Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I meant to post yesterday, but I didn’t, and this morning’s news would seem to indicate that I am now being punished for my procrastination, cuz really, I do NOT want to have to analyze this. In fact, just the thought of having to analyze it is rather overwhelming. However, I will let you know one thing upfront: It takes a LOT for me to get ramped up emotionally to the point where I let it show on the blog. And this Sheffield situation…well, it ain’t enough to do that. So if I sound nonchalant, well, there you go. I suppose I should start with yesterday’s acquisition of Josh Anderson. It seemed a little odd that Dave Dombrowski’s solution for the problem of too many outfielders was to get another outfielder, but I suppose that with Matt Joyce having been traded away, it brings the Tigers back to the number that they started the offseason with. By evening, the discussion centered around Thames/Larish, and judging by Jason Beck’s tone on his blog post last night, he seemed to be expecting Thames to be released today. Meanwhile, I know the whole thing about the Tigers being too right-handed, but I still prefer Thames over Larish at this point (despite the massive Jeff Larish lovefest that seems to be going on down in Florida). It was quite a dilemma. However, I had forgotten one of the cardinal rules of being a GM: There’s always a third option. From my standpoint, well, I don’t condemn the move, nor do I celebrate it. It’s unfortunate that the Tigers only really got about 3 good months out of Sheffield, largely due to circumstances out of their control. I had the greed factor playing in there too. No one has hit their 500th home run as a Tiger, and now it looks as though we’re stuck hoping that Miguel Cabrera stays around in Detroit long enough to get there. The stolen bases were a nice contribution, too, though I suppose Josh Anderson’ll help that number stay right around where it was. There’s one more thing that bothers me. If the Tigers had gotten to the point where they were obviously willing to eat the entire $14 million contract, you’d think they’d be able to work out a trade with somebody. I know the Rangers were interested earlier in the offseason, but at the time, the Tigers wanted them to take on his salary, and that’s why no trade happened (I also know that the Rangers are not interested anymore, but that’s beside the point). And right now, Sheffield’s being pretty diplomatic about it, but I know there’ll come a time when he’ll start badmouthing the Tigers just as he did the Yankees. I don’t hold that against him, cuz that just seems to be what he does. But at the same time, I know that when it DOES happen, it’s not gonna be much fun either. At any rate, the Tigers are planning on keeping the DH spot open, which is actually what I thought they should do in 2010 once Sheffield became a free agent (though Marcus Thames will probably get the majority of at-bats in that spot, unless Guillen really doesn’t take to the outfield).
And now, for injuries. Joel Zumaya going on the DL shouldn’t come as a surprise at all, and really, neither should Jeremy Bonderman. But I suppose I need to talk about Dontrelle Willis. There’s a lot of conspiracy theories spinning (which you might expect) about how blood tests don’t diagnose anxiety disorders. And they don’t. But a blood test could detect a hormonal or chemical imbalance that may lead to a diagnosis of anxiety disorder upon further psychological testing (in the case of anxiety disorder, the main chemicals involved are usually norepinephrine, serotonin, or dopamine). I would think that faking something like that would get the Tigers in trouble with either the players’ union or the Commissioner’s office. Besides, if they were gonna make something up, they probably wouldn’t get that creative. They’d probably say he had a dead arm or something. As a pharmacy student, my classes touched on diagnostics a little bit, but our main focus was on treatment. Without digging up my notes, I can tell you that anxiety disorder is usually treated with benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium, although occasionally they will use an SSRI like Prozac (which is mainly used as an antidepressant). I do not know that much about individual dosing regimens, and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t be able to elaborate much more than that, since the Tigers aren’t giving out a whole lot of information due to HIPAA concerns.
I will soon be hard at work on the “official” season preview, but I’m hoping that the fifth starter situation gets resolved before I have to post it. I was really hoping that Nate Robertson could continue the good work of his previous outings, but he had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark today. I don’t know how that’s going to impact everything, but I was kinda hoping he’d be able to win the fifth starter role. I’m not particularly enamored of him, but A) He’s a much-needed lefty, and B) At this point, the best case scenario regarding Rick Porcello would be that of insurance policy. Assuming Zach Miner has taken over Bonderman’s spot for now, if Nate Robertson begins the season in the rotation and either he or someone else falters or gets injured, Porcello will be right there in Double A waiting to come in. If it’s Porcello in the fifth spot and someone falters or gets injured, then what? There are some guys in the minor leagues who could probably be serviceable, but you’ve already used your ace in the hole, so to speak. It’s kind of like how in the National League, you save your best pinch-hitter for just the right time. Of course, in a rare instance of hypocrisy, I’ll admit that if Porcello were left-handed, I’d be clamoring for him to be in the rotation now, all other things being equal.
And now I think I shall go, before any more comes along that I have to deal with. Also, with it being April Fool’s Day tomorrow, I think I’ll avoid the blogs, cuz someone’s bound to write some stupid “joke” post that’s not funny.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
1) Venezuela makes the Tigers tick.
2) Bad pitching WILL catch up to you eventually.
3) When the Tigers face the Indians this year, Mark DeRosa is going to be a pain in the ass (call that one a hunch).
Now to discuss a little bit of Spring Training. After pitching well for pretty much the past two weeks, the bullpen faltered against the Red Sox. Now, while others get all Chicken Little, I’m gonna take the wait-and-see approach, because nearly everyone has been doing good work. Okay, maybe Rodney is cause for a little bit of concern because he’s given up runs in two consecutive outings now (but then again, Rodney does tend to go through phases like that). But Brandon Lyon is not gonna give up four consecutive home runs again. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s too rare of an occurrence. As I said before about Ryan Perry, let’s see what happens next time out. That leads me into a discussion about one of my pet peeves, which is the tendency for pundits and reporters to just spit out numbers at you and make a judgment solely on that. While they are a handy reference tool (one which I myself will probably use often) numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Dontrelle Willis is one whose numbers accurately reflect his performance this spring, despite my bewilderment at his last outing. He hasn’t had a clean outing yet and he’s walked a lot of people, and the numbers show that. However, Fernando Rodney has an earned run average of over seven, and yet in most of his appearances, he’s put up zeros. It’s just that in his bad outings, he’s given up a bunch of runs, and that’ll inflate the ol’ ERA real quick. I mean, at this point last year, Todd Jones’s spring ERA was, like, 31 or some alarmingly huge number like that. I know Todd Jones is probably not the best example to Tigers fans, but he pitched well during the regular season until he got hurt. At this point, though, it DOES look like Rodney might have a few issues to sort out, but better now than during the season.
