Category Archives: Kenny Rogers

of arteries and clots

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

So. SO. Mr. Rogers has a blood clot in his shoulder.

There’s a good Q & A in the Freep about thoracic outlet syndrome, which is what they maybe possibly perhaps think this could be. As usual, the team does not see fit to release a ton of information on exactly what’s going on, but it seems like they’ve said more than usual this time ’round… in the official site article they say that:

Instead of a minor procedure, doctors had to do some artery replacement. The operation removed a clot and repaired both the axillary and brachial arteries. The brachial artery runs down the arm before splitting into two arteries. The axillary artery is located in the upper chest and runs blood to the head and arms.

MLB.com article

WOW! Actual information! We pretty much never get that. Usually it’s “Ballplayer A felt something in his arm. It felt like a kitten digging its tiny little needle claws into his muscle. Team doctors think it’s maybe a thing, you know, in his arm. Or with his arm. Not necessarily in. Just, you know, involving the arm in some way. Oh and he’ll be out for 12 weeks.”

I’m curious about the fact that they repaired both the axillary and brachial arteries, however. The passage up there doesn’t make it entirely clear, but the brachial artery is actually a continuation of the axillary artery, like so:

illustration exclusive to Roar of the Tigers

Artery repairs generally involve taking part of a bit of some other blood vessel (usually from the leg; I went into that in a lot more detail when I wrote about Dingman’s surgery). So Rogers needed to have this done in two separate stretches of the same artery, basically? What the heck kind of clot WAS this? UBERCLOT? CLOTZILLA??

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when muscles over- or mis-develop in the shoulder, or a mis-angled bone (or an extra one, I guess) is present– basically anything to compress the part of the shoulder called, durrr, the thoracic outlet, which is kinda like the space between your collarbone and ribs and bony shoulder. Like so:

Illustration exclusive to Roar of the Tigers

As you can see in the image there, the axillary artery feeds through the thoracic outlet. Compression of the outlet therefore compresses the artery. If it’s compressed a bit you have blood cells bumping up against the walls more often and are more likely to get a clot there (like how people with high cholesterol get plaque in their blood vessels, which makes them more narrow, and more likely to host a clot). If it’s compressed even more, the artery itself might be damaged by it, possibly torn.

(now that I think about it, is that what intially happened to ol’ Dinger?)

Apparently, Kenny’s PREVIOUS shoulder injury most definitely WAS thoracic outlet syndrome, and he had surgery to remove a (I guess extraneous, or at least non-essential) rib which was compressing the area. The MLB article previously linked says that there was “surgery to clear an artery,” but there’s no indication of whether this means the artery was ‘cleared’ just by having the rib-created pressure on it eased, or if they actually had to go in there and remove a clot.

I have a hard time believing that his only issue this time ’round is the same thoracic outlet syndrome, I guess because the brachial artery is outside of the thoracic outlet, and as I said before, it’s reported that he had repairs in that artery as well. I hope it wasn’t an embolism (a blood clot that breaks loose of its forming site and travels throughout the bloodstream, looking for more harmful places to lodge, like in the lungs or brain); those buggers are freakin’ scary.

In fact the whole concept of a blood clot in the shoulder is pretty scary for a pitcher, if only because it can probably go undiagnosed for quite some time. The symptoms include some things like numb or tingling sensations in the fingers and a general tired or heavy sensation in the arm that, well…. they sound an awful lot like regular ‘tired arm’ pitching symptoms. It’s a little worrying to think that a guy who doesn’t know his arm very well yet (think last year’s Verlander, asking Bondo and Kenny time and again if his arm fatigue was normal) might just assume that it’s regular pitching pain and not get it looked at until it’s become legitimately dangerous.

Eeeek.

Usual disclaimer on all that: me no surgun, me on’y dum lil’ art stoodent, no know big doctor wurdz.

In other When It Rains, It Pours, And Then You Realize You’re Wearing A White Tshirt news, Vance Wilson ALSO managed to get himself DLed with mysterious arm pain that (he claims) is not tendonitis and is more nerve-related. He describes the pain as a “pinching sensation”, and it’s distracting enough that he can’t throw, which is a rather important part of that whole catching job thing.

In his place we get…. Mike Rabelo.

So saith Jim Leyland, on the topic of Rabes:

“He’s got talent,” Leyland said. “and he’s wound up tighter than a clock. I think once he gets around our atmosphere and everything, I think he’ll relax and I think he’s got a lot of ability. I like him. He’s one of those guys, just watching him, that wants to do good so bad that sometimes it works against him.”

MLB.com article

Sounds like he’s an eager beaver, but the kind of eager beaver that gnaws on the tree too fast, so that the tree comes crashing down on his eager beaver skull. Woo.

Since we don’t have nearly the same amount of information about Vance’s injury as we do about Kenny’s, I can’t exactly whip up some psuedo-scientific illustrations for it. He did describe it as a pinching sensation in his nerves, though, so I offer you this appropriately pinched nerve.

AAHHHHHH KENNY ROGERS DL AHHHHHHHHHHH


photo by Samara Pearlstein

WHAT!!!!!

Tigers’ Rogers to Miss Start of Season!!!?????!?!?!??

TIRED ARM???!??

