day of honor (but not winning)

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

No bats, again. The Tigers managed only 3 hits on the day; one from Granderson and two from Pudge. Sean Casey managed a walk, but that was it for Tigers touching bases. The old “using up all your hits in one game” beast rears its ugly head another time, ensuring its secure spot in “realistic mythology” for another month at least.

Annnnnnd once again, it comes along with a pretty good pitching performance. Nate went 7 innings and only allowed two runs. That OUGHT to be plenty for an allegedly high-powered offense. As we have seen, though, this particular current Tigers offense has decided that it collectively hates our pitchers, and will only reward them when they decide to pitch in a decidedly mediocre, Chad Durbinish fashion.

The worrying bit is that this is exactly what happened last year when we started going bad, and in 2005 when we were fighting to keep our heads above water. It’s the disconnect between good hitting days and good pitching days. Remember? There were those frustrating strings of games last season where the pitcher would do really well, and no one would hit? And we would lose? Or suddenly the hitters would all turn on at once, and nobody would be able to throw a ball straight? And we would keep on losing, but differently? And the Tigers would switch between these two states, the pitching-but-not-hitting state and the hitting-but-not-pitching state, over and over again, and they would thus manage to avoid any possibility of a win?

Poor Nate especially. This happened to him SO many times last year… he’s probably getting Vietnam-style flashbacks about it right now, of the “nooooooooo not again!” variety.

I know we’ve got a small sample size here, but that’s what this is starting to feel like. I don’t like it. It’s too much like regressing to the barely-.500 Tigers teams of not that long ago.

Sigh. Hopefully coming home to Detroit will get everyone’s head on straight again. The weather’s a lot better now, they have no excuse. Anyways.

Today, as everyone who has watched anything to do with baseball in recent weeks knows, is the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Lots of players are wearing Jackie’s number 42 in his honor, something that’s pretty cool for most teams, and incredibly confusing for teams like the Dodgers who have every single player wearing it, and, since they’re home, no names on the backs of their jerseys.

(Can you imagine trying to score that game? If you’re like me, you use numbers to indicate who does what… like, if Brandon Inge moves a runner up to second base with a hit, that player’s trail to second in his little box gets a 15 above it. Trying to work that with everyone numbered 42… oy.)

The Tigers who wore it today were Granderson, Craig, Sheffield, Pudge, and Lloyd McClendon. Since Maggs got his leg sliced up by Marcus Thames’ flying broken bat the other day (which… yeah, let’s not even get into that), he spent the game at DH and Sheff got the start in the outfield…. making for an entire outfield of 42s.

I’m watching the Dodgers/Padres game right now, and they’re having a bunch of people in the studio with Morgan and Miller, including Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Rachel Robinson (Jackie’s widow). Mrs. Robinson was my absolute favorite… I didn’t take notes or anything, but she was simply a delight to listen to. She was also blatantly rooting for the Dodgers and expressed her hatred of both the Giants and the Yankees, effectively endearing herself to me forever.

The Civil Rights game was a bit absurd (mostly because it featured the Cleveland Indians, i.e. the most blatantly racist mascot around), but I have to admit that today has been pretty cool. Allowing players to wear the number was a good idea, and we all owe Ken Griffey Jr. an impressed nod for thinking of it. Mrs. Robinson said that she really enjoyed it, because she had been wary of the idea of retiring his number in the first place… she had wanted players to be able to choose to wear his number, not for the number to be put away.

A noble impulse, I think we’ll all agree, but I reckon this makes the number more special and, given what Jackie went through, it deserves to be treated particularly well. For once, Major League Baseball handled a big event properly, and for once the announcers treated their guests properly– by letting them tell stories and just bang on for a bit. Golf claps all ’round.

As a curious little sidenote to all this, I heard a rumor that Brandon Inge had wanted to wear 42 today and was told he couldn’t. This can’t be a white guy thing, ’cause there are plenty of white players (or Hispanic players, and I think maybe even some Asian players(?)) wearing the number today… right? Can anyone deny or confirm and explain this?

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