Is it goodbye?: one last pimp for Chad Durbin

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I admit that I have been putting this off. As a Tigers fan it is, in general, no big tragedy, but as a blogger, O! The sadness!

The Tigers decided to non-tender Chad Durbin rather than deal with the amount of money he was likely to command in arbitration. Durbin made $385,000 last season, which is eminently reasonable for the type of all-around gofer pitching he did (in relation to the rest of the league; let’s not even get into whether baseball salaries are reasonable or not in relation to the rest of the job market as a whole, ’cause, oy), but if the Tigers had gone to arbitration with him it’s likely that they would have had to pay him in excess of $1 million, which the Tigers obviously thought was too high for a pitcher who wasn’t going to be a permanent starter or a closer. Nothing personal to Chad, of course– the Tigs would have done the same for any pitcher in the same situation.

As a 30-year-old right-handed middle reliever whose 4.72 ERA last season was his best ever in a year where he threw 100+ innings, Durbin is probably not going to make a million bucks, even in the absurdly surreal unpredictable landscape that is this winter’s free agent market. It would not have made sense for the Tigers to sign him for that amount of money. There are spots on the roster where it’s OK for a big-market team to overpay, but middle relief isn’t generally considered one of them. Still, he should be able to glom on with some team or other; hopefully no one in the AL Central or AL East (unless it’s Boston) so that I don’t have to end up rooting against him.

The only reason the Tigers might have wanted to hang on to him would have been to use him as trade bait. His name had been batted around in the Pittsburgh rumors, but evidently that all came to naught.

So this is all very expected, very easy to agree with, very humdrum so far as baseball moves go. Ah, but it is not so simple as that. Why should anyone, aside from family and friends of Mr. Durbin, care much about any of this? Here at Roar of the Tigers, our love for Chad Durbin transcended stats, and game results, and sanity. Why? I reckon it will be worthwhile to examine the (small yet dogged) phenomenon.

If you go back to the very first “Chad Durbin is a pimp” entry, you can see where the phenomenon began. We all fully expected Durbin to be a throw-away pitcher, the kind of guy you put in the game to eat innings because you have nothing better available. In this particular game, the one that started Durbin off on the long sordid road to pimpness, he disabused us of this notion. I quote:


Eloquence has always been our strong suit here at RotT.

When the guy you’ve been alternately referring to as “cannon fodder” or “the sacrificial ram” comes up and has a game like that, why not imagine him as a pimp, with his moneymakers either strikeouts or opposing players, depending on which direction you prefer for the, uh, metaphor. I wish I could tell you the exact thought process that led to that first pimp post, but that’s not how it works ’round these parts. Why is Neifi!!! a sea slug? Why was Gary Sheffield a giant squid that one time? Why the Spazzosaurus? Why this? All this stuff just seems like a series of natural conclusions and comparisons when I write it. Chad Durbin as a pimp was much the same.

As Chad Durbin continued to occasionally pitch games above and beyond his expected ‘uninspired innings-eater’ role, it became easier to extend the metaphor. Lots of pimp outfits involve tiger stripe fabric, it turns out, and a marvelous world of color changes (to orange, natch) and head swappery and number-as-bling ‘shopping was born.

I had fun with it. Probably more fun than it actually warranted. I looked forward to games where Durbin did well, because I knew that afterwards I could go and pimp him out, and that was fun (and, compared to some other images that end up here, fairly easy) to do in Photoshop. This is, for Roar of the Tigers, the joy of blogging: if I was writing from some mainstream media ‘site, could I be having that much fun with a mediocre replacement starter/middle reliever? Probably not.

And I think that some of you guys (the adored readers, of course) had fun with it too. Maybe one or two of you watched a game where Durbin pitched, and it made you smile to think of the pimp outfit you knew he was going to end up wearing on the filthy degenerate Internets. Thus we were joined together in Fun, and our Fun was facilitated by Chad Durbin.