KENNY!! Here you were LURING US INTO COMPLACENCY, thinking that the only tired arms we had to worry about were Verlander’s wee baby arm, and Zumaya’s video game-tormented arm, but NO, apparently it is YOU with the dreaded “tired arm”, the “tired arm” that could mean anywhere from “light soreness” to “auughh the tendon is ripping right now rip rip rip rip rip oh gawd nooooo my arm is turning into Mark Prior noooooooo”.

*HYPERVENTILATES*

Is Kenny old now? IS HE OLD???? IS HE OLD AND TIRED IN HIS ARMS????? AHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Dave Dombrowski tells us to not panic but SORRY DAVE I’LL PANIC IF I WANT TO AND THIS I RECKON WARRANTS PANIC FROM MY QUARTER.

Oh jeeeeeeeeeez if his arm is tired now, how will it hold up over the course of a season?? HOW??? EEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKK.
AHHHHHHHHHHH

*spacks out*
*flails*
*flails some more*

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee augh

edit: They’re saying now that it might be a blood clot, and that he’ll miss at least his first start of the season. Ummmm, blood clot?? DANGEROUS LITTLE BUGGER. Now I’m concerned both for Kenny’s pitching ability AND his general health. I really hope that isn’t what it is. But at least he hasn’t had an artery explode in his shoulder yet, in the style of Craig Dingman.

gold-plated paw pads

The AL Gold Gloves are out, and the Tigers cleaned up the running by snagging two, count ’em, T-W-O of the somewhat worthlessly determined highly prized awards. No other AL team can claim that, and you all know what that means.

(If you thought it meant “quiet pride in the accomplishments of the darn solid team we put on the field this season”, you are a baseball fan. If you thought it meant “the right to be unbearably smug for a whole year and beyond”, you’re a Yankee fan, and please stop projecting onto us.)

At pitcher we have Kenny Rogers, winning his 5th Gold Glove for handy hand-work on the mound and a persistent ability to not freak the heck out if a ball comes back at him after he’s sent it in the opposite direction. I know these awards look only at the regular season, but we are under no such constraints, and Kenny more than proved his gold gloveworthiness by being the only Tiger to escape the curse placed upon the pitchers and to KEEP HIS BRAIN, EYES, AND HANDS UNINTERRUPTEDLY CONNECTED so that baseball could be played, for one sad cold night, without the crushing embarrassment and disappointment of MANY ERRORS. That’s worth somethin’, kids, that is.

At catcher we have Pudge Rodriguez, winning his 12 (billion)th Gold Glove for inhuman awesomeity in catchin’ gear. Pudge was tops in fielding percentage among AL catchers with over 100 games started. Pudge had the lowest number of bases stolen against him for any AL catcher with over 100 games started (the next closest was KC’s John Buck), in part because his past keeps guys from running on him now, but also in part because he does in fact generally just annihilate runners. Pudge only had 4 passed balls all year (4!!), which is kind of amazing when you consider the collective youth of the pitching staff he had to handle.

Pudge has a rep, for sure, but like fellow midget-height scrapper Wolverine, he is still THE BEST AT WHAT HE DOES. He is the best catcher in baseball, period, exclamation point, several additional exclamation points, final period for emphasis. A couple years back he won a Gold Glove on what even he admitted was mostly reputation. He lost all that weight to regain his mobility behind the plate and to squeeze some more runtime out of his knees and back, and lost out on the Gold Glove last year to Jason Varitek, who, if I remember correctly, actually had worse defensive stats almost across the board.

Now Pudge is back to winning his Gold Glove, and winning it on merit. Not bad for a dude in his 16th season of catching at the major league level.

Of course this just highlights how dearly we’re going to miss him when he finally does retire (or precipitously decline, whichever comes first). Admit it, kittens, much as we all (rightly) moan and cry about his h-h-h-hackin’ ways and his nonexistent on-base percentage, we’ve been spoiled rotten by having him for a catcher. Almost by definition, anyone we have after Pudge is going to be a terrible let-down, even if they’re a very good catcher in their own right.

This is one of the things that concerns me the most. Batters you can get, outfielders and infielders are there to be found, pitching you can get, and we’ve been doing pretty well with internally cultivated pitching lately anyhow. But the market for catchers is SO thin, and our minor leagues aren’t exactly brimming with mini-Pudges either.

The market for catchers is just as thin for everyone else as it is for us, of course, but the thing is, most everyone else is used to dealing with a catcher who is…. well, less than Pudge. Someone who’s not as good offensively, or defensively, or both. Since the Tigers have the best catcher out there, it’s the Tigers who are going to feel it most sorely when their current catcher retires, because it’s the Tigers who will probably be facing the most palpable drop in production in all aspects of the game.

I’ve been kind of paranoidly fixated on this one particular issue for ages now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a real problem.

Your other AL Gold Glovers are Mark Teixeira at 1B; Mark Grudzielanek at 2B (I can spell it without even looking it up, bow before me); Eric Chavez at 3B; Derek Jeter at SS; Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Ichiro Suzuki in the OF. I’ve got no problem with Ichiro, because of course he’s Ichiro and can do sickcrazy things. Wells is also fine. Tex, Grudzie, well’n’good. Torii I thought was not up to his usual standards this season, perhaps because of the foot injury still, but eh.

Derek Jeter won because he’s Derek Jeter and for no other reason. Even just going by fielding percentage, he was 6th among shortstops who played over 100 games this year. Better than him were Alex Gonzalez (the Red Sox variety), Michael Young, Jhonny Peralta, Juan Uribe, and Orlando Cabrera. But none of them have calm eyes.

