Category Archives: Carlos Pena

Rays beat Tigers in degrading animal kingdom battle


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I don’t particularly want to spend yet another post saying Ugh, that game stunk like a wet week-old skunk carcass, I don’t want to talk about it, but… that game was messy, it was slow, it featured the EXTRAORDINARILY frustrating ‘leaving men on base’ school of baseball, it showcased the knack the Tigers have for putting pitchers on the ropes and then NOT DOING ANYTHING TO THEM, it stunk like a wet week-old skunk carcass, and I don’t really want to talk about it.

I will say that Carlos Pena looked good out there, and because I have long been a Carlos Pena fan, that was awfully nice to see. You still have to wonder what might have happened if we’d held onto him just a liiiiiiittle bit longer…. alas. (And I suppose you also have to entertain the possibility that it was the move to a new home park/new team that helped him finally get over the Hump of Unrealized Ballplayer Potential.)

At one point late in the game Mario accidentally called Carlos Guillen ‘Pena’. He did, to his credit, pretty immediately correct himself and laugh about it. C’mon now, though! I know it’s tough what with ALL THOSE CARLOSES out there, but you gotta keep your former Tigers and your current Tigers straight!

Miguel Cabrera hit a triple, a long ball that appeared to confuse the outfielder: he slowed and looked around like he either thought it was gone or like he lost it in the ceiling. It bounced off the base of the wall, which gave Miggy enough time to flop gracelessly into third. Leyland came out to argue that it had hit off one of the catwalks (in which case it would be a home run), but the umps didn’t seem to have seen it much more clearly than the outfielder did. For whatever it’s worth, the ball didn’t really look like it changed directions, so I’m tending towards ‘legit call’, but who knows. The cameras couldn’t even pick it up until it was back on the field.

Everything else sucked. Kazmir was wild, we put loads of guys on, most of them never came around to score. It would be funny except that it’s been going on all season long and it actually has no humorous value whatsoever. Men left on base haunt my dreams. They just stand there, on every base except homeplate. Staring, staring, always staring. And not moving, that’s the main bit. Like statues. On base. Not scoring.

It’s not a fun dream.

Todd Jones, by the by, has tendonitis in his shoulder. The only two injuries the Tigers are capable of getting are busted obliques and tendonitis. The good news is that our trainers are going to become veritable experts on oblique injuries and tendonitis management. The bad news is that seriously everyone is getting these same stupid injuries. The BAD bad news is that both these classes of injuries tend to be recurrent. Splendid.

Satuday’s game is Kenny vs. Andy Sonnanstine. It starts at 6:10 pm EDT. I’m not sure why, but it does. Since it’s on a Saturday, and FOX is the jerkweed dictator of Saturday baseball, the game is actually blacked out until 7ish, at which point FSN will join the game ALREADY IN PROGRESS. This is one of the most moronic broadcasting shenanigans I’ve encountered recently. Seriously, we can’t see the first hour of the game. The cameras are there, the crews are there, everything is there, ready and able to broadcast, but nope, we don’t get to see it until the game has already been going on for an hour.

Why? Because FOX is an unreasonable goatbag, that’s why. They’re filthy scrofulous stoat-loving cretins on a huge collective wet dream of a powertrip.

Go Tigers!

silver bats for awesome cats


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The Tigers are really raking in the shiny this year. Silver Slugger awards are out, and once again the Tigs have some pretty good representation.

Your AL Silver Slugger winners:

C Jorge Posada, Yankees
1B Carlos Pena, Devil Rays
2B Placido Polanco, Tigers
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF Vlad Guerrero, Angels
OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
OF Magglio Ordonez, Tigers
DH David Ortiz, Red Sox

Not bad. I think we could’ve had Carlos Guillen in at shortstop over Jeter (.840 OPS for Jeter, .859 OPS for Guillen) but they were pretty close and Jeter did have a better regular batting average, so, accepting that these awards are kind of silly and a bit flawed overall, it’s not a bad choice.

