Category Archives: Rabes

Willis and Cabrera putting on the stripes?


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

As of right now I don’t think the deal has been finalized, but the word on the digital street is that Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera are headed to Detroit for 6 players.

The Freep says that, so far as they know at the moment, the package of Tigers going to Florida consists of Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz, and Burke Badenhop.

Let me be the first to say: Dude. WOAH.

This is… unexpected, to say the least. I (and many of you, I assume) had got the impression that Cameron Maybin was Untradeable, and that Miller was in a similar boat. As early as YESTERDAY I had heard this. Now we find out that (probably) both have been traded. I’m wondering what caused the turn-around. Was the hardline stance Dombrowski had with regards to these guys just a front to drive up their value as potential trading chips, or was the hardline stance mitigated because Dombrowski honestly believes that a combination of Willis and Cabrera thoroughly trumped even the stars of the Tigers minor league system?

I tend to think it’s the latter. Maybin and Miller are both very very young and have the POTENTIAL to be excellent. Yes. Very true. But Dontrelle Willis is a 25 year old two-time All Star and Miguel Cabrera is a 24 year old murderer of the baseball. These are guys who are very young and have REALIZED their potential to be excellent. This is probably what Dombrowski was thinking.

Maybe he was also thinking about the age-related issues facing the Tigers for next season and beyond. We do have a lot of rapidly aging bats under contract for the coming season; we’re talking about guys who are good ballplayers, even great ballplayers, but who are starting to fall prey to the ravenous jaws of Time. The Tigers have been pawing at the edges of World Series success the past 2 seasons. So close. Sooooo close! (argh. also, sigh.) Maybe NOW is the time for them to take that final step.

By signing Cabrera the Tigers got the power bat (sadly a righty) that they declined to jump for in ARod, with 8 fewer years on his body. Maybe 7 or 6.5 if you say that the extra weight Cabrera’s put on in recent times is wearing him down. He’s still one hell of a hitter. He hasn’t batted under .300 in 3 seasons, his OBP has been over .400 the past 2 seasons, and his SLG percentage hasn’t dropped below .560 in 3 seasons. Please recall that HE IS 24 YEARS OLD.

Now, Cabrera has primarily played third base the past couple of seasons. Before that he spent most of his time in the outfield. Where do we play him? Obviously I am deeply concerned about the fate of Brandon Inge here. But maybe a more far-ranging outfield position would help whip him back into shape, or would at least give him further motivation on that front? This will be a trying time for Brandon Inge fans, and I encourage my brethren to keep their spirits up, as our scrap-tastic patron midget would want.

If our elderly players manage to spend most of the 2008 season in one piece each, just IMAGINE what our lineup will look like. Just look at the NAMES. Granderson. Polanco. Cabrera? Magglio. Sheffield. Guillen. Pudge. Who-the-heck-ever else. Drool. DROOOOOOOL.

And then we have Dontrelle Willis. Dontrelle Willis, a great pitcher who had a bad year, numbers-wise. Every AL fan is aware of our obvious superiority, and we generally believe that the NL is easier on pitchers’ ERAs. Willis had a 5.17 ERA for the Marlins last season, which is worse than Jeremy Bonderman, who spent every first inning last year curled up in a tiny ball on the mound being eaten by fire ants. Willis’ WHIP was 1.597 which is… pretty bad. This does not inspire confidence, but it is of course possible that he just had a down year.

One of my main concerns with Willis is his delivery. Oh, I know he’s been fairly durable thus far in his career, but that is one seriously whacked-out leg kick. Even more than the Injury Bug, I fear the Complexity Bug. The Complexity Bug attacks players who have batting routines or pitching deliveries that are unusually complex. The more complex a motion is, the more separate parts there are that have to go consistently right to make the entire motion successful. The more parts you have, the greater the likelihood that one will go wrong. You see what I mean here? It’s possible that, last season, there was some weeny thing in Willis’ delivery that was juuuust far enough off, and he just needs to get his ‘feel’ back to retain his glorious former skill.

At the least the Tigers have picked up a guy who can definitely start, and cat knows, after the rotating 5th starter bull dung this past season, we needed that.

Now, we did give up an AWFUL lot to get this deal done, but we just got 2 blockbuster players who are both relatively young. I would be a LOT more annoyed if we had given up all this young talent to get one or two older players, no matter how good. That said…

I know everyone is going to be talking about Maybin and Miller and the other young pitchers. But if it turns out to be true that this trade included Mike Rabelo, I am seriously kind of concerned about that. I know. I KNOW! Mike Rabelo! But think about it. What on earth is our catching situation right now? We have Pudge, whose bones have been slowly liquefying month by month for a couple years now. We have Vance Wilson, if he doesn’t show up for Spring Training with both his arms amputated at the elbow or something, and even if he’s fully recovered from his surgery come April, he’s not exactly a spring kitten himself. We have… uh….. Brandon Inge? (egads, no)

Pudge needs a backup. Period. Pudge needs a GOOD backup, because whoever backs him up is going to end up playing on a fairly regular basis even if Pudge somehow (magic? fairies???) makes it through the entire year without injury. Mike Rabelo was a shockingly good backup. I was always worried about our catching situation, but now I am near frantic over it.

