Category Archives: Grilli

Jim Leyland says many bleep-able things: causes, flip out, and effects.

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

It brings me a deep and uncomplicated joy when Jim Leyland flips out. Let’s take a look at the whole story, from sort-of start to fabulous finish.

First, there was an article. It was pretty silly.

“It’s so relaxed in here,” says Sheffield, who is hitting .189 with two home runs and eight RBI as he struggles with right shoulder pain. “I don’t know if that means that we don’t have a killer instinct or we’re just a real loose team. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Sheffield looks around the clubhouse. It is two hours before game time against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and video is being shown of Dan Haren, the opposing pitcher.

No one is watching.

Cabrera, who had never faced Haren, is asleep in a chair. Magglio Ordonez has his back turned to the TV and is reading a magazine. A handful are playing cards.

Detroit lost 4-3, with Ordonez getting three of the six hits. The loss provided a snapshot of the year.
Bob Nightengale/USA Today article

Let me just start by saying that this is a TERRIBLE example game to use and I have no idea why this particular game was chosen. The set-up you see in the quote here is a clubhouse full of hitters who are not watching tape of the starting pitcher. You expect the game to be lost because of poor offense, yes?

That happened… sort of. Dan Haren is a good pitcher. He held the Tigers to 3 runs. Dan Haren’s ERA went UP after this game. The Tigers lost because of errors and Zach Miner’s inability to hold Bondo’s line. This has very little to do with guys watching or not watching tape of Dan Haren. I just needed to point that out.

I don’t want to pick on Sheff specifically. I really, really don’t. A lot of guys on this team were scuffling and, although Sheff is definitely one of the problems, what with his magically un-DL-able busted body and his sub-.200-batting average and all, he is also definitely not the only problem. But then he WENT AND CALLED OUT THE TEAM for being too… I don’t even know. Sedate? Un-gritty (smooth)? Lackadaisical (odds on a pro ballplayer ever using this word in an interview: not good)?

I get that Gary is probably doing a lot of extra BP and a lot of extra prep work before games to try to combat the mighty suck that has enveloped his personal bat of late. At least, I assume that he is doing this, because he seems shocked that other people are not. But if it is not working for him, maybe he should, you know, wait until he has a leg to stand on before deriding everyone else’s pregame work?

I love the way that was written, too. Gary Sheffield gazes around the clubhouse. People are NAPPING. People are PLAYING CARDS. You, the reader, are invited to view this scene through Gary Sheffield’s eyes, with all the disdain and horror that implies. Artful, really.

And then, of course, it’s Magglio Ordonez, he of the listless magazine reading, who went and got most of the team’s hits against Dan Haren. Dan Haren, who is having a pretty freaking awesometastical season. How dare Maggs not watch more tape if he’s only going to get 3 hits off a quality starter??? That CAD!

The article got even better when someone had the bright idea of interviewing Jason Grilli.

“It seems like they kind of broke up our team chemistry when they got rid of Sean Casey and good people like that,” says Grilli, now with the Colorado Rockies. “You wanted guys like that around. You wanted a guy like Inge playing behind you, knowing he would go through a brick wall.

“Talent-wise on paper, that is one of the greatest teams assembled, but the atmosphere was stale and stagnant. You kept losing, losing and losing, and everybody became distant. I have good friends over there, and I feel badly for them.”
Bob Nightengale/USA Today article

Not to put too fine a point on this, but LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL.

Ohhhh Grilli. I mean, I assume this wasn’t freely volunteered. I assume he was questioned about this, and only said these things in response to that direct questioning. I assume the same thing happened with Sheff. In that sense, it’s not really their fault. They’re just being honest. But, as with Sheff, maybe Grilli should have waited until he had a solid leg to stand on before bagging on the rest of the team, y’know?

Also, if getting rid of Sean Casey was enough to send the Tigers into a depressive spiral of woe and losing, this team has problems that no simple change is going to be able to fix. C’mon. Weren’t Tigers saying THE EXACT SAME THINGS when The Farns got traded? This statement is ridiculous on so many levels. It’s not surprising that a ballplayer spouted it, this is what they do, but the fact that so many people are taking the sentiments behind it seriously kinda blows my mind.

For the sake of your sanity and mine, we will move on from the silly article to Mr. Leyland’s response. The interview is up on 97.1 FM and can be downloaded as an MP3 using this link. I HIGHLY suggest you do so. The mere written words, lacking the punch of Leyland’s voice, do not do the rant justice. I think we all owe 97.1 some sincere thanks for getting this thing online for us, because it is truly epic.

This is all Jim Leyland talking, except where otherwise noted. If I couldn’t figure out what he was saying (most of the bleeps are obvious, but a few aren’t), I noted that in brackets too.

And I really take offense to Jason Grilli’s thing about, uh, we lost Sean Casey… you gotta be f**kin’ kidding me. We lost Sean Casey?… Jason Grilli oughta just worry about Colorado. Jason Grilli’s not here any longer because Jason Grilli didn’t pitch good under pressure situations, he didn’t pitch very well in Detroit.