There was no good reason for this– it was just something that grew up randomly around a few startling outings from this pitcher whom many would call wholly unremarkable. Once we got that pimped-out ball rolling, though, he was no longer unremarkable. I don’t want to get maudlin about this or anything, but I like to think that I was able to enjoy baseball more, even just a tiny bit more, because Chad Durbin was a pimp*. And maybe that’s true for some of you cats too.

That’s part of the joy of being a dedicated, crazy, hardcore baseball fan. It’s not just about cheering for the Verlanders and the Magglios and the Pudges (and the Miguel Cabreras!) of the team. It’s about being able to, as a fan, for basically no good reason, get psyched about the little guys. There are devoted Vance Wilson fans out there, people. Nook Logan had (a small but steady number of) groupies. Actual human females have smiled approvingly at the thought of Fernando Rodney. There were people who were deeply invested in the fate of Omar Infante.

And Chad Durbin was a pimp.

So, yes, there are people out there who will miss having Chad Durbin on the Tigers. We know that his non-tendering is logical and we would probably question Dombrowski’s sanity if he was willing to shell out that much money for a middle reliever. We know all that and agree with it. But still.

Fare thee well, Mr. Durbin, wherever you may end up. Provided it’s not on a team where we have to regularly root against you and hope you fail against our lineup.

* The best kind of pimp, of course: a harmless, goofy parody with ridiculous outfits, no weaponry aside from his cleats or his baseball, and no actual hos. Real pimps aren’t funny. Chad Durbin would spit upon real pimps.

33 responses to “Is it goodbye?: one last pimp for Chad Durbin

  1. I’ll admit it. I cheered for Chad even more than I should have, simply because I knew that he was pimp-a-licious!

  2. Goodbye, Chad, you glorious pimp you.
    And thank YOU Samara for the lovely holiday card!!!
    Is it really true that actual human females have smiled approvingly at the thought of Fernando Rodney?? Color me surprised.

  3. Samara,
    Thanks so much for the attention and virtual pimp status! My family informed me last year of the blog and it was certainly the focus of some fun-poking on my account. I understand baseball’s dynamics and realize that it is hard to find reasons to cheer for some of the obscure, forgettable players. There are more “forgettable players” out there than the stars…we all understand that much. I don’t have to defend the amount of tremendous success a baseball player must have to reach even the obscure status, either…because this was all in fun. Thanks for finding reasons to make us/me unique. The beauty of free media, right??
    I’ll have to check in to see who the next pimptim is…best of luck! Oh yeah, to ease your mind on having to cheer against me…I’ll most likely be in the NL. Pittsburgh, Philly, NYMets…somewhere like that.
    Chad Durbin

  4. Holy Cats… that was Chad Durbin.
    This blog just gets extra-better every single time I read it, and extra-better isn’t even a real thing.

  5. I liked you Chad when when you first noticed you with the Mudhens. You deserve the money. Good luck!

  6. I’ll miss Durbin. Though it’s all but forgotten now, that White Sox game was one of the most unexpectedly great Tigers pitching performances of the year.

  7. I think I deserve the money too.

  8. I am a human female and smile approvingly at the thought of Fernando Rodney. When he isn’t sucking like a Hoover, that is.
    I think Fernando would be a worthy pimp successor to Chad Durbin. He has the strut down.
    And holy cats, a Chad Durbin sighting. :O Good luck wherever you end up, Chad Durbin!