Don’t tell me James Skelton is the answer. The kid is TINY and inexperienced (‘though both, of course, may and probably will change: he is also very young). Nobody above him in the system has much of anything that impresses me. We’ve already discussed the issues with catchers on the market this offseason.

I hope that Mr. Dombrowski has something in the works to address this problem as well. Right, Dave? Right?

Anyways. Wow. The Tigers are looking to contend next season, that much is clear. There is no looking to 2009 or beyond in the Tigers front office. They believe we can win now, and, lucky for us Tigers fans, they are apparently willing to do whatever they possibly can to make that happen.

UPDATE: Matt has the minor league angle covered for this move. Check it out to see what we really gave up to get this kitten done.

the season ends, and Magglio goes out with a bang


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

It’s sad that the season is over (for us), but what a way to end it, eh? It would have been nice to do that for, say, the last three games, as opposed to only the very last one, but at least we ended it on a high note of offensive anti-Wrong Sox mastery.

The big story, of course, is Magglio Ordonez, aka The Hirsute Hero, aka The Long-Locked Wonder, aka The Answer to the Question ‘Who’s Your Tiger?’ for Some of You, aka 2007 AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING CHAMPION. Magglio Ordonez: man? myth? legend? I’ll take option D– ALL OF THE ABOVE. He ended the season with a .363 batting average. Wolf whistles welcome.

You and I know full well that batting average is not a good way to get a comprehensive look at a player’s value on the field (I misspelled at least 5 words in that sentence fragment, including a mash-up of ‘on’ and ‘the’ into some mutant word that looked like ‘onthne’. This was how I knew it was time for me to go to sleep and finish this post in the morning. 100% fact), but that’s why the Batting Title is so nice. It has no pretensions. It doesn’t really try to say, “this ballplayer is the best hitter.” All it does is say, “this dude had the highest batting average at the end of the season, and that is something to celebrate.” It says, “I don’t really care if the dude was hitting home runs or dribbling singles, the point is that he put his bat on the ball in a productive way a lot this year and that is a separate skill.” It says, “boo yah! Eat it, Mauer.”

This is what we love about Magglio (aside from the hair): even though he pretty much knew he had the batting title locked up, he still stayed in the game for 5 at-bats, going 3-for-4 with a walk and 2 RBI just to really stick it to Ichiro. Leyland pinch ran for him in the 8th and even some of the Chicago fans cheered. The Spanish-language broadcast was going completely nuts; some of those guys must’ve been Venezuelan.

Magglio wasn’t the only story, though.

“It might’ve been the strangest day ever,” Gary Sheffield said. “I’d never seen so many guys do something on a particular day that could’ve been done two days ago. Just to do all these types of things, it was just crazy.”
MLB.com article

It was a big day for Venezuela in general on the Tigers, because not only did Magglio win the Batting Title, but Carlos Guillen also became the first Venezuelan shortstop to get 100 RBI in a season. That might not seem like much to someone like ARod, but for someone like Carlos, who hits fewer than half as many home runs as ARod does, it’s a pretty fine feat. Of course the fact that he was able to get 100 RBI speaks well of his teammates too– those guys had to be on base for him to bat them in.

Placido Polanco got his 200th hit, making this the first time he’s done that in his career. He ended the season with a .341 average… it’s insane to think that a guy batting .341 does not have the best average on the team, but that’s the 2007 Tigers for ya. He ALSO secured for himself an errorless season in the field by not overtly screwing anything up. He ALSO continued to be relentlessly adorable:

“When you retire, that’s what you take home with you, your friendships,” Polanco said. “My friends, my teammates showed that they really wanted me to get it so bad. They stood up, and when I got the base hit, [Chicago’s Paul] Konerko told me at first base, ‘I can tell your teammates don’t like you.’ Because everybody was up in the dugout cheering for me. I started crying.”
MLB.com article

How exactly did we get him from the Phillies again?

You think maybe I’m winding this down, but NO. MORE Tigers reached milestones in this game.

Curtis Granderson went 3-for-4 on the day, pushing his average up to .302. It doesn’t really MEAN anything different if your average for the year is .299 or .300, but baseball is like that. You want to bump it up to that next level. I guess saying, “Oh yeah, I hit .300 last season,” sounds a lot better than, “I hit .299.” And, hey, once he hit .300, Granderson refused to come out of the game. He wanted to get his proper at-bats in even though going hitless might have meant that he’d slide back into the .200s. Curtis Granderson plays baseball the Right Way.

So not only did Granderson hit 23 home runs and 23 triples and 38 doubles, he also stole 26 bases, and he ALSO hit .302 on the year. Curtis Granderson is 26 years old.

Am I done? Not quite!

