Category Archives: Rollercoaster Jones

Tigers find power in likely and unlikely places in misguided attempt to make the end of the season interesting


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Yes, those are your power hitting Tigers for the night. Gary Sheffield, who hit his 498th and 499th home runs, and Ramon Santiago. Ramon Santiago, who has a grand total of 10 home runs in his entire career thus far, three of which came in the past two games. Santiago is OPSing .909, which is better than nearly everyone on the team (of course he also has far fewer at-bats than most of the current starters, so it’s not a real indication of his mad crazy hitting prowess – it’s just funny to point out).

Sheff now needs only one more homer to hit the arbitrary but still vaunted 500 mark. WILL HE MANAGE IT THIS SEASON??!?!? WILL HE DO IT IN A TIGERS UNIFORM?!!??? DO WE ACTUALLY CARE???!@?

Truly these are wacky times in which to live.

Verlander ONCE AGAIN threw over 100 pitches in under 6 innings: 113 pitches in 5 innings, to be exact. He was struggling enough in the 5th inning (and had thrown enough pitches) to make Leyland and everyone else consider taking him out, but apparently Leyland wanted him to have the opportunity to get the W, and was thus determined to make him gut it out for the full 5 innings. Normally I would say fine, whatever, let the kid go for it, but! why pile up unnecessary pitches on Verlander’s arm in a meaningless game, in a season where he’s ALREADY had an unusually heavy workload?

It’s not even like he was trying to break even in his personal record: with this win, Verlander’s season total will be 11-and-17. Was that 11th win really all that important? As usual, this is the one place where I really tend to grind my teeth over Leyland’s managing.

Anyways. Todd Jones was in the booth today for the beginning of the game. He’s definitely no Curtis Granderson when it comes to broadcasting (the awkward pauses! the rambling! ever so much rambling! it was kinda painful), but whatever, these are some of the things I noted down (I was out for the end of his booth time, but I think I ended up seeing the majority of it).

Jonesy: “I enjoyed the fight in Cleveland… I didn’t realize the second baseman, Cabrera, I get messed up with his first name…”
Mario: “Asdrubal.”
Jonesy: “Yeah, you get in trouble with that! Heh. He got in a few good shots on Sheff.”

(On Dane Sardinha, who was batting at the time) “Dane, hitting right now, he’s a scrappy guy from Huh-WAH-ee. He’s starting to hit a little bit better…” (Sardinha strikes out) “…although he just struck out there.”

(On the replay of Santiago’s home run) “Hanging curveball, man’s best friend.”

As they go to commercial in the bottom of the second, Jonesy yells, “HE’S THROWING A NO-HITTER!” Sometime in the third, Jonesy says, “I have officially jinxed Justin, because now there’s a hit.”

(On Verlander) “He’s got the Word We Don’t Wanna Talk About Stuff every time he goes out there.” ‘Ace’? Are we not supposed to say ‘ace’ anymore? Since when did ‘ace’ become ‘Voldemort’?

(After a long free-ranging ramble during which absolutely no one so much as mentioned the on-field action)
Jonesy: “There’s a game going on, Tigers winning five-nothing, if anyone wants to know…”
Rod: “They can see it!”

(On why we shouldn’t blame Chuck Hernandez) “At the end of the day these are grown men who know how to throw a strike.” This is a blatant lie. For instance, I am not at all convinced that Kyle Farnsworth actually knows how to throw a strike (it’s something that he sometimes happens to do, much to his own bafflement), and Freddy Dolsi is in no way a grown man. Have you looked at the kid lately, Jonesy? He’s like six years old.

(On how it feels to blow a save)
Jonesy: “There’s these rollercoasters of emotion.”
Mario: “Really!” (Highly amused, obviously thinking Jonesy was making a joke on the whole Rollercoaster Jones thing.)
*longish awkward pause* (Suddenly filled with Doubt: was that intentional, or does he have no idea he was even making a joke, or what a joke even is.)
Mario: *more pause* “Nice!”

(On his rain delay Magglio hitting and sliding and hair impression from earlier in the season) “I always wanted to be a tarp guy… that should’ve told you I was gonna retire… that was on my bucket list of things.”

