Category Archives: liveblog

Justin Verlander was on Conan.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Don Kelly got on Conan too, indirectly. Here’s how it all went down:

Justin Verlander on Conan, on this tragically baseball-less date of January 11, 2012

–The last time I watched a TV show that I never watch specifically for a baseball player was when Curtis Granderson was on the Martha Stewart show. Hopefully this will be a more rewarding experience. It can’t be worse. Right?

–How does Conan’s hair stay like that? It must take a lot of work, and product. I wonder what it looks like when he wakes up in the morning, you know?

–Look at that metallic swiss cheese screen thing on the side of the set. Is that a custom job, or can you buy it from Design Within Reach or something? I bet it’s a custom job. Also you would need specific lighting for it. You can’t just light that with overheads and expect it to look good.

–Andy Richter’s tie is much nicer than Conan’s.

–How great would it be if Andy Richter was related to Gerhard Richter? How great would it be if instead of Andy Richter, we had Gerhard Richter here, right now, on this TV show, about to be in the same room as Justin Verlander?

Imagine that, kids. Imagine it. Visualize it. Greatness.

–I really, really, really do not care about this monologue thing. Why is it still happening? Why is the crowd laughing? Are they being prompted? Where is Justin Verlander?

–Some comedian, doing a bit on youth basketball. I guess it’s cute, or whatever. Levels of Not Care… rising. All of this is just taking time away from time that could be more fruitfully spent looking at Justin Verlander.

–BENEFUL HEALTHY FIESTA. Feed yer dog avocado!

–Some actor from some other show that I don’t watch. Someone else who is not Justin Verlander. HA HA IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE HE HAS A SOUTHERN ACCENT AND DOESN’T KNOW WHAT ‘VINDICATED’ MEANS, HA HA, HUMOROUS. JOKES. JOKES. Something something something southern accent something something. Jokes!!

–Oh now we get an ad for the Bachelorette for southern people. This is why I don’t watch these channels. Why is this a thing? Why is everything southern tonight?

–JUSTIN VERLANDER MVP MVP MVP MVP oh about time, thanks Conan.

–He is wearing a dark charcoal (?) suit* with subtle pinstripes, white shirt with pinstripes of some inoffensive color, bright brown shoes, looks like the lining of his jacket is also bright brown. Pocket square, no tie. There is a brown stick of fabric on his lapel that drives me completely crazy until someone on the Twitters says that it’s a thing that some menswear labels do, I guess just to drive me crazy.

–He keeps rubbing the fingers of his left hand together. Is this a nervous habit? I’m trying to remember if I’ve seen him do it before and I can’t, but that doesn’t mean anything. Oh man DON’T BE NERVOUS JUSTIN, YOU’VE THROWN NO-HITTERS.

–Justin Verlander eats Taco Bell before every start. He gets three crunchy supreme tacos, no tomato. He gets a cheesy gordita crunch. He gets a Mexican pizza, no tomato. I too dislike tomato, so I can only conclude that Justin Verlander and I are soulmates.

–Now they discuss THE HOT FOOT. Justin credits Bert Blyleven for the inspiration, both in general and specifically because they were in Minnesota at the time. He details some of the logistics of the Don Kelly hot foot, which was not like the hot feet of the past, executed with a simple match. No, this hot foot was modern and made use of modern medical science.

Justin took some athletic tape, and doused it in tape remover, which is apparently very flammable. He then chewing-gummed it to Kelly’s cleat, and set it aflame. He admits to being concerned that he would ‘blow up the dugout’ if it had not been brought under control quickly, but when asked if he’ll keep doing this sort of thing, he answered in the hearty affirmative without hesitation.

–Talkin’ ’bout that video game or whatever. The early version, after his ’06 season, did not have him throwing hard enough, and Justin was upset about that. He is of course on the cover of the newest version, and approves because, “It’s me, I look great.” (We all agree, Justin. We all agree.)

–His shoes are the EXACT same shade of brown as the Conan desk.

—-Oh wow, do you think he feeds his dog that Beneful Fiesta stuff? It seems to be the Taco Bell of dog food, so…

–There are some other things, like a tragically unfunny comedian talking about how black people sure do name their kids some weird things, huh? and some more weird commercials, like (what I think is) Kelly Clarkson and Chris Berman singing in a car together, oh Paws what is this, why am I watching this? But, aside from a goodbye wave at the very end, that’s it for Justin Verlander.

–Nooo Justin Verlander, don’t go away, come back and talk to us about baseball things!

–You know, at least I feel like I learned things from the Martha Stewart ep.

*edit: There was enough outcry about this suit to prompt a response from Justin. He took to Twitter to reassure us all that it was in fact a navy blue suit with brown accents.

HOWEVER. I will say this. Even when I thought the suit might be dark gray (and I noted that I was uncertain about this at the time, because it was difficult to tell on the TV), I was ok with it and those brown shoes. I know people hear black and brown and think they must scream in horror, but when the brown is that bright, I think it’s fine. It’s the dark, desaturated browns that you want to avoid with black.

Cliff Lee? Who cares? I only have eyes for Placido Polanco.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The Tigers played split-squad today, with no Detroit cameras. But the Phillies had their guys out at one of the games, and the MLB Network decided to replay it at 8pm for some reason. Initially I could not understand why this was happening, but I wasn’t complaining, because baseball! Tigers baseball! On my TV!!

I soon realized the game had probably been chosen for broadcast because CLIFF LEE, MAN OF PITCHERLY WONDERS was starting. As you will see. Liveblog from my notes follows.

Top of the first
–We join the broadcast in action to find that Will Rhymes led off the game and was beaned by Cliff Lee. So… thanks for not showing me what I would actually kind of like to see? Good start, MLBN.

