Category Archives: Brandon Inge

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.

the complete Verlander


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

There it is! The Verlander performance for which we have all been waiting! He threw 116 pitches, yes, but he managed to stretch those out over A WHOLE NINE INNINGS. Justin Verlander! Was! Efficient!

Finally! Finally! FINALLY! PRAISE BE TO PAWS!

I cannot overstate my happiness with this Verlanderian performance. Dallas Braden pitched a good game, so it was imperative that Verlander be great and not merely piddlingly good. He stepped right up to the task on little kitty paws and extended his little kitty claws and tore the hell out of the Athletics. Just blood everywhere. Then he cleaned his paws off by licking them, as all cats do, while Ryan Sweeney stood there crying.

Actually I’m not really sure where I was going with that, but I guess you can take it as my overall impression of the game.

I was sort of taking notes until I started falling asleep, but one of them said 68-69 pitches for Justin through 6!!!!!!! Obviously I was pretty excited by that. Now, I wasn’t paying super close attention to the pitch selection, but I did note that Justin was striking guys out at a much, uh, gentler rate than usual. I’m sure the Oakland hitters were helping him out some, but he did not seem to be living as squarely in the hit-it-or-die section of the strikezone as he has in the recent past. This was a good thing! Fewer pitches in that zone = fewer fouled-off balls = fewer endless at-bats = efficient Verlander = complete game victory = happy RotT.

Other things:

–Brandon Inge shaved off his mohawk. It seems this is not a hairstyle that many Tigers can stomach for too long. ALSO IT WAS BRANDON INGE’S BIRTHDAY TODAY. He turned 33 years ancient.

–Dallas Braden has one of those hipster tattoos of a mustache on the side of his forefinger, so when he holds his finger up under his nose it makes a fake mustache. Rod and Mario were laughingly incredulous.
Mario: “Now, would YOU go to the trouble of getting a tattoo on your finger, just so you could do that?”
Rod: “Never.”

–I also noticed that Braden had ripped out a section of fabric from the front and center of his undershirt collar. Pretty sure this was done to obliterate the Nike swoosh that usually lives there, and if so… well done, Mr. Braden. Continue the fight against insidious logo creep.

–The first run of the game for anybody came in the top of the 7th, with a Brandon Inge leadoff home run of infinite glory. The game was scoreless for six innings, that’s how wicked the pitching was all ’round.

–Danny Worth, of all cats, was 3-for-3.

–The A’s did not manage to get a single extra-base hit against Verlander. None of them had more than one hit on the night.

–Rajai Davis was wearing his socks up. They’re dark green low stirrups with yellow sanis, and he has a yellow A’s logo on the outsides of his ankles. Pretty sharp. Little white or orange Olde English Ds on the ankles of high Tiger socks would be sweet.

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.

Max Scherzer’s disapproving glare


heterochromic disapproval by Samara Pearlstein

If you didn’t see this game, you might think that Scherzer had a real crummy day. But it’s a lie. A FILTHY BOX SCORE LIE. Scherzer actually looked OK. Overpowering? No. But he was fine. He was also CRUELLY VICTIMIZED by one really, really bad error.

OK. Top of the fourth. Two outs. Man on third. Game tied at two. Jose Guillen, who was already driving Scherzer crazy with wicked long at-bats all day, at the plate. Scherzer had been struggling a bit– he had allowed both tying runs earlier in the same inning– but the count was full on Guillen. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Guillen hits a pop fly to the first base side.

Easy enough, right? Miguel Cabrera comes over. Ambles over. He’s just sort of trotting. He sticks his glove out casually. He catches it, the inning is over. WAIT BUT NO. The ball clanks off the heel of his glove. Miggy closes his glove on empty air. The ball drops to the ground. He’s charged with an error and the at-bat continues.

Guillen fouls off one more pitch, then launches a home run. Just like that it’s 4-2 Royals and Max Scherzer is a mess. In the next inning he would give up some vitals on his own throwing error, but in my mind it all comes down to that Miggy play in the fourth.

It just KILLS ME how casual Cabrera was about sticking his glove up there. It was an easily catch-able ball, and he absolutely should have caught it. He WOULD have caught it if he’d treated it with the modicum of respect that every pop up deserves. But he loafed it, and the Royals immediately made the Tigers pay. KILLS ME. Gah.

