Category Archives: Bondo

The triumphant return.

Who got the win with a three-inning relief pitching effort (very) late last night?

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Welcome back, Jeremy Bonderman.

here’s a depressing thought

That may have been the last Tigers start that we will ever see from Jeremy Bonderman.

Nine earned runs, 6 hits, 4 walks, one K. Sixty-seven pitches in 4.1 innings pitched. And the loss, of course, setting his record for the season at 8-10.

Remember, this is the kid who was thrown into the boiling pot of horror that was the 2003 season with only 27 games at the high-A level under his belt. He had never played college ball. He hadn’t played a full four seasons of high school baseball. He wasn’t supposed to even be up in double-A yet. But the situation was so dire that the Tigers called him up to start in the big leagues.

He survived that, Paws knows how, for he was not yet old enough to legally drown his sorrows in alcohol. He hung around until injuries turned him into a zombie. Even then he kept pitching through the pain until it was too much to be ignored. He was infested with a parasite that made it impossible for him to pitch a quality first inning, and he faced that parasite squarely in its parasitical face. It took for-freaking-ever, but he got the better of it in the end.

The 2010 season was his 8th, all of them with Detroit. He is one of a very few current Tigers who have seen the team at its modern worst (’03) and its modern-era best (’06). We have, quite literally, seen him grow up on our team.

Think about that.

Now reflect upon the fact that this 4.1 inning derp of a start may have been his last in a Tigers uniform.

Heck, he was talking about retirement for a little bit. There is a (small) chance that this was the last start we will see from Jeremy Bonderman, EVER.

Sadface… forever. :(

(Kind of makes the loss in the second game– where FredFred at least looked messily tolerable and the offense was just weaksauce– seem insignificant.)

(Of course it’s all insignificant at this point, really, but, you know… even more so. In comparison.)

Forget everything you know about spelling: Jhonny Peralta is a Tiger.

The fact that Jhonny Peralta is now a Tiger is notable for two reasons:

— The amazing wandering H.

— His head is naturally shaped like a near-perfect sphere, instantly making him the Tiger closest in form to a Real Life Terrible Cartoon.

Aside from those two most vital factors, he was acquired because the Tigers urgently, desperately need infielders who are not raw untried kittens. Jhonny is not someone who can propel the team back into high spirits and contention with his bat, but he IS a veteran. It’s actually kind of sad to see him leave the Racist Logos (if we can feel any emotions for the Racist Logos that are not ‘disgust’ and ‘disdain’ and similar). He had been with them for his entire career, including his initial signing.

To get him the Tigers had to give up Giovanni Soto, another awkward spelling (given the fact that there is already a ‘Geovany’ Soto in the league).

Game? What game? This is all I can concentrate on, obviously.

Well, alongside one more thing: Jeremy Bonderman’s thoughts on retirement.

“(Owner Mike Ilitch) and the Tigers’ organization have given me an opportunity to provide for my family really well, and I feel like I’ve saved a lot of money and I have the ability to be able to do what I want — whether it’s be with my kids every day or go on fishing trips with my dad or brothers,” he [Bonderman] said in the clubhouse at Tropicana Field. “At times I love it. At times I’m like, ‘Man.’ “

“I feel I have a lot left,” Bonderman said. “If I really want to play, I can play. I’m just kind of thinking about it. I don’t know if it’s what I’m going to do.”
Vince Ellis/Detroit Free Press

Bondo. Kiddo, we need to talk. For one thing, this was only ever intended as a Terrible Cartoon joke, not a reality to which you should aspire. Maybe we should have clarified that?

For another thing, you are twenty-freakin-seven years old. You really want to retire at 27? I know you probably DO have enough money to comfortably do it, assuming you were smart with it and don’t plan to spend the rest of your life living lavishly above your means, which doesn’t really seem like your kinda thing anyways. Well, you probably bought some asinine car. Aside from that.

But what are you going to do with yourself? Sit around the house all day? Not to be rude, Bondo, but what other skills, exactly, do you have? Hunting season is not year-round, and you can only go fishing so often.

And: look. Unless your home fishing grounds are on the Gulf, the fish will still be there five, ten, fifteen years from now.

thanks cats for the bats

cartoon by Samara Pearlstein

The Monday game was not a game for the pitchers. Andy Oliver lasted 1.2 innings, but his nemesis-for-the-day, Kevin Millwood, only lasted 1. Messy all ’round. So it was a good thing that the bat-bearing cats remembered how to hit… as opposed to Sunday, where I am fairly certain Cliff Lee put a magnet in the ball, and he secretly/evilly embedded magnets with that same polarity facing out in all the Tigers’ bats, making it almost physically impossible for the bat to actually touch the ball, unless Brennan Boesch was involved. But that’s just because Brennan Boesch defies the laws of nature.