  9. farlane, you’re most welcome! And I swear to cats I have had ladies admit that they find Fernando attractive. At least two that I can think of. IT’S A CRAZY WORLD WE LIVE IN, MAN.
    MrsY, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! It’s that kind of ridiculous, irrational yet undeniable enjoyment of the game that ties us together, as fans. And crazy bloggers who shouldn’t be allowed to touch Photoshop.
    Mr. Durbin, let’s put it this way: you aren’t exactly gonna be a ‘forgettable’ player at Roar of the Tigers, not with those lurid outfits. I’m glad you (and your family) were able to get a kick out of it. And, no offense or anything, but I selfishly hope you do end up in the NL, ’cause it would be a pain to have to regularly root against someone I’ve spent a whole season digitally turning into a beloved, bizarre blog icon. :)
    Dooley, thanks, although personally I think I peaked with the “every time the White Sox win, god kills a kitten” photoshop, and it’s all been downhill from there.
    Larry, Mudhens, eh? Hardcore!
    Dave, I know! That was the first pimp post, that game was. When I was rereading the post in order to make this one, I was reminded all over again how glorious it had been to see– glorious enough to inspire me to heights of conceptual Photoshop-pimpery that the Internet may wish had never been reached.
    fakeDurbin: Heck, who knows, maybe he CAN get someone to pay that. The market is truly bonkers this winter, and some teams are pretty desperate for, I don’t even know, anyone who is alive and able to play the game of baseball.
    ivan, I dunno if Fernando can fill those shoes. We’ll have to see. Remember, the reason Durbin got pimped was ’cause he had that sick game against the White Sox, and then continued it up with a few more. If Fernando pitches pimp, we will see what comes of it. I’m just as likely to turn him into a sea urchin or something tho.

  10. Aw, I’m gonna miss the Chad Durbin pimp suits. I was definitely one of those people who’d get excited when he did well in part ’cause I knew it’d results in a pimp post. You know, aside from the fact that him pitching well was good for the team and all.

  11. It’s a shame that this game of boys played by men has gotten to the point that a guy who works his tail off, and does whatever his Skip asks him to without question or hesitation can be cast aside over what to a team like the Tigers is almost pennies on the dollar. I mean c’mon we all know Chad wasn’t gonna win a cy young in 08 for us but was paying him $1.2mil to throw middle relief and make 5-10 starts really that unreasonable, and is jason grilli or zach miner really that much better an option for Chad’s role than he would have been? The answer plain and simple is No…the truth is that Grilli and Miner are cheaper and that is why Chad is gone…With that said, Good Luck Chad!!! The true baseball fans of Detroit will miss having you wear our old english D, but once a Tiger always a Tiger…In your case I guess you can say you’ll be a Tiger in 08 even if it is an LSU Tiger…Geaux Tigers!!!

  12. Yeah, totally hoping Chad doesn’t wind up in the AL Central, or even against some team that will face us in Interleague Play in 08… Why can I just imagine that if Chad faces the Tigers in 08, and has a pitching performance beyond his wildest dreams, there will be a pimp outfit in the colors of whatever team he happens to land with?
    By the way, my choice for potential pimp for 08 is Jason Grilli. Certainly expectations are low, and that’s half the battle right there.

  13. The whole Chad Durbin pimp was harmless fun. I know I’ll be looking forward to the next roleplayer on the team that gives us a suprise and some thing extra to cheer for.
    Big props to Chad Durbin and I hope he does get his payday.

  14. not that I was not “Chad Durbin” commenting on thinking I deserved the money. We can all see that any name can be inserted in the “Name (required)” field. This will be my last post if I see anyone saying they are me…I think that’s fair, don’t y’all?? Thanks!!

  15. PfP, it’s the power of Photoshop, man, bringing us all together.
    AW, on the one hand, I do get what you’re saying, and agree to an extent. But I reckon that if baseball was going to subscribe to that kind of old-school, game-not-business worldview, the players would be getting paid like they were playing a game, and not participating in a big-bucks business. :)
    Jeff, we’ll see. I’ve got a lot of pimp suits on my harddrive, just waiting for deployment. They can wait as long as they need to. And Grilli seems a more likely candidate than Fernando but, again, it’s all waiting and seeing at this point. April can’t get here fast enough!
    Paul, I hope that next roleplayer will be a catcher… now THAT would be a pleasant surprise.
    Mr. Durbin, while anyone can enter anything in the ‘name’ field, nobody’s faking their ISPs, which us blog-writers can see… which is why I addressed that last dude as fakeDurbin. I figured it was a pretty evident joke; if it hadn’t been, I would have put on my moderator hat and changed his name. You don’t have to worry on that front. :)

  16. For what it’s worth, I (here representing “an average reader”) figured out that Sam had good reason to believe that the first “Chad Durbin” was the genuine article and that the second “Chad Durbin” was an impostor.
    And to the real Mr. Durbin, I think we all know that this move by the Tigers will likely lower your payday for 2008, but that’s bidness, and I, for one, wish you nothing but well (well, except for any day when you might be facing the Tigers, naturally), and may you have a good enough 2008 that you cash in big in 2009. Certainly your pitching prowess (all kidding aside, now) beats mine all to hell, and I don’t begrudge you one little bit for getting out there and making everything you can.