(On Gary Sheffield) “He’s got some kinda FlexAll thing that’s so hot other guys can’t even put it on a finger and he’s got it all over his back and knees.”

(On attending games now that he’s retired)
Jonesy: “I’ll be there with my puffy hand.”
Mario: “Your foam finger?”
Jonesy: “My puffy hand!”
*almost in unison, as they realize the problem* “The Claw!”

Saturday, 7:05 pm EDT. Dontrelle vs. Matt Garza. I guess we don’t have anyone random in AAA we could call up to pitch this one? A pity, a pity. Go Tigers!

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The Void creeps ever closer. Run, Tigers. Run.


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Noooooo Miguel, run faster! The Void is right behind you!!

I don’t know about you guys, but nothing says ‘September in tha D’ to me quite like a sweep at the hands of the Royals. Spectacular. Today we made Brian Bannister look like a golden god as well, but let’s face it, we’re making everyone look golden and deity-esque at the moment. Everyone except for us.

How good does Tampa Bay feel right now? They barely have to do anything to secure their division once and for all, because they play the Tigers for the last four games of the regular season. That must be a nice feeling. I hope they are enjoying how that feels.

As for us, we struggle now only to escape the Void. What is the Void? I actually have no idea. It is not last place in the division, because lo and behold, we’re already there. Is it 90 losses? Maybe. It could be 90 losses. The Void is your darkest fears, your saddest memories, your most potent hatred. The Void is emptiness. Blackness. Blankness. Nothingness eternal and infinite.

This is all sapping my ability to post a vaguely coherent blog with some sort of narrative holding one paragraph to the next. Unconnected thoughts shall follow.

The difference between this year and 2003, aside from the fact that we were actually worse in 2003, is the enormous gap between SHOULD-HAVE-BEEN and IS. The Tigers were catawful in 2003, but that wasn’t much of a surprise, because the players in 2003 were catawful. We are so bad in 2008, but it wasn’t supposed to go down like this. These players are not that bad. To be quite honest, the record the Tigers have this season surprises me almost every day. Almost every day when I look at it I am shocked all over again, because the mental construct I have of this team is not a team that posts that kind of record. Obviously I’m delusional to some extent, but the fact that a disconnect that large exists… I don’t know how that happens.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Todd Jones is retiring at the end of this season. We all knew this was coming, but it bears mentioning anyways. Say what you will about the Rollercoaster (and I’ve probably said it), but he did manage to get those saves, even if he almost killed us every time he went out there. A healthy Rollercoaster, even in full Rollercoastering form, would be a marked improvement over the bullpen shenanigans we’ve got going on right now. Alas, life is what it is and is nothing more, and the same is true of the bullpen.

There’s a lot of debate right now surrounding Jim Leyland, and whether or not he should be the manager of the Tigers next season. I fall on the side of ‘yes, keep him’. Do you guys honestly think another manager would have done better with these players? That’s the big question. I’m not saying that Leyland is the most super awesome magical manager ever, and I’m not saying that he’s completely free of blame for this season… heck, LEYLAND isn’t saying that:

“I’m going to tell you the facts: I stink,” he [Leyland] said. “With the year we’ve had, I stink. But I can tell you one thing: I ain’t the Lone Ranger.”

Later, he added: “If anybody says we shouldn’t be feeling pressure around here, we should be. We deserve to be. That certainly includes me.”
Jon Paul Morosi/Detroit Free Press

I don’t agree with everything that Leyland has done. I think he played some guys too much when they should have been sitting (Sheff), and I have a well-documented hate for the way that he has (mis)handled Justin Verlander’s arm this season. The whole Guillen/Cabrera defensive position mess was just that – a huge friggin’ mess – and could have been handled a lot better, but I don’t know how much of the blame for that should be laid squarely on Leyland himself, as opposed to the rest of the FO.

I DO think that Leyland has done some good things as a manager. He’s managed personalities fairly well, and has kept several potentially deeply toxic situations (Inge vs. catching, whatever the hell was going on with the closer position at various times throughout the season, anything and everything involving Pudge or Sheff) from becoming cancerous. He hasn’t been afraid to yell at people if he thinks they need yelling at (although it would have been nice to see him equally unafraid to bench guys if he thought they had acted badly enough to be yelled at).

