Category Archives: Tigers/Red Sox brain 'splodey

This is Upsetting and I am Upset.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Seriously! What else was Justin Verlander supposed to do? He was more than good, and he left the Tigers more than enough chances to swing themselves back into the game. I am not a happy cat right now.

Also, John Lackey, gross.

Games 1 and 2 of the Conflict ALCS


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Now that the Tigers have lost a game, we can safely bump Maneki-Paws from the top spot here. Not that we are giving up on the good luck power of Maneki-Paws, of course… we’re just acknowledging this momentary lapse in his ability to influence the world around him. I’m sure he will be back at full strength tomorrow night.

Game 2 can be safely summed up in the image above. Max Scherzer was pitching firmly on the side of the blue eye, the offense had for once managed to exert itself for more than the absolute minimum of runs, Torii Hunter laid himself all out on the line in a near-literal sense if you call the outfield fence ‘the line’… but it came down to Big Papi’s tendency to be, well, big, in the ‘coming up huge’ sense of the word. As a Bostonian I can assure you all that this is just what he does, especially in the postseason, and it’s nothing personal. Not that this makes last night’s game any better, but there you are.

Game 1 had a rather different outcome.

What happens when Anibal Sanchez and assorted relievers very nearly no-hit the Red Sox? ALCS victories happen, that’s what. That the Tigers should get such a pitching performance out of NotMax/NotJustin is inestimably valuable. Anibal did his bit and then some in the effort to move onto the next round, and in commemoration of his efforts I hereby present him with this Terrible Cartoon.

It has been, as is usual when the Tigers and Red Sox play each other, a brain ‘splodey experience for me. This time it’s ramped up to a particularly high and squealy pitch because of the playoff factor, and the fact that I conduct much of my daily life within technical walking distance of Fenway Park. I am honestly a little surprised that my Olde English D’d car has not been keyed yet, but maybe Boston has mellowed out. Certainly everyone was perfectly pleasant when the Tigers were in town during the regular season, even when I was wearing more Tigers gear in public than anyone other than an actual Detroit Tigers employee would ever reasonably need, and I haven’t gotten more than a side-eye for wearing a Tigers hat out and about this past weekend.

The tough thing is that, when they aren’t playing the Tigers, there has been precious little reason to dislike this 2013 version of the Red Sox. It’s hard to not be sort of fond of David Ortiz swearing in public, or Koji Uehara’s various weirdnesses; the beards, while objectively horrific, are actually pretty fun. So I do like these Sox. They aren’t quite as cranky and drunk as they have been in the past, they’ve provided the city of Boston with a highly entertaining season, and they have absolutely no sense of tonsorial propriety. I don’t especially like rooting against them.

But I do especially like rooting for the Tigers. That’s pretty unambiguous. And John Lackey’s starting Game 3, against Justin Verlander. Nobody likes John Lackey, and all right-thinking folk like Justin Verlander. Should make things easier.

Go Tigers.

Helping out the Sox, and the Drew Smyly who wasn’t.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

You know, the Red Sox have been scuffling. They had been losing a fair amount, and were falling fast in the highly competitive (and currently upside-down) AL East. The papers were starting to get all agitated about the pitchers and Bobby Valentine was starting to get some especially virulent radio call-in stalkers– the usual Bostonian downward spiral stuff. On top of that, Dustin Pedroia, in many ways the lifeblood of the team, got hurt. Oh, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia just now came down with some sort of draining illness.

So this– this series right here– is precisely what the Red Sox needed. How nice of the Tigers to supply it so easily, so readily! So very accommodating of them! And the sad thing is that I would have been perfectly happy to see this happen with any other team… anyone but the Tigers. Thanks guys.

Poor Drew Smyly. He actually did not pitch that badly– and didn’t even get tagged with the loss, for whatever that’s worth– but that one bad inning was enough. He got the first two outs of the fourth quickly, after having given up only one hit in the previous three innings combined, but then Adrian Gonzalez hit a ground-rule double… and then David Ortiz homered… and Youkilis singled, and Will freakin’ Middlebrooks homered…

Just like that the Red Sox had four runs and Avila was having to go out to tell Smyly that he wasn’t a bad person, really, and everyone would still love him at the end of the day, and Jim would only yell at him a little bit and Miggy could give him so many hugs in the clubhouse after the game but could he please get out of this inning, please, right now, insert comforting butt-pat here.