Now, you wanna tell it like it is, and players wanna start talkin’, I’ll start talkin’, and I’m very reserved about stuff like that.

Jason Grilli, Jason Grilli oughta worry about Colorado. Not Detroit.

…Don’t misunderstand one thing, I miss Sean Casey. But Sean Casey has nothing to do with the fact that the Tigers are where we’re at. Now let’s get that f**kin’ straight right now.

Jason Grilli should not have roused the wrath of Jim Leyland.

If people wanna start talkin’ about things and this and that and what this guy’s doing and what that guy’s doing, they should look in the mirror… [With] what some of these guys are doing on this club, they should, the last thing they should be doing is poppin’ off to the newspaper. ‘Cause it’s diversionary tactics and they look foolish. Now you can quote every bit of that.

There’s nothing wrong with, inside the clubhouse. The problem here is in between the lines. But everybody looks for an excuse…. and to me that’s a weak excuse. Look in the mirror.

You know if you don’t like what’s goin’ on in the clubhouse, and you’re a player, then say somethin’ about it. Put a name to it. I read some stuff today, oh, we did this, we did that, now we’re not doing this and that, well put a name to it. That’s all. Stick your chest out, put a name to it. You can quote me on that. Put a name to it.

This is where Leyland starts to threaten his own players. Having seen the previous article, I believe we may all be sure that he was at least part of the time referring to Gary Sheffield.

Players wanna play games with the press, I’ll play games with the press. And it won’t be very pretty. That’s [long bleep]. Trust me when I tell you that, that’s all [possibly bulls**t?], it doesn’t have anything to do with a guy hanging a slider or missing a fastball right down the cock or throwin’ a ball away… doesn’t have nothing to do with it.

That’s a weak excuse. That’s a lame excuse. “It wasn’t fair for people to have expectations,” why wasn’t it fair? The f**k you talking about it wasn’t fair? We’re supposed to have loved the expectations. We’re saying it wasn’t fair to have expectations? What, what the f**k are you talking about?

I’m a f**king grown man… I can take my heat, and I deserve some, for the performance of this club. But if you… you better be careful when you’re a player… you’re f**kin’ hittin’ .200, .220 and strikin’ out and strikin’ out and hittin’ .200 and .215 and .2… you shouldn’t be poppin’ off. In my opinion…. You oughta be takin’ care of your own s**t.

The bit about expectations is apparently in response to something Carlos Guillen said about expectations being too high. Carlos also should not have tempted the wrath of Jim Leyland.

I do love how he throws the “in my opinion” in there. Gotta be careful to qualify all these statements, dontcha know!

They wanna play games, I’ll play games, and it won’t be long, I’ll put f**king names to it, if they want me to. I’m not quite to that point yet. Wanna play f**king games, I’ll play games, I’ll quit protectin’ some of these guys night after night after night after night, and I’ll put some f**kin’ names.

Perhaps a reference to the mystery of Sheff remaining off the DL? A dig at Brandon Inge? Who knows! But we LOVE IT.

This is where the bleeping picks up significantly.

[reporter asks, “What kind of effect can that have?]

I don’t give a f**k… People start makin’ weak excuses in the f**kin’ newspaper, diversionary tactics and s**t, that rubs me wrong. I don’t give a f**k what effect it has. It can’t have a bad effect ’cause we’ve been as horses**t as you can be, so it can’t hurt.

I’m not lookin’ for problems here but I’m a f**kin’ man, I look in the mirror, when I’m horses**t I’m horses**t and right now I’m horses**t and there’s a few f**kers in that clubhouse right now that are horses**t too, and they need to look in that mirror. Don’t look in mine, look in theirs. And don’t look at the f**kin’ guy next to ’em, look in the f**kin’ mirror yourself. Don’t be pointin’ f**kin’ fingers over here and there… that’s all weak s**t, really [bleep], some of the other s**t I read in the paper today, that’s weak f**kin’ s**t. WEAK.

Jim Leyland: not a fan of horses**t.

[reporter asks what Grilli even means when he says the atmosphere is ‘stagnant’]

Well we’re stagnant between the lines. The clubhouse hasn’t changed a f**kin’ bit. We come to the clubhouse, we do everything we’ve always done in the clubhouse, sit in the [something?] room, bulls**t with each other, we f**kin’ walk around, do whatever the f**k they do, they look at film, they look at tape, they hit extra, they do the same thing they’ve always done.

Grilli should worry about Colorado. And if Jason Grilli’d done a better job, he’d still be here. So I don’t wanna hear any weak s**t from Jason Grilli right now either, because he belongs to somebody else. My concern is the guys out here that are talkin’ weak s**t…. Weak s**t. Look in the mirror. Look at the f**kin’ numbers. You’re worried about the f**kin’… clubhouse?

“I don’t wanna hear any weak s**t from Jason Grilli,” is one of my new favorite quotes of all time. So pithy. So earthy. So perfect.

As if all this is not awesome enough, Leyland ends the interview on a high note, by drawing a fun comparison between his own situation and that of Tigers writer Jason Beck.

What d’you think, Beck?

