Category Archives: Exceptional Mental Makeup Mike

Chad Durbin pimps from the bullpen

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Sorry, Andrew Miller. I know you pitched 6 scoreless innings and managed to get yourself another win despite the fact that you’re so young you’re still wearing Spiderman underwear unironically, but Chad Durbin gets the headline and the leader image, because

a) most everyone else is going to have some kind of awful “Miller time!!!!111!!1eleventy-one LOL!” headline, and I see no need to subject people to more of that sort of thing, and
b) Chad Durbin was in fact pimp.

Instead of being discouraged by his unmerited banishment to the ‘pen, Durbin remained cool, calm, collected, pimptacular. He came in today to pitch 3 scoreless innings with only two hits and one walk. He looked reliable and in charge on the mound.

He ALSO (and this is the good bit) hit a sacrifice fly that went for an RBI! So although he did not manage a hit in his at-bat, he did manage to contribute offensively, and this is A VERY BIG DEAL for a pitcher, especially a newly-minted relief pitcher who, and I cannot stress this enough, was not supposed to be anything at all beyond cannon fodder this season. RBI!! That is DELIVERING THE GOODS. That is PIMP behavior.

Plus he got his very first ever save so, you know, congrats to him for that as well.

We had to face Ledezma again today, which is still weird. THE WOUND IS TOO RAW. Brandon Inge, bless his little high socks, doubled off of him, and then stole third so beautifully that Saltalamacchia (I spelled that without even checking, snap snap etc.) didn’t even attempt a throw. It was as though Inge had timed and anticipated Ledezma’s move perfectly… which is, no doubt, exactly what he did do. Inge may not be the crunchiest kibble in the cat food, but he’s fairly observant when it comes to baseball stuff, and I reckon being Ledezma’s teammate for ages made that steal a whole lot easier.

As for Miller, yeah, perfectly solid start. I would still like to see him working out his offspeed stuff more, and obviously everyone agrees on that… Miller himself said that he wanted/needed to develop his offspeed stuff during a little in-game interview with Peter Gammons. And there was this quote from Pudge after the game:

“He’s going to be a great pitcher,” Rodriguez said. “When he starts to work the slider and the changeup, combined with the sinker and the four-seam fastball, he’s going to be tremendous. He’s doing a good job with basically two pitches. When he becomes a four-pitch starter, he’s going to be very, very tough to hit.” article

I would trust Pudge to know.

With all that said, I think it’s clearer than ever where I stand on the issue of the rotation. I want Miller back in Toledo until September. I don’t care if he’s so far above AAA hitters that he’s blowing the snot out of their noses on a regular basis down there. He needs to work on his offspeed pitches, and he’s going to be more free to do so with the Mud Hens than he is as a starter with the big cats.

I know it worked out OK for Verlander (and I was grumbling that we should keep Verlander in the minors longer too, so possibly I have a brain full of kitty litter), but is Miller’s fastball as good as Verlander’s, when Verlander was at the same point in his tender fledgling development? I say that it is not. And it was Verlander’s fastball that had/has to carry him along until everything else comes. Major League hitters haven’t worked out how to get around on Verlander’s fastball yet, because it’s nasty. Miller’s is, I think, more generally hittable, so when hitters start getting used to him, he’s not going to be able to fight back, because he has no other pitches to really fall back on.


Oh, and it turns out that Mike Maroth has himself a little blog over on his own website. Here’s what he thinks of the trade. I have inserted paragraph breaks myself to make it… less a giant block of text.

The hardest part of the day came after I threw a bullpen at the stadium. It was time to tell my teammates good bye. I had been on the other side many times with guys getting traded or released but this was different. This team is special. I had been through a lot with the Tigers and grown up in the Big Leagues with a lot of these players.

Some of the guys I have played with for many years and had been through a lot with them. I played with Brandon Inge the longest starting back in AA in 1999 shortly after I was brought over to the Tigers from the Red Sox. My closest relationship is with Nate Robertson and we spent quite a bit of time talking and encouraging each other to press on. I have been used to spending almost everyday during the season with these guys and now that was going to end.

