Of Chinless Infielders and Eligible Catchers

Wednesday the Cubs game got rained out, and as soon as I heard this I flipped over to ESPN, knowing that the Tigers had a very good chance of being the backup game. Tigers on TV! This is a treat for me, since I spend the summers living in the Boston area, which is great for following the Red Sox and great for going to games at Fenway, but not so hot for following the Tigers.

The very first thing I hear after I change the channel is “…Carlos Guillen’s surgically repaired knee…” Literally, the very first thing. It’s official. Carlos Guillen’s Surgically Repaired Knee is now a proper noun in its own right and should probably be given a separate spot on the 40-man roster. Hell, we’ve still got Bobby Higginson on the 40-man. CG’sSRK is a more commanding presence and has more impact on the future of the team at this point.

Bonderman had a rough first inning, but then settled down and proved, once again, that he is better than you. Yes, you. You as well. If we could all just agree that Arizona never happened, we’d be all set and Bondo would probably be on his way to the All Star game. Alas, fate and bats wielded by purple-and-teal-wearing cretins are cruel, and Jeremy’s got a fishing trip planned for the All Star break (I’m not making that up. He’s seriously going fishing. He’s about two steps away from being a complete hick, and I just want to hug him forever).

The thing is, even as he struggled through the first, I wasn’t worried. That’s what Bondo does. He has trouble in the first a lot, that’s not unusual. What’s unusual is if he doesn’t recover from that and pitch in a dominant fashion. In his last 4 starts, he’s had two complete games and one powerful 8-inning outing and Arizona. I’ve started thinking of it as the ‘Pedro Martinez syndrome’, and you know what? If Bondo ends up being like Pedro, I think I’ll be able to handle that. I won’t get too upset. Honest.

Bondo only gave up two earned runs, and one of them was a solo shot home run to Travis Hafner, whom I’m growing to hate more and more as he keeps mashing the ball. Tram seems to have a bit of a crush on him, though.

“Is he hot, or what?” Tigers manager Alan Trammell asked about Hafner, who his [sic] hitting .387 with 13 homers and 38 RBI over his last 32 games.
ESPN game recap

Ew, no way, Tram. He’s big and doofy looking. Not hot at all. And his nickname is ‘Pronks’, which is apparently a linguistic combination of the words ‘Donkey’ and ‘Project’, which were both things he was called by his teammates before they decided to streamline things and merge the two. No, I don’t know why he was being called ‘Donkey’ or ‘Project’ in the first place.

When CC Sabathia had thrown 94 pitches going into the 5th, the announcers were talking about the prowess of the opposing batters and that was why he was now getting hammered. Which is nice, I love to see the Tigers get credit for doing something well, but to be realistic I thought the reason Captain Cheeseburger was getting lit up late had less to do with the kitty bats and more to do with the fact that he was completely exhausted, as he tends to get. Of course, the reason he was so tired was because the Tigs had been working counts like they were stubborn wads of chewing gum, but it struck me as strange at the time that the announcers were completely ignoring the fact that CC was up over 90 pitches, has notorious composure issues, and was probably therefore an exhausted mess.

Carlos Guillen and Chris Shelton were batting second and third, giving the Tigers a rare 2-3 Double Chinless punch in their lineup. Happily, weak chins do not translate to weak bats, and they went a combined 5-for-10 on the night with 2 RBI.

The play where Guillen trapped a ball, was sent flying over onto the seat of his pants, and threw out the runner at first with his bum firmly planted on the grass… beautiful. If it wasn’t for the knee injury keeping him out for much of the season thus far, he would almost certainly have been high in the All Star contention. They had a shot of Bondo after the play, he was smiling in a goofy little tight-lipped way. It really was an amazing play, though… I’m still not sure how Carlos got enough power on that ball to get it to first in time when he was sitting down. Although his chinless partner did make a reasonably good stretch-and-scoop at first.

I got my first live look at Magglio Ordonez, and I noticed a few things.

1. He’s kind of cute. He’s let his hair go all big and curly too, which, as someone who is also a fan of the Red Sox, I’ve grown to approve of for some baseball players.

2. It wasn’t just Boras!speak when everyone was calling him ‘a professional hitter’. The way he was seeing balls, the way he was fighting off the right pitches at the right times and working counts… if this is a Magglio Ordonez whose timing is still slightly off because of his long enforced absence, I think I’m going to be madly in love with a Magglio Ordonez at 100%. Seriously. The long ball is overrated. Chicks find the double-digit at-bat ending in a walk just as sexy.

3. Of course, a two-run RBI double is just as nice too. We’ll take that.

I only caught the end of the game on Thursday, after the Red Sox game was rain delayed and ultimately called. I did get to see The Farns pitch, which is always appreciated, although he seems to be struggling just a smidge with his control lately.

44th Round, aka Vance Wilson, made a throwing error trying to pickoff the man at second, and the ball ended up in the outfield with the runner moving to third. There was a quick shot of Pudge in the dugout, talking to Mike Maroth and shaking his head in disgust, like, “Man, you know I wouldnta done that.”

Speaking of Vance, I only just noticed that his chest protector actually says his name on it. Not on the lip of his gear, like Pudge has, but because he wears a chest protector made by Wilson, it has his last name printed prominently on it. I wonder if that was intentional or not.