Curtis Granderson, though, seems to have gotten overlooked again. Good as Ichiro was, his .827 OPS pales in comparison to the .913 OPS that Granderson put up on the year, and since both of them had batting averages over .300 I’d put more weight on the other numbers. It seems ridiculous that someone could have the kind of year that Granderson had, both in the field and at the plate, and not have any hardware to show for it. The poor guy’s gonna have to bat .400 and play defense like a giant human Venus fly trap and save an orphanage full of children from a host of mutated locusts before he gets the recognition he deserves (outside of Detroit, I mean… here in Michigan we certainly all recognize the full scope of his gloriousness).

But hey, two Tigers getting Silver Sluggers ain’t half bad, and the two who did get them were both richly deserving. Nobody can argue against Magglio’s inclusion here, not with his league-best batting average and his 1.000+ OPS and his flowing locks of mighty fashion and hitting prowess. To argue against Magglio winning a batting award is to argue against batting itself.

Polanco rounded out his incredible year with his second metal-encased baseball equipment award in only a few days. While it’s a little frustrating to see Granderson denied these things, it is AWFULLY nice to see Polanco getting the recognition that he definitely earned this year. It still boggles my mind that we were able to snatch him away from the quirkly embrace of the Phillie Phanatic with such relative ease. Polanco hasn’t just been a serviceable second baseman for the Tigers: he has been a snood-wearing snazzy-fielding sharp-hitting awesomely-grimacing seemingly bottomless source of skill and entertainment for us all.

I mean, OK, they did need to free up Chase Utley, and it’s not like he’s played poorly for them since they managed to give him starting time. Still. Polanco, you know, = love.

It’s also worth mentioning that Carlos Pena got his very first Silver Slugger award this year, and it was well earned (his 1.038 OPS was actually BETTER than Magglio’s still incredibly impressive 1.029, to give you some perspective on the kind of season he had). I always said that Carlos always had the raw ability to be a good hitter, and all he needed was consistency over an entire season. This year he finally found that consistency. It’s too bad that it took him until he got to Tampa Bay to figure his business out; it would have been very sweet for the Tigers’ investment in him to be rewarded by a good season in Detroit, but I’m happy for him nonetheless (…and of course it’s easier to be happy for him since the Rays didn’t really pose much of a threat during the season).

pug marks, Sept. 3


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The glory of an offday link dump is that I don’t have to think too much to post. This is a good thing, because I am still mentally (emotionally?) recovering from the Michigan game (if indeed that’s something from which one can truly recover) and this is coloring my attitude towards the Tigers right now. I know things are not looking up even from the rosiest of standpoints, but I am probably seeing the situation as even more dire and depressing than it truly is due to my current state of mind.

It will be hard to break free of this morass, but I’ll bet many of you are suffering along with me. Hopefully the Tigers will start playing well again in an effort to, if nothing else, ease the suffering of the many thousands of near-clinically depressed Wolverines that they count among their fans.

pug mark 1
Sports Club Stats has a page calculating the Tigers’ Playoff Chances. It’s a pretty cool little piece of internet gadgetry, up to date and all that, and it includes games the Tigers care about, and how their playoff chances change based on the outcomes of those games. Much more fascinating when I am not convinced that the entire world is sadness and woe.

pug mark 2
This is a little bit old, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you really, REALLY need to. It’s a music video from High School Musical 2 called I Don’t Dance and there are a whole slew of MLB players in it, including Justin Verlander. You know how sometimes you watch something and your eyes start tearing up in sympathetic embarrassment for those involved? That’s what this video did to me the first time I watched it. Equal parts hilarious and agonizing. A definite must-see.

pug mark 3
Can I pug mark myself? A bit meta, but oh well. See, there’s this independent league team, the North Shore Spirit, that plays very close to where I live in Massachusetts (bear with me here). The last game I went to before I left for the fall was against a team called the Worcester Tornadoes. You can see all the photos from that game right here if you want to, but the pug marked point I’m making is this:

That Tornado is Omar Pena, baby brother of former Tiger Carlos Pena. I had no idea Carlos even had a brother before I went to the game and saw this kid. He looks A LOT like Carlos, and the scoreboard said he was from Haverhill, MA, which is where Carlos is from, so I immediately suspected the relation. As soon as I got home I dashed off to the magical internet, which told me that my suspicions were correct. Not a thrilling pug mark, but I got a kick out of it at the time.

pug mark 4
Curtis Granderson continues to blog away. In this August 31 entry he had this to say, in response to a question about who on the Tigers was the worst dressed:

I would have to say that Sean Casey or Mike Rabelo are the worst dressed. Casey makes designer t-shirts look bad, and loves to wear old Nike gym shoes that he got for free. Rabelo loves to wear shirts from fishing stores. It almost looks like he goes to stores, fills out a credit card application and gets a free shirt. As far as best dressed, I would have to say Marcus Thames. When he wears the free stuff from Nike he matches it up from head to toe, from the wind suit to the shoes to match.

I just have to say that I don’t think wearing one brand from head to toe exactly counts as dressing well. But I’m not too surprised that Casey and Rabelo are high on Granderson’s list of sartorial offenders (I am a little surprised that Pudge’s crazy shirts didn’t get a mention, though. Maybe that counts as good fashion among ballplayers?).

pug mark 5
If you’re wondering what the late-season call-ups are doing to the various Tigers minor league teams, look no farther than this tidy little catchall post on Take 75 North. ‘Cause MVN is your best source for minor league Tigers blogging, as always.

pug mark 6
Are you bored? Are you a big Tigers fan? Then if you’ve got some time to kill you might like to take a crack at this Tigers trivia post over at the Tigers Livejournal group. If you get frustrated, you can go right to the answers. Fun for all.

Comcast must die

No internet, no TV at my apartment. I have been in Ann Arbor since Friday and I haven’t been able to watch a single catdamned game. The reason for this is the fact that Comcast is evil, smells like feet, is evil, has herpes, kills babies, is the White Sox, is evil, and won’t hook up my cable for evil, Comcastish reasons of its own. Comcast must die.

I am in the Union right now, making use of the University internet, and I just watched the end of the Red Sox/Wrong Sox game on MLB.tv (a service that, unlike Comcast, is not made of evil). In the bottom of the 10th inning, Carlos Pena comes up to the plate. And promptly smacks a walk-off home run.

Is that not sweet on every level of sweetness? Former, eminently likable Tiger doing well. Massachusetts boy having a huge moment in his own home park. Wrong Sox losing.

Pity I didn’t see the Tigers game, but I’ll be at Comerica tomorrow, assuming the art school doesn’t kill me and it doesn’t rain, two very very big assumptions. And hopefully Comcast will get its shoddy business together soon, so regular Roar of the Tigering can recommence in earnest.

We absolutely promise that someone will play first base.

But if you claim to know precisely who will, at any given time, play at first, we’ll have to kill you.

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, DaMeat is suffering from some variety of injury in his leg. It’s a ‘strain’ in his left quad, apparently acquired while trying to open up the motor out of first without shifting gears properly. As Lee says, it’s the sort of thing you can expect from a 32-year-old guy who’s put as much strain on his frame as Dmitri has, even if he’s lightened the load somewhat now.

In a perfect shiny tiger-striped world, one of three scenarios would take place.

1. Chris Shelton’s vestigial defensive skills blossom into full, solid, unspectacular but perfectly serviceable play, fueled in part by his burning need for revenge. He will take the vast majority of reps at first base this season, and will end the year with a .300 average. He will take walks, and slug, and Tigers fans will start showing up to the park wearing bright red wigs. Pena and Dmitri will share DH duties, dependant on Dmitri’s wildly oscillating levels of health and Pena’s wildly oscillating ability to make contact with the ball.

2. Carlos Pena will achieve Nirvana and this will allow him to attain that magical state of being, so coveted, so previously elusive: the lofty heights of Consistency. The pendulum of his batting average will finally settle where it has so long hinted it might, and Carlos will actually hit, and hit pretty well. The spectacular defense is already there, making Carlos, with regular playing time, into a legitimate Gold Glove candidate. Shelton will occasionally relieve him at first but will spend nearly every day as a DH. Dmitri will get spot playing time only and will justify his spot on the bench by occasionally tooling about in the outfield, and keeping club morale up with in-dugout pie eating contests.

