Category Archives: DaMeat

revisiting Dmitri

photo by Samara Pearlstein

I didn’t particularly WANT to have to revisit Dmitri Young, but here goes.

Cliffnotes for those who missed the ugly saga when it was happening: DaMeat had some rather nasty off-field issues (think illicit lady relations, plus abuse, plus court action) combined with some issues on the field, all of which culminated in his release from the Tigers.

It was depressing to think about a player whose enthusiasm for the game we had all enjoyed watching so much in this particular sort of trouble, and quite frankly I think everyone involved just kind of wanted the whole thing to slink away into the night and never come back. Detroit was done with Dmitri, and that would be that. We have a whole team to support. We must move on. Still, disbelief. Big long spiel about the disillusionment of finding out a player you like is an abusive coprolite, even though you intellectually and logically know that the players are “just human”, not of course to say that abuse is something you write off as “just human” behavior, because it’s not, abuse is never ok, lads, are we all clear on that? Yes? Good. So on and so forth.

But Dmitri did not fade quietly away from baseball, and was picked up by the Nationals and extended a probably somewhat wary invitation to camp. I will say this in Dmitri’s favor: he has never been one to mince words or to tiptoe around exactly what he means to say. So.

“My life was spiraling down and I had the incident that went on, and going through a divorce at the same time and I was hurt on the field,” Young said. “Usually my life’s been an even keel, but there was a definite bump in the road. It was a little hard for me to handle at the time. I [went to treatment] myself. This wasn’t from the team or anybody, this was on my own merits. I checked myself in. I got to know about myself in there, too. They had some good shrinks in there.”

Young now says that his problems on and off the field were caused by Type 2 diabetes, which was diagnosed in November. In fact, he spent four days in the Cleveland Clinic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that month. Three of those days, he said, were spent in the intensive care unit. His blood sugar level was at 893. The doctors told Young he should have been dead.

Young said before the diagnosis, he would have mood swings, vision problems, had problems losing weight and was constantly going to the bathroom.

“I was actually relieved [about the diagnosis] because it answered pretty much every question that I had — my mood swings, the inability to lose weight,” Young said. article

Diabetes can indeed cause mood swings. Fluctuating glucose levels have been shown to have some effect on mood, and so have the fluctuating hormone levels that are often associated with Type 2 diabetes. It sounds like Dmitri had a ragingly undiagnosed case of diabetes, and every level in his body was way out of whack. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that these imbalances caused him to become way more aggressive and irritable than normal.

You do have to draw a line of culpability somewhere, though. Unmanaged diabetes can cause severe mood swings. Severe mood swings can affect behavior. But diabetes does not “make” anyone cheat on their wife (I doubt that anyone in baseball needs much help with that) and it does not “make” anyone go around beating the snot out of their girlfriends. I’m not saying that Dmitri’s diabetes didn’t make him abusive when he otherwise would not have been; that could very well be the case. But the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of diabetics out there who suffer the same or similar variable mood effects, and don’t end up in court for it.

That could and probably should have been the end of it. But Dmitri is Dmitri and there’s that whole, y’know, not mincing words things. So.

“I must say [the Tigers] were probably saving their own tail because they thought that the whole court thing there was going to be a distraction for a team that was winning,” Young said. “I thought it was on their part [to issue the unconditional release], especially the time that I spent with the Tigers and represented them in a positive manner. I would have figured they would support me in the same manner but they didn’t.

“If I was in California or Florida, it wouldn’t have been so bad. It would have been like, ‘Aw, it [stinks],’ but I wish the guys well. But being in Detroit — not good.”

OK, first off, what the heck does that last bit mean? I can’t work it out at all. What about California and Florida? Huh? What’s not good about Detroit? It could just be because I’m tired, but I literally have no idea what he’s talking about there.

As for the rest of it…. oy. I can see why Dmitri feels like the Tigers in a sense owed him something; he WAS a positive force, on the whole, at times when the team was not exactly a happy or positive place to be. He at least gave the appearance of enjoying the game and caring about the Tigers when few others did. Maybe that’s how baseball USED to work, but it certainly isn’t enough these days, and hasn’t been for a while now.

It’s probably hard for him to step back from his own perspective and look at the thing from the Tigers’ point of view, but come on now. So far as the Tigers could tell, here was this ballplayer who used to produce but even then was never the steadiest of fellows. He’s having trouble keeping his hands to himself around, ah, those of the female persuasion, and the team was aware of that (long story, and I got it second-or-third-hand, so we’ll let it lie). Then this whole abuse thing comes marching in, and there are mandatory court dates to deal with and a whole big ugly mess.