[reporters nervously laugh]

You write a f**kin’ horses**t story, you don’t blame [Detroit Free Press writer] John Lowe, do you?

[reporters crack the hell up]


What was the ultimate result of all this glorious insanity? The Tigers hit well tonight, including a 4-for-4, 5 RBI day for Edgah (who is obviously feeling the power of the high socks). Verlander pitched well, if laboriously (100+ pitches in 6 innings). The bullpen blew kibble chunks, but for once we had enough offense on the board to buffer against that.

A spirited response to fiery curse words from the manager? Relief at being back in Detroit? General WEAKITUDE on the part of Mariners pitcher? Too early to tell. We shall have to wait and see if it sticks.

Gary Sheffield, for whatever it’s worth, was 0-for-5. Maybe he should have picked up a magazine before the game.

long have we waited: goodbye to Grilli

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Finally, the question we have all had for so long (Why is Jason Grilli on this team?) has been answered (He’s not).

Jason Grilli has been traded to the Colorado Rockies for Zachary Simons, an A-level relief pitcher.


Far be it from me to loudly rejoice in someone’s departure from the team, but wow, we’ve been waiting for this with Grilli for a long, long time. It’s not necessarily that he was dreadful, although he certainly has at times been that. It’s more that other relief pitchers at a similar mediocre level have been released and traded and DFAed and sent down while Grilli has stuck to the roster like the world’s only goatee’d limpet. Some of those other guys were seemingly better and some had other things going for them that Grilli did not, like left-handedness or vague pretensions to consistency.

WHY was Grilli allowed to remain on the team, at the big league level, for so long? It’s still a mystery. The current going theory has to do with the possession of incriminating photos of team front office personnel. It makes as much sense as anything else.

Simons may or may not eventually turn out to be a good prospect. The real reason this deal got done was to make room on the roster for Francisco Cruceta, he of the problematic visa. New blood in the bullpen; can it really be worse? I don’t know. I tend to think an infusion of Cruceta and an excision of Grilli can only serve to shake things up and hopefully snap the bullpen onto a new, less stress-inducing track.

It’s hard to imagine that Grilli’s performance will improve in the thin air of the Colorado Rockies, but maybe those NL batters will be sedate enough to give him a little boost. Whatever has gone in the past, I can say that I really do wish him all the best out there in that weird unnatural timezone. I will always remember him at least a little fondly for this if for nothing else.

I’m sure people are going to come screaming out of the woodwork now saying things like, “Aaaaahhhhh but his numbers this season haven’t been bad aahhhhh rrrarrrrrgghhh I love Jason Grilli he’s my BFF yaaaahhh go Tigers go Tigers love kittens rainbows aaahhhrrraahhh how can you be mean to Jason Grilli you don’t know anything about baseball rar rar rar I eat your face!” To these people I say, preemptively, “Bite my blog.”

Dontrelle's knee goes bad

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Because of course the thing we most need in Detroit right now is MORE INJURIES!

Apparently Dontrelle hyperextended his right knee in the first inning of Friday night’s game. I only saw from the 5th inning onwards (and that rather patch-ily, in a bar) (on which I will freely blame all spelling errors/incoherence in this post) so I don’t know what the injury looked like when it happened, but I guess he slipped on the mound?

Since he stayed in the game for a little bit I would hazard a guess that he didn’t immediately tear a ligament, something that can in fact happen with knee hyperextension. Obviously an ACL tear would be about the worst case scenario here; recovering from the surgery to correct something like that could put Dontrelle out the rest of the season, easy. If it’s a simple hyperextension without any tearing, though, he could be brace-free in a couple of weeks.

Still, that’s a couple of weeks without a starter we were kind of relying on to, you know, start. What are we going to do? Call someone up, I suppose, or move Miner back into the rotation? Or, wait, apparently we just designated Bazardo for reassignment and called up Clay Rapada. So… I guess we do that.

Shockingly, despite losing the starter in the first inning, the Tigers managed to scrape a win out of this game. The BULLPEN, kids and kittens, conspired to create a win. I mean… Jason Grilli went three scoreless innings? Is this what I am seeing in the boxscore? Is this TRUE and not just the earlier-imbibed spirits making me see crazy irrational things?? If this is a fact of reality, then I tip my cap to Mr. Grilli for a Job Unexpectedly Well Done.

Now he has to start doing things like that in Comerica.

Brandon Inge keeps hitting. I just want to point that out. You know. Just sayin’.

breaking news: sky still falling in Detroit

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Dear Jason Grilli,

The rest of the bullpen did well today (1 hit and 2 walks over 3 innings combined for Miner, Bautista, and Jonesy), so you really stood out proudly against that backdrop of effectiveness. Yeah, Nate only went 5 innings, but Miner handled the 6th, so you really were not pitching any earlier than you should normally expect to pitch.

I know AJ Pierzynski is really gross and icky and generally objectionable, but there are better ways to get him out of your sight than letting him hit 3-run homers in the 7th inning of tied games. Strikeouts, for instance, are nice. You know. For future reference.