–Ugh, I guess I had assumed this would be a neutral MLBN broadcast, but it’s not, they’ve just ganked the CSN Philly tape, so it’s Tom McCarthy, “Wheels”, and “Sarge”, although only two are in the booth at any given time. Wheels is Chris Wheeler, Sarge is Gary Matthews the Elder. Naturally enough they are concentrating on the Phillies. I don’t blame them, but I just want more Tigers focus. Stampy feet!

–One of them says this is Cliff Lee’s first appearance in a Phillies uniform. But… but…? I stare at the TV, begin questioning my own memories of 2009. Maybe they mean… first appearance back? First appearance this season? Maybe they should say that. Deep breath. Spring Training for everyone.

–Tigers scoring happens. Ryan Raburn triple! Don Kelly has high socks on. Ryan Strieby looks nice and solid, I don’t know why I’m commenting on this, it makes me sound like Rod Allen.

Bottom of the first
–Andy Oliver gets the start for the Tigers. Placido Polanco is batting second for the Phillies! I draw four sadfaces in a row on my notes. The announcers are still talking about Cliff Lee.

Top of the second
–I left the room to do some stuff, and when I came back, it was the next inning and they were still talking about Cliff Lee. CLIFF LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

–Brian Wilson is in the MLB 2K11 ad. “Digital Brian, I will come through that screen and rip you apart.”

–“Nobody has ever touched the beard. There’s a reason for that– you can’t. It’s too full of magic.”

Bottom of the second
–The ballgirls down the lines are Hooters girls. Don’t even know what to say to this.

–Is the Phanatic here? I wish they would show him. It’s a Philly broadcast, if he’s in the park they really ought to put him on camera.

Top of the third
–Placido Polanco throws out Audy Ciriaco. I draw another sadface in my notes.

–Kyle Kendrick has replaced CLIFF LEE CLIFF LEEEEEEE. He comes way inside on Rhymes. After Cliff The Precious Lee already beaned him! THEY ARE PITCHING HIM INSIDE WITH INTENT TO HIT, OOOOOO PHILLIES, YOU DID NOT. YOU DID NOT. No they aren’t, Kendrick immediately throws two balls carefully far outside. But it’s the principle of the thing.

–Raul Ibanez is currently bald up top, with a scruffy beard. Announcer: “Some folks said, you look like a professor!” Other announcer laughs. I didn’t realize bald + beard = professor. Is that a thing?

–On Jose Valverde: “He’s something to watch.” Stuff about his outings being “an adventure.”

“There’s not enough mustard in the world to put on that hot dog.”

“Most closers are put on this earth to drive fans crazy.”

Bottom of the third
–On the bench in the dugout, CLIFF MOST SACRED OF LEEs, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and even Joe Blanton are all sitting in a row. Announcer says, “I like the way they all hang together.”

–They aren’t even in our league and I have to admit that’s a hell of a thing to see. All those cats on the same bench. Like… that’s some All Star Game stuff going on over there. If you’re a batter and you look into a dugout and you see that, you probably pee your pants a little bit. Just a little.

–Directly transcribed notes: MY PLACIDO, walks, oh he looks amazing ugggggh healthy sleek handsome

–No shame, ladies and gentlecats, no shame. This is baseball.

Top of the fourth
–Cliff Lee on-field interview EVERY INNING IS CLIFF LEE INNING

–Cliff Lee talks about getting to know the pitchers on this staff, this amazing ridiculous hyped-to-death-and-back-to-life-again staff, and he namedrops Placido Polanco. All the stupendous pitchers, and he has to mention how he’s been getting to know Placido. The only position player he names. PLACIDO.

Bottom of the fourth
–Adam Wilk is pitching. He majored in criminal justice.

–Gary Matthews says that Andy Oliver was penciled in as the Tigers’ fifth starter. Um… this is news to me? Where did that even come from?

–Another direct notes transcription: Rhino —> Rhymes threw out S Victorino @ second trying to run stretching a single oooo! snap snap

Game continued AFTER THE LINK!
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Opening Day is awesome when you win. Today was awesome.

Yeah. That’s a win. You’re catdamned right it is. Photo by Samara Pearlstein, emphasis by Miguel Cabrera.

I took notes. I know these posts are your favorites.

Opening Day 2010. Justin Verlander vs. Zack Greinke. The game and what happened in it.

–The Royals are wearing their powder blues. I am a big fan of the actual royal blue, but these are kinda nice. They should’ve gone with the full royal blue hats, though, not powder blue with royal brims. Kansas City boos Johnny Damon lustily. You’re not so bad, KC. I could grow to like you a little bit.

–Carlos Guillen pops one up over the infield, nobody calls it, Greinke throws his hands out as if to say I DON’T KNOW GUYS WHERE IS IT I JUST DON’T KNOW. Bloomquist makes a last-ditch dive for it, but misses. Magglio scores from second I think, making it 1-0 Tigers. These are the Royals I remember.

–The FSND Verlander scouting report: Workhorse. Repeat delivery. The Butler did it.
Mario: I can’t believe you used that.
Rod: I said it!
Mario: Especially to a Spartan…
Shortly thereafter Mario calls Billy Butler “one of Verlander’s nemeses”.

–Here comes Scott Sizemore with his yellow body armor batting gloves. Rod calls Greinke “The Truth”, caps verbally implied.

–Verlander is riding at 97-99 mph so far today. In the second inning, Jose Guillen singles up the middle. A couple guys later, Yuniesky Betancourt survives a long at-bat to blast a two-run homer. 2-1 Royals. Whhhyyyyyyy

–Damon booed again in his second at-bat. Mmmhm. In the bottom of the third, David DeJesus strikes out on a 98 mph fastball way outside, then hops around several times because he can’t believe he let himself be beaten so badly. Mmmmhmm.