When a purportedly good team is THIS bad, it’s natural to want to blame the manager. After all, the players are not supposed to be this bad, so the fault must be elsewhere, and who else could affect the players more than the manager? But the manager can only do so much. At the end of the day he can’t go out there and bat leadoff. He can’t go out there and pitch the 9th inning. And he can’t MAKE any of the Tigers hit, or walk, or strike guys out.

So I don’t think Leyland is the perfect manager. But I don’t think that many (maybe ANY) other managers would have done significantly better with this team, with these injuries, this season, and so I don’t think that firing Leyland is the answer.

Nate should not be starting games right now. I understand that we’re throwing him out onto the mound simply because it doesn’t matter anymore at this point and what we need is a simple warm body, but I would have rather seen Lambert start today, or Inge, or ANYONE. It’s not OK to keep throwing Nate out there just because that’s what we’ve been doing. There are only four games left so it’s not like this matters now anyways, but I’m just putting my general irritability over this fact on record.

Thursday. 1:05 pm EDT. Arrrrrrmando Galarrrrrrraga vs. Scott Kazmir. Legitimate pitching duel, or lolarious shellacking? That is up to the Tigers. We only wish to elude the Void. Go Tigers!

the return of the tigerfly


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Because Tigers are dropping like flies. Again. Obviously this has been going on in fits and starts all season, but let’s just look at the recent damage, shall we?

The River Thames missed several games last week with a sore shoulder, then came back and didn’t hit for much power until tonight, when he cranked a solo shot. He pulled up lame while rounding the bases on an unrelated play later in the game with what we were told was a ‘left calf cramp’. Hopefully it is actually a cramp and not some variety of strain.

Carlos Guillen, who has been having back problems for quite a while now, had to leave the game today with back spasms. He missed a few games before because there was inflammation in his back, which pinched a nerve. Who knows if he’ll have to miss more than one game with these spasms? I would guess it would depend on whether or not the inflammation had also returned, and whether or not the spasms subside overnight.

Dontrelle Willis has been trying to rehab/regain his mental equilibrium/whatever at Toledo recently. He started today’s game and had to leave after only one inning due to the always charmingly unspecific and uninformative ‘forearm tightness’. Not that I was counting on Dontrelle coming back any time soon, but still. Salt in the wound, man, salt in the wound.

Nate Robertson has some tendonitis in his knees, but doesn’t believe that this is related to the complete disappearance of his slider. To be fair, probably 95% of ballplayers have some degree of tendonitis in their major joints by this point in the season.

Rollercoaster Jones has a bonked-up shoulder. It has been variously described as suffering from ‘tendonitis’, ‘looseness’, ‘old age’, ‘clicking’, and ‘colonization by mutant, osteophagous micro-termites’. As with many baseball injuries, the true, precise cause is unknown and is indeed possibly unknowable, but I’m putting my money on the termites.

Bondo is still dead, obviously, but I could not pass up the opportunity to mention this Freep article about the fact that he’s not physically ready to start rehabbing just yet. They asked Jim Leyland if it was OK that he’s not rehabbing yet. Ask Jim Leyland a pathetically obvious question, get an amazing answer:

“He puts on his bib overalls — no shoes and socks — got a straw hat, got a case of beer next to him, got the hat slightly over his eyes with a fishing pole in his hand and taking a nap,” Leyland said. “That’s what he’s been doing … I’m not being funny. That’s what he’s doing. He’s sitting by a pond with a fishing pole and a case of beer and a straw hat and having a good time, and he should. Why shouldn’t he? He can’t do anything. He’ll be fine. … He’ll be raring to go (in spring training).”
John Lowe/Detroit Free Press article

The mental images summoned up by this quote just about killed me. Why isn’t he wearing shoes?? BECAUSE IT WOULD NOT BE AS POETIC AN IMAGE WITH SHOES. Jim Leyland is a veritable painter, but with words as his paint, and with Jeremy Bonderman as the elegantly reclining muse/model (I just grossed myself out for a second there, to be honest – in art school, you’re usually working with nude models, and… yeah, no). Tip of the paw to Ian, who mentioned it like five days ago.

