Tigers maul abstract nationalism in the Spring

photo by Samara Pearlstein

I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to actually watch a Spring Training game again, but I happened to be around for this one. It seemed like a good idea to settle in with some sun, some cats, and the computer to take notes on all the glories sure to be contained within the game. Stephen Strasburg vs. FredFred Porcello, how bad could it be?

Then I discovered that it was the MASN broadcast. Let us put it this way: Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble are pleasant enough, I suppose, but they are most certainly no Rod and Mario.

Oh well.

The Game, Because RotT Does Not Give Up in the Face of Unexpected Obstacles, Even Such Potentially Deadly Boring Ones as a Washington Nationals Broadcast

–I feel kinda bad for this Strasburg kid. He’s being hyped all to hell and back, and these are the Nats… there’s very little to distract from him. Except for Ryan Zimmerman. The announcers take a moment to actually talk about Zimmerman’s “magical glove” at third.

–Your Tigers starting lineup: Austin Jackson, Clete, Magglio, Miggy, Guillen, Don Kelly, Alex Avila, Scott Sizemore, Santiago. Oh wait, Sizemore was a last minute scratch, Brent Dlugach will be at second. That better not be serious. Austin Jackson is wearing Polanco’s #14, I make the saddest of sad faces. Our Placido. :(

–The announcers are pronouncing Dlugach as “dih-loo-gawsh”. Is that right? I thought it was more of a “gitch” sound at the end. Please advise.

–The piping on these new Tigers BP hats is wicked distracting. Better than the ear half moons, though. Relatedly, what the HELL is this? Holy cats. No. It looks like the hat has Detroit chicken pox.

–Strasburg gets the first three Tigers to ground out, variously.

–Nats announcer: “Not that records and numbers mean much, in Spring Training, but you do want to win one…” I guess they’re 0-and-6 so far this spring.

–Don Kelly gets the first hit of the day, a single, on a Strasburg fastball that rode up a bit. Alex Avila comes up, he is so clearly trying to be as clean-shaven as possible, but his chin is blue. I love it. His facial hair is like magic. He also singles.

–Nats announcers talk about how the Tigers are a good example of a team going from awful and “having some difficulties with young players” and going on to be very good. Talk about Dave Dombrowski’s “prudent decisions”. Kind of sad how hard they are hoping here. You just keep your little chins up, Nats. You got Pudge, that was the first step for us too!

–Oh wow. They have a ticket package deal where you pick four games and get a fifth one free. I would do that so hard if I lived in DC. I’m also trying to imagine that happening at Fenway and I seriously can’t wrap my mind around it. It would be, like, the End Times. Apocalypse Boston.

–FredFred looks good through two. Sharp, pitches working, not struggling or looking freaked. Now they’re talking about how Strasburg was the only collegiate player on the 2008 Olympic US team and how all his teammates relentlessly teased/harassed him, until he went out in his first game and took a no-hitter into the sixth. Well. Alrighty then.

–Talking about how smart Miguel Batista is: “He’s a very very smart kid, he speaks a bunch of languages, he’s very cerebral.” Miguel Batista IS really smart, but he’s also almost 40, so… kid?

–“He recognized that Stephen [Strasburg] had a million dollar arm… of course, a $15 million bonus.” Scott Boras ruins everything.

–Talking about Cabrera’s alcohol incidents, talking about Allen Iverson’s substance and gambling problems. “You can have the talent to play in the big leagues, but you have to be able to handle yourself off the field… you have to be a model citizen. Like Ryan Zimmerman!”

–Nyjer Morgan is super freaking fast. He also slides hard into second base on a steal… Santiago was covering, and Nyjer either spiked him, or bonked his knee into Santiago’s shin. Ramon comes up hobbling. THIS IS SPRING TRAINING, WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT THERE GUNNING FOR TIGERS? Paws will get you for this later, young man, mark my furious blogger’s words.


–Guillen walks, first of the game. Awww, they called him a “dangerous left-handed DH.” Don Kelly doubles, sort of dribbled to the wall, Carlos hustles home! 1-0, Tigers. He’s not moving real fast, but he got there without mishap, I feel a little better having seen that.

–Jim Riggleman: “You have to evaluate on something, and spring training is what we have right now to evaluate on.” These are words of wisdom.

