Category Archives: Valverde

All Star Tigers and other cartoons.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Your 2013 All Star Tigers starters: Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Miguel Cabrera. Let’s talk about this trio, just all the sexy baseball-playin’ ability a person can imagine inside their brain and outside their brain in the statistic-gathering websites. And by ‘let’s talk about’ this I mean ‘well uh you can look at that picture which also you can click for bigger.’ Why are they standing in a star-shaped light-filled pit? Because ALL STAR GAME. Let us be clear: if I had access to these three, and also had access to a star-shaped light-filled pit, and Sports Illustrated was asking me to do an All Star Game photoshoot, this is totally the photoshoot that I would do. Sadly for you, me, and the universe, this will never come to pass, so it shall remain a scenario that can only exist in drawn form.

You know what is even more exciting than the fact that the Tigers have 3 starters in the All Star Game? You probably already do know because I am making this post pretty late in the game, but it is the fact that the Tigers actually have SIX players in the All Star Game. SIX.

Jhonny Peralta, Torii Hunter, and Prince Fielder: ladies and gentlecats, your reserves, which can also be clicked for bigger:

Why are they riding star-shaped flying surf boards? BECAUSE ALL STAR GAME.

Now I just have an assortment of cartoons sitting around, because due to External Circumstances it has taken me forever to scan and color things. I could try to integrate them gracefully into this post but like the SI photoshoot it is just not going to happen. We will all have our disappointments on this day.

That thing happened where the Tigers gave Toronto a very special present on Canada Day, because Paws is nothing if not a charitable cat. Look, foreign policy is touchy for the United States on many fronts nowadays; it was important for the Tigers to do their bit for international relations.

Hey remember that time when Jose Valverde was lol ok nope me neither nevermind.

Max Scherzer is 13-0, amazing the greater baseball community and possibly also Max himself. Obviously he has been gazing at things with the blue eye, as we all know that is how that works.

“Spotlight on Drew Smyly.”

Is Victor Martinez finally pulling up his woeful very low no good BABIP? Statistics says: at some point, almost certainly!

In Matt Tuiasosopo do we have the new Magglio Ordonez? No. But in terms of hair… still no, but he may well be the closest thing we’ve got right now, and that deserves remark. More than that: it deserves commendation. The time of Magglio’s hair was a magical time for us as Tigers fans and as human beings. If even a fraction of that former glory can be recaptured, we will owe Mr. Tuiasosopo a shampoo of thanks.

I can’t help it. Joaquin Benoit is up for the Final Man Vote for the All Star Game, which he will inevitably lose because a Yankee and a Red Sock are also in the running, but in any event the Tigers have been using the hashtag #BackBenoit on the Twitters to try to drum up a voting campaign for him, or something. Every time I see it, this is what I think.

Back that thang up, Joaquin. Go Tigers.

What do you do with a Potato?


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

As Jose Valverde prepared to enter the game on Friday night, a Tweet rang out on the internet:

Leyland is going to put the Potato right back on the horse. —Stareagle

And so it was.

papa/grande


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

ladies, gents, cats and kittens. i am in the (seemingy never-ending) midst of grad school finals, graduating students’ thesis shows, and a worrying little amount of sleep. i am exhausted. there are 50-50 odds that i will faceplant into the keyboard before the end of this very short blog post.

but i cannot let this slide by without even a hasty, inadequate drawing.

because PAPA GRANDE is back. he is back and he got the save. he is back, he got the save, and tonight he was sporting a TWO-TONE SPLIT GOATEE. this facial hair confection was black on one side and bleach blonde on the other, split evenly right down the middle, as in the cartoon.

i invite you to think long and hard on this new development, because there was only a tiny bit of my mind left to take in the world right now, and this may have snapped it off.

What’s a win without a Potato?


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Post-2006, it’s especially good to beat the Cardinals. Any time Justin Verlander takes the mound, it is especially good to win (to do otherwise is, of course, downright wasteful). Multiple Tigers had multiple hits in this game. Runs were scored. Justin did that thing where he toodles along for a while, then gets super mad after he puts some dudes on base and reacts by throwing pitches at 10,000 miles per hour, all breaking the sound barrier and causing Rafael Furcal to wet himself and so on. All to the good.