At that point, yes Dmitri, you became too much of a distraction for everyone, without enough upside to counterbalance it (horrible as it is, if he had been hitting [the baseball] really well while all this was going, the off-field stuff would have been given a much wider berth before crackdown). He certainly can’t expect the Tigers to have known that there MIGHT be some extenuating medical circumstances, not when he himself didn’t even know. And even with those, he was still too problematic and unproductive to be worth keeping around.

I get that he feels slighted or personally offended or whatever by the way the Tigers, in his mind, tossed him aside when the going got rough. But if he took one minute to actually THINK about how things looked from their side of things…

Anyways, Dmitri snarks at the Tigers, Jim Leyland snarks right back.

“I like Dmitri Young very much, and I wish him the best,” Leyland said, “but in my opinion, Dmitri Young was not an asset on the field last year and he also had to take care of some very important issues for the welfare of Dmitri Young.

“You can hold me totally responsible for his dismissal last year. Don’t put it on the organization or anyone else. I did not think Dmitri’s performance on the field was an asset to this organization — and it broke my heart because he was a guy we were counting on.

“The part that upsets me is that this guy missed a lot of the season taking care of a problem he created, not one the Tigers created. The fact that we didn’t support him is (wrong). We supported everything.”
Said Leyland of those comments, “For Dmitri to criticize the organization for lack of support is totally out of line. That’s uncalled for.

“If you want to know the truth, it appears that Dmitri feels the organization disappointed him, and I’m sorry he feels that way. But I feel Dmitri disappointed us.”
Detroit News article

There isn’t much that can be added to that, or that needs to be. You have to smile at Leyland putting the “blame” for sending Dmitri packing on himself, though. That’s 100% Leyland behavior right there.

I suppose the moral of the story is that there is no moral of the story. I wish Dmitri the best both in his management of his diabetes and with his new team. I also wish he could get his head out of his ‘tocks long enough to realize where the Tigers are coming from, because he WAS a fun part of the team, and it would be sad to see that permanently soured.

The Home Opener, photographically illustrated.

All this shots are clickable for bigger, naturally.

We lost. I know. I am fully cognizant of this fact. But HOLY FREAKING CATS I DO NOT CARE BECAUSE I WAS THERE and I’d never been to an opening day of any description before and I’d never seen Comerica that crowded, so packed that even the standing room only areas were full, and oh man it was amazing.

Lookit all the happy happy drunken Tigers fans!

The Bus threw out the first pitch which, you know, is nice, sure, but do I care? No. Not particularly. I know he’s from Detroit but so are lots and lots and lots of people and, quite frankly, I hate the Steelers. Hate ’em. Hatey hate hate, full sippin’ on the haterade. Call it the Patriots fan side of my brain if you like, but it is a fact. And the fact that the Bus was in residence meant that I saw at least one fan waving a goddamn Terrible Towel at a Tigers game, and this is a Deep Wrongness, because Terrible Towels should not appear in football stadiums outside of Pittsburgh, and they should definitely not appear at any other sporting events ever.

This would be like a Red Wings fan showing up at a Yankees game and throwing octopi onto the field. While I admit that it would be wicked funny to see ARod shriek as slimy octopus arms pinwheel in slow motion towards him, it is just not a thing that should happen. We are all on the same page here, yes?

But there were many things that were right in this game, such as Jeremy Bonderman. I see the 4 earned runs on his line for the night and OK, maybe that does not look so good. But I also see the 8 strikeouts, and I also see what I saw at the game, which was a strong pitcher throwing hard and, as such, getting hit hard. So he put a couple guys on base, you know, it happens. What hurt him were the homers.

Why don’t the AP photographers ever show this angle, eh?

Let us look at the homers. Jim Thome hit a bomb, and it was not pleasant, because when I say ‘bomb’ I don’t mean “ball that traveled just the required distance to clear the wall”. Oh no. I mean “ball that everyone this side of the Ambassador Bridge knew was gone as soon as it left the bat”. Jim Thome does that, though. It is basically the whole point to his Thomeish existence. He is like a great big slug that lives in a cave avoiding the sun and becoming thick and pale, and every so often someone tells him it’s his turn in the lineup and he lumps out clumsily and hits the gooey snot out of the ball and lumps slowly around the bases and then gratefully returns to his cave.

Y’know what I’m sayin’?