As I said, he didn’t get the L, because the offense was not completely incompetent in this one, and he didn’t walk anyone so that was nice, but it still was not pretty. With Mister Fister going on the DL (SHRILL SCREAMING), that sort of inning is not what we really want to see from one of our starters. Maybe I am just reacting to the fact that it was particularly painful to see in person, but whatever.

Other things:

–The only two Tigers who spent significant time signing for fans before the game were Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. That’s kind of weird, right? That the two biggest names in the lineup would spend the most time signing for (mainly) Red Sox fans? It was kind of weird. But they were both super nice about it, which made me happy in my black little heart.

–Relatedly, PRINCE FIELDER SIGNED MY SKETCHBOOK. There’s a story behind this but it is long and probably sort of boring. The main thing is, PRINCE FIELDER SIGNED MY SKETCHBOOK.

–At one point during BP, Don Kelly came over to go into the dugout. A little kid (wearing a Sox hat) started begging for an autograph, yelling, “Mister Fister! Mister Fister!” I suppose all tall-ish skinny white dudes look the same when they’re not on your team.

–There were lots and lots of Tigers fans in the park, including a dude in a neon orange tiger-striped floppy hat that I coveted immediately.

–It was encouraging to see Andy Dirks moving around at least a little bit, even though he is supposed to be hobbled with a wonky Achilles right now. The fact that he got a single in his pinch hitting appearance was nice, even if he had to be pinch run for immediately. Still nice. Nice-ity nice nice.

–Gerald Laird was hitting 9th and DHing, because that’s the quickest and best way to jumpstart your offense, as everyone knows. So once Dirks had come in, and Santiago ran for him, the entire Tigers bench consisted of Don Kelly and Omir Santos. I believe the correct phrase for this is “OMG LOL”.

–For whatever reason I finally noticed Laird’s arm tattoos during this BP. They’re on his forearms, although inside and not outside like Inge. I could have sworn one read ‘Boston’, which seemed a bit odd, so I brought it up on Twitter earlier today and had it fan-firmed. He’s got BOSTON on one arm and BERLIN on the other and we believe these are the names of his children. I got nothin’. Thanks for being you, G-Money.

–A four-hit day for Miggy, with three doubles, is encouraging to see.

–Another BP story. A young-ish-looking dude in Tigers gear came running towards the dugout from the outfield. I took a few photos automatically, because that’s what I do, then looked to see who it was… and was so startled that I actually yelled, “JEFF KUNKEL?!!?” Because that is who it was. Jeff Kunkel, Michigan Wolverine, wearing a Tigers BP jersey and trotting about on the field at Fenway.

I immediately turned to the Twitters, who informed me that Mr. Kunkel had retired (or something) and was now one of the Tigers’ bullpen catchers, and henceforth would be traveling with the team. On the one paw, I am saddened that he has given up on the idea of catching in the big leagues. On the other paw, this is almost certainly a smart move for a whole host of reasons (not least of which is the ability and age of Our Savior Avila), and this way JEFF KUNKEL, MICHIGAN WOLVERINE of the RotT at Michigan Era, gets to stay with the Tigers in some capacity, which of course FILLS ME WITH GLEE.

You rock on with your wicked baseball self, Jeff Kunkel.

–You know what’s funny? The Tigers and Red Sox had exactly the same number of hits. But the Sox had three home runs and the Tigers had zero, and the Sox had more runs in the end. Funny how that works out, isn’t it? I AM LAUGHING SO HARD RIGHT NOW. THIS GRIMACE, IT IS ME LAUGHING.

–Seriously why did we call up Omir Santos, why did that happen

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.

super best friends


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Good
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder sure can hit some baseballs. They can hit a baseball a long distance.

Now, it’s only been three games, but in those three games as a 3-4 combo Miggy and Prince have been everything we’ve dreamed thus far. They are best lineup buddies. They are super in both the superlative and hero senses. They are magical and lovely and by their powers combined even greater heights of magical loveliness will be attained.

Good
Justin Verlander. Everything about Justin Verlander.

