Category Archives: Mario Impemba

some honors for our friends


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Barry Larkin was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I guess he played in Cincinnati for a while or something, but that’s not important. Barry Larkin, Michigan Wolverine, is in Cooperstown. That’s all you need to know.

The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Mario Impemba the Michigan Sportscaster of the Year. Mario has swag.

Sorry guys. I just don’t know.

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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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now THAT is how to start a Tigers season


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Let us forget the first game of the season. Yes. Wipe it from our minds. I vote that we instead make the home opener the official first game. Don’t you think that would be much more appropriate? In case you have forgotten:

season opener (road)
–Justin Verlander gently sobs, goes 3.2 innings, gives up 8 runs
–Juan Rincon secures a 27.00 ERA for himself
–two Tigers errors, including one from a player acquired specifically for his defense (Everett)
–game delay as rowdy fans throw things onto the field
–damn Canada
–loss, 12-5

home opener
–Armando Galarraga goes 7 innings, gives up 1 run, strikes out a career-high 8
–all three opposing pitchers made to feel very bad about themselves
–Miguel Cabrera hits a grand slam, has 6 RBI on the day
–Detroit fans do nothing to impede the game in any way
–win, 15-2

Yes, I do believe I know which game I will be choosing to remember.

We could not have Verlander start this game because he had ‘earned’ the ‘honor’ of opening the season proper. We could not have little Frederick start this game because he is seven years old. We could not have Zach Miner start this game because he is Zach Miner. Armando was the only option, and he rose to the challenge admirably. Gloriously. With strikeouts and dramatically stern facial expressions. He should have had a cape attached to his jersey, so that he could swirl it for effect after each K. It could be navy blue velvet with a giant Olde English D on the back in white. If this would not making pitching so much more difficult I would petition for its addition to Armando’s uniform RIGHT NOW.

Maybe he gets an extra kick out of showing Texas how wrongity-wrong-wrong they were to trade him away? I support your quest for revenge through better living, Armando!

Miguel Cabrera also had a game of glory. Although I wouldn’t expect him to remain on precisely this pace (11 hits and 3 homers in 5 games), it is more likely that he will continue to hit than, say, Inge (although Inge was 1-for-3 with 2 runs scored and 2 walks today, so… shut up!).

The crowning touch, of course, was the fourth inning grand slam, which came with two outs in the inning. Magglio had just struck out, and the Tigers had stranded a whole bunch of cats on the bases in the previous inning, so I was all set to write 500 incoherent words about leaving men on base and how it’s bad for the environment or something. The Puma to the rescue!

After Cabrera’s grand slam:

Rod Allen: I’m gonna go out on a limb here, podner.
Mario Impemba: MVP?
Rod: Player of the Week!
Mario: Ha ha, that’s not a very long limb!
Rod: I’m gonna write it on my ballot!

I missed Rod Allen this winter, I will not lie. Orestes Destrade helped to fill some of the void, but it is like two different but equally delicious flavors of ice cream. The presence of one is enjoyable, but at the end of the day if you have a hankering for mint chocolate chip, you’re still gonna want that mint chocolate chip.

Rod was also in fine form during last night’s game:

“[Michael] Barrett’s putting down a series of signs, I’m not smart enough to know what they are. Not yet!”

After a Brandon League pitch that went to the backstop, Rod said that the catcher had no chance at all to get the ball, none: “N-U-N, none!”

Actually I guess that I should mention yesterday’s game too, as it was Frederick’s major league debut, and it’s a big deal when a seven year old kid makes it this far, this fast. I thought he looked OK. Not spectacular, but also not terrified out of his Pampers. He seemed to have a little trouble getting his offspeed stuff to consistently do what he wanted it to do, which to be quite honest reminded me of the first couple times Verlander got called up. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.

He gave up a couple of home runs and he needed an awful lot of pitches (89) to get through 5 innings, but he only walked one guy. The Jays’ starter gave up 2 runs; Porcello gave up 4, but one of those was an inherited runner that Nate brought home. So, I don’t know. I still think it will all end in tears, but I was grudgingly, mildly impressed by his first outing.

Two 1:05 pm starts this weekend, I suppose to try to maximize the exposure of the ballplayers to sunlight, so that Detroit does not kill them with its usual seasonal weather. Verlander on Saturday, Jackson on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Jackson repeats his prior performance, and Verlander does not.

Dontrelle Willis comes back from the dead and other such pleasantries


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Defying expectations: Dontrelle Willis

Kind of? He went 5 innings, giving up 3 runs on 2 hits and 5 walks, with 4 Ks. All that was on 89 pitches. So, obviously, the control is still something of a problem for him, and you HATE to see a guy allow more runs than hits. But to be quite honest I was expecting/fearing something much, MUCH worse from him. Three runs in five innings was enough to keep the Tigers in it, and at times Dontrelle looked pretty good out there, like maybe he could actually contribute at some point next season (maybe), so we’ll count it as a positive. Consider my expectations defied.