The relationships you build in baseball are special. You spend as much or more time with guys than you do most of your family. Essentially, they become your family. So, to say good bye to them was hard knowing that I was leaving the Tigers as well as the AL so there was a good chance I wouldn’t see a lot of them for awhile. But, It is time to start new relationships in a new organization and for that, I am excited. See you in St Louis!!!
Mike Maroth’s blog

So, OK, we could critique his writing style… oh, how we could critique his writing style… but I expect most of us are going to be too busy sniffling (Colt might actually be sobbing) over the content of that little gem to worry much about the fact that he writes like a middle schooler trying to bang out a book report.

I just want to remind you all that All Star voting ends at midnight of the 28th (that is, when the 28th turns into the 29th), and you NEED TO GET OFF YOUR RUMPS AND VOTE FOR MAGGLIO ORDONEZ. He is VERY DESERVING of an All Star trip, and he NEEDS VOTES, and ZOMG DO IT. Make multiple Yahoo email accounts just for the purpose of voting! You can vote 25 times per email account! MAKE IT HAPPEN, PEOPLE!

Magglio Ordonez needs my help, your help, the help of all of us! MAKE IT HAPPEN, TIGERS FANS. VOTE!

Oh, and did the “argument/discussion” tonight between Jon Miller and Joe Morgan about the definition of a slugger vs. a hitter and how that pertained to Magglio make anyone else want to stab their ears out? Or was that just me?

into enemy territory: Maroth traded to the Cardinals

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Word on the internet street is that Mike Maroth has been traded to the dread Red Birds. As of right now, it’s unclear who (or what) the Tigers have received in return.

So, who’s left from the 2003 team now? Inge, Bondo, Infante, Nate, Fernando, and Craig, right? Alas, those who remember the Tigers at their worst, and who can thus appreciate the Tigers NOW all the better, are dwindling fast.

I’ll miss Maroth, and I bloody well hope we got someone glorious for him. I suppose Albert Pujols is out of the question, eh?
The Cardinals had better appreciate his Exceptional Mental Makeup over there.

More details as they become available.

edit: We’re getting a currently faceless Player To Be Named Later for Maroth. I guess we can get him any time before September 15. It’ll be some minor leaguer… I hope we’ve got someone down there scouting the snot out of the Cards’ system. And it might not seem like much, but just remember, kids and cats: Bondo was a PTBNL too.

Todd Jones is frightening me.

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I tried to convey the fear I am starting to feel when I see Todd Jones in that image up there, but I don’t think I’ve accurately captured the appropriate level of it. The Tigers were up 9-1 at one point, and the score was 9-8 when the game ended, thanks in no small part to Todd Jones’ sudden desire to give up 5 hits and 3 runs in the 9th.

On the one hand, you have to give Jonesy props for remaining cool-headed throughout that entire trying inning and being ABLE to get that last out (Fernando would not have gotten it because he would have been too busy screaming inside his own brains and trying to gnaw off his own right leg). On the other hand, WHY WAS IT THAT CLOSE AND THAT NERVE-WRACKING? OH THAT’S RIGHT, BECAUSE OF TODD JONES.

Maybe a (at the time when he came in) 4-run lead wasn’t enough to get Jonesy fired up properly? Maybe he wanted that Save stat really, REALLY badly, so he decided to take a nonsave situation and make it into a save. Only when he started giving up runs, he couldn’t stop, because he thought ‘well, a save is better than a nonsave’, and then he thought, ‘well, a dramatic save is better than a regular save’, and then we nearly hit disaster, because you can only get so dramatic before drama starts to equal LOSING.

I’m sure the Nationals had something to do with it too but, ehhh. *dismissive hand-waving gesture*

Exceptional Mental Makeup Mike Maroth hit a double today! It wasn’t some bloop hit like Bondo’s was either, it was a proper ball with some legs that made its way nearly to the warning track in centerfield. Real big-league hittin’. He later came around to score. Obviously the Tigers do well when their pitchers step up to the plate.