On Monday, practically everybody had hits. Except for Brennan Boesch. But that was because the Orioles were terrified of him and decided to just walk him as many times as possible (4). This strategy might have seemed logical, especially with Boesch batting fifth (not third or fourth), but the Orioles failed to take into account the fact that the batters behind Boesch were Carlos Guillen and BRANDON INGE, HERO OF OUR TIMES. Both of these cats went 3-for-4. Carlos had 3 RBI. Inge had 4 RBI, with two doubles.

Yes. FOUR RBI for Brandon Inge. So beautiful. So, so beautiful. Even against the Orioles.

You don’t disrespect Brandon Inge. You just don’t. You might see that he’s batting .266, you think it’s safe to mess around with him, but Brandon Inge keeps his numbers deliberately low so that opposing teams won’t expect his deadly attacks. If this seems counter-intuitive to you, it’s only because you don’t have the far-seeing genius of Brandon Inge.

I’m not sure what the deal with Andy Oliver was. I know that he’s but a kitten and these things will happen, he’s still developing as a pitcher, etc, but I do wonder if the heat had anything to do with it. Paws knows I barely function in full sun, in that kind of heat. Maybe Mr. Oliver is similar.

As for the game on the 4th, I didn’t see most of it, but by all accounts there were some really awful calls in there, and that was what set Bondo off into a very legitimate rage. Bondo’s not the kind of guy who goes popping off at every tiny imagined slight, as I think we all know by now. In fact I think the last time I saw him get seriously, deranged-ly riled up was the epic Farnsworth vs. Royals brawl, where he had to be physically restrained by a series of teammates and coaches… including Juan Samuel! Who is now managing the Orioles!

Anyways, my point, inasmuch as I had one, was just that Bondo doesn’t generally get all demonstrative unless there’s a damn good reason, and this latest little incident is no exception. Strikes right down the center of the plate were being called balls when Bondo was throwing them. I don’t think it was happening to Lee…

Why does this kind of thing keep happening to the Tigers this season? What have we done to so thoroughly piss off the umpires? Jim Joyce, Gary Cederstrom, and now this? It’s getting ridiculous. It is one thing to have suspect umpiring all across the board, everyone makes mistakes sometimes, etc., but the Tigers have been getting SO SLAMMED lately. Baffling and irritating.

there’s a new wee Cabrera in the world today

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

It’s a girl! Miguel Cabrera had stayed home for this Seattle trip so that he could be with his very pregnant wife, and today it was announced near the start of the game that wee Isabella Cabrera has joined us. Congratulations to Miggy and to Rosangel (and Rosangel Jr, who gets a new baby sister outta the whole deal).

As we haven’t heard otherwise, we may happily assume that both mom and baby are doing well, so hopefully Miggy will be rejoining the team with a spring in his step and a smile on his face. If that translates to more good hitting, awesome. If it just translates to enthusiastic feel-good noogies of Brandon Inge in the dugout, that’s cool too.

We could use some feel-good noogies, because do you know what I hate? I hate losing series to one of the three worst teams in the AL. Even if it’s a stupid miniature two game series (and WHAT is up with all the two game series lately?), it’s still no good.

Here is a thing that I wonder about: Bondo today had thrown 93 pitches through 7 innings, didn’t look completely horrific, and was not sent out for the 8th. If I’m remembering correctly, Verlander had thrown 98 through 7 last night, still looked pretty good, and WAS sent out for the 8th. This is AFTER Jim Leyland made those statements about watching Justin’s pitch counts more closely. WHAT GIVES? I’m starting to feel like this whole thing is a set-up to infuriate me personally. I’m only paranoid because you made me this way, Mr. Leyland.

More things from this latest game:

–Brennan Boesch came over into foul territory chasing an Ichiro ball on the first defensive Tigers play of the game. He made the catch right at the short (knee-high-ish on him) wall, went right over into the stands. Onto the cement! My reaction was to clap my hands over my mouth and issue muffled shrieks. There may or may not have been a reflexive “Brandon Inge!” in there. Anyways, there is a stairway pole right there, he might have hit the back of his head on it, and of course his shoulders/back took a hit as he went down. He held onto the ball and got right back up again, though. It was very impressive and was the start of Ichiro’s 0-for-5 day.