3. Dmitri Young will start hitting like it’s 2003, and his ability to not fall over at first will be enough to recommend him for the spot. He will get his hair braided into the form of an old English D. Shelton’s bat will earn him the majority of games as the DH and, after a failed experiment with Pena relieving Brandon Inge at third, Carlos will bring his major league expertise to Toledo, where he will lead the Mudhens to another AAA championship, and another year of people unfamiliar with the American Coot wondering what, exactly, a mudhen is.

The likelihood is that none of these will exactly come to pass, but the first one is most probable. It’s hard to not be pessimistic and think that Shelton will have a downturn from last season, but he’s the surest thing we have when it comes to first base. The fact remains that Dmitri has never hit American League pitching as consistently well as he hit National League pitching, and that Pena has never hit consistently up to his alleged ceiling, period.

Shelton, however, hit the hide out of the ball last season, showed a mild interest in walks (making him an odd duck indeed among Tigers), and is buddies with Brandon Inge. I’ve heard him referred to as “Big Red”, “Shelty”, “Junk in the Trunk Shelton”, and the “Albino Rodent of Unusual Size” (AROUS). The star power, clearly, is there.

If DaMeat can’t stay healthy, the job is certainly Shelton’s. Unless Pena remembers how to hit. Or Dmitri doesn’t get hurt much this season. Or Shelton does have a severe return to earth at the plate.

Basically, someone will play at first. And we’re pretty sure it’ll be a Tiger.

Teaser!

Figures the game I go to is the one they lose.

Anyhow, I took a load of photos, and some of them were from great seats because my buddy Mike has the Mad Comerica Skillz Yo (he worked there all summer) and was fearless in taking us down to sit a row or two up from the Tiger bullpens right behind homeplate. Not that it was all that crowded there, but you know.

So here are a couple photos until I can find some time (hopefully tomorrow, probably late if at all before Friday) to upload them all into a gallery.


Sean Douglass doing that thing called pitching. Probably not doing that thing called, you know, striking guys out.


Vance Wilson sometimes hates his life.


Poor Mark Woodyard, they had his name as ‘Woodward’ on the scoreboard the first time he came out to pitch tonight.


I really like this shot of Carlos Pena. He wears that same shirt under his jersey for every single game, you know.


If you thought you could get away without a shot of the posterior aspect of Mr. Inge, you were sadly mistaken, my friends.

Far more photos to come, when this university stops trying to actually kill me. You can die from lack of sleep, right?

Onomatopoeia

KaPOW!sploosh! is the noise made by Carlos Pena’s enormous 443-foot homerun into the fountains last night. I think Rod Allen may have actually wet himself in the booth over this one. “It’s 410 at the fence! And this went right over the fence! Into the fountains! Oh man oh man.”

It really was an incredible blast.

In a staggering coincidence, KaPOW!sploosh! is almost exactly the same noise made by the 2005 Tigers season as it finally falls lifeless to the ground and is flushed down the toilet.

Best weekend ever.

Oh man, what a series that was to see live.

So, yeah, the Tigers played the Red Sox in three games at Fenway, and I went to see all three of them. All photos in this post can be clicked for a bigger version.

PHOTOS FROM GAME 1.

The first one was close. JJ melted down in the third (3 runs, 3 hits, two walks, two sac flies, nothing leaving the park), and all seemed lost, but Wake went right back out there and obligingly melted down in the fourth (4 runs, a walk, a hit, two home runs). For those who wondered, the controversial Curtis Granderson home run looked good to me. From my seats we could look right down the first baseline, and I thought it bent just fair at the pole. Everyone around me thought it was foul, though, and every subsequent foul ball was greeted by the sight of all of Fenway waving their hands in the air in the ’round the bases, it’s a homer’ sign. Hilarity.