In amidst all this offensive splendor, these enormous roaring tigers of the bat, there was a scrawny little backup tiger. Not a very strong tiger. You know, maybe the other tigers always got to the prey animals first, so he never had anything fresh to eat, so he was also scavenging leftovers like a hyena, and this made him malnourished and weak. It’s just nature.

But today this powerless little tiger finally roared. Mike Rabelo hit his first career home run.

It was pretty awesome; the ball went over the bullpen and the guys out there went COMPLETELY insane, like this was the most exciting thing to happen to them in weeks. Heck, who knows, maybe it was. Virgil Vasquez actually CLIMBED THE BULLPEN FENCE in his excitement. You get the feeling that they’d been ragging on him an awful lot about this, and that just made them even happier when he finally poked one out.

That pretty much wraps it up for the offensive points of interest, but it would be unfortunate if we overlooked Nate’s start (fairly solid, 6.2 innings of 3-run ball) and, more especially, Jason Grilli’s performance. Grilli pitched 2.1 innings. He allowed one hit (a single). He walked no one, and he struck out 4. I know that we’ve had a love-hate relationship with Grilli for most of the season (or, well, just ‘hate’ for a lot of you), but what a statement to end the season, eh? Of course it’ll be overlooked due to the fact that the Tigers decided to rewrite the record books with their bats in the last game of the season, but it definitely deserves mention.

Now, rest assured: Roar of the Tigers is NOT shutting down for the offseason or anything crazy like that. There’s plenty to talk about (already news of who’s coming back next year and who isn’t is trickling through. I’ll address some of that in my next post, probably), and I do like to talk about it. Even during the slowest points of the offseason I’ll probably be posting about 3 times a week… and remember, the less there is to actually talk about, the more insane and irrelevant things I’ll be posting. Get psyched!

to be or not to be: the Twins went with 'not to be'


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

It seems insane that this game (and indeed this series) was a simple July match. The drama levels were off the charts. The closeness and tenseness, the sheer down-to-the-wireness (or over-the-wireness, as in today’s extra innings) of the games was crazy.

I mean, OK, for example, from this game. Did everyone else see Justin Morneau’s HELMET go right into Placido Polanco’s knee as Polanco came down at second? And then, you know, Polanco was rolling around on the ground and getting up slowly and hopping and generally looking HURT?

Did anyone else want to BEAT JUSTIN MORNEAU WITH A REALLY ANGRY WOMBAT at that moment? Because I did. If you had given me an angry wombat, and if you had given me Justin Morneau, I would have made sure that the two became intimately acquainted, and not in a “I’m a wombat, cuddle me because I look cuddly” way. More in a “I’m a wombat, I will become a fuzzy whirlwind of terror and death” way.

Possibly Justin Morneau doesn’t understand. Placido Polanco is OUR TIGER. You don’t HURT our Tiger. We saw him get hurt last year and it made us all feel TERRIBLE (I had to see it in person and it was scary and awful). I’m not using a royal We there, I’m talking about us as in ALL US TIGERS FANS. His strangely shaped cranium just makes us want to hide Polanco in a corner where he can be safe and all ours even more. It’s the crippled kitten syndrome. You hurt our crippled kitten, and we will tear your face off. Possibly with a wombat.

In the 7th Polanco hit a sweet RBI double that made Nick Punto look SMALL and DUMB, so obviously he’s not seriously hurt, but that doesn’t make it OK. You don’t get between a mother tiger and its cub, and you don’t hurt Placido Polanco where Tigers fans can see it.

DRAMA.

….and did I see Mike Rabelo hit a triple? I mean, seriously, a triple? Mike Rabelo? Mike Rabelo, hitting a triple? A triple, being hit by Mike Rabelo? I dunno. Seeing Polanco anywhere in the vicinity of getting hurt has obviously turned my brains into mush, and I am now freely hallucinating.

DRAMA.

Bonderman had a massive freak out on the mound. Kubel homered, Punto got on base, whoever that wanker after Punto is just hit a sharp single that allowed Punto to go to third, Castillo hit one sharply to Carlos who got the man at second but Castillo was too fast and arrrrggghhhhh RBI. The game was tied. I think I need some sort of anti-Twins tag, to better describe my feelings of despair as that inning went on. I have “White Sox kill kittens” from last season’s campaign against the evil kitten-killing ways of the White Sox. What to do for the Twins? And I guess I should have something for the Racist Logos too. Although theirs will probably just be something along the lines of “lol racist mascot”.

DRAMA.

Possible hallucination: did the Twins pipe cricket noise into their stadium? I could have sworn that’s what it sounded like for a bit there later in the game. If this did in fact happen… why?

DRAMA.

Pat Neshek needs to stop existing. Unless he wants to come and pitch for the Tigers. Then he would be most cordially invited to carry on just as he’s been doing. He gets scarier and scarier and exponentially scarier every time I see him, and it’s just not OK anymore. It’s at the point where he gets into the game and you kind of throw your hands in the air and scream “Ay gavult! Not this one again!” His WHIP is 0.761. To help you understand what a sexy number that is, Jonathan Papelbon’s more than serviceable personal WHIP is 0.837. JJ Putz has a WHIP of 0.55, which is basically inhuman. Pat Neshek is very, very, very good right now.