–The most ridiculous play of the game came with one out in the bottom of the 2nd. Josh Bard hit one back to the mound. Bondo knocked it down, then couldn’t pick it up with his bare hand. He finally got it and fired it into deep right foul territory, sending Tigers scrambling after it. Meanwhile Bard had tweaked a hamstring or something out of the box and was hobbling around first, barely making it into second. He was slow and looked really bad, but after stretching tried to claim he was ok, only Don Wakamatsu was having none of it and took him out of the game. Just a hideous play all ’round.

–Rod Allen spent ages talking about how hard it is to turn a double play on Ichiro because of his speed and bat control. Then Ichiro hit into an inning-ending double play. Rod whistles and says, “I see you, middle infielders!”

–There was a sign on the wall behind the batter all game announcing the fact that June 4 is “Felix Hernandez Train Night”. I had no idea what that was, but it sounded awesome, so I looked it up. Apparently the Mariners have been doing a collectible toy train car series since 2000. So previous years’ giveaways have been the JJ Putz Flamethrower Express, the Adrian Beltre A-Train, the Boonie Box Car, etc. This year is the Felix Hernandez High Octane Gas Company train car. This is, just as it initially seemed, incredibly awesome.

–After Bondo finished the 7th, the camera focused on him getting congratulated by the team in the dugout. His hat wasn’t on, so Rod and Mario started talking about his ‘mohawk’. As we were watching, Brandon Inge came up, made pincers out of his fingers, and ran them over Bondo’s mohawk channel. I’m not sure how else to describe this gesture to someone who didn’t see it, but holy cats, you guys, I died on the spot, only to be immediately resurrected for continued lulz. I mean, the gesture itself, and the TIMING of it, right as Rod and Mario were having this big conversation about mohawks and players keeping them for luck and whatnot. Too glorious.

Then they start talking about the fact that Phil Coke loves his mohawk, ‘wears it spiked up and everything’. This team!

–I was screaming at the TV while Ryan Perry was messing things up, “RYAN PERRY DON’T YOU DARE. DON’T YOU DARE RUIN THIS FOR BONDO.” He did it anyways. Ryan Perry, if only you would listen to me! Your professional life would be greatly improved!

–Franklin Gutierrez had another pretty good day. Side-eye at that dude.

–Ichiro threw Ryan Raburn out at home, by a ton, early in the game. Raburn really should have known better. It’s ICHIRO, man, his arm is not an unknown factor! I know what he can do, the people in the crowd know what he can do, people watching the game at whatever’o’clock over in Japan know what he can do, Scott Pickens’ dog knows what he can do. You know this, Mr. Raburn. Listen to your heart.

Unless your heart is telling you to run on Ichiro. Then you just tell that heart to get bent. But not literally, because we don’t need another injury right now.

This has nothing to do with the Tigers but it is AMAZING: Sean Rodriguez, Tampa Bay Ray, was stung by a real-life ray. This is REAL LIFE, people.

A few steps…later, he saw something flash through the water and felt something on his right heel.

“I actually thought it was a catfish at first, that it grazed me. I didn’t think much of it,” Rodriguez said. “And then I got out of the water, and I was like whoooaaaa.”

Shortstop Jason Bartlett and his 1-year-old son Jaden were with the Rodriguezes and lent an handy assist.

“He heard me screaming and he goes, ‘What got you?’ and I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know,’ ” Rodriguez said. “I was coming out of the water and there was just straight blood shooting out, like a straight line.”
Marc Topkin/St Petersburg Times

As people all over the internet have been pointing out, he may well be the first baseball player to be attacked by the real version of his own team namesake in the wild. Amazing, amazing. I am in amaze. This story is fantastic.

(He’s fine, for the record. Presumably, so is the ray.)

Bondo frolicks with baseball

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I enjoy it when the starting pitcher frolicks merrily with the baseball. Especially when that pitcher has had a rather, shall we say, checkered relationship with said baseball in the past. Regardless of what has gone before, they are the best of friends right now, and it is so good to see.

I don’t even care that he wasn’t wicked incredibly efficient. This is Jeremy Bonderman, after all– not Justin Verlander. He has his own special set of pitching issues.

There’s nothing quite like walking the bases loaded, and then hitting a batter to score a run. That’s, you know, pretty bad pitching. Like ‘an example we should show the minor leaguers to scare them into doing their homework’ kind of bad. Eat your broccoli, children, or you too will have an inning like Bondo’s third today.

But he overcame that inning. Unbelievably, he did not issue another base on balls after that third-inning-RBI-HBP. It’s as if he just totally lost the feel for the ball, then stepped back, took a deep breath, and willed himself back on track. We have been almost as concerned with the mental aspect of Bondo’s game as we have been with his variety of physical issues. So this was stupidly, amazingly encouraging to see.