ETA: If you couldn’t tell from the angrily disjointed writing, this game pissed me off something fierce. I can accept errors. Errors happen to the best of us (Brandon Inge). But this was such a stupid, avoidable error, and it could have been avoided not with additional skill (which, in some ways, you can’t fault a guy for not having), but with additional effort, which everyone on the field should be spewing forth at all times. If you just can’t do it, you just can’t do it, but if you don’t at least TRY to do it, you’re going to make for some angry bloggers.

There was one real positive, though: the aforementioned BRANDON INGE, who made an insane diving catch on a ball in this one. He flung himself full length over the infield grass, towards the mound. It was a real Superman pose, arms outstretched, body fully extended. He caught the ball, hit the ground, and got back up more or less unscathed. It was like magic, only more Brandon-Inge-y. One of the Freep photographers got a great shot. Go forth and marvel.

People aspire to be Brandon Inge: FACT!


photo by Samara Pearlstein

I know I just posted, but I read this in today’s Boston Globe and started making happy dolphin noises out loud, which I figure means that I absolutely have to share it with you cats.

The article is about Koby Clemens (son of the infamous Roger), who is an infielder/catcher in the Houston Astros system. Behold.

The organizational hope for the younger Clemens is that he’ll be the next Brandon Inge. [Astros assistant GM Ricky] Bennett worked for the Tigers when Inge was a young player, and when he looks at Clemens, he sees the same skills.

“I’ve talked a lot to him about Inge,’’ said Bennett. “He came up as a shortstop and then we moved him to catcher and then he got moved to third and the outfield.

Clemens is just fine with the Inge comparisons.

“If I could ever be a player like Brandon Inge and play in the big leagues, that could be a dream come true for me,’’ Clemens said. “That’s what this is all about.
Nick Cafardo/Boston Globe

THE NEXT BRANDON INGE. You guys. You guys. This means that Brandon Inge has become a goal. People aspire to Brandon Ingedom! The Astros’ ORGANIZATIONAL HOPE is for Brandon Ingedom to be achieved! I mean, there are loads of young ballplayers who would love to become The Next Albert Pujols or The Next Pudge Rodriguez or The Next Mariano Rivera… even The Next Roger Clemens, But Without the Steroids and General Odiousness This Time Around. But The Next Brandon Inge!

More specifically, the fact that Roger Clemens’ kid would consider Brandon Ingedom to be “a dream come true” is inexplicably but undeniably hilarious to me.

Good luck with your dreams, wee Clemens! If you work hard and develop spectacular defensive skills and cultivate a sense of humor to cope with your small stature and grow some highly suspect facial hair, maybe– just MAYBE– you can one day be as glorious and blog-beloved as Brandon Inge.

Brandon Inge: too annoying to heal slowly. Miguel Cabrera: dry.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

When I say ‘annoying’, I say it fondly. Just for the record.

As dedicated Brandon Inge fans (and that should be all of you, of course) already know, everyone’s favorite tiny third baseman had his knees sliced up this past November. He’s on the tail end of his recovery right now, and is supposed to be taking it slow in Lakeland. No real playing the field. No dives or sharp turns. All things gentle and kind to the patellar region.

Of course, this IS Brandon Inge we’re talking about…

Not long after Brandon Inge underwent surgery on his knees last fall, he asked the doctor what the record was for the fastest rehab back from that kind of procedure.

“He said, ‘Knock it off, I know what you’re trying to do,'” Inge said. “I was going to prove him wrong.”
Jason Beck/DetroitTigers.com

Brandon Inge does not like sitting around when he could be playing baseball, because when he’s not actually out there playing, he has to do things like THINK and FORM/RECALL MEMORIES and USE THE BRAIN BITS, and Brandon Inge hates that stuff. Hey, he knows what his weaknesses and strengths are, and he knows how to play to the latter. That’s a useful skill!

Haters to first base.