Also Joe Crede hit a home run. Joe Crede has been on fire defensively and now he’s all “I will make the hits to go with the catches and things” and we’re all “dammit!” What can you do? I mean, what can you do? The dude is catching fire right now, his hands are all crispy and burnt to his glove and bat and whatnot.

He didn’t believe that Dmitri was capable of stealing third base today either. Shame be upon you, Joe Crede, shame be upon you and your bad hair. He seemed consumed with shame actually when Ozzie came sputtering out of the dugout to argue after the play.

Holy freaking cats, DaMeat stole a base. Crede is disbelieving.

Ozzie argues while Crede wanders off looking all embarrassed and with terrible hair.

My point is that yeah, it wasn’t pretty. But Bonderman throws hard, and he throws fastballs, and with that kind of a pitcher you just have to expect that he’s gonna give up the longball every so often. We can hope and fervently pray that this does not mean we will soon witness a slow and painful transformation into Jose Lima, and I don’t tend to think that it will. I think it means that Bonderman is a darned good pitcher and he was throwing some darned good balls out there, and the Wrong Sox were just hitting darned well and darnedety darned dag’nabbit.

There were other things that were right with the game, such as the fact that we were sitting out in the left field stands, which meant that pretty much the only clear sightline I had all game was down the third base line. Which meant that I spent much of the game staring at one thing. A most marvelous and wonderous thing. And you all know what that thing is.

If you did not know this was coming, you have not been reading me for very long.

As my friend Dave said upon viewing the photo album from this game: “Wow, there were a lot of photos of Inge.” Yes Dave, yes there were, for lo! it was not my fault. You, Dave, are the one who procured tickets for us, and I know you did not choose them but in some cosmic way you have only yourself to blame for this because we were sitting in left field for cats’ sakes, if I wanted to watch the pitcher or the batter my line of vision had to pass by a certain third base obstacle and naturally the camera would stop there many a time.

It is simple physics. That is the direction I had to look in, and because of the configuration of the baseball diamond, it is through no fault of my own that the third baseman was right where I had to look to properly watch the game.

Right then.

Also good was getting to see Joel Zumaya pitch, because I had never seen him live before and YES I KNOW HE GAVE UP A HOME RUN SHUT YOUR KIBBLE HOLE. I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about the positives, man, and the fact that I haven’t slept more than 3 hours a night for like a month and sheez I got really sunburned. But Joel Zumaya! He throws hard. His delivery didn’t look particularly violent to me, although I admit I didn’t have the most perfect vantage point for judging that. He looked pretty good, you know, in a ‘giving up a home run’ kind of way.

And he looks cool in the bullpen too.

The crazy drunk people at the park, about whom I’d been warned, were amusing. We had two guys sitting in front of us for a while, both clearly gone beyond all semblance of human coherence. One was passed out in his seat, and the other kept encouraging us to do things like take photos of or make faces at the passed out guy because, as he said, “Don’t worry he loves it!” He also kept screaming, “Easy out White Sox!” in a singsong voice, and claimed that he didn’t care about college teams so long as it was Big 10, but that Michigan in basketball this year engaged in what he liked to call “Michigan suckabraition.”

On the way out we passed a young lady who slapped a car driving slowly past and screamed, “Lexus?? BUY AMERICAN! This is a Union town!”

Anyhow, I highly suggest you check out the rest of the photos right hereabouts, because there are a great many of them and I would get into more here but I am exhausted and keep falling asleep on the keyboard.

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.

Jim Leyland, Man of Action, and other assorted goodies

Our new manager doesn’t believe in fartin’ around, no siree. A lesser man might have delayed, or hemmed, or even, cats forbid, hawed. But none of that for Mr. Leyland! He already knows what he wants to do, so “why be bullheaded about doing it”? Why indeed!

Are you ready for this announcement, Tiger Nation? Are you?

Prepare yourselves.

Here we go.

The Detroit Tigers Opening Day starting pitcher will be….. Kenny Rogers.

*GASP!!* I know! I feel your shock keenly. It’s not Nate Robertson?? How is this possible? What madness! What unpredictability! What innovation of baseball thought! Start the only Tigers pitcher to end last season with a sub-4.00 ERA! We’re talking revolutionary stuff here, people.

All kidding aside, this is the right choice, both because Rogers clearly deserves it, and because he’s so old he might not live to see another Opening Day. Bonderman gets the tip of the navy blue hat for the home opener, which is perfectly fine, since he’ll probably still be in a relatively lively state a few years from now anyways.

