Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sometimes I Hate Blogging

There are times when I wish I didn’t care so much. Contrary to popular belief, I am generally not a very emotional person. Sure, I live and die with my team, but I’m usually able to stay level-headed and calmly assess what is going right or wrong. But perhaps because I’m not an emotional person, when I do emotionally invest in a player (as I do with about five guys currently on the team), it’s incredibly strong and I don’t know how to control it (What really scares me is that if I feel this strongly for guys I have never met, what are my actual personal relationships, platonic or otherwise, going to be like in the future?). As a reference point, the five guys I’m referring to are (in order of preference) Justin Verlander, Magglio Ordoñez, Armando Galarraga, Brandon Inge, and Miguel Cabrera. Emotionally investing in players like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera comes with a reasonable amount of security because they’re both established as very good players, they’re locked up for the next several years, and the Tigers are not in danger of being in salary dump mode. If Justin Verlander has a bad start (and he does have those), I don’t have to worry about him losing a rotation spot because he’s the ace and everyone expects him to bounce back. If Miguel Cabrera goes into a slump, again, he’s not in danger of getting benched and he’ll get himself out of it. I don’t have to fret over those two. Armando Galarraga is an entirely different matter. He’s an underdog, and there are no guarantees as to his place on this team going forward. In all likelihood, I have set myself up to get hurt very deeply, probably sooner rather than later (Brandon Inge is also kind of an underdog, but his situation is different because there’s a great many Tigers fans who have the same sentiments toward him that I do, if not stronger; with Galarraga, I feel as if I am largely standing alone). I know all these things, but I can’t make myself not like somebody just because the end result is likely to be unpleasant.

However, there are two misconceptions that I have grown extremely tired of. First, I am sick of people thinking that because I am female, my fondness toward these players come in the form of crushes. I am NOT a teenage girl. The only one that I might have some crush feelings toward is Justin Verlander. The other four are more like how I would feel for a friend or a brother (though I’m an only child). The other thing I am sick of specifically relates to Galarraga. I am tired of not being taken seriously because I am the only blogger who seems to like him. I routinely give objective analyses of his pitching performances every time he starts. Last night, he was given a 3-0 and he let it get away. No excuse for that happening, and he’s well aware of that. The wheels came off with two outs in the fifth inning. Prior to that, he’d been pitching well. I’m not sure what triggered the meltdown (though his body language suggested he was agitated about something from the first batter of the night), but once Jarrod Dyson singled with two out, he lapsed into that bad tendency he has of overthinking things, and when he overthinks the situation, he has problems throwing strikes. Plus, he was timid with certain batters from the get-go, especially Kila Ka’aihue, who saw very few strikes from him (I know he’s got good plate discipline and he’s homered off him before, but beyond that I’m not sure why Galarraga seemed psyched out by him). I could be wrong about this, but I don’t remember him ever issuing a bases-loaded walk before last night. In addition to overthinking, he let his frustrations get to him, and that culminated in the awful throw he made on Yuniesky Betancourt’s swinging bunt (unbelievably, Alfredo Figaro made an even worse throw a few innings later). Plain and simple, he let the game get away from him, and he’s got no one to blame but himself. And again, he knows this. I don’t need to hear him say it to know that.

What was discouraging to me was that when asked about Galarraga’s season after the game, all Jim Leyland would say was “okay.” A remark like that doesn’t really speak well for Galarraga’s chances at a rotation spot next year, and though he’s currently on track to have two more starts this year, I’m not sure there’s much he could do to change Leyland’s assessment in the positive direction (though he certainly can hurt his chances even further if he doesn’t pitch well in those starts). I hope I’m just being paranoid, but I can’t help but feel that Galarraga’s tenure with the Tigers is quickly approaching its end. He’s arbitration-eligible for the first time, but I don’t think they would non-tender him, because he won’t be that expensive. However, there’s a real possibility that he could be traded in the offseason. If that doesn’t happen, he’ll go into spring training fighting desperately for a rotation spot. In his time with the Tigers, he has never pitched well in spring training, and as much as I like him, I won’t be able to give a reasonable argument in his favor if he doesn’t pitch well and someone else does. The complication with this is that he will be out of minor league options next year. Therefore, if he doesn’t make the rotation, the Tigers will be forced to designate him for assignment and take him off the 40-man roster, and I’m just about certain that he’d never make it through waivers without getting claimed by someone. I’m hoping none of these things happen. I badly want him to be in the Tigers’ rotation next year. He’s never going to be an ace, but he has the stuff to be a good middle-of-the-rotation guy. I’ve seen too many good things from him to believe anymore that he’s just a fluke. But he’s got to get his head straightened out, so to speak. Most of his struggles this year have been largely mental in nature. I could write about all the good he COULD do until my fingers hurt, but unless he can maintain his confidence, channel his frustration, and not overthink things (I can speak from experience that the last one is VERY hard to do), all it will ever be is potential and his incredible story will be another tragic ending. I’ve seen some columnists and bloggers asking if Galarraga can be counted on to help the Tigers in 2011. They can’t answer that question. I can’t answer it. His detractors and critics can’t answer it, either. The only one who can answer that question is Armando Galarraga himself.

There were other issues from the bullpen and some (but not many) offensive highlights to speak of (In particular, Miguel Cabrera hit a home run that was absolutely crushed and very enjoyable), but I’ve already taken up enough of your time and there’s still a game to be played tonight. Max Scherzer is coming off a great start against the White Sox in which he went eight innings and only allowed two solo home runs. He hasn’t pitched particularly well against the Royals this year, although a lot of that came early, before his trip to Toledo. He’ll be facing Kyle Davies, who on any given night seems to either completely shut down the Tigers or get completely lit up by them.


  1. As one of the bloggers who (most of the time) is anti-Mando, I can assure you that I have never thought less of your for offering your opinions about Galarraga.

    We all have our favorites and we all have players we'd rather see with another club. Most of the time I spend far too much time complaining about guys like Bonine or, well, mostly just Bonine to get too wrapped up in praising others who deserve it.

    As for Galarraga, though my latest post was all about how angry he can make me, I think he's really been a pleasant surprise this year and until last night I thought maybe he had turned a corner. He's got two more starts coming, hopefully he can show us that last night was just a bad outing and not the start of a trend.

    Hang in there, Erin, and don't let the guys push you around. You have a blog that is enjoyable to read and I always respect what you have to say and the style in which you say it.

  2. Thanks. I really appreciate the support. And I understand that while I sympathize with Galarraga's seeming lack of confidence, others may find it annoying or irksome. I think we can both agree that off the field, he is a good person, and like you, I am hoping that he finishes the season strong. His next start is against Cleveland. Hopefully that'll act as a confidence booster. And you're right about us all having guys we'd like to see on other teams. You've probably read a rant or two from me about Alfredo Figaro.

    By the way, I don't believe I've ever commented on your blog, but I want you to know that I am a regular visitor and I enjoy reading it very much. I added you to my link list, too. I'm not sure why I didn't do that a long time ago. Sorry about that.