I don’t have much else to say about Monday night’s game, except that at one point Kyle Farnsworth dusted Ryan Garko high and inside, right up around his chin. It was an offspeed pitch, in the high-to-mid 80s, not his heater, but Garko went down like a sack of potatoes and stayed down, like he could not in any way believe that he had not actually been hit by the ball. I guess any time The Farns comes high and inside on you, it’s gonna make you pee your pants a little bit.

Tuesday’s game is at 7:05 pm EDT and features one of the best matchups you will see all season. Cliff Lee (18-2 record, 2.43 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, AL Cy Young contender) goes up against Chris Lambert (25 year-old kid out of BC, fresh up from Triple-A and making his first ever major league appearance). I smell a pitching duel! Go Tigers!

Melvin Mora should be banned from Comerica


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Melvin Mora is a danger to the people of Detroit. He stomps kittens under his heels and crushes public property with his mighty fists. He breathes fire at the slightest provocation. He terrorizes the locals. Melvin Mora must be stopped.

Today Melvin Mora went 5-for-6 with 4 runs scored and 6 RBI. He hit two doubles and two home runs. Over the course of this three-game series he went 10-for-13 with 6 runs scored and 10 RBI, with a total of two walks, two doubles, one triple, and three home runs.

You see what I mean? Melvin Mora is quite clearly A MENACE TO SOCIETY and a plague upon all Tiger-loving people. I vote to permanently ban him from Comerica, on the basis of the fact that he is unfairly dangerous to delicate flowers such as the Tigers pitching staff.

Saturday’s game was fine (Verlander only allowed two [unearned] runs in 6 innings, Miggy and Carlos both went yard), Sunday’s game was extremely not fine (vomitball on the part of the pitchers. All of them. Minus Seay). What can you say? We should not be playing like this against the Orioles, but this team has made a fruitful season out of not doing what they should be capable of doing, so who knows anymore.

Todd Jones is back on the DL. He was only off it for a short time, basically just long enough for him and everyone else in the world to realize that he never should have come off it in the first place. He’s saying all the right things, though:

“I can’t help out pitching how I’m feeling now, and it’s killing me,” Jones said. “I can take it. I can handle the boos and everything. I want to be out there and be part of the team, but I can’t help. Jim [Leyland] told me he’s not sure what he gets when I’m out there, so he can’t find a situation he feels comfortable putting me in.”

“I wanted to try to come back as quick as I could,” Jones said, “because I felt like I could really help out the team, and also being accountable. If the season doesn’t go well, I want to be active and I want to take my turn when I get the ball, take my turn taking the boos and the cheers. I’m as much to blame as anybody.

“But the main reason I wanted to come back was because I thought I could help out. It was totally my decision to come back. I know it kind of looks bad being off the DL two days and then having to go back on, but all I was trying to do was try to get back as quick as possible and try to help out in any way I could. And then, when I got back, I realized when I was pitching that I could throw, but I can’t pitch.”
Jason Beck/MLB.com article

He’s right, it does look pretty bad to come off the DL and go right back on, and if we were in the middle of a tight late summer pennant race I would be quite annoyed with him. If he was a young pitcher, I would be quite annoyed with him. You can’t take risks like that with your arm just because you WANT to pitch if the team is in serious contention, and you can’t take those risks with a young arm that has a potentially long and rich future. But honestly, with the situation in this division being what it is at the moment, it’s hard to get too fired up about this. Jonesy wanted to take his lumps with the rest of the team, so he overestimated his 40-year-old pitchin’ arm because of his 20-year-old baseball-playin’ heart. Despite my freakout in the previous post (which I totally stand behind as a reasonable reaction, c’mon, just look at that line and tell me it doesn’t make you spontaneously gag), I’m not going to fault him for that.

I can hope, however, that two groups learned from this stupid situation: our young pitchers, and the coaches. Young pitchers, let this be a lesson to you. You cannot and should not try to come off the DL before you are 110% ready! And coaches, man, I know you guys have to let the players tell you how they’re feeling, because they know their own bodies best blah blah whatever, but SERIOUSLY SOMETIMES THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR THEIR OWN ARMS. Like I said, this is not completely disastrous when you’re talking about Todd Jones nearing the end of his career in an essentially dead season; but if we’re talking a Bonderman, a Verlander, a Zumaya, it can be a BIG problem.

