Category Archives: Nate Robertson

but can fish grow facial hair?


doodle by Samara Pearlstein

Nate Robertson has been traded to the Marlins. Pretty sure this means Bondo and Dontrelle are in the rotation. PAWS PRESERVE US.

Nate has given us plenty to remember him by: Gum Time, the Pitching Goggles of Great Majesty, a certain tendency to overfeed gophers, the many varieties of facial hair, etc. He’s been with the Tigers since 2003 and I am sure there will be some Tigers fan, somewhere, who will deeply miss him.

But his ability to start and remain in the rotation was going to be in doubt all season long in Detroit. He will probably get more chances to stick in Florida, so it should be a good move for him, and I think he’s the only lefty on the Marlins’ staff right now, so it’s a move that makes some sense for them too (I guess I’ll just assume they couldn’t get any other lefties easily).

In return for Nate, the Tigers get Jay Voss, an almost-23-year-old lefty reliever who spent time last season in high-A and double-A ball. The Marlins tried him as a starter in ’07 and ’08; it looks like they converted him to a reliever just last year, and that was easily his best year of pro ball so far. He went to something called ‘Kaskaskia College’, about which I know nothing beyond the fact that they offer, among other things, “men’s & women’s soccor” (spelled as I found it). Unless there’s some sort of Spazzosauropocalypse, he will be a total nonfactor at the big league level this year.

Since Nate is due $10 million this season and he is going to the Marlins, I am assuming the Tigers are paying part of his salary, but I haven’t seen anything saying how much yet. I’ll update if I see it before the seder tonight.

ETA: Apparently the Tigers are paying $9.6 million of the $10 million Nate is owed. This means that the Marlins get Nate for around $400,000, which is a whisker above the league minimum. Now, LOOK. I understand that the Tigers were always going to have to take on some of Nate’s salary to move him. I understand that they were probably going to need to take on the majority of his salary. But this is ridiculous.

Poor DesigNate Robertson! In one fell swoop his dreams are realized and his raison d’ĂȘtre is removed. I wish him blog-well in this time of exhilaration/struggle.

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the pitchers have superpowers, pt 5: Nate Robertson


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Another painfully obvious superpower, oh well.

Nate Robertson blasts beams of power through his eyes. But only when he has his Pitching Goggles on, of course. This is because the Pitching Goggle focus and aim the energy that builds up in his eyeballs. Without the Goggles, this energy just dissipates harmlessly, but with the Goggles Nate can put it to actual use.

Although this power may clearly be used in an offensive sense, it has many other, less violent applications. For instance, when everyone on the team is injured and the trainer is very busy, Nate can use his eyebeams to seal shut some of the many, many bandages which will necessarily encircle his feeble, broken body. As this is a tricky operation that often requires both hands to be free, something that is not always possible when bandaging ones own limbs, Nate has an obvious advantage here, and his ability to do this will free up the trainer to attend to other Tigers.

Indeed, there are many potential uses for Nate’s power even when it is not dialed up to its full potential strength. Some, as in the example detailed above, are very practical in nature. Others may be more subtly intimidating.

Indeed, who needs stencils and grounds-crews to decorate the pitcher’s mound when you have the ability to burn your name into it all on your own?

Nate is unusual among the Tigers, because while this is his primary superpower, it is not his only superpower! His secondary power is much less useful, but that does not prevent Nate from exercising its abilities as often as he possibly can. He has the remarkable ability to control his facial hair with his mind. This allows him to encourage its growth at rates most ballplayers can only imagine, and, even more extraordinary, he can direct the pattern of its growth, allowing him to experiment with any number of facial hair configurations. He has dabbled in everything from the basic to the wildly fanciful, all with the ease of a few pointed thoughts.

Now THAT is power.

Tigers defeated by facial hair

photo by Samara Pearlstein

I understand exactly what happened here. Nate Robertson, who has a history of facial hair experimentation and a penchant for the more flamboyant hirsute constructions, saw what Jays starter Brian Tallet was doing to his face, and he couldn’t handle it.

Right now Nate doesn’t have anything in particular going on, just a sort of generalized scruffiness, the sort of facial hair one would expect on a guy who is between dedicated facial hair sculptures. Tallet, on the other hand, looks like this:

Sorry, I couldn’t find a photo of him in the minute I spent searching, so I had to doodle-reenact it for you. If you did not see the game, this should give you the general idea, which is that he has enormous freakin’ squared-off sideburns that are screamingly Not of This Era. I am sure you can see where I’m going with this.