“I can tell you he’s not going to play every game, but he said he goes bananas when he doesn’t play, and he does,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s one of those guys that you’d rather play, because you don’t want him around here when he doesn’t play. He’s a pain in the butt when he doesn’t play.”
Jason Beck/DetroitTigers.com

He is still not playing the field, but he might be getting into some of these early games at DH, because his hitting has been coming along much more quickly than anyone had expected (with the exception of Brandon Inge himself). There has also been some mild noise out of ST about how much better his mechanics at the plate look now that he’s hitting without excruciating knee pain, but of course it’s early, not a real game, no real pressure, the usual.

The Detroit News’ Tom Gage sez: “On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most, the amount I’m surprised that Brandon Inge is ahead of schedule in his recovery from his knee surgeries is negative four.”

Agreed. Now, I do worry a LITTLE bit about Inge’s crazed, unyielding Need to Play, and how that might– MIGHT– cause him to come back too early and screw up his rehab in some small but at some point down the season’s line horribly significant way. And everyone will just let it happen, because we all kind of expect him to be ahead of schedule anyways. Just had to throw that little slice of RotT paranoia in there, lest you think I’m slipping.

In other news, Miguel Cabrera says that he’s sworn off all alcohol, and was never an alcoholic.

“You guys write in the paper ‘alcoholic,’ that’s not right,” Cabrera said. “I don’t know how to explain, but it’s not an alcohol problem.”
Steve Kornacki/MLive.com

Miggy, babe, it may not have been alcoholism, but it clearly WAS ‘an alcohol problem’. There was a problem, alcohol was a major factor. Actually there were a number of problems: drunk as hell the night before/day of a huge game, staying out ’til 5 am the night/early morning before a huge game, drunken altercation with Mrs. Cabrera, thinking it’s OK to pal around with Wrong Sox, and so on. So, whatever, a rose by any other name, etc.

If he really can stay away from the booze this year, it’ll be a good thing all ’round. He doesn’t need any distractions on the field, he doesn’t need legal issues off the field, he needs to make nice with his wife. He needs to understand the inherent evil of the Wrong Sox. His resolve now sounds good; let’s hope it sticks.

mysteries of the Detroit infield


digillustration by Samara Pearlstein

So the Phillies have signed Placido Polanco to a 3 year deal (option for a 4th year, when he will be 38 years old). To play third base.

You can take a moment to revel in the sheer WHAT of that, but when you’re done I think we need to talk about WHAT IN THE HOLY CATS ARE THE TIGERS GOING TO DO WITH THEIR INFIELD IN 2010?!

Catcher

The Tigers were rumored to be ‘shopping’, or at least open to potentially trading Gerald Laird, I guess because he’s probably going to make at least $3 million next year? OK. I don’t even want to think about this. He’s going to be 30 years old for the entire 2010 season, he hasn’t been unusually injury prone or anything (what, some small back spasms that didn’t land him on the DL?), he’s a great defensive catcher who gets insufficient credit for that because his bat was weak as hell this season.

No, he isn’t Joe Mauer, but you know what, we aren’t going to get Joe Mauer. JOE MAUER: NOT OURS. This is a Fact of Life, I have accepted it, I have digested it, I am over it. Yadier Molina: not ours. Also not ours: Pudge circa 2004, Bill Freehan circa 1974.

Could we find a catcher who would come cheaper than Gerald Laird? Yes, of freaking course we could, we could spend the season with a cheapity-cheap-cheap combination of Dusty Ryan and Alex Avila’s 5 o’clock shadow, and maybe they would sometimes hit, and maybe they would make some good throws on occasion or whatever, but they would not be as good defensively as Gerald Laird and they’re just children so they would not be as big a help with our pathetic pitching staff, which has issues, you know that it does, we love it anyways but our love is not enough to heal it.

G-MONEY 4EVA

(Don’t even bring up Brandon Inge. Don’t even. You don’t want to go there with me.)