It was super important to teach the offense that it doesn’t matter if they hit or not, because even when they finally DO get their bats on the balls, they can’t expect that to get them a win. Vital life lessons on the Detroit Tigers, courtesy of Jason Grilli! I’m sure they really appreciated your extra-mile effort today in hammering this lesson home.

We totally needed to keep this fun fun FUN season opening losing streak going. We’re the only team in MLB without a win right now! Woo hoo! DISTINCTION!

Thanks bunches, Jason Grilli! Kisses!


Tigers fans

the season ends, and Magglio goes out with a bang

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

It’s sad that the season is over (for us), but what a way to end it, eh? It would have been nice to do that for, say, the last three games, as opposed to only the very last one, but at least we ended it on a high note of offensive anti-Wrong Sox mastery.

The big story, of course, is Magglio Ordonez, aka The Hirsute Hero, aka The Long-Locked Wonder, aka The Answer to the Question ‘Who’s Your Tiger?’ for Some of You, aka 2007 AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING CHAMPION. Magglio Ordonez: man? myth? legend? I’ll take option D– ALL OF THE ABOVE. He ended the season with a .363 batting average. Wolf whistles welcome.

You and I know full well that batting average is not a good way to get a comprehensive look at a player’s value on the field (I misspelled at least 5 words in that sentence fragment, including a mash-up of ‘on’ and ‘the’ into some mutant word that looked like ‘onthne’. This was how I knew it was time for me to go to sleep and finish this post in the morning. 100% fact), but that’s why the Batting Title is so nice. It has no pretensions. It doesn’t really try to say, “this ballplayer is the best hitter.” All it does is say, “this dude had the highest batting average at the end of the season, and that is something to celebrate.” It says, “I don’t really care if the dude was hitting home runs or dribbling singles, the point is that he put his bat on the ball in a productive way a lot this year and that is a separate skill.” It says, “boo yah! Eat it, Mauer.”

This is what we love about Magglio (aside from the hair): even though he pretty much knew he had the batting title locked up, he still stayed in the game for 5 at-bats, going 3-for-4 with a walk and 2 RBI just to really stick it to Ichiro. Leyland pinch ran for him in the 8th and even some of the Chicago fans cheered. The Spanish-language broadcast was going completely nuts; some of those guys must’ve been Venezuelan.

Magglio wasn’t the only story, though.

“It might’ve been the strangest day ever,” Gary Sheffield said. “I’d never seen so many guys do something on a particular day that could’ve been done two days ago. Just to do all these types of things, it was just crazy.” article

It was a big day for Venezuela in general on the Tigers, because not only did Magglio win the Batting Title, but Carlos Guillen also became the first Venezuelan shortstop to get 100 RBI in a season. That might not seem like much to someone like ARod, but for someone like Carlos, who hits fewer than half as many home runs as ARod does, it’s a pretty fine feat. Of course the fact that he was able to get 100 RBI speaks well of his teammates too– those guys had to be on base for him to bat them in.

Placido Polanco got his 200th hit, making this the first time he’s done that in his career. He ended the season with a .341 average… it’s insane to think that a guy batting .341 does not have the best average on the team, but that’s the 2007 Tigers for ya. He ALSO secured for himself an errorless season in the field by not overtly screwing anything up. He ALSO continued to be relentlessly adorable:

“When you retire, that’s what you take home with you, your friendships,” Polanco said. “My friends, my teammates showed that they really wanted me to get it so bad. They stood up, and when I got the base hit, [Chicago’s Paul] Konerko told me at first base, ‘I can tell your teammates don’t like you.’ Because everybody was up in the dugout cheering for me. I started crying.” article

How exactly did we get him from the Phillies again?

You think maybe I’m winding this down, but NO. MORE Tigers reached milestones in this game.

Curtis Granderson went 3-for-4 on the day, pushing his average up to .302. It doesn’t really MEAN anything different if your average for the year is .299 or .300, but baseball is like that. You want to bump it up to that next level. I guess saying, “Oh yeah, I hit .300 last season,” sounds a lot better than, “I hit .299.” And, hey, once he hit .300, Granderson refused to come out of the game. He wanted to get his proper at-bats in even though going hitless might have meant that he’d slide back into the .200s. Curtis Granderson plays baseball the Right Way.

So not only did Granderson hit 23 home runs and 23 triples and 38 doubles, he also stole 26 bases, and he ALSO hit .302 on the year. Curtis Granderson is 26 years old.

Am I done? Not quite!

In amidst all this offensive splendor, these enormous roaring tigers of the bat, there was a scrawny little backup tiger. Not a very strong tiger. You know, maybe the other tigers always got to the prey animals first, so he never had anything fresh to eat, so he was also scavenging leftovers like a hyena, and this made him malnourished and weak. It’s just nature.

But today this powerless little tiger finally roared. Mike Rabelo hit his first career home run.

It was pretty awesome; the ball went over the bullpen and the guys out there went COMPLETELY insane, like this was the most exciting thing to happen to them in weeks. Heck, who knows, maybe it was. Virgil Vasquez actually CLIMBED THE BULLPEN FENCE in his excitement. You get the feeling that they’d been ragging on him an awful lot about this, and that just made them even happier when he finally poked one out.