Obviously Nate, being someone who takes pride in his facial hair creativity and his ability to grow such luxuriant beardy forms (an ability that a number of ballplayers lack, *cough*BrandonInge*cough*), realized that he was being bewhiskeredly upstaged by Tallet. His pride was sorely wounded. This threw him off, made him nervous and susceptible to Jays bats, and soon enough his adductor muscle was sorely wounded as well. He let the sideburns get inside his head, because he did not have anything so impressive on the outside of his head.

Trust me. It all makes sense.

Happy Birthday, Nate!

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

On Thursday Nate Robertson turned 32 years old. His facial hair is as magnificently abundant as ever, his goggles still clear, his jaws still powerful enough to masticate an oversized lump of gum should he so choose, his pitching… not too shabby, as it turns out. This is a New and Improved Nate that we’ve been seeing lately. I would say something about how we’ll have to wait and see if it sticks, but it’s his birthday, so we’ll all be nice.

Because the Tigers had to go all the way to extra innings to win the game, Nate did not get a big W on his birthday, even though he pitched six ~*~scoreless~*~ innings and the Tigers were leading when he left the game.

Placido Polanco gave him a little bit of a present by hitting the always majestic Walkoff Sac Fly, but I expect this was negated by the ANTI-PRESENT given to Nate by Fu-Te Ni (who had an unusual amount of struggles and I still love you, Ni! I still love you!). Nate gave himself a present, in a way, by pitching so well, but he shouldn’t have to give himself presents on his birthday! Wasn’t it enough that they asked him to make a start when by rights he should have been stuffing his face with delicious cakes in the clubhouse all day long? Wasn’t that enough?!

I have decided to create a list of things the Tigers could get for Nate to make up for all this. The Tigers should feel free to consult the list as needed. I’m sure Nate won’t mind if his presents are a day or two late.

Presents the Tigers Should Get Nate Because Even Though They Won They Did Not Get Him An Actual Win of His Own For the Start He Had to Pitch on His Own Birthday

–a very large sack of Big League Chew, tied up with a fancy bow

–a Wichita State shirt with a logo making some obscene joke about the Shockers

–Spazzosaurus repellent

–a pack of cleaning wipes for his goggles

–a signed Mike Maroth baseball card

One Thousand Beards

–one of those orange foam Tiger claw things, those are wicked

–delicious cakes

this hat

–a remote control airplane that’s cooler than Brandon Lyon’s

–a coupon book containing coupons for things like “one free noogie of an infielder” and “ten minutes alone with the postgame spread before everyone else gets to it”

–Jim Leyland’s Complete Guide to the Growth and Care of Your Mustache

welcome back Nate! and other bits from the weekend

photo by Samara Pearlstein

This past Saturday, Nate Robertson returned from the dead, looking more like a reasonably well-preserved human being than a mothily decaying corpse. So I have been told, anyways. This was supposed to be the FOX afternoon game but instead FOX was showing the Kennedy funeral, or wake, or memorial service, or whatever the hell it was. Did that happen in Detroit also, or was it just in Massachusetts because Massachusetts is insane when it comes to Kennedys?

Nate gave up two runs in four innings, but only one of those runs was earned. He gave up four hits, none of which went for extra bases. He threw 70 pitches, which is not great, but he only walked one dude and he struck out four, so I feel OK about it.

When was the last time I was able to say that about a Nate Robertson start without all sorts of sarcastic nudges and winks? Honestly can’t remember.

The Tigers lost the game, but it wasn’t actually Nate’s fault; the bats were just shut the hell down by David Price. Actually they were shut the hell down on Sunday too, by Jeff Niemann this time. Lots of bat-shutting-down this weekend.

All that came to an end in the eighth inning, though, when Placido Polanco, of all cats, hit a three-run homer to put the Tigers in the lead. I always imagine him doing this when he hits one out, and then I imagine the pitcher lying prone on the mound because he has been struck down by his own shame over the fact that he has given up a home run to Placido Polanco, whose slugging percentage, after all, is a majestic .385. Miggy’s SLG is .565, just to give you a point of comparison.

