Category Archives: Mesa

win, release, and Gary Sheffield's bid to remain in blog headlines


Jose Mesa, photo by Samara Pearlstein

It seems like every post I write these days is either about Todd Jones or Gary Sheffield. This blog is going to turn into “A Thousand and One Permutations of Gary Sheffield’s Face”, so here’s a photo of Jose Mesa that I took in Fenway. I REFUSE TO PHOTOSHOP YOU YET AGAIN, GARY SHEFFIELD.

win

The Tigs won their second in a row to split the 4-game series with the Racist Logos. Obviously the team is responding to my determination to remain surly and irritable until the Tigers put together an actual win STREAK, not just a win here and there.

Cleveland scored two runs in the first inning and was shut out for the rest of the game. It was Bondo pitching, which means that you kind of have to write off the first inning and just wait for him to dominate the rest of the thing. I think he HAS been getting better of late, but today was a kind of reversion to his usual form. At least he’s giving himself a tough little test in mental fortitude every time he takes the mound? It takes a strong pitcher to recover from terrible first innings time and time again. Maybe this is all some strange form of Bondoian brain-strength training.

It was another across-the-board offensive outing. Everyone got a hit except for Neifi!!!, and honestly, a day when Neifi!!! doesn’t ground into a double play is an A-double-plus kind of day for Neifi!!!, so this was a true lineup of WIN. Magglio only went 1-for-3 with 2 walks, shock shock horror amaze etc. Only one hit! This counts as a tragic day for Maggs.

The bullpen, once again, managed to not to wee themselves on the mound. Ledezma made it interesting when Bondo came out with 2 down and 2 on in the 7th, but he worked himself out of a bases-loaded jam without costing Bondo any more runs.

I hesitate to say anything because as soon as I do he’s going to do something terrible, like giving up 10 runs in 0.1 innings and eating a live puppy in the postgame press conference, and I will have jinxed him, but Ledezma sure does seem to be coming around a bit. He’s always had quite a lot of potential; imagine if he soon realizes it. Heady stuff.

In the battle of the Jeremys (Bonderman vs. Sowers), Bondo came out on top, going 6.2 with 2 runs and 4 hits. Sowers went 4 with 5 runs and 7 hits. No contest. Our Jeremy is the best Jeremy in the AL Central, possibly the best Jeremy in all of baseball. Chew on THAT, inferior Jeremys.

release

Jose Mesa was released to make room for the impending return of Fernando Rodney. He wasn’t any hot shakes with the Tigers, but he has had a loooong career– he’s in his 19th year as a pro. He may yet glom on with another team, since there’s always someone who could use a veteran reliever in the ‘pen, but this could be the end of the line for him. I trust we will manage to soldier on.

We may as well take this moment of Mesa-reflection to recall one of the more curious age-related controversies in baseball.

Jose Mesa’s listed age is 41, putting his year of birth at 1966. He’s got 6 kids, the oldest of whom has a listed birth year of 1974 (according to his MLB profile)… which would mean that she is older than a number of Mesa’s erstwhile Tiger teammates (Verlander and Bondo, for starters) and was born when Mesa was 8 years old.

The most likely possibility here is that somewhere down the line, in the early 80’s, Mesa lied about his birth date to seem younger than he is, and he’s actually 50 years old or something. He certainly doesn’t LOOK older than Julio Franco, though. I guess it’s also possible that he was just a really, REALLY precocious 8 year old. Which is disturbing and worrisome, but there you have it.

Gary Sheffield’s bid to remain in blog headlines

Gary Sheffield is crazy. That’s all there is to it. The guy is insane. Let us look at the evidence.

Exhibit A:

First, the Detroit Tigers designated hitter said that umpires have been missing pitches on him all year, that major league baseball is trying to silence him and that while he plans to restrain himself, that major league baseball is trying to silence him and that while he plans to restrain himself, “they’d better restrain themselves.”

“Umpires do lie, too,” said Sheffield, who appealed the suspension and was in the Tiger lineup Friday night. “(Gibson) just told a bald-faced lie. He’s a bald-faced liar.”

He also said that baseball doesn’t want him to speak out.

“Basically, they want me to be on the field with handcuffs, and duct tape on my lips,” Sheffield said.
MLive.com article

See, there was the Photoshop temptation right there. Gary Sheffield in handcuffs, with duct tape over his mouth. I’m resisting, though. I’ll hold it in reserve for the next time he does or says something batguano insane and we HAVEN’T had Gary Sheffield-a-thon over the previous week.

I also particularly enjoy the imagery of Greg Gibson as a vulture.