–Rod Allen describes Willie Bloomquist’s knee surgeries as ‘orthoscopic’. He means ‘arthroscopic’, unless Bloomquist has eyes in his knees. Although, really, what do I know about the physical mutations of the Royals?

–Scott Sizemore has an excellent HURR DURR batting face. He kind of lets one side of his mouth hang open when he’s concentrating really hard up there. Pretty great. He breaks his bat; the barrel flies all the way out to third, skipping just past Bloomquist’s feet as he goes to field the ball. Bats these days, why I tellya, they oughta take action, action I tellsya.

–Saturday at Comerica will be a Year of the Tiger celebration! Oh man, if you are going to that game, you better live it the hell up. That sounds amazing. In other important promotions news: the only bobblehead giveaway so far seems to be the Justin Verlander K-counter bobbleheads on April 30, which somehow manage to look nothing like him. There is a ‘Paws foam tail’ giveaway on July 11 that sounds intriguing, but it’s only for kids. I’m a kid at heart, shouldn’t that count? I think so.

–Fifth inning, two outs. Chris Getz singles up the middle. DeJesus, up next, shows bunt but pulls it back. Laird catches the ball cleanly, but while trying to transfer it to his hand somehow throws the ball straight up into the air (??). While he’s waiting for it to come back down, Getz steals second base. Not kidding. I’m still not entirely sure what happened here.

–DeJesus singles. A few pitches later he steals second, making a TERRIBLE slide. He faceplants about a foot and a half away from the bag, losing his helmet and somehow bollocksing up the front of his belt. He lies there for a few seconds in shame, then picks his head up and starts laughing at himself. We would laugh with him, but Verlander walks Scott Podsednik to load the bases, and Billy Butler follows that up with a two-run single to make it 4-1 Royals. Verlander threw Butler only fastballs, including the last two pitches in the at-bat, which were both clocked at 100 mph by FSND’s gun.

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Opening Day 2010

illustration by Samara Pearlstein, click for bigger

Justin Verlander. Zack Greinke. 4:05 pm EDT today. IT BEGINS! Are you ready? I am about to eat my own hands, I am so ready. Tigers baseball, real and live and actually meaning something! Kansas City! Giant scoreboards and mascots with deformed heads! Look at all my exclamation marks!

We are having some sort of Tigers blogger jumbo pregame chat thing, starting at around 3 pm. I don’t actually know what this will entail, but I am participating in it, so, yeah, that’s happening. As we have learned, CoveritLive hates WordPress and WP hates it, so it won’t imbed properly here. Just click the link below to view the chat when it goes live at 3 on Monday, or to see the transcript after the fact.

Tigers Opening Day Mega Chat

I will update this post with a quick summary after the chat is over, and probably some bullet points about the game, unless something madly exciting happens and I need to make a whole new post to contain my glee/horror. Either way, I’ll ‘see’ some of you at 3 for Opening Day internet wonders.

What Happened in the Chat:

–Participating in the chat were Billfer, TigerBlog Brian, Formerly MackAve Kurt, Tigergeist John, Scorecard Austin, BYB Mike, MCB John, TigsTown Paul, Freep Jamie, TigerTales Lee, TigsTown Mark, BYB Big Al, Detroit4lyfe Bob, Matt in Toledo, and me. BYB Ian was late. Phew. I think that’s everyone.

–Our haphazardly-informed predictions for the season:
NL West: Rockies
NL Central: Cardinals
NL East: Phillies
AL West: Mariners (but not by a lot)
AL East: Yankees (obviously I disagree)
AL Central: Tigers (we’re all filthy homers)

–We think Dontrelle will make between 6-10 starts before getting injured/being trade/being sent down/otherwise departing.
–Eddie Bonine has a knuckleball, should use it to confuse and amaze.
–If Dontrelle isn’t working as a pitcher, we should convert him to a batter all Rick-Ankiel-style.

–There is but one Curtis Granderson. You can stop comparing Austin Jackson to him right now, because Austin Jackson is not Curtis Granderson, he will never be Curtis Granderson. Nobody can ever even hope to be Curtis Granderson. It is not possible. There is Curtis Granderson, and then there are the rest of us.

–Golden gods: Chad Durbin, Alex Avila
–Clete Thomas will probably be the first minor leaguer called up (although I said Armando).
–The ‘best’ offseason move was signing Johnny Damon, but really the best offseason move was getting Verlander’s contract done; Billfer just didn’t think to put that as an option.
–AJ Pierzynski is the most hated player in the Central among bloggers, ballplayers, and human beings everywhere.
–Nobody understands my feelings re: Damon, but I will make them understand. I will make them see truth.

(proper game post coming later tonight!)

taking the Jays in hand

the jay has been held, photo by Samara Pearlstein

Oh look another lengthy random spring game rundown. The Epic Rainstorm of DOOM flooded out some major streets here, which forced me to remain at home– but the televisual presence of Rod and Mario made it all better.

The Game, With the Wonder of Rod and Mario Hereby Restored to Us, the Fans

–We start out strong. Mario says that Armando Galarraga couldn’t command his slider last year and that was his problem. Rod says that his issue was “he didn’t have that look in his eyes.” What look is that, I wonder? When he’s throwing well, do Armando’s pupils mutate into tiny K-shaped pits of blackness? This is a new potential superpower.

–Now we get around to blaming Armando’s struggles on the WBC. He didn’t get the reps he needed to be ready, blah blah blah whatever. I can’t wait for the next WBC. What in the universe is better than 4am games from the Tokyo Dome with Orestes Destrade? NOTHING. Haters can go suck a wombat.