The homer meant that the Tigers and Justin Verlander would get the win. Number 69 on the year for the Tigers, number 15 on the year for Verlander. Did he throw 100+ pitches? You don’t need me to type the answer to that question. You know the answer in your hearts.

Rosters expand on Tuesday! Get psyched, get psyched, we gonna see us some kittens.

Monday’s game is at 1:05 pm for some reason. I mean really, mid-day on a Monday? What is that, a makeup game or something? I keep opening up the schedule and looking at it because I think it’s a typo, but every time it is still there. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is a sign of madness, isn’t it? Damn.

thank cats for Brandon Inge's magic bat

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Brandon Inge is a hero and a gamer and a scrapper and a magical pixie! Brandon Inge wields a mighty bat contrary to all expectations! Brandon Inge is the myth of clutch, on occasion! Brandon Inge wears his socks up! Brandon Inge is My Tiger! Take that and stuff it in your blandly phrased craw, ‘Always a Tiger’!

In case you missed it, in the 5th inning Inge was running hard into first, tried to stretch out his stride to make sure he beat the throw, and did something heinous to his leg. It looked like he had strained a tendon, or rolled his ankle, something like that. He stayed in the game and in fact immediately had to run all the way home from first, as G-Money hit a long double.

“I was trying not to limp,” Inge said. “I looked like an idiot.”

Jason Beck, DetroitTigers.com

After he scored, he gestured out to Laird and said something that looked an awful lot like, “Hit it out!” As in, Next time hit it all the way out of this catforsaken ballpark so I don’t have to hustle my injured rump around the bases. Rod and Mario were delighted.

Awesome? Yes. BUT NOT SUFFICIENTLY AWESOME FOR BRANDON INGE.

You see, Curtis Granderson had hit a (at that point) game-tying homerun in the 6th– his 18th of the season, putting him ahead of Brandon Inge for the team HR lead. What could Brandon Inge possibly do to top that?

Oh, just a little somethin’ like a game-winning two-run homer in the 9th, to tie Grandy for the team lead, and to blast the Tigers past the Astros so that we could avoid the series sweep. DEEPLY WICKED AWESOME.

Other things:

–After his, *cough*, unfortunate start on Saturday, Alfredo Figaro has been sent down, reducing the team Fred count by one. Luke French has been called up and will apparently start the first game of the Minnesota series on Friday.

“We just felt like giving French a shot against them,” manager Jim Leyland said.

Jason Beck, Beck’s Blog

If ya say so, Chief.

–Edwin Jackson was quite good in this one. Three runs over seven innings, 98 pitches, five hits, five Ks, ZERO walks. He allowed a couple of doubles and one triple, but no homers. Unfortunately, because of the way the hitting was timed, he gets nothing, and Bobby Seay (who did pitch a single clean inning) gets the W.

–Fernando gave up a single but nothing else, so he is still, amazingly, unbelievably perfect in save opportunities. He’s actually been good lately, but it makes me nervous. I’m waiting for the arm soreness, I am in the duck and cover position of Fernando tendonitis readiness. Or maybe he’ll sulk now that Figaro has been sent down. Something. I just don’t trust this.

–Pudge was 0-for-4 on Sunday and made the last out of the series. On Saturday he was honored before the game because he had set the ALL-TIME MAJOR LEAGUE RECORD FOR MOST GAMES CAUGHT a week previous (against the Rangers, appropriately enough). That was his 2,227th game. This is his 19th season. Crazy. Crazy.

–Gerald Laird had to leave Saturday’s game with back spasms. He looked fine on Sunday though, so hopefully it was just a temporary thing.

–Nate Robertson has been put on the DL with a ‘mass’ in his elbow. Who knows how long it’s been developing/impeding his ability to throw a baseball, but that would certainly explain some things. Apparently it had begun pressing on his ulnar nerve, causing numbness down the line in some of his fingers.

“He’s had the masses, but it’s like someone who has bone chips,” [head trainer Kevin] Rand said. “People who have bone chips or bone spurs in their elbow, they don’t do anything with them until they become an issue. It’s something that had not affected him in any way pitching prior to this. It’s starting to affect him with numbness and tingling in his hand.”

Jason Beck, DetroitTigers.com

The only description given is “the mass of tissue”, which is “[comparable] to a cyst” in some way. So… I have no idea what that actually is. Sounds kind of freaky. Nate just has random masses of non-bony tissue growing in his elbow? Is he a mutant?