That pretty much wraps it up for the offensive points of interest, but it would be unfortunate if we overlooked Nate’s start (fairly solid, 6.2 innings of 3-run ball) and, more especially, Jason Grilli’s performance. Grilli pitched 2.1 innings. He allowed one hit (a single). He walked no one, and he struck out 4. I know that we’ve had a love-hate relationship with Grilli for most of the season (or, well, just ‘hate’ for a lot of you), but what a statement to end the season, eh? Of course it’ll be overlooked due to the fact that the Tigers decided to rewrite the record books with their bats in the last game of the season, but it definitely deserves mention.

Now, rest assured: Roar of the Tigers is NOT shutting down for the offseason or anything crazy like that. There’s plenty to talk about (already news of who’s coming back next year and who isn’t is trickling through. I’ll address some of that in my next post, probably), and I do like to talk about it. Even during the slowest points of the offseason I’ll probably be posting about 3 times a week… and remember, the less there is to actually talk about, the more insane and irrelevant things I’ll be posting. Get psyched!

Polly Sets Record; Fans Make Error Turning Game On

Since the Tigers’ 7-2 loss to was so craptacular, I’m going to start with just about the only good news to come out of the game. Placido Polanco broke the record for consecutive games played without an error by a second baseman. It’s not going to get the pub of just about any offensive record somebody could set – Stats, Inc. didn’t even notice at first when Luis Castillo set the record earlier this season – but anytime you do something nobody’s ever done in baseball’s long history it’s pretty cool. Congratulations, Polly, and if Samara were here I’m sure she’d photoshop you as a vacuum cleaner or something more clever to show her appreciation.

The funny thing about this record to me is the fact that I was at the game when he last made an error. It was in Pittsburgh, and we got tickets through a sales guy at my wife’s work who knew we loved the Tigers. It was the Pirates, so I naturally expected a win but the Tigers had one of those complete meltdown innings where they just couldn’t make a play. I think they made about four straight errors – or at least misplayed balls that could have been called errors – and I assume Polanco’s was one of them. I was averting my eyes from the horror, so I may have missed it.

Anyway, on to the current Tigers and this turd of a game they played last night. In retrospect, I think the Tigers might have lost this one in the first inning when Chad Durbin gave up the two run home run to Mark Ellis. Sure, they came right back and tied it up but something must of caused Durbin to start pitching around this lineup and the home run seems like the most likely cause. It sure as hell wasn’t the Athletics’ stats.

There was one guy who cleared a .450 slugging percentage in their lineup last night and going down that same lineup, I think there might have been two, maybe three guys who’d bat higher than seventh if they were in the Tigers’ lineup. Yet, there was Durbin walking four guys in 4 1/3 innings. This was a lineup where he should have just been pumping strikes and seeing what they could do, but too often all they had to do was not swing the bat. As a result, Durbin threw 86 pitches in less than five innings and forced the bullpen to once again throw more than four innings. To borrow from Sam’s running theme, he was decidedly unpimplike.

When he was taken out, we were once again treated to the Jason Grilli show, which now apparently begins with boos every time it airs. I feel bad for Grilli having to listen to the boos – you really shouldn’t boo your own players for anything but a lack of effort – but he’s definitely not helping his cause. When he first came out for Durbin, he did pretty well. Sure, he gave up a two run single, but the hit was a slap up the middle and it would have only scored one run if not for Guillen’s ridiculous throwing error on the previous play. But when he came out the next inning, he gave the kind of performance that will get him booed the next time he takes the mound. He gave up two singles before walking Dan Johnson and Marco Scutaro on eight pitches to bring in a run.

Can we have a rule from now on where if a reliever is pitching in an inning he started – especially if it’s not his first inning – and loads the bases on a walk, he is automatically pulled? I mean as soon as the ump calls ball four he should just start walking off the mound. Because twice in this series a Tiger pitcher walked a guy to load the bases and both times I thought the pitcher who did it was done for the night. I was wrong both times and the results were a grand slam and a bases loaded walk on four pitches.

I shouldn’t give the impression that it was only the pitching and defense that were disappointing, though. The offense sucked plenty as well. I was amazed at the groove they let Chad Gaudin settle into after that first inning. When I saw Maggs hit that two run single and then saw Kurt Suzuki setting up way outside for pitches that ended up coming in on the inside half of the plate, I didn’t even think Gaudin would throw enough innings to be eligible for a win, much less actually get one.

But after that single he didn’t give up another run and when he finally walked off the mound, he had struck out nine batters. He did a particular number on Marcus Thames and Brandon Inge. I love Marcus, but he looked pretty bad both times he struck out on those low and away breaking balls. As for Inge, I am afraid I’m going to snap the next time I see him strikeout on a checked swing.

