Category Archives: photoblog

The new manager of the Tigers

Ron Gardenhire is the new manager of the Detroit Tigers, replacing Brad Ausmus after 4 seasons. This is a hard curve in terms of team direction. Ausmus was a very veteran former player, but a brand new kitten of a manager. He was an Ivy League guy who looked like the hottest dad at the elementary school afternoon pick-up. Gardenhire is a very veteran manager– he led the Minnesota Twins from 2002-2014– who is known for prospect development and a general old-school disdain or distrust for Them Newfangled Statisticals. He looks like what Santa Claus would look like if Santa Claus played baseball (which means that instead of a full white beard, he has a short white goatee).

Most of us, I think, agree that it was time for a change. And with this new hire, things most certainly are going to change. But is this the right new hire? Experience, yes, we want that. But don’t we want to use all those numbers every team spends so much time, effort, and funds to gather nowadays? Don’t we want a manager who will lead the team with a strong personality in the locker room, but also a strong understanding of statistical analysis and how to apply it to Random Baseball Scenario X? Or at least someone who trusts and respects numerical truth-nuggets enough to let someone else tell them how they apply to the cats on the field?

We do want this. Of course we do. And I have the answer here for you.


all photographs by Samara Pearlstein

Meet my cat, Batya Pearlstein, the new NEW manager of the Detroit Tigers!

Batya will be the perfect manager. No player can resist her gaze, her soft fur, her fabulous little ear tufts, her beautiful long tail. There will be no arguments in the locker room, because the moment any player raises his voice against another, she will meow her adorable high-pitched meow, and all anger and resentment will drift away like loose cat fur in the wind. Press conferences will be easy for her, because all she has to do is look at the gathered reporters and photographers with her cute little cat face, and nobody will be able to have any objection to any gametime decisions she may have made.


Batya believes strongly in the importance of stretching, cleanliness, getting enough vitamin D, and getting a good night’s sleep. She believes in eating a lot of protein and not touching junk food. She believes that practice makes perfect, and the more you ask someone to throw you a toy mouse, the better you will get at catching a toy mouse. She has the perfect values for someone who needs to keep a teamful of sometimes spoiled manboys in top shape. She models good habits in her own exemplary behavior. Sure, sometimes she might scratch the clubhouse furniture, or poop in the infield dirt, but there’s nothing wrong with using team resources to aid in your physical fitness, and so long as you bury your poop you’ve done nothing impolite.

Batya does not know much about sabermetrics, or basic baseball statistics, or numbers in general. She knows that some cat food is not as good as a lot of cat food but is still better than zero cat food. This intuitive sense will serve her well in many game situations, but she also knows that experts should be consulted to fully capitalize on something that is not her area of expertise. She has no problem bringing in assistant coaches with different skill sets from her own. She knows that she is not going to use a can opener to open that cat food, but she will let the can opening expert go out there and open that can. She will do her best at the things she knows how to do, and she is willing and able to smartly delegate the rest.


Batya will have an extra special relationship with Paws, since they are both cats. I think this stands to reason.

I think we can all look forward to this new season of Tigers baseball with my cat as manager.

(Happy Halloween)

a few dispatches from Detroit

photos and illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

So I was in Detroit, very briefly, and here are some of the things that happened.

There are so rarely opportunities to break out the 2009 Brandon Inge All Star Game jersey in Boston, you know?

Watching Justin Verlander during the anthem, I make a discovery…

Dude is balding! Truly the combination of stress and baseball hats is an inauspicious one.

Ian Kinsler slides–

Remains too hot for even his own self to handle.

The gentleman I saw chewing tobacco in the stands, spitting into an empty metal beer bottlecan needs to stop or be banned from the stadium or something. It is just gross. And what if an innocent child asks about what they are seeing? “Mommy, what is that man doing?” “He’s being f—ing disgusting, kiddo.” Do we really need to ruin the innocence of children with a bro in the lightest denim Ed Hardy-looking jeans I have ever seen out in the wild? Is this what you really want for your society, MLB? You’ve even banned e-cigarettes from the park. Think about your choices.

I got to see the Triple Crown, finally. It is an actual crown that looks like the cartoon and it has blue velvet and three ‘prongs’ around the fabric, each of which bears one of Miguel Cabrera’s trophy-winning stats. My only regret is that Miggy was not there, wearing it on his head.