Finally, it's worth mentioning the Hall-of-Famer George Kell, who passed away last night. I have absolutely no memories of him, but from what I hear, he did some great work for the Tigers, both on the field and in the broadcast booth, so God bless him.
Monday, March 23, 2009
However, with Venezuela and USA being done, the good news is that our offense is now back in Florida (though probably not playing today), and given the result of yesterday’s game, apparently it’s not a moment too soon. I know Ricky Nolasco is a good pitcher, but yeesh (though I guess a spring training no-hitter is a bit more feasible when you consider the fact that the starter went seven innings and it’s very realistic that two relievers could throw two hitless innings; that happens all the time). And hey, I suppose it’s better that it happen now and not during the regular season. From the pitching standpoint, Verlander threw too many pitches early, but settled down and got into a pretty nice groove. He also provided the television viewing audience with a delightful interview, during which he nearly let out a couple of swear words but caught himself just in time. It was clear that Mario & Rod ran out of questions, cuz they started asking him about his golf game. Ryan Perry was bound to give up a run at some point, so the important thing for him is bouncing back next time out. Bobby Seay did give up the home run and several hits, but again, he’s probably not going to enter the game at a critical point to face three right-handed batters in a row, and the one lefty he faced rolled into a double play. Meanwhile, in Arizona, the Angels and Royals combined to hit 15 home runs. Holy crap. And those are two teams that aren’t really known for hitting home runs (more so when you consider the fact that guys like Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, and Bobby Abreu were NOT in the Angels lineup). By the way, the Angels’ color analyst on their radio broadcasts sounds almost exactly like Crush from Finding Nemo, dude.
Friday, March 20, 2009
After Japan knocked off Cuba, Pool 1 featured an All-Asian Bonanza. I watched some of the Japan-Korea tilt last night, but I fell asleep soon after Korea tied things up. I woke up this morning to see that the Japanese prevailed, so to speak. And am I correct in observing that Ichiro is not have a real good time of it in the WBC, while Kenji Johjima was batting cleanup last night?
While not exactly a pretty game, Venezuela did top Team USA to claim home-field advantage for the semifinal (though, ironically, this means that they CAN’T have home-field advantage for the final, should they make it that far). Armando Galarraga was okay, I guess. He walked too many and threw too many pitches for 3 1/3 innings, but it’s hard to extrapolate anything from it for a bunch of reasons: He hadn’t pitched in ten days, it was pouring down rain, and he was facing kind of a supercharged lineup (not your typical, everyday lineup). There was one particular at-bat that I found kind of interesting (It was against a right-hander, but I don’t remember who...Chris Ianetta, maybe?). I’m not good at recognizing pitches, but whatever it was Galarraga was trying to throw, it looked like he was trying to hit the corner, but the pitch kept moving outside in the exact same spot. This happened three times in a row. I started thinking that if he started out throwing the ball down the middle, it would hit the corner. But I’m not a pitching coach. I just thought it was interesting that he missed in the exact same spot on three consecutive pitches. Cabrera had a nice night at the plate, though.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
More relatively unexciting action out of San Diego as Korea beat Japan and thus earned a spot in the semifinals. By the way, I was apparently mistaken about Shin-Soo Choo, as it appears that he is still with the team. However, that only makes one out of 28 guys that I’ve heard of. At least I know several of the Japanese players. At any rate, this means that either Cuba or Japan will NOT make it to the semifinals. I’m rooting for Japan in tonight’s game.
Pool 2 was a lot more exciting, and for all the wrong reasons. Losing it in the bottom of the ninth was probably the worst way for Puerto Rico to get eliminated. It probably would’ve been better for them had Team USA led 6-0 for the whole game or something like that, especially since the Puerto Rican bullpen had been so solid the entire tournament. I imagine it’s frustrating that after all that, they fell two outs short. I don’t what happened. The bottom of the ninth came around, and all of a sudden, no one could throw strikes (though I’m not sure why you would leave the left-hander in to face two switch hitters and a righty, but I don’t know what Victorrino and Roberts’ splits are, so I’m not exactly one to judge). Even David Wright’s walk-off single should have been ball 3. The ball was, like, 2 inches off the ground, so the fact that he got bat on the ball was amazing enough, but how the hell was he able to get enough lift on it that it was able to loop into right field? That seems to be contrary to the laws of physics or something. It also seems a shame to waste a game in which Pudge walked three times (One walk in a game is an event for him, but three? What’s going on?). And with that, I will likely bid adieu to Pudge Rodriguez and wish him well with the Astros. Meanwhile, the seeding game between Team USA and Venezuela is tonight, and Armando Galarraga is FINALLY going to pitch. I think I now know why the bloggers weren’t real enthusiastic about having him (or Verlander, for that matter) on the WBC roster. Considering the fact that now, the Tigers won’t be back in Lakeland until at least Monday or Tuesday at the earliest, you start wondering if Galarraga can be effectively stretched out in time (though he did throw 64 pitches in his only start, and right now the Tigers starters are about to reach the 75-pitch mark, supposedly).