–The Jays are definitely not running their A-lineup out there today. This isn’t even their B-lineup. This is, like, the Q-lineup. The first two guys in the order are Jarrett Hoffpauir and Brad Emaus. You can’t fool me, Jays, I know those aren’t real baseball players. Stop making things up.

–Marc Rzepczynski pitching for the Jays. Pronounced “zep-CHIN-skee”, according to Mario.

–Scott Sizemore leads off with a home run, his first of the spring. First pitch and everything. Well, hitting it out of the park means that he doesn’t have to slide, so that’s good for his ankle. It’s wicked windy in Lakeland today, which may have helped some.

–Traitor Damon wearing the high socks. Rod and Mario say a number of praising things about him, his smile, his behavior in the clubhouse, “he sprays the baseball all around the baseball diamond” (Rod, of course). They are trying so hard to make me like him. Maybe I’ll start calling him TD and you can substitute a word other than ‘Traitor’ in there if it makes you feel better. He walks. This pitcher is a wreck.

–Magglio worked out with the U Miami football team in the offseason. “He says they lift a lot of weights,” thank you Rod, thank you Magglio, we never would have guessed. There’s a weird lump on his left forearm. Like halfway along, looks to be about the size of, I dunno… a baseball footprint? Did he get hit sometime recently? It is swollen but not really red-looking. Hmm.

–Miguel Cabrera homers. 3-0 Tigers. Apparently Rod told him they were going to be on TV today and asked if he was going to homer. Miggy wouldn’t commit to that but he did say he was going to get three hits. Well, there’s one. [note: he ended his day 2-for-3 with a double and the homer]

–Talking about Brandon Inge’s knee surgery and how it was not arthroscopic. Rod: “He’s got a couple of zippers on each knee, so it was major surgery for Brandon.”

–Randy Ruiz and Miggy standing at first, both their uniforms flapping around wildly in the wind. This is a testament both to the wind, and to the baggy unis. Those ‘old school’ tight pants would not be playing airport-wind-sock like these pajama monstrosities are, just sayin’.

–Your Wolverine baseball update: the Racist Logos assigned Zach Putnam to minor league camp today.

–Travis Snider is trying to grow a little goatee thing. Trying to kill the babyface. Not really working. The next Jay up is Chris Aguila, who looks 13. I want to give him a juice box and tell him to go finish that math homework. I mean, he’s adorable, but I feel like he should be angsting about who he’s going to invite to the school dance.

–Yes MLBN dude Barry Larkin, I AM ready for the new season. I am ready for the new season with you. Please come narrate the season to me. We can talk about Michigan baseball while eating ice cream, it will be the best of times.

–The exact opposite of Chris Aguila: Scott Sizemore looks like he could plausibly be ten years older than he is.

–Creepy closeup on a baseball with Armando showing his grips and slowly, softly saying the pitch type. Ummmm. I don’t know why this is so uncomfortable but it really, really is.

–Three hits in a row to start the third, that will bring two Jays home. 3-2 Tigers. All three swung at the first pitch and all three have gotten hits. Rod suggests Armando start them off with something other than a fastball. Sound advice.

–Oh thank cats, finally. Somehow I had managed to avoid hearing anyone say “Dunedin” (where the Jays make their spring home) and I had no idea how to actually pronounce it, because I only knew it as a written word. Today Mario says “dun-EE-din,” which is nowhere near how I had been saying it. Good to know.

–Talking about Brian Dopirak, the Jays’ DH today, who is some sort of 8-9 year career minor leaguer.
Rod: “I know a little something about that. I spent some time in the bushes myself… eventually you need to go get a real job.”
Mario: “What are you saying? [laughing] There’s a cut-off date?”
Rod: [laughing] “Yeah!”
Mario: “There’s an expiration date?”

–I know it’s an ad and I’ll probably get sick of it eventually, but right now I do kind of love the MLB2K10 ad where Verlander is drawing on the Longoria cut-out, and then he holds up the fruits of his graffiti-ing labors with this absolute guano-eating grin on his face. Spectacular.

Interviewing Leyland:
talking about TDamon, “…he’ll hit number two in the lineup, that was my plan really prior to talking to Johnny and after I talked to Johnny it really confirmed what I was thinking.”

talking about how long it will take Sizemore and Everett to get used to each other as double play partners, “Probably a little longer than one spring training… I think it’ll probably be at least halfway through the season before they totally know each other.”

talking about Cabrera, “He’s getting himself in good shape now, probably came in a little too heavy… I think last spring he came in too light.”

–Jacob Turner in to pitch the 4th. He is 18 years old. His command looks good today, he’s throwing much more easily than Armando was, at least right out of the gate. Eighteen years old. I can’t even handle this, you guys. Rod says, “He hasn’t even filled out yet!” but in almost the same breath he starts speaking admiringly about how Turner already has “big legs.”

–Dontrelle is telling some sort of story down in the bullpen that involves a lot of gesturing and hopping around. I want him to make the team (and do well, natch) so, so badly. I feel that our Weird Baseball experience would be infinitely enhanced if this could happen.

–After a camera shot of Lloyd McClendon sprawled in one of the coaching folding chairs, legs way out,
Mario: “Lloyd kinda loungin’ today!”
Rod: “Chillin’! He’s chillin’!… He works hard though. As do all the Tigers coaches.”

–The Jays have a kid named “Pastronicky” playing for them.

–Turner doesn’t look as good in his second inning. I can’t get too worked up about it because THE KID JUST HAD HIS PROM, I MEAN SERIOUSLY.

–Rod on Cito Gaston: “Great baseball man, tremendous baseball man. Take that back: tremendous man.”