  17. Chad,
    Why go to a bad NL Teamwhen there is a good one in Chicago that is looking for some pitchin? :)
    P.S. Obscure or not you were one the main cogs in my Fantasy baseball league that helped me win the league…well you and Arod :)

  18. Chad,
    If that is really you (and I believe that it is based on the tone/writing style), I just wanted to say that I was sorry to see the Tigers let you go, although I understand the thinking behind it. The main reason for this, although you were a really good pitcher at times, is because I always enjoyed your interview spots. You seem like a centered, intelligent person who I’d enjoy having a conversation with. I suppose you sort of remind me of myself. This information is of absolutely no use to you, but I wanted to share it nonetheless. Congratulations on a successful season and your upcoming contract, and good luck in ’08. I’ll be keeping my eye on you.

  19. Jeff, thank you, I’m glad you picked it up too. *I* thought it was pretty obvious, but then again I do spend far too much time on the internet, y’know.
    DJ, are you suggesting he sign with the White Sox? Perish the thought… voluntarily subjecting someone to Ozzie Guillen is just cruel and unusual punishment. :)
    Aaron, it is really him– rather, the first and third comments are, the salary one is an obvious joke.
    You seem like a centered, intelligent person who I

  20. The White Sox…Oh No!!!!! I am a North sider and would never want to make anyone feel the pain of the lowly south siders. But Chad would have been good at the friendly confines :)

  21. Phillies it is… Wonder if he’ll give an autograph if I shout out that I’m a Tiger fan that loves the pimp?

  22. Looks like it’s Philadelphia. I have some friends out there, it’s a pretty cool area. Again, congratulations and good luck, Chad.

  23. Hey, Chad, if it’s really Philly, you’re in my back yard, and I “date” the Phillies (hey, they’re in the NL, I’m allowed)… I’d be glad to have you to root for again in 08.

  24. Chad – we will truly miss you. Just wanted to share that you will always be a part of my family’s phraseology (to quote The Music Man). You were interviewed while in Washington DC, and while teammates were visiting landmarks or shopping, you were looking forward to doing some reading. Ever since then, “I like readin’ books” is my daughter’s favorite line – and she really does. Thanks, and good luck!

  25. The Phillies pitching staff now includes the “pimp” Durbin and The Durbinator Formerly Known as “The Real Deal.”
    There is no question that the Phillies have become the team to beat in the NL.

  26. one-year, $900,000
    hey Chad, if you’re still reading this, and you’re looking for a new book to read… I highly recommend “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by David Eggers.

  27. philly pimp photoshop opportunity… heh

  28. 1 year, $900,000 with Philadelphia. And whether or not the “Chad Durbin” who said he deserved the money was the real thing . . . Chad Durbin deserves the money (as much as any baseball player does).

  29. Chad Durbin pitched well for the Tigers as a starter, and was pulled from the rotation at a point when he had hit his stride. I wish him nothing but the best with the Phillies-except, of course, when they play the Tigers.

  30. […] she created an image to that effect. It came became a running thing. With Durbin leaving, Samra did one last pimp for Chad Durbin. Chad left the following comment on the post: […]

  31. Samara and friends conversate with the pimp. Very Cool.

  32. chad–i have no idea how i came upon this site (searching your name in google, i guess)–but if that is really you replying, its the moore’s from wilmington.

  33. Samara – love your blog.. keep up the great work!
    Chad – Good luck in Philly. Winning over that crowd won’t be easy, but I’m pretty certain you’ll find a way to do it. :)

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