What is probably the best office in Comerica Park belongs to Jerry Lewis, the Director of Fantasy Camps. It is astonishing and wonderful. There are Tigers things on every available surface, and there are Tigers things of all sorts, all eras, all levels of dignified gravity and high camp and everything in between. It is a little bit like a museum and a little bit like the den of a madman and if it was plopped down in a white box art gallery show, it would be installation art and nobody in the whole art world would fault its inclusion.

A few details that do not even begin to scratch the surface of everything that was here:

I don’t want to embarrass him by putting him on the blog if he’s not into that, but there is a certain Tigers employee who is a very good person and knows that this is exactly the sort of thing to make my eyes bug out of my head in a sort of overclocked delight, and deserves a great deal of thanks for finding ways to make me even happier to be in Comerica (as impossible as that seems).

What else happened?

Paws came over to our section and wowed everyone with his charm, his wit, his ability to communicate with ease while not uttering so much as a purr. His handler was not so much handling him as trailing helplessly behind, shaking his head as Paws repeatedly stopped to interact with fans instead of moving off to wherever he was supposed to be next. At one point Paws sat down behind me and took the hat off of my head and made it into a rally cap and put it back on my head and I made him take a selfie with me on my phone because I had the wrong lens on my real camera for selfies and I was afraid that if I took the time to change lenses he would disappear, poof, like Cinderella’s coach turning back into a pumpkin at midnight, because Paws is a magical creature and time spent with him is magical, delicate time indeed.

He is also a champion dancer.

The old crazed kitten-swinging-a-bat logo is making a comeback, which is all to the good… although one has to wonder how Paws will feel about it.

There were fireworks, but very little wind, which meant… smokeworks!

I also took a whole heck of a lot of photos of players, but for now there’s just this–

Austin Jackson offers Miguel Cabrera some advice after facing a new Cleveland pitcher late in the game. Because that is what teamwork is. Gossiping about the other team at every available opportunity: personal, professional, and otherwise.

Paws bless this game of baseball!

rally cat

photo by Samara Pearlstein

For Game 4, I declared that before every half inning when the Tigers were batting, I would kiss the cat. I did this very thing. The results speak for themselves.

This is Kaylee, internet, and you have her to thank.

All of a sudden: a real trade.

Sure, there was the acquisition of Jose ‘Middle Relief Master’ Veras. But it seemed like that was the only thing the Tigers were going to do before the trade deadline this year. There were no solid rumors floating around out there. Dave Dombrowski was making sounds with his mouth that were something along the lines of, “That’s all, folks.” All appeared quiet on the midwestern front.

Then, suddenly: BAM! TRADE!!!!

This business is not, at time of blog-posting, finalized or confirmed. But the story right now has Avisail Garcia going to the Wrong Sox, Jake Peavy going to the Red Sox, and Jose Iglesias coming to the Tigers. The idea, for the Tigers, would seem to be that Iglesias could step into the shortstop position if/when Jhonny Peralta finds himself suspended for certain allegedly steroid-based alleged business connections.

I do not like the idea of Miguel Cabrera’s own personal mini-me ending up on the wrong side of Chicago… but I do find the idea of Iglesias in Detroit intriguing. One might even say pleasing. For all the baseball reasons, and also, more importantly, because he is already BFF with Little Victor.

I took those in Boston, in 2011. I can only assume that their friendship has strengthened and grown ever since.

(Cartoons, and a very exciting tale of my recent trip to Detroit, coming soon. But the Tigers had to go and do this first.)

Tigers are AL Central champs, thanks to a little mantis magic.

photos by Samara Pearlstein

Here is a true story.

Yesterday a friend of mine came back to the studios after a trip to the grocery store. “Sam,” he said. “I have a present for you. It’s alive.” He opened his little Stop & Shop bag and there, standing on his groceries, looking up at me, was the most splendid creature imaginable.


Of course most of you by now know about the whole ‘mantises showing up at baseball games’ thing, how lucky this is, etc. Most of you also know that despite my interest in and love for this phenomenon, I have yet to see a mantis at a baseball game in person, and in fact had never seen one in the wild (somehow, despite the fact that everyone else seems to be finding them all the time). So this– a mantis, standing on my very own hand, waving its raptorial forelegs in my very own face, staring fixedly straight into my heart– mere hours before the Tigers were set to play the Royals with a Magic Number of 1…

It was magical, and joyous, and my little Tigers-fan heart was buoyed up with sickening things like Hope and Belief and Love For This Stupid Infuriating Team. My faith in the Tigers’ ability to not screw everything up and actually make the playoffs, which had been shaky at best going into the day, was strengthened. Because MANTIS.

