in which Roar of the Tigers finally watches a spring training game

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Finally, FINALLY I get to see a Spring Training game, ON MY TV, and my thoughts are mainly thus:

1. Wow, it’s windy there. Like, really windy. Extremely windy. Joyous-laughter-at-the-sight-of-Magglio’s-hair-flying-freely-in-the-breeze kind of windy. Feeling-bad-for-the-outfielders kind of windy. We’re talking serious AIR CURRENTS, people.

2. If I never have to see those green hats ever again, it can only be a good thing. They were hideous, especially on the coaches, where they were paired with the solid navy Spring Training jacket things. We need to never do that again. Next year can’t we have everyone celebrate by wearing a green armband or something? Something small? How many guys on the team are even of Irish ancestry anyways? Like, seriously, we think St. Patrick’s day holds great meaning for Placido Polanco?

Of course I did pay attention to the actual baseball at times. And it was fun! Baseball, on my TV! Dusty Baker deciding to lead off with Corey Patterson! (I know it’s just Spring Training and all, but… why? Or is that a stupid question when the obvious answer is “Dusty Baker being Dusty Baker”?) Magglio’s hair is extra long now! Rod and Mario! Getting to glare at Miguel Cabrera in an attempt to negatively compare him to Brandon Inge before grudgingly admitting that he does in fact look to be in pretty good shape and is probably as good as everyone says he is, dammit! (Sigh.)

The fact that (as we heard today) Kenny Rogers hasn’t thrown a single breaking ball yet this spring is both encouraging and worrying. Hear me out. It’s encouraging because he looked like he was doing OK out there even without it, so his other pitches are coming along nicely. It’s also encouraging because it means that he’s acknowledging his recuperative limitations and isn’t trying to push himself unduly out of some sort of misguided macho urge (take note, Pudge). It’s worrying because holy freaking cats there are two weeks left ’til Opening Day and Kenny Rogers still doesn’t feel comfortable throwing his breaking ball.

While we’re on the subject of Kenny, can we talk about his at-bats for a minute? He didn’t even TRY for the first one, just stood there with the bat on his shoulder and looked stoic, and he STILL almost worked a walk (again, Pudge, take note). The Cincy pitcher KNEW Kenny wasn’t going to swing, and he still couldn’t get the ball over the bloody plate. I don’t know what they’re saying about this Cueto kid out there in Ohio, but that was a pretty weak at-bat. And then, Kenny’s next time up, for reasons possibly known only to himself, he was hacking gamely away. He actually managed to make pretty sharp contact, but he hit it right back up the middle, and Josh Roenicke speared it neatly out of the air. After acting like hitting was a filthy action completely beneath him the first time up, Kenny actually looked upset that he didn’t get his hit the second time around. Weird.

Like I said before: this was my first time seeing Miguel Cabrera in anything other than short clips and photos this spring, and he looked good. The Brandon Inge fan in me most emphatically does not want to admit this, but there it is. The kid looks like he’s in shape, and, as if to prove this, he made a diving grab in the bottom of the second inning for a ball that landed fair and bounced to the foul side of third. It wasn’t elegant: he landed awkwardly and was sort of slow lurching to his feet again, but he made a great throw more or less from his knees and got the runner anyways.

So he doesn’t have Brandon Inge’s range and he’s not going to be as defensively pretty as Inge is. We knew this already. His arm strength will make up for some of that, and I guess his bat will make up for the rest. I will not sulk.

I don’t like how he slides, though. He goes down really hard, right on his knee. Kinda looks like David Ortiz’s sliding style, which, to be perfectly honest, is not a sliding style that anyone should want to emulate, if they actually like their knees.

A few more things from this game:

-WHAT was up with Dane Sardinha’s catcher’s mask? It was, I don’t even know, navy and white scalloping. Nary a tiger stripe in sight. Dude, if you’re gonna go with the hockey-style mask (I think we all know how I feel about that anyways), the LEAST you can do is get something cool in a vaguely tacky way. It definitely has to have Tiger-related imagery plastered all over it. There wasn’t even any ORANGE. I can’t support that.

-At one point I very distinctly heard a Reds fan in the crowd yell, “C’mon Dunnsy!” when Adam Dunn was up to bat. Dunnsy? Really?

-That WIND! Can I emphasize again how crazy-strong it was? When Denny Bautista was out there (listed at 6’5, 190 lbs, uniform hanging off him like a bloody topsail) I seriously worried for a bit that he was going to blow right away and our bullpen situation would resolve itself without our input.

-I didn’t even know Kent Mercker was still in baseball. Shows how much I’ve been paying attention.

-Kenny Rogers’ dad was at the game. His dad is nicknamed Big Earl and has that strawberry farm we hear about all the time when people talk about Kenny Rogers’ childhood. Rod Allen is quite possibly in love with Kenny Rogers’ dad, or at least in love with the pure concept of Kenny Rogers having a dad named Big Earl who owns a strawberry farm.

-Speaking of Rod Allen… I might have missed the beginning of this, since I missed the pregame stuff and what-have-you while I was getting home from my afternoon class. But apparently Rod Allen has a new measure of ballplayers, something he’s calling “comfy/strong” [Ian correctly points out that this was a result of distorted hearing via my congested head, and Rod actually said “country strong,” which makes a lot more sense in a Rod Allen kinda way. Still hilarious]. He applied it to Adam Dunn. It seems to boil down to something along the lines of “that dude is large” and “that dude can probably hit for power” and “that dude looks kind of cuddly”. I don’t know. I just… I don’t know. He called Dunn “a mountain of a man,” in that admiring Rod Allen voice he has, and.

Yeah.

I’m so glad there was baseball on my TV today.

ETA of WOE: Mike Hollimon, who tried to dive just like Inge or Cabrera at third later in this game, dislocated his shoulder and is out for the rest of the spring for sure, possibly much longer than that. Ugh. You just hate to see crud like that happen, especially in a spring game.

9 responses to “in which Roar of the Tigers finally watches a spring training game

  1. I too am in love with the concept of Kenny Rogers having a dad named Big Earl who owns a strawberry farm. Rod Allen’s got the right idea there. It is pure awesome.
    And I want to hug cloudkitty forever and ever.

  2. I hit safely in fourteen straight spring games. Who am I?

  3. ivantopumpyouup

    Rod Allen is quite possibly in love with Kenny Rogers

  4. PfP, ivan, obviously Rod Allen is tapping into a larger Tiger fan sentiment here. Always got his finger on the pulse of the fans.
    Adam, I’m not sure, actually (I pay wicked close attention to ST, obvs). 14 straight? Polanco?

  5. I think “country strong” is actually the term Rod Allen was using for Adam Dunn, as if he was some corn-fed beast who came directly from the fields to swing his bat.
    But I like “comfy strong” better, which would seem to apply more to someone of a pillowy physique, such as Prince Fielder.

  6. eeeeeek! baseball on TELEVISION! I never thought this day would come (again).

  7. Prince Fielder is definitely “built for comfort” rather than “built for speed”, lol…
    Hit safely in 14 straight spring training games… Does Jim Price crow about this on air? Or, since it was mentioned in Samela’s article, maybe the answer is Greg Maddux or, better yet, David Wells? Jamie Moyer, perhaps?

  8. Yeah, there was a whole lot of wonderful Rod homoeroticism that day.

  9. Ian, you are correct on all counts, and I am congestedly impaired.
    tiff, mega word.
    Jeff, ‘comfort’ and ‘Prince Fielder’ were not two concepts that I had previously conflated, but yes.
    dave, that’s why we love him so!

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