But in the 8th, warming up in the bullpen, Papa Grande threw a pitch that his wrist did not like. He tried to keep throwing and was unable to do so. He immediately had an X-ray and was going to get an MRI. Nobody is crying ULTIMATE DOOM just yet– the current ‘official’ injury is simply the aspecific ‘sore wrist’– but obviously this is worrying and bad and disturbing and concerning and

YOU GUYS, YOU KNOW WHO ELSE HURT HIS ARM JUST THROWING IN THE BULLPEN? Yeah. Yeah, you do know. And you tremble in your computer chair at that unwelcome memory.

Join me in desperately hoping that this is a whole lot of nothing. For your sanity, and mine.

of spitballs and other things


illustrations and photos by Samara Pearlstein

Holy cats you guys, Papa Grande might be throwing a spitball! Or maybe he isn’t! Or maybe he is but it doesn’t matter because everyone is doing that, or something even more sinister! Or maybe he’s the worst cheater this side of Roger Clemens’ left buttcheek!

To me, it sure looks like he’s spitting into his glove in that video linked above (if it’s still up), but I’m not so sure that I particularly care. I suppose I have been assuming that this– or something similar– is a tactic used by, if not every pitcher, at least some number of pitchers on every team, thus leaving us with a more or less level spit-slicked playing field. Perhaps I am simply being a homer about this, because it’s Papa Grande and I adore his crazy eyes and his crazy goggles and his crazy dances and his lawn sprinkler pre-pitch routine and his high socks and his potato-shaped body, and if this was a discussion surrounding Chris Perez or somesuch I would be less sanguine about it.

Here is a true fact: if we accept that, given the high stakes assigned to it (financial if nothing else), there will always be some sort of cheating in baseball, I would much rather see that cheating revolve around mechanical doctoring of the baseball by pitchers, as opposed to biochemical doctoring of the players themselves. You can argue about the level of dishonesty involved in each variety of deceit, but only one is likely to end with high school kids landing in the hospital, veteran players with sudden tendon explosions, and/or the zombie apocalypse– and it ain’t the spitball.

Did you get a good look at the blister that curtailed Drew Smyly’s last start? Holy cats. That wasn’t a small affair; we’re talkin’ about a massive blood-filled hellbeast of pocketed fluid and Paws knows what else, camping out on Smyly’s finger like some sort of glowering, malignant parasitic squatter. Jim Leyland said it was “the worst one I’ve seen in my life“.

Don’t read the rest of that linked article if you’re squeamish, by the way. There’s one passage, with Smyly describing the hellbeast’s development, that definitely made me cringe a bit.

I don’t know what they do with this thing– lance it? Blast it with radiation? Exorcise it? In any event, it’ll be something to keep an eye on, as blisters tend to recur. I know this from my learnings and from living in a place where Josh Beckett is employed.

Remember when the Tigers got so fed up with Ryan Raburn’s complete inability to play the game of baseball, and the fans’ increasingly strident reactions to all things Raburnian, that they finally struck him from the roster and shipped him out to Purgatory/Toledo? In some ways, this was a victory: Raburn had seemed entrenched in Detroit for basically no good reason, and before you start in with me about Brandon Inge, at least Brandon Inge had a significant history with the team, and even if that’s a BAD reason to hang onto a dude, it is a real thing that you cannot fairly ignore. OK, SHUT UP.

In other ways, this was a move that failed to deliver its expected rewards. The team did not start winning immediately, the lineup did not suddenly start producing run after endless run, and the removal of one black hole of production served only to highlight the presence of others. Oh well.

We can still acknowledge the fact that Ryan Raburn is just, like, this basic bench-type dude who played sort of well for a couple of years, and has been real bad ever since. He’s batting .154 in Toledo right now, by the by. Brandon Inge meanwhile is batting .364 over the last week and has 26 RBIs, which is better than every single Tiger on the current roster not named Prince Fielder or Miguel Cabrera. I’m just sayin’.

Speaking of Prince and Miggy, have you seen their batting averages lately? The Super Best Friends are skipping right along together, and it is so beautiful to behold. SOMEHOW this has not translated into much winning of late, but if they keep this up, surely it will… it has to. HOLD FAST TO THIS BELIEF.

Unrelated to everything, but I was recently in Miami, and had a chance to take in the new ballpark. There is a great deal that could be written about it (and maybe I will at some point), but for now suffice to say that one of its features is a BOBBLEHEAD MUSEUM. It’s just standing there in the middle of the concourse, and some mechanism inside jiggles its shelves a little so that all the displayed bobbleheads do in fact bobble. It is spectacular.


A few of the Tigers bobbleheads, including the famous RotT Placido Polanco bobble.


