Category Archives: Verlander

A worthy foe defeated.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Onwards to the ALCS.

ALDS Games 1 and 2

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

You all know this story already. The Tigers attempted to kill us all on Sunday. They played as ridiculous a game as they could possibly play. It came down to the very last at-bats of the very last inning. With one out and the bases loaded, the big cats already stashed safely on first and second, Don Kelly came up. And what did he do?

He did not hit a towering grand slam of a home run into the center field foliage. He did not ground into a double play. He did no more and no less than what he absolutely needed to do, which was simply hit a ball far enough to score the cat on third. Not flashy. Not dramatic. Just Don Kelly– just baseball.

Also this happened: for those two of you who somehow didn’t see it/haven’t heard about it yet, AlAl fielded a huge out, and kissed the ball before tossing it to first. Was it a little hot-dog-ish? Sure. Was it a little rude? Sure. Was it premeditated? Absolutely not. Was it hilarious and sort of endearing? You bet your tiger-striped tail it was.

I know the A’s are all surly about it, but quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Game 1 was nice too.

Now, given the way the Tigers played going into the postseason, I had low expectations. I honestly had a hard time envisioning them making it out of the first round. Yet here we are, up 2-0, needing to win just one more game out of the coming three. Of course, all three are in Oakland, and it is not at all out of the realm of possibility for the Tigers to completely muck that up, especially as Verlander and Mister Fister have already pitched, and as we all know, things get a bit thin behind them in the rotation. But this is already so much better than I had dared to dream.

I mean, Don Kelly, you guys. The Tigers are heading west in this best of all possible positions thanks to Don Kelly. Roll that one around in your mind for a while.

Down with the DY Stache, Up with the JV K

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Stop the rampant, wanton abuse of innocent baseball fan eyeballs. End the suffering of teammates, family, friends, unwary bystanders. Help raise awareness of this terrible blight upon Detroit and all who must play against them. Think of the kittens.

Take action against this unjustifiable crime. Speak up and out! Delmon Young, you need to stop whatever it is that you’re doing with that mustache right this very instant.

In happier news, this

was a thing that happened.

Run-on sentences on water and cats and things.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

–The umpires chose to end last night’s game in the 6th inning with the bases loaded and two outs for the Tigers, and Franklin Morales (middle relief) pitching for the Sox. The Tigers were down by 3 so the tying run was on first and the potential leading run was at the plate. And I mean YES it was pouring and had been raining steadily all game to that point and YES the Tigers had already stranded so many runners and had thus shown no particular ability or inclination to do anything with cats already on the bases and there was no real reason to believe that Omar Infante or anybody else would change the course of that trend there in the 6th because apparently the Tigers have Problems in Boston, be those problems park factors or mental issues or what-the-cat-ever, BUT

I am still calling this one CONSPIRACY. Because, you see, it HAD really been raining all game, and you wait until the Tigers have the bases loaded but are within scoring reach and the Sox are into their bullpen and THENNNNNN you call the game?!? ACCOUNT FOR THYSELVES, FOUL CONSPIRATORS OF BASE BALL ADJUDICATION.

–Josh Beckett left the game after 2.2 innings due to “back spasms,” but it looked like he was complaining about the mound before he went, soooo… who knows. The crowd certainly was not sympathetic, and booed the coprolites out of him as he left the field. Boston has about had it with all things Josh Beckett right now.

–So I mean there I was all expecting the game to take a serious Tigers turn because Beckett was out and Clayton Mortenson is totally just some dude named Clayton Mortenson and you would think– ALL LOGICAL AND CORRECT-MINDED PEOPLE WOULD THINK– that this would be a recipe for scrumptious Tigers success. But it was not. Flavorful run pies were not baked. I have no explanation for this behavior but I know that it needs to stop. Mama cat needs to EAT, boys!

–I guess that is the end of Justin Verlander’s Always 6 Innings or More Streak, but who cares.