Chavez was pretty good from what I saw this season, but I’m still going to maintain that Brandon Inge should have won because, uh, because. Cut the kid some slack; he had the second-highest number of errors among all third basemen, but I think most of us agree that this is because his XTREME ATHLETICISM allows him to get to balls (and thus have near-enough misses that they’re counted as errors) that most other third basemen can’t even approach.

Say you get a weird tweener that the shortstop doesn’t quite seem able to get to. Brandon Inge flings himself at the ball and juuuuuust barely misses it, skipping off the bottom of his glove. It’s called an error. You think Eric Chavez hauls his stiff, injured body after that? No. He takes a few vigorous steps but just can’t get anywhere near the thing, it squirts into the outfield and is called a soft line drive or something. BEHOLD THIS INVENTED YET WHOLLY CONVINCING EXAMPLE.

(Hilarious trivia: if Inge is second in the AL for third baseman errors, who’s first? Answer: ARod. And unlike Inge, who mostly gets errors on weird hops and dives and hard-to-play balls, ARod’s errors often just involved straight-up bobbling. Heh.)

Oh, and we’ve apparently re-signed Dombrowski through 2011. I think it’s mostly a good thing (duh). More on that later.

World freakin’ Series Game 2: addendum

OK. Between football, baseball, and the art school, I’ve had about 8 hours of sleep over the last 3 nights combined. Hence that last post. I’ll let its incoherence stand.

Photos from the game are up and you can find them all right here. Best I could manage from way up in the 300 level but man, a World Series game! I was gonna take the photos whether they were at all likely to come out or not.

You can see the problem here. This wass the view from our seats with no zoom whatsoever:


Pretty far off, ya?

So it’s to be expected that something like this shot of Sparky on the mound didn’t come out too splendidly.

Ah well.

Here’s the thing about that game.

I know for some people, going to a World Series game is not that big of a deal. I assume everyone gets at least a little psyched up by it, but some people go to a bunch of divisional games, and a couple World Series games, and it’s just another really exciting game to attend. I had never been to a postseason game of any description– I was, of course, stuck out in Michigan during the World Series in 2004.

I had never sat as high up in a ballpark as I did for Game 2. I’ve sat in the proverbial boonies at Fenway, but the proverbial boonies at Fenway are just not as high up or as far away as you can get at Comerica. We weren’t in the outfield or anything, and we actually had a pretty good view of the plate, but man, the upper bits of the 300s are waaaay up there. And when everyone’s on their feet jumping around, the floor shakes like the entire stadium is going to come crashing down, which is HIGHLY disconcerting.

The good bit is that, if you’re sufficiently high up, you’re actually under cover. That’s not to say we stayed dry, of course, because rain blows in, but at least we weren’t sitting right at the edge of the little roof where all the water came pouring down in sheets onto the unfortunate fans in those seats. If they stayed put, those people must have had incredible dedication, because that looked like about the most miserable thing imaginable.

So we were sitting all the way up there next to, I might add, a woman who had gone beyond drunk and into some mystical realm of inebriation. Friendly, but still. She kept calling Sean Casey “Shelton”, and, when corrected, announced that he was a jerk and took first base away from Big Red. Kenny Rogers was “the broaster” (?), and the first time Inge came up to bat she nudged me and said, “He’s got a tickler, huh?”, which caused me no end of horror.

I was so chilled that by the end of the game I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. I’ve had a cold for a week that I think I probably recaught. I was frustrated all game by trying to handle a camera and a scorecard and a pencil with frozen fingers made clumsy by gloves. I had beer spilled on my feet. I had to crane to see home plate around the people sitting in front of us sometimes. We lost our parking lot after the game and had to wander around searching aimlessly for it. And it was the best time I’ve had at a baseball game all year.

Throughout the entire game I just kept sitting there saying, “I can’t believe I’m at a World Series game. I can’t believe I’m at a World Series game. I have a huge critique tomorrow morning and I can’t believe I’m at a World Series game.” It’s been two days and I have the scorecard and the photos and the scratchy throat to prove it, and I STILL can’t believe I was at a World Series game. I know it’s not such a huge deal for some people, but for me, man.

Basically my dad is a hero for getting the tickets.

Anyways.

Jeff Weaver and Juan Encarnacion were both booed heartily by the crowd. Weaver got the worst of it, I think because the crowd remembered his rattle-ability from his Tiger days. I’d only ever heard ARod get that kind of long, drawn-out, Darryl-Strawberry-taunting call from a ballpark before. “Weeeeeaaaaaaavvvveeeeerrrrrrrrrr.” Molina’s repeated trips to the mound only encouraged the crowd to believe that they were having an effect. “WEEEEEEAAAAAVVVVVEEEERRRRR.” Encarnacion just got straight-up booed. Both were ridden much harder than Pujols was, for whatever that’s worth.

And I really have to say that the Kenny Rogers “incident” was a total non-issue at the time. I realize that it’s all that anyone’s been talking about since, but during the actual game there was no announcement, no indication that anything at all was amiss. I’ve seen the closeup photos, and I guess it could be pine tar, but it was also REALLY wet out there and, you know, the rosin bag gets tossed into the dirt; I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kenny picked up some mud that way.