–Brad Thomas does a variety of terrible things on the mound. Rod and Mario mention the fact that he was playing in Taiwan and Japan about a billion times. I thought he was in Korea at some point? Anyways. Point is: not in MLB. Why do we expect this to work out well again? Just the unfamiliarity factor?

Interviewing TDamon:
“Seems like I knew a bunch of guys from playing against them in spring training for I don’t know, however long I’ve been in this league.”

“First I’ve got to pump some iron, make these biceps look good,” [flexing and stroking his biceps], “then I’m thinking about a hot dog.”

“I know this team got beat up a little bit in the early 2000s, I think it was 2002, 2003, but this team kept getting better and better. I’ve always enjoyed going to Detroit, you know, stay out in the Birmingham area, it’s a great place.”

“Anytime there’s someone like a Verlander or a Porcello or a Jackson on a mound it can be a tough go-round, like the Yankees in 2006… I mean Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman, he really shoved it up our rears.”
Mario: “Interesting word, Johnny.”
TDamon: “Well I couldn’t say the other word.”

“Well the uh, I mean that’s what you’re supposed to do in Yankee Stadium, you’re supposed to take a shot at that right field porch, it’s happened that way since Babe Ruth played. But when you go to different ballparks you try to do more of the field. So I can definitely adjust. My numbers on the road were just as productive as far as the RBIs… as you grow up in this game you start realizing what you can and can’t do, at Yankee Stadium you may as well try to swing for that right field fence… I know what I’ll have to do at Comerica park, I’ll try to use the gas a little bit more and I’m up for the challenge.”

–Oh no! The crawl across the bottom of the screen says that Placido Polanco strained his right knee trying to catch a foul ball today and had be helped off the field.

–Talking about the Tigers’ scheduled trip to George Steinbrenner Field this weekend (in Tampa),
Rod: “That’ll be fun on the weekend! That’ll be fun!”
Mario: “I think I hear some sarcasm in your voice there! [laughing] Might have to park in Clearwater for that one.”
Rod: “Did you take a cab to park last year?… Unless you’re Yogi Berra or Derek Jeter, you don’t get a parking spot there.”

–On Brad Thomas.
Mario: “He pitched in Taiwan, he pitched in Japan for a few years.”
Rod: “Have left arm, will travel.”

–A routine force at second turns into a run for the Jays. Gustavo Nunez, who is playing shortstop today, made a perfectly serviceable throw. Dlugach was trying to cover second and missed the ball. It might have clanked off his glove, hard to tell from the angle.

–Snider was apparently both a running back and a linebacker in high school. Rod says, “he looks like a former football player,” except that he doesn’t really. Like, at all.

Interviewing Alex Avila:
“Yeah you know this spring’s been a little different than last spring… so cold and rainy here at the beginning of the spring, we weren’t sure if we were in Lakeland or Detroit.”

talking about how he didn’t start playing catcher until he was in college, “Well um, you know, it’s been an extremely grueling process from when I started in Alabama, I started a lot of days just in catcher’s gear, I wouldn’t even hit, just trying to learn the position and all the fundamentals that go along with it… constant drills and repetition just trying to get as comfortable as I could back there, fundamentally… once I got the fundamentals down, it’s just game experience, getting back there and catching.”

talking about his grandfather, Ralph Avila, the Cuban scout who signed guys like Pedro Martinez and Adrian Beltre, “He just turned 80, we had a big party for him… he takes me outside to do catching drills, to show me the footwork, in the middle of his 80th birthday party…. This game is in our [family] blood, we live and breathe baseball, it’s all I’ve known since I’ve been able to walk.” [note: cool article here about how Alex’s grandpa actually, um, revolutionized the heck out of baseball]

talking about the pressure of growing up in a baseball family, “…it’s been with me my entire life, growing up in a family like ours, there’s always been a little extra pressure to do well because of everything I’ve been able to experience as a kid growing up. At the same time, you know, as it should be, because… I have available all these tools and people to talk to and stuff like that, so there’s always going to be more expected of me, and that’s fine. It’s a privilege…”

“The only time there was Cuban food in Alabama is when my mom came to town…. Anything she cooks is fantastic, I don’t even have to ask her what she’s cooking, I just sit down and eat it. When you know everything is good, it makes it easier to eat.”

–Rod: “That’s what you’re supposed to do. Swing hard in case you hit it!”

–Everett has the day off. Where the heck has he been this spring? I feel like I haven’t heard much of anything about him. Should I be taking this in a ‘no news is good news’ sense or what?

–THERE IS A PITCHER FOR THE JAYS NAMED BUBBIE BUZACHERO. No. Freakin. Lie. Rod wants to call him ‘BB’. His real name is apparently Edward Dale Buzachero. He is from Tennessee, which does not in any way explain how he came to share a name with Jewish grandmothers all over the world.

–A fan fell over the short left field wall in pursuit of a foul ball. His hat and one flipflop fell off. FSND replays this for us because they understand what is important in life.
Rod: [gleefully] “Faceplant!”
Mario: “Is that what that’s called?”

–Sorry to just keep quoting them over and over, but I have been starved for Rod and Mario all winter. They had the following exchange when Brennan Boesch got into the game:
Rod: “Boesch was born where I was born, Santa Monica California!”
Mario: “You guys hang out?”
Rod: “Nah, he’s a little younger than me. But he hung out there!”
Mario: “He was born in… 1985.”
Rod: “I was a grooooown man.”

–Unlike the Nats announcers, neither Rod nor Mario calls him ‘Brandon’. Not even once.

–Jeff Larish hits a ball off of Bubbie’s foot, then it bounces off the glove of the second baseman, who was diving for it. Awkward. The game is tied up at 7.

–Rod: “Cito’s a big man, isn’t he?”
Mario tries to figure out how tall Cito Gaston is. “Six…”
Rod: [interrupting] “He’s a biiiiig man.”