–The trade deadline turned out to not be a big deal for the Tigers, which is fine, except for the fact that obviously the current formulation of the team is somewhat less-than-effective and maybe a shake-up would have helped that but I mean WHATEVER. OVER IT. I was at this game with a Phillies phan so that lent a little trade deadline perspective. There is a difference both quantitative and qualitative between the struggles of the Tigers and whatever it is the Phillies have been doing this season and we should probably all remember that.

–Seriously take a moment to proffer thanks to your personal deity, to the ghost of Hank Greenberg, to Paws, or whatever. We could be Kansas City. Or Colorado. Never 4get.

–What is the problem the Tigers have in Boston though. What is that. WHAT IS IT

Your 2012 All Star Tigers

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

There you have it, your 2012 All Star Tigers: Prince Fielder starting at first base, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander on the roster. You can make arguments for the inclusion of Austin Jackson and/or Joaquin Benoit, but as they are not on the Final Man Voting ballot, barring injury or other player dropout, it ain’t gonna happen. There shall be three Tigers and three Tigers is what there shall be.

Last year I think we all– myself included– got a bit riled up about the ASG, due to the potential injustice of Alex Avila not going, even though he had the most unquenchable beard in all the Major Leagues and was also playing like a dude who is good at baseball. Of course 2009 was exciting on account of THE BRANDON INGE FACTOR, yes, I know, shut up, I still wear my 2009 American League Brandon Inge All Star Game jersey with pride. So there. This year I am back to my usual state of excit-apathy for all things All Star.

I know it means something to the players, but really, it’s meaningless. We’ve been over this before, and you’re all smart cats, you know as well as I do that it’s a popularity contest only partially (some would say barely) contingent upon actual performance and numbers. We may speak of Injustice when Awesome Player X doesn’t make the team, but what possible meaning can Justice have for something so devoid of rational rule and law as the MLB All Star voting process?

The fact that something as potentially important as World Series home field advantage rides on the All Star Game does not mitigate my vexation; in fact, it only makes things worse. Something as totally vapid and pointless as the All Star Game is determining World Series home field advantage, you guys. That’s not something that should make you happy, that’s something that should terrify and/or infuriate you, depending on how invested you are in the outcome of the World Series.

ANYWAYS. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera can do their weird little handshake thing on a national stage, maybe. Justin Verlander can throw a few baseballs very fast, maybe. Prince might do the Home Run Derby, because that never screws up a dude’s swing for the second half or anything. Nobody will get hurt, or Paws will have to stab Ron Washington in the spleen. It’s not that he wants to do it, Mr. Washington. It’s just that if a Tiger gets hurt on your watch, he must. It is in his job description.

It is a pointless game, but life itself is pointless when you get right on down to it, so, whatever. Will I watch it? Probably yes. It may need to be in some environment where I can’t hear the announcing, which is usually what drives me over the edge from mild tolerance to a real This Is The Worst Thing Ever What Has Become of My Life existential crisis, but yeah, I am what I am, I will probably watch the bloody thing.

ANYWAYS ANYWAYS. Apologies for the long silence between posts; I was in Pittsburgh for the Tigers series, and really wanted the next post to be the photo roundup from that trip. Happily/unfortunately, I took approximately 10,000 photos, and going through them while still dealing with work, class, and Studio Absurdity is taking a really long time. So… yeah, those will be up soon, hopefully. There’s some good stuff you lot need to see.


How great were those Tigers throwbacks in Tampa? How great would it have been to be a Tigers cartoonist back when they were wearing those things? WICKED GREAT.

I Survived Justin Verlander’s 4/16/12 Start and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog Post.

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

You know how sometimes your brain stops processing things normally? So instead of thinking about something in words, or in images, or in coherent sounds, there’s just this amorphous screaming, bouncing off the interior walls of your skull– you know?

That was me, in the 9th inning of last night’s game. That was all of us.

If you missed it, I guess you need some context. HERE IS YOUR CONTEXT.