Bad
Doug Fister is on the DL. (Insert ten minutes of hysterical screaming here.) He has a ‘left costochondral strain’, which means that he over-stretched/strained the cartilage connecting his ribs to his sternum. It’s not an oblique injury, or at least that’s what they’re telling us right now, because they know how that one little word will send us all into death spirals of panic.

Ha ha! Shows what you know, team! I’ll go into a death spiral of panic ANYWAYS! You can’t stop my Tigers-related neuroses!!

The only thing Fister can do about this particular injury is rest. This is both a good thing (noninvasive and uncomplicated healing procedure) and a bad thing (no quick and solid fix, no real way to prevent it from happening again).

We’re not yet sure who will replace him in the rotation, because I guess it builds character to make us panic a little longer. Good thing we had that prolonged competition for the 5th starter spot, though, right? That means we have a bunch of cats in the minors right now who are all starter-ready and chomping at the proverbial bit, right? Right??

Good
Alex Avila is fresh and not yet so exhausted that he can barely heft a bat. It is nice to see, and the results of such freshness are also nice to see. Beardy and nice. Walkoff nice.

Bad
Max Scherzer on Sunday. Seven runs in 2.2 innings, with no injury excuses (so far as we know). Even under normal circumstances this would be somewhat worrying; having just lost Mister Fister, it is THOROUGHLY worrying. Consider me duly worried.

(Use the blue eye, Max! The blue eye! Stop pitching with the brown!)

Good
The fact that even with two starters leaving games early, the bullpen was effective and helped keep both games from getting out of paw. This is like the exact opposite of what happened with the Red Sox, and is in fact rather heartening if you can ignore the reasons why we had to see so much of the ‘pen in this series.

Bad
Jose Valverde blowing his first save in a million years or whatever it was. Of course then he went on to officially get the Win, so… I guess that’s something. A terrible something that does little more than point to the foolishness of statistics like Wins, but, you know, maybe it will make him feel better about himself deep within his own heart.

Good
Miguel Cabrera making funny, awkward-acrobatic plays at third.

Bad
Miguel Cabrera making equally funny, but much more inept plays at third.

Good/Bad
I really personally enjoyed the heck out of what the Tigers did in this series, ridiculous and unreliable as much of it may have been. HOWEVER, as soon as the Tigers buzz wears off, I am going to be freaked out by the (non)performance of the Red Sox. Not as much as many in Boston, who are already crying ULTIMATE DOOM and all that, but a good amount of freaked out. This is a team that is doing its best to announce that it has capital-P-Problems, and if you think Detroit sports radio can get crazy when Detroit teams are starting to lose, let me assure you, it is as nothing compared to Boston sports radio.

Good
Because these games were all broadcast on the Red Sox TV network, I have not yet had to see/hear whatever fresh chthonic horror is being visited upon us this season under the guise of April in the D.

Evil Twin Max has a new friend: Evil Twin Rick Porcello


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

I hate to do this again, but what can you say? It just didn’t look like Rick Porcello out there. He only lasted three innings, and realistically could have been pulled before he’d completed that third frame. He gave up six runs on six hits, including two home runs. He threw 75 pitches and was on track for 8 billion. He couldn’t keep the balls on the ground, which is where he has to live if he wants to have success. His understanding of the strikezone was vague at best.

It must have been Evil Twin FredFred. Who else would seemingly wear the Porcello body, but pitch with such dastardly disregard for the Porcello Way?

Evil Twin FredFred played four full years of college ball at Duke before being drafted. He is the first in his family to carry his particular name. He has some random no-name schlub for an agent. He induces a ton of fly balls. He can’t stand Ryan Perry. And he has a goatee, of course.

But hey… Charlie Furbush! He looked simply splendid. Coming on in relief of Porcello there was not much he could do to win the game for the Tigers, but he certainly went above and beyond in terms of preventing any further damage. He stayed in for 5 innings, giving up ZERO runs to a Sox lineup that had already gotten a taste of blood. He allowed only two singles, and walked two. He struck out six. SIX! In 5 innings! Rookie Furbush!

