Miguel Cabrera hits HR #500!

Comic-book style drawing of Miguel Cabrera, wearing a navy cape with his name and number on it, swinging a bat. The number 500, glowing in orange and yellow, is coming off the bat.
The first Tiger to ever hit their 500th home run while wearing the Olde English D.

Let me just first say: THANK CATS. Not that I object to watching baseball games with a bit of stress– it would be difficult to be a Tigers fan if so– but it was starting to get a bit agonizing, watching Miggy come up to bat with 499 home runs. He was so clearly ready to just be done with it. Opposing pitchers were desperate to not be the guy who would enter the record books for this one. Fans were wasting untold amounts of cell phone storage space since apparently 2/3rds of the people in any given ballpark felt the need to try to record video of each and every Cabrera at-bat.

It has been fun to watch Miggy chase #500, but it is something of a simple relief to finally get there.

Miggy becomes the 28th player, in the history of the game of baseball, to hit 500 home runs. He’s the first to do it as a Tiger.

B@lly Sports had prerecorded a number of congratulatory messages for Cabrera from Detroit Baseball Dignitaries, including Jim Leyland in fully mirrored sunglasses and a loudly patterned shirt, and Justin Verlander. Verlander mentioned that he wanted a memento of the occasion, even if that had to be Cabrera’s underwear. Sometimes baseball gives us these little gifts, like the image of some poor clubhouse attendant perhaps photographing Cabrera holding up a pair of his own underpants, so he can text Verlander proof that the item he will soon be receiving in the mail is authentic. I don’t think this will actually happen, but Justin Verlander has created for us a universe where it might, and that is to be celebrated.

Congrats to Miguel Cabrera for finally hitting his 500th home run. Congrats to all of us for surviving the march to 500.

Here’s hoping the 3,000th hit will come a bit easier.

50 Shades of Glove Gray

Paws approves of all grays, but Paws does not write the rule book.

Wins, losses, struggles at the plate, struggles on the mound, even vomiting players were not enough to break through the sheer amount of work I’ve had to do lately and inspire me to post, but THIS?! A controversy about COLORS? I am here.

Casey Mize, who started today’s game against the LAA Angels, was wearing Kyle Funkhouser’s glove. I had the game on but admittedly was only half paying attention; at one point I looked up and noticed the glove, with FUNKHOUSER prominently displayed down the side. I did the only obvious thing, which was to ask Twitter what was going on, and I was quickly informed of the GLOVE COLOR CONTROVERSY.

To give us all a basic understanding, here’s the actual MLB ruling on pitcher glove colors:

3.07 Pitcher’s Glove

(a) The pitcher’s glove may not, exclusive of piping, be white, gray, nor, in the judgment of an umpire, distracting in any manner. No fielder, regardless of position, may use a fielding glove that falls within a PANTONE® color set lighter than the current 14-series.

(b) No pitcher shall attach to his glove any foreign material of a color different from the glove.

(c) The umpire-in-chief shall cause a glove that violates Rules 3.07 (a) or (b) to be removed from the game, either on his own initiative, at the recommendation of another umpire or upon complaint of the opposing manager that the umpire-in-chief agrees has merit.

–official MLB rule book, 2019 edition

I vaguely recalled the rule about ‘distracting’ colors– I have memories of this being vigorously debated on baseball message boards in the early 2000s when a few Red Sox pitchers favored camo-patterned gloves– but I didn’t remember anything about gray being a Verboten Value. I would love to see the ‘Pantone 14-series’ that the rule book references. The idea of umpires comparing a glove to an official set of Pantone swatches in a special room with neutral walls and diffuse color-balanced lighting is now a cherished head-canon and I will not believe that it is otherwise.

Regardless, the idea seems to be to ban light-colored gloves specifically, since there is theoretically a range of colors that are apparently all ok so long as they are darker than the mysterious 14-series. If you believe that a white glove is an unfair distraction to a batter, as it can be used to hide the ball or can be flashed around like a semaphore flag or whatever the issue is, then I guess this makes a kind of sense.

(I assume the bit about ‘judgment of an umpire’ allows for the ad hoc banning of day-glo or safety orange gloves, or gloves with optical camo patterns, and so on, should anyone attempt to go that route.)

The issue with Casey Mize’s glove was not that it was light-gray-approaching-white, or that it had distracting patterns on it. In photos it looks anywhere from mostly black to a medium gray. To me it looks significantly less likely to distract anyone than the very common light brown or yellowish gloves that apparently are completely kosher (the Funkhouserian replacement that Mize was using today is light tan), and it’s certainly no more distracting than the medium-dark red or blue gloves that you see other pitchers using occasionally.