Chad Durbin, we’re waitin’ on you.

(I also want to note that since the game was in DC, I was seeing the Nats feed. The first time he came up one of them [nameless as always, I pay such close attention at the starts of games] pronounced Marcus Thames’ last name as “thayms”, as in, long A and actually pronouncing the TH. I was stunned. I’ve heard it pronounced “tems” like the river, and I’ve heard it pronounced “tims”, which is correct. I’ve never heard anyone actually say the TH before. They said his name properly later in the game, but I bet someone had to come in and correct them. Good job, Nats announcers. Top work.)

Fernando Rodney does it again

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

If you treat the phrase “Fernando Rodney does it again” as an algebraic formula, then “it” would be the variable, and in this case “it” equals “blows a game by failing to keep a small baseball in a very large ballpark.”

I’m bringing back this tiger, because I think he’s the only thing that can make me crack a smile after Fernando does his little “whoops I’m bad at basball!” dance yet again.

Have I mentioned how much I dislike Fernando Rodney? I’m pretty sure that I have. What a loathsome pitcher. I think what really rubs me the wrong way is the fact that Fernando has this kind of hard-throwing control-issue-riddled pitching style that seems like it would be perfectly appropriate for a young guy. You know, some punk kid reliever who thinks his mediocre (i.e. Zumayan) flameballing ways are enough to cut it in the majors. Then the kid acts all mad and sulky and outraged when his control deserts him, all, “How DARE my control do this to ME?”

That’s excusable (‘tho still laughable) in a young guy. Not so much in Fernando Rodney, who is 30 YEARS OLD, and definitely still acts like that on the mound. Even if we ignored his results this season (which I am not doing), this would get my hackles up.

In his usual stylish way, Fernando did not just lose the game today; he managed to lose a closely-played game, thus making things much more agonizing. THANKS PANTSLOADS, Fernando.

Mike Maroth threw a pretty damn good game for someone who actually threw a fairly awful game. The way he chips at the sides of the strike zone… ugh, it’s like watching a bloody sculptor work on a block of marble. Chip. Chip. Chip. Tiny little flakes… it’s infuriating. You start thinking that you’ve never seen someone chip so tentatively and weakly at the strike zone as Maroth does. But eventually the sculpture takes shape, and if that shape has the form of a 7 inning game with only 1 run given up on 9 hits and 4 walks, well…. that’s not a masterpiece, but that’s not a hideous sculpture at all. Sigh. Again, thanks Fernando.

Now everybody can see why Verlander’s no-hitter was so good for the Tigers on every level. The fact that he was pitching so well meant that Leyland was going to make every effort to throw him out there for all 9 innings, which meant: no bullpen! Which is good! Because the bullpen is starting to make a habit of doing THINGS LIKE THIS.

Anyways! Don’t forget the campaign to get Placido Polanco into his rightful spot on the All Star roster!

The cat’s name is Izzy.

Oh, and if anyone saw a crazy kid in a bright orange Tigers hat suddenly look up to the sky in the PetsMart parking lot today and blow a blatant kiss to a seagull circling overhead… that was me, and I’m not sorry at all.

bonked on the head by the sinker of Fausto Carmona

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Urgh. Not a good series, even worse because it was against THE big rival right now. Taking our division lead from us…. *grumble grumble grumble*. Remember the days when the AL Central was kind of a joke? Where are those halcyon days? Why can’t we get them back?

I shouldn’t complain. After all, the division being good includes us. We could be the Royals… futile as ever AND stuck in a division suddenly everyone’s afraid to play.

See, now I’ve gone and mentioned the Royals, and everything I was going to complain about in today’s game, and in this series, suddenly seems so inconsequential.

From this game, the good:

–Exceptional Mental Makeup Mike Maroth displaying his EMM once again, having a TERRIBLE first inning (4 runs immediately, blargh) and more or less kicking rear for another 7 innings, thus saving us from having to use the tissue-thin bullpen.