That’s all for now. I’m working tonight, so the most I’ll see is probably the end of USA-Venezuela, and that’s it.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Not surprisingly, Mexico has become the latest team to be eliminated. Their offense was pretty good, but the pitching just wasn’t there, except for arguably Jorge Campillo. Once again, I fell asleep midway through this game, so forgive me for being short on the details. Tonight, Japan and Korea take the late shift in a non-elimination game.
I said that I wasn’t going to be happy regardless of the score, but shortly before the game began, I realized that a Puerto Rico win would actually kind of be the best-case scenario, because that would put Venezuela into an elimination match with Team USA, which would’ve meant that the Tigers would have been guaranteed to get somebody back in the next couple days, while at the same time, I’d still have Tigers to root for in the semi-finals. Now, I still have Tigers going to Los Angeles, but there’s no guarantee that Curtis Granderson won’t be going there as well. That’s one of those frustrating losses because both teams pitched well and it could’ve gone either way. Now either Team USA or Team Puerto Rico is going home, and again, it could go either way (though with Ryan Braun seemingly injured, Curtis Granderson should start tonight). And I know I *should* root for Team USA, but instinctually, I keep pulling for Puerto Rico. I don’t know why. I guess maybe I kind of think of this as Pudge’s farewell tour for me (since I never really got one when he was traded away from the Tigers and it’s highly unlikely that I’ll watch any Astros games), and I don’t really want that to end yet. I don’t really mean that in a sappy way, though. It’s kind of hard to explain. Hell, for all I know, he might not even play tonight, now that he doesn’t need to audition anymore. At any rate, I suppose whatever happens, happens.
By the way, with it being St. Patrick’s Day, apparently the Tigers will be wearing those horrid green hats during their game today.
Monday, March 16, 2009
In their rematch of the 2006 WBC finals, Japan came out on top again, and quite easily. Meanwhile, in the late game, I fell asleep once again, but I woke up to find out that while Mexico had the early 2-0 lead, their pitching let them down again. Tonight, Cuba and Mexico face off in an elimination game, and it’d probably be surprising if Cuba lost, but with Mexico’s offensive potential, anything’s possible.
Well, I guess you can only go so far on determination and heart alone. Team USA made up for its bad play against Puerto Rico by eliminating the Netherlands, although Matt Lindstrom kind of unnecessarily antagonized the Dutch players. And I know Granderson started in centerfield last night, but that seems to be uncommon. After all that Davey Johnson said about Granderson being the starting centerfielder, it seems like most games start off with Shane Victorrino in center and at some point late in the game he’ll shift over to right as a defensive replacement for Adam Dunn and Granderson goes in to play center. As a result, Granderson’s not getting that many at-bats (and on the nights he does start, he’s the #9 hitter). At any rate, tonight it’s Venezuela against Puerto Rico, and that can only lead to frustration for me, cuz I like both teams. I thought Armando Galarraga might start being as this is not an elimination game and Venezuela might want to hold off their ace for when they really need him, but I guess it’s been even longer since Felix Hernandez has pitched, so maybe they didn’t have a choice. Meanwhile, it looks as though Pudge has found a home with Houston. I’ve never cared much for the Astros, but it’s his best shot at catching every day (since all the other teams in need of catchers were looking for platoon players or backups). And it’s in the National League and not one of the “big” teams, so I won’t see him that often (Yeah, I’m aware the Tigers go to Minute Maid Park for Interleague play this year, but I’ll have something figured out by then). Alas, the number 7 is retired in Houston (Biggio), but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers and now I’m on the verge of sounding downright insulting so I’ll stop now.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I missed the first game due to being at work, but I actually watched some of the second game (and if you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know that’s significant). If you looked at these matchups on paper, you’d’ve thought that the Baseball Fairy delivered the wrong score to each game. Venezuela beat the Netherlands, but they didn’t exactly sting the ball against them. Lucky for them, two of their three hits were home runs, including one from Cabrera. To my chagrin, I read that Magglio got booed a lot, because he’s a staunch supporter of Hugo Chavez and apparently the Venezuelan fans in Miami are not. As for me, I don’t like Republicans in Washington OR Hugo Chavez, but I decided a long time ago not to delve into players’ political preferences, cuz if I did, I’d probably end up hating half the team, and I don’t want to do that. What they should’ve booed Magglio for was the shirt he was wearing in the postgame press conference. Ack.