Pitching that makes RotT happy two days in a row? I dunno if that can possibly last, but by Paws! I will suck all the enjoyment out of it while I can.

Tigers split the double header, the bullpen splits some hairs, Ryan Raburn just splits.

Raburn sez HARUMPH, photo by Samara Pearlstein

splitting the DH
I only saw bits and pieces of the games, but with the exception of the 9th inning of the second game, what I did see was mostly good. Rick Porcello was excellent in the afternoon matchup and Bondo was solid in the night game. Both seemed alert and rested and on/near the top of their respective pitching games. Neither showed any signs of DontrelleFlu or ScherzerShakiness. FredFred was living for the ground ball; Bondo was loving the K. The Tigers badly needed both starters to step up, and they both did that very thing. How unaccustomedly satisfying.

Jackson, TDamon, Magglio, Miggy, Boesch, and Santiago played in both games, although Magglio DHed in the first and TDamon DHed in the second– of all these, only Santiago was 0-for-the-day (with a walk). Laird caught Porcello, Avila caught Bondo (so G-Money will probably catch Verlander on Thursday).

Jim Leyland actually admitted that he probably let Phil Coke go too long (35 pitches, 9 batters faced). Rod Allen said, of Robinson Cano: “I didn’t realize Robbie was that thick!” While Figaro was pitching (badly) in the 9th, some dude in the stands screamed, “FERNANDO!!” It was a day filled with wonder and majesty. Yes, the Yankees won the second game. They won it, essentially, off of Coke and Figaro and Phil Hughes’ performance on their end. It could have been so much worse. Overall the team is pleased with the day, and so I shall attempt to cultivate a sense of mild satisfaction as well.

splitting hairs
Because this team is a bunch of idiot manchildren and they were stuck in the ballpark all day, during the break between games, something like half the team acquired mohawks. Yes, you read that correctly.

Of course Traitor Damon already had one, but now everyone in the bullpen does (maybe? I don’t think I saw Valverde, Bonine, or Thomas, and I don’t even know if Figaro has enough hair to cut into a mohawk. Definitely Zoom, Perry, Coke, and Ni (!!!) though.) Alex Avila also has a mohawk– more of a scalp landing strip. Bondo has one, even though it’s about a centimeter high. Asked about it after the game, he said that he just walked in and saw the other guys doing it, so he figured he’d get in on that. He also said that they were bored, and that he would keep it for a while.

Phil Coke got defensive about his mohawk, saying emphatically that he didn’t care what anyone else thought of it. It is clear that he misses the mullet and still regrets getting that haircut after being teased about it. FSND was making jokes about it being the worst mohawk on the team, but the most worrying thing about it, really, is the fact that Coke’s newly exposed scalp portions are scary-white compared to his face and rest of his head-skin. The hair itself is but an afterthought to this disturbing development.

Maybe a few of the other guys have them too, it was hard to see with the hats and whatnot. So far as I can tell, it just started as a doofy bullpen thing and expanded a little when other impressionable, peer-pressure-able, incredibly bored ballplayers wandered by and saw what was happening.

Illustration to come as soon as someone can confirm for me who does or does not have the new ‘do. At least in the bullpen.

Raburn splits
Not voluntarily, of course. But Ryan Raburn was sent packing to Toledo early Wednesday. Between the double header situation and the Dontrelle sickness situation (he’s now saying he thinks it is/was a bad sinus infection), more pitching was badly needed in Detroit, and Figaro needed a spot on the roster. Raburn hadn’t made much of a case for himself with his bat; although he is hitting better than Adam Everett and both catchers, that doesn’t say much, and Brennan Boesch had made him look like a feebly flailing weakling in comparison to Boesch’s (almost certainly unsustainable) bulging might.

Still, you have to feel kind of bad. He’d made the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. With uncertainty in the outfield and at second, the Tigers made all this noise about Bench Player Versatility, and Raburn must have thought he had finally found a way to stick. Now this. Harsh.

I’m not sure how long Figaro will stay up. The extra arm will definitely be needed through the weekend, but beyond that… who knows? It might depend on Dontrelle’s health or Scherzer’s continued efforts to figure out this mysterious ‘American League’ thing once and for all. Then again it might just depend on how irritable Jim Leyland has gotten from tobacco deprivation at any particular time. We– and Raburn– can only wait and see.

rain buddies

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Both have been pushed back due to rain: Rick Porcello was supposed to pitch on Tuesday but got rained out, while Bondo made his last start, but it didn’t count because it was called before it went official. Now the two stormy petrels will pitch on the same day, as the Tigers try to get in a Wednesday double header. FredFred will pitch the 1 pm game, Bondo will get the 7 pm start.