Wrong uniform, but still a glorious bobblehead.


A completely terrifying Austin Jackson bobblehead. WHY IS IT LIKE THAT?


Ernie!

I have no good way to conclude this mess of a blog post, so here’s Prince Fielder in Boston, catching sight of the camera and being more adorable than puppies.

Hello to Quintin Berry, and other things.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

I am just not sure what to make of this team right now. It seems like every time I watch a game, they find some slightly different, equally exciting way to make a mess of things. The Justin Verlander almost-no-hitter? I was in a bar, watching the Red Sox/Phillies game. You see? My gaze is apparently poison. This does not bode particularly well for next week’s Tigers-in-Boston series, but we’ll shove Gerald Laird over that hurdle when the time comes.

Anyways, welcome to Quintin Berry, who made his Tigers debut and his big league debut at the same time. He also got his first hit out of the way, and it was special indeed: a bunt double. I’m sure every cat wants his first hit to be a home run, but this has got to be memorable. Let’s hear it for the aggregate fruit!

Papa Grande tight back woes? Papa Grande tight back woes.

Austin Jackson’s strained abdomen was supposed to be fine by now, but he was scratched from the lineup due to lingering ouchies. This is obviously Not Good, although I don’t think Quintin Berry is complaining too loudly.

Last bit: this happened about a week ago, but it’s still a good story. Will Rhymes got hit during a game, then passed out from the adrenaline response or somesuch. When he woke up and was asked some questions to determine his brainstate…

Yeah. He said he was Batman.

Come back to us, Will Rhymes? Please? Pretty pretty please??

more potato


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Will I ever get tired of drawing Jose Valverde as a potato? I think not.

Jason Beck is reporting that the Tigers have picked up Papa Grande’s $9 million option for next season. He will be the closer next year until he does something to negate that himself.

Why is this a good thing?

–52 for 52 in save situations
–positive clubhouse influence, especially when it comes to taking new cats under his wing
–despite the fact that he seems very much like a grizzled vet, he’s actually only going to be 34 in 2012
this face
–potatoes are delicious
–dancing and other exaggerated gestural performances

We all know about the fickle nature of relief pitchers, and dominance in one season is hardly a guarantee of dominance in the next. But Papa Grande was basically everything we could have wanted in a closer this year. It would have been totally insane to NOT pick up this option and make sure he’d be spending the entire winter snug and secure as a potato in a sea of melted butter and cheese.

Also, apparently Justin Verlander is the Sporting News MVP, and Verlander and Avila are both Sporting News All Stars. I totally do not care and am waiting for the real MVP award to be announced so I can complain about how meaningless THAT is (if Justin doesn’t win it, naturally), but it seemed to bear mention.

the wonders of autumn


all illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Are you ready for what we are about to experience, Tigers fans and Friends of the Cats? Are you READY? You know, 2006 was a long time ago. Ready or not, here we go. The first game of the postseason is tonight. Tomorrow is October. It is autumn, and the Tigers are wicked awesome.

The regular season ended, appropriately enough, with Jose Valverde’s 49th save. Do you know how many saves he blew in 2011? You’re a Tigers fan, of course you know, but just in case you’re a fan of some other random team who just happened across this site, I will tell you. Jose Valverde blew ZERO saves in 2011. Forty-nine consecutive saves. Forty-nine glorious dances.

What else happened as the regular season came to a close? Oh, well, you know. Just a little thing like

MIGUEL CABRERA WINNING THE BATTING TITLE because he is the best and he is ours, ours, all ours. His final batting average for the regular season? .344. Choke on THAT, every other hitter in the Majors!

So things ended on a high note, just as we would have wanted. The Detroit chess pieces are arrayed before us. Alex Avila, the sturdy and stolid rook. Cabrera, the dashing knight. Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, the wily bishops. Don Kelly, the manager’s favorite pawn. Who is the queen? Probably Papa Grande, and I mean that as a compliment. Justin Verlander, of course, is king of all he surveys. Why wasn’t this today’s cartoon? I thought of it just now, and I’m not near my scanner. Oh well.

THE POINT. Now we get to see the Tigers play chess with the Yankees, with Curtis Granderson (sadface forever). They will have to outwit them, overpower them, generally chess the heck out of ’em. I don’t know where I’m going with this anymore. PLAYOFFS. GO TIGERS!

Oh, and a very happy New Year to you all!

