Jim Leyland, Man of Action, and other assorted goodies

Our new manager doesn’t believe in fartin’ around, no siree. A lesser man might have delayed, or hemmed, or even, cats forbid, hawed. But none of that for Mr. Leyland! He already knows what he wants to do, so “why be bullheaded about doing it”? Why indeed!

Are you ready for this announcement, Tiger Nation? Are you?

Prepare yourselves.

Here we go.

The Detroit Tigers Opening Day starting pitcher will be….. Kenny Rogers.

*GASP!!* I know! I feel your shock keenly. It’s not Nate Robertson?? How is this possible? What madness! What unpredictability! What innovation of baseball thought! Start the only Tigers pitcher to end last season with a sub-4.00 ERA! We’re talking revolutionary stuff here, people.

All kidding aside, this is the right choice, both because Rogers clearly deserves it, and because he’s so old he might not live to see another Opening Day. Bonderman gets the tip of the navy blue hat for the home opener, which is perfectly fine, since he’ll probably still be in a relatively lively state a few years from now anyways.

From the article announcing this glorious piece of news comes this quote by Bonderman, which I find quite worrisome:

“I’ve never had a guy like Kenny on my team, to have a guy there every day to go through stuff with you and explain why you do this or why you do that.”

Ummm. Really? Pudge never went over any of that stuff with you? Bob Cluck and the Chickens? Heck, Troy “Exploding Forearm” Percival? Maroth never took you aside and said, “Look, kid, all you gotta do is have an exceptional mental makeup. And love of Jesus.” No one?

Maybe this explains a few of the Tigers’ many, many problems. There has been so much turnover in the past few years that there has been little veteran leadership of any description, and certainly nothing like a wise old pitcher to mentor young Bonderman, showing him how to throw a splitter, teaching him how to blow bubbles in his gum, explaining how to develop a personality. It’s rather similar to the woes of the Lions when it comes to quarterbacks, only not so oppressively depressing, because no matter what deranged things Rob Parker may say about Dombrowski being worse than Matt Millen, there’s actually hope for the future with the Tigers.

Our veteran Tiger, as of right now, is Brandon Inge. Brandon Inge! I love Brandon Inge wholeheartedly, and have in fact adopted him for the season over at Motown Sports and currently have his image as an integral part of the desk I spend the vast majority of my life these days at. But when one of your favorite teams has Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield as its long-tenured team leaders, and the other one has Brandon Inge, you tend to wonder if maybe there’s something a teensy bit strange going on with that second squad.

Anyways. At least now Bonderman can be mentored by Kenny Rogers. When he loses it midgame sometime this July, runs over to the well of photographers, grabs a cameraman and bites his head off with his own naked teeth, we can happily wipe away our tears of pride and know that our boy is learning, bless his little heart.

Completely without workable segue, I would like you all to be exposed to some glorious Dmitri Young quotes.

On Franklyn German’s ‘partially dyed set of braids’ (I’m going by what’s written on the site, as I haven’t seen them yet):

“Look at the ’99 Reds,” Young said. “I wasn’t exactly God’s gift to hair bleach. You have to go through an ugly stage before you get to the cute stage. Right now, he’s dead smack in the ugly stage.”

On both his divorce and his weight loss:

“I’m single now,” he said. “I can’t be fat.”

May he never change.

And, well, I hate to shamelessly pimp like this, but I spent a bloody lot of time on it, so too bad.

You can click the image above for the entire invitation, which has all the info on it. But what is this? Well, it’s an evolution-themed semester here at the University of Michigan, and, not to be outdone by people like “real scientists”, the art school had to get involved. Thusly, Endless Forms, an evolutionary art show.

It’s good stuff. I helped set it up, so I got to see most of the work, and it should be a really cool show. There are some great people in it and some of the artwork is really amazing, and the whole thing is very interesting, especially seeing how everyone reacted differently to the prompt of ‘evolution’.

Technically it opens Februrary 24, this Friday, but since that’s also the start of our Spring Break and no students will be around, the actual opening reception isn’t until March 10. I won’t be around for Feb. 24, as I’m flying home, but I will definitely be there on March 10th, wearing a Red Sox hat and looking awkwardly out of place.

It’s at the WORK gallery, which is at 306 State St, Ann Arbor. If you know the area, it’s right in the downtown campus-y part of State St, like two doors down from Potbelly’s or thereabouts.

