Category Archives: Drew Smyly

The newest Tiger is not a tiger.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Honest truth: after the Red Sox/A’s trade earlier today that saw Jon Lester and Yoenis Cespedes swapping sides, I was not expecting too much from the Tigers. The trade deadline loomed ever nearer as the afternoon wore on, and I figured, eh, Mr. Dombrowski made that solid attempt to shore up the bullpen in the acquisition of Joakim Soria; that’s probably as big a move as we’re going to make. Sure, if all goes as planned we will be having to deal with Oakland in a real way come autumn, but we’ll tackle that big ol’ elephant when we get to it.

Mr. Dombrowski contemplated this line of reasoning, and he cackled a mad cackle, and he rejected it. Hell naaaaaw! he almost certainly yelled to his subordinates. We’re not goin down that easy! Bring me my phone! Bring me the scouting reports! Bring me my set of giant brass balls! Bring me a slice of Little Caesars pizza!

Armed with these essentials, he set in motion a series of moves that ended with Austin Jackson going to Seattle and Drew Smyly going to Tampa Bay and DAVID PRICE coming to Detroit.

This trade was so unanticipated by everyone that Austin Jackson had to be pulled from the field, in the middle of the game, and told that he was no longer a Tiger. Another honest truth: that sucks. That is a hard way to go, and I am sure that if there had been a saner way to do it, the Tigers would have preferred to do it in that saner manner. But Mr. D saw an opportunity (and/or a necessity) that, even as little as a day earlier, he had not seen. He decided that it had to be done, and so it was.

The Tigers now have the kind of rotation to make a pretty good lineup tremble, and a weak lineup weep copiously. May this be a bulwark against the inconsistency of the bats, now and as we totter unsteadily on into maybepossibly the postseason.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, David Price does not come alone! As you may already know, David Price has a FRENCH BULLDOG named ASTRO. David Price is obsessed with Astro and likes to take him places like the dugout and on the field for BP and on road trips and basically every kind of place. This is potentially HUGE news, just ENORMOUS, SUPER IMPORTANT news, and I am going to say right now:

Dear Brad Ausmus and the Detroit Tigers:

Please allow David Price to bring Astro into the clubhouse and onto the field and on the occasional road trip, for the good of the team and the well-being of your brand new pitcher and for the PURE JOY of the fans. Thank you.

hugs and kisses,
Roar of the Tigers.

All Star Tigers and other cartoons.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Your 2013 All Star Tigers starters: Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Miguel Cabrera. Let’s talk about this trio, just all the sexy baseball-playin’ ability a person can imagine inside their brain and outside their brain in the statistic-gathering websites. And by ‘let’s talk about’ this I mean ‘well uh you can look at that picture which also you can click for bigger.’ Why are they standing in a star-shaped light-filled pit? Because ALL STAR GAME. Let us be clear: if I had access to these three, and also had access to a star-shaped light-filled pit, and Sports Illustrated was asking me to do an All Star Game photoshoot, this is totally the photoshoot that I would do. Sadly for you, me, and the universe, this will never come to pass, so it shall remain a scenario that can only exist in drawn form.

You know what is even more exciting than the fact that the Tigers have 3 starters in the All Star Game? You probably already do know because I am making this post pretty late in the game, but it is the fact that the Tigers actually have SIX players in the All Star Game. SIX.

Jhonny Peralta, Torii Hunter, and Prince Fielder: ladies and gentlecats, your reserves, which can also be clicked for bigger:

Why are they riding star-shaped flying surf boards? BECAUSE ALL STAR GAME.

Now I just have an assortment of cartoons sitting around, because due to External Circumstances it has taken me forever to scan and color things. I could try to integrate them gracefully into this post but like the SI photoshoot it is just not going to happen. We will all have our disappointments on this day.

That thing happened where the Tigers gave Toronto a very special present on Canada Day, because Paws is nothing if not a charitable cat. Look, foreign policy is touchy for the United States on many fronts nowadays; it was important for the Tigers to do their bit for international relations.

Hey remember that time when Jose Valverde was lol ok nope me neither nevermind.

Max Scherzer is 13-0, amazing the greater baseball community and possibly also Max himself. Obviously he has been gazing at things with the blue eye, as we all know that is how that works.

“Spotlight on Drew Smyly.”

Is Victor Martinez finally pulling up his woeful very low no good BABIP? Statistics says: at some point, almost certainly!

In Matt Tuiasosopo do we have the new Magglio Ordonez? No. But in terms of hair… still no, but he may well be the closest thing we’ve got right now, and that deserves remark. More than that: it deserves commendation. The time of Magglio’s hair was a magical time for us as Tigers fans and as human beings. If even a fraction of that former glory can be recaptured, we will owe Mr. Tuiasosopo a shampoo of thanks.

I can’t help it. Joaquin Benoit is up for the Final Man Vote for the All Star Game, which he will inevitably lose because a Yankee and a Red Sock are also in the running, but in any event the Tigers have been using the hashtag #BackBenoit on the Twitters to try to drum up a voting campaign for him, or something. Every time I see it, this is what I think.

Back that thang up, Joaquin. Go Tigers.