In any event, two things here strike me as important. One, whatever it was on his hand, it couldn’t have been all that vital, because Kenny masterfully shut down the Cards AFTER he had cleaned it off. Two, if it WAS pine tar… well, you can be bloody well sure that he wouldn’t be the only one in baseball doing that. I suppose it’s possible that The Russa didn’t make a stink about it because some of HIS pitchers are doing the same things. I don’t know. I just have a hard time believing that the Cardinals would let Kenny Rogers off the hook on this if they sincerely believed he was doctoring the ball and/or knew that their own pitchers weren’t.

Oh, and Todd Jones? That needs to never, ever happen again. The whole stadium was on its collective feet, screaming, towels a-waving for those final outs. And then… Todd Jones happened. I know that this is what Jonesy does, I know that we should be used to it by now, but SWEET FANCY KITTENS that was NOT something that I needed to ever experience. Can you even imagine if Kenny had pitched that amazing game and then Jones pissed it away in the 9th like he so very nearly did? I can’t even. Oh man. The attitude in the ballpark was one of shock; it was happening before our eyes but no one really believed what they were seeing. If they HAD lost, I don’t even know what would have happened. Death and destruction, probably.

But he held on. I am calm. I am over it. Whatever. What a win. What a win.

Game 3 tonight. Time to laugh hysterically at Nate batting and hope against logic that we can pull this one off.

World freakin’ Series Game 2: Kenny Rogers Owns My Soul

was at this game. tired and incoherent. better post tomorrow (later today) probably.

kenny rogers was sick. SICK. had no idea what the deal with the umps coming out to talk to him was until the car ride home; no telling what’s going on from up in the 300 level. sure some cards fans will whine it was pine tar. he pitched great after he cleaned his hand off. no doubt. kenny rogers owns my soul. and yours.

never been to a world series game before. insane. INSANE. mostly: SO FREAKIN’ COLD. also, packed. also, towel waving looks much cooler in person than it does on tv.

brandon inge’s first postseason hit, and me there to see it in person. obviously it’s because he loves me.

sat next to a very loud, very friendly, very very drunk woman. craig monroe was her tiger.

players made a point of coming over and individually hugging alan trammell before the pregame ceremonies, don’t know if they showed that on tv or not. so cute. tram’s bald spot: ginormous when viewed from the 300 level. bondo came over to say hi to sparky anderson and shook his hand in a weird half-bow like he was in awe.

juan encarnacion got hella booed. also, many ‘weeeeeeaaaaavvvveeeerrrrr’ chants.

the sound in the ballpark when they replayed the pitch that bounced up and hit molina in the gonads was great. a kind of collective male squeal.

spotted jeannie zelasko wandering around the sideline before the game, was wondering who the dude with awful hair with her was. then i realized. ha ha, oh eric byrnes, the long black jacket is incapable of classing up that dead echidna on your noggin.

took photos, of course. 300 level, so they’re not great, but i took them anyways. in southfield for the night, can’t get the photos on the internet until probably much later monday. will post a link when they’re up.

so, so very tired. world series baseball in person. i still can’t quite believe it.

better post, and photos, eventually. caps, even, if you’re good.

ALCS Game 3: SNOOD!

Yes, many things happened in this game, and many of them were located somewhere on the good-to-awesome spectrum. We will get to those. But the MOST important thing, the most GLORIOUS thing, first.

PLACIDO POLANCO WAS WEARING A HEAD SNOOD.

If you were watching this game, and you saw this, and you did not want to just give him a great big hug and maybe some mittens, then you are not a real person. Oh my HOLY CATS if that was not the cutest thing in the universe, I don’t know what is. A COLD WEATHER SNOOD! Under his hat! Oh Placido. I suppose it makes sense, too. After all, he’s got that gigantic skull, there’s a lot of surface area there just radiating all his body heat out into the air. He probably gets cold faster than the average second baseman! He’s got to CONSERVE! With a SNOOD!

For more snood goodness, have a look at some Dogs in Snoods.

Now, this was one method of heat retention, as opposed to the method used by Marco Scutaro, who was wearing a knit ski cap OVER his regular baseball hat. I mean, it was still green and gold, and it had the A’s logo on the front and all, but is that legal? See, I thought Placido was fine because he was wearing his snood under his regular gear, and baseball players wear all kindsa goofy stuff under their uniforms. But can you actually wear something OVER it? I mean, I guess it wasn’t overtly against the rules, or presumably someone would’ve said something, and I think everyone’s trying to be accommodating about the fact that the games have got to be played in Detroit and Detroit right now is deciding that yes, October IS in fact the proper time to begin winter. It just struck me as odd.

Anyways. Kenny Rogers.

What on earth has gotten into him? Whatever it is, it needs to keep getting into him because, uh, wow. Nate pitched just well enough to get us through, Verlander pitched just well enough to get us through, Kenny DOMINATED. Even at the end of his night… he walked Swisher to start the 8th, and Leyland came trotting out. Kenny turned around, put his glove over his mouth, and swore so violently that it was surprising that the glove didn’t burst into flames. He then said something convincing to Leyland and got Scutaro to ground into a fielder’s choice, eliminating Swisher at second, before finally giving way to Fernando Rodney, who promptly teased a snazzy double-play ball out of Bobby Kielty to end the inning. This pleased Kenny, who jumped around in the dugout screaming.