DRAMA.

That wacky play where Bobby Seay threw a wild pitch, Justin Morneau (who was at third) started for home, then realized that the ball had been corralled and was waiting for him at home. So he started back to third, essentially putting himself in a suicide rundown. Seay threw down to third and Morneau, knowing he was a dead man walking and hoping he might get away with something, stuck his shoulder out. Although he might have ultimately been out at home anyways, he was called out on interference. Nobody argued, because it was pretty blatant, but still kind of wacky.

After the game Ron Gardenhire said something to the effect of “It would have worked in hockey. Unfortunately, in baseball, there was an umpire right there.” His own manager takes digs at Morneau’s Canadianness.

DRAMA.

Brandon Inge went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI, and they were BIG RBI. The Twins guys also went on at some length today again about how Inge is in the running for the Gold Glove at third this year, and how good he’s been out there. Brandon Inge, pretty much your basic awesome hero.

(good) DRAMA.

Although I’m a little concerned about the level of shockingly good play put on by the Royals of late, it should be a relief to play them. Sure, our bullpen will be absolutely decimated for the first couple of upcoming games, but at least it shouldn’t be as freakin’ dramatic.

Tiger bats suddenly become tiny kitten bats


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

What, all of a sudden we’re offensed out? Or is Jorge Sosa really THAT good? I guess he’s really that good, because the bats sure seemed like they were on a roll coming out of Texas. Tonight they were kept runless and helpless like teeny tiny little kittens whose fuzzy little kitten paws are far too small and weak to pick up a real baseball bat. Feel that tug at your heartstrings, dontcha?

It’s especially sad because Chad Durbin was back to his pimping ways again. If you’re new to Roar of the Tigers you might not be aware of it, but Chad Durbin is a pimp, and has pitched pimptacularly several times already this season, despite all expectations to the contrary.


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

So far this season it seems that Durbin has three pitching modes:

1. Terrible. This is what everyone expects (expected?) him to be. He was supposed to just be rotation-filler until Kenny Rogers recovered from his vascular explosion.
2. Serviceable. This is what everyone hoped he would be, at the absolute best. Nothing spectacular, but just good enough to give the Tigers a fighting chance during his starts.
3. Pimp. This is what he’s been… I think this is the 5th time this season. A pimp start is when Chad Durbin absolutely dominates the snot out of the opposition in a way that is completely shocking when you consider his past baseball history.

Five pimp starts out of 12 so far, that’s pretty bloody good for someone who was supposed to be the pitching version of feeder crickets.

This particular start was an example of Chad Durbin’s pimpin’ ways because he only gave up 6 hits and 3 runs over 8 innings. Two of the runs were single-shot homers to David Wright and Carlos Delgado, and I think it’s only fair to forgive any pitcher who gives up home runs to David Wright and Carlos Delgado. The other run was a guy he put on base who was inherited and dumped in by Byrdak.

He threw 84 pitches over 8 innings (and he pitched to 2 guys in the 9th). Of the 8 innings he pitched, FIVE of them were 1-2-3 innings. Except for the home runs, and when he lost it a little bit at the very end, Durbin was DEALING and ROLLING. Very pimp, yes? I think we can all agree on that.

The bats today, not so pimp. Like I said, tiny little kittens in thrall to the giant baseball head of Mr. Met up top there.

Also not pimp is the news that Vance Wilson, who’s been DLed for a while now with a nonspecific wonky forearm (I guess they’re calling it a torn muscle now, but I don’t remember when they started calling it that… weren’t we not sure if it was a pinched nerve or what?), says that he’s reaggravated the injury and could miss the rest of the year.

Now, Rabelo hasn’t been hitting too badly of late (.286!), and Vance fresh off an injury wouldn’t be likely to hit his own weight even if he WAS coming back soon, but this still doesn’t make me happy. I suppose it’s because that flimsy illusion of depth at the catcher position is getting even flimsier. What if, cats forbid, Pudge gets hurt? A catching tandem of Vance and Rabelo would not equal Pudge, of course, but it might get us through the season. Rabelo by himself could not. What if Rabelo gets hurt? What do we do, run a 35-year-old Pudge into the ground and call up Dane Sardinha? Oy.

Tomorrow is Oliver Perez/Bondo, although I will be watching Michigan struggle against Oregon State. The exciting matchup anyways is Sunday, where we get Tom Glavine/Andrew Miller in the great battle of the ages.

Oh Seay can you see how bad his pitching is?


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Way, waaaaay more photos to come, obviously, but I wanted to get this thing rolling. I’m keepin’ it simple here.