I reckon that deserves an updated Furbush:

The high socks have been added to his trunkbits, since he is wisely rocking them, and his fur has been changed to tiger-patterned, because that is only natural. But maybe there will be a series of Furbushes, in a variety of cat coat patterns? We shall have to see. If he continues to pitch like this, all things are possible.

———

Here are the recent moves, in case you’ve been losing track in all the madness:

–Magglio Ordonez to the DL with ‘general decrepitude’.
–Andy Dirks called up to take Magglio’s spot.
–Brayan Villarreal sent to Toledo.
–Enrique Gonzalez called up to take Villarreal’s spot.
–Brad Thomas to the DL with ‘elbow sadness’.
–Charlie Furbush called up to take Thomas’ spot.
–Phil Coke sent to the DL with a mutant foot.
–Adam Wilk called up to take Coke’s roster spot, although he’s not in the rotation.
–Scott Sizemore traded to Oakland for David Purcey.
–Danny Worth called up to more or less take Sizemore’s spot.
–Andy Oliver called up from Toledo to start Saturday.
–Ryan Perry sent to Toledo to clear room for Oliver (and maybe straighten his pitching brain out at the same time).

I think that’s all the recent stuff? I still assume they’re sending someone out to make room for Purcey, but they haven’t made that move yet. Feel free to let me know if I’ve missed something. It’s so hard to know for sure, especially when there’s been so much turnover that they’re probably having to play rock-paper-scissors just to decide who has to carry the Snack Pack out to the bullpen.

I blame Evil Twin Max Scherzer


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

For reference in these notes, Jerry Remy is the Red Sox color commentator, Don Orsillo is the Sox play-by-play man, and Heidi Watney is the on-field reporter.

–Apparently weather held up the Red Sox flight from Cleveland last night, so the Cleveland-to-Detroit bus ride option came into play. Dustin Pedroia was the bus organizer. He doesn’t like flying in general, even more so when there’s bad weather. Heidi said about half the team went. The flight delay was not as bad as originally expected, though: even with the weather, the plane arrived half an hour earlier than the bus.

–“It takes some getting used to. You look out there and think, man, that center fielder is playing shallow!” Jerry Remy on the cavernousness of 420 feet to center at Comerica.

–Scherzer was just not sharp at all. He threw a ton of pitches early and seemingly could not get a handle on the strikezone (he only walked two, but somehow it felt like more). The three-run homer that he gave up to Jacoby Ellsbury was just… ouch. His ‘pickoff move’ to first appeared, impossibly, even more vague and terrifying than usual. Not the Good Max today. This must have been Evil Twin Max, the one with the blue eye on the left and the brown eye on the right. And a goatee, of course.

–Evil Twin Max went to the University of Kansas, but is barely literate. He throws a curveball. He has an on-point pickoff like Justin Verlander but he never knows when to use it. He wears number 73. Oh, and he’s evil.

–Adam Wilk made his big league debut. He gave a very good account of himself: 3.2 innings, two hits (both singles), one walk, and a single run that wasn’t even earned because Scott Sizemore had had his glove eaten up by an awkwardly bouncing ball. Now, the Red Sox DO have a history of struggling against pitchers they’re seeing for the first time, especially lefties. But let’s be cautiously optimistic for now, because it’s nice to find something good to say about this game.

He had good movement on his slider and changeup. He had a longish at-bat with Dustin Pedroia at one point, and got him to strike out swinging with a fairly wicked change. Hey! Optimism!

–The Red Sox announcers became Deeply Concerned when the cover came off the tarp in the middle of the fourth inning.

–They had photos of Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez back in 1999/2000, when they were both in the Marlins minor league system. OH MY HOLY PAWS. THESE BABIES. THEY LOOK LIKE PLUCKED CHICKENS. NESN showed these photos while Heidi was interviewing Cabrera. He roomed with Gonzalez in the minors for at least a little bit, and they are still friendly. He was around Josh Beckett at the same time, but they didn’t get to know each other because Beckett was being fast-tracked to the Majors.

They also had a photo of circa-2000-Beckett, with no chin scruff, and aaauuuuggggghhhhh he looked about twelve years old. BABYFACE BECKETT.

–Ryan Perry seems to have cut off all his mullet-y hair, and he’s trimmed his beard way back. He seems to have more beard left than scalp hair, though NESN didn’t have any shots of him with his hat off so it’s hard to tell for sure.