Jeremi Gonzalez was terrible for the Sox, but they cut their losses before it got too bad. Chris Spurling was excellent for the Tigers, but by then the damage had already been done, thanks to JJ, and 8 runs wasn’t enough to overcome the Red Sox 9. It was a little galling that the Tigers hit 4 home runs and the Sox didn’t have one single round-tripper, but it was hard for me (as a fan of both teams) to be too upset about this game. It was played right down to the wire, and when my two teams meet, that’s really all I can ask for: a good, exciting game.

It was also my first baseball game with the new, exciting, high-zoom, relative anti-suck camera. I used it to take photos of Brandon Inge’s Magnificent Ass. Among other things.

PHOTOS FROM GAME 2.

The second one was just pure, utter insanity. Bronson Arroyo was dominant for the first three innings, and then in an eerie parallel of the previous night, melted down completely in the fourth (5 runs, 5 hits, a walk, a home run) after having seen Douglass melt down in the third (6 runs, 7 hits, two home runs). The Tigers were down 6-0! Usually that’s time to pack up your bags and go home, be you Tigers fan or Tigers player.

But nope, not tonight, and the Tigers batters just kept crushing Jeremi and Remlinger, the original Mr. Suck (he was cut from the team after this outing). DaMeat’s grand slam in the fourth was huge… with the bases loaded, I turned to my seatmate and said, “Hey, Dmitri’s up here, something good could happen,” which may sound prophetic, but really all I was expecting were maybe a couple of RBI. That ball, though, when it was crushed out of the park… things got really, really quiet in Fenway, sort of like the crowd couldn’t even believe it. Heck, the few Tigers fans on hand could barely believe it.

I really didn’t see many Tigers fans at all, maybe a total of 6 in the first two days. At the second game, though, I did see a little kid up by the Tigers dugout, wearing a Detroit hat and a Barry Sanders jersey, which I got a kick out of.

I was most impressed with Craig Dingman. Not just his outing (4 batters retired in a row), but his fastball. Now, I’m not all that great at calling pitches out of a pitcher’s glove, and I’m not that great at speeds either. But I do have some idea of what I’m looking at, and I can tell the difference between, you know, a Tim Wakefield fastball and a Kyle Farnsworth fastball.

Dingman’s fastball was, according to the park pitching board, clocking in at around 87 or 88 mph. To me, though, it looked a lot faster, like it was coming in around 94 or 95. It even kind of sounded like a scorcher, popping a little in Pudge’s glove. It must have looked the same to the batters, because there were some terrible, wildly confused cuts taken at it when he threw it in there.


Dingman and his confusing fastball.

PHOTOS FROM GAME 3.

And then Sunday.

Sunday was a mess for the Tigers. None of the pitchers had anything worth noting, and David Wells, well, did. Brandon Inge (Magnificent Ass in tow) had a great game, to complement his great series, but most Tigers didn’t. I’m still not altogether sure why John McDonald was starting over Omar, but I’m assuming there’s a good reason. Please. Let there be a good reason.

But, man, the game barely even mattered. It DID matter, of course, but… ah, we got to the game early, with the hopes of watching batting practice. It turns out that there was no BP, since the game the previous night had gone so late. But my dad and I decided to stand down at the Tiger dugout anyways, to see what there was to be seen.

There were Tigers. It was actually kind of funny, because none of them had their jerseys on, so if you didn’t know their faces you would have no way of knowing who was who. Me and my dad were the only two Tigers fans in the immediate area, so we had people all around us asking, “Hey, who’s that over there? Who’s that signing over there? Who’s that coming in from the bullpens?” I wasn’t at all surprised that my dad knew basically everyone on the team, but I was a bit surprised at how well I did just from faces. I had one unfortunate mix-up, but other than that I was able to pick out everyone just fine.


Jason Johnson popped out early, and started working his way up and down the dugout, signing everything anyone could shove across the dugout roof at him. He had little kids crawling over the roof, Sharpies clutched in their hands, he had baseballs rolling at him so fast they skipped off the edge of the roof and he had to duck down and dig them out of the dugout. He had a bunch of Red Sox fans nudging each other and whispering, “Who’s that?” and then once they were informed, shouting, “Mr. Johnson, sign this, please!” He had me and my dad knowing exactly who he was and telling him he’d done a good job this season.