Fu-Te Ni has been called up to take his place, so we should get our first look at him fairly soon, given the Tigers’ tendency to tax the bullpen.

we laugh at the Detroit pitching situation because it is better than crying


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Nate. Oh, honey. No.

Now I understand that a certain level of self-delusion is necessary to play in the Major Leagues, to buffer against slavering members of the media and to forget bad outings and such. But things like this:

“I think the cycle of a player’s time in certain places comes and goes,” said Robertson, 31, who was quick to praise the Tigers’ hierarchy, including Leyland.

Robertson, however, sees himself as a starter and wants his old job back — whether it’s in Detroit or elsewhere.

“There’s definitely a difference of opinion,” he said of his view that he should be starting, “cause I don’t have the job.
“It’s a possibility I might be going somewhere,” Robertson added. “I might not be here, and I’m at peace with that.”
Detroit News article

display a special kind of fantasy. Maybe Nate really, truly, honestly believes that he is a starting pitcher, right now, at the big league level. Maybe he believes in that with all of his little heart. After all, he was pretty great in 2006. That’s only a few seasons ago! The magic may yet be recaptured! Who knows what happy musings pass behind those goggles?

But– and I have to talk directly to Nate here, because I am really concerned that he is losing his grip on reality: Nate, friend, you are an untradeable commodity. To other teams in the league, you are the proverbial mammary glands on a bull. You are Egyptian cotton in Catch 22. Nate, you are owed $17 million through 2010. You had a 6.35 ERA in 2008. Don’t you think that the Tigers might have been trying to foist you off on someone, anyone else all winter, and that if they’d been able to, they would have done so already? Maybe consider the possibility.

Nate will at least start the season with the Tigers, but he will be in the bullpen. He may wish t’were otherwise, and Tigers fans may soon wish the same thing, but there it is. We had all better start getting used to it now, Nate included.

With that out of the way, what does the rest of the Tigers pitching staff look like? Let us see. I suggest putting some sort of plastic covering over your keyboard, so that your salty tears of hysterical, desperate, disbelieving laughter do not ruin your computer.

Justin Verlander: trying to bounce back from a fairly dismal season. Will have to contend with the pressure of supporting a listing, drunken 400lb gorilla of a rotation.

Arrrrrmando Galarraga: trying to prove that ’08 was not a fluke. Will have to contend with opposing batters at this level who are much more used to him and his pitching wayz.

Edwin Jackson: trying to finally deliver with his ‘stuff’, instead of continuing to burgeon with not-quite-realized potential. Will have to contend with the pressure of not being Matt Joyce, Rescuer of Kittens.

Rick Porcello: trying to go directly from single-A to the starting rotation. Will have to contend with the fact that he is 8 years old.

Zach Miner: trying to prove that he belongs in the rotation and not the ‘pen. Will have to contend with management’s somewhat inexplicable dislike for his face.

Jeremy Bonderman: trying to get his arm back to normal. Will have to contend with the usual struggles that come when one is a member of the undead.

Dontrelle Willis: MIA.

Fernando Rodney: trying to close at least some of the time (Paws help us all). Will have to contend with his natural tendency towards the Inconsistent.

Brandon Lyon: trying to recover from a scary spring. Will have to contend with everyone watching him like a hawk and pouncing claws-out on his every stumble.

Joel Zumaya: trying to remember what it’s like to throw a baseball and not have his arm explode. Will have to contend with the fact that the next time he throws a baseball, his arm will probably explode.

Ryan Perry: trying to get big league batters out after having never pitched above single-A before now. Will have to contend with the fact that he’s still sharing juice boxes and trading Pokemons with Porcello.

Juan Rincon: trying to show that he can still handle pitching against an AL Central that knows him very, very well by now. Will have to contend with steroid lulz.

Eddie Bonine: trying to remind people that he exists. Will have to contend with all the cow jokes.

Ohhhhh yeah, feast your eyes upon THAT list of majesty! Did I forget anyone? I guess it doesn’t really matter; it’s not as if there’s a secret Roy Halladay or Jonathan Papelbon lurking in there who has somehow just slipped my mind.

Opening Day is this coming Monday! These cats are as ready as they will ever be, and doesn’t that just fill you with a warm, mellow sense of security? If it does, please tell me what sort of substances you have been gently abusing, because I would like to obtain some for myself.