In fact it HAS been a problem (witness Bondo trying to pitch through pain a couple years back). Most guys in Major League Baseball are gonna want to take that ball when their turn comes up. They’re stubborn and they don’t want to admit that there’s ANYTHING they can’t do. This is why we have coaches, right? It’s like little kids with candy, someone has to be there to tell them NO, we know you want it, but it is NOT GOOD FOR YOU RIGHT NOW.

Bleh.

Monday we head off to Texas, sliding over a timezone but not having to deal with the 8:11 stupidity of Chicago. Kenny goes up against Scott Feldman the Hawaiian at 8:05 pm EDT. Weirdly enough, this is only Kenny’s second time pitching at Arlington after leaving the Rangers. Cameramen in the area will be on high alert. Go Tigers!

Tigers vomit all over Comerica, call it baseball.


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I AM SO GLAD THAT TODD JONES IS BACK WITH THE TEAM!!

0.2 innings pitched, 3 hits, 3 walks, 0 strikeouts, 5 runs (3 earned)

Three errors on the night! MAJESTIC!

Eight of Baltimore’s 14 hits went for extra bases! Three of Detroit’s 11 hits went for extra bases! POWER IS NOT JUST THE THING THAT MAKES THE BIG LIGHTS TURN ON WHEN IT GETS DARK OUT, GUYS.

Nine walks for the Orioles! Two walks for the Tigers! OBP MEANS ON BASE PERCENTAGE, NOT OH BOTHER with that PIDDLE.

I didn’t even see this game and it’s still making me tear my hair out in frustration (of course I also dragged myself all the way downtown and got rained out of a Paul Byrd/Roy Halladay matchup, so I am maybe a LITTLE surly in general).

Tomorrow it’s Verlander/Sarfate at 7:05 pm EDT. Will we play baseball, or will it be vomitball? No one can say for sure! Go Tigers!

Rays beat Tigers in degrading animal kingdom battle


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I don’t particularly want to spend yet another post saying Ugh, that game stunk like a wet week-old skunk carcass, I don’t want to talk about it, but… that game was messy, it was slow, it featured the EXTRAORDINARILY frustrating ‘leaving men on base’ school of baseball, it showcased the knack the Tigers have for putting pitchers on the ropes and then NOT DOING ANYTHING TO THEM, it stunk like a wet week-old skunk carcass, and I don’t really want to talk about it.

I will say that Carlos Pena looked good out there, and because I have long been a Carlos Pena fan, that was awfully nice to see. You still have to wonder what might have happened if we’d held onto him just a liiiiiiittle bit longer…. alas. (And I suppose you also have to entertain the possibility that it was the move to a new home park/new team that helped him finally get over the Hump of Unrealized Ballplayer Potential.)

At one point late in the game Mario accidentally called Carlos Guillen ‘Pena’. He did, to his credit, pretty immediately correct himself and laugh about it. C’mon now, though! I know it’s tough what with ALL THOSE CARLOSES out there, but you gotta keep your former Tigers and your current Tigers straight!

Miguel Cabrera hit a triple, a long ball that appeared to confuse the outfielder: he slowed and looked around like he either thought it was gone or like he lost it in the ceiling. It bounced off the base of the wall, which gave Miggy enough time to flop gracelessly into third. Leyland came out to argue that it had hit off one of the catwalks (in which case it would be a home run), but the umps didn’t seem to have seen it much more clearly than the outfielder did. For whatever it’s worth, the ball didn’t really look like it changed directions, so I’m tending towards ‘legit call’, but who knows. The cameras couldn’t even pick it up until it was back on the field.

Everything else sucked. Kazmir was wild, we put loads of guys on, most of them never came around to score. It would be funny except that it’s been going on all season long and it actually has no humorous value whatsoever. Men left on base haunt my dreams. They just stand there, on every base except homeplate. Staring, staring, always staring. And not moving, that’s the main bit. Like statues. On base. Not scoring.

It’s not a fun dream.

