Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Tigers Amateur Analysis Glossary

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 and 2009. 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.

Baseball Guru: This is my website name for one of my uncles (well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, since he’s divorced, but I won’t bore you with the details). His name is Chuck and he’s a former catcher (high school, college, and independent ball, I think) who knows a lot about baseball. He’s the first person I go to if I feel I need more insight on something. He is a Yankees fan, which I’m sure will upset some of you, but he likes the Tigers very much as well (except when they’re playing the Yankees; in fact, they are the team he fears the most because according to him, no matter how good or bad the Tigers are in any given season, they always play the Yankees really tough). His favorite player all-time is Mickey Mantle. His favorite current Yankee is Derek Jeter, although I know for a fact he loves Granderson (It was a dream come true for him when that trade happened). Among the Tigers, he seems to be particularly fond of Brandon Inge and Justin Verlander. He is quite old school, meaning that he isn’t about to whip a bunch of UZRs and WARs at you, and he subscribes to notions like starting pitchers being able to finish their own games.

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 and I can’t think of a single time in 2009 when it happened, so it seems to have gone away. I’ve kept it in the glossary just in case.

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.

Mood Music: This is a feature I introduced last year. Following my paragraph previewing the next game, I embed a Youtube video of a song that I think is appropriate to that game for one reason or another (usually I’m aiming more for the song itself than for the video content, but occasionally it’s a movie scene or something). I do not do this with every game (sometimes I’m short on time or nothing’s inspiring me). Also, I will repeat songs within the season sometimes (not very often), because there are only so many songs I can use.

Reyes Effect/Pavano 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, but had Tommy John surgery midway through 2009. Pitchers who turned in a Reyes Effect performance on the Tigers in 2007 include Josh Towers of the Toronto Blue Jays, 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 is an example of this. The Reyes Effect did rear its ugly head in 2008 and 2009 as well, but I’m not gonna look up who the pitchers were cuz I’m just too lazy (The 2007 list was a leftover from when I originally made this glossary). The Pavano Effect is named after Carl Pavano. It occurs when a Reyes Effect-type pitcher proceeds to stymie the Tigers multiple times throughout a season.

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. And I think we all can come up with one big, fat, tragic example of that right off the top of our heads.

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.

Coming Soon: The Tigers Amateur Analysis Guide to Baseball Fashion.

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