End of the Alphabet Boys and the All Star Futures Game

Man, that sounds like a band name, doesn’t it?

[DEAD IMAGE LINK]

And here are the End of the Alphabet Boys themselves, Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander. RAWK.

I know this image isn’t accurate… Zoomer will almost certainly be spending 2006 as a Toledo Mud Hen (Fulica americana), and Paws knows when we’ll be seeing JV (not much this year, if I had my druthers, which of course I don’t, but just so we all know where I stand). But I wanted to see what Zoom looked like in a Tigers uniform (you like? That’s Photoshop magic, baby!) and I like the concept of having both our End of the Alphabet Boys fireballing at the big league level at the same time, just for symmetry’s sake. Plus, on a large scale, this makes a kickass desktop image.

Anyways.

The All Star Futures Game. I watched it, all 7 innings of it, making me probably the only female in my age group in the entire country to do so. I was expecting to know and pay attention to only the Tigers and Red Sox in the game– Zoom, Verlander, Hanley, Anibal. I was shocked and somewhat mortified to see how many minor leaguers of other teams I knew of or recognized by name. Delmon Young, of course, Dmitri’s little brother, currently a Biscuit; Andy LaRoche, Adam’s little brother, with some solid sideburns; BJ Upton, but then again everyone knows BJ Upton; Chris Lambert, wearing his socks up, this is a rookie mistake for Cardinals as you almost never see their big leaguers wear the socks up these days, probably because of the goofy stripes on them; Yuniesky Betancourt, your guess as to why I recognized him is as good as mine; Yusmeiro Petit, whom I probably just knew by name.

I’m not proud, kids. I recognize my sickness for what it is.

With all these All Star events, the pro versions included, you expect everyone to do well, naturally, but there’s almost always someone who just can’t get it going that night and ends up looking silly. You just hope like heck it’s not your guy. If you’re a Pirates fan who watched the Home Run Derby you know what I mean (if you’re a Pirates fan, drop me a line– I’m interning for the Audubon Society this summer, and a survey of a critically endangered species would go over well with them). I was mildly annoyed to see Anibal Sanchez take these dubious honors for the Sox, but on the same token I was pleased to see JV and Zoom dominate on the mound like they did, even if it was only for a short while.

As with his major league debut, it seemed as though Verlander didn’t have his absolute best stuff, but he still managed to work around a double and get out of the game blamelessly. How that boy manages to survive when his curveball isn’t working is remarkable, not just because it shows how good his fastball really is, but because it also shows how good he is… he can see that one of his pitches is basically unavailable, and he goes right ahead and strikes people out anyways. Remarkable. He was curtailing his pitching motion a bit during the Futures Game, sort of snapping things off instead of letting them follow through, which of course puts more tension on all his vital pitching bits, but I’d be willing to chalk that up to performance anxiety and not something he’s doing all the time.

Of course, it’s not as though he’d never pitched in Comerica before. Heh.

Zoom also looked dominant, holding the international kids scoreless while he worked. Everything I’d heard about him indicated that his pitching motion was “OMG WICKED VIOLENT SCARY YO”, but I didn’t see it here. It was a bit jerky, maybe, but it didn’t hold a candle to what looked to me like the absolute worst pitching motion of the day, which belonged to Blue Jay farmhand Zach Jackson. Good lord. This kid must’ve had the most unnecessarily violent and least smooth delivery on the field. Zoom looked downright Bondermanian in comparison.

The thing with the Futures Game, besides the fact that you have to be a complete dork to enjoy it, is that the kids playing it seem to have a genuine good time doing so, maybe more so than the major leaguers a couple of days later. Possibly it’s because it’s only 7 innings; possibly it’s because every pitcher gets to pitch and everyone on the rosters basically gets to play; possibly it’s because the emphasis is less on winning and more on showing what you can do out there; possibly because, for some of these guys, the lower level denizens especially, this is the closest they’ll get to a big league field of play for quite some time. Maybe because the teams were split up into US and World versions, so there was an added level of ‘playing for your country’, but nothing too serious (I’ll bet the hispanic players enjoyed having a bunch of other hispanic teammates, although it must’ve sucked a bit for the odd Canadian or Australian in that dugout).

The cameras caught Andy LaRoche carefully blowing a bubble in his gum, taking the resultant chewed wad with attached bubble out of his mouth, and very delicately sneaking it onto the top of the hat of one of his teammates. Hanley Ramirez lounged around the dugout with sunglasses and his Baby Superstar attitude on. The World team head coach, former Tiger Guillermo Hernandez, was standing by the rails of the dugout when an older, rangy figure with curly hair hopped in, snuck up behind him, and pinched him on the back of the thigh. Hernandez jumped and wheeled around, only to grin enormously and give Mark Fidrych, The Bird, a great big hug. The whole thing just looked like a good deal more fun than Terry Francona grimly sending Kenny Rogers out to pitch amongst immense boos.

It’s a pity so few people probably watched it.

6 responses to “End of the Alphabet Boys and the All Star Futures Game

  1. “The All Star Futures Game. I watched it, all 7 innings of it, making me probably the only female in my age group in the entire country to do so.”
    I was gonna say, no…I did too. But I’m pretty sure I’m not in your age group. I forget that sometimes. I feel like I am.
    I must suffer the same sickness because I am probably the ONLY person alive, female or male who squealed, “Oh! Javier Herrera” when he came up. Cuz dood, he’s LOW A.
    In my defense, he is a player I’ve gotten a really good photo of in the past, and those guys have a tendency to stick in my head. Uh. Or something.
    You know what I mean.

  2. Well, gee, I dunno, you COULD be in my age group… depends how old you are. :) I feel better knowing that someone else watched it too, although heck, you photograph those kids, so you’ve got a vested interest in ’em in a way. So at least it makes SENSE for you.
    I’m still trying to figure out how/why I immediately recognized a Mariners farmhand. I think, somehow, I blame the Internet.

  3. I am stealing “Bondermanian” for my vocabulary and using it as often as I possibly can. Just so you know.

  4. Cathryn, excellent. Spread the linguistic gospel of the Tigers!

  5. I just have to work out a meaning for it in a non-baseball context, too. I think it should be an adjective for any young person achieving beyond his or her years.

  6. Also: someone who is mature beyond their years/all reasonable expectation. And maybe someone who stumbles early (in the first inning) but picks themselves up and dominates later.
    Yes, this must become common parlance, clearly.

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