As for the other game yesterday, well, I did say that while Team USA had the better pitching, Puerto Rico had been pitching better (Confused yet?). And that certainly came true last night. It was another big night for Pudge, who had three hits, two doubles, and two RBIs, and left even more people wondering why he doesn’t have a job (Anyone else notice that Pudge seems to have a better game offensively when he’s catching than when he’s the DH?). By the way, it looked as though Pudge’s son was there, cuz I saw a kid wearing a Rodriguez jersey coming out of the dugout at the end of the game. I think he’d be about 15 or 16 now, and that’s what this kid looked like. I don’t know how good a baseball player he is because I’ve never heard one way or the other from an impartial source (obviously, FSN and Pudge are not impartial sources), but I’m not sure he’d be a catcher. He’s definitely taller than his father, but he’s got kind of a small frame, though he does have time to fill that out. At any rate, today the Netherlands and Team USA face off in an elimination game, and Pool 1 action gets underway.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
A. This is the point that creates the biggest bone of contention for me, as many of you have learned the hard way over the past couple years. Sometimes I think they ought to just go back to those stirrups and “sanitary hose” (God, I really hate that term; it sounds like some sort of feminine hygiene product), cuz that didn’t look good on anybody, so I would have no basis for criticism (though how they managed to keep the stirrup in their shoes is a complete mystery to me, cuz I wore stirrup pants back when they were popular in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s and I could never do it). At any rate, there’s a lot of people that go around arguing that the high socks-look (actually, I’m pretty sure that most guys have their socks pulled all the way up regardless, so “high pants” would be a more accurate term, but I digress) is more traditional and therefore everyone should wear their pants that way. It may be the more traditional look, but in reality, it’s a tricky look to pull off, and you have to have the right body for it. Curtis Granderson, Brandon Inge, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ichiro Suzuki are four guys who can pull off the look. It’s difficult to explain what the “right body” is, but in general, guys who look good with the high socks are of slightly-above-average height (usually around 5’11” to 6’1”) and slender but not skinny. However, the most important factor is that his body is in proportion (i.e. legs/arms not too long or short, etc). I cannot stress this enough. Your body MUST be in proportion, otherwise the high socks will accentuate and exaggerate whatever part of your body is out of proportion. If you are fat (Carlos Silva), the high socks will make you look fatter. If you have cartoonishly long legs (Andrew Miller), the high socks will make your legs look even longer. If most of your build is concentrated in your chest/shoulders and your legs are just a tad too short (Pudge Rodriguez), the optical illusion created by the color differential of the high socks against the lighter-colored uniform will cause the eye to attempt to fit the same amount of mass into less space, and as a result, you will look rather boxy (You can tell I REALLY thought about that one). If you have calves that are the same width as your thighs (Chris Shelton), the high socks will remove all semblance of definition and your legs will look like straight sticks. I think you get the point by now. Pudge used to drive me crazy whenever he did it, which you probably figured out after the third or fourth time I complained about it (which was after almost every instance except the Verlander no-hitter, and that was just cuz I didn’t want to ruin the moment). However, for about the final two months that he was with the Tigers, he did not do it at all, so I guess you could say we parted on good terms in that respect (Hey, in his final home game he had long pants, really neat-looking white shoes, AND four hits. What more could you ask for?). And I’m gonna sound really stupid saying this, but I think that’s at least part of the reason I’ve been reluctant to watch him ever since (be it with the Yankees or now with Puerto Rico in the WBC). With Pudge gone, Miguel Cabrera is now my prime target. Prior to his arrival with the Tigers, the high socks were an infrequent (but largely predictable) occurrence. Now it’s become commonplace, and, from what I can tell, totally random (which really drives me crazy). And Cabrera’s just too big for that look (there are other problems with it as well, which I shall get to in due course). I could also go after Gerald Laird (who used to wear long pants and now does not, and I probably will never find out why, which will gnaw at me the whole time, cuz I’m just nosy like that), but I probably will not, though I will say this: For a catcher, he’s got really skinny legs, and the long pants help camouflage this fact. Just sayin’.
- There are, however, a couple loopholes that certain (keyword “certain”) guys can use to cheat the proportion rule. The first is if their pants are really baggy. I don’t have an everyday example to back this up, but this loophole gets illustrated terrifically during Negro Leagues Weekend when the Tigers wear the old Detroit Stars uniform. That uniform’s pants are so baggy that those who choose to wear the pants long don’t look quite right, whereas guys like Verlander and Magglio look fine (well, “fine” given the fact that pretty much no one looks spectacular in those uniforms).
- The other loophole is the “alternate” solid color jersey that many teams possess. For some reason, it really cuts down on the “color differential” between the dark-colored socks and light-colored uniforms that I think is at the root of the proportion problem. Dontrelle Willis (who has a very short torso and comparatively long legs) is a good illustration of this. However, the Tigers do not have alternate jerseys, so this loophole becomes rather moot for most of my discussions.
- Bear in mind that these loopholes only work for SOME guys. There are many more guys for which these loopholes will do absolutely nothing and who will look terrible with the high socks no matter what. The Tigers’ Macay McBride and the Marlins’ Taylor Tankersley are prime examples. As far as the Astros’ Hunter Pence is concerned, well, he’s just creepy-looking with the high socks and I don’t know why.
- I am a bit more lenient if everyone on the team is wearing the high socks as some sort of kumbaya rally tactic to get out of a losing streak. The Tigers briefly did this last May. It was funny at the time (I think it piqued my curiosity more than anything else), but I get the feeling that, had it continued for more than two games, it would’ve become old after about one turn through the rotation.
B. If your team’s socks are BRIGHT red (a la the Diamondbacks or Red Sox), BRIGHT blue (a la the Cubs, Rangers, or Royals) or striped (a la the Cardinals), under no circumstances will the high socks look good on anybody. Please avoid wearing them.
C. Black socks are kind of strange. With some teams, like the Orioles and the Astros, the socks are like the great gaping void of darkness, so dark that light cannot escape from it (hmmm…they must be made out of this material). I half expect all surrounding matter to be sucked into this void of blackness. Needless to say, this is very distracting, and I would recommend avoiding this problem altogether if you play for one of these teams. On the other hand, some teams, such as the Marlins and the Mariners, have black socks that look perfectly fine and those players are perfectly free to show ‘em off provided they conform to the other rules in this guide.
- Oddly enough, the Yankees have dark blue socks (I think), and yet A-Rod exhibits the “great gaping void of darkness” phenomenon just the same. I’m not sure what to make of that, because I think he would have the body for it if not for the fact that his butt’s just a little too big. Damn superstitious bastards. Of course, it’d probably help matters even more if he didn’t look like he was sucking on a lemon every time he’s in the batter’s box. The “gaping void of darkness” also seems to occur with Magglio, unless the broadcast is in HD (and you don’t realize until then just how thick Magglio’s legs are).
D. Bald white guys should never wear the high socks. Ever.
E. Socks with logos on them = Very, very bad. I’m looking at you, Miguel Cabrera.
F. Catchers in general should not wear the high socks. Perhaps the worst-looking catcher with this look is Johnny Estrada, formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers (I have no idea where he is now). An enormous upper body coupled with tiny-but-round calves makes for a disastrous combination (he looked especially bad in the Verlander no-hitter).