First base

As of right now, Miguel Cabrera is our 2010 first baseman, but he too has been at the heart of a number of trade rumors this winter. This is because

a) he has an enormous contract ($20 million next year, then $106 million from 2011-2015. That is a lot of millions) and the Tigers, as they keep telling us over and over and OVER again, are trying to do something to reduce their payroll,

b) he was pretty much the only Tiger from ’09 to hit with something approaching consistency (good consistency, not, you know, consistently failing to get hits) and as such is one of the few Tigers who can be said to have real trade value without people laughing at us,

c) he got all mutually combative with his wife and she threw him out of the house because he came home drunk after partying with Wrong Sox players when he had potentially division-clinching games to play in the next two days and the police got involved and Dave Dombrowski had to pick him up from the police station really early in the morning, at which point Cabrera’s blood alcohol level was still quite elevated, and I’m sure none of this made Mr. Dombrowski real pleased with him,

d) and also because Lynn Henning likes trading away the entire team.

But let’s face it, Miggy is going to be 27 next year. He’s entering his prime. We just got him all nice and broken-in at first base. It’s going to be difficult to find someone else willing to take on his contract, and even if that happens, the Tigers will need to be offered something truly out-of-this-litter-box spectacular to make it so. It is unlikely to be made so. So, uh, there.

Third base

It will be Brandon Inge. He’s due $6.6 million in 2010 and he just had surgery on both knees at once. He is such an untradeable commodity that we can’t even call him a commodity, he’s just, like, THERE. Not that I consider this a bad thing, because I love Brandon Inge and eagerly await his 2010 resurgence, fueled entirely by hustle and determination and sugar-laden gum and bionic knees.

Look, you know that Detroit wants Inge to do well next year, he is the longest-tenured Tiger and it would be a good story, and there isn’t really much of anyone else to back him up. If you think they DIDN’T pump his knees full of self-repairing nanobots while they had the chance, well, I would just have to question your obvious baseball naïvité.

Second base

Scott Sizemore is allegedly the cat for the job. He is a few months older than me, he went to Brandon Inge’s college, he split last year between double-A and triple-A, hitting moderately well at both levels. He broke his ankle in the Arizona Fall League and has been recovering ever since. Allegedly it’s healing well and he hopes to be up to speed by the end of Spring Training.

He has not had a single at-bat at the Major League level and the Tigers are willing to entrust second base to him. I know it worked out OK for FredFred and it worked out… kind of horribly, actually, for Jeremy Bonderman, but that wasn’t immediately evident– anyways the point is that I’m not so sure this is a good idea for a position player.

I don’t know! I’m not a Scott Sizemore expert. Presumably the front office cats who are familiar with him have reasons for believing that this is a doable thing. I just worry. It’s what I do. If Sizemore’s ankle doesn’t end up being ready, or if he isn’t as competent as hoped right away, I’m not sure what the Tigers do. Is there a viable backup plan? (Just lie to me and say yes.)

Shortstop

HOLY CATS Y’ALL I HAVE NO IDEA

Try to get Adam Everett back after not offering him arbitration? Try to pick up some scrub and pair him up with Ramon Santiago all season long? Try to work a trade for someone random I can’t think of right now? Or dip into the unimpressive free agent pool?

Which would mean… go with someone old? I think all the free agent shortstops this winter are old. Like, over 30. Craig Counsell will be 39 years old, can he still walk? (Aside: I have a cactus named Craig Counsell. True story. He needs to be re-potted but I keep putting it off because it’s hard to re-pot a cactus.) Orlando Cabrera is 35 and I am pretty sure he’s a Type A guy. Bobby Crosby will only be 30 but he’s so injury-prone that his body is more like 78. The Red Sox probably just signed Marco Scutaro.

Shortstop is a huge, gaping hole for the Tigers right now. Combine that with the uncertainty about second base, and the possibility of (Paws forbid) Inge getting hurt again or something, and we are looking at a very unhappy situation with a lot of Tiger fan tears in the coming season.

Seriously, what are we doing for a shortstop? We aren’t really considering Ramon Santiago full time, right? Please, someone tell me that they have an idea that does not involve Ramon Santiago full time. Please.

pug marks, Nov. 5

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

pug mark 1

Brandon Inge’s knee surgery is successful. Yay! I am throwing confetti in the air. Metaphorical confetti. Throwin’ metaphors. Anyways, this was not a particularly risky surgery, but it’s still good to hear that it all went well, they didn’t discover any teratoma monsters living in his joints, Inge still has both of his knees more or less attached to his legs in approximately the right places, etc.

