Category Archives: hamsters

send Jim Leyland all your hamsters

all images by Samara Pearlstein

The quote in the top TC is not verbatim; Leyland said something very much like that in a pregame interview, but I wasn’t taking notes so I didn’t get the exact words. He definitely said that he didn’t have any hamsters right now, though, and if fans thought they had the hamsters, he grumpily invites them to mail said hamsters on in.

Right now the Tigers are in dire need of some serious hamsters. Certain things make sense– Austin Jackson’s wrist is at least comprehensible– but the Tigers need a hamster for the third base situation, a hamster for the issues in the rotation… the bullpen… a hamster for Justin Verlander’s inexplicably tentative and offspeedy outing last night… all these things require hamsters, and Jim Leyland doesn’t have any right now. He’s admitted it. Send some in, if you’ve got ’em.

I’m trying to ignore the rest of that Friday night game. Verlander is allowed to have offdays and it would have been nice for the offense to pick him up on such a rare occasion, but… deep breaths… whatever.

Miguel Cabrera got his 1,500th career hit, that was nice.

Carlos Guillen is allegedly coming back today, allegedly at full health, or at whatever fragile and no doubt transient state of being passes for full health with Carlos Guillen these days. AlAl should be coming back too. Maybe they’ll bring some hamsters with them.

finally some hamsters

image by Samara Pearlstein

So… apparently the hamster is to have RotT at Fenway Park. Because it has become evident that, recently, the Tigers REALLY like playing well while I am watching the Red Sox in person. I’m kind of offended. What, my eyeballs weren’t good enough for you, Tigers? But if someone wants to pay for me to go to every last remaining Red Sox game… you know, for the good of the Tigers… I might be ok with that.

Brandon Inge got a highlight broadcast during the game on the Fenway scoreboard, so he gets to hang with the hamster up there. This is only fair.

It sounds like Inge was good, Avila was productive, and Rhino continues to hit at an absurd pace. It sounds like Bondo was spectacularosaurus. The game itself only lasted a little over 2 hours, which is CRAZY. Even when Buehrle is pitching, the games are rarely THAT fast.

All these good things because the hamsters are pleased by the sight of RotT in Fenway. Who am I to question the Answer Hamsters? They know everything that is worth knowing.

everybody say Arrrrrrrrrrrr(mando)!

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Guess who’s back? That’s right, it’s our old friend the ANSWER HAMSTER (sweeps version), chillin’ with Arrrrrmando Galarrrrrrraga, because today Arrrrmando had all the hamsters against the Royals.

How do we know that Arrrrmando had the hamsters? Well, first of all, we did get the sweep, a most fitting revenge for what the Royals did to us earlier in the season. Granted, the Royals of Right Now are not playing like the Royals of Back Then, but someone still had to have some hamsters if we were going to sweep them.

Secondly, Arrrrmando was PERFECT through six innings. Perfect! No runs, no hits, no walks. The Royals broke it all up in the 7th, and Arrrrmando ended up giving away a single run on three hits and one walk, but that’s still a great outing by pretty much any standard. He struck out 7 guys too. Greinke struck out 8 guys in 6 innings, but he also gave up 7 hits and 5 earned runs, so the Ks are only worth so much.

Arrrrmando’s ERA is down to 3.27 and his WHIP is down to 1.16. Opposing batters are hitting .213 against him and his K/BB ratio is 1.97 (compare that to Kenny’s K/BB ratio of 1.02 [vomit] [the higher this number is, the better it is, because that means the guy is striking hitters out much more often than he is walking them… a K/BB ratio of 1 means that a guy is issuing Ks and walks at the same rate, and a K/BB close to zero would be horrific and would mean that a pitcher was giving up loads of walks and not striking anyone out at all] [for instance, before he went down, Dontrelle’s K/BB ratio was 0.24, which is so bad that the mere sight of it should cause children to have screaming nightmares]) (big parentheses!) (mmmm, [brackets]).

So, obviously Arrrrmando has the hamsters right now. He is cuddling them and taking good care of them.

Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco all had good games at the plate (again!), although I am starting to get a bit bored with singles and would like to see at least two out of those three guys get their OPS numbers up around .900 again. I know Polanco isn’t going to do it, since he has only a passing acquaintance with power hitting, but Miggy and Maggs both have career numbers in that area, and it would be awfully nice if they could rebound to that level, dontcha think?