–Brandon Inge breaking up his hitless streak with a double.

–Quote of the day, from umpire Bruce Froemming, the longest-tenured ump in MLB today (I think).

Froemming: “Do you know how good my eyes are?”
Young ump: “How good are they?”
Froemming: “On a clear day, I can see the sun. It’s 93 million miles away, and I can still see it.”

Good job Bruce Froemming. Although the distance of the earth from the sun varies over the course of its orbit, it is in fact generally between 91 and 95 million miles away. Good on him for knowing his astronomy.

Random trivia fact: I was at Bruce Froemming’s 5000th game, as it was in Fenway.

From this game, the bad:

–Losing to the Racist Logos.

–Compounding the slide down out of first place.

–Ryan Garko (went into what he did yesterday in the previous post. Today he homered in 3 runs in the first).

–Failing to reward Maroth’s EMM.

–9 men left on base.

–We have to face the Racist Logos again soon… and next time, in their house. Oy.

That’s a lot of bad, and it’s substantially worse than the good… but like I just said, when you think about the Royals, it’s hard to feel as terrible as you otherwise might. Be cheered, Detroit fans!

Fabulous news for people who want to delve further into the depths of my insanity!
[NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: all the links in here died with MVN. Sorry. Sucks.]

Some of you may already be aware of The Last Page. It’s MVN’s space for writers to post “feature-length” articles, as opposed to short little things like we throw up on the blogs.

I had been telling the General MVN Overlord, Evan, about my senior thesis project. He was fascinated/horrified by it, and immediately said that I should do a write-up of it for The Last Page. I figured it would be a nice little exercise in recapping the madness for me when the whole thing was done, and agreed.
Then The Last Page started up for real… and I read the essays people posted. Essays about drug use in sports. About free agency. About new hockey rules. Serious essays, written seriously.


Nobody’s going to read it. It’s long, it’s about a freakin’ art project, and it’s bizarre to the max, and makes me look even more psychotic than THIS blog does.

That said, if anyone DOES want to read it, the permalink is right thisaway. Feel free to comment. I’ve had lots of feedback on this project from artists, and almost none from baseball fans.
*shamelessly plugs*

Maroth has trouble containing Angel balls, and a critique of Tiger art (!!!)

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Eh. That about sums it up. Not the worst control I’ve seen Maroth have, and his Exceptional Mental Makeup will doubtless be fine even following his first loss of the season; it wouldn’t be so Exceptional if he were easily rattled. The Rally Monkey Angels just hit him well, and when they hit him it went out of the park. Boom. Ball, meet bat. Ball, get little feathery angel wings. Mike Maroth, get sad frowny face.

He WAS just sick with the flu (or at least those ubiquitous “flu-like symptoms” that dog baseball clubhouses all year long), and hadn’t been eating because his poor stomach does not have the same Exceptional Makeup and toughness that his mind has. I guess he could have been a little weak today, which might have led to him leaving the ball up a little, which might have led to Angel homers. I’m sure he wouldn’t venture to use it as an excuse, but eh, there it is.

As for the Tiger bats… the Rally Monkeys played sick defense. What can you say? Some of those balls would have been hits on another night.

Really the worst part of this game was having to watch them suddenly come to life in the 9th inning, giving us all hope… that insane, swooping hope you get when it seems like the highly improbable is about to happen right before your baseball-loving eyes, and then…. it doesn’t. That was a little agonizing.

Ehhhhhh. I can’t even get too fired up about this loss. I just want to see Bondo come back, which he should do for his next scheduled start (that’s Thursday, mind you). Tomorrow is Colon/Durbin, which, aside from being a matchup wildly in the Rally Monkeys’ favor, has the potential to lead to some EXCELLENT headline generation. So you know there’s stuff to look forward to.

National Doodle Day is a fundraiser to raise money for “education, advocacy… and research” about neurofibromatosis. The idea is that they get celebrities (of varying levels of fame) to make little doodles, which they then auction off to raise money.