Justin Verlander gets his 100th win, Jose Valverde becomes Tigers consecutive save leader


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Clunky headline is clunky, but who cares? Justin Verlander has 100 wins! Jose Valverde, with his 33rd consecutive save, becomes the first Tiger to save that many in a row! The team is spared the ultimate indignity of being swept by the Racist Logos! Woo, yay, and hoopla!

In their postgame press conferences, both JVs pretended that they totally didn’t care. Valverde tried to act like he didn’t care much about his own accomplishment, only Verlander’s nice round win total. Verlander tried to act like it was no big deal, just another win among many wins, more important for the team as a whole to get the W, blah blah etc.

Of course they’re both terrible at pretending to not care. During Leyland’s presser, insane screaming and whooping could be heard in the background– this, naturally, was Papa Grande in full celebration mode. He had calmed down by the time John Keating got around to interviewing him, but we heard your war cry, Potato. You cannot hide your glee.

Verlander spent his entire interview standing in front of a locker where the Verlander nameplate had been replaced by a piece of paper that simply read 100, with a bucket of ice at his feet that had apparently held champagne. Sure, y’know, just another win in the clubhouse. No big deal.

On to Baltimore, where Brad Penny is being allowed to pitch at night! Let’s see if he relishes the opportunity to avoid baking in the relentless rays of cruel summer heat… or if he withers and perishes on the mound as he realizes that he is now unable to function without daylight, as his mitochondria have all changed over into chloroplasts and his energy is now derived from the sun.

the All Star Game is whatever


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Here’s how it went down, Tigers-wise.

Justin Verlander: Did not play, due to pitching the Sunday before the break.

Jose Valverde: Did not play, due to lack of opportunity/lack of a bottom of the 9th inning.

Alex Avila: Grounded out to short, grounded out to first, caught 5 innings, had 3 bases stolen while he was behind the plate, caught one guy off the bag.

Jhonny Peralta: Subbed in at shortstop in the 5th, popped out in his only at-bat.

Miguel Cabrera: Subbed in at first base in the 5th, grounded out in his only at-bat. He was removed in the 7th with ‘soreness’ in his ‘side’, i.e. IT’S HIS OBLIQUE WE’RE ALL DOOMED DOOMED DOOMED.

(Actually this appears to have been a small twinge and a precautionary removal. Miggy indicated that if it was a regular season game instead of the stupid All Star Game, he would have stayed in and played through it. Still, given the history between Tigers and obliques, I feel obligated to insert some panic into the discussion.)

Not the greatest Tigers All Star showing ever, but it’s hard to care. So long as everyone comes out of it happy and healthy (Miguel), and their kids had a good time, and they took their significant others out to a nice dinner or several, it’s ok. If they were talking up the wonders of playing in Detroit to future free agents in the clubhouse, so much the better.

Some other All Star stuff that’s in bulletpoints because I am far too apathetic about the ASG to put this into proper connected paragraph form:

–Prince Fielder’s kids, Haven and Jaden, were in attendance. They both have great hair. You can’t see it in that shot, but Haven, the one with the mohawk, has the old school Brewers logo shaved into the side of his head.

–Heath Bell charging across the outfield as fast as he could and then going into a slide on the infield when he entered the game as a relief pitcher was the Actual Gameplay highlight of the night.

–Justin Verlander is a workaholic and everyone loves it. He would have normally thrown his bullpen session on Tuesday, and he was not about to let a little something like the All Star Game get in the way of his routine. Josh Beckett was impressed.

“He threw a bullpen at the All-Star Game,” Red Sox All-Star Josh Beckett marveled, with a little bit of teasing, at the ace to his right in the clubhouse. “We’ll just call him Cy Young.”

Jason Beck/DetroitTigers.com

He asked Avila to catch it for him, but Alex laughed him off. I wonder who did catch it, though?

–During the Home Run Derby, there were several shots of D’Angelo Ortiz looking a little bit sulky and bored. It could be that he was tired; it could just be that All Star Games and HR Derbies are no big deal to him anymore… but I suspect he was missing Little Victor.

Papa Grande using expensive equipment.

Papa Grande holding a real big bat.

–Justin Verlander rented a private plane to take him to Arizona, because he is rich and fancy. Because he’s also a good teammate, he flew the other Tigers All Stars down with him. Because he’s a good person, he ALSO flew down the single lonely KC Royals representative, Aaron Crow, who didn’t even get into the game. The Royals are the ultimate Sadface.

But Justin Verlander, Midwest Baseball Transport, is not sadface at all.