Tomorrow is an offday– I think we will probably have a photo post with the stuff from Baltimore– and Friday we start the OMG SUPER BIG BAD SERIES OF DOOOOOOOOM against the Wrong Sox. It’s at 7:05 pm EDT (woo hoo, we’re back to regular hours) and ought to be Nate vs. Gavin Floyd, who to be honest kind of scares the pants off of me right now. You cats don’t need me to tell you how OMG SUPER BIG AND IMPORTANT this SERIES OF DOOOOOOOM is or how evil the Wrong Sox are, and to keep from offending readers with delicate sensibilities we will refrain from detailing the bloody satanic sacrifices Ozzie Guillen had to make in order to make his team so good this year. Hopefully we can render all this moot with some nice wholesome victories for the good guys. Go Tigers!

sweep the Wrong Sox, sweep the Dodgers, sweep sweep sweep ad infinitum

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The sweep of the Wrong Sox was huge, lovely, etc., but it also left me a little wary. The last time we swept someone, we immediately went out and got the kitty litter kicked out of us. So, you know, there was an unfortunate precedent, plus this team has consistently acted like playing well is no particular reason to actually be good and CONTINUE playing well, if that makes sense, which it possibly only does to a mildly depressed baseball fan.


Bobby Seay and Todd Jones NEARLY gave this one away, but we scraped through. Bonine, on Saturday, was not great, but we scraped through. The starters are really behaving like they want to give The Ghost of Jeremy Bonderman something to be ethereally proud of so that he won’t reach out from the afterlife and give them zombiedeath. You and I know that this is a misconception, but who are we to correct them if it makes them pitch like this? Bondo is dead; long live Bondo!

The Pudge/Inge alternating catcher scheme has worked out so far, against the expectations of many, including probably Pudge and Inge– Pudge because he hates sitting out any days ever, and Inge because he hates catching. They both seem to be slowly coming to terms with their various hatreds, though. This is called Growing Up, and I’m ever so glad that our Tigers are finally exhibiting signs of it.

We now have three guys hitting over .300: Maggs, Polanco, and Guillen, and Miggy is chugging up behind them with a .285 average. The rest of the lineup is still looking pretty dinky, but is it possible that the bats in general are recovering from their spring anemia? It only took ’em, y’know, MONTHS, but whatever, better late than never.

Things are Afoot: Aquilino Lopez has been sent down to make room for the imminent return of Fernando Rodney (!!), although the team is also apparently saying that they want to try stretching Lopez out as a starter, what with the untimely demise of Bondo and the fact that Dontrelle Willis has caught rabies and the unlikelihood of repeating the Bovine experiment and all. It will be very interesting to see what Fernando can do. I feel it is my pessimistic duty to point out everything I’ve ever said about tendonitis and its tendonous tenacity but I’m keeping my happy face on for now. SEE. MY TEETH ARE GRITTED. HAPPY FACE. SO. SO VERY HAPPY. *twitch*

It also sounds like Zoom is (finally) on his actual way back, maybe by Friday. We have spent so long without him that he’s kind of a mythological hint of a memory at this point– we had a dude who could throw 103 mph? really?– and it’s not wholly clear who gets shipped out when he needs his roster space back, but his return could be yet another positive sign for the team. Which is weird, because this team spent the first two months of the season playing like it didn’t want or deserve any positive signs ever again.

Of course we’re still 5 games under .500 right now, so it’s not like the season has turned itself around and become some massive instant success, even with the back-to-back hamster-iffic sweeps. It just means that not EVERYTHING is darkness and woe.

Tomorrow Justin Verlander goes up against a dude whose middle name is LeRoy. Don’t forget that the game’s at 10, for your insomniacal pleasure. Go Tigers!

sweeping the Mariners away

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

You know what’s fun? Being able to lump the New York Yankees in with the Seattle Mariners. Granted, the reason for the lumping is somewhat less fun– they’re both struggling teams whose sweeps at the hands of the Tigers may or may not actually mean much– but the simple fact that they can be thought of in the same way is happy-making.

There were lots and lots of players in yesterday’s game who were deserving of the RotT image of the day: Bondo, for his solid outing and the continued resurgence of Mr. Snappy; Inge, for his three-run homer, despite the fact that he was catching for the game and usually finds that too much of a strain for his bat to do anything; Matt Joyce, for his surprising continuing power; Sheff for his 3-for-4 day, which he so sorely needed.

Up there with the sweeps broom and the victorious answer hamster, though, is one Freddy Dolsi, who pitched 3 (!) perfect (!!) innings to earn his very first save in the big leagues. He was wily and economical, needing only 33 pitches to get through those 3 innings. It’s not as though the game was particularly close at that point; the Tigers were already up 9-2 by the time he came in. But Dolsi is not someone Leyland has declared a long relief guy, and there he was, pitching his tail off out there to save the sweep. That’s good enough for me.

The offense was so effective in this series, and the pitchers have been looking up for a while now. It is very, VERY tempting to say that things are getting back on track. We have been down this road once before during this season, though, and we have already learned that what the Tigers can do against a (joyously) awful Yankees team does not necessarily have any bearing on what the Tigers can (and cannot) do against the rest of the league.