1. Tigers fan bandwagon jumping not as great as expected. I expected to see a lot more Tigers fans this year, after last season. Didn’t pan out. For this game, at least, I would say there were about as many Tigers fans as there were last year at Fenway. Maybe more people around my age this time, but that’s really the only difference I noted (and it was slight). Could have had something to do with the fact that it was a Monday night, and the fact that it was Nate (not a huge draw even among Tigers fans) vs. Matsuzaka (a HUGE FREAKIN’ DRAW for Sox fans).

2. Nate Robertson: not made of fail. His outing was a lot better than his line shows. He threw about a billion pitches, which was his undoing, but he didn’t walk anyone. Not a one. He just allowed the Sox to work up these enormous pitch counts during at-bats. Jason Varitek was fouling stuff off like his spandex turtlenecks were going out of style and he had to slow down the game on purpose to milk the last possible moments of enjoyment from them. I don’t know. Many worse pitchers than Nate have been roughed up by David Ortiz and ‘Tek.

His line also looks a lot better if

3. you count those two “hits” in the second inning as errors, which is how I counted them on my scorecard. Hits, pfffft, whatever. The first one would have been an out if Brandon Inge had taken ONE step instead of trying to complete the play in a single shiny motion. The second one probably would have been an out, AT LEAST one out, if Carlos hadn’t bobbled the bobble right out of the ball. Hits? Hits? I guess that’s what the cool kids call “hometown scoring”.

And you KNOW I don’t want to see Brandon Inge get saddled with any more errors than he already has been, but I was pretty convinced that he could have had this play if he had taken just one more moment with it. If you didn’t see the play, it was a ball that Mike Lowell hit to third very softly, so it stayed more or less on the infield grass. Inge came charging in and in one single move scooped the thing up, while running, and threw it to first. TOWARDS first, rather, because what he actually did was airmail the ball to a point just above and behind Sean Casey’s head. Woe.

4. I asked Bondo during BP how his hand was doing. I was leaning on the back of the visitor’s dugout, as is my wont, and Bondo approached. Here’s the exact conversation.

RotT: Hey, Bondo! How’s your hand doing?
Bondo, with a startled and slightly blank look up: What?*
RotT: How’s your hand doing?
Bondo: Uh, oh. Uh, it’s OK. It’s getting better.

He then ducked down and into the dugout before anyone could hound him for autographs.

I find it worrying that he said “it’s getting better” instead of “oh, it’s doing great! feels dandy!”… which is what you would assume a player would say to some dumb fan hollering at them before a game. “It’s getting better” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in me that he’ll be back 100% by the time his next start rolls around.

For whatever it’s worth, he didn’t appear to have anything on the affected finger. Not even a bandaid or gauze wrap.

5. Bobby Seay must die. The Red Sox were winning anyways; that was just unnecessary agony to watch. In fact, we couldn’t stand it and actually walked out of our seats and into the concourse, where we watched the rest of his inning on a TV bolted to the Fenway concourse girders. Watching with us: a bunch of vaguely disinterested cops, and John Keating of FSN Detroit. Kinda surreal.

6. Tim Byrdak was not as bad as Bobby Seay. His lifetime stats are not pretty, though, so don’t get too excited now, kids. I was doing a last-minute poke at the Tigers roster before the game and noticed he had shown up, numberless and unexplained. I had the following conversation with my brother.

RotT: Hey, what’s a Tim Byrdak?
Brother: Generic white Orioles reliever.
RotT: Well. He’s a Tiger now.
Brother: Really? Huh. He sucks.

Still, today he was going strong. Why did we take him out to put in Bobby Trainwreck Seay? The world may never know.

7. Nobody likes Neifi Perez. Best Neifi!!! moment came during BP. Neifi!!! walked over to the dugout. A small child immediately began begging for his autograph, calling him BY NAME. Both pathetic and remarkable. Neifi!!! completely blew the kid off** and pootled around the edge of the dugout doing Neifi!!! things instead. A Tigers fan next to me (late teens or early 20s) yelled, “Neifi!” like he would if he was asking for an autograph. He then yelled. “LOOK AT YOURSELF!”, the implication in his tone of voice being, of course, that if Neifi!!! took the time to really look at himself, he would realize how loathsome he truly is.

My contribution to this scintillating exchange was a darkly muttered, “He should be thankful anyone even recognizes him,” which was loud enough for people on the back of the dugout to hear, but not loud enough for Neifi!!! This was either for the best, or a lost opportunity.

8. Mike Rabelo fan club? I sat with a Sox fan friend of mine for this game. I pointed Rabelo out to her a few times during BP, and later when he would poke his head up out of the dugout or when he ran across to the bullpen. She was quiet about him, but eventually admitted that she found him to be quite attractive. This is the very first time I have heard anyone mackin’ on Mike Rabelo. Welcome to the majors, kid!

9. When push comes to shove, I shove Gary Sheffield. I’m sorry. I tried. But this was the ultimate test: Gary Sheffield in Fenway, where I have hated him for many years. Turns out I hate him still. Go figure.