Oh well, this was obviously just one of those games where they didn’t have it, and let’s hope they were saving it for this upcoming stretch of thirteen games with the Indians and Yankees. I think the importance of the much ballyhooed games is overstated a little when everybody says it will make or break their season, but it is important that they come close to at least splitting the games with these two teams. If they break off some putrid 3-10 stretch, it could throw some dirt on the season but that’s usually true of any thirteen game stretch in late August when you’re in a pennant race.


a win is a win, but this should've been Nate Robertson's win

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Nate Robertson pitched his little goggles off tonight. With Fernando not available we really reeeeeaaallly needed Nate to go deep, and deep he went. He went 7.2 innings, the most a Tigers starter had gone since Bondo pitched 8 back on July 7 (sad). He had a season-high 9 strikeouts, to which he said, after the game, in gently dismissive tones, “I knew I was striking some guys out… I mean, I don’t have a little ticker in my pocket out there.” Oh, Nate.

He deserved the win. I mean, we’re definitely all fired up to get any kind of win at all, but by the time the 8th rolled around I think we all ESPECIALLY wanted to see Nate get himself that W. The score was 6-2, there was a man on base, and there was only one out left in the inning when Jason Grilli took over from Nate. Easy enough, right?

Ha HA. No. Never with this bullpen.

Grilli gave up some singles to load the bases, and then floated an absolute meatball down the middle of the plate. This meatball ended up a soul-crushing grand slam hit by Jonny freakin’ Gomes. I don’t say “Jonny freakin’ Gomes” because it’s strange that he hit a ball out of the park- it’s not, he’s got 13 home runs on the year. I just say it because ARGH! Seriously! Jonny freakin’ Gomes and the Devil freakin’ Rays!

You could almost feel the air just get completely sucked out of the stadium. Schooom. Grand slam. Tie game. All that glorious Nate pitching gone to waste. So on and so forth.

Then Ryan Raburn, awesome tiger cub that he is, led off the next inning with a double. Suddenly everyone remembered that they had actually WON the night before. All was not dark! All was not lost! All was not tainted with Grilli-ism!

Nate Robertson is not a vengeful man. He’s too nice for that. Instead of griping about being absolutely ROBBED of a win by Grilli, he was propping up Grilli after the game. He’s looking at the big picture. In his postgame chat with FSN he said, “Evaluation of the game? We won.” And that was that.

Random bits from tonight:

–Hey, congrats to Chad Durbin! He’ll be starting tomorrow but, more pimptastically, his wife just gave birth to their first kid, I think this past Friday. Cade Griffin Durbin: that’s a pretty pimp name.

–Ryan Raburn made his first start this year at second base, and was using Brandon Inge’s glove. When asked after the game if he was going to give it back now that he’d had such a good game with it, he said (with some kind of hilarious hick Floridian accent), “Prolly not. An’ y’know, he can pick it pretty good over there wit’ that glove, so hopefully it’ll brang me some luck.”

–Rod Allen, urging Curtis Granderson on while he was up to bat with some men on base: “Curtis needs to spread out, choke up, do whatever you need to do, baby boy, to get that run in…” Baby boy? Eek.

–Tonight we learned that Justin Verlander played golf in high school. He looks like that type.

–At one point the FSN camera focused on Kenny Rogers in the dugout. He was doing something with his hands. Mario wondered if he might be whittling, because that’s what it looked like. Verlander was sitting right up next to Kenny, intently watching whatever it was. FSN got a couple different camera angles on it and finally found one that showed what was in Kenny’s hands clearly.

He had eviscerated a baseball, taken out the core, and was whittling it down with a small knife until he finally cracked it in half and got a look at the black rubber ball at the very center.

My first thought: WHO ALLOWS KNIVES IN THE DUGOUT?! Have we learned nothing from the Emil Brown pellet gun incident? Baseball players are not to be trusted with projectiles other than baseballs or pointy sharp things other than cleats!

Second thought: wow, Kenny must be bored out of his MIND.

Third thought: awww, Justin has such a hero-crush.

–Rod Allen, talking about someone’s timing on the field: “He knew because of the biological clock in his head.” No further comment needed.

Nate Robertson feeds his gopher; bullpen mauled

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I’ll get to Nate and his gopher in a minute.

I don’t know who was announcing today’s game, the FOX one, because I came in late and so missed any intros. But one guy kept saying over and over, after Verlander had left and the bullpen was suffering, that the relievers were going to get the blame for this but it was really the starters who deserved the blame, especially today. Verlander, he said, had thrown way too many pitches and was more responsible for the outcome of the game than the bullpen.

I don’t know what game this guy was watching, but I was watching a game where Justin Verlander pitched 6 innings and left the game with a lead. Yeah, a slim one-run lead, and the bullpen’s already thin with Zumaya’s busted arm and Fernando’s “biceps tendonitis” (isn’t that what The Farns had?), but a slim lead is still a lead, and it’s not Verlander’s fault that our relievers are made of cardboard and duct tape these days. He threw too many pitches? Sure did; over-100 pitches in 6 innings is a lot. But the Racist Logos were working him over and HE STILL MANAGED TO MAKE IT THROUGH 6 INNINGS. With a LEAD.