–They saw a guy in the crowd wearing a Lawrence Tech sweatshirt with a football design on it. Underneath that it said Undefeated since 1932. Remy was very impressed for a minute, then realized that Lawrence Tech might not even have football. (It doesn’t.)

–Carl Crawford had two triples, one off of Evil Twin Max and one off of Perry. I mean… it is what it is. Crawford’s speed + the Comerica outfield = triples.

–The infield was badly puddled by the 8th inning. I understand that they wanted to get the entire game in because it’s only fair to give everyone a full shot at it, and they want to give the fans their money’s worth and all that, but come on. It had been raining for a while, and it was supposed to continue raining. The state of the infield was getting bad for the infielders and downright dangerous for baserunners. The score was 14-1– it’s not like this was a tied or even remotely close game. It was already an official game. They should have just ended it. Playing the 8th was stupid, and keeping the game hanging in a delay instead of declaring it over shortly after they brought the tarp out was WICKED stupid.

–NESN had Jim Rice in the studio today (in addition to the anchor, Tom Caron, they rotate Rice, Dennis Eckersley, and Peter Gammons). Obviously they cut to studio when the game went into a delay. Caron was talking about how they couldn’t continue to play with standing water on the infield because it was bad for the infielders. Rice went off on this rant about the fact that nobody thinks of the outfielders! Always the infielders! And back in his day, they only got one pair of shoes, so playing in puddles was the worst! Nowadays these guys get 15+ pairs of shoes and it’s no big deal!

ALSO WE WALKED TO THE STADIUM UPHILL BOTH WAYS, AND UNDER ARMOUR HADN’T BEEN INVENTED YET, AND WE DIDN’T HAVE ALL THESE SCI FI BULL-NUTS HORMONES TO SHOOT INTO OUR BUTTCHEEKS, OK.

–They played more of the Heidi/Cabrera interview, since they had to fill airtime with the delay. Heidi said something like, “You know it’s a close clubhouse when the other guys are all right here watching you.” The camera, which had been focused on Heidi and Miggy, panned out to show Joaquin Benoit and some other guys standing there, hovering around the interview. Miggy said he didn’t think they were there for him, they don’t even say hi to him, they were probably there to look at Heidi.

Papa Grande suddenly appeared on the bench next to Cabrera, all staring pop-eyed at him right over his shoulder. Miggy started laughing, saying, “Papa Grande, Potato Grande, Big Papa!” like he was trying to introduce him to Heidi but could only get out variations on his nickname. Heidi just looked confused. Valverde laughed and shot off the bench as quickly as he had appeared on it, sprinting away onto the field.

Then they panned out again and everyone had fled except for Leyland, who was silently observing the interview with his ominous sunglasses on. Miggy, unprompted, said something about Leyland being one of the greatest men he’s ever worked with. Heidi said, “You had to say that, he’s standing right there.”

Miggy started laughing again and said, “I have to say that! He writes the lineup!” Everyone else cracked up. Fin.

–This has nothing to do with the Tigers, but here’s a photo of Ndamukong Suh in Paris without a shirt on. You’re welcome (or something).

so much for Boston


Toy Beckett vs. Toy Verlander by Samara Pearlstein

I wanted to get this written last night, but I fell asleep. So… whatever. Thoughts on yesterday’s game and a series that was at least one game too short, or two games too long, depending on how you look at it.

–I have no idea how obvious this was on TV, but it was COLD and WET again. It started out slightly better than the Wednesday game, but the mist returned towards the middle innings and it was unpleasant thereafter. Somehow it was warmer out on the street than it was in the ballpark.

–No BP, but Little Papi and Little Victor were out playing catch again. This time they were joined by Little Okajima. The Ortiz kid kept telling Little Victor to give him higher throws to field, and Little Victor obliged him with higher and higher tosses. At one point Jose Iglesias, who at 21 is the youngest current member of the Red Sox, came out to play with them. I hate to be all waaaahhhhh so adorable but seriously, you guys, it was stinkin’ adorable.

–It was Brandon Inge’s birthday. He turned 34.