–“We always look forward to seeing the third baseman with that bat!” Man, they are obsessed with Zimmerman. If there was a “Who’s Your Nat?” campaign, Ryan Zimmerman would be loudly and man-crush-ily claimed by this announcing team.

–Holy cats we are playing at SPACE COAST STADIUM. Immediately my mind goes right here. Spectacular.

–“Someone asked me today, is Strasburg pitching today the biggest thing to ever happen in Viera? I said yes! Ever since they opened up the movie theater down the street.”

–Adam Kennedy described as “scrappy”, then immediately compared to David Eckstein. I wish I was making this up, but I am not.

–Dugout interview with John Lannan, pitcher, boring Twitterer. “As always you know, I’m humble, but at the same time I’m gonna go out there, make up for last year’s Opening Day.” Uh. That sounds pretty awful on several levels. For one, dude, you don’t declare yourself humble, that kind of defeats the purpose. For another, make up for last year’s Opening Day? Do I even want to know what he did? (Oh. Ouch.)

–Some incredibly white dude pitching for the Nats now. Tyler Walker. His hair is white and his face is red, he looks just like the Nats uniforms.

–Magglio drives one out to right. Three run homer. Maggs! 5-0 Tigers. Of course this Walker kid looks pretty bad right now buuut that was a nice homer regardless. Announcer says, “He sweet-spotted the ball the opposite way!” Apparently the wind does blow through the stadium left to right, so it may have been helped somewhat by the wind. Still. Let me feel my momentary happiness.

–Talking about how they can’t believe the Dodgers don’t have spring training in Vero Beach anymore. “How about Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax now has to fly from Vero to Arizona to work with the Dodgers pitchers?”
“Bring him up here.”

–Reminiscing about Jose Valverde, who is now pitching. “I remember the Nats spoiling a save or two against him…. A very animated presence on the mound.” That sounds… worrying. Oh, now they’re talking about the massive Tigers pitchers’ fielding fail in the 2006 World Series. Screw you very much, Nats announcers.
“They were favored going into that series!”
“Oh goodness gracious, I remember!”

–Talking about UConn women’s basketball: “They’re like the ’27 Yankees… they beat the hell out of you, then compliment you after the game.” I don’t think either one of these announcers was alive in 1927, so, OK.

–Austin Jackson pops a home run over the centerfield wall. Very nice swing. Nats announcer sez, “That kid is good! Wow…. He makes general manager and president Dave Dombrowski look great when he does that.”

–Brennan Boesch pinch hits for Magglio. Announcers call him “Brandon” several times.

–Every so often the crawl on the bottom of the screen brings up Joe Nathan’s busted UCL, and I feel good every time.

–Eddie Bonine is pitching now. Audy Ciriaco at short, Larish at first, some dude who is not Alex Avila playing catcher. Robinzon Diaz, maybe. Nyjer Morgan steals second, again. You knew he was going to do that, Eddie.

–Top of the seventh, the Tigers have 13 hits. Three for the Nats. Zimmerman is out of the game, the announcers promptly lose interest in life itself.

–Already sick of this Joe Mauer Playstation game ad. I don’t want to look at his stupid MVP face any more than I have to, MLBN.

–“The most dangerous six inches between a guy’s ears is his brain.” Wait, what? They say they’re quoting Bob Uecker making fun of pitchers, but still, how does that make sense?

–They say there may be temporary broadcast disruptions due to a solar outage as the sun crosses the equator and goes behind the satellite that they use, swamping the signal with microwaves. Uh. Between 3:31 and 3:41 this is expected to be an issue. Oh. Kay.

–Interviewing Wil Nieves, who is adorable and now we can appreciate that since he’s no longer a Yankee. They should just interview him for the rest of the game, that would make me happy. Oh, they’re asking him about Pudge. “I always say he’s a blessing. When I first start catching he’s one of the guys I first admired as a catcher… now having him on the same team, I just want to learn everything I can from him because I know my game will improve…. He’s just a great guy, a great player and a better person.” Actually, where is Pudge? I WANT TO SEE PUDGE.

–They finally say ‘Brennan’ correctly, possibly because they flash his name up on the screen so it’s, like, right there in front of you, dudes.