–Dlugach clears the bases with a double, 10-7 Tigers. Much cheering, elation and so on. Bubbie, you throw like my grandmother, who is also called Bubbie. What a coincidence.

–Josh Rainwater closes out the game for the Tigers, looks fine out there. No shenanigans.

–Not relevant to this Tigers win, but I just want to point out that the Nationals have not yet won a game in spring training. They play again tonight though. Hope springs eternal!

Tigers maul abstract nationalism in the Spring

photo by Samara Pearlstein

I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to actually watch a Spring Training game again, but I happened to be around for this one. It seemed like a good idea to settle in with some sun, some cats, and the computer to take notes on all the glories sure to be contained within the game. Stephen Strasburg vs. FredFred Porcello, how bad could it be?

Then I discovered that it was the MASN broadcast. Let us put it this way: Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble are pleasant enough, I suppose, but they are most certainly no Rod and Mario.

Oh well.

The Game, Because RotT Does Not Give Up in the Face of Unexpected Obstacles, Even Such Potentially Deadly Boring Ones as a Washington Nationals Broadcast

–I feel kinda bad for this Strasburg kid. He’s being hyped all to hell and back, and these are the Nats… there’s very little to distract from him. Except for Ryan Zimmerman. The announcers take a moment to actually talk about Zimmerman’s “magical glove” at third.

–Your Tigers starting lineup: Austin Jackson, Clete, Magglio, Miggy, Guillen, Don Kelly, Alex Avila, Scott Sizemore, Santiago. Oh wait, Sizemore was a last minute scratch, Brent Dlugach will be at second. That better not be serious. Austin Jackson is wearing Polanco’s #14, I make the saddest of sad faces. Our Placido. :(

–The announcers are pronouncing Dlugach as “dih-loo-gawsh”. Is that right? I thought it was more of a “gitch” sound at the end. Please advise.

–The piping on these new Tigers BP hats is wicked distracting. Better than the ear half moons, though. Relatedly, what the HELL is this? Holy cats. No. It looks like the hat has Detroit chicken pox.

–Strasburg gets the first three Tigers to ground out, variously.

–Nats announcer: “Not that records and numbers mean much, in Spring Training, but you do want to win one…” I guess they’re 0-and-6 so far this spring.

–Don Kelly gets the first hit of the day, a single, on a Strasburg fastball that rode up a bit. Alex Avila comes up, he is so clearly trying to be as clean-shaven as possible, but his chin is blue. I love it. His facial hair is like magic. He also singles.

–Nats announcers talk about how the Tigers are a good example of a team going from awful and “having some difficulties with young players” and going on to be very good. Talk about Dave Dombrowski’s “prudent decisions”. Kind of sad how hard they are hoping here. You just keep your little chins up, Nats. You got Pudge, that was the first step for us too!

–Oh wow. They have a ticket package deal where you pick four games and get a fifth one free. I would do that so hard if I lived in DC. I’m also trying to imagine that happening at Fenway and I seriously can’t wrap my mind around it. It would be, like, the End Times. Apocalypse Boston.

–FredFred looks good through two. Sharp, pitches working, not struggling or looking freaked. Now they’re talking about how Strasburg was the only collegiate player on the 2008 Olympic US team and how all his teammates relentlessly teased/harassed him, until he went out in his first game and took a no-hitter into the sixth. Well. Alrighty then.

–Talking about how smart Miguel Batista is: “He’s a very very smart kid, he speaks a bunch of languages, he’s very cerebral.” Miguel Batista IS really smart, but he’s also almost 40, so… kid?

–“He recognized that Stephen [Strasburg] had a million dollar arm… of course, a $15 million bonus.” Scott Boras ruins everything.

–Talking about Cabrera’s alcohol incidents, talking about Allen Iverson’s substance and gambling problems. “You can have the talent to play in the big leagues, but you have to be able to handle yourself off the field… you have to be a model citizen. Like Ryan Zimmerman!”

–Nyjer Morgan is super freaking fast. He also slides hard into second base on a steal… Santiago was covering, and Nyjer either spiked him, or bonked his knee into Santiago’s shin. Ramon comes up hobbling. THIS IS SPRING TRAINING, WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT THERE GUNNING FOR TIGERS? Paws will get you for this later, young man, mark my furious blogger’s words.


–Guillen walks, first of the game. Awww, they called him a “dangerous left-handed DH.” Don Kelly doubles, sort of dribbled to the wall, Carlos hustles home! 1-0, Tigers. He’s not moving real fast, but he got there without mishap, I feel a little better having seen that.

–Jim Riggleman: “You have to evaluate on something, and spring training is what we have right now to evaluate on.” These are words of wisdom.

–“We always look forward to seeing the third baseman with that bat!” Man, they are obsessed with Zimmerman. If there was a “Who’s Your Nat?” campaign, Ryan Zimmerman would be loudly and man-crush-ily claimed by this announcing team.

–Holy cats we are playing at SPACE COAST STADIUM. Immediately my mind goes right here. Spectacular.

–“Someone asked me today, is Strasburg pitching today the biggest thing to ever happen in Viera? I said yes! Ever since they opened up the movie theater down the street.”

–Adam Kennedy described as “scrappy”, then immediately compared to David Eckstein. I wish I was making this up, but I am not.

–Dugout interview with John Lannan, pitcher, boring Twitterer. “As always you know, I’m humble, but at the same time I’m gonna go out there, make up for last year’s Opening Day.” Uh. That sounds pretty awful on several levels. For one, dude, you don’t declare yourself humble, that kind of defeats the purpose. For another, make up for last year’s Opening Day? Do I even want to know what he did? (Oh. Ouch.)