Things of late, as Terrible Cartoons, of course.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

I’m just going to lead with that one because it makes me happy in my optic nerves. Everyone in the wide world of Tigers fans has his or her own opinion about the team. There is naturally a great deal of disagreement. But there is one thing upon which we can all agree, one thing that may be safely and universally acknowledged as an unequivocally beautiful sight: Alex Avila, pleased with his own walk-off hit, being doused in purple Gatorade by an almost unhealthily giddy Papa Grande. It is a fine thing, a fine thing indeed.

Especially when Avila’s jersey then gets all wet and it’s all sticking to his torso and it’s a home jersey so it’s white and bits get translucent when soaked, and you get all mad at FSD for not getting longer and more torso-inclusive shots post-soaking, and now I’ve said too much. Thank you, Papa Grande.

This keeps on happening, and I suppose it too is a fine thing. Every silver lining, of course, has its cloud, and Scherzer’s high K-counts are still tagging along with the logically attendant high pitch counts, but for now we will accept it.

Doug Fister injured his groin. The jokes came thick and fast and inevitably. Everyone is just real sorry about that, Mister Fister, but what do you expect from us? We are baseball fans. We are all ten years old.

Miguel Cabrera’s ankle has been sore for a while, and Leyland is finally paying attention, giving him some DH time and just now a day off. I haven’t seen anything more specific than “sore” to describe the State of Miggy’s Ankle, aside from this Mothership blurb earlier in the month:

During the Boston series, Miguel Cabrera fouled a ball off his left shin and, as a result, the third baseman has been experiencing some “drainage” in his ankle, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said on Sunday morning.

“He’s just getting some drainage in his ankle from that,” Rand said. “His [lower] leg gets sore just the more he’s on it.”
Jason Beck/Anthony Odoardi, DetroitTigers.com

What in the world does that mean? How can an ankle be experiencing ‘drainage’? That sounds anatomically difficult and worrying. I cannot know, I can only draw.

Drew Smyly is back! He got a spot start and should be sticking around in the bullpen even when he gets bumped from the rotation.

The persistence of Delmon Young’s mustache should be a source of concern for us all. But he has also been on a bit of a hitting tear lately. Does this… does this mean that the mustache is actually doing the hitting for him?? I think this is a possibility that we need to deeply consider. It would explain how that upper lip d├ęcor has hung around this long, despite (what must surely be) the strong recommendations of everyone who knows Delmon personally and also has eyes.

Just throwing this one in for good luck. The mantises have been back in attendance, all over MLB, and yes, they have been spotted– and occasionally photographed— in Detroit. Praise be!

of spitballs and other things


illustrations and photos by Samara Pearlstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Wrong uniform, but still a glorious bobblehead.


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


Ernie!

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

Helping out the Sox, and the Drew Smyly who wasn’t.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

You know, the Red Sox have been scuffling. They had been losing a fair amount, and were falling fast in the highly competitive (and currently upside-down) AL East. The papers were starting to get all agitated about the pitchers and Bobby Valentine was starting to get some especially virulent radio call-in stalkers– the usual Bostonian downward spiral stuff. On top of that, Dustin Pedroia, in many ways the lifeblood of the team, got hurt. Oh, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia just now came down with some sort of draining illness.

So this– this series right here– is precisely what the Red Sox needed. How nice of the Tigers to supply it so easily, so readily! So very accommodating of them! And the sad thing is that I would have been perfectly happy to see this happen with any other team… anyone but the Tigers. Thanks guys.

Poor Drew Smyly. He actually did not pitch that badly– and didn’t even get tagged with the loss, for whatever that’s worth– but that one bad inning was enough. He got the first two outs of the fourth quickly, after having given up only one hit in the previous three innings combined, but then Adrian Gonzalez hit a ground-rule double… and then David Ortiz homered… and Youkilis singled, and Will freakin’ Middlebrooks homered…

Just like that the Red Sox had four runs and Avila was having to go out to tell Smyly that he wasn’t a bad person, really, and everyone would still love him at the end of the day, and Jim would only yell at him a little bit and Miggy could give him so many hugs in the clubhouse after the game but could he please get out of this inning, please, right now, insert comforting butt-pat here.

As I said, he didn’t get the L, because the offense was not completely incompetent in this one, and he didn’t walk anyone so that was nice, but it still was not pretty. With Mister Fister going on the DL (SHRILL SCREAMING), that sort of inning is not what we really want to see from one of our starters. Maybe I am just reacting to the fact that it was particularly painful to see in person, but whatever.

Other things:

–The only two Tigers who spent significant time signing for fans before the game were Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. That’s kind of weird, right? That the two biggest names in the lineup would spend the most time signing for (mainly) Red Sox fans? It was kind of weird. But they were both super nice about it, which made me happy in my black little heart.

–Relatedly, PRINCE FIELDER SIGNED MY SKETCHBOOK. There’s a story behind this but it is long and probably sort of boring. The main thing is, PRINCE FIELDER SIGNED MY SKETCHBOOK.