Now Mrs. Inge will have six weeks of dealing with an increasingly bored Brandon, as he’s not supposed to put any weight on either knee for that long. I predict a great many video games in his immediate future. My official blogger’s recommendation is to stay away from the Guitar Hero, though. That way madness lies.

pug mark 2

FredFred is the Tigers’ Rookie of the Year. Not the big one, the team version.

I don’t know about you cats, but I am SHOCKED. Shocked, I tell you. I never would have expected FredFred to win this award… I was totally expecting it to be, um… uh… Alex Avila and his 61 at-bats! Obviously Porcello richly deserved some recognition for the season he just had– 14 wins and a sub-4 ERA while he’s still too young to legally get drunk off his rump– but it’s not like this was a tight race with a veritable horde of Tigers rookies getting tons of playing time and all contributing mightily.

How cool would that have been, though? SIGH. Maybe in the future.

pug mark 3

Chris Getz was probably traded to the Royals, in exchange for Mark Teahen and Josh Fields. I say ‘probably’ because neither team has confirmed it as of right now (6 pm on Thursday), but it seems likely to get done.

Why should you care? Because it is good to root for former Wolverines in the Majors. But while Getz was on the Wrong Sox, it was quite difficult to root for him, because, well, you know: Wrong Sox. Sure, he’d still be going to a division rival, but I can gloss over Royalty for a Wolverine. Wrong Soxness is a much more potent state of evil, and thus much harder to ignore.

pug mark 4

The Cubs have just become the first major league sports franchise to have an openly gay owner. That would be Laura Ricketts, a lawyer, out lesbian, and member of the billionaire Ricketts Family, who (as a group) recently purchased the Cubs.

This doesn’t have anything to do with the Tigers, I just think it’s pretty freakin’ awesome.

pug mark 5

Chad Durbin’s team lost a game to some bunch of dudes. I guess it was kind of a big deal? I don’t know, I was only paying attention to Chad Durbin.

Brandon Inge will have his knees sliced up for the greater good.

Inge does the Ouch KneeBits Dance, photos by Samara Pearlstein

We all knew that Brandon Inge was hurting. We all knew about the patella tendonitis, THE DREAD MICROTEARS breeding like lemmings in his knees. Even though we also all knew about Inge’s ability to tolerate high levels of pain (remember how he played with the broken toe?), it seemed impossible that his knees could be in SUCH bad shape. After all, the Tigers played 163 games this year, and Inge played in 161 of them. Jim Leyland would rather eat his own cigarettes than see someone other than Inge playing third, even if Inge is literally hitting less than Miguel Cabrera’s body weight (true fact).

I know some of you lot were trying to get on Inge for that. WORST HITTAR EVARRRR, you said, foamy spittle flying from your rabid, ravening jaws. But y’all can cram it, because Inge was so badly hurt that he is going to need surgery on both of his knees and he kept right on playing. FOR YOU, TIGERS FANS. For you.

On the day in late July when he said the left knee pain had at times become excruciating, Inge explained why he played through the agony.

“How would I come out (of the lineup with) the race this close and for the fans of Detroit and the fans of Michigan going through what they’re going through with economics,” Inge said. “If I went out and we were way out of the hunt (when he returned), you’d be pretty fired up if you were a fan and one of your players who was doing well, who was carrying the team a little bit, just bailed out and kind of shut it down. I don’t want that on my shoulders. This team comes first.”

John Lowe, Detroit Free Press

OK, guys? Brandon Inge went out there and played third base with his usual body-hurling, awkwar-acrobatic gusto, even as his knees were begging him to stop, stabbing his kneecaps from the underside with a zillion teeny tiny knives, because of what you’re going through with economics. He understands, you see. About the economics. And stuff.

Head trainer Kevin Rand says that, with the surgery scheduled for early November, Inge should be more or less ready for Spring Training ’10. He will need pretty much all that time to recover, and he will probably still be off his swing a bit more than everyone else come February. The hope is that he can be close to 100% by April… but of course we’ve seen his refusal to sit out even when he’s far from 100%, so long as he can still technically stand up and stick a glove on his hand.