G. If you do wear the high socks, please make sure your pantlegs are even with one another. This is something else that Miguel Cabrera frequently drives me nuts with. His pantlegs are almost never even and it seems like one is always on the verge of falling down (Perhaps he should take the hint, but I digress). Now, I’ve never worn a baseball uniform, nor have I been around someone in a baseball uniform, so it’s a complete mystery to me as to how players get their pantlegs to stay up in the first place (If anyone could enlighten me, I’d be most grateful). But guys like Brandon Inge and Curtis Granderson can do it and get their pantlegs even the whole time. At the very least, could someone show Cabrera how to do it properly? Uneven pantlegs are even more annoying on pitchers, because then I have to look at it for the entire inning.
II. Hats/Batting Helmets
A. Please try to keep your hat clean (i.e. no white fingerprints all over the bill).
B. In the same vein, please do not lather your batting helmet in pine tar. It looks really bad. If it’s a dark helmet, it looks rusty. If it’s a brightly-colored helmet, it looks like someone set it on fire. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Tigers, who all appear to have nice, shiny helmets. Good job, boys.
A. I know this look isn’t terribly popular, but I like shoes with lots of white or gray in them. I’m not necessarily talking about all-white shoes like the ones the Oakland Athletics wear (although they aren’t bad either). I’m talking about shoes that are black but have lots of white or gray in the design. This could also be considered a loophole to allow some guys to get around the high-sock-proportion rule. It also helped A-Rod for the brief time that he wore them.
B. If you insist on wearing Adidas brand spikes, please wear them with long pants and no shin guard. If you wear Adidas spikes with a shin guard, it looks like you’re wearing spats. If you have the high socks, it looks like you’re wearing those “athletic” flip-flops (for lack of a better term) with black socks, which was a look that was quite popular with the jocks both when I was in middle school and when I was in high school. I didn’t like the look then, and I still don’t like it.
IV. Batting Gloves
A. This isn’t a real biggie with me, but I’m not all that fond of all-white batting gloves. I don’t know. It’s just a little too reminiscent of Mickey Mouse for my taste. But I’m not gonna make a huge deal out of it.
V. Protective Gear
A. Please do not wear white shin guards. They look okay with the home uniform, but against the gray road pants…um, no.
B. I really can’t explain this one, but for some reason, I really like the contrast created by the straps of the catcher’s shin guards against the white pants. I don’t know why, and I realize it’s quite bizarre. But for some reason, it’s just one of life’s simple pleasures for me (and please note that this is not a sexual thing). However, the pants have gotta be long for it to work (since I need to see both the upper and lower straps), the straps have to be dark, and the shin guards can’t have a whole lot of additional equipment (i.e. “Knee-Saver” pads or that sort of thing). This isn’t necessarily a fashion rule, per se, but it’ll get you bonus points, especially if you’re not that tall a catcher.
C. I realize you guys have gotta protect your manhood, and I have no problem with that. But please, get a cup that fits. It’s bad enough watching y’all spit every three seconds. I don’t want to have to see you adjusting your crotch whenever you run the bases.
D. Along those same lines, please do not prop your bat up against the protective cup at any time. I’m not even gonna get into the Freudian implications.
E. If you wear the old-style catcher’s mask, don’t flip the helmet around so that the bill is facing forward when you go out to greet your pitcher at the end of the game. It looks wrong. The only catcher I know of who can get away with this look is former Marlin (and current Royal) Miguel Olivo.
A. There are a lot of sportscasters who disapprove of all the bling-bling. I don’t mind it so much as long as it’s not too gaudy or distracting (and I have no idea how Carlos Guillen isn’t absolutely weighed down by those huge crosses he wears).
B. This is another one that’s more “bonus point” than “rule,” but I like it when the guys wear bracelets.
Whew! That was a long one, and I'm sorry if the organization is confusing, but Blogger sucks and won't let me keep Microsoft Word formatting. Anyways, there'll probably be more WBC Roundup tomorrow, so stay tuned.
Friday, March 13, 2009
This’ll mostly be a bunch of late games, since they’re being held in San Diego, and I start school again on Monday (requiring a waking time of 6 AM in the process), so I have no guarantees as to how much of this I’ll actually watch. At any rate, play in Pool 1 starts Sunday, with Japan against Cuba, followed by Mexico against Korea. Mexico’s offense has done a good job, but they’ve already had two or three injuries and their pitching has been up and down (they were pretty good against South Africa and okay in the rematch against Australia, but the pitching their first game against Australia and the seeding game against Cuba was terrible). Korea’s pitching has been fairly steady with the exception of one game where they gave up fourteen runs to Japan. With Shin-Soo Choo apparently gone, I don’t know any of the Koreans (perhaps that’s not all bad, since the broadcasters in Japan could not pronounce Choo’s name correctly to save their lives). Meanwhile, Team Cuba probably doesn’t want to face either of the Asian teams. Japan beat them last time in the World Baseball Classic, and Korea beat them last year in the Olympics. By the way, as much as I think going to a baseball game in Puerto Rico would be lots of fun, I would NOT want to go to a game in Mexico, because as far as I can tell, the fans are allowed to smoke wherever they want to, and I like salsa better than mariachi anyways.
