of spitballs and other things

illustrations and photos by Samara Pearlstein

Holy cats you guys, Papa Grande might be throwing a spitball! Or maybe he isn’t! Or maybe he is but it doesn’t matter because everyone is doing that, or something even more sinister! Or maybe he’s the worst cheater this side of Roger Clemens’ left buttcheek!

To me, it sure looks like he’s spitting into his glove in that video linked above (if it’s still up), but I’m not so sure that I particularly care. I suppose I have been assuming that this– or something similar– is a tactic used by, if not every pitcher, at least some number of pitchers on every team, thus leaving us with a more or less level spit-slicked playing field. Perhaps I am simply being a homer about this, because it’s Papa Grande and I adore his crazy eyes and his crazy goggles and his crazy dances and his lawn sprinkler pre-pitch routine and his high socks and his potato-shaped body, and if this was a discussion surrounding Chris Perez or somesuch I would be less sanguine about it.

Here is a true fact: if we accept that, given the high stakes assigned to it (financial if nothing else), there will always be some sort of cheating in baseball, I would much rather see that cheating revolve around mechanical doctoring of the baseball by pitchers, as opposed to biochemical doctoring of the players themselves. You can argue about the level of dishonesty involved in each variety of deceit, but only one is likely to end with high school kids landing in the hospital, veteran players with sudden tendon explosions, and/or the zombie apocalypse– and it ain’t the spitball.

Did you get a good look at the blister that curtailed Drew Smyly’s last start? Holy cats. That wasn’t a small affair; we’re talkin’ about a massive blood-filled hellbeast of pocketed fluid and Paws knows what else, camping out on Smyly’s finger like some sort of glowering, malignant parasitic squatter. Jim Leyland said it was “the worst one I’ve seen in my life“.

Don’t read the rest of that linked article if you’re squeamish, by the way. There’s one passage, with Smyly describing the hellbeast’s development, that definitely made me cringe a bit.

I don’t know what they do with this thing– lance it? Blast it with radiation? Exorcise it? In any event, it’ll be something to keep an eye on, as blisters tend to recur. I know this from my learnings and from living in a place where Josh Beckett is employed.

Remember when the Tigers got so fed up with Ryan Raburn’s complete inability to play the game of baseball, and the fans’ increasingly strident reactions to all things Raburnian, that they finally struck him from the roster and shipped him out to Purgatory/Toledo? In some ways, this was a victory: Raburn had seemed entrenched in Detroit for basically no good reason, and before you start in with me about Brandon Inge, at least Brandon Inge had a significant history with the team, and even if that’s a BAD reason to hang onto a dude, it is a real thing that you cannot fairly ignore. OK, SHUT UP.

In other ways, this was a move that failed to deliver its expected rewards. The team did not start winning immediately, the lineup did not suddenly start producing run after endless run, and the removal of one black hole of production served only to highlight the presence of others. Oh well.

We can still acknowledge the fact that Ryan Raburn is just, like, this basic bench-type dude who played sort of well for a couple of years, and has been real bad ever since. He’s batting .154 in Toledo right now, by the by. Brandon Inge meanwhile is batting .364 over the last week and has 26 RBIs, which is better than every single Tiger on the current roster not named Prince Fielder or Miguel Cabrera. I’m just sayin’.

Speaking of Prince and Miggy, have you seen their batting averages lately? The Super Best Friends are skipping right along together, and it is so beautiful to behold. SOMEHOW this has not translated into much winning of late, but if they keep this up, surely it will… it has to. HOLD FAST TO THIS BELIEF.

Unrelated to everything, but I was recently in Miami, and had a chance to take in the new ballpark. There is a great deal that could be written about it (and maybe I will at some point), but for now suffice to say that one of its features is a BOBBLEHEAD MUSEUM. It’s just standing there in the middle of the concourse, and some mechanism inside jiggles its shelves a little so that all the displayed bobbleheads do in fact bobble. It is spectacular.

A few of the Tigers bobbleheads, including the famous RotT Placido Polanco bobble.

Wrong uniform, but still a glorious bobblehead.

A completely terrifying Austin Jackson bobblehead. WHY IS IT LIKE THAT?


I have no good way to conclude this mess of a blog post, so here’s Prince Fielder in Boston, catching sight of the camera and being more adorable than puppies.

9 responses to “of spitballs and other things

  1. Did you see Smyly post a picture of it on twitter, too! MY EYES!

  2. Oh, also, “strident reaction to things Raburnian.” Ha, loved it.

  3. So, you know I am a completely homer-y Tigers homer, and whilst watching the ninth inning I totally and definitely thought, “Did Papa Grande just spit into his glove?” He does often bring his glove up to his face as part of his elaborate pre-pitch routine, does he not?

    • Yeah, but lots of guys bring their gloves up to their faces at some point in their pre-pitch routines. It was the fact that he looked like he was actually spitting into it (which you can see in the video). Again… not that I’m overly bothered by this…

  4. There is a BOBBLEHEAD MUSEUM! Not just in some guy’s basement. A real one, in a ballpark. I can kind-of understand the Marlins having a Marlin Bobblehead Museum. But they have everybody in it! How cool! This is why Roar of the Tigers is one of the best blogs on the Internet. You find out things you will never learn anywhere else.

    Also, the cartoons.

  5. I just wish you wrote more often. Your posts never fail to bring a wry knowing smile to my face.

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