Meeting expectations: Kyle Farnsworth

There’s nothing quite like giving up a grand slam and a two-run triple in two consecutive outings to make people question your ability to throw a baseball, eh? After last night I fully expected Rally Killer Kyle to be an emotional wreck on the mound, and so he was! He shook Inge off a number of times, although I’m not sure if that was a contributing cause of his struggles, or if it was just a symptom.

I was not really expecting another bullpen meltdown after a semi-inspiring offensive showing: that would have been TOO CRAZY. Surely it couldn’t happen TWICE, right? Shows what I know. This time it was Gary Glover who gave up the grand slam, but The Farns did his fair bit. Consider my expectations met, and perhaps exceeded.

I have to be up in less than five hours, so I’m just bulleting the rest of this thing.

Mario: And here comes Fabulous Freddy Dolsi!
Rod: You dropped a ‘fabulous’ on him, huh?

– Gary Sheffield hit his 497th home run. It was a screaming line drive to left field, as is typical for Sheff. Of course 500 is an arbitrary number that is no more or less inherently notable than 498, or 503, but whatever, we like zeroes, he’s shooting for it.

– Jim Leyland was ejected in the bottom of the 6th for arguing a hit-by-pitch call. He made it all the way back to the dugout before he got tossed, and he came CHARGING back out onto the field, prompting Rod and Mario to start cracking up and saying that they had never seen him move that fast before. He was all up in the face of homeplate ump Eric Cooper, and at one point Cooper (suppressing laughter, it looked like) made a gesture all up and down his own front as if to say, ‘Dude, you’re spitting ALL OVER me.’ Leyland was certainly close enough and, uh, vehement enough for that to be the case.

– The grand slam off of Glover was hit by Taylor Teagarden. It was his first ever at-bat with the bases loaded. Also his name is TEAGARDEN.

The Race to .500!

With this loss, the Tigers still need those 11 wins to reach the promised land, and only have 2 losses left to spare. Our prospects are grim.

Tuesday. 8:05 pm EDT. Zach Miner vs. Kevin Millwood. Miner’s ERA and WHIP are actually both better than Millwood’s, but Millwood’s middle name is ‘Austin’ and he pitches in Texas, so he may have mojo-rific powers on his side. We shall see what we shall see. Go Tigers!

death by walks


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

What is this? Armando can pitch against everyone EXCEPT for the Twins? I would blame the Gopher Dome but half of his Twins-related losses this season have been in Detroit.

The walks were what killed him today. Well, OK, Justin Morneau’s grand slam also killed him, but he only got that grand slam because Armando was walking guys all over the stupid turfy place. The run they scored in the first inning was also mostly the result of walks. Six walks in six innings… blech. That’s also very unlike Armando’s usual style. Maybe he’s allergic to pixie vests?

Liriano pitched a great game, so I got half the wonderful pitching duel I was hoping for yesterday. Somehow this fails to please me.

The River Thames was the only bright spot in the game, and I do mean the ONLY one. Nobody else had an extra-base hit (only 3 other guys had hits, period!) and none of the pitchers did particularly well. The River, however, managed to hit two homers off of Liriano. His line is a marvelously absurd .238/.291/.534. Just a teeny tiny bit lopsided.

ETA: OK, I lied, I remember one other awesome thing. Apparently Curtis Granderson was wearing a suit on the plane to Minnesota that had Rod and Mario beside themselves. It was (we are told) powder blue, with white pinstripes, and “bright white shoes.” Mario was making cracks about wearing white after Labor Day, and then we got this amazing/typical exchange –

[amidst bouts of semi-hysterical laughter at the memory of this outfit]
Mario: “You were all over him!”
Rod: “I wasn’t the only one!”

Rod and Mario are the gift that never stops giving. But WHY ARE THERE NO PHOTOS OF GRANDERSON IN THIS SUIT? How can you fail me at this vital moment, Internet?

The Race to .500!

Wow, give this team ONE goal, they do everything they can to avoid even that. Sad. With this loss we still need 14 wins to reach the promised land, and we’ve got only 7 losses left to spare. How pathetic would it be for this team – which was supposed to be the best and most expensive and shiniest and sparkliest powerhouse of them all before the season began – to finish the year under .500? REALLY PATHETIC.

Fourteen wins, kittens. Get cracking.

Saturday’s game is at 3:55 pm EDT. Gopher Dome. Verlander vs. (Timothy) Scott Baker. Verlander is coming off his Worst Outing Ever, so he’ll be pitching like he’s got something to prove. Whether this is a good thing or not remains to be seen. Go Tigers!