Every single reliever, with the exception of Fu-Te Ni, pitched in Monday night’s game. In light of that, a rainout Tuesday might not have been such a bad thing. If, Paws forbid, FredFred had gone off the rails, there would have been very little in the way of bullpen cushioning available to him. The extra day of not-pitching will make things a little easier on him.

Hopefully he will respond by pitching so well that he doesn’t need the bullpen at all, but, you know, we must be prepared for these things. Just in case.

Bondo just needs to get his act together. Pretty simple. GET IT TOGETHER, BONDO. Actually, I blame his tattoos for everything. They are so terrible in so many different ways that they are infecting the rest of his life with Fail. O Bondo, what a tragic life decision that turned out to be.

Separate, the rain may weaken them. But now the rain has brought them together! (temporally) Together they are more mighty than they ever could be apart. May the Yankees tremble in parched fear.

Bondo thanks the rain.

more or less unrelated illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Did Jeremy Bonderman completely melt down in Friday night’s game? Yes.

Does it matter? The game got rained out before it was official, so… no.

Of course that’s a technical truth and an actual lie; while the results from Friday have been stricken from all baseball records, the fact of Bondo’s struggles remains, a particularly stubborn smell hovering persistently in the air. Garlic, maybe. Or skunk. Something pungent and resistant to dispersal.

I’m not precisely sure what to do with the stench of Bondo’s latest performance. I assume that the weather was kind of nasty even before the game was called (I didn’t see it– feel free to correct me if this was not the case), so maybe the cold/damp just had a negative impact on him, this is just a fluke, nothing to worry about, etc. But it’s his second Really Startlingly Bad outing of the season (alongside his 4-inning, 10-run effort on April 16 in Seattle). He has only had two quality starts out of the five games he’s pitched so far (if this one had counted, it would have been 2 out of 6), and he has yet to go more than 6 innings in any game this season.

You got lucky this time, Bondo, with the rain. It may not be recorded as such, but we all KNOW you were out there struggling it up. Armando is ready and waiting. Just keep that in mind.

Inge hits the stitches off the ball, and other doodle tales

doodle by Samara Pearlstein

You know what’s annoying? When you’re doodling cartoons during the game, planning to get something to use in the post, and one by one the Tigers go through and invalidate each of your doodles as you finish them. It’s like they WANT to be unpredictable and annoying to bloggers. Would it be so bad to start the game playing well, and just… maintain that for the entire length of the game? Would that really be so terrible?

Like tonight: I started out with an Austin Jackson action figure (props to Rod Allen’s ‘Action Jackson’), because he had a couple of hits and seemed like he’d deserve a drawing. Then Inge went yard, and Miggy started piling up hits, and Jackson’s game didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

So I started a doodle of Jeremy Bonderman frolicking with a happy baseball. Bondo was perfect through 3.2 and that was broken up by a Josh Hamilton singleshot homer, which isn’t so terrible in the grand scheme of things. It was looking like his second good outing in a row. It seemed appropriate. Of course then Bondo put a couple of guys on in the 5th and uncorked an incredibly wild pitch that scored a run… then he loaded the bases in the 6th, madness ensued, Zoom had to come on in the middle of the inning, etc. Another doodle negated.

I was too scared to doodle Zoom, lest the bad doodle mojo strike him down mid-pitch.

THEN I started doodling a Coke can with Phil Coke’s facial hair, which, OK, was probably a mistake in the first place, but how was I to know that Phil Coke would blow the save? I know he got the W at the end of the day, I know he wasn’t ~technically~ tagged with any runs, but he inherited loaded bases and let two of them score, which was totally mean to Zoom, so… no can for today.

Finally, after BRANDON INGE’S SECOND HOME RUN OF THE GAME, I figured he was a safe enough doodle bet, and the hastily rendered image up top there is the result. I swear to Paws, if he had committed an error in the bottom of the 9th or something, I would have just thrown down my pen in rage and you would have had to deal with another lazy-day photo.

Now the Tigers go home (yay!) to play the Twinkies (…eek). They won 5 games on the 11-game Wrong Coast road trip, which is obviously not great, but is also not as terrible as it could have been. I guess? They’re still over .500 (by a sliver), and they actually have the 5th-best record in the AL right now. Weird. Anyways, as frustrating as things have been, they could have been much worse. So let’s concentrate on getting those hamstrings restrung, let’s enjoy the fact that we’ve escaped utter destruction so far, and let’s start playing some cleaner baseball (Justin, FredFred).

Those Twinkies aren’t going to eat themselves, you know.