Verlander gave up 2 runs over 6 innings. The bullpen (combined) gave up 4 runs over 3.

So shut up, random announcer dude whose voice I probably should have recognized. Maybe in your magical Happyfuntime Yayyyyyy Bullpens Yaaaaaay baseball world, starters get blamed for games like that, but not in the real world.

This could definitely feed into my “Baseball guys are often completely out of touch with reality and seem to live inside their own personal imaginary worlds” rant, but I won’t get started.

Tim Byrdak did OK. I really wish he could’ve held Grilli’s guys on base when he came in. I hate seeing Ryan Garko score on anything other than a home run (not that I enjoy that either) because Garko’s so ponderous on the basepaths that him scoring means someone else has hit a ball incredibly infuriating for a Tigers fan to watch. At least in his own inning Byrdak kept the Racist Logos’ noses clean.

I also am not happy with Mr. Garko right now because of that “double” he hit off of Jason Grilli. If you weren’t watching the game, Garko hits a ball screaming back up the center, it ricochets off of Grilli’s knee so hard that Grilli crumples to the ground and the ball bounces all the way to right field. That’s a single or more probably an out if the ball doesn’t happen to be a pitcher-destroying beast. There ought to be a way to score that so the hitter doesn’t get credit for a double. Score it a 1B with the running taking second on PA… Pitcher’s Agony.

Grilli, even though the hit looked pretty awful at the time, seems to not be as badly hurt as he could have been. It apparently was not a direct blow to the patella itself, hitting more on the side of his knee instead. X-Rays were negative. It’s at the very least going to be bruised as snot though, and no matter what they shoot him up with, it’s probably going to swell and stiffen for a bit. Alas, it would be easier to let him sit a few games and shake it off if we weren’t already missing Zoom and Fernando.

I know this is gonna piss my Bobby Seay apologist off, but the dude should not be in the game when there are righties up. Period. Not at all. To start off the 6th it was Barfield, Sizemore, Blake, and Hafner. Sizemore and Hafner are lefties, but Barfield and Blake are not. He got lucky and Barfield grounded out to first…. but he couldn’t even get the lefty he was brought in to face out, as Sizemore tripled. Grady Sizemore isn’t hitting chopped liver or anything, and in most non-Comerica parks that’s a double, but he’s generally terrible against left-handed pitching… Bobby, what’re you DOING out there? Then of course Blake doubled him in for a run… Blake, the righty… I don’t know.

Bring it on, Bobby Seay apologist. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the Bobby Seay Curse, because every time I watch him pitch, he seems to become filled with The Fail.

Oh, and Polanco had to come out of the game with a strain or muscle spasm in his oblique. That’s the big muscle along the side of his torso, mind you. They called it a strain during the game and are calling it a muscle spasm now. A strain would be bad, because those take forever to heal up completely and can recur like rabbits repopulate. A muscle spasm sounds more like a cramp or something, and would obviously be preferable for its temporary nature.

Polanco says he’s OK and would be fine to play tomorrow, although it’s likely we’ll get an eyeful of Omar or, if we should be so lucky, Neifi!!! instead. Hopefully he’ll be back a game or two after that, though. If he’s not, we’re gonna have to start suspecting strain, and we’re going to have to start worrying.

Back to Nate and his gopher…

On Friday, as you all know by now, Nate Robertson managed to give up three home runs to the Indians in 5.2 innings. Two of them came in the first inning. It wasn’t pretty. Although the bullpen continued to give up runs then too, THAT game could be fairly hung on Nate: the Tigers were losing when he left the game, and he hadn’t pitched well. (Do you see how that works, announcer dude? Do you see why that makes sense, as opposed to your strange backwards land?)

Casey Blake, Victor Martinez, and Josh Barfield were the gopher-makers (there was a man on when Barfield went yard).

Ledezma pitched quite well, Byrdak gave up an RBI triple (after a walk), Mesa gave up a sac fly (which was credited to Byrdak). Although walks and triples both always make you tear out your hair a little, it just wasn’t anything compared to the spectacular sight of Nate giving up two home runs before most of the stadium even has their rear ends properly in their seats.

Hopefully it was a one-time kind of deal, because some crrrrrrrazy intuition tells me our bullpen is still going to be in injured, overused, and generally sorry shape by the time his slot in the rotation comes up again.

Virgil Vasquez learns a valuable lesson about suffering in baseball

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

So, you know what happened. Virgil Vasquez made his major league debut. Virgil Vasquez already had to suffer the indignity of making his debut in a nationally televised ESPN game, which means that everyone’s first major league impression of him will be tainted by the inane ramblings of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller.

He then had the rest of his dignity torn from his body, shredded into tiny strips, ground into the dirt, peed upon, and handed back to him on the business ends of a bunch of Twinkie bats.

But he learned something very important! Something that he can carry back with him to the minor leagues, and that he will hopefully remember for the rest of his baseball playing days.

The best way to get away with terrible baseball is to play it in a crowd.