To complicate matters further, there was some question about what even counted as ‘gray’ for the purposes of the rule book. Per this MLive article:

In the rule book it says no gray gloves, and that’s any shade of gray apparently, because Casey’s is as dark a gray as you can get. Some people would call it off-black, but off-black looks gray. The umpire in Kansas City (Tumpane) deemed it to be gray. The league has reviewed it and they see it as a gray glove.

–AJ Hinch, philosopher of color.

Now, as some of you from the old crew remember, I am an Art Person who went to Art Skool and now works with Art People, and there are few things that make me happier than a good old-fashioned throwdown about the ontology of color. What even is gray? Here’s the value chart I show my students when we start to talk about shading drawings:

So the question becomes: what, in this scale, is gray? Is it literally everything between the single vertical line of pixels at far left (pure white) and the single vertical line of pixels at far right (pure black)? Or is there a subset of values somewhere in the middle, where we decide that everything to the left of this as-yet-undefined chunk is white (or off-white) and everything to the right of this chunk is black (or AJ Hinch’s off-black)? Where are the edges of the gray-chunk? Who decides? WHO IS THE ARBITER OF GRAY? Is it someone at Pantone? And if so, why does someone at Pantone have it in for Casey Mize specifically?

I don’t have answers to these questions. I don’t even know why gray is a Forbidden Color, when it comes to gloves– like I said, there are paler gloves in regular use throughout the league, so it shouldn’t be a distraction issue, and there are plenty of dark brown or black gloves also in use, which probably hide certain sticky substances better, if that was an issue affecting MLB’s color preferences. To my eyes– which, I will stress, are not umpire eyes or Official MLB Rule Writer eyes, but are eyes that have been certified by multiple degrees attesting to visual literacy– Casey Mize’s glove was a very boring, not-distracting, innocent, blameless shade of charcoal gray. It didn’t deserve to be cast off like some kind of neon green rule breaker.

Justice for the Gray Glove.

I look forward to any and all further developments in this incredibly important baseball story.

Spencer Turnbull threw a no-hitter but I slept through it and that’s the story of 2021.

Spencer Turnbull: 9 no-hit innings and many defeated bats.

I really think the title and image probably say it all.

Of course, I am thrilled that Spencer Turnbull threw a no-hitter. I am thrilled that anything positive has come out of a Tigers season that has the word REBUILDING scrawled all over it in neon orange letters (with the additional exception of Akil Baddoo, perhaps, but that’s a different cartoon). But did it have to be in Seattle?? I’m one of those people whose job has gotten busier and crazier since The Current Situation started happening, and I am but a poor exhausted person in the eastern time zone. A 10:00 pm EDT start is asking a lot of me these days. I tried, but I definitely fell asleep partway through the game.

Figured I’d at least get a cartoon online in celebration of the event, so the next day I drew the above, then scanned it to color it after work and dinner and cat dinner and cleaning up after dinner and cat dinner– and I fell asleep again. I think it was right in the middle of adding a layer of color to Turnbull’s beard.

This is life now, folks. Too tired to properly enjoy one of the true positives of a season that has been and promises to be less-than-spectacular. Anyway. Hooray and so on.

Oh, one other positive: since I am now 100% fully vaccinated, I was finally able to attend an in-person game of baseball earlier this month, when the Tigers were in Boston. When I went looking for my scorebook I realized that I had not been to a game since 2019. It was definitely strange see the park so empty (although I have to admit that I did love having nobody sitting directly next to us or in front of us). It was also close to freezing cold and raining on and off the entire time, which is perfectly normal for early May New England but is always a bit of a shock to the system when you’ve spent so much of the previous year or so inside. Regardless, it was real live baseball in front of my real live (Detroit-Tigers-fabric-masked) face, and it was the one game of the series that the Tigers actually won, so I was willing to call it an entirely positive experience.

Fenway before the Tigers took the field. Beautiful night. Cold rain. Ideal baseball conditions.

Anyway. How are you cats doing? Hopefully more on the Spencer-Turnbull-no-hitter side of things than the sub-.500-Tigers-record side of things. Let us all aim to be on the Spencer Turnbull no-hitter side of things in the near future and beyond.

Miggy gets some (more) records.

cartoon of Miguel Cabrera climbing ladder of bats, number 50 behind ladder where he's standing

Miggy climbs the hit list.

With 3 series wins in a row, and this weekend’s sweep of the Twins, it can truthfully be said that the Tigers are in the midst of a very respectable streak. They’ve even managed to claw their way back to .500. Can we trust this? Of course not. Literally anything could happen at any moment, as this entire season is just a fever dream that we are all collectively experiencing. But on the whole, the things that we collectively dreamed this weekend were… good??

On Saturday Miguel Cabrera climbed to #50 on the all-time hit list with his 2,840th hit, passing Charlie Gehringer. On Sunday Miggy got his 2,000th hit as a Tiger. All very exciting, but the best bit Sunday was Miggy coming out to the top dugout step to take a curtain call, turning around to wave at the stands. The stands, of course, are empty. The part of me that believes that MLB needs to fully lean in to the post-apocalyptic aesthetic of their current situation really appreciated the reminder of Baseball as Theater.