You know what’s even crazier? I have a very large drawing in progress in my studio right now, and what is the largest figure on the left-hand side, standing just over Curtis Granderson and Stephen Jay Gould? YOU’RE RIGHT IT’S A FREAKIN’ MANTIS.

Of course the Tigers went on to defeat the Royals and secure the AL Central Championship. They have won the division. They are going to the playoffs. How could it have ever been otherwise, once a mantis appeared in my life?

unorganized thoughts from a Tigers/Red Sox game

all photos by Samara Pearlstein

–Let’s just get this out of the way first, because otherwise Jim Leyland is going to yell at me. I was sitting pretty damn close to home plate; probably as close as, if not closer than Leyland over in the dugout. And Aviles was out. It was a clean swing, a clean catch, and the Tigers should have been out of the inning with no runs scored.

Now, we all know what happened: instead the umpires called it a foul tip, the at-bat continued, Aviles singled in a run and the Sox rallied for two more (all with two outs) before the inning finally ran out. This was far from the only misstep the Tigers made– it’s not as if all seven Sox runs were scored in the second inning– but it had that horrible ‘beginning of the end’ feeling splattered all over it, and who knows how things might have turned out if the call had gone the way of Doug Fister and justice.

–Quoth G-Money, via Jason Beck:

It’s a tough call. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t understand how somebody from 120 feet sees it better than someone back here, when you can clearly look at the baseball and see if there’s a dirt mark or a scuff. Because if you foul a ball in the dirt, it’s going to make a mark. And I even showed him the ball. There’s no mark.

Look at the ball! LOOK AT IT!!

–Daytime Fenway Park, with gorgeous weather, on Memorial Day, is almost impossibly charming. Of course it helps when you’re sitting in seats other than the grandstand (i.e. The Butt-n-Knee Killers), but still.

–Look at this.

–And also this.

–Ryan Raburn is really bad at baseball, you guys. Like… really bad.

–The failure of the umpires, although just one in a long string of umpire/Tiger Hate Incidents now, can hardly be blamed for things like Miguel Cabrera going 0-for-4, or Prince Fielder going 0-fer until garbage time in the 9th. When your #3 and 4 hitters are basically not hitting, and your #2 hitter is Ryan freakin’ Raburn, it’s just not going to go well for you.

–Oh, don’t give us that face, Miguel.

–Here’s the nice thing about Prince: he’s a big cat, and he’s ‘meant’ to be a power guy. But he hustles! Maybe it is sad that I even need to point that out, but he never seems to be dragging his feet out there, in the field or running down the line, and as a veteran of the Manny-Ramirez-in-Boston years, I have a deep appreciation for that, ok.

–The Red Sox have a whole bunch of Anonymous White Dudes up right now, and a couple of them are listed at 6’4. One of these people– Middlebrooks or Sweeney, I guess– was standing next to Danny Worth at second base, and Worth looked absolutely TINY in comparison. I am officially raising an Eyebrow of Doubt over Danny’s 6’1 listing.

–Look at this lounging cat.

I will also note that Verlander and Avila seemed to be sitting next to each other for almost the entire game. I know how important that information is to you all.

–Speaking of Avila, how adorable is this?

–Speaking of adorable, how about the profusion of handshakes this team has going now? Here’s a Prince and Jhonny variation:

–The Tigers had only 7 hits total yesterday. Three of those were home runs. None of the home runs were hit by Miggy or Prince. I just don’t know, guys.

–Why does Quintin Berry always look so concerned? I feel like every photo of him I took yesterday featured this face:

It’s OK, Quintin Berry! Even if you get sent down when Action Jackson returns, you’ve made a very good case for yourself! You have done the very best that you can! Gold star!!

–David Ortiz loves everyone, that is a fact.

Tigers things on a Lions Thanksgiving

photos by Samara Pearlstein

That is what I was doing on Thanksgiving, but of course you can’t go down to Ford without getting an eyeful of Comerica in its winter plumage. Here are just a few Tigers things that we stumbled upon on an otherwise very football-centric day.

