Your Detroit Tigers 2015 Season Preview: Part I

It has been a winter of suffering. A winter of bitter cold. A winter of more snow than this tender land has seen in the age of recorded snow totals, if you live with me in the greater Boston area. A winter of no baseball, the same as every winter, because every year we must go through a time of horrible void and dumb fast indoor sports on TV in order to properly rekindle our appreciation for the noblest slow game that makes a modicum of sense and therefore isn’t cricket.

But now it is March! The players we know and love are in Florida cavorting with the players we know and hate, and forgetting the names of players we might eventually come to know if they get called up at some point. Wealthy young men are parking their excessive cars near a field of play. There is probably a fragrant breeze blowing through palm fronds or something, I don’t know, I still dwell in a landscape dominated by enormous filthy piles of road snow. We are mere weeks away from the beginning of a new baseball year.

What will 2015 bring? I think we can hazard some decent guesses.

–David Price is tapped to pitch the Tigers’ opener. Justin Verlander is extremely sad, until an emissary is sent to cheer him up.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

–Miguel Cabrera has a slow start to the season, as he is healthy enough to be on the Opening Day roster, but is still working his way back from his injuries. Rival pitchers begin to feel overconfident and stop pitching to him as cautiously as they have in years past. Miggy takes advantage of this collective moment of weakness at the peak of his recovery and has a monster middle of the year, a middle of the year the likes of which Major League Baseball has never seen before. He leads the league in slugging percentage by a wide margin in July. He is intentionally walked a record number of times in August.

–Alex Avila suffers 12 concussions over the course of the season, declares the year a massive improvement.

–Joba Chamberlain punches a cooler in the dugout, inexplicably begins pitching better after.

–Al Alburquerque is recognized for his contributions to visual culture with a gallery exhibition of his Instagram photos.

–Victor Martinez injures both knees again, has radical new surgery in Germany, becomes first MLB player with robot legs, touching off a whole new class of debate about performance enhancement. Little Victor learns how to say ‘transhumanism’.

Part II coming soon!

Meanwhile, as the Tigers report to Spring Training…






illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Some ValenTigers for you.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Happy mid-February, everyone! What better time to proclaim one’s love for another? Here are some Tigers to share their feelings with you, their best beloved Tigers fan.

Meanwhile, here in Boston, there is no love, only a cold, frozen wasteland of snow and aloneness.

May the Tigers bring you greater warmth!

time to go a-caravaning

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

It’s time for the Winter Caravan, that annual collection of randomly delightful Tigers appearances in the cold and the snow and the dead of Michigan winter. I, with my Massachusetts location, will not be able to attend, but maybe you will? There are many wonderful options to choose from, such as

Rajai Davis at the Frankenmuth Snowfest, doing snow things, or

Nick Castellanos serving you Buffalo Wild Wings, which I know is your true wildest dream, or

Ian Kinsler posing seductively with cars at the North American International Car Show,

or any other number of magical things that will be happening with Tigers in and around them. Hospitals! Rotary Clubs! MudHens! Hockeytown! A police crime lab (??)! The US Customs and Border Protection Agency (??????)! Something at Oakland University that will be taking place on North Squirrel Road! Just what you need to warm up your winter.

Also, we now know how the Max Scherzer situation panned out.

So I suppose that is that. So long, dear friend. We will miss your spot in the rotation and your goofy good nature and most of all your beautiful, extremely cartooning-friendly eyes.

The hunt continues.











illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

BUT HOW WILL IT END??

And so.

The Joys and Perils of the Postseason


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

When your team reaches the postseason, it is a time of great excitement. Just making the postseason is not the big Win, of course, but it is the first step along the way, and it signifies a year in which at least some things got done properly. The players feel good and you get to watch them feeling good, usually with goggles and plastic sheeting and carbonated alcohol. Your artificially selected tribe has triumphed in some small way, and as your reward, you get to care about baseball for just a little bit longer.

And hey, we’re not just talking about the postseason here– the Tigers won the division! All the other players on all the other AL Central teams must spend the winter on call, catering to the needs and whims of various Tigers, whether that be snow shoveling duties (for that one insane Tiger who lives in the midwest year-round [we still have one of those, right?]) or babysitting duties or taking Astro for really long walks and scooping up all his leavings when David Price is just too dang tired and also it is rainy outside. That is why it is such a big deal, winning the division.

However.

Here is the problem: the Tigers, for much of this year, have just not been that good a baseball team. Obviously they have very good parts, and they have had very good stretches, and these things combined to get them into October employment. But anyone who has watched the team consistently this season has seen that their Dark Side is not so much a couplefew aberrations and bad luck moments, but is instead a constant shadowy companion, always almost perfectly in lockstep with the good bits of the team, ready to leap to the fore at the slightest stumble or hesitation.

And now that the Tigers are in the postseason, without the comforting buffer zone of large sample sizes, this is becoming incredibly obvious and visible to everyone– to casual fans, to normally oblivious national TV broadcasters, to that super annoying dude in your office who like really does not follow baseball but every year come October starts behaving as if he is practically a beat reporter who’s been watching games all year long and pronounces Nick Castellanos’ name some wild kind of inaccurate way.

There have been good things. Miguel Cabrera is Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinez has been hot. JD Martinez has been the pleasantest surprise named JD this team has ever known. These cats are off and running. Certain other members of the team are having a, uh, let us say harder time keeping up.

And meanwhile, out in the bullpen…

That, quite plainly, is a problem.

Sunday the Tigers will either go on, or they will not. They will stand a chance of advancing to the next stage of ‘won some stuff that’s not the big Win but is still pretty nice’ victory, or they will not. The dual Martinez threat will lead the offense to spectacular victory, or Joba Chamberlain will lose a finger playing with explosives. Comedy or tragedy. Playoff baseball.

Go Tigers!