As any long-time (mid-time?) Tigers fan knows, when Miggy is at his best he’s as much an entertainer as he is an athlete. Normally he has an audience– his teammates, players on the opposing team, fans in the stands, etc– but he’s been doin’ this since 2003, so I suppose there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have learned how to ply his craft before even an imaginary crowd.

Congrats to Miggy, and I’m glad we reached a critical mass of people who were tired of the 9-game losing streak that preceded this particular burst of competence. Let’s all do our very best to collectively imagine this team into some more wins.

mortal limbs

CJ Cron  -busted knee

kneecaps are not supposed to do that

CJ Cron is out for the year. He was trying to field a ball last week and something happened: the ball seems to have hit him, but he also maybe planted his foot wrong, or his knee just gave way for no real reason because that’s a thing that knees do when you’re 30 or older. He has described the kneecap as “just floating around.” There’s ligament damage that will require surgery to fix, the recovery period is long, and Cron was on a one-year contract with the Tigers, so that might be that and I suppose it was fun while it (extremely briefly) lasted.

sick Cardinals

this temperature would actually not be a fever for a cardinal bird but just go with it

Meanwhile, the schedule is all weird because we missed a load of games that were supposed to be with the Cardinals, who were busy letting pestilence work its way through their staff and roster. Will all these games be made up? Who knows?! I guess not?? Because I think there literally isn’t time???

The Cardinals actually returned to action today with a double-header against the White Sox. The Cards won both games. But don’t worry, the Reds are now missing games because they’ve crossed the Threshold of Positivity (not, as some imagine, actually a positive thing). The tragic fragility of human existence can thus properly remain at the forefront of our minds. Thanks, baseball.

records in Ks and innings

Tyler Alexander drawn as a letter K

Tyler Alexander maximizes the Ks

Two games, two losses. Much strangeness. So it goes for 2020.

Record Number One: Tyler Alexander, who came on in relief after Rony García only made it through 2 innings in the first game, matched and set a Major League Baseball record. With 9 strikeouts in a row, he matched the AL record for all pitchers (shared with Doug Fister, so this is a very Detroit record), and set the new record in consecutive strikeouts for relievers. This feels weird and fluke-y, but it’s definitely a good thing, so congrats to Mr. Alexander. Thanks for doing a good baseball.

Record Number Two: Due to the vast amount of shenanigans occurring at this moment in time, doubleheaders now consist of two games of 7 innings each. Like, that’s the actual rule now. The rain-out yesterday meant that the Tigers had a doubleheader today. This is apparently the first doubleheader where both games were shorter than 9 innings since 1912, and the first 7-inning doubleheader ever in Major League Baseball. There will be many more, but wet miserable midwestern weather made sure that the Tigers got there first. Hooray.

two small Detroit Ds jump holding hands, one big Detroit D looks confused

the shortened-game doubleheader

What a weird freaking day of baseball.

Next up are the Cardinals, although 6 of their players are down with the sickness right now, so is this the beginning of the end?? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Baseball vs. The Hubris of Man.

Home Opener, 2020

groundhog gesturing to burrow with baseball hat on it, speech bubble says 'Check out my Beau Burrow'

this groundhog has made a very beau burrow

What a hot garbage pile of a home opener. There were a million home runs. The Tigers jumped out ahead early and then fell behind with horribly familiar speed. I dunno, it’s like a thousand degrees in my apartment right now so my ability to deal with any of this is… reduced. A thousand degrees, for the home opener? Yes. Sadly, tragically, yes. Remember when we used to have home openers threatened by snow? Those were the days.

This whole thing may swiftly become a moot point anyway. The Marlins have had a third of their team test positive for COVID-19 and are not playing today. The Orioles, who were supposed to play them, are obviously not playing today. The Yankees were supposed to play the Phillies today, but the Marlins had just finished up a road trip in Philly when they started testing positive, so the Yankees/Phillies game is also postponed, because nobody in their right mind would go into that visiting clubhouse right now. The Marlins are still stuck in Philly, because it is probably not a good idea to have a team get on an airplane when a huge chunk of their squad is shedding virus. There are 4 teams out of action tonight. It is at the moment entirely unclear when the Marlins will play again. What in the world are we doing? Are we really trying to have a season like this?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The one thing I wanted to make sure to mention was the fact that the Tigers had several players make their big league debuts today, and there are some delightful names involved that I am only capable of seeing in one way: through the medium of cartoons. Up at the top of this post is Beau Burrows, who is obviously working very closely with the many groundhogs who inhabit the state of Michigan.