We tried to take advantage of this by yelling, “Go Brandon! It’s your birthday!” when he came up to bat, but the results were not as spectacular as one would have hoped.

–Leaving the bases loaded. This is a Thing now, and I do not like it.

–There was a period of time, around the 3rd-5th innings, where it suddenly became The JD Drew Show. He was responsible for six of the nine Tigers outs in those innings, and he hit a solo home run in the midst of Justin Verlander domination. I promise you that this was as shocking to Red Sox fans as it must have been to the Tigers.

–Victor Martinez was cheered again, at least for his first at-bat of the game.

–Justin Verlander was a beautiful pitching beast. I didn’t have any problem with the home runs (although balls were not flying well in the cold, mist-filled air, and I’m sure some of the power that allowed them to go out was Verlander’s), and he was relatively efficient (114 pitches through 8). The run that he gave up in the second inning was not my favorite, but since the Tigers had done similar things to Josh Beckett in the top of the inning, it wasn’t so terrible to see. He completely shut down the top of the Red Sox order and he was throwing around strikeouts like so much K-shaped confetti. Good stuff.

–I want to blame the bullpen, but as soon as Al Alburquerque loaded the bases, I felt there was no way the Tigers were getting out of the game. I was PRETTY sure of this after Ortiz singled and Iglesias (who had pinch run for Youkilis) went from first to third with nobody out. Then they intentionally walked Drew to load the bases… still with nobody out… and it became a near-certainty. The crowd was on its collective feet, screaming its collective head off, filled with a lust for walkoff wins and a furious Bostonian desire to not be subjected to extra innings on a freezing cold night.

And AlAl was supposed to be able to get himself out of that situation? Really? REALLY, JIM LEYLAND? The fact that Iglesias was not the one who scored the winning run was a freak of fielding; even after he’d been tagged out at home, I still thought the game was out of hand. And it was. Ho hum.

–My seatmate, a Red Sox and Brewers fan, declared that Andy Dirks was her Tiger (in the WHO’S YOUR TIGER? sense). She was tempted by Verlander but she is not allowed to have pitchers as her favorite players, because it tends to end badly for them (ex: Chris Capuano).

–Andy Dirks got his first career RBI, and I was there to see it. FEAST UPON THAT.

–Justin Verlander pitching to Jason Varitek: JV vs JV.

–Speaking of Varitek, having watched the Varitek/Saltalamacchia tandem this season is making me appreciate the heck out of Alex Avila.

–The Avila=catcher, VMart=DH thing has led to a weird situation, though. When the catcher is delayed getting his gear on, it’s usually the backup catcher that day who warms up the pitcher between innings. But Victor is the DH, so he can’t go out there and do warmups. I have seen teams use a coach for pitcher warmup duty under similar circumstances, but the Tigers have been making Don Kelly do it. We were treated to multiple Don-Kelly-as-catcher scenes last night, which was funny because

a) as my seatmate pointed out, he is not really built like a catcher, and
b) he likes to run out to the plate and back to the dugout with his hockey-helmet-style catcher’s mask on. He doesn’t take it off or flip it up, he just runs with his head fully encased. I am guessing that it makes him feel like Iron Man.

–I don’t know if I’m glad the Tigers only had to play two in Boston, or if I’m mad that they don’t get a chance to scrape at least one game from the series. For what it’s worth, the sun is out right now and Jon Lester (near-5.00 ERA so far in the month of May) is starting tonight. I know that I am annoyed that I was deprived of all Tigers batting practice.

Brandon Inge signed my sketchbook


illustration by Samara Pearlstein, autograph by BRANDON INGE

Brandon Inge signed my sketchbook. This is a real actual thing that actually happened in the real world.

As some of you may already know, I don’t really do the whole autograph hunt bit. I REALLY don’t like bugging the players, or (for instance) fighting with little kids for prime positioning after BP or whatever. This is a small part of why I like taking photos: you get something that is as personal as an autograph, in the sense that it’s unique to you and the ballplayer, but you don’t have to bother them. Heck, they don’t even have to look directly at you.

But TODAY.