From the article announcing this glorious piece of news comes this quote by Bonderman, which I find quite worrisome:

“I’ve never had a guy like Kenny on my team, to have a guy there every day to go through stuff with you and explain why you do this or why you do that.”

Ummm. Really? Pudge never went over any of that stuff with you? Bob Cluck and the Chickens? Heck, Troy “Exploding Forearm” Percival? Maroth never took you aside and said, “Look, kid, all you gotta do is have an exceptional mental makeup. And love of Jesus.” No one?

Maybe this explains a few of the Tigers’ many, many problems. There has been so much turnover in the past few years that there has been little veteran leadership of any description, and certainly nothing like a wise old pitcher to mentor young Bonderman, showing him how to throw a splitter, teaching him how to blow bubbles in his gum, explaining how to develop a personality. It’s rather similar to the woes of the Lions when it comes to quarterbacks, only not so oppressively depressing, because no matter what deranged things Rob Parker may say about Dombrowski being worse than Matt Millen, there’s actually hope for the future with the Tigers.

Our veteran Tiger, as of right now, is Brandon Inge. Brandon Inge! I love Brandon Inge wholeheartedly, and have in fact adopted him for the season over at Motown Sports and currently have his image as an integral part of the desk I spend the vast majority of my life these days at. But when one of your favorite teams has Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield as its long-tenured team leaders, and the other one has Brandon Inge, you tend to wonder if maybe there’s something a teensy bit strange going on with that second squad.

Anyways. At least now Bonderman can be mentored by Kenny Rogers. When he loses it midgame sometime this July, runs over to the well of photographers, grabs a cameraman and bites his head off with his own naked teeth, we can happily wipe away our tears of pride and know that our boy is learning, bless his little heart.

Completely without workable segue, I would like you all to be exposed to some glorious Dmitri Young quotes.

On Franklyn German’s ‘partially dyed set of braids’ (I’m going by what’s written on the site, as I haven’t seen them yet):

“Look at the ’99 Reds,” Young said. “I wasn’t exactly God’s gift to hair bleach. You have to go through an ugly stage before you get to the cute stage. Right now, he’s dead smack in the ugly stage.”

On both his divorce and his weight loss:

“I’m single now,” he said. “I can’t be fat.”

May he never change.

And, well, I hate to shamelessly pimp like this, but I spent a bloody lot of time on it, so too bad.

You can click the image above for the entire invitation, which has all the info on it. But what is this? Well, it’s an evolution-themed semester here at the University of Michigan, and, not to be outdone by people like “real scientists”, the art school had to get involved. Thusly, Endless Forms, an evolutionary art show.

It’s good stuff. I helped set it up, so I got to see most of the work, and it should be a really cool show. There are some great people in it and some of the artwork is really amazing, and the whole thing is very interesting, especially seeing how everyone reacted differently to the prompt of ‘evolution’.

Technically it opens Februrary 24, this Friday, but since that’s also the start of our Spring Break and no students will be around, the actual opening reception isn’t until March 10. I won’t be around for Feb. 24, as I’m flying home, but I will definitely be there on March 10th, wearing a Red Sox hat and looking awkwardly out of place.

It’s at the WORK gallery, which is at 306 State St, Ann Arbor. If you know the area, it’s right in the downtown campus-y part of State St, like two doors down from Potbelly’s or thereabouts.

Oh, and I have a piece in it, which is kind of the point of pimping it here.

My stuff excepted, it really does promise to be a most excellent show, so everyone who has the capability of going should do so at some point from Feb. 24 to March 24, when it closes. And hey, if you catch me when I’m there on the 10th, we can talk Tigers. I’ll be desperately happy to do so. I’d much rather speculate about the secret identity of the 5th starter than force a strained smile out when someone asks me, for the 500th time, if I really did draw those things over there.

Happy ValenTigers Day!

Spend it with the ones (or things) you love!

A tiny shard of happiness.

Miserable game. It’s getting almost comical, how the pitching steps up only when the bats are completely silent, and vice versa. I mean, is this someone’s idea of a joke? Because that’s how it seems right now. I can’t even think about it anymore without wanting to cry, or break things, or go sit in the corner and stare at the wall and just hijack my brain and think about quarks for a while or something. Maybe all at once. It is just sick that this is happening with any kind of consistency.

But! (you knew that was a but in there, and not Brandon Inge’s either, although that is a very nice but[t])

FSN just had this program on. Where they compiled all these clips from the baseball players they had mic’ed up all year so far, and they played them. And. It was. Amazing. Amazing! It was fascinating and enlightening and dead hilarious and nothing I say will do it justice, really.