Miguel Cabrera is the Puma


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Miguel Cabrera is in some circles nicknamed ‘the Puma’ (not, I don’t think, ‘the Big Puma’, which is Lance Berkaman)??? THIS IS VITAL INFORMATION, PEOPLE! Plus it meant that during today’s game we got the following glorious series of exchanges between Rod and Mario…

Mario: You know what a puma is, right?
Rod: *uncertain pause* Cat. *another pause* Big cat.
Mario: Jamie Walker’s nickname was ‘the Cat’.
Rod: Uh huh!
Mario: Not the big cat. More like medium cat. *pause* Medium-sized cat.

Oh man you guys I love baseball so hard.

The Puma went yard twice off of Racist Logos pitching today, which is excellent, because the Puma still cannot run much on his bum hip. After each home run he lumbered around the bases, returned to the dugout, and consumed a deer haunch. He then buried the rest of the deer carcass under the pitching mound so that he could come back to eat it tomorrow (true puma behavior FACT!).

The River Thames, sensing competition, also homered, as is his wont. It was one of those ridiculous little afterthought bat-flips that makes you squeal in high-pitched appreciation for The River’s power, because a swing like that should in no way result in a home run, especially in a park like Comerica. There is of course no telling how The River’s power will hold up after the All Star break, but he is certainly seizing his moment as best he can.

To add insult to the already emotionally injured Racist Logo pitching, Pudge also homered. Pudge this season has all the power of a pygmy marmoset (this was only his 4th home run, and pygmy marmosets have wee tiny hands that can barely hold baseball bats), so if the R.L. pitchers weren’t already planning to cry themselves to sleep tonight, this would have cemented it.

I must say that I was pleased to see the R.L.s wearing their alternate hats for this game. I find it much easier to spend 9 innings looking at that swoopy I, as opposed to the horrific Chief Wahoo.

ALSO THIS HAPPENED:

Their afternoon visitor didn’t seem like a good sign. With rain forcing the Tigers inside for batting practice, they were in the cage when someone heard the sounds of a cat’s meow. Matt Joyce grabbed a chair, took a look above the cage and inside the stadium and found a black kitten tangled in wires and cables.

Joyce and some teammates took the kitten into the clubhouse and fed it a little. Then Tigers personnel found an animal rescue program to help out. But the superstition was not lost.

Some players got a kick out of it. Others stayed away. Starting pitcher Justin Verlander stayed away because he’s allergic to cats. Cabrera avoided it for the superstition.

“I thought that was hilarious,” Joyce said. “I said, ‘Yeah, this thing’s gonna bring us good luck.'”
Jason Beck/MLB.com article

DEAR MATT JOYCE,
WE LOVE YOU FOREVER.
-ROAR OF THE TIGERS

Although it’s very disappointing to hear that Justin is allergic to cats. I guess this could explain some of his struggles this season… Paws needs to stop with the pregame hugs.

Wednesday’s game is at 7 pm EDT and pits Eddie Bonine against Paul Byrd. Misspelled cows vs. misspelled avians! ANIMAL FIGHT!! Go Tigers!

Gosh, did the Tigers play today?

photo by Samara Pearlstein

Naaahhh. That wasn’t a baseball game. I mean, there wasn’t any offense, and there wasn’t any real pitching to speak of, so what did I just watch? I’m not sure. I think maybe it was the Rod and Mario show.

In fact, yes, let’s talk about Rod and Mario. Let’s discuss how they were WEARING SHIRTS THE COLOR OF THE COTTON CANDY THEY ALWAYS TALK ABOUT for tonight’s broadcast. Mario in blue, Rod in pink. Please tell me I’m not the only person who noticed that. Please.

I also enjoyed their discussion on the dangers of treadmills, and the story of how Mario nearly killed himself when his MP3 player unplugged and fell and shot off the end of the treadmill, and Mario nearly followed it. I really appreciated that diversion from whatever was happening on the field. What was happening down there? No, y’know what, don’t even tell me. I don’t want to know. La la la…

….

……ggaaaaahh OK, OK, WHAT WAS WRONG WITH VERLANDER? He looked GOOD in his last start! It wasn’t reflected in the numbers at the end, but he did actually look good for most of the game! And tonight he just, ugh, did NOT look good. His control was way off from what it ought to have been, hell, what it USUALLY IS. Why? Is it just the Jake? (or whatever awful corporate name it is now) I know he struggles in the Jake, but… come on! What WAS that?

Alright. Alright. Nevermind. Rod and Mario dressed up as the Comerica cotton candy. That was what happened tonight. Onwards with the season.