The ferris balls have been bagged up.

Champions of the Central, champions of our hearts.

Ford/Comerica face-off.

Dave Dombrowski was there! Just walking around like any other mere mortal! Not, alas, wearing a striped polo, but wearing Tigers orange, which is almost as good. I did not run after him and make him aware that he had been recognized, because that would have been creepy. Not that taking a photo from afar isn’t creepy, but at least it’s a type of creepy that didn’t bug him in person. Right? Right.

So unseasonal, so beautiful.

Found these on the windows of the Germack Pistachio building out by Eastern Market. Germack is a nut supplier for the Tigers (and other Detroit teams), so I guess it makes sense for them to have baseball-related decorations in their windows, but these generic baseball decals are somehow unexpectedly funny– and much more charming than an outdated mini-Fathead of Magglio or whatever.


Happy Zach Putnam Pitching in Detroit Day!

all photos by Samara Pearlstein

I know that Zach Putnam has been up with Cleveland for a bit now, but this was the first time I had been able to watch him pitch live. Zach Putnam! An Ann Arbor kid who went to U of M at the same time as me!

Zach Putnam! A pitcher who was always able to hit, at least at the college level!

Zach Putnam!! I have so many photos of him as a (relatively) wee collegiate ballplayer! I hung out at the field with Mr. Casselberry and we watched him generate so many Wolverine wins! He remains the only college player I have ever seen break his aluminum bat!

The circumstances were perfect. The Tigers were already winning, so nobody had any reason for concern if Putnam threw well. He pitched a perfect inning, striking out Brandon Inge, inducing a Delmon Young groundout, and getting himself a harmless Miguel Cabrera fly ball. The fact that he looked good was fine because of the whole aforementioned ‘already winning’ thing. And the whole ‘already in the playoffs’ thing. Let me tell you, it is weird to be feeling so good about baseball when the entire city of Boston is imploding in baseball-related agony.

Of course it is a little sad that such a Michigan person should have to play for an Ohio team. But Zach Putnam will make the best of it. For him, we can ignore the hat temporarily and applaud.

So excited to get to use all these photos. So excited to watch Zach Putnam get into a game and play some ball.

Does it ever get boring talking about how good Justin Verlander is?

all photos by Samara Pearlstein







Where in the Midwest is Ugueth Urbina?

The ongoing photo journey of a very special former Tiger!

all photos by Samara Pearlstein

Where is Ugie? We rejoin our intrepid hero on the Irene Hixon Whitney Footbridge over I-94 in Minneapolis, Minnesota! This bridge is so freakin’ cultured that it has a John Ashbery poem all over it. Ugie just loves Culture.

The bridge leads to the Walker Art Center, where Ugie is happy to run from grass dot to grass dot. They’re like a series of pitcher’s mounds, representing Ugie’s varied path through the Majors, skipping from team to team.

The tags for the John Waters-curated Absentee Landlord exhibit at the Walker seemed to anticipate Ugie’s arrival.

Ugie poses with a Wolf Vostell print. Does this mean that Ugie has been qualified into Art? I THINK SO.

Of course, there is no way Ugie could go to Minneapolis and fail to check out Spoonbridge and Cherry, the iconic sculpture by Claes Oldenberg and Coosje Van Bruggen. Don’t pour that gasoline into the art, Ugie!

Ugie does love his churches. Here he takes a look at the Basilica of St. Mary, the first Basilica in the United States. It was built between 1907 and 1915, and was blessed by the Pope at the time in 1926 (which is what makes it a Basilica, I guess).

Where’s Ugie now? He’s LHAO at this ridiculous Minneapolis radio billboard.

Did you know that Minneapolis has a public bike network? Ugie is making that discovery here. It’s called ‘Nice Ride’, because the Midwest is all about everything being nice. (Boston is about to start a similar program, which will probably be called ‘F-U Cars and Pedestrians’.)

Kirby Puckett may be hollering at him, but Ugie will not be kept away from baseball! He’s got a career 2.40 ERA against Minnesota– he loves those wacky Twinkies.

This is Ugie’s first trip to Target Field, because he only ever pitched in the Metrodome when visiting Minnesota.

Ugie is quite a fan of outdoor baseball in Minnesota. Not so much a fan of the brutal summer heat and oppressive humidity in Minneapolis at the time, but outdoor baseball in general, yes.

Continue reading