I point this out here because they had 3 Tigers submit doodles, and OBVIOUSLY WE MUST REGARD THEM CLOSELY. The images link to the eBay auctions for each doodle, where you can see them larger.

First up, Sean Casey.

It kind of looks like he just signed his name over and over again in differing levels of sloppiness. I think I see a “Mayor” thrown in there too. There’s also a… I hesitate to call it a person, since the limbs appear to be sausages, but there’s a FIGURE in there anyhow. Maybe it’s a self-portrait. In which case we can only tell the Mayor that his ears really aren’t that big, he doesn’t have to feel so bad about them.

Next! Ernie Harwell!!

Nice and simple. His handwriting is good. The baseball is recognizeable. He could have gotten a little crazier with it, I think… after all, it’s National Doodle Day, not National Design a Greeting Card Day, and in this sense the Mayor has him beat. But it’s Ernie Harwell, so that’s at least 50 awesomeness points right there.

My personal favorite of the bunch (when it comes to doodles, anyhow), Jordan Tata.

This one you’ve GOT to see large. He actually. Drew. A mudhen. WADING THROUGH A MARSH. Wearing a baseball hat. HE SPENT TIME CAREFULLY RENDERING THE TEXT LOGO OF THE TEAM. This is an amazing piece of doodlework and my estimation of Jordan Tata is at least doubled by it. He obviously spent some time and thought on it. HE DREW A MUDHEN. I may never get over this.

in which Brandon Inge gives the blogger a very nice commencement present

photo by Samara Pearlstein

So this past Sunday. There was a Tigers game, and it was won in marvelous fashion, and I was there.

If you’re lazy and don’t want to read about it, you can leap over to the photo set and poke around there. All of the photos there, and, obviously, all the photos here, are miiiine. Except the ones that have me in them. My mother took those.

We weren’t supposed to win this game. It was to be Bonderman/Santana, an exciting matchup, but rainout had pushed everyone up a day, and nobody expected Maroth, Exceptional though his Mental Makeup may be*, to hold his own against Johan Santana. Johan Santana is not just a pitcher; he is a two-time All Star and a two-time Cy Young winner and what is Mike Maroth? Mike Maroth has an Exceptional Mental Makeup and an 87 mph fastball.

Mike Maroth decided that today was going to be the day he went toe-to-toe with Johan Santana. Look at this. Just LOOK AT IT.

Johan Santana: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Mike Maroth: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Either Santana is not supposed to pitch that poorly, or Maroth is not “supposed” to pitch that well. But I am getting ahead of myself.

We got to the ballpark early, which turned out to be a good move, because there was a particular lot we had to park in and all the roads around it, pretty much, were blocked off. We still made it into the park with about an hour, hour and a half ’til gametime, which meant that I had time to go bum around by the dugout for visiting BP.

You can see Torii’s lip is all swollen from where he got hit in the face by Zack Greinke’s pitch. He still hung around and signed for a bit, which is more than any other Twin did (I don’t exactly blame them; the crowd begging for autographs was mostly older teenagers/kids in their early 20s, and most of them had whole albums or boxes of cards with them). Over on the Tigers’ side, Kenny Rogers signed things from the dugout. Well, not like he had anything better to be doing.

We got a bit of a surprise with the first pitch…

Calvin Johnson, who had just been drafted the day before. Poor guy has no idea what he’s got himself into. The Lions will find a way to ruin him and break his spirit sooner or later.

The game began uneventfully, the best bit coming in the top of the 2nd, when Mike Redmond tried to go to third on a pop out to left field, only to get himself thrown out by Craig for the last out of the inning. It was an uncharacteristically sloppy Twin play, but was happy good times for almost everyone in the ballpark.

Continue reading

kicking jet lag in its imaginary groin

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Yeah, take THAT, West Coast!

If you made it all the way through this game, I am very proud of you. Not only was it a 10pm start time to begin with, it was also slow as a three-toed sloth for much of the game. I am tired, and you know that’s a bad sign.