–Bottom 8, they are now interviewing some random MASN sportswriter. Wow. I could not care less. Why are they talking to this guy? May as well interview a blogger. I know some of the types of people who write for NESN, they are often bloggers. Bring Wil Nieves back, talk to him some more. Eddie Bonine is still in.

–The announcer is now talking about their MASN announcer blogs. And now he’s desperately begging for people to comment on their blogs. This is the saddest broadcast.

–Eric Bruntlett! I forgot he existed.

–The Nats third base coach is eating sunflower seeds during the game, on the field. He has them stashed in his back pocket.

–Alfredo Figaro in, combining with Diaz for some struggles and whatnot. Not the pretty pitching we were seeing from FredFred, or even from Bonine earlier in his outing.

–Jeff Larish and Miguel Cabrera both have more hair right now than Magglio Ordonez does. This is a deep wrongness.

–Chris Duncan singles in a run, it’s now 8-4 Tigers, because things have been happening. One of the announcers says, “There’s no borderline when you’re falling behind!” I think he’s talking about Figaro not getting borderline pitches called strikes right now, but it sounds like a song lyric.

–Announcers wondering how they will sneak food into the booth now that they have new robotic cameras up there. I wonder how many people are desperate for glimpses of Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble. Then again I am not familiar with the DC-area media market, maybe there’s a mad demand for that sort of thing.

–“And I’m thinking, this is Yankee Stadium, and we’re preparing sea bass. In a rain delay.” This is Carpenter talking about a 6-hour rain delay at Yankee Stadium last season that the Nats were in, and how he looked up at one point and on the board was a video about how to prepare sea bass. I agree with him, that is a distinct ‘what in the hell is wrong with you, Yankee Stadium?’ moment.

–Dibble: “Do you think that solar flare had anything to do with that four run outburst?”
Carp: “You know, that’s an interesting theory. Seems to have as much credibility as most of the theories out there.” Sedate chuckling.

–Jay Sborz in to pitch the bottom of the 9th. They’re pronouncing it “sporez”. I shall think of him as a fern. Out of nowhere Carpenter says, “Once a Mudhen, always a Mudhen,” even though Sborz has pitched a total of like three games at the triple-A level, so I don’t really know what’s going on there.

–Ron Dibble on Mike Morse: “Mike Morse is in there, featuring the long hair this spring. I went up to him, Are you hitting well? He said yeah. I said keep the hair.”

–Oooo, Brennan Boesch makes a fantastic, diving, sliding, snow-cone-y catch on a hit that may or may not have been heading foul from Eric Bruntlett, who may or may not actually exist.

–Aaaaand the game ends. Tigers win 9-4. The Nats are 0-and-7 in Spring Training so far. Remember the important lesson we all learned today, kids and kittens: things could always be worse.

15 responses to “Tigers maul abstract nationalism in the Spring

  1. Great game for Ricky! Watched the game on MLB Network, was a struggle to know who was pitching for the Tigers after the third inning. Strasburg did well but all the Nats have to hope for are Solar Flares!

  2. Eddie looked ok until his 3rd inning.

  3. Many sighs that I no longer have MLB network, but thanks for the wonderful running commentary! I too found myself giddy over Joe Nathan’s elbow. Feel a little guilty, but not guilty enough to stop smiling.

  4. Now that you mention it, I kinda feel bad for Strasburg too. It would feel kinda weird to be the best player on the worst team. It might kinda suck too.

  5. There’s something kinda cute about the “Women’s Parade Navy Adjustable Cap”. I like how there are little tiny Olde English Ds in freefall all over the hat.

    Or they’re little baby Olde English Ds surrounding big mama Olde English D.

  6. Walleyeman, haha, yes, may solar flares light their way this year!

    ROMAD1, Bonine did look pretty good today, I was definitely much more impressed with him than with, say, Figaro, or most of the Nats pitchers minus SuperStras.

    Jennifer, eh, aside from Sean Casey MLBN is really not that great. Yet. Maybe they’ll grow into it.

    81371, no, see, that hat looks like it has a skin disease. But on a hat.

  7. I just moved from Alaska to Washington DC, which means a lot of (sigh) nationals games. With that having been said, I will have actual major league teams and games will now start at 7 as opposed to 3.