At the end they chose 4 guys they had wired who had gone ‘above and beyond’ the call of mic’ed up duty. One was Kevin Millar, which should surprise exactly no one. One was Jimmy Rollins, who was very chatty, very enthusiastic, spoke very clearly, and was very, very funny. One was Ozzie Guillen, which, again, no surprises there (they had Jon Garland on saying, “You could understand him? That’s the big thing, usually no one can understand him”).

The fourth? Dmitri Young.

To say that he was funny would not really do justice to his little winks, and side comments, and his enormous smile, which is so magnificent that it is enough to make me happy at the end of a very, very long day, baseball-wise.

Like watching a drunken elk stagger around the forest.

I was in a sports bar tonight with some friends to watch the Red Sox/Yankees game. It wasn’t a place I’d been to before, but it turns out there were tons of TVs everywhere, most of them tuned to the Red Sox game, of course, but various others sprinkled throughout the bar tuned to other games around the league. We sat down at a table, since there were rather a lot of us, and looked at the bank of TVs directly in front of us. Two had the Sox game on, one was showing Braves/Mets, and one was sporting a familiar goateed form…

“Mario Impemba!” I squealed. “That’s FSN Detroit! That’s the Tigers game!” My friends (Sox fans, all) swiveled around to squint at the screen, then turned back to frown at me.

“Did you ask them to turn it on?” one of them asked. No. I did not. We arrived, and there it was, Comerica Park on a screen in a Boston area sports bar brimming with Sox fans crazed by alcohol, inept bullpens, and Yankee hatred. It was Fate, or Serendipity, or Whatever. It was, in short, ace.

I must admit that a lot of my attention was taken up by the Sox game and the fact that the Yankee pitching was so kind as to allow 17 runs overall, but my eyes kept flicking back to that one TV. Pudge came up to bat, and I immediately began hammering on the table and hooting at my companions about how awesome he is and how hot he is and Pudge! Pudge Pudge Pudge! A few launched into the “Pudge isn’t hot, you’re a crazy person” debate that we so often end up in (they’re lovely people, really, but they’ve got no taste), and my friend Amy started shouting, “WHO’S YOUR TIGER?” May that ad campaign never die.

Pudge promptly launched one into the seats.

“PUDGE! PudgePudgePudgePudgePudge!!! PUDGE WENT YAAAHHHDD!! (imagine it with a Boston accent)” All that accompanied by more violent hammering on the table. Probably there were quite a few people staring at me, since I was the only person in the whole place watching the Tigers game, and my friends were giggling at my insane reaction, but damn. Did you see that shot? I was totally justified in my reaction.

A bit later I noticed Dmitri wearing his sunglasses, which meant he was in the field. Aargh. It drives me batty when we play him at first base, I get all nervous about it. I started grumbling about this to my friend Steve, who was sitting next to me and had very patiently been dealing with me for nigh on two hours by now.

Then we saw DaMeat leap up into the air and snag a fly ball for an out. Only… he had a lot of room when he made that catch. And was that… was that fencing behind him?


Yes, yes he was.

The very next play he launched himself forward and made a beautiful diving catch while scuttering across the grass to make the last out of the inning. I couldn’t believe it. I could not. Believe it. Dmitri Young, in left field, and on two plays he makes a wonderful leaping catch and a wonderful diving catch. Dmitri Young! He’s mobile like a keg that two heavily inebriated frat boys are trying to roll up a hill. He’s mobile like a mobile home up on cinderblocks. He’s mobile like a drunken elk staggering around the forest.

In the dugout, someone (either Craig or Rondell, I don’t recall which) bustled up to Dmitri with a towel and toweled his face off, laughing all the while. They then flipped his shades up for him and walked off, leaving Dmitri there in his ‘do rag (my friends all delighted when I pointed this out– they took immense joy in the whole “come over here and loosen my ‘do rag”/Paul Quantrill event) with an enormous grin.

Later, Dmitri went yard. More table pounding.

I’m sure you can all imagine my reaction when The Farns took the field.

This was a great game overall, even if the home runs were coming against Jose “Giver Upper of Home Runs” Lima, and even if Fernando Rodney’s majestic 3 innings of 7 K ball were coming against the Kansas City “Not Hitter of Home Runs” Royals lineup (not nearly as majestic as his fantastically pharaonic and pointy goatee), it all counts just the same. And through pure, dumb luck I was able to watch it.

It was worth it just to see Dmitri go sliding along the grass on his stomach like an overfed emperor penguin to make that diving catch.