Baby Weaver got snotknocked here: 7 runs (‘tho only 5 earned) over 1.2 innings pitched. Is it possible that our offense is coming around? I don’t want to say things like that, because it just seems so preposterous. The bats (minus Polanco) have been so limp and noodley. But it’s hard to ignore the kind of beating they administered to Weaver.

(Meeeeemorieeeeessss… of another fellow by the name of Weaver, whom we know all too well)

Maroth did not look too sharp, which was a little worrying in some ways and not so worrying in others. On the one hand, he’s Mike Maroth; he throws soft, he throws just a little big junky, he’s not going to have a real high K rate under the best of circumstances. But today, oy. Five walks over 4.2 innings? And to think, I was worrying about Verlander just the other day… Maroth’s (lack of) control makes Justin’s walks look like tiny little kittens.

Two Wrong Coast games, then back here. Man. What a (hopefully) hot mess this team’s gonna be on the plane after the ballgame tomorrow.

frozen cats wielding frozen bats

bat icicles by Samara Pearlstein

Man, snood central out there today. I was DELIGHTED to see the trend extend past Polanco; Pudge started the game with a head sock (which I think he later discarded) and Magglio at times had every part of his face except for his eyes covered. Sadly, this awesome attire did not cause correspondingly awesome play. Maggs had trouble in the outfield AGAIN, and the entire offense just was a frozen lump of woe.

I’m not ready to panic about Maggs yet, though. I think he just really, really, REALLY hates/can’t handle cold weather. All we can do is hope it warms up right quick so he’s not as miserable as he clearly is right now. (And before he injures himself in some cold-stiff joint or other.) Lynn Henning is on FSN right now saying that Maggs is (and last year was) a defensive liability. I really don’t think he was as bad as all that. If he’s still doin’ this kind of crud when it warms up, I’ll bow to the debatably superior wisdom of Mr. Henning, but we shall see.

Verlander looked pretty darn good, which is on the one hand a big positive, given the concerns about his readiness and his tired arm and all that jazz. On the other hand, these are the Royals, and not to disrespect the Royals or anything but… these are the Royals. I’m not exactly pleased with the number of walks he issued, but the fact that the only run he gave up over 6 innings was unearned is a pleasant thing to contemplate.

Now, you KNOW I’ve got to mention Brandon Inge. Because Brandon Inge showed us today that he has RANGE at third, hurling himself all over the infield dirt. Brandon Inge. Stoppin’ balls, makin’ plays. Seriously, that play where he hurled himself on his stomach basically into shortstop territory, stopped the ball, and sent it sharply along to first for the out… hawt? Yes. Hawt.

Of course, Sean Casey made an EXCELLENT play on the other end of that ball, scooping it backhanded at first and just managing to keep his foot on the base long enough for the out, after which he immediately fell over onto his rump. I appreciated that play as well. I would maybe not go so far as to call it HAWT, but I would definitely say that it made me SQUEE.

Also SQUEEworthy was seeing everyone in the dugout all bundled up in their jackets and things. Especially Bondo, who was standing at the rail with a BRIGHT RED NOSE and you just wanted to give him some hot chocolate (with marshmallows in, natch) and, I dunno, a bunch of mittens or something.

All of this would have been much easier to enjoy if we had WON. We’re barely into the season and already I’m getting restless. But much less despairing than I normally would be at this time of year; I think last season has mellowed me somewhat.

Except when it comes to Fernando. He’s feeling “out of synch”. No, really? I never would’ve guessed. *insert rude, exasperated gesture here*

MIKE MAROTH HAS A BUZZ CUT. They interviewed him after the game, since he’s starting tomorrow… not that any of us will be able to see it unless we’re there, because the game isn’t televised. (Not that I’d be able to see it anyways if the Wolverines don’t have another game snowed/frozen out… but they did today, so, who knows.) “Anything to try to add a few miles per hour… heh, I don’t think it will though.” Mike Maroth: painfully adorable. I hope he blows the snot out of ’em tomorrow, so we can stop worrying about his arm and so that we can feel less embarrassed about losing to the Royals. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Sigh. At least we didn’t get ACTUALLY snowed out like they did in Cleveland today. That’ll make you frozen AND frustrated, because you waste all that time playing/watching people play, and it’s all for naught.