–Some incredibly white dude pitching for the Nats now. Tyler Walker. His hair is white and his face is red, he looks just like the Nats uniforms.

–Magglio drives one out to right. Three run homer. Maggs! 5-0 Tigers. Of course this Walker kid looks pretty bad right now buuut that was a nice homer regardless. Announcer says, “He sweet-spotted the ball the opposite way!” Apparently the wind does blow through the stadium left to right, so it may have been helped somewhat by the wind. Still. Let me feel my momentary happiness.

–Talking about how they can’t believe the Dodgers don’t have spring training in Vero Beach anymore. “How about Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax now has to fly from Vero to Arizona to work with the Dodgers pitchers?”
“Bring him up here.”

–Reminiscing about Jose Valverde, who is now pitching. “I remember the Nats spoiling a save or two against him…. A very animated presence on the mound.” That sounds… worrying. Oh, now they’re talking about the massive Tigers pitchers’ fielding fail in the 2006 World Series. Screw you very much, Nats announcers.
“They were favored going into that series!”
“Oh goodness gracious, I remember!”

–Talking about UConn women’s basketball: “They’re like the ’27 Yankees… they beat the hell out of you, then compliment you after the game.” I don’t think either one of these announcers was alive in 1927, so, OK.

–Austin Jackson pops a home run over the centerfield wall. Very nice swing. Nats announcer sez, “That kid is good! Wow…. He makes general manager and president Dave Dombrowski look great when he does that.”

–Brennan Boesch pinch hits for Magglio. Announcers call him “Brandon” several times.

–Every so often the crawl on the bottom of the screen brings up Joe Nathan’s busted UCL, and I feel good every time.

–Eddie Bonine is pitching now. Audy Ciriaco at short, Larish at first, some dude who is not Alex Avila playing catcher. Robinzon Diaz, maybe. Nyjer Morgan steals second, again. You knew he was going to do that, Eddie.

–Top of the seventh, the Tigers have 13 hits. Three for the Nats. Zimmerman is out of the game, the announcers promptly lose interest in life itself.

–Already sick of this Joe Mauer Playstation game ad. I don’t want to look at his stupid MVP face any more than I have to, MLBN.

–“The most dangerous six inches between a guy’s ears is his brain.” Wait, what? They say they’re quoting Bob Uecker making fun of pitchers, but still, how does that make sense?

–They say there may be temporary broadcast disruptions due to a solar outage as the sun crosses the equator and goes behind the satellite that they use, swamping the signal with microwaves. Uh. Between 3:31 and 3:41 this is expected to be an issue. Oh. Kay.

–Interviewing Wil Nieves, who is adorable and now we can appreciate that since he’s no longer a Yankee. They should just interview him for the rest of the game, that would make me happy. Oh, they’re asking him about Pudge. “I always say he’s a blessing. When I first start catching he’s one of the guys I first admired as a catcher… now having him on the same team, I just want to learn everything I can from him because I know my game will improve…. He’s just a great guy, a great player and a better person.” Actually, where is Pudge? I WANT TO SEE PUDGE.

–They finally say ‘Brennan’ correctly, possibly because they flash his name up on the screen so it’s, like, right there in front of you, dudes.

–Bottom 8, they are now interviewing some random MASN sportswriter. Wow. I could not care less. Why are they talking to this guy? May as well interview a blogger. I know some of the types of people who write for NESN, they are often bloggers. Bring Wil Nieves back, talk to him some more. Eddie Bonine is still in.

–The announcer is now talking about their MASN announcer blogs. And now he’s desperately begging for people to comment on their blogs. This is the saddest broadcast.

–Eric Bruntlett! I forgot he existed.

–The Nats third base coach is eating sunflower seeds during the game, on the field. He has them stashed in his back pocket.

–Alfredo Figaro in, combining with Diaz for some struggles and whatnot. Not the pretty pitching we were seeing from FredFred, or even from Bonine earlier in his outing.

–Jeff Larish and Miguel Cabrera both have more hair right now than Magglio Ordonez does. This is a deep wrongness.

–Chris Duncan singles in a run, it’s now 8-4 Tigers, because things have been happening. One of the announcers says, “There’s no borderline when you’re falling behind!” I think he’s talking about Figaro not getting borderline pitches called strikes right now, but it sounds like a song lyric.

–Announcers wondering how they will sneak food into the booth now that they have new robotic cameras up there. I wonder how many people are desperate for glimpses of Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble. Then again I am not familiar with the DC-area media market, maybe there’s a mad demand for that sort of thing.

–“And I’m thinking, this is Yankee Stadium, and we’re preparing sea bass. In a rain delay.” This is Carpenter talking about a 6-hour rain delay at Yankee Stadium last season that the Nats were in, and how he looked up at one point and on the board was a video about how to prepare sea bass. I agree with him, that is a distinct ‘what in the hell is wrong with you, Yankee Stadium?’ moment.

–Dibble: “Do you think that solar flare had anything to do with that four run outburst?”
Carp: “You know, that’s an interesting theory. Seems to have as much credibility as most of the theories out there.” Sedate chuckling.

–Jay Sborz in to pitch the bottom of the 9th. They’re pronouncing it “sporez”. I shall think of him as a fern. Out of nowhere Carpenter says, “Once a Mudhen, always a Mudhen,” even though Sborz has pitched a total of like three games at the triple-A level, so I don’t really know what’s going on there.

–Ron Dibble on Mike Morse: “Mike Morse is in there, featuring the long hair this spring. I went up to him, Are you hitting well? He said yeah. I said keep the hair.”

–Oooo, Brennan Boesch makes a fantastic, diving, sliding, snow-cone-y catch on a hit that may or may not have been heading foul from Eric Bruntlett, who may or may not actually exist.