I got to the ballpark early, knowing full well that there would be no BP, but figuring that if worst came to worst I could just chill out in the seats and draw (I knew ahead of time our seats were under cover). So I got into the concourse right after the gates opened. There’s a small roped-off area near the entrance I use for these seats; sometimes player family members and whatnot are standing in there. Today, as I came in, Brandon Inge was standing there, being interviewed by Ryan Field. There were two or three fans watching this.

Naturally enough I hastily got out my camera, figuring I would take a few pictures since I was MERE FEET away from Brandon Inge. This I did. The interview ended, and one of the few fans watching came up to ask Inge to sign her jersey (a Verlander jersey, if I recall correctly). There were no small children around, there was no huge press of people, and Inge didn’t seem like he was in a terrible hurry, probably because there would be no regular BP.

HOLY CATS, thinks I, I can totally get something signed. Do I have anything he can sign? Oh yeah only THIS ENTIRE SKETCHBOOK.

It just so happened that at my last Sox game, I had some downtime before my seat buddy arrived and had used that time to start drawing the seat view. So I had a mostly-completed drawing of Fenway, with all this empty space on the infield because I hadn’t finished filling in the grass yet. IT’S BASEBALL-RELATED, IT’S PERFECT. It would have been better if it was a Tigers drawing, and not a wonky sketch of Fenway Park, but whatever.

So, yeah. He signed it. I did not behave in an embarrassing fashion, although my screamingly orange hat was probably embarrassing enough on its own. I MAY or MAY NOT have fired off some capslock text messages shortly after this occurred, but I think you will all agree that is a very restrained reaction.

Then Dave Dombrowski walked by and said, “Hi Brandon!” and even though he was not wearing a striped shirt, the moment was still full of magic and spectacular hair.

THEN I went outside and looked at the tarp and sighed sadly, but my sadness was transformed into wonder because LITTLE VICTOR WAS ON THE FIELD and he was in FULL UNIFORM. And it got even better, because Little Victor was out there playing catch. With LITTLE PAPI. Who was ALSO in full uniform! And Little Papi was wearing the home whites, while Little Victor had on his appropriate Tigers away uni. They played normal catch for a bit, then Little Victor went down into a CATCHER’S CROUCH and it was just too much. I don’t even particularly like small children, but this was so adorable that it was almost painful. I do have photos, but you are going to have to wait because I am so backed up on processing etc.

Mark Schlereth was on the field before the game and he kept making various other Tigers take photos of him with Daniel around the park. Like, hey, Mark and Daniel standing on the infield! Mark and Daniel standing in front of the Monster! DON KELLY HOLD THIS CAMERA. Wonderful. At one point Brad Penny came over and led them into the Monster, because Brad Penny was on the Sox, however briefly, and I guess he’s allowed.

What of the game itself? Well, let us put it this way: given the weather, and the pitching matchup, this could have gone far, far worse than it did. I was expecting all sorts of unpleasantness. Brutally long rain delays, Phil Coke meltdowns, people being mean to Victor, etc.

None of that happened! We had one rain delay, but it was brief, and it wasn’t even that bad for me personally because I was under cover (we did get heavily misted all game long, and it was cold, but being under cover meant that we didn’t get soaked during the one downpour). Phil Coke went toe-to-toe with Clay Buchholz and pitched not just well, but EXTREMELY well. We kept just shaking our heads and laughing, because of course tomorrow’s game is supposed to be a Verlander/Beckett match, and that should be the great pitching duel… but we got a great pitching duel TONIGHT.

Phil Coke gave up zero runs in 7 innings. Phil Coke! Phil Coke did this very thing! He threw only 78 pitches in his 7 innings, which is probably the most efficient a Tigers pitcher has been this year. He allowed only three hits (all singles), and only issued one walk. All this occurred on a cold, rainy, windy night, where the mound could not have been in great shape, the visibility was awful even over relatively short distances, and the ball probably felt like a slippery lump of granite. Phil Coke goes out in that and dominates. Scintillating, dazzling, again with the magic.

And Victor got a great big cheer his first time up to the plate. ALL AS IT SHOULD BE, even though the Tigers ultimately lost.

The Red Sox are still in love with Victor Martinez.


photo by Samara Pearlstein

This post is going to be a mess because I am basically just melting into the internet with the blinding power of my love for Victor Martinez, and melting does not lend itself well to molecular cohesion, or writing cohesion.

