art? I THINK SO.

Of course, there is no way Ugie could go to Minneapolis and fail to check out Spoonbridge and Cherry, the iconic sculpture by Claes Oldenberg and Coosje Van Bruggen. Don’t pour that gasoline into the art, Ugie!

Ugie does love his churches. Here he takes a look at the Basilica of St. Mary, the first Basilica in the United States. It was built between 1907 and 1915, and was blessed by the Pope at the time in 1926 (which is what makes it a Basilica, I guess).

Where’s Ugie now? He’s LHAO at this ridiculous Minneapolis radio billboard.

Did you know that Minneapolis has a public bike network? Ugie is making that discovery here. It’s called ‘Nice Ride’, because the Midwest is all about everything being nice. (Boston is about to start a similar program, which will probably be called ‘F-U Cars and Pedestrians’.)

Kirby Puckett may be hollering at him, but Ugie will not be kept away from baseball! He’s got a career 2.40 ERA against Minnesota– he loves those wacky Twinkies.

This is Ugie’s first trip to Target Field, because he only ever pitched in the Metrodome when visiting Minnesota.

Ugie is quite a fan of outdoor baseball in Minnesota. Not so much a fan of the brutal summer heat and oppressive humidity in Minneapolis at the time, but outdoor baseball in general, yes.

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Where in Seattle is Ugueth Urbina?

So much to say about the baseball I saw in Seattle. Verlander, PERFECT through four, then disaster! Edwin Jackson ascendant! The bullpen!(!!) Miguel Cabrera’s hardest-hit singles imaginable! Jim Leyland’s reactions to pregame ceremonies! So VERY many hundreds of actual baseball photos, to come, erm, eventually.

But first, this.

Where in Seattle is Ugueth Urbina? the continued photo journeys of a very special former Tiger.

Where is Ugie? We join our intrepid hero somewhere in the air between Boston and Seattle, on an Alaska Airlines plane. Did you know that Alaska Airlines gives you a psalm with your food? Yeah. ‘Cause they do. And Ugie is all over that.

His first stop is the Seattle Aquarium! Delicious fishes! Not pictured: Dave Dombrowski out for a morning jog as we walked from our hotel to the Aquarium at 9:30 in the morning, surprising the hell out of me and Ugie both. Pictured: Ugie and a blue tang.

Stop menacing that river otter, Ugie! It will fight back using its powers of Adorableness, and that’s the type of fight that can get MEAN.

Next he heads to the Pike Place Market, in search of fresh local produce to fuel his rages.

Click the ‘read more’ link to continue!

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Where in Florence is Ugueth Urbina?

Hello hello, kids and kittens, folks and felines! I am BACK from Florence, and I have not seen a lick of Tigers baseball since last Wednesday. I did fully intend to watch last night’s game, but 10 pm EST works out to 4 am Florence time, and I was still on Florence time. What I see this morning does not make me all too upset about the fact that I slept right through it.

So instead of talking about that– we don’t REALLY want to talk about that, do we?– I shall instead dive right into the Special Treat I got ready for you guys in Italy: Where in Florence is Ugueth Urbina? a photo journey of a very special former Tiger. I could type up a more detailed explanation, but I think that title, and the photos, will all speak for themselves. (And don’t forget to click the ‘Read the rest of this entry’ link at the bottom to see the entirety of Ugie’s trip!)

Where is Ugie? When we first join up with our intrepid hero, he is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, enjoying the 6-7 hour flight from Boston to Paris.

Now where’s this? Why, it’s the most tragic terminal in Charles de Gaulle! Ugie finds the airport to be pretty terrifyingly confusing, on the whole (even though he was with me, so language wasn’t a problem. It’s the airport itself).

Ugie’s getting his very first view of Florence from his hotel room window! What a view, eh? It doesn’t remind him very much of Detroit.

He likes to run across the rooftops in the Piazza della Republica, much to the terror of the crowds below.

Now he’s threatening to pour his gasoline into the River Arno. No, Ugie, no! We don’t pollute, Ugie!

Ugie finds this giant Buddha to be somewhat out of place in Florence, but it’s in the Palazzo Strozzi, where there’s an exhibit about China going on.

He has to stop for a nice drink at the Grand Hotel Baglioni. Not too much alcohol for Ugie, though, we remember what happened on the Tigers plane.

Leaping from dome to dome at the Duomo! It’s actually the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, but everyone calls it the Duomo. The famous dome, which Ugie is so manifestly enjoying here, was designed by Brunelleschi, was completed in the mid 1400s, and is obviously still there, which is just crazycats.

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the final nail in the coffin of Ugueth Urbina's career

Well, you all remember this story. It’s finally come to a conclusion. Here’s a general timeline, for those of you who can’t recall it.

1995: Ugie makes his Major League debut as a vaunted Montreal Expo.

2001: Ugie splits his year between the Expos and the Red Sox.

2003: Ugie starts the year with Texas, ends it with the Marlins. Ugie gets a World Series ring. Ugie meets Pudge Rodriguez, love is sparked, tender kisses traded, etc.

2004: Ugie and Pudge rekindle their love in Detroit.

2005: Ugie splits his year between Detroit and Philly, because halfway through the year he showed up on the Detroit plane trashed and allegedly got into a scrap with some teammates, thus signing his own ticket out of town.

2006: Ugie is accused of attacking some of the workers on his property in Venezuela because he caught them using his pool. And by ‘attacking’ we mean ‘hacking at them with a machete and then pouring gasoline on them and setting them on fire’ which, y’know, woooaaahhh.

2007: Ugie is convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Wow. Fourteen years isn’t junk time. Ugie’s 32 now; he’d be 46 when he got out (assuming an appeal doesn’t go through, and assuming you can’t get out of Venezuelan prison much before your allotted time). Now, I don’t know enough about the Venezuelan justice system to say if this verdict seems normal or not. Ugie’s always been pretty high-profile in Venezuela, and whenever someone high-profile ends up in court, unfortunately different things may happen.

Regardless. What I REALLY want to know is what Pudge’s reaction was when he first heard. I imagine uncontrollable sobbing.

Ugueth Urbina: underused closer, or MADMAN?

Props where props are due: I never would’ve tricked onto this story if Deadspin hadn’t dug it out, and Beth hadn’t emailed me about it. Through this illustrious blogging grapevine I bring it to you, the noble Tigers fan.

The article is here at Philly.com, but you do require a registration.

I think the headline says it all, though, in a neat and pithy fashion: Machete attack linked to Urbina.

Apparently, a firearm went missing from his house in Venezuela, one of his workers was suspected, and there was a roundup of several workers that ended in them being beaten up (!), hacked at with machetes (!!), and spattered with flammable liquids and burned (!!!).

It’s unclear whether Ugie himself was involved in this, or if it just happened on his property. He does say he was sleeping at the time… I guess it was sometime after 2 am. Although the worker implicated him, Ugie has not yet been arrested, and he voluntarily spoke with the local authorities.

What potential effect does this have on him re-signing with the Phillies?

“We really haven’t talked that through,” [Urbina's agent Peter] Greenberg said. “I know he really liked playing in Philadelphia. Bobby [Abreu] is his best friend, and he loved being in that environment. Even though he wasn’t a closer, he was happy.”

Riiight.

Because he was so happy in Detroit (not closing; with his best buddy Pudge right there with him), he went and got himself so sozzled that he started a brawl on the team plane and had, if I recall correctly, “half the team wanting to kill him”.

Ugueth Urbina: man’s got a temper, yo.