Two hits, 6 Ks, 3 walks, no runs over 7.1 innings. He’s not a big hulking dude, he’s not a terrifying power pitcher. He threw a pitch that hit Frank Thomas in the thigh yesterday and quite frankly I think the ball came away with more of a dent in it than Frank did (although given the fact that Frank Thomas’ thigh is about the size of my entire torso, and a lot more solid, maybe that’s not such a good example). But I would venture to say that Kenny Rogers is the most intimidating man on our pitching staff right now.

And if you disagree, he’ll punch you in the spleen.

Rich Harden did a lot better than it initially looked like he was going to: it took him 8 pitches to throw his first strike, but then he settled down (or maybe warmed up). Three runs and 5 hits over 5.2 for a guy coming off a long layoff with a wonky elbow and pitching in joint-stiffening, freezing weather is very respectable. You’ve got to tip your hat (or SNOOD) to him for that. He’s definitely got the testicular fortitude to be a seriously scary pitcher; he just has to stay healthy. Yet another example of Nature spitting in the face of the 100 mph fastball.

Other things:

–Thom Brenneman, on a big empty swing that Pudge had just taken: “That fastball just ate him out.” Me: “……”

–While the FOX guys were talking about Zumaya’s wrist, the camera focused on Verlander in the dugout. Why do they do this? Just because they both throw hard? Or do TV guys honestly confuse the two? Remember, Jon Miller called Verlander “Zumaya” at least once.

–I finally, finally figured out what it is that Jason Kendall looks like. This had been driving me nuts, because he was, with his current facial hair, reminding me very strongly of SOMEthing… but I just could not for the life of me put a name to it. Finally got it.

He’s a schnauzer. Tell me I’m not the only one who sees that.

–Alexis Gomez pinch hit for Omar in the 8th and got a single. Said it before and I’ll say it again. Alexis Gomez: the anti-Neifi.

–Curtis Granderson walked 3 times in the 4 times he was up to the plate, and the only time he didn’t walk he hit an excellent ball into the outfield that was only caught because Kotsay made a ridiculously good running grab on it. For any Tiger to have 3 walks in one game is a big, big deal; to see Granderson, with his love of the K, do it… ah, this must be what happiness is like.

–Brandon Inge going into the stands and coming out with the ball? Oh man. Oh man, how much do we love this kid? (I say ‘kid’ as though he’s not 8 or 9 years older than me.) That was about as sweet a defensive play as you’ll see, and because it wasn’t made by Derek Jeter, everyone in baseball will have forgotten about it in a couple of months.

–Magglio made a nice catch to start off the 6th. He went down on one knee and slid to get it. I know this isn’t too spectacular in the grand scheme of outfielding, but since Magglio was playing a little shy of it at the end of the year, it was great to see him do that.

–Pudge in the dugout, arms wrapped around himself, jumping up and down to stay warm. Hee.

–Fernando pitched to one batter and, because he induced the DP, had it count as 0.2 innings. This means that basically only Kenny and Jonesy pitched. This means that the bullpen is better-rested for today and beyond (if need be). Without Zoom in there, and I’m not expecting him back today, this is a very, very good thing, and yet another reason to bow before the greatness that is Kenny Rogers.

–PLACIDO POLANCO WAS WEARING A SNOOD.

Game 3: Who’s afraid of the big bad Gambler?

Ah, there are few things in life sweeter than listening to ESPN rag on a guy all game long, and then watching him proceed to do everything they said he couldn’t. Thank you, Kenny Rogers. Never have poor postseason stats been so loudly trumpeted. It was almost as loud as the Jeter adoration.

No one was expecting this game to turn out like this. Tigers fans who’d seen Kenny pitch recently might have expected him to do well, especially if they were, like me, willfully ignoring all his numbers from previous years. But a shutout! Who would’ve thought it possible? A shutout of THE GREATEST LINEUP OF BASE BALL PLAYERS TO EVER BE ASSEMBLED ON THIS PLANET IN THE HISTORY OF ALL TIME (according to espn)??? Surely that is IMPOSSIBLE.

Only once, all game, did a Yankee batter advance beyond the base he initially reached, and that was Posada moving to third on Matsui’s groundout after his leadoff double in the 7th. After Matsui, Bernie Williams struck out swinging and Cano grounded out to first, and that was that. The Yankees managed 4 other hits, 2 walks, and ARod was nicked by a pitch, but every time, when someone got on, everyone behind them failed to do anything.

Zoom came in for one batter, ARod, in the 8th, and got him to fly out harmlessly. Jonesy, for once, had a nice and easy 9th with two flyouts and a swinging strike to end the game. Man, it’s weird even just typing that. I like bringing in Zoom for just the one guy… hopefully it won’t tire him out too much, and Kenny’d thrown well over 100 pitches at that point. There wasn’t a whole lot of game left, but no sense in tempting fate with that lineup. (see, I acknowledge the ability of the Yankee hitters, I recognize their skill and their WoahScary factor, but I do not FAWN UNNECESSARILY over them)

Keeping Sheffield out of the lineup in favor of The Ancient Bernie Williams worked well for Torre, as Bernie contributed two strikeouts and a line out to Inge at third on the evening. There is such a thing as playing the numbers too much. Again, it would be absurd to say that anyone predicted Kenny would pitch as well as he did, but given his recent performances, it would’ve been a little silly to expect him to suffer a postseason meltdown as he maybe has in the past.