Oh my GOODNESS, the love that the Red Sox have for the Martinez family. First, before today’s game, there was this blurb in the Boston Globe:

Francona also had a great relationship with Martinez’s son, 6-year-old Victor Jose. The younger Martinez had the run of the clubhouse last year and Francona often pitched rolled up socks to him.
Peter Abraham/Boston Globe

During the game, the radio guys mentioned how much Francona liked Victor, and how much all the Red Sox had enjoyed having him around. After the game, Jason Beck put this puppy up:

Sure, Red Sox manager Terry Francona would’ve liked to have kept Victor Martinez in Boston. But he would’ve gladly kept his slugging son, too.

“We’re trying to make a move today,” Francona jokingly announced. “We’re trying to acquire Victor Jose [Martinez]. They’ve asked for [Carl] Crawford, but we’re holding out for a little less.”

Replacing the younger Martinez’s presence might be tough, though.

“I think he’s officially the cutest kid in the American League,” Francona said.
Jason Beck/DetroitTigers.com

To put this into even more context for you, let us recall that Roar of the Tigers was in Cleveland when Victor Martinez was traded from the RLs to the Red Sox. I was listening to sports radio immediately after the trade, while on a longish drive from Cleveland to beautiful Niles, OH (note: not actually beautiful). They put on Victor’s exit interview, where he sounded like he was crying in front of the reporters.

In this interview he said that he had tried to explain things to his son, Victor Jose, who was nearly five years old at the time and had known nothing but Cleveland baseball in all his young life. Little Victor had come up to him that very day and anxiously uttered, in his adorable little piping nearly-five-years-old voice, these immortal words: “Daddy, are we still an Indian?”

So Victor is crying, the reporters are probably crying, people calling into the radio stations are crying and threatening to drive their trucks off the road in anguish (fact), Little Victor is undoubtedly somewhere crying, and why? BECAUSE VICTOR MARTINEZ IS LOVE. He is adorable, his family is adorable, everyone loves his family and everyone loves him.

Maybe it was just Cleveland, desperately in love with one of the few viable signs of hope their team had left at the time? NO. Because THE EXACT SAME THINGS happened in Boston! EVERYONE LOVES VICTOR. Everyone loves Little Victor! THERE IS TOO MUCH LOVE, IT CANNOT BE CONTAINED. THERE MUST BE HUGS. HUGS FOR ALL. HUGS FOREVER.

So.

I listened to the webcast of the game today, which was just like a radio broadcast because it was Dan Dickerson and Jim Price and there were Detroit-local ads and things between innings, but it wasn’t a radio broadcast, because it was only available on the internet. It went well. The mics were picking up too much crowd noise, I think, but I don’t know what kind of set-up is normal for spring training games and there probably wasn’t anything they could do about it. The ads were awful but when you have Yanni, Thin Lizzy, Rod Stewart/Stevie Nicks, and Celtic Woman: Songs From the Heart shows to advertise, it’s just not going to be good and there’s not much you can do about it.

It didn’t randomly cut out at any point in the middle of the broadcast and really that is all I can ask for when it comes to MLB internet broadcasts.

THINGS THE RADIO GUYS SAID but don’t ask me if it was Dickerson or Price because I forgot to note that down.

— “When I try to do too much, I don’t do too much.” What Magglio told them about pressing at the plate.

— “You make your bed, you have to lie in it. But he can change the covers on that bed very easily.” On Justin Verlander’s bad Aprils and the fact that he has to hear a bunch of questions about bad Aprils as a result.

— “They are good-looking and bright, but they do mess up on occasion!” On young Tigers.

— “I’ve gotta talk to him about that, because there are books you can read during the day.” On Clete Thomas’ complaint that he learned more than he ever wanted to know about daytime TV programs while rehabbing from his busted knee.

— “Nothing the trainer can do except come out and offer moral support.” After Max St. Pierre got hit in the replicators.

The Tigers lost in 10 innings, in front of a record crowd of over 10,000 people at Joker Marchant, but it was hard to be too upset. Miggy homered, most the pitchers looked good (including Verlander), and there was just too much Victor-love in the air to hold onto any upsetting emotions.