And here’s Kyle Funkhouser:

Kyle Funkhouser wearing star sunglasses and baseball pant bellbottoms, doing a 70s-ish dance, with a tiger stripe background and funky lettering spelling out his last name

I don’t apologize. He has that mustache in real life right now, there was no other option.

Anthony Castro also made his MLB debut in this game, but it happened in the 9th and I had already drawn, scanned, and colored these cartoons by then, so let’s be real, there was never any chance I was going to make yet another drawing at that point. It’s after 10 pm and still the aforementioned thousand degrees in here. Sorry Anthony. If we ever play another game again and you get some more time on the mound, I’ll draw you as some kind of dumb pun.

Anyway, I just wanted to put these cartoons out there before this entire disaster show gets shut down because Florida doesn’t understand what a mask is. Final score: Royals 14, Tigers 6. Happy Home Opener, everyone.

Welcome back to baseball.

PawsspritzesMattBoyd

Paws sanitizes Matt Boyd.

Hey everyone. It’s July 24! It’s a global pandemic! It’s the first day of real live 2020 baseball! And the Tigers got whomped by the Reds. BASE BALL IS BAK BABEE!!

No need to worry. It’s very clear what happened. After all, we’ve got all these new pandemic-related rules and procedures in place, and folks are still getting used to them. Obviously Paws was just a little too overenthusiastic in his application of hand sanitizer to the players. Poor Matt Boyd must have gotten sprayed in the face with an extra-heavy mist of 70% ethyl alcohol. A faceful of scouring disinfectant would put anyone off their game, or at minimum seriously impede their ability to do things like see the strike zone. You can’t fault Paws for his scrupulous attention to sanitation protocol, especially for the first proper game of the year. I’m sure that he’ll figure it out as we get deeper into the season.

There’s so much that’s new and exciting about this season! Like the fact that more elaborately patterned high socks seem to be coming back into fashion across the league (at least a little). The fact that extra innings start out with a man on second base! There’s the fact that both leagues have the DH! There’s the fact that the Tigers are only playing teams in the Midwest during the regular season, so this very tired cat will not have to stay up until ass o’clock in the morning to watch west coast games! There’s the fact that fans can’t go to games, so MLB has chosen to pipe in crowd noise because… uh… because they can, I guess. Because they are terrified of silence. Because MLB knows that when there’s nothing but silence, that’s when the evil thoughts creep in.

Speaking of evil thoughts… I guess maybe because we don’t see him super often, sometimes I forget how truly terrifying Mr. RedLegs is.

MrRedLegs

But I know a cursed demon when I see one.

RIP Al Kaline

colored pencil drawing of young Al Kaline with tiger striped background

Al Kaline, drawing by Samara Pearlstein

It’s April 2020. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. Opening Day has come and gone without any baseball– in fact, there are no major sports of any kind being played right now. The Tigers were not very good last year, but it turns out that even not very good baseball is better than no baseball at all.

And now we have to say goodbye to the man who confusingly introduced battery chemistry to so many young Detroit fans, the man who played his entire career in Detroit, who spent so many years after retirement dedicated to the team and its players, Mr. Tiger himself.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kaline. We’ll miss you.

new Terrible Cartoons in a new Terrible Era

Ron Gardenhire and Paws with building materials

(all drawings by Samara Pearlstein)

What can we say? It’s a rebuilding year.

The good news is… well, the good news is that it’s already May, I guess, and the team has not dissolved into screaming incoherence yet (I mean this in the literal sense that most everyone on the team is still walking upright and speaking normal human words, so far as we can tell; whether or not their gameplay is currently the baseball equivalent of screaming incoherence is up for debate). The Tigers already played through Boston, and of the two games I was able to attend, they won one of them. So that was nice. But for the most part: rebuilding.

What else? Oh yeah. Casey Mize was our first pick in the 2018 draft, and now he is pitching in the minors and everyone is all aflutter with hearts and butterflies and so on because

Casey Mize no hitter victory seal

THE BABY TIGER CHILD THREW A NO HITTER in his first game after being promoted to double-A. I don’t have much more to say about this, since I haven’t been able to see anything from him aside from the expected highlight reel clips, but in a rebuilding season, this rates a full cartoon celebration.

I have unfortunately been working much more than I’ve been watching baseball, so I don’t have too much else on hand in the way of Terrible Cartoons at the moment (can you tell that I’ve been teaching watercolors in my night class? TCs make handy warm-ups when I’m trying to make a new explanatory teaching piece). I have been trying to resist just drawing cartoons that are horrible puns on player names and nothing else. I am ashamed to say that I finally gave in on Jeimer Candelario.

Jeimer Candelario as a candle

Bad enough, but then I was listening to a game and realized that the announcers were calling him The Candy Man. Not only did I fall into the pun hole, I wasn’t even making the correct pun! UGH.

Jeimer Candeliario as candy

This has been your Terrible Cartoons update.