That way, not as much of the blame lands squarely on your shoulders. I mean, look at last night. When Vasquez left the game, we were throwing our hands into the air and bemoaning our fate. Then Grilli came in and got roughed up, and we started rending our hair and clothes. Then Wilfredo came in and got roughed up, and we began vomiting up blood. Then Jose Mesa came in and laid the final crowning rotten egg of shame on the evening, and by this time we were so horrified and shocked that we were just sitting there, stunned, as our eyeballs exploded and the eyeball goo ran down our ravaged cheeks.

By that point, we barely even remembered the offenses of Virgil Vasquez! Isn’t baseball a marvelous thing? Vasquez’s performance alone would stand out horribly in our minds, but with other performances just like it, it melts into a background of woe. Like penguins! One penguin alone is a funny, portly little chap, but a whole bunch of penguins together is just a seething mass of collective penguinflesh.

All kidding aside and in all fairness, we weren’t expecting much of anything out of Vasquez here. He was just up for the one start, and he was only ever supposed to be a place-holder. But even without EXPECTATIONS, I think it’s fair to say that we all had HOPES. We didn’t exactly dare to hope that he’d mow down a major league lineup, but I personally at least was hoping for some serious inning-eating, even if it was mediocre-to-bad in quality.

As we all know, this failed to happen.

One of the reasons why Vasquez’s bad (awful) start shouldn’t be held too much against him is that, once he left the game, our HOPE remained the same: someone needed to come in and eat some catdamned innings. That’s it. The game could be a writeoff. It’s gonna happen a few times over the course of a season. The remaining innings didn’t have to pitched spectacularly. They just had to be pitched. Preferably by mostly one dude.

Vasquez lasted 2.2 innings. Grilli lasted 2.1. Ledezma lasted 1.1, and Mesa lasted 1.2.

That’s a team effort of FAIL. If just ONE of those guys could’ve gone 5 innings, we would be in much better shape right now. And don’t think Leyland wasn’t trying to coax them through it, because he was. But there’s only so long a manager can leave a guy in there when he’s getting the oxygen beaten out of his blood cells.

‘Cause now we’re heading into Boston, and our bullpen is going to be all huddled up against the back of the Green Monster, sobbing quietly. And you don’t win ballgames when your bullpen is acting like a bunch of exhausted 12 year old girls.


As you are all aware, I am a Massachusettian by birth and thus equal parts Red Sox and Tigers fan. I spend the summers in MA. More to the point, I AM GOING TO THREE OUT OF THE FOUR GAMES OF THIS SERIES AND I AM SO EXCITED I MAY HAVE A HEART ATTACK OF GLEE ON THE SUBWAY.

I leave in about an hour for tonight’s game, I’m definitely gonna be there Wednesday, and either Tuesday or Thursday (I’ll go to one, and my brother will go to the other). So posting may be sporadic and psychotic during this series, and I will take many photos, which will be entirely uploaded and organized probably not until the end of it. Just so you know.

If you’re going to be in Fenway, well, you know what I look like, and I’ll have the neon orange hat on. Come say hi!

Grilli Grilled (i.e. the most obvious headline possible)

grilled Grilli by Samara Pearlstein

Headline generation time!

Grill Readied, Grilli Subjected to It
Grilli Greased Like Grill-Bound Pork
Grilli Grilled Grievously
Fire Up the Grill– Whoever Played the Tigers Sure Did
Grilli Burned
No Heat on This Grill(i)
Jason Grilli Threw the Base Ball in a Manner Which May Be Characterized as Poorly

‘Cause you know full well that we’re gonna be seeing a lot of that sort of thing in local papers throughout the season.

Nine runs in under two innings? That is, to beat a dead pun horse, a GRILLIN’. Only 7 of them were earned, apparently, but even 7 is wayyy too many for four outs. I mean, day-um.

Right now Grilli is sitting up in a hotel bed in Florida, staring at some awful piece of hotel wall art and repeating in his head, “It’s just spring training, it doesn’t count. It’s just spring training, it doesn’t count,” over and over again, until he falls into a depressed coma-like sleep disturbed only by screaming nightmares where a giant animated Chief Wahoo chases him around Comerica with a flaming baseball bat.

It IS spring training and it truly DOESN’T count, but….. I know that everyone (FO included) has been saying that Grilli’s spot on the team is basically assured. He’s still not a starter, though, and he’s no Zumaya. He’s not a 100% lock no matter how many people say he’s in, so you have to assume that spring training still holds for him some of the “prove yourself or perish” pressure that it has for rookies and sub-rookies this time of year. What I’m saying is that he probably isn’t working on something totally new that could throw him off that much without being an actual indication of where he is right now, pitching-wise. No. That is a luxury afforded only to the truly established players.

He does indicate that he’s trying to mess with his footwork in order to improve his sinker, so I guess we can all hope that this game was a big part of the Grand Grilli Foot Plant Experiment of March 2007 and we won’t have to worry our little heads about it.


Holy freakin’ cats 9 runs in 1 1/3 innings.

BUT IT DOESN’T COUNT. SPRING TRAINING. SPRING TRAINING. DOES NOT. COUNT. *eye twitchings to the soundtrack of quiet Grilli sobbing*