This is the pool that I’m much more interested in. First up tomorrow, Venezuela will be up against the Netherlands, and obviously I’ll be rooting for Venezuela. It’ll be an interesting matchup, mostly because Venezuela’s lineup is hitting, while the Domincan lineup was not, for the most part. You’d argue in favor of Venezuela, but Puerto Rico’s offense is also doing well, and it took all they had just to beat the Netherlands in their first game against them (granted, they had a much easier time of it in the seeding game). Speaking of Puerto Rico, they take on Team USA in the second game. Both teams have potent offenses, but I think Team USA has the edge, pitching-wise, at least on paper (In reality, I believe Puerto Rico has the better team ERA right now). It also brings me a dilemma in that I don’t know which team to root for. I mean, I know I *should* root for Team USA, both because I’m American and the lone Tiger is this game is playing for Team USA, but damn it, I want to root for Puerto Rico just as badly. As an aside, I was watching videos online of press conferences (or, more specifically, highlights of press conferences), but when I got to the Puerto Rico press conference, to my chagrin, I discovered it was entirely in Spanish. Now, I was an all-A student in Spanish, but I only took three semesters and I’m not fluent. Out of a two-and-a-half minute clip that featured three different people (Jose Oquendo, Pudge Rodriguez, and Bernie Williams), I was able to understand two sentences. Jose Oquendo said that the game was “not only physical, but mental,” while Pudge, at one point, said that “we are a different team this year” (plus, he went on to say “this year” about ten more times, but I wasn’t able to put it into any sort of context). By the way, this press conference was the first time I had seen a lot of Pudge since last July (outside of a couple photos and about three seconds of the first Puerto Rico-Netherlands game). He must’ve spent those intervening months working out nonstop, cuz all of a sudden, he’s built like a brick. He was never that big when he was with the Tigers. He looks more like he did when he was with the Marlins, only with less hair. I know it’s probably not a smart move for me to point this out, but there you go.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I was kinda rooting for Australia in this one, mostly cuz I had (understandably) never heard of any of the Cuban players. I fell asleep during the middle of the game, so I can’t give much insight into that, but Cuba’s starting pitcher (a 21-year-old lefty who throws 100 MPH) was dominant. Why do I get the feeling he’s gonna end up with the White Sox someday? However, it looked like the Aussies played a lot better than people thought they would. In fact, they were in the lead until a pinch-hit home run in the top of the 8th. Now Australia and Mexico have a rematch tonight, and given how Australia killed Mexico in their first game and how they played relatively well against Cuba, I don’t think Mexico would necessarily be a shoo-in. Still, they are favored over Australia.
Hey, Maggs and Cabrera finally started hitting! Venezuela is into the next round, though I’m not sure how far they’ll be able to go with their middle relief being what it is. If they’re gonna win, it looks like they’ll have to rely on the offense. And judging by the little bit of press conference footage I saw, they know this. Tonight they’ll face Team USA for seeding purposes. I don’t know this for sure, but I would imagine both Carlos Silva and Felix Hernandez would be available. I do have one question, though: Why were a bunch of Venezuelan fans wearing Indian headdresses? I don’t quite get it. It would make more sense if there were Indians players on Team Venezuela, but there aren’t.
Holy crap. The Netherlands eliminated the Dominican Republic and are on to the second round. In a way, this is more of an upset than Team Italy eliminating Canada. Italy at least had a handful of major leaguers like Nick Punto, Frank Catalanotto, and Jason Grilli. The Netherlands had Rick VandenHurk and Randall Simon. And the Dominican had more of a stacked lineup than Canada, even without A-Rod and Manny Ramirez. And in the end, the Dominican Republic did it to themselves with the errors in the bottom of the 11th. If you were watching the television broadcast, you could tell Rich Walz was definitely rooting for the Dutch, based on how excited he got (I’m not saying that’s right or wrong; I’m just a little surprised, considering how both teams featured players from the Florida Marlins). And the Dominicans were literally in tears. By the way, when the Netherlands scored the winning run, why did the public address system start playing Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings?”
Tonight’s gonna be a little different because I’m working 5-9. As a result, I’ll probably miss the Netherlands-Puerto Rico seeding game, which is a shame since it’s the last game that’ll be played in San Juan, and the Puerto Rican fans were awesome. I also probably won’t see a lot of Venezuela-USA unless it turns into a big slugfest. Australia-Mexico is the late game.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
This was the late game last night, so I fell asleep before the conclusion, but from the looks of things, it seems that Mexico bounced back nicely and ousted South Africa. It featured a big night from Adrian Gonzalez, from the looks of things. And it occurred to me yesterday that playing in Mexico City must be like playing at Coors Field without the humidor. No wonder the ball’s been flying there. At any rate, Australia takes on Cuba tonight.
This pool featured the first “shocker” elimination last night when Italy upset Canada. The television analyst was trying to give the credit to Cervelli, the Italian catcher. I’m not sure what he meant by that, since I was trying to watch this game and Netherlands-Puerto Rico at the same time. And two days after doing what he did a lot of in Detroit, Jason Grilli pitched pretty well (but that’s always kind of been his MO: He CAN pitch well, but he’s remarkably inconsistent about it). And no disrespect to Italy, but I’m pretty sure team Venezuela was on their side as well. Still, even though Italy’s lineup is a lot less formidable than Canada’s, Venezuela’s got a major problem. Due to WBC rules about pitch counts and rest days, Venezuela doesn’t have a starting pitcher. Felix Hernandez, Carlos Silva, and Armando Galarraga are all unavailable. They’re starting Enrique Gonzalez tonight. I’ve never heard of him, but hopefully he’s better than the group of middle relievers the other night.
It took pretty much all they had, but Puerto Rico finally managed to squeak by the Netherlands in the bottom of the eighth, guaranteeing themselves a trip to the second round. That was rather excruciating to sit through. After being the big hitting hero Saturday night, Pudge had a single, but he also struck out three times, twice in crucial situations. He also couldn’t get a bunt down, which I didn’t get, cuz I saw him do it successfully numerous times last year, whenever he was called upon to do it. So don’t listen to Rich Walz and Jim Kaat. You also have to give some credit to the Dutch pitchers. They did exactly what they needed to do to get him to strike out (get ahead of him, then throw an elevated fastball). At any rate, it seems that in the great Puerto Rican tradition, the catcher is the one to be the hero. Pudge was not the catcher last night. He was the DH. Yadier Molina was the catcher, and Yadier Molina came up with the big hit. I suppose if Geovanny Soto catches tomorrow night, HE’LL be the one with the big hit. By the way, I want to go to a baseball game in Puerto Rico. The fans there are tremendous. At any rate, tonight is an elimination game, and I can’t imagine the Domincan Republic is happy about seeing the Netherlands again.