I have to admit, when he came up to bat, I was rooting Matsuzaka all the way, every time. I know I’m supposed to look at the good of the team and not the individual man, but apparently I’m not over Sheffield yet. I didn’t go so far as to join in the round booing he got whenever he so much as stuck his head out of the dugout, but I didn’t sob when he struck out.

10. You don’t really understand Matsuzaka fever until you see it in person. I know this is a Tigers blog, and this is a Red Sox subject, but it’s really, really something to see. People are CRAZY for this kid. There are Dunkin Donuts ads in Japanese. Programs and scorecards being given out with red headbands with the Japanese flag on them. Tons of little kids in tshirts that have a number 18 on the back and a nameplate reading “Dice-K”. It’s wacky, but awesome.

edit: I’ve posted about this game from the Red Sox fan side of my brain over at Blue Cats and Red Sox. Also, Ian of Bless You Boys has an “interview” with me about the series up at his place. I express my true feeling about Curt Schilling, and compare Chad Durbin’s performance to “gravy on the meaty team pie”. ‘Tis ace.

* This is a little embarrassing to admit, but when I yell, like yelling AT someone to get their attention or what have you, I… aspirate my Rs and nasalize (?) my vowels. When speaking normally I have no accent at all (‘though I do have New England terminology… it’s SODA, those shoes are SNEAKERS, that candy is a LOLLIPOP), but when I yell, I yell in a Boston accent. I blame my upbringing; there was not a lot of yelling in my house when I was growing up (you would never guess it from this blog, but my immediate family is actually pretty functional) and my house is basically accentless, while most of the people I DID hear yelling were people with thick Boston accents.

This is to say that when I first yelled at Bondo, it’s not surprising that he had a little trouble understanding me.

** I have no problem at all with Neifi!!!, or indeed anyone, blowing off the autograph hounds. In fact I applaud him for resisting the slimy charms of a small child trying to act innocent but really in bloodthirsty pursuit of a bunch of autographs (s)he doesn’t give two snotloads about, just to be able to say (s)he has them. I just strongly dislike Neifi!!! to begin with.

just like old times: Jeff Weaver loses his mind in Detroit


Mike Rabelo is a powerful tiger, by Samara Pearlstein

Ahhhh, nothing quite like it. Jeff Weaver, back in Detroit, absolutely not in any way able to keep his business together. I mean, it’s sooooo 2001. We have been there, and done that, and now it’s Seattle’s turn to feel that particular brand of agony.

It’s always nice to be confronted by the failures of yesteryear, so that we can be sure of never ever ever underappreciating this year’s Tigers team. We are currently ON TOP OF THE DIVISION (barely. but still. think about how crazy it would be for us to even consider such a thing after the 2003 season). We have PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST PITCHING STAFFS IN BASEBALL. We DON’T HAVE JEFF WEAVER. Do not take such majesty for granted, folks.

Weaver sitting all alone in the dugout because no one wants to sit near him… flipping out and throwing his gear all over the place in impotent rage…. ah, to never have to deal with that again. What a marvelous, freeing sensation. Why, it’s almost CHARMING to see him in his freakout mode when it’s for another team.

And what a marvelous offensive day we had. Magglio homered, OF COURSE, because that’s how Magglio Ordonez does these days. Respect to the hair, yo. Brandon Inge homered, because BRANDON INGE is now hitting OVER .200, which is a magical thing. It seems like just yesterday he was struggling to hit .100…. *sniff* how our boy has grown…

I fully expect him to be hitting .320 by the All Star break. Brandon Inge just had a slow start to the year, that’s all. His glorious defense will remain constant, and his hitting will now steadily improve. Just you wait and see.

The real story of the night, though, so far as I am concerned, is Mike Rabelo. Mike Rabelo went 3-for-4 tonight! With his VERY FIRST triple! And his VERY FIRST RBI! Oh, he is a veritable superhero now, muscle’in’ those hits out. Hence the image.

Just imagine, for a moment, a world in which Mike Rabelo learns how to consistently hit the ball…. imagine a world where he is tutored in the fine art of defensive catching by Ivan Rodriguez, where he is tutored in the fine art of pitcher handling by Vance Wilson. Imagine a world where his native backup-ness somehow manages to blossom into starting-ness. I mean, with those two behind him (around him?), he’s perfectly primed to take advantage of the situation and come into his own. I don’t see it happening with him, but man would it be nice to solve our future catching problems so tidily.

*insert fanciful catching-related Tigers dreams here*

Verlander pitched tolerably. I would have preferred to see him more efficient, but I would also prefer to see Bondo without blisters or anything even remotely resembling a blister, so obviously I don’t get everything I wish for. A win is a win, and for once the team managed to get the starter a decision. Always worth celebrating.

Brandon Inge is a superhero (and I won't hear anything to the contrary)


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

So it turns out Inge was just saving up his hits, you know, until he decided it was a good time to break them out for us. Just like all us BELIEVERS said. Two-for-three with three RBI, including one mammoth second-deck blaster of a home run. Ingecredible? I think yes.