Exhibit B:

“I know one thing, I can’t hold him [Sheffield],” Leyland said. “I did the best I could, but I’m glad somebody else finally got in there. I don’t know where the heck (first-base coach Andy) Van Slyke was. He lifts weights six days a week.”
Detroit News article

Leyland here is talking about holding Sheffield back so that he doesn’t pulverize Gibson’s face. Sheffield was so intent on umpire dismemberment that JIM FREAKIN’ LEYLAND couldn’t hold him back. Uh, holy cats.

(It was Pudge, by the by, who had to come in and ultimately help restrain him.)

Exhibit C:

“I called it years ago. What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out. [It’s about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do — being able to control them,” he told the magazine.

“Where I’m from, you can’t control us. You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is. And that’s a person that you’re going to talk to with respect, you’re going to talk to like a man.

“These are the things my race demands. So, if you’re equally good as this Latin player, guess who’s going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.”
GQ via ESPN

OMG OMG OMG. WHAT!

We need to break this down, because it is too… too INSANE to examine whole.

1. “What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out.” Wow. Gary, if a white person said this, you would call them racist and/or xenophobic, and you would be right. Next time Sheffield makes a rant about discrimination (probably next Tuesday), he needs to take a nice long look in the mirror.

2. “[It’s about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do — being able to control them.” I might, MIGHT be able to see where he was going with this. Latin players sometimes are “controlled” via threats about green cards and things like that. In the developmental leagues, some of those guys view baseball as a way out and up, and would do anything to get there. I guess some organizations maybe exploit that, and use their influence over these young guys to mold or “control” their behavior. I might have thought Sheffield was making a semi-valid point here. Unfortunately he goes on to disprove this.

He also makes a horrendous sweeping generalization about something that might happen to some extent in the minors and developmental leagues, and seems to try to apply it to the Majors. I would not say that Carlos Zambrano is ‘easily controlled’, nor would I say that Pudge is being kept on a short leash at the hands of Evil Whitey. Who exactly does he think is ‘controlling’ Ozzie Guillen? Or does he no longer count since he’s a manager?

3. “Where I’m from, you can’t control us.” Gary Sheffield is from Tampa, Florida.

4. ” You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is.” The implication is that a Latin player would not “go back to being who he is,” due to some imagined universal difference of temperament between black American men and Latin men. When you ASSUME, Gary, you make an ASS out of U and ME… only in this case it’s more U.

5. “And that’s a person that you’re going to talk to with respect, you’re going to talk to like a man.” Gary Sheffield talks to other black baseball players as men. I’m not sure how he talks to his Latin teammates. As little boys? I’m sure Pudge, Guillen, Omar, Placido, Magglio, Ledezma, and Neifi!! appreciate being told that they aren’t Real Men on the Gary Sheffield Scale of Manliness.

Neifi!!!, as everyone knows, is actually a sea slug, and not a man at all, but this doesn’t excuse Sheffield’s attitude towards the rest of the Latin players.

6. “These are the things my race demands.” LOL WHAT. What does that even mean?? If you’re black, you better act like A MAN? Gay, trans, and genderqueer black Americans are no friends of Gary Sheffield! In fact if you’re a black man and you don’t completely conform to Gary Sheffield’s personal standards of hypermasculine, stereotypically male behavior, you aren’t giving your race what it demands. Watch out, guys. Penalties for misbehavior to be meted out as Gary Sheffield sees fit.

7. “So, if you’re equally good as this Latin player, guess who’s going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.” I can’t even really comment on this, because I don’t know how true it is or not. Again, though, it’s a possibly valid point that Sheffield absolutely destroys by surrounding it with his racist chauvinistic wank.

The other day I was trying to rationalize Gary Sheffield’s behavior, because I have, in my capacity as a Sox and Tigers fan, hated him for a good long time. I was happy in my Sheffield hatred. It was a comfortable place to view him from, and I was unconflicted, because he was a freakin’ Yankee. Before that he was a National Leaguer, and I therefore didn’t think about him at all. Now that he’s on the Tigers, I have bit by infinitesimal bit been trying to come to terms with the fact that I have to root for him now. I was TRYING.

Now, I give up. That’s it. Gary Sheffield is not the kind of person I can root for. And no, Gary, I don’t say that because you’re black or because you’re spirited or whatever crazy thing it is you convince yourself people hate you for. I don’t like you because of stuff like this right here. Because you’re a hypocritical racist wanker.

I’ll be happy when Sheffield hits a home run for the Tigers, like he did today. But I’ll be cheering because a TIGER hit the ball. I will blank out Gary Sheffield and replace him with, I dunno, Paws or something like that. We can all cheer for Paws. He’s orange AND black AND white. He’s like the best of all worlds.

Virgil Vasquez learns a valuable lesson about suffering in baseball


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we all know, this failed to happen.

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

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

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

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

SPEAKING OF THE BOSTON SERIES.

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

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

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