The Mariners are bad. I don’t know what exactly is going wrong over there, but their various pieces are just not being put together in a way that works right now. I feel kinda mean rubbing that in, but, as Tigers fans, it’s important for us to realize that. Yes, this was a sweep. Yes, various Tigers looked really good. Yes, happy funtimes. But: Mariners. They’re not the worst team in baseball right now, but that’s just because San Diego has played one more game than they have. (ouch, zing, etc.)

This is not to say that the Tigers are immediately going to dive back into the basement of baseball and life as soon as they dive back into divisional play against the Twins. Things HAVE changed. Dontrelle is back (as long relief, anyways, which for the record I agree with right now), Inge appears to be in the process of making peace with his role on the team, Cabrera and Guillen are hopefully done jetting around the various infield positions. Leyland has flipped out, and the team has had time to realize that papa is very, very angry with them.

“Look,” veteran closer Todd Jones said, “this team needs to realize that this guy took on Barry Bonds. He’d run every one of us out of town. You’re just better off if you don’t cross him. And I think he relayed that message 100%.

“You just don’t mess with him. It’s not that hard. He doesn’t ask a whole lot.”

Jones said Tuesday’s speech reminded everyone in the clubhouse who “the alpha dog” is, if any player were to step out of line. “He’ll tell Mr. Ilitch, ‘It’s him or me because I’m not putting up with it,’ ” Jones said in reference to team owner Mike Ilitch. “The best lesson: Don’t mess with Leyland.”

Jon Paul Morosi/Detroit Free Press article

That’s what I’m SAYIN’! Fear. (Call it ‘respect’ if you like.) GOOD. The hope is that this fearful respect, respectful fear, burning desire to win so that nobody gets their head chewed off in the locker room after games, whatever, will be enough to keep the Tigers winning even when they’re no longer playing a team with deeper sadness than their own.

Coupla quick notes:

–Sorry this post is a bit late. I fell asleep before I could get it done Thursday night. You know how it goes.

–Clay Rapada is on the 15-day DL with the ubiquitously mysterious ‘sore arm’. Tendonitis, we are told. As we have repeated over and over again here at RotT, this kind of inflammation really needs rest in order to heal, so this was probably the only thing that could be done with Clay. Hopefully the rest/icing/anti-inflams WILL heal it to the point where he can come back and not have it immediately flare up again.

–Zoom, Fernando, and Vance Wilson are all supposed to play in an extended spring training game today.

–From the same Freep article, we learn that MLB wants the game of baseball sped up, and one of their new rules includes having the managers jog out to the mound, instead of sedately strolling. Jim Leyland has thoughts on this:

“They want me to run to the mound. I smoke three packs a day. They want me to run on and off the mound.” He added: “I got Todd Jones coming out of the bullpen. We’re going to have to get a golf cart. It’s a joke.”

Free Press article

Good quote, of course, but holy cats. I know we joke about it… he’s seriously smoking THREE packs a day? I’m a little worried about his health, now…

–In the chat post I mentioned that I had taken some photos of Brewers manager Ned Yost with his hands down his pants while at Fenway, and RotT regular commenter PudgeforPrez requested the photos. For Science. Thus:

Baseball guys. When WILL they learn?

The rest of the photoset is over here, if anyone is interested.

Placido Polanco has our hamsters

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

To recap: A few days ago I heard some guy on the radio say, “Jim Leyland doesn’t have any answers.” It sounded like the guy had said, “Jim Leyland doesn’t have any hamsters.” We assumed that this was also true, and that maybe the problem with the Tigers was simply that there were not enough hamsters in the clubhouse, or at least in Jim Leyland’s possession.

Recap: The Red Sox had won 5 in a row coming into this game.

Recap: The Tigers had lost 5 in a row coming into this game.

Recap: Arrrrrmando Galarrrrrraga pitched a weird messy game and discovered that he is allergic to Kevin Youkilis. The symptoms are an epidermal eruption in hives, restriction of the airways, and two homeruns in 5.1 innings.

Recap: Matt Joyce got his first ever big league hit.

Recap: Super messy game on both sides, with loads of hits and loads of runs and a Jonathan Papelbon breakdown that was so uncharacteristic that the Boston announcers barely knew what to do with it. Papelbon was trashing coolers in the dugout afterwards.

Recap: Placido Polanco hit the walkoff, shattered bat RBI single that ultimately won the game.

Logical (!!) conclusion: Polanco has our hamsters. For tonight, he has all the hamsters we could ever want.

Oh, and here are a few preview images from the two games I attended, just to tide you over ’til I really dig into processing them.