Monday, March 9, 2009
No surprises here, except maybe Korea beating Japan in the final game, which is only for seeding purposes. However, the Japanese media is probably livid with this. As far as I’m concerned, since the games were on really early in the morning, I only watched parts of them (live) while I was getting ready for school/work.
This is the pool I’m the least interested in. I’ve never heard of anyone on the Cuban or the South African team. Australia’s got a couple names that sound vaguely familiar and a couple of Tigers prospects, but the really recognizable names like Grant Balfour and Ryan Rowland-Smith seem to be absent (I could be mistaken). Mexico’s the only team with a substantial number of Major League stars. However, last night’s game provided one of the two big shockers so far in the tournament, with Australia beating Mexico. In a way, it’s more surprising than the Netherlands beating the Dominican Republic (the other big shocker of the tournament). At least in the NED-DR tilt, it was a close, low-scoring game. Australia’s win over Mexico was a full-on, mercy-rule-inducing rout. Like the Dominican Republic, though, Mexico will probably survive, though. Anything could happen, but it’s hard to imagine them losing to South Africa.
Ah, the pool with all the Tigers. I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to root for last night. My fears about Armando Galarraga turned out to be somewhat unfounded, because he pitched very well, especially when you consider the fact that he was essentially pitching against an all-star team. Maybe he was getting behind in the count a little more than I would’ve wanted him to, but he got outs, most of which were not hit hard. And he outpitched Roy Oswalt, so to speak. He did give up the two runs in the fourth (not to mention he threw a lot of pitches), but as Joe Magrane pointed out in the bottom of the fourth, at this point in Spring Training, starting pitchers are usually stretched out to around fifty pitches and will probably start to tire after that, and that looked to be what was going on. Plus, he probably should’ve only given up the one run because Gregor Blanco took a horrible route on the ball that Mark DeRosa hit and ended up turning what should probably have been a single into a triple. And how weird is it when you have to get your own teammate to ground out to end an inning? Granderson got a couple of base hits later in the game, though. I thought it was funny that after one of his singles, he and Miguel Cabrera certainly got chatty at first base (in a good way). Guillen’s having an okay time of it so far with the two solo home runs (the first of which was ironically hit off of Jason Grilli pitching for team Italy). But someone’s gotta get Maggs and Cabrera going. They’re, like, a combined 0-for-16 or something like that. However, it’s largely gone unnoticed because the rest of the Venezuelan offense is performing. Cabrera looks especially lost. Magglio at least has a walk and he had a flyout last night that literally chased Granderson to the wall to catch. Well, when you think about it, though, I suppose it’s better for them to have slumps now than during the season. Now Team USA is guaranteed to move on to the second round in Miami. Barring an upset, Venezuela will probably take on Canada in an elimination match. Venezuela is expected to win that but I don’t think it’s an absolute guarantee. On paper, Venezuela has the better offense, but Canada’s got some really good players like Russell Martin (Why does the back of his jersey say “J. Martin” on it?), Justin Morneau, and Jason Bay. It’s likely to come down to pitching, and that could be a problem for Venezuela. They have decent starting pitching (Felix Hernandez is an ace, Galarraga won 13 games last year and even though Carlos Silva had a bad year last year, he is generally an innings-eater), and Frankie Rodriguez is one of the best closers in the game, but their middle relief is not good at all, as was demonstrated last night. And while I’d definitely root for Venezuela over Canada, well, if they get knocked out, at least we’ll get our players back.
Japan, Canada, and Mexico definitely have some lively fans, but for my money, no one beats the Puerto Rican fans in this tournament. There are no Tigers in this pool, but plenty of talent and players I’ve heard of, plus there is one former Tiger to keep my interest. This pool featured the first upset of the tourney when the Netherlands defeated the Dominican Republic. However, the Dominicans bounced back nicely and eliminated Panama rather handily. What that upset did, though, was hand Puerto Rico a huge break. They now have the opportunity to make it to the next round without having to face the Dominican Republic (or any other team) in an elimination round. They just have to take advantage of it. They’re halfway there, having beaten Panama. And it’s been well documented that Pudge Rodriguez is using the WBC as an audition to prove he can still be a productive everyday player. Well, he did nothing to hurt his case in the first game. I’d say that 4 hits, two home runs, a double, a single, and a stolen base makes for an impressive line. I have a dumb confession to make, though: I had the game up on MLB.tv, and I only listened to it. I did not watch. It sounds really, really stupid, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it and I don’t know why. Maybe I’ll watch the archive once I stop being a wuss. At any rate, it’s nice to know that they still love Pudge in Puerto Rico. My GOD do they love him in Puerto Rico. I know that it will be Geovanny Soto behind the plate tonight and not Pudge, as the manager of Puerto Rico has already said he plans to rotate his catchers (which is an understandable move, since the Puerto Rican roster boasts three exceptional catchers; the Dominican Republic has the same problem with shortstops). He might be the DH, though. By the way, there is something about Puerto Rico and catchers. So much so that it appears to have rubbed off on Domincan catcher Miguel Olivo. He hit two home runs yesterday. Might we expect a big game from Geovanny Soto tonight?
And that is your WBC roundup for today.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
During the 2007 season, I had a tendency to kind of coin my own phrases to describe certain situations. I expanded on the list in 2008. Not wanting to leave you newcomers in the dark, I’ve helpfully decided to compile my terms into this short glossary, so enjoy.
[Name] Also Swears in English: During every television and radio broadcast of baseball games, there are microphones set up all over the park. Some of those microphones are near home plate or the dugouts, which means that sometimes they pick up someone saying something you’re not supposed to say on television. It’s kind of amusing because it forces the broadcasters to make awkward apologies and hope they’re not fined by the FCC. Anyways, the catchphrase originated one day when Pudge Rodriguez (a native Spanish speaker) struck out or popped up or did something he didn’t want to do at the plate. As the microphone near home plate picked up his frustration, I observed, “Hey, Pudge swears in English” (Granted, perhaps I should not have been surprised by this, given that he’s lived in the United States for, like, 20 years and speaks English fairly well). Shortly thereafter, I noticed that a great deal of the non-native English speakers still chose English as their profanity language of choice. The phrase has now expanded to include any incident of obvious swearing, either by lip-reading or being picked up on the mic, regardless of the player’s country of origin.
