illustration by Samara Pearlstein
How very appropriate that the last day of the Tigers’ season should coincide with (at least one group’s version of) New Years. As we rocket into the year 5769 we will jettison this past season into the Black Hole of the Past, never to be spoken of again, except for the several million times when I will bring it up.
A great many things have happened since we last spoke/remotely interacted via pixels. To help ease our transition into the new year, I will go over all these things. As many of them as I can immediately recall at the moment. Whatever.
We played the Wrong Sox in an ‘extra’ game. We lost.
On the one paw, it looks like Freddy Garcia was pitching OK, so mazel tov to Mr. Garcia, but on the other paw, apparently he came out with a spasmy injury? That’s not exactly the way you want to end the season, but at least he has a lot of time now to rest it, and it’s not as though we were exactly counting on his health/effectiveness for next year. (And if we were… oy.)
On the third paw, our hitting was terrible and our bullpen was terrible and Arrrrmando got tagged in relief with a stupid pointless loss. There was no upside to this game. None. Except for the fact that it was one additional day of Tigers baseball, and come January we’ll be fondly looking back on it for that reason and that reason alone.
Gary Sheffield did not get 500 homers.
He stalled out at 499. Barring catastrophic injury, he’ll trot on past that milestone next season. If he doesn’t do it in a Tigers uniform, I will probably be OK.
His entire family, through multiple generations, up in the Comerica box with all the signs, though… that was pretty unequivocally great.
Brandon Inge has been declared next season’s starting third baseman, and Carlos Guillen will move to left field.
This one caught me by surprise – I’d only just started to fully come around to the Brandon Inge as 2009 Catcher camp, and then WHAM, the sudden turnaround. I honestly don’t understand why this decision would be made (or publicly announced at this time) unless the Tigers had someone in mind for the ’09 catcher.
Like, even if they were thinking about it, why announce it now? Why not wait and see if you can get the catcher you want via free agency or trade or Dusty Ryan suddenly hitting baseball puberty? And then if you don’t get that guy, you still have Inge expecting to catch, and there’s no drama. By announcing this NOW, the Tigers have invited further drama should they attempt to move Inge back behind the plate yet again at some point between now and April. You see what I mean?
It’s also becoming increasingly obvious that Carlos Guillen’s body is falling apart before our very eyes. Morbidly fascinating, really. His ideal position very soon (if not already) will probably be DH, but the Tigs have plenty of elderly, heavy-batted fodder for that spot, so Guillen gets shunted around the field to try and figure out where he can do the least amount of damage. Sad.
Chuck Hernandez was fired.
I’m fairly ambivalent about this one. To return to our little cat’s feet: on the one paw, I don’t think Hernandez specifically was the Big Bad Main Problem here. He had nothing to do with guys getting old, and injuries like Bondo’s are nothing to do with any kind of pitching coach. But on this second paw… well, he had a LITTLE to do with this mess, perhaps in the sense that when stuff went wrong that he SHOULD have been able to do something about, he failed to do so.
Verlander… even putting aside the issues of arm fatigue and (over)use that arose this year, which are more strictly Leyland’s fault, you still have a guy pitching way, way off from his peak, and you have a pitching coach completely failing to get him back on track. You have a bullpen suffering from inconsistency so dire that if inconsistency was a bodily disease the entire ‘pen would have been hospitalized, and you have a pitching coach unable to do much of anything about that.
You have Joel Zumaya, a guy whose injury was probably not 100% preventable, but whose mechanics require much more close attention than they’re getting under Hernandez (or much more attention with knowledge about what to DO with that attention, in any event). Zoom’s one of those exotic pets, like an iguana or something, that require a very special set of supplies to thrive. He needs his appropriately-sized tank, his specific-wavelength heat lamp, his particular lettuces. Hernandez means well, and he loves his iguana, but he just doesn’t have the specialist-type of knowledge necessary to keep pet iguanas. And let’s face it: it’s just not responsible to have a pet iguana if you can’t care for it properly.
Miguel Cabrera won the AL home run title.
He hit 37 for the Tigs this season. This is a vaguely pointless ‘title’, but he beat out ARod and Carlos Quentin the Wrong Sock for it, so we can all feel good about that.
Edgar Renteria’s 2009 option will not be picked up.
THANK CATS. Look, I’ve had two seasons of watching Edgah try to hack the AL, on two different teams, and I’ve had enough of it. The guy can’t do it, he’s unhappy trying to do it, he starts playing like he’s unhappy, and the whole thing becomes a vicious cycle of ineptitude and woe. I hope he goes back to the NL and has all the success in the world out there, but I don’t want to deal with him on this side of the DH Divide anymore.
I guess we can still re-sign him as a free agent, if the madness takes us. At this point I would really almost rather go with Ramon Santiago. At least he’d come cheaper, and we’d probably get comparable production.
The Tigers have officially clinched last place in the division.
Our final record is 74-88, for a .457 percentage. At least we avoided 90 losses? Worse than the Tigers are: the Orioles, the Mariners, the Braves, the Nats, the Pirates, the Giants, and the Padres (the Reds are actually exactly tied with us, with the same W/L record). That may seem like a respectable number of teams still looking up at our tail, but those are some catawful teams, kids and kittens, so coming out of the season with a better percentage than them is nothing much.
Kansas City is not allowed to gloat. You’re under .500 too, guys. Here but for the grace of one stupid make-up game go you.
Curtis Granderson will be in-studio for the AL/NLDS on TBS.
He’ll be working pregame and postgame and probably some between-inning stuff as well, alongside Cal Ripken Jr, Dennis Eckersley (who has been a glorious studio presence on the Red Sox TV channel), and whoever TBS has hosting this thing. Because Curtis Granderson is a perfect being, he is marvelously good at this broadcast stuff, and if you were waffling about whether or not to watch these upcoming non-Tigery postseason games, well, you might want to tune in just to see Granderson a) conversing with Dennis Eckersley and b) probably wearing a suit.
If you can’t get excited about that, you can’t get excited about LIFE.
The Tigers are not in the postseason. Just in case you hadn’t noticed.
I assume that my rooting interests from here on out are clear, yes? Remember: every time you root for the Red Sox, you root for Sean Casey to be made happy. Don’t you want Sean Casey to be happy? Don’t you want him to smile? Isn’t he just the nicest guy ever? Rooting against Sean Casey is like rooting against kittens. I just want you guys to bear that in mind.
Onwards. L’shana tova to those of you celebrating the new year, and a happy stress-free postseason to the rest of you goyim.
(Don’t get the New Years stuff, or the image up top? Tonight is the start of Rosh Hashana [literally ‘head of the year’], the Jewish New Years. The Jewish calendar starts earlier than the common calendar, so while it’s only 2008 in the common calendar, it’s now the year 5769 in the Jewish calendar. It’s traditional to eat apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashana, for a sweet new year.)