So, an early Good Luck to Brandon Inge on his upcoming surgery, and an early Good Luck to Shani Inge, who is going to have to deal with him while he’s forcibly immobilized by the recovery process. We thank you very, very, VERY sincerely in advance, Mrs. Inge. Really. We don’t envy you for this one.

little Tigers make it happen

photos by Samara Pearlstein

Let me tell you cats about a few… cats. Dammit.

We all know that because the Tigers are kind of terrible at the plate at odd and unpredictable times, when they ARE playing well, we like to look at the pitching. EVERYONE knows about our pitching. We’ve got Verlander and Jackson and FredFred Porcello all front and center on-stage; let’s get them in Detroit Tigers tutus so everyone knows who the prima ballerinas are on this team. Can you even have multiple prima ballerinas? I don’t know, I dropped out of dance after like kindergarten. Anyways. I’m talking orange tulle, folks. SUPERSTARS.

We have three on the Tigers, that’s how freakin’ good they are. And that doesn’t even touch on creatures like the SeayLyon, or whatever the hell it is you want to consider Fernando Rodney, whose numbers are either amazing or horrifying, but either way are undeniably NOTABLE.

MAN WHAT AM I SAYING, you’re a Tigers fan, you know this already. I am preaching to the Energy Squad. But these other cats! Here is what we learned this weekend:

Gerald Laird and Alex Avila aka G-Money and The Savior

So many words should go here, this will necessarily be but a poor mockery of the amount of praise Tigers fans should be heaping upon them. DID YOU SEE THE THROWS THESE CATS WERE MAKING THIS WEEKEND? Did you SEE, with your own eyes, the spectacular location when they were throwing runners out? The placement so perfect, opposing catchers could do nothing but weep in shame, shame that they might go their entire careers without making throws so beautiful? Yeah. You should have seen those.

It seems like a zillion years ago we were wondering what on earth was going to happen when Pudge left the team. How could the Tigers function without Pudge behind the plate? Pudge in many ways WAS the Detroit resurgence, and even in his Advanced Age he was a better catcher than a whole lot of the other catchers out there. Practically NOBODY was selling catchers in the offseason and pickings seemed slim in the minors all over. It looked like the Tigers were going to spend 2009 caught between a rock and a hard place and Brandon Inge’s reluctant hockey mask.

THEN! The Rangers, who had pretty much the only glut of catchers in all of MLB, gave us Gerald Laird. Kitten angels sang from the sky, catfish mermaids did cartwheels out of the Detroit River, Brandon Inge put his hockey mask back in mothballs and danced a little jig of joy.

Does Gerald Laird hit? Not really. Who cares? He saved the Tigers from themselves, catcherily. He gave the Tigers catcherly hope where before there was none.

THEN! Alex Avila came rumbling up from double-A. A YOUNG TIGERS CATCHER? A young Tigers catcher who can make good throws, hit home runs, and set his jaw menacingly? PREPOSTEROUS. But Alex Avila laughs at the skeptics. I mean, my gosh, talk about unlooked-for infusions of catcherly hope…

Brandon Inge

On Sunday, the Tigers were down 3-1 going into the 9th inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases, so the tying run was at second and the go-ahead run was at first. Brandon Inge came up to bat against Russ Springer.

He hit a grand slam.

The Tigers went from being down by two to being up by two, and that was the lead they would take through to the end of the game for the win. They swept the Rays and gave themselves a nice boost in their quest to not screw up the divisional race. ALL BECAUSE OF BRANDON INGE and his home run hittin’ ways. He has 27 homers on the year, can you even believe that? He’s approaching 30.

Oh, and he’s also playing a still-better-than-average third base despite the fact that his knee tendons are fraying at the seams. All tiny tendon stringy bits snapping one by one, more and more strain put on the remaining strands, everyone just waiting for something awful to happen, like him collapsing on the field as his knees just give out one day. He’s in all kinds of pain and he doesn’t want to sit out.

I know that some of you are not the huge Inge fans that many others of us are, but even you must admit that these are some pretty fine things here.

And yeah, our pitching is ridiculously good, ridiculously powerful, and ridiculously willing to throw hundreds and hundreds of balls per game. Here’s to keeping it up, to more grand slams, to more and younger catchers.