Leyland decided to stick with his men, and just shuffle them around. Yes, even though his hitters are not SO MARVELOUSLY FEARSOME as the Yankees, they were good enough to all stay in the lineup against the Wizened Unit. Polanco, leading off, went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Casey, moved from third to seventh, went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Granderson, moved from leadoff to ninth, went 1-for-3 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI (he drove in Pudge on a fielder’s choice, and later had a solo shot). Really the only guys who did nothing at all were Craig and Inge. Craig’s very hot and cold and it’s impossible to tell how he’ll be on any given day, and Inge I don’t mind so much so long as everyone else is hitting and his defense stays up to snuff.

As for the two controversial calls in the game, eh. I say they cancel out. Pudge was out in the 2nd when ARod tagged him at third, and yeah, that safe call led to a run. But Polanco’s hit in the 5th was fair when it was called foul, and that ended up keeping the inning scoreless. So far as I’m concerned these are like offsetting penalties in football and we’re all good.

I am starting to wonder if maybe Jon Miller has been hanging out with Tim McCarver too much. The night before he called Verlander the wrong name TWICE (once he was “Jason Verlander” and once he was “Zumaya”), and tonight he said “Kaz Matsui” when he meant Hideki. He realized his mistake two out of the three times (Jason Verlander went uncorrected) and instead of just saying, “Whoops, my bad,” and going on with the game, he felt the need to stop and talk at length about his mistake. So we got a whole schpiel about how so very different Kaz and Hideki Matsui are even though, chortle chortle, they both played in New York.

The best bit of the whole night, of course, was Ernie Harwell showing up in the booth and doing some of the play-by-play. He was his usual Ernie Harwell self, full of stories and great strikeout calls (“He stood there like a house by the side of the road and watched it go by.” “Strike 3, he’s out for excessive window shopping, he looked at one too many.”) and he had Miller and Morgan in stitches most of the time.

Like Johnny Pesky in Boston, Ernie’s one of those guys you just feel good about seeing around the game of baseball, and it was nice to listen to him call the game as it happened in front of him and you could almost forget, for a brief second, that you were watching a highly polished and Yankee lapdogging ESPN broadcast.

Wright/Bonderman at 4 today. I would like to be told who decided that this game should not be a night game, because I don’t know about you kids, but I am IN MICHIGAN, therefore I am going to be AT ONE OF THE BIGGEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN THIS YEAR. I assume that many of you will also either be there or will be keeping a close eye on it. Seriously, SOMEONE at FOX or MLB had to know that the Michigan/Michigan State game was at 4:30, and SURELY someone would know how many Michigan folk are going to be all over it.

I mean. It’s MICHIGAN/MICHIGAN STATE. Almost THE ENTIRE STATE OF MICHIGAN is going to be watching it in some way or another. And the kind of people who, around here, care about college football deeply are also likely to care a bit about baseball. Scheduling the Tigers game at the same time is stupid. The Big House is going to have over 110,000 people in it today; assume only a THIRD of them would watch at least part of the Tigers game if it wasn’t at 4 (and I think you can assume a higher percentage than that, but to be conservative) and you’re talking about AT LEAST 37,000 people who are AUTOMATICALLY lost ad revenue. And that’s not counting people who will, instead of keeping their TVs on the Tiger game, flip back and forth between the two from the comfort of their couches.

At least the Tigers can’t be eliminated today, but I am really quite pissed off about this. Someone in MLB or at FOX is either incredibly ignorant about all things Michigan or is just a really big excretory exit site.

one word: playoffs

I was fine until Todd Jones started to cry.

Playoffs. Playoffs. We haven’t even clinched the division; we may not do that. We haven’t ‘won’, really, anything. Who cares? I ask you: WHO CARES? We are IN. THE PLAYOFFS. Playoffs. I was 2 years old the last time the Tigers were in the playoffs. This is the first time, then, that I’ve seen it. I can’t even. Oh man. Playoffs.

In 2003 we were the worst team in baseball, very nearly the worst team in the HISTORY of baseball. It’s 2006, and we are IN. THE. PLAYOFFS.

I figure it’s best to let those who would know best say it, at least for right now.

Mario Impemba: “For the first time since 1987, the Tigers are back on the baseball map, they are in the playoffs. It has been 19 years since the Tigers made the postseason, and the day has finally come for Detroit.”

The first Tiger they talked to, on the field, was Brandon Inge. He’s been here the longest and suffered through it all (and what does it say about the Tigers organization, that Brandon Inge is the longest continuously tenured Tiger?). His interview was fairly boring. He didn’t think he’d be excited, but he was, yadda yadda. I was all set to be disappointed but, at the very end, as he was leaving, he turned to face the camera full-on and gave THE cheesiest grin and double thumbs-up I’ve ever seen. My faith in the dorktasticness of Brandon Inge was duly restored.

Al Kaline didn’t think we’d do it this year.

Rod Allen was trying to interview Magglio (whose hair, soaked, hung down lankly to his shoulders) when Placido dumped a huge bucket of ice and water over Maggs’ head. Rod gave up, laughing.

Pudge: “You know, we been beaten up and down for 2 years and finally this year we came through you know with Jim Leyland and the pitching staff, we all came together as a team… now all my guys, I’m ready, everyone’s ready.”