  8. Hey, now, I actually kinda-sorta follow the Nats (I live in northernmost Delaware and work in Philadelphia — I get MASN as part of the standard package on my home cable system). I guess I got used to watching a game with one team ahead big in late innings and wondering to myself, “what new and interesting way are they going to use to lose *this* game?”

    Carpenter and Dibble are not Mario and Rod-worthy, but they do have their moments. Dibble himself is worth a few chuckles every now and again. Last year, right before Manny Acta got fired, he went ballistic on the team on-air, how they had given up and had no life in them. Notice who it was that got fired.

    Zimmerman is definitely the “face of the franchise” at this point, such as it is. He’s kinda-sorta local, too, having grown up in the Virginia Beach area, so that helps.

    They actually *do* remind me of the Tigers of about 7-8 years ago, maybe the 2002 team. Because they had Jim Bowden in their GM position and got rid of him just as Spring Training was ending last year with the whole Dominican scout kickback fiasco (which, believe it or not, had the FBI involved at one point). Their new guy, Mike Rizzo, is not as experienced a hand as Dombrowski (if I’m making the connection to the year that Dombrowski the team president fired Randy Smith as GM and named himself to the second position), but, by all accounts, he’s done quite a bang-up job. Certainly talents like Strasburg, Zimmerman, Nyjer Morgan, Drew Storen, Ian Desmond, Jesus Flores (when his elbow is back in one piece), and some others will help them along. Oh, and there is the Pudge connection. I find them to be a fascinating team to kinda-sorta follow. I think they’re due for a huge improvement this year. Unfortunately for them, 10 games under .500 would qualify as a huge improvement (kinda like 2004 for us).

  9. [Singing, in best Madonna voice]:

    Borderline … feels like I’m goin’ to lose my mind
    You just keep on throwin’ pitches over the borderline . . .

  10. Lovely smorgasbord today –obviously, more entertaining than watching the game itself. Keep it up & I won’t have to watch any baseball at all this year. In the same random vein…

    –The “Navy Parade” isn’t a hat –it’s a screensaver you wear on your head. To keep those dangerous six inches from falling out.

    –Space Coast sez: If Kennedy is ‘scrappy’ then Eckstein is ‘scooby.’ Rrrike rrhree!

    –Announcers say ‘Mudhen’ whenever possible because it’s inherently funny-sounding. Relevence not required –not when you have to fill air-time during Nats games. The modern equivalent (for those who don’t remember the ’27 Yanks) is ‘Lugnut.’

    –Speaking of funny words: No one can pronounce ‘Dlugach,’ not even his momma. Please, RoT, fire up the nickname-generator so we can all talk about him.

  11. I too watched that game yesterday. I would have killed to have Rod and Mario instead. Alas, it looks like I will have to wait til Monday for such luxuries.

  12. David O. (13194013)

    Greatest spring recap ever!

  13. I’ve been pronouncing Dlugach as ‘loo-gack’, which is probably way off, but for some reason it makes me laugh so I’ll probably keep on doin’ it.

  14. Swampy, re: new and interesting ways to lose a game, also sort of like the Tigers in ’03, right? That was always exciting and fun in a horrific way.

    rea, ha ha, EXACTLY.

    pocoloco, YES, a screensaver! That is exactly what it looks like! One step down from flying toasters to that hat.

    And did you know that a mudhen is actually a COOT? Which is equally glorious to say.

    David O, if only every game could be so sadly and earnestly narrated to us! Erm.

    PfP, so you’re keeping the D entirely silent? Heh.

  15. What an enjoyable read, even days after the fact when I already knew the ending.

    Randomly, if you say “mudhen” to an Air Force type they are likely to think F-15 (although it beats me why they are called such). Would be an option for Toledo if they ever decide they need to do that mascot fierceness makover thing, as opposed to the usual practice which would produce a very angular, angry looking coot head.

    And look up Nyjer Morgan’s bio sometime. He durn near became a pro hockey player, so I think a bit of basepath contact wouldn’t disturb him too much.

    And the correct line is supposed to be something like “the most dangerous 6 inches on a man’s body is the space between his ears,” which actually makes sense, and is good comedy in that “omigod he’s not gonna say…” sort of way.

    The “most dangerous 6 inches between a man’s ears” implies a head span that could accomodate more than one 6 inch segment…and somehow I just realized that I, too, miss Polanco…

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