–Aaaaand the game ends. Tigers win 9-4. The Nats are 0-and-7 in Spring Training so far. Remember the important lesson we all learned today, kids and kittens: things could always be worse.

Tigers and Twins end the regular season ONCE AND FOR ALL

This is the last game of the regular season. Seriously, you guys, this one is it. The last one. Seriously. You guys, seriously. For serious. This is it! REALLY.

For cats! For anti-Domers! For FredFred Porcello’s sense of self-worth! For the Division!

last game of the regular season, for real, honest

postscript: things we learned from this game:

I have nothing to say, really. This entire season was one huge set-up, a conspiracy between Fernando Rodney and Jim Leyland to bludgeon our souls into despair.

Many thanks (if ‘thanks’ is the word) to gilbekat, grandyland, Chelsea, allikazoo, trevor, Paul M, tony, ivantopumpyouup, Walleyeman, Kevin, Anthony, janey, tiff, h20polopunk, Veronica, “Guest”, Jeff, Kathy, Beth, Jennifer, and Sci05Matt for dropping in and participating in the disastrously epic liveblog.

Read the liveblog transcript if you’ve always had that little hankering to see what a descent into madness is like.

Liveblog: the Battle for the Central

This could be wonderful. Or miserable! It is Nate pitching, after all. In any event, if the always-dicey wireless in this room holds, I will be attempting to cry about it live.

As ever, this is a liveblog, not a chat, so depending on my feelings about it at any particular time I may or may not be allowing stuff through, but feel free to participate if you’re around. Click the link, open the liveblog in a new window. If you’re catching this after the game, you can read the transcript by clicking the same link, it magically transcribes itself. Oooooo.

The Baker vs. GumTime, Battle for the Central

postscript: things we learned from this game:

–It was not wonderful.
–Angel Hernandez hates the Tigers. It’s possible that Angel Hernandez hates baseball.
–Jim Leyland hates Angel Hernandez.
–There’s some sort of league-wide emphasis on making sure guys don’t leave the base too early on fly balls, and making sure pitchers don’t go to their mouths on the rubber. I guess MLB was just gettin’ too sloppy for someone’s tastes.
–Scott Baker: if Mike Mussina had an uglier little brother.
–Mike Redmond, Tiger Botherer.
–The Spazzosaurus was feasting at third base today.
–The Baker and The River Thames are mortal enemies from here on out.
–Fu-Te Ni is glorious.
–Don’t throw behind Adam Everett, that makes no sense, why would you ever do that? It’s Adam Everett! He is inoffensiveness personified!
–“Looks like Nathan is getting hot for Magglio!”

Thanks to Matt, ivantopumpyouup, Less, Jeff, Jim Haas the Twins Fan, Phil, allikazoo, and Lauren for hanging out and playing along. If you’re getting this as a transcript… bleh. All you missed was the hilarious back-and-forth with the HBPs and the non-fight. The game itself was sponge-cake-coated filth.

Red Sox/Tigers brain 'splode 09: Game 3

A little afternoon baseball, featuring a potentially thrilling Tim Wakefield/Dontrelle Willis matchup. I say potentially thrilling because, given the way that Dontrelle pitches and the fact that Wakefield throws a knuckleball, we may see the most wild baseball of the season today.

Maybe one or both will prove me wrong and have pinpoint control for much of the day. That would be equally ridiculous, naturally.

You should all remember how this works, but just in case: it’s a liveblog, not a chatroom. It will mostly be me rambling. You can chime in if you’re watching, but not everything will necessarily be published. When the liveblog is over, you can replay it at any time, so fear not if you are unable to watch it unfold in realtime. The liveblog should go, er, live a little after 1 pm. Click the link to open the liveblog in a new window.

Red Sox/Tigers 09 Game 3

postscript: things we learned from this game:

–Miguel Cabrera needs to stretch more before day games
–never say good things about Tigers pitching in the middle of a game, they will immediately work as hard as they can to prove you wrong
–do not give Zach Miner men on base ever
–Brandon Inge cup adjustment may be the most exciting thing about this game
–the pineapple is actually a berry. Dane Sardinha is The Pineapple but is not, so far as we know, a berry
–Joel Zumaya: both terrible and amazing

Many thanks to kb, anaaki, and Less for chiming in. Everyone else, enjoy the transcript. Such as it is.


THE MOMENT IS UPON US!! The game we have all been waiting for!! (or just me, you know, whatever)


Japan/Korea! Pool A REMATCH OF DOOM! The Rivalry! Will Korea get to plant another pitching mound flag? Will Japan get to reclaim the WBC trophy? Will we happily watch this game, secure in the knowledge that no Tigers can get hurt while it is being played? A hearty YES to that last one!

9 pm, ESPN, excited screaming and excessive use of caps lock! Click the link to open the liveblog in a new window at that time, or afterwards if you want to see the transcript!

WBC Final! Japan/Korea!!

postscript: things we learned from this game:

–never underestimate Jon Miller’s ability to screw up player names
–Yong-Kyu Lee is secretly a hockey player; can run into another player, shatter his helmet, and keep playing
–Bud Selig should not be allowed to talk during live broadcasts
–Hisashi Iwakuma is a pitching beast of beastly awesomeness
–Dae Ho Lee, not only the Korean Adam Dunn, also A Huge Human Being
–‘extension’ is the non-American way of saying of ‘extra innings’

Many thanks to everyone who joined me for this one: all the folks who have been showing up since those first 4:30 am liveblogs, all the folks who chimed in along the way, and all the new cats who somehow or other stumbled into this terrifying little slice of internet for tonight’s game.

We World Baseball Classic’d together, and it was beautiful.

Team Japan, your 2009 World Baseball Classic champions.