Nate, soaked, with his glasses off, was about to get interviewed when Miner and Verlander came hurtling over, dumping beer all over him. Then someone offscreen chucked a towel at his face.

Nate: “We always believed we had the talent, it was just the direction, Leyland coming in here… we have some unfinished business, but we’ll enjoy today… when you pitch with confidence you kinda develop that, when you feed off of each other… we had Kenny come in here, and that was the veteran presence we didn’t have before…”

Then he turned to Mario, said, “Thanks a lot buddy, you’re a little too dry here…” and dumped most of an entire bottle of champagne over Mario’s head.

Maroth: “This is great, I’ve never had champagne in the locker room, so this is great feeling… I think once we got out to a good start we knew what we had… last year was, uh, disappointing, we came into spring training focused, from that time on it’s just been focus, determination, you gotta have heart.”

Zumaya: “Oh man, you can’t ask for anything more,” at which point Miner and Verlander, apparently the soaking committee, came over, hooting at a high volume, and soaked him in alcohol. He recovered enough to say, “I came in here [Kansas City], opening day, I got my first big league debut here, I can’t explain it, I’m having so much fun, I wanna break down in tears but I gotta hold it in.” At which point Rod said, “It’s OK to cry, big fella.” So much love for them both.

Someone started to interview Polanco, and I noticed Maroth and Nate in the background hugging so long and so hard that I was waiting for someone to scream at them to get a room. Polanco started talking about what a great feeling it was to be here. Ledezma came up behind him, dumped a bottle of beer over his head. Polanco kept talking. Fernando Rodney came up behind him, dumped another bottle of beer on his head, then massaged his giant cranium. Throughout all of it, Polanco remained completely unfazed, still talking happily into the mic like he had no idea anything was going on.

In the background, Inge defied the laws of physics to pick Vance Wilson up off his feet.

Kenny: “Well it has been a special season up to this point, I don’t now if anyone expected us to do this… can’t say enough about how great a group of guys this is, and how fortunate I am to still be here playing with a group like this… every guy has a personal reason to get here, you wanna accomplish certain goals… we’ve got things we wanna do still… but I think having this type of team, I think we’re all gonna have a lot of memories after this, but I think this is gonna be one of the special ones of our career.”

Grilli: “This is unbelievable, I think it’s a testament to what this team is all about… it’s taken every single person up and down… champagne in your eyes, it stings a little bit but it’s all good… once the playoffs start, anything can happen, it’s anyone’s game.”

Dombrowski, his dress shirt off, tshirt soaked: “Well it feels fantastic, you keep everything inside you for so long and all of a sudden you’re at that point, where that last out is made, and it all comes spewing [out]… it’s as good a professional feeling as you can have.”

Keating was about about to interview Shelton, when Kenny and Miner blast him with beer. Keating starts giggling and says, “Chris Shelton doesn’t even drink, but by osmosis I think some will find its way into his system.” I assume the ‘not drinking’ thing is because he’s Mormon, right?

Granderson was bouncing ridiculously behind him. Then Tata, and for the record this nearly killed me, completely deadpan, started staring over Shelton’s shoulder at the camera. Over his head, over his other shoulder, just completely deadpan the entire time. I don’t know how the cameraman stayed sane, it was painfully hilarious.

Then they interviewed Todd Jones.

Jones: “I’m so honored to be a part of this and I’m so excited for the city of Detroit…” He looked like he was going to cry, but mastered himself after a moment. “I mean it doesnt happen a whole lot, you’re just proud to be a small part of it, we’re so… *long, tearful pause*… we’re so lucky to be in this situation… it’s just an honor to have brought this team all the way from spring training all the way to now, and we’re not finished.

Those guys [in the bullpen] have got such great talent, Joel’s got such a great arm and such a bright future… Fernando’s been there all year, he’s been the rock in the 6th, the 7th… just for the young guys to just realize chances like this don’t come around a whole lot… to understand why you play baseball, why you put your family through all this stuff [at this point he was, actually, crying, and barely able to talk], we’re excited ’cause we tried so hard, and we did it, you know, good for us.” He tailed off, overcome with emotion. This is where I lost any pretense of composure.

They barely spoke to Granderson, but they were with him long enough for all female Tigers fans to enjoy his very, very tight shirt. He pointed out that, “it’s been fallin’ in place for me, in my Tigers career, I’ve been to two playoffs,” referring, I assume, to Toledo.

Then they tracked down Mike Ilitch. Who was, no word of a lie, trashed out of his gourd.

Ilitch: “Yeah well I can’t say too much now, I’m kinda high. It’s a labor of love, you know, just, blow your brains out, that’s how we feel. [wtf?] We’re happy and we know the city’s gonna be happy and we know the state’s gonna be happy, and I dunno, I’ve seen guys in interviews where they get a little speechless and start to babble babble babble…”

At this point Rod redirects him by asking about Pudge.

“Well um, you know, um, Pudge has a history of rising to the occasion, I know he’s a mighty ballplayer, we just hit it off, and uh, uh, he’s been special, and uh, I dunno, he’s just uh, somebody that I’m so glad we have around, and uh, I dunno, I dunno what to tell you…” Rod mercifully terminated the interview here. It was ace. He was SO gone.