Matsuzaka walks a million, but Bondo's the one who suffers

photo by Samara Pearlstein

It is KILLING me to not be able to show you guys the view I had from my seat tonight yet. I didn’t get a lot of player shots, because we were fairly high up, but ohhhhh the view. Just wait ’til I get back to MA and upload these puppies. You’re gonna plotz. ‘Til then, you get the standard RotT ‘My name is Jeremy Bonderman and I hate life’ photo.

T’was a gorgeous night for a ballgame no matter where you were sitting. Perfect temperature, no rain, no wind. It’s really hard to beat that.

Bondo did not look super terrible for most of the game. The problem with the Red Sox is that you don’t have to look super terrible to get your tail bitten, you just have to make one or two bad pitches, and that’s essentially what Bondo did. He didn’t get eaten up by balls and infield hits, he was slammed by a couple of doubles and a couple of home runs. It’s not as though he was getting nickeld and dimed to death with a series of poorly located pitches. He made a couple of bad pitches in a couple of innings and he paid for them.

Like I’ve said before, though, 4 runs should not be an insurmountable lead for this lineup. Look at what the Red Sox did: their starting pitcher struggled hard and walked 8 guys in 5 innings, their relievers came in and put men on then let them score, and they made enough big hits to make up for that damage. Obviously you can’t win EVERY game like that, but it’s kind of the POINT of a massive offense, isn’t it, to let you get an occasional win even when the pitching gives up a middling number of runs?

You can’t put it all on the bats, though. I heard a horrifying stat on the radio while we were driving to the ballpark… apparently, in games where the Tigers score less than 5 runs, their record this season is 0-15; 0-16 now with this game. That is AWFUL. That means that the pitching staff is not giving the bats any support at all when they collectively have an off night (or, you know… off week, off month).

The Tigers should be able to get 6 runs in a game. But they should also be able to hold opposing teams to, say, 3 runs in a game. Nobody is doing what they need to be doing, and when they do get it done, they’re out of synch: the offense gets the bats going a little and the pitching collapses, or the pitching picks up and the bats go MIA.

This was just a frustrating kind of game any way you slice it. It was frustrating to watch Bondo get bitten by the home run bug twice. It was frustrating to watch the Tigs leave something like 11 men stranded on base, and to see all those walks come to nothing.

It WAS kinda cool to see Matt Joyce up with the big league, takin’ his cuts. No hits for the kid yet, but he did have a walk in the first inning, so hey, that’s something. I’m sure I ought to feel something in particular about the fact that Jacque Jones was DFA’d, but I can’t summon up the energy to even care that much right now.

I’m super tired (5 games in 4 days so far!) and have no particular ideas about how to end this one, so I’ll just point out that when someone was on the radio after the game calling in to say that, “Leyland doesn’t have any answers,” I misheard and thought he said, “Leyland doesn’t have any hamsters.”

I think maybe this is the root of the problem in the Tigers clubhouse. Simply not enough hamsters.

"almost gone with the wind" is too obvious, isn't it?

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Freakin’…. bloody… heck. What was that!??!

I am willing to blame the wind. I was outside more than I would have liked today, so I got intimately acquainted with the wind, which was cold and strong and occasionally carried snow on its windy little shoulders. I could definitely see this wind as a factor in the game, blowing balls over the wall and Magglio over onto his keister (I expect he had some difficulty in the field because his voluminous hair was acting as a flag and was whipping his head around).

‘Course, while the wind may have helped a ball over the wall, the wind did not load the bases for Curtis Granderson (Burnett did that). And the wind did not put BJays on the bases so that they could knock each other in and creep up and up and up on the scoreboard until every last one of us was having a cardiac event…. Jason Grilli and FERNANDO FREAKIN’ RODNEY did that.
This is really a continuation of what he did last season. I am not comforted. I am not HAPPY with Mr. Rodney right now. I wanted the end of last year to be a… I don’t know, a tired arm or a fluke or something. Now it’s looking like he just can’t control his pitches for snozberries.

FERNANDO. WE ARE WARNING YOU. Keep up this… this BEHAVIOR and you are going to find yourself locked in a small room with a large number of hamsters. HUNGRY HAMSTERS. Nay, not just hungry… bloody RAVENOUS hamsters. Do you want to know the way it feels when hundreds of tiny teeth rip into your flesh, Fernando? No? I thought not. SHAPE UP, or FACE THE HAMSTERS. Blogger threats= srs bzns.

It was good to see the offense get going, but I really don’t want to be worrying about the relievers right now, especially after what everyone’s been saying about the Wrong Sox ‘pen. I know, I know. It’s early. It’s earrrrrllyyyy. That won’t stop me from chewing my nails down to the quick now every time Fernando even so much as sneezes on the field.

So, yeah. Even though I’ve decided to blame much of this game on the wind, I still do not think it is fair to put us through something that intense this early. We’re not even warmed up yet! Save it for July, guys!