–Bottom of the 9th, Tigers leading 3-1. Justin Verlander in, having already thrown 104 pitches over the previous 8 innings.
–Billy Butler singled. 108 pitches.
–Jeff Francoeur grounded out, moving the runner over to second. 111 pitches.
–Mike Moustakas grounded out, moving the runner to third. 115 pitches.
–Humberto Quintero singled in the runner. 3-2 Tigers. 120 pitches. DEEP BREATH.
–Mitch Maier walked. Quintero to second. 125 pitches. DEEP BREATH, DEEP BREATH.

At this point Jim Leyland went out to the mound to pull Verlander. Papa Grande was ready to go, JV was at 125 freakin’ pitches. Surely that meant it was time to… no, no, Leyland was just gathering the infield and talking to Verlander and LEAVING HIM IN THE GAME.

We did not find this out until after the fact, but apparently one of the things Leyland said to Verlander on the mound, as he was leaving him in to end it all one way or another, was, “You’re going to get me fired.”

In any event, this is where my brain started screaming.

–Alcides Escobar was hit by a pitch. It was a 98mph fastball and it got him in the wrist. Of course he went down like a sack of Royal blue potatoes and had to roll around in agony for a bit. 126 pitches, oh, and the bases were at this point loaded.

–Alex Gordon came in and got AngryVerlander. The first pitch he faced (#127) was 100mph. So was the next one. And the third. The fourth pitch was a changeup that went in for a called strike, because what in the hell are you supposed to do with an 88mph changeup when you’ve just stared in at three 100mph screamers and your teammate has just been wounded by a similar beast?

The last pitch that Verlander threw, pitch number 131, was 100mph. It was a called strike. Gordon was out, the Royals left the bases loaded, and the Tigers won the game.


How is this a normal way to handle an April game against the Royals? Obviously the Tigers are taking every game seriously. Obviously Leyland has a great deal of faith in Justin Verlander. Obviously Verlander’s arm can take more abuse than logic, science, and sanity would normally dictate. Obviously Justin Verlander gets angry when he feels like he’s losing control of the game, and when Justin Verlander gets angry, velocity results.

This was still a completely deranged way to end the game. One hundred and thirty-one pitches! Four of the last five at 100 miles per hour! Justin Verlander taken to the brink by the Kansas City Royals!

I just don’t know, guys. I can’t take many more like that right now. I need the offense to step it up early tonight, and for Drew Smyly to keep a lid on KC. Please, cats. Please.

super best friends

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

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.

Justin Verlander. Everything about Justin Verlander.

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??

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.

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!)

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

More Justin Verlander than you can shake a bat at.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Justin Verlander was running a contest on Twitter. If you’re on Twitter you undoubtedly already saw it; if you aren’t on Twitter, it doesn’t matter because it is not important. The important thing is the fact that it led to a bunch of stupid/ridiculous drawings of Justin Verlander. I have posted them here for you, non-Tweeting viewer and/or viewer who missed some of these things because they are not glued to their feed at all hours of the day and night.

Yeah, man. Unicorn.

the latest incarnation of Justin Verlander

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

There’s a new commercial out for that baseball video game. Justin Verlander is in it. He compares himself to a ninja riding a cheetah.

How they can introduce that image without introducing any accompanying visuals is beyond my understanding. So here you are, the very important cartoon that fills in that tragic, terribly significant gap.

Justin Verlander was on Conan.

illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Don Kelly got on Conan too, indirectly. Here’s how it all went down:

Justin Verlander on Conan, on this tragically baseball-less date of January 11, 2012

–The last time I watched a TV show that I never watch specifically for a baseball player was when Curtis Granderson was on the Martha Stewart show. Hopefully this will be a more rewarding experience. It can’t be worse. Right?

–How does Conan’s hair stay like that? It must take a lot of work, and product. I wonder what it looks like when he wakes up in the morning, you know?

–Look at that metallic swiss cheese screen thing on the side of the set. Is that a custom job, or can you buy it from Design Within Reach or something? I bet it’s a custom job. Also you would need specific lighting for it. You can’t just light that with overheads and expect it to look good.

–Andy Richter’s tie is much nicer than Conan’s.

–How great would it be if Andy Richter was related to Gerhard Richter? How great would it be if instead of Andy Richter, we had Gerhard Richter here, right now, on this TV show, about to be in the same room as Justin Verlander?