Todd Jones, by the by, has tendonitis in his shoulder. The only two injuries the Tigers are capable of getting are busted obliques and tendonitis. The good news is that our trainers are going to become veritable experts on oblique injuries and tendonitis management. The bad news is that seriously everyone is getting these same stupid injuries. The BAD bad news is that both these classes of injuries tend to be recurrent. Splendid.

Satuday’s game is Kenny vs. Andy Sonnanstine. It starts at 6:10 pm EDT. I’m not sure why, but it does. Since it’s on a Saturday, and FOX is the jerkweed dictator of Saturday baseball, the game is actually blacked out until 7ish, at which point FSN will join the game ALREADY IN PROGRESS. This is one of the most moronic broadcasting shenanigans I’ve encountered recently. Seriously, we can’t see the first hour of the game. The cameras are there, the crews are there, everything is there, ready and able to broadcast, but nope, we don’t get to see it until the game has already been going on for an hour.

Why? Because FOX is an unreasonable goatbag, that’s why. They’re filthy scrofulous stoat-loving cretins on a huge collective wet dream of a powertrip.

Go Tigers!

Fernando takes the closing reins, much to our potential horror.


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Holy cats, even when we win we find ourselves assaulted by ridiculous difficulties. Difficulties such as THE ENTIRE BULLPEN. Let’s sum it up, in the not-necessarily chronological order in which I remember things:

1. Todd Jones has had a difficult and traumatic July, with his three blown saves all coming in recent times. Despite the fact that he has not actually blown more saves than, say, Jonathan Papelbon, Jonesy’s blown saves look so much worse because his overall numbers are uniformly scrod vomit. It is hard to understand how a professional baseball player at the closer position can have a 1.54 WHIP and be more or less successful, but that’s Rollercoaster Jones for ya: his career average WHIP is around 1.41, and he still manages to average about 22 saves per season, with only around 5 blown saves each year.

I know that the save is a kind of useless and certainly often arbitrary stat, but that’s still freakin’ weird.

2. Simultaneously because of and in spite of all that, the Rollercoaster has now been ousted from his closer role in the bullpen and that role has been (temporarily?) given to FERNANDO RODNEY.

3. (twenty seconds of uninterrupted shrill screaming)

4. Fernando has a better WHIP than Jonesy does. He’s more of a strikeout pitcher than Jonesy is. Opposing batters are OPSing slightly worse against him than they do against Jonesy.

5. Fernando has a history of psyching himself out; maybe the worst quality a closer could have that’s not a concrete pitching attribute. Fernando has a worse ERA than Jonesy, although to be fair this is partly a relic of his epically bad numbers coming off the DL and ERA is a ween of a stat anyways. Fernando has a history of repetitive muscle injury. Fernando has a beard that would make ancient Egyptian pharaohs huff in jealousy.

6. Freddy Dolsi has so far managed to avoid the DL, but was temporarily ‘unavailable’ due to ‘shoulder fatigue’, perhaps because, ever since he has come up, Leyland has used him ‘all the time’. He now claims he’s feeling better but this nebulous ‘shoulder fatigue’ will probably ‘recur’ if he continues to be ‘overused’ because that’s what ‘shoulder fatigue’ does.

7. Zoom had to leave the game today with ‘right triceps tightness’. That’s the back of your arm, like the opposite side of your biceps. Obviously it’s good that this isn’t his shoulder, and it could very well just be a cramp, twinge, whatever. It is still not great and I will nervously hope like heck that it’s not any kind of inflammation/tendonitis/SNEAKY ARM-OBLIQUES.

This is just so very much not what we needed right now. The Fernando-to-closer move smacks of irrational panic to me, and while I am aesthetically all in favor of irrational panic, I prefer to see it treated hilariously in blogs and on message boards and among fans, not among people ACTUALLY IN CHARGE OF THE TEAM. The Dolsi and Zoom pitching-stress-type injuries are just the sour icing on the Boo Yah, Fate Hates You and Your Bullpen! cake.

Tomorrow we pop on over to the no-longer-Jake to take on The Racist Logo. Gametime at 7:05 pm EDT. Kenny vs. misspelled avian. Go Tigers!