Bondo, when he was interviewed, held up a small bottle of water. “All the beer’s gone,” he said, in his usual possibly-hilarious-but-always-cardboard manner, “all the champagne’s gone.” Maroth came up and slung an arm over his shoulder, dabbing at the side of Bondo’s face with a towel.

Bondo: “We gotta great group of guys here, we hang out all the time together, go out to dinner together, play cards together, the starting group is as tight a group of guys that I’ve been with. In ’03, we were bad.” The last statement caused Maroth to laugh.

Willie Horton: “Well it’s just the first step, just the beginning, I’m so proud, so proud of what they accomplished this year, seen them grow from the bad times to the good times. It’s a good feeling you know, we haven’t won it back home since ’87 [won it back home?], this is for the whole state of Michigan, not just Detroit, the whole state…

…It’s a great feeling, you know, our city’s goin’ through a lotta hard times, not as much as ’68, ’67, still some hard times, hope we can have everyone pull together, make the city better… maybe people start workin together [like what happened after the Tigers won the World Series in 1968].”

Keating was trying to interview Carlos Guillen when he got SMASHED in the face by a stream of alcohol. He screamed, “I’ll get Nate Robertson back for that!” and Nate, offscreen, shouted something back that sounded a bit like, “Yeah right, Keating!”

Leyland, in reference to a question about the last time he was in the playoffs (I think): “I haven’t been waiting 6 years, I’ve been waiting 43 years, this is really a thrill for me, this is a special day for me. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to manage the Tigers… I’m a real proud guy today.”

When asked about how he felt, when he first got the call asking him to manage the Tigers: “That was really a catch 22, to be honest with you, the fact that I have so much respect for Alan Trammell, this is really his celebration today… I had mixed emotions ’cause I was taking a friend’s job… part of this is for them, let’s not forget that.”

Playoffs. Of course we’ll be disappointed if nothing more comes of this, if this is the only champagne celebration we get to see this year. But. This is more, way more, than the Tigers have had in years and years and years. Savor it, kids. You can be sure the team will.

Playoffs!

my roommate thinks the announcers were talking about Kenny Rogers the singer

Man, we needed that. We needed that so badly. Especially with the Twins coming back to win against Oakland, thanks for nothing Joe Kennedy. At least we stayed in a holding pattern. Every day that we manage to do that now is one day closer to… uh, fall. Right, you know, autumn, colored leaves, pumpkins, irritation when it snows in a month that seems unfairly early. That’s all I’m thinking about.

It was such a relief to see one of our starters FINALLY get some backup. Kenny was pitching a monster of a game and so was Padilla. I was fairly impressed with Padilla’s stuff or, more precisely, the variety of his stuff, but quite frankly the Tigers have been making a lot of pitchers look like bloody geniuses lately. Kenny deserved this one, very much so, but it would’ve been more just to see Nate get a win, simply because Nate has been getting a big fat lot of nothing from the bats for a while now. I realize I just wrote about that but I can’t stop harping on it because it’s pissing me off so much.

What worries me, heading into this final stretch, is the “what have you done lately” effect. If you just looked at the records of the Twins and the Tigers you’d find them very similar. But the Twins have been winning an absurd lot lately, and the Tigers have been losing. So the Twinkies probably “feel” like a better team right now than the Tigers do, even though on cold dead tree skin they’re close to the same thing.

Who would’ve thought, with the way we were playing earlier in the year, that we’d be sitting hunched over in front of our TVs, hanging on every pitch and biting our nails down to our knuckles at this point?

Then again, last year, who would’ve thought we’d be here at all?

Kenny ROH NO IT’S THE SECOND HALFgers

I hope that’s not what it is. But he’s got a history. From 2003 to 2005, before the All Star break he has an average ERA of 3.87, with a BAA of .273. After the break? An ERA of 4.80, and a BAA of .301. That’s a very significant increase. And he’s not getting any younger, so it doesn’t seem like a trend that’s about to reverse.

The worrying bit is that Rogers himself is worried. He says, “The bad omen was I had a great bullpen [session].” Presumably this means something along the lines of, ‘I felt good going out there, and I got my posterior handed to me on a platter, which means that I’m getting whupped when I have no particular physical ailment which would explain such a performance’. Not the sort of thing you want to hear.

It’d be easier to overlook it if he’d been beaten over the course of a game… a bad pitch here, a bad pitch there, and coprolites happen, y’know? But that many runs in the first inning… urgh. Can’t overlook that.

I mean, yes, bad days do happen. We’ve all had them. You’re driving to work and you spill coffee on your pants. The day’s off to a bad start. So you get to the office and you try to dry the coffee on your pants and instead just manage to look like a pervert humping the bathroom dryer when your regional boss walks in. Then you go to copy something and the copier is broken. So you try to fix it, but it shoots ink all over you, and ruins someone else’s vital document. You can’t stop the bad stuff from snowballing. Or something like that, I don’t work in an actual office building.

But this was worse than a usual bad day, mostly I guess because the bad stuff snowballed so immediately, like spilling coffee on your pants in the car only to immediately get jacknifed by an oncoming truck, and then your car catches fire, and you’ve got a lot of hairspray in, so, *foom*! That’s not a regular bad day. That’s astronomically bad.

At least we clawed back into respectability and Inge provided some good offense. We do love Brandon Inge here at RotT, and fully defend our right to defend him and his sub-.250 batting average to the death.