Oh, and I have a piece in it, which is kind of the point of pimping it here.

My stuff excepted, it really does promise to be a most excellent show, so everyone who has the capability of going should do so at some point from Feb. 24 to March 24, when it closes. And hey, if you catch me when I’m there on the 10th, we can talk Tigers. I’ll be desperately happy to do so. I’d much rather speculate about the secret identity of the 5th starter than force a strained smile out when someone asks me, for the 500th time, if I really did draw those things over there.


14 responses to “Jim Leyland, Man of Action, and other assorted goodies

  1. Samela, you brought up a great point about the lack of veteran leadership on the team – especially among the pitching staff. Guess Jason Johnson wasn’t Confucius on the mound, eh?
    And from where I’m watching, Pudge does a terrible job with the pitchers. He consistently shows them up when he visits the mound, and I’m not sure how much of a say he has in calling pitches, either.

  2. Chuck Hildebrandt

    I agree that the Tigers have not had any veteran leadership the past few years and that may have been a factor in their underachieving in wins versus their run differential. But I don’t think I believe that the same way you do.
    I have thought for some time that the “veteran leadership from among the players” aspect is, frankly, a crock. There’s been no reliable way to quantify its impact or even existence, and the mantle of “veteran leader” seems to be confered upon the oldest player of any at least moderately successful team.
    How do we “know” it even exists? Simple: beat writers and columnists tell us so. And we accept that. Think about it: how could we know otherwise? It’s not as though we’re in the clubhouse ourselves to observe it. In short, it’s basically a media mirage.
    I think the leadership the Tigers have been lacking has been in the manager’s seat itself. I liked Alan Trammell as an Xs and Os manager, for the most part, because he know how to optimize a lineup for best performance and took it relatively easy on the kids’ arms on the mound. But from all accounts, he did not appear to have control of the clubhouse, allowing bad elements like Pudge to poison the well.
    Speaking of whom, there’s *another* example of what a crock it all is, by the way. People’s grip on the concept of “veterean leadership” is so tenuous that many of them, including writers, thought that’s what Pudge would provide — conventiently ignoring his well-documented history of prima donnaship and contributions to clubhouse tension that marked his years with the Rangers. He was going to be a “veteran leader” because, well, he’s older and he can hit.

  3. I tell you what, Samela… I may not agree with everything you’ve said there, but I do rather like your style.

  4. I’ve often wondered something about Pudge and calling pitches. Very rarely do you see a pitcher shake Pudge off. However, it seems – emphasis on seems – that when pitchers shake Pudge off, the resulting pitch seems to find itself somewhere beyond the outfield wall.
    I’ve never really broached the subject before, because I don’t really have the data, and I’m just saying what I seem to have noticed.

  5. Why does everyone keep calling me Samela? I’m starting to get confused. :P And Ian, JJ was a pitching god. We were just too ignorant to recognize it. Obviously.
    Chuck, I see your point, and it is in large part just so much lip service, like clutch hitting and all that jazz. But it’s not entirely true. I spend most of the regular season in Boston, and pitchers coming in these days almost always talk about Jason Varitek’s veteran leadership and how he makes a pitcher better and so on and so on. It’s not just the media saying so. Now, whether or not what these players say is totally accurate, that’s another subject for another day, but if they themselves at least partially believe it, it’s got to have some actual impact on the field, even if it’s just a placebo effect.
    Jeff, thanks. Heh. I don’t ask that everyone take my side on everything, but if we can have fun reading/thinking/arguing violently about it, that’s all I want out of life. Or at least all I want out of blogging.
    Billfer, you’re exactly right; I’ve noticed the same thing. It might be that Pudge’s ability to call a game is separate from his ability to baby along young pitchers, though. I could see him being really good at knowing what pitch to call for what situation, and being absolute horse excrement when it comes to personal relations.

  6. I’ve heard so many mixed messages about Rodriguez’s game calling skills, it’s hard to know whether he’s good at it or not. Also, it’s hard to tell how much of it is Pudge and how much is the manager and coaches. After all, Rodriguez doesn’t literally call the game himself. I think he basically calls the pitches according to discussions in pre-game meetings or at least that’s how I think it’s supposed to work. I’m sure it varies from team to team.