Rabelo put up an 0-fer, but it’s OK, I reckon he’s just starting out and, in any event, he’s a backup catcher… any offense we manage to get out of him is a bonus. The most we can hope for is that he doesn’t do anything to overtly screw up the pitchers, and maybe he can throw out a wanna-be base thief or two. So far so good. I guess I am relieved he got his start with Maroth on the mound instead of Verlander. Exceptional Mental Makeup Mike Maroth knows what he’s doing out there and isn’t going to be rattled by some slight lack of confidence on the part of his catcher. Verlander might not react the same way, because where Maroth is a serene kitten snoozing in a sunbeam, Verlander is the psycho kitten that tries to eat your hand out of sheer overabundance of excitement. You know what I mean.

How hot was Zumaya’s pitching, by the by? Two innings of one-hit, zero-run ball on a night when our usual Rollercoaster Closer wasn’t available. Oh Zoom. Rod and Mario immediately started talking about how he’s the closer of the future… it’s hard to believe that he doesn’t already have the “closer mentality”. I think he probably does, but maybe not the ability to forget bad outings that good closers (Brad Lidge apparently excepted) all have. That breaking ball dropping in on hitters right after a 100 mph fastball, though… unf. Hard to not want to see more and more and more still of that.

It’s rare to see batters look completely blown away and startled at the plate, but Zoom manages to make it happen so often that it’s a joy to watch.

His new beard stirrup thing, however…. well, we won’t get into it except to say, JOEL. SHAVE. THANK YOU.

I think this whole (short) post was mostly just to point out the fact that Brandon Inge did in fact hit, and hit well, and everyone can STOP talking about ridiculous things like LOSING HIS BAT or SLUMPS. It is early and Brandon Inge just took a little warmup time this year, that’s all.

Nate breaks Oriole bats; Pudge breaks self


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Definitely a day of breakage all ’round.

In case you didn’t get to see the game, one of the weirder, “well what can you do except shrug?”-type defensive plays came when Nate threw a pitch that absolutely shattered Nick Markakis’ bat, to the point where a good-sized shard of it came flying up and chased Casey away from first base… so when the ball came back to first, what should have been an out resulted in a hit for Markakis.

We were robbed of an out because our first baseman was fleeing an airborne pointy scythe of wooden doom. Of course Nate managed to get us out of the inning OK, but the whole thing was just a bit absurd.

When he wasn’t breaking bats, Nate was pitching up a glorious pitching storm. It still surprises me sometimes when he pitches so well, even though it really shouldn’t. It’s so easy to forget that he “lost” a whole bunch of games last season through no real fault of his own.

Pudge, in a much less charming story, took a ricochet to the foot and went down for much longer than he normally would. He refused to leave the game because he’s a big macho manly man and/or he doesn’t trust Rabelo in such a low-scoring game. He was running and crouching a little gingerly but I think he’d have to be clinically dead before he’d take HIMSELF out of the game.

I don’t know if he’s gonna play tonight or not (no word from above so far as I’ve seen today), but I know that he’s going to WANT to… and I very much hope that Leyland tells him NOT to. He shouldn’t have even continued to play, giving his foot a chance to swell up and, who knows, explode inside his cleat or something. I want to see him in the dugout tonight with a big fleecy slipper on.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure I want to see Rabelo get his first significant Major League experience catching Verlander. Justin can be a little…. taxing on a catcher, what with the heavy fastball and the occasional wildness (especially with the cold weather everyone’s suffering from). Vance has always seemed to have a really good pitcher/catcher rapport with Verlander, and Pudge is Pudge. Rabelo is, I’m sure, a perfectly serviceable catcher…

I just realized that if Rabelo catches Verlander, the COMBINED AGE of our battery would be only 3 YEARS OLDER THAN JULIO FRANCO.

Let that percolate around your little head for a bit. That would be FREAKIN’ AWESOME, in a terrifying kind of way.

Oy. I’m not sure there’s a good answer to this one. Pudge will say that he’s fine, and may in fact BE fine, but given his age and our continued lack of Vance Wilson, I would really, REALLY rather not let his bulldog work ethic get in front of his overall health. I don’t want Rabelo to be traumatized by Verlander, though. BASICALLY I JUST WANT US ALL TO HOLD HANDS AND DANCE WITH KITTENS AND NOT HAVE ALL THESE PEOPLE GETTING BROKEN AND PERSISTING IN THEIR BROKENNESS.

I’m also not happy that Neifi!!! got into the game yesterday, because I resent him on principle, and for the simple fact that he is not Brandon Inge. Although now that I think of it, Inge is probably having this slow start specifically so that Neifi!!! can get some at-bats now, before the season has a chance to really rev up and he can do some actual damage to the team. Good job, Brandon. Always thinking of the larger picture.

I’m definitely going to keep thinking of excuses for Brandon Inge until he starts producing, by the way. So we had all better hope he gets his act together right quick, because the places my mind will go when allowed to run free in this fashion are not places that any of you marginally sane folk want to have to witness.

of arteries and clots

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

So. SO. Mr. Rogers has a blood clot in his shoulder.