What Rod and Mario Said Today

Apparently they have a people-in-hot-dog-suits race in KC these days… red vs. yellow vs. green. Presumably meant to represent condiments. Rod and Mario were tickled by these oblong wonders.

Mario: Oh… oh no…
*both laughing*
Rod: Red’s got some nice form.
Mario: Ketchup’s comin’ on hard.

Then Rod broke out this gem, which any Michigan native will appreciate.

Rod: They should put Belle Tire out there, he’d beat ’em all.

You know that wasn’t an endorsement either; he just came up with that out of his own deranged mind. I love it.

the Great Seed Chucking Battle of Spring Training 07

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The game was televised today, joy of joys, meaning that we got treated to things most marvelous: Rod and Mario! Interviews with various players! Players harassing each other while being interviewed!
I missed the first few innings due to scholarly things, but I took bemused notes on the rest of it, and here you have them.

Rod says there are the only two major leaguers to ever have 30 or more HRs with 5 different teams, and those two guys are Fred McGriff and Sheffield. I think this says less about the hitting ability of Sheff and McGriff (which no one doubts), and more about their attitudes; if you hit that well, why on earth would you be switching teams that often? Probably because you’re a wanker.

Craig’s knee, worry worry. Knee injuries tend to linger and tend to reflare and tend to be pretty easy to reaggravate in baseball… look at how they get torqued around when a batter twists his body. Craig HAS to play outfield too, we already have a bit of a logjam at 1B/DH. More things to concern me as we head towards the season proper.

This one’s for all the Vance Wilson fangirls in da house, yo.

Rod: Vance Wilson, backing up Pudge again this year… in my opinion, the best catching tandem in all of baseball.
Mario: I agree.
Rod: Between him and Pudge Rodriguez last year, they committed just THREE errors. You can’t run on them, they block balls in the dirt, they just do a tremendous job of handling the pitching staff.

I had NO idea they only committed three errors (and am far too tired/lazy to check Rod’s claims there). I don’t know about the BEST catching tandem, but day-um, that’s pretty bloody good.

Mario: Check out the bouncy house out there Rod [referring to the big inflatable tiger-striped structure in the outfield where small children can jump around and squeal to their heart’s content]. We’ve gotta do a broadcast from out there one day.
Rod: I’d get dizzy out there…. that’s for the little peeps.

Apparently just two lefties (Thome and Morneau) homered off of Nate last year.

Mario: What’s up with the hair?
[Verlander has this bizarre pseudo emo hair goin’ on, with big chunky shaggy bangs]
JV: Yeah, I’m trying to go Magglio-style, grow it out, it’s kinda in the awkward stage.
[Maggs’ hair works because it’s curly. Justin’s hair is straight as straw and manifestly does NOT work]

Someone is throwing stuff at him. It is… he says Mike. Maroth? I think they’re seeds. Mike Maroth is chucking seeds at Verlander from off camera. Roar of the Tigers proudly brings you this vital spring training bulletin.

Verlander says he asked Kenny and Bondo about his arm pain every day because he was so green last season that he didn’t know if it was fatigue or actual injury, since he’s not used to pitching that much and had no idea what to expect in the way of arm soreness.

Rod: Rumor has it you bought a little toy there in the offseason.
[everyone laughs… I immediately think, “Holy cats, he bought himself a vibrator??”]
Verlander: Ha ha, yeah… [shyly] it’s an 07 911 Turbo Porsche… it’s pretty fast… I like it.”
Mario and Rod together: PRETTY fast??!?!?
Rod: Well good for you, you earned it.
[everyone laughs]

Guys are getting a lot of walks, but I think that’s more because the DRays are having pitching issues than because anyone’s being particularly patient. I want to believe, but I’ll need some real season, longterm proof before I declare the team’s patience issues even partially resolved.