As for tonight… ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t get to see it in glorious video, since it’s back to Red Sox or bust on Boston TV, but from what I gleaned off of message boards and game recaps, it was just insane. Scott Kazmir (who is basically my age) starts the game off by plonking Plonkers, then going ahead and letting the Tigers put up 4 in the first. Nate starts his half of the inning by throwing behind Carl Crawford, and BAM, he’s ejected. The starting pitcher gone after exactly one pitch? Sheez.

Now, I understand that the ump thought Kazmir’s throw was not intentional while he thought Gator’s was. But the fact remains that Plonkers got hit, actually hit with a pitch. Crawford got the living daylights scared out of him, maybe, but he wasn’t hit. And it’s not as though there was a warning already on the field. Ejecting a guy after one pitch, with no warnings issued, seems a bit trigger-happy to me. The fact that there apparently was a warning issued later, after which Kazmir threw behind Vance Wilson and was not ejected… well, um, OK.

With no starter, the Detroit bullpen proceeded to split the game between 4 guys (basically 3, Jamie Walker came in at the very end to get one out), throwing a shutout over the first 6 innings. That’s less bullpen than some teams go through when their starter goes 6 innings. Frustrating as this team has been at points this season, there are games that remind you why we were all so high on them in the offseason and the spring, and why we shouldn’t be counting them out of anything just yet. Of course, this is against the Devil Rays, but this is also a team who swept Baltimore at home earlier in the season, while the Birds were still hot, so excuse me if I retain my stubborn position on their worth.

Ah, and did we all hear the Pudge news? I mean beyond missing a couple of games with a jammed finger acquired on a nifty slide into home plate.

For the first time in print, Pudge Rodriguez has acknowledged that he’s getting a divorce from his wife of 15 years, Maribel.

“Tell them all now that I’m a single man,” he was quoted as saying in Monday’s Flint Journal.

The Tigers have known for months that Rodriguez and his wife were divorcing, but felt they shouldn’t comment until Pudge did — and even when he did, they were courteously hesitant.

“It’s not my place (to talk about it),” Trammell said. “but as you can imagine, it’s been tough. It’s been an issue for him for four months now. I know it’s been a burden for him, but he still comes to the ballpark and prepares himself as he always has.”
DetNews

I’m not saying this explains away all of Pudge’s issues this year, but it might explain some of them: the offensive woes, part of the weight loss, the sullenness with the media, take your pick. This isn’t some 1-year celebrity marriage that he got bored with. He’s been married to this woman since he was 19 and just starting in the majors. They have 3 kids, none of them very old. He is by all accounts a big family guy. So this is pretty sad stuff, and I can’t imagine it’s easy on him.

The “Tell them I’m a single man” quote? Sounds bad. But if we’d like to try to put a positive spin on it, I can only say that if this has been going on for 4 months already, Pudge has obviously reached the stage where he can joke about it a little bit. It’s not as though he just started the divorce proceedings and is being all callous about it. He’s maybe kind of joking here, people. We laugh because otherwise we’d be crying, you know?

I’ve got my 10 most memorable in-person sports moments up at my other blog if you’d like to go see. No Tigers events made the cut, but there are two Lions memories and two Michigan Wolverine football memories, so you might be interested anyways.

5 responses to “Of Chinless Infielders and Eligible Catchers

  1. McClellan TOTALLY OVERREACTED last night by tossing Robertson. I tend to agree with Mario and Rod that it was because the pitch went behind Crawford. A team deserves an opportunity to police the game itself before the umpires have to step in, though I might question whether the Tigers truly had to retaliate for Polanco being hit. (Then again, I was watching on TV in Detroit, not on the field. I have no idea what was going on.) Losing Robertson after only one pitch could’ve been disastrous for the bullpen.
    The most important thing, in my mind, is that the Tigers made Kazmir pay for his mistake by putting four runs on the board.

  2. Man, I was *screaming* at my computer last night when McClelland pulled that little stunt. I am still pissed. And very proud of our bullpen. And increasingly convinced that the Win statistic is stupid, because that W should have gone to all the guys who pitched long last night.
    I am suddenly having this very entertaining vision of the Farns counseling Nate on what is and is not safe to take one’s rage out on. “Yeah, the carrying bags are great, they can take – NO NOT THE METAL FANS. DON’T EVEN GO NEAR THOSE.”

  3. Ian, true, the runs are most important. And as for this screwing up the bullpen, thank god the All Star break is right around the corner, yeah? Talk about riding the ragged edge of disaster.
    Cathryn, Wins are probably one of the most misleading stats, especially to casual baseball fans. I’d like to be able to say that, thankfully, baseball teams are run by people who are not casual baseball fans, but looking at some management I’m not sure I can say that. Thank god for Theo in Boston, and much as we may sometimes malign DD in Detroit, at least I don’t think he’s one of ‘those’ guys.

  4. //giving the Tigers a rare 2-3 Double Chinless punch in their lineup//
    Genius.
    And it IS sad about Pudge getting divorced, and I do agree with you on his, shall we say, pleasing appearance.

  5. Love your site, its awesome!

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