Fashion Police: This is the unavoidable tendency I have to comment on someone anytime they look “different” in some way, shape, or form, be it wearing their pants differently, new shoes, or a change in facial hair. I also do a Fashion Police report anytime there’s a fan wearing some sort of wacky outfit. It can end in either a positive or negative assessment, but it’s not a feature I particularly enjoy, mostly because I end up completely rambling about the subject and losing all credibility whatsoever.
Human Voodoo Doll/Sympathy Pain: I kind of alternate between these two terms, so I’ve put them together in the glossary. Back in 2007, I seemed to frequently come up with little bumps and bruises that oddly coincided with the players suffering similar injuries. It started one day at work when I was telling one of my co-workers about the time I pulled my hamstring while fencing. I got home that night and turned on the game, only to learn that Pudge had had to leave with a hamstring injury. And so it continued for most of the season. Magglio got hit in the hand by a pitch, and then my hand was really sore for about two weeks (to the point where it was excruciating to open stock bottles). I had a sore back one day, and Brandon Inge missed the game with back spasms. Pudge and I had issues with dizziness around the same time. The reason it has two different terms is that the timing of these coincidences was never consistent. Sometimes, the “real” injury would happen first, and then I would feel it, and sometimes it was the other way around. My co-worker was the one who coined the “sympathy pains” term. My best friend Laura, mistaking one of my posts to mean that I always suffered the injury before the players, suggested the Human Voodoo Doll. I guess the term I use is gonna depend on the timing, but hopefully I won’t have to use either. This was not as prevalent in 2008.
It’s a West Coast Thing: For some reason, games that the Tigers played in ballparks on the west coast are prone to really strange things happening, be it fan interference, kissing, broadcasters focusing more on the cotton candy vendors than the game, pitching meltdowns, blown saves, highlight-reel plays, ejections, balls taking weird hops, a series of bad calls that turn out to be the deciding factor of the game, you name it. Angel Stadium and Safeco Field are more prone to strangeness than McAfee Coliseum, but it has its moments as well. Usually the weirdness is either bad (see “Twilight Zone Hell”) or funny, but every once in a while it will help the Tigers out. Occasionally, one of those west coast teams will bring the weirdness with them to Comerica Park.
Reyes Effect: This is my term for the phenomenon of the Tigers offense being absolutely stymied by a normally so-so, unremarkable, or unknown opposing pitcher. It’s named after Anthony Reyes (formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals, now with the Cleveland Indians), who completely handcuffed the Tiger batters in Game 1 of the 2006 World Series, retiring 17 guys in a row at one point (and going into this matchup, the odds were dramatically in favor of Justin Verlander, who ended up struggling and began the parade of pitcher errors that became the theme of the entire World Series). Reyes went on to have a rather dismal 2007, finishing 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA, and one of those losses did come against the Tigers. The Indians somehow ended up with him in 2008, and to his credit, he did make a couple of decent starts for them. Pitchers who turned in a Reyes Effect performance on the Tigers in 2007 include Josh Towers of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jorge De La Rosa of the Kansas City Royals, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics, Cha Seung Baek of the Seattle Mariners, and Kameron Loe of the Texas Rangers. Now, occasionally I branded a performance as a Reyes Effect, only to reverse my diagnosis further on down the road, usually because that pitcher turns out to be consistent and effective in most of his starts regardless of the opposing team. James Shields of the Rays and Brian Bannister of the Royals are two examples of this. The Reyes Effect did rear its ugly head in 2008 as well, but I’m not gonna look up who the pitchers were cuz I’m just too lazy.
That F**king Drum: I really hate that drum that they play incessantly during the late innings at Jacobs/Progressive Field. It’s incredibly annoying (which is a shame, since I’ve been kinda curious about seeing the Tigers on the road, and Cleveland would be the most logical choice, geographically speaking). Also, if I’ve got the TV playing too loud, that drum is always at a different rhythm than what my heart is beating at, and that hurts (It’s kind of like standing next to a large subwoofer that’s blaring out hip-hop music).
There’s That Bear Again: This is a line from an Animaniacs short called “Hollywoodchuck” (you can find it quite easily on YouTube). In the cartoon, the woodchuck would keep running into the bear, who would then pummel him in some creative fashion while the narrator would dryly observe, “Oh, there’s that bear again.” Back in ’07, there was a game that the Tigers were playing against the Indians in which one of the Indians was hitting Tigers pitching particularly hard (I think Travis Hafner). At some point late in the game, said Indian was coming up to the plate with some runners on and Mario Impemba commented “There’s that guy again” in the exact same tone. Since then, that line has popped into my head anytime an opposing player is hitting the Tigers particularly hard.
Total Amateur Analysis: This is what the site used to be called, and I’m sure I’ll screw up sometime and use the old name, so now you know.
Twilight Zone Hell: This is a game in which strange things happen that turn out to be bad news, and the Tigers end up losing. More often than not, Twilight Zone Hell makes its home on the west coast (see “It’s a West Coast Thing”).
Umpires on Crack: I’m not one to blame umpires for Tiger losses. That’s not my thing, and it smells largely of scapegoating to me, since no one’s perfect. That said, there are a few games where umpires either make consistently bad calls, or one whacked-out call turns out to be the deciding factor in a game. That’s where Umpires on Crack comes in.
Wardrobe Miscues: This is similar to Fashion Police, except Wardrobe Miscues are almost always negative.
I’m sure I’ll be coining more phrases this season, but this’ll do for now.
Next Week: The Tigers Amateur Analysis Guide to Baseball Fashion.