He freely admits that he was throwing seeds at Verlander, now Verlander is behind him ready to sneakily chuck seeds or something at Maroth.

He’s got a buzz cut and he’s wearing a light blue polo style collared short sleeve shirt that I SWEAR I have seen him wear before. Hmm.

Verlander comes up, grabs Maroth’s collar from behind… looks like he dumped seeds down the back of his shirt. Oh boys. I love it.

Maroth says his arm feels good, his arm feels good, his arm feels good times 10, Kenny was a big help, blah blah blah.

“It’s [his knee] feelin’ better, it’s better than I thought today, so you know what that makes me excited… I wanna be out there and havin’ some fun.”

When asked about Sheffield: “One of the big things, he talks about shrinkin’ the zone, last year you saw us swinging, you know we’re free hackers [no shizz, kid], so maybe we can… shrink the zone…. he [Sheffield] says ‘you’re in control, you gotta allow this guy to make a mistake’.”

So here is MY question. If we’re making an analogy of this, would it look like so?
Kenny Rogers:pitching staff :: Gary Sheffield:hitters

We hear second-hand from Mario that Leyland feels Clevlen and Dlugach are defensive big leaguers right now. If they could hit “quite a bit” they could be starters right now. See, hmm. You can teach hitting but you can’t teach a good eye. You can teach some aspects of defense and some you can’t. The breaking point with these kids will be how much they have and if they just need teachable things, because then they can improve. If they don’t have the, uh, unteachables, they can only go so far.

Just before commercial break they show him adjusting his headphones, making me wonder how they get them to fit on his enormous head.

“Yeah, I feel pretty good, Mario, right now, I’m working out a lot, taking some extra swings.” I love how he calls Rod and Mario by their names in that very particular way.

On what it’s like playing in the postseason: “Very fun, very fun, it’s like uh, once you’re in the playoffs you forget about everything what happen, I even forget about my shoulder…”

On the shoulder: “It is probably 85% [when he first came back], but I didn’t know how bad it was until the offseason when I was doing nothing and it still hurt, but… I’d say it’s very close to 100% [now].”

When asked about the lineup…
Polanco: You don’t know who to pitch to in this lineup, you have Magglio and Guillen and him [Sheff] and Pudge…
Mario and Rod together: And you, don’t forget about you!
Polanco: Noooo, ah, no.
[with a big grin]

Um, I think I adore him a little bit.

Big cheers from the crowd for Cameron Maybin after a diving catch fighting the sun (he didn’t see it ’til the last minute), and then another sunny but less eventful catch. Rod and Mario talk about how he’s only 19 years old (DAMMIT I AM OLD AND CLEARLY A FAILURE IN LIFE) and people want him up now, etc etc. HE’S JUST A BABY.

Mario: What’s 20 minus 11?
Rod: I don’t know, you the college graduate…. I gotta get my calculator out for that one.

“Honest guy [Leyland], man, he tells you what he expects out of you, you can’t take short cuts to win championships…”

On what he thinks of Detroit’s hitters: “I think here it’s a more balanced lineup… over there [in New York], you know, we’re lookin’ for a three run homer… if the pitcher’s on, it’s hard to scratch those runs out when you don’t got the guys…”

Did he seriously just say that Detroit’s lineup is better and more balanced than the Yankees? Gary Sheffield= lol. I mean, I love the Tigers and they’re definitely one of the best hitting lineups in baseball, but I think he’s more than a little bitter right now, you know?

Sheffield’s wife is a gospel (or something) singer… she had a concert in Tampa that Sheff invited some of the team and Leyland to.
Rod: Skipper get busy?… He said the Skipper was in there bobbin’ and weavin’…
Mario: Well we saw him doing the moonwalk in Toronto last year…

Neifi comes up to bat with the bases loaded, skitters a hit to third past a diving3Bman, SHOCK AND AMAZE. Two runs in, he doubled. Hm. Neifi delivering? Crazy talk!