–At one point during BP, Don Kelly came over to go into the dugout. A little kid (wearing a Sox hat) started begging for an autograph, yelling, “Mister Fister! Mister Fister!” I suppose all tall-ish skinny white dudes look the same when they’re not on your team.

–There were lots and lots of Tigers fans in the park, including a dude in a neon orange tiger-striped floppy hat that I coveted immediately.

–It was encouraging to see Andy Dirks moving around at least a little bit, even though he is supposed to be hobbled with a wonky Achilles right now. The fact that he got a single in his pinch hitting appearance was nice, even if he had to be pinch run for immediately. Still nice. Nice-ity nice nice.

–Gerald Laird was hitting 9th and DHing, because that’s the quickest and best way to jumpstart your offense, as everyone knows. So once Dirks had come in, and Santiago ran for him, the entire Tigers bench consisted of Don Kelly and Omir Santos. I believe the correct phrase for this is “OMG LOL”.

–For whatever reason I finally noticed Laird’s arm tattoos during this BP. They’re on his forearms, although inside and not outside like Inge. I could have sworn one read ‘Boston’, which seemed a bit odd, so I brought it up on Twitter earlier today and had it fan-firmed. He’s got BOSTON on one arm and BERLIN on the other and we believe these are the names of his children. I got nothin’. Thanks for being you, G-Money.

–A four-hit day for Miggy, with three doubles, is encouraging to see.

–Another BP story. A young-ish-looking dude in Tigers gear came running towards the dugout from the outfield. I took a few photos automatically, because that’s what I do, then looked to see who it was… and was so startled that I actually yelled, “JEFF KUNKEL?!!?” Because that is who it was. Jeff Kunkel, Michigan Wolverine, wearing a Tigers BP jersey and trotting about on the field at Fenway.

I immediately turned to the Twitters, who informed me that Mr. Kunkel had retired (or something) and was now one of the Tigers’ bullpen catchers, and henceforth would be traveling with the team. On the one paw, I am saddened that he has given up on the idea of catching in the big leagues. On the other paw, this is almost certainly a smart move for a whole host of reasons (not least of which is the ability and age of Our Savior Avila), and this way JEFF KUNKEL, MICHIGAN WOLVERINE of the RotT at Michigan Era, gets to stay with the Tigers in some capacity, which of course FILLS ME WITH GLEE.

You rock on with your wicked baseball self, Jeff Kunkel.

–You know what’s funny? The Tigers and Red Sox had exactly the same number of hits. But the Sox had three home runs and the Tigers had zero, and the Sox had more runs in the end. Funny how that works out, isn’t it? I AM LAUGHING SO HARD RIGHT NOW. THIS GRIMACE, IT IS ME LAUGHING.

–Seriously why did we call up Omir Santos, why did that happen

Lately, in cartoons.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

You knew, in your deepest readerly heart, that I would lead with this. You did. You knew it and you accept it, because you read Roar of the Tigers and you know that HATERS GONNA HATE, but not here. No. Here we are excited by the return of Brandon Inge.

Against all reason? Yes. Against all currently accepted baseball wisdom? Yes, mostly. Once you accept the irrationality, it becomes quite pleasant, this place where up is down, black is white, and Brandon Inge is getting real actual at-bats.

You know what else happened recently? Of course the Terrible Cartoon tells you: everyone’s favorite walking emoticon made his big league debut.

It went ok. He only lasted 4 innings, and threw 90 pitches in that time, which is kind of… you know… not so great. But he managed to only give up one run. It was a Carlos Pena home run, which is not so great and also painful as it just makes us all miss the cats out of Carlos Pena (we waited so long for you, Carlos! SO LONG!).

He did walk three Rays, which is not so good when considered in the context of the aforementioned four innings. But none of them came home, which is… you know what, let’s just forget about it. He made his debut, now he’s got that out of the way, the team rallied ’round and won the game– let’s leave it there.

(In addition, this happened. IT BEGINS.)

Someone had a birthdaaaaaay! Happy 27th, Mr. Boesch.

In order to make room for Smyly, the Tigers had to put Clete Thomas on waivers, as he was out of options. I’m not sure what they thought would happen, but what did happen was this: the Twins snatched him up, and have accepted him into their loving sticky snackcake embrace.

Also, bears.

Sunday was Jackie Robinson Day. Forty-two for all! It is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, you know.

In search of a fifth starter.


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Who’s it going to be? If the Tigers decide to keep their wandering eyes at home, that coveted final spot in the rotation will have to go to one of the following:

Drew Smyly
Pro: The very thought of him should make everyone happy.
Con: Only one season of minor league service under his belt thus far.

Duane Below
Pro: Most pun-able name, a boon for headline-writers throughout the Tigersphere.
Con: Potential hellish pun onslaught.

Andy Oliver
Pro: Has some big league experience, won’t be freaked out by Comerica or naked postgame hugs from Papa Grande.
Con: Big league experience was not that confidence-inducing.

Paws
Pro: Really tall, great downward motion on the mound.
Con: Lack of flexibility, pretty poor pick-off move.

Don Kelly
Pro: Can catch for his own relievers if necessary.
Con: May not be sufficiently stretched out to start.

Let the final run up to Fifth Starter Decision 2012 commence!