There’s a good Q & A in the Freep about thoracic outlet syndrome, which is what they maybe possibly perhaps think this could be. As usual, the team does not see fit to release a ton of information on exactly what’s going on, but it seems like they’ve said more than usual this time ’round… in the official site article they say that:

Instead of a minor procedure, doctors had to do some artery replacement. The operation removed a clot and repaired both the axillary and brachial arteries. The brachial artery runs down the arm before splitting into two arteries. The axillary artery is located in the upper chest and runs blood to the head and arms.

MLB.com article

WOW! Actual information! We pretty much never get that. Usually it’s “Ballplayer A felt something in his arm. It felt like a kitten digging its tiny little needle claws into his muscle. Team doctors think it’s maybe a thing, you know, in his arm. Or with his arm. Not necessarily in. Just, you know, involving the arm in some way. Oh and he’ll be out for 12 weeks.”

I’m curious about the fact that they repaired both the axillary and brachial arteries, however. The passage up there doesn’t make it entirely clear, but the brachial artery is actually a continuation of the axillary artery, like so:

illustration exclusive to Roar of the Tigers

Artery repairs generally involve taking part of a bit of some other blood vessel (usually from the leg; I went into that in a lot more detail when I wrote about Dingman’s surgery). So Rogers needed to have this done in two separate stretches of the same artery, basically? What the heck kind of clot WAS this? UBERCLOT? CLOTZILLA??

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when muscles over- or mis-develop in the shoulder, or a mis-angled bone (or an extra one, I guess) is present– basically anything to compress the part of the shoulder called, durrr, the thoracic outlet, which is kinda like the space between your collarbone and ribs and bony shoulder. Like so:

Illustration exclusive to Roar of the Tigers

As you can see in the image there, the axillary artery feeds through the thoracic outlet. Compression of the outlet therefore compresses the artery. If it’s compressed a bit you have blood cells bumping up against the walls more often and are more likely to get a clot there (like how people with high cholesterol get plaque in their blood vessels, which makes them more narrow, and more likely to host a clot). If it’s compressed even more, the artery itself might be damaged by it, possibly torn.

(now that I think about it, is that what intially happened to ol’ Dinger?)

Apparently, Kenny’s PREVIOUS shoulder injury most definitely WAS thoracic outlet syndrome, and he had surgery to remove a (I guess extraneous, or at least non-essential) rib which was compressing the area. The MLB article previously linked says that there was “surgery to clear an artery,” but there’s no indication of whether this means the artery was ‘cleared’ just by having the rib-created pressure on it eased, or if they actually had to go in there and remove a clot.

I have a hard time believing that his only issue this time ’round is the same thoracic outlet syndrome, I guess because the brachial artery is outside of the thoracic outlet, and as I said before, it’s reported that he had repairs in that artery as well. I hope it wasn’t an embolism (a blood clot that breaks loose of its forming site and travels throughout the bloodstream, looking for more harmful places to lodge, like in the lungs or brain); those buggers are freakin’ scary.

In fact the whole concept of a blood clot in the shoulder is pretty scary for a pitcher, if only because it can probably go undiagnosed for quite some time. The symptoms include some things like numb or tingling sensations in the fingers and a general tired or heavy sensation in the arm that, well…. they sound an awful lot like regular ‘tired arm’ pitching symptoms. It’s a little worrying to think that a guy who doesn’t know his arm very well yet (think last year’s Verlander, asking Bondo and Kenny time and again if his arm fatigue was normal) might just assume that it’s regular pitching pain and not get it looked at until it’s become legitimately dangerous.

Eeeek.

Usual disclaimer on all that: me no surgun, me on’y dum lil’ art stoodent, no know big doctor wurdz.

In other When It Rains, It Pours, And Then You Realize You’re Wearing A White Tshirt news, Vance Wilson ALSO managed to get himself DLed with mysterious arm pain that (he claims) is not tendonitis and is more nerve-related. He describes the pain as a “pinching sensation”, and it’s distracting enough that he can’t throw, which is a rather important part of that whole catching job thing.

In his place we get…. Mike Rabelo.

So saith Jim Leyland, on the topic of Rabes:

“He’s got talent,” Leyland said. “and he’s wound up tighter than a clock. I think once he gets around our atmosphere and everything, I think he’ll relax and I think he’s got a lot of ability. I like him. He’s one of those guys, just watching him, that wants to do good so bad that sometimes it works against him.”

MLB.com article

Sounds like he’s an eager beaver, but the kind of eager beaver that gnaws on the tree too fast, so that the tree comes crashing down on his eager beaver skull. Woo.

Since we don’t have nearly the same amount of information about Vance’s injury as we do about Kenny’s, I can’t exactly whip up some psuedo-scientific illustrations for it. He did describe it as a pinching sensation in his nerves, though, so I offer you this appropriately pinched nerve.