Imagine that, kids. Imagine it. Visualize it. Greatness.

–I really, really, really do not care about this monologue thing. Why is it still happening? Why is the crowd laughing? Are they being prompted? Where is Justin Verlander?

–Some comedian, doing a bit on youth basketball. I guess it’s cute, or whatever. Levels of Not Care… rising. All of this is just taking time away from time that could be more fruitfully spent looking at Justin Verlander.

–BENEFUL HEALTHY FIESTA. Feed yer dog avocado!

–Some actor from some other show that I don’t watch. Someone else who is not Justin Verlander. HA HA IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE HE HAS A SOUTHERN ACCENT AND DOESN’T KNOW WHAT ‘VINDICATED’ MEANS, HA HA, HUMOROUS. JOKES. JOKES. Something something something southern accent something something. Jokes!!

–Oh now we get an ad for the Bachelorette for southern people. This is why I don’t watch these channels. Why is this a thing? Why is everything southern tonight?

–JUSTIN VERLANDER MVP MVP MVP MVP oh about time, thanks Conan.

–He is wearing a dark charcoal (?) suit* with subtle pinstripes, white shirt with pinstripes of some inoffensive color, bright brown shoes, looks like the lining of his jacket is also bright brown. Pocket square, no tie. There is a brown stick of fabric on his lapel that drives me completely crazy until someone on the Twitters says that it’s a thing that some menswear labels do, I guess just to drive me crazy.

–He keeps rubbing the fingers of his left hand together. Is this a nervous habit? I’m trying to remember if I’ve seen him do it before and I can’t, but that doesn’t mean anything. Oh man DON’T BE NERVOUS JUSTIN, YOU’VE THROWN NO-HITTERS.

–Justin Verlander eats Taco Bell before every start. He gets three crunchy supreme tacos, no tomato. He gets a cheesy gordita crunch. He gets a Mexican pizza, no tomato. I too dislike tomato, so I can only conclude that Justin Verlander and I are soulmates.

–Now they discuss THE HOT FOOT. Justin credits Bert Blyleven for the inspiration, both in general and specifically because they were in Minnesota at the time. He details some of the logistics of the Don Kelly hot foot, which was not like the hot feet of the past, executed with a simple match. No, this hot foot was modern and made use of modern medical science.

Justin took some athletic tape, and doused it in tape remover, which is apparently very flammable. He then chewing-gummed it to Kelly’s cleat, and set it aflame. He admits to being concerned that he would ‘blow up the dugout’ if it had not been brought under control quickly, but when asked if he’ll keep doing this sort of thing, he answered in the hearty affirmative without hesitation.

–Talkin’ ’bout that video game or whatever. The early version, after his ’06 season, did not have him throwing hard enough, and Justin was upset about that. He is of course on the cover of the newest version, and approves because, “It’s me, I look great.” (We all agree, Justin. We all agree.)

–His shoes are the EXACT same shade of brown as the Conan desk.

—-Oh wow, do you think he feeds his dog that Beneful Fiesta stuff? It seems to be the Taco Bell of dog food, so…

–There are some other things, like a tragically unfunny comedian talking about how black people sure do name their kids some weird things, huh? and some more weird commercials, like (what I think is) Kelly Clarkson and Chris Berman singing in a car together, oh Paws what is this, why am I watching this? But, aside from a goodbye wave at the very end, that’s it for Justin Verlander.

–Nooo Justin Verlander, don’t go away, come back and talk to us about baseball things!

–You know, at least I feel like I learned things from the Martha Stewart ep.

*edit: There was enough outcry about this suit to prompt a response from Justin. He took to Twitter to reassure us all that it was in fact a navy blue suit with brown accents.

HOWEVER. I will say this. Even when I thought the suit might be dark gray (and I noted that I was uncertain about this at the time, because it was difficult to tell on the TV), I was ok with it and those brown shoes. I know people hear black and brown and think they must scream in horror, but when the brown is that bright, I think it’s fine. It’s the dark, desaturated browns that you want to avoid with black.