He stayed for a long, long time, making sure that everyone who wanted something signed got it signed. He wasn’t terrifically personable, but he smiled and nodded and made sure everyone got their proper pens and baseballs back, and I was basically ambivalent to him before, but he rose a long way in my estimation for that.


Mick Kelleher trotted up to the dugout, and all the Sox fans along the dugout noted the gray hair, saw he wasn’t Alan Trammell, and turned to watch Nook and Craig work their way around the third baseline wall. The combination of my extreme dorkitude and my dad’s vast Tiger knowledge meant that I knew exactly who he was.

“Mick! Mick Kelleher! Hey, go Tigers!” Possibly it will help you to imagine the scene if you picture me screaming that, leaning on the dugout, surrounded by Red Sox fans, clutching a largish camera in one hand, wearing a violently neon yellow U of M football tshirt and a violently neon orange Tigers hat (clashing most horribly, I should think). I’m pretty sure I pointed at the D on the hat too. That is exactly how big a dork I am.

He got this enormous grin on his face, pointed back, and said, “Arright, go Tigers! Atta girl!” Then he sort of waved, grinned again, and continued on into the dugout. He looked so completely surprised and overjoyed to be recognized and acknowledged, especially in Fenway Park.

My dad reckons it might’ve made his weekend.


Vic Darensbourg had been warming up out by the Monster before wandering back to the dugout. No one, but no one had recognized him… we weren’t even sure who he was, and had to puzzle it out with the aid of the roster sheet that came with the program. But we got it in the end and as he came towards us my dad said, “Hey, I bet if you know who he is, he’ll sign just because of that.” So of course when he got close enough I yelled, “Vic! Vic Darensbourg!”, waved, smiled, and generally looked like a hugely moronic Tigers fan.

He, too, looked a little surprised at being recognized, but he smiled agreeably, signed my program and the baseball the kid next to me rolled at him, and that was it.


Chris Spurling spent a long time signing along the wall by third base, so long that it looked like he was going to just go right down into the dugout when he got there. Again, though, the fact that I knew his name and yelled it at him seemed to get his attention. I don’t think a lot of the Tiger relievers and backup guys are used to being recognized in foreign parks. He is a huge guy in person, even bigger than he’d seemed on TV. He also has this elaborate tattoo on the inside of one of his wrists that looks like it must’ve hurt something wicked.

An older guy standing near me held out his ticket and asked Spurling if he could give it to Kirk Gibson to sign. Spurling laughed and said, “Gibby? He don’t sign for nobody,” which I thought was just delightful. Earlier Gibby himself had walked by, and had turned a deaf ear to this guy’s pleas for an autograph, but had turned around and sort of laughingly snorted when the guy yelled, “Hey! Gibby! That home run for the Dodgers!”


CURTIS GRANDERSON.

I’m sorry, but you have to understand. Granderson signed. He signed even longer than JJ. He went up and down the dugout, he went back to get people he’d missed the first time, he did both the dugout corners and all down the third baseline. He smiled at the little kids, bantered with them about not having pens, he fielded balls and hats and tickets and programs and a lot of flying markers, smiling the whole time, joking around with the fans, 2/3rds of whom had only the vaguest idea of who he was anyways.

He took a bit right in front of us, signing a slew of things for people, so we leaned in on the dugout roof. My dad told him he was doing a great job up with the Tigers, and I told him I hoped he’d stick around in Detroit, to which he replied, “Ha ha, well, I don’t have control over that, but yeah.”

I dunno, I’m not sure I can describe it, but he gave off this palpable vibe of enjoying interacting with the fans, of caring about all the little kids who just wanted a baseball signed by a major leaguer, of having a really good time out there. And he has a nice smile. And I think I love him a little now, so shut up.

After all that, it almost didn’t matter that they lost the game.

Three games in three days. Tigers/Red Sox at Fenway. What a way to spend my last weeked in Boston before I head back to Michigan for the school year.