  7. Just to add to the mix: One of the things I read in all the clubhouse drama gossip last year was that one of the reasons the pitchers liked Vance so much is because he does crazy stuff like go over a line-up with them prior to a game, which Rodriguez cannot be bothered with. I mean, I’m taking all that gossip with a grain of salt, because it has sources like “this one guy who says he went to a luncheon where Brandon Inge talked a lot” and “a poster who is apparently Higgy’s dad,” but that bit certainly fits with the Rodriguez who emerged last year.
    Also, thanks for posting that Bonderman quote. I have been highly unthrilled about having to root for Kenny Rogers for the next two years, but that sort of thing helps ease my mind. Now let’s see him do something like he did last year on the mound, and you can come to me in July and ask me how I feel about rooting for Kenny Rogers.

  8. Lee, I know. And it’s hard to tell how much of what we hear on the positive end is just OMG HE’S PUDGE HE’S AN ALLSTAR/GOLD GLOVER/FUTURE HALL OF FAMER ETC. ETC., and how much is actual ability to manage a pitching staff.
    Cat, you may also be interested in this Bondo quote on Rogers:
    “When we’re playing golf, he’s a fun guy to be around,” Bonderman said. “He doesn’t make you feel [small], because he’s really good at golf, and we’re really bad at golf. We’re totally different on the golf course.”
    I mean, what the hell? Is he joking? Is this a personality after all? I can imagine him saying it totally deadpan and serious, though. I don’t even know what to think here.

  9. I think he blanded it out like everything else, and when the interview was over, he went behind the nearest door and laughed for about ten minutes. This is all a plan. Someday, when the Tigers most desperately need a diversion, he’ll burst out with the Millar antics and the opposing team won’t know what to think.

  10. Re: “Samela”, I was just copying what Ian had typed… My bad for not going back to the top and getting it right. On the other hand, maybe we’re witnessing the birth of a nickname… or not.
    I have some Internet acquaintances that are long-time Ranger fans (one of them is a fellow by the name of Jamey Newberg), and I seem to recall them having not-so-nice things to say about Pudge’s “game-calling” skills. I’ll ask around and see what they have to say and report back here.

  11. And the response is in (not from Jamey Newberg, by the way):
    “The only knock on Pudge Rodriguez during his time in Texas was his game calling ability – some pitchers felt that his approach was at times repetitious – that he didn’t care about trying to keep the hitters off balance – especially when a particular sequence wasn’t working.
    It’s a well known fact that Pudge never ever attended the pre-game meetings with the starting pitchers and pitching coach to go over the oppostions lineup and scouting reports. A couple of the local wags, most notably the biggest curmudgeon in the DFW area – Gerry Fraley – felt that a big part of the Rangers pitching problems were due to Pudge – Fraley felt that if there had been more of a Charlie O’Brien type backstop that the Rangers pitching would have been better. (My theory is: if they had better pitchers that would have made a much bigger difference.)
    While no Ranger pitcher ever refused to have Pudge behind the plate (a la Greg Maddux and Javy Lopez) some quietly complained that Pudge was more interested in letting runners on base in order to show off his defensive skills in throwing them out.
    What’s particularly amusing is that the one pitcher that everyone knew didn’t care for Pudge is his new team-mate Kenny Rogers.
    Now there were several articles in the local press that said during his year with the Marlins that Jack McKeon and his staff insisted that Pudge work on his game calling skills – and that he did – although when you are catching the likes of Willis, Beckett and Burnett it’s really hard to judge how much actual work Pudge had to do.”

  12. Oh holy cats, do not tell me we are going to have Pudge/Rogers problems. That is not what we need. I want to be able to laugh at Randy Johnson being forced to throw to Posada over his irritable grumblings with a smug sense of satisfaction, not a horrified sense of community.
    I think Ian calls me that on purpose. I think.

  13. Also, thanks for askin’ around. I can’t say I know any Rangers fans, and the only Marlins fans I know are so bitter that I can never get much out of them before they start going into a catatonic state.

  14. I apologize for taking so long to clarify the “Samela” issue, but yes, I call Ms. Pearlstein that on purpose.
    Why? It’s funny to me. And probably only me. It’s a “Sam” vs. “Pam” thing, a “Samantha” vs. “Pamela” thing, even though her name’s Samara.
    You know what? It was better when I left it mysterious…

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