Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Team of Don Kellys

I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed, but I sometimes pick on Don Kelly. Shocking, I know. And I’m always amused by the amount of grief I take from Kelly’s loyal fanbase out there. The same holds true for other players I’ve mocked over the years like Brandon Inge, Brennan Boesch, Will Rhymes, and Nate Robertson. These guys have their fans, even if I can’t comprehend why. If only they had a sense of humor.

But that’s yet another funny thing about the game of baseball. Even marginal players get their share of fans. If they didn’t, Clete’s Cougars would never have been a thing. (Sadly, it was.)

And I’m no different. Since seeing my first Tigers game in 1986, I’ve grown attached to many replacement level and/or forgotten players over the years. And some of them, I’d struggle to tell you why. It just happened. But I’m going to try.

The following is my trip around the diamond and a look at players at each position that, for whatever reason, will always be Tigers to me. These are my Don Kellys, I guess.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Joy of Meeting Our Baseball Heroes

If you haven’t had an opportunity to read Chris Iott’s piece on the meeting of Tiger pitcher Phil Coke and Twitter mastermind @PhilCokesBrain, please click here and do so. Avoid the comments, as it wouldn't be mLive if there weren't horrible human beings there crapping all over it. But it’s a fantastic piece and I give massive props to Chris for getting the two together. As someone lucky enough to have met the real Mr. Brain and be on friendly terms with the guy, I’m thrilled that he got to meet the real Phil. I’m even more thrilled that the real Phil didn’t strangle him.

I thought back to the chance meetings I’ve had with big league players over the years. I can’t remember what I had for dinner yesterday, but I still remember meeting Alan Trammell when I was a child, talking to him for a minute, and getting his autograph. I fondly recall talking to Jamie Walker at a Tigerfest, Joel Zumaya getting in my face screaming in joy after winning the 2006 ALCS, and a player I won’t mention by name bumming a smoke and talking about baseball with me many years ago for a few minutes.

A not-so-great memory is the time Travis Hafner bellied up to a urinal next to me and whipped out Little Pronk for a piss. That was an odd one. Also, John Rocker flipped me off once. That was kinda funny.

My point is, we watch these guys every day over the course of a season and they become larger than life figures to us. Even a thirty second conversation with us regular folk is something we’ll remember for a lifetime.

And it got me to thinking. (Uh oh.) I started to imagine what would happen if I got to meet certain icons of the Detroit baseball scene and how the conversations might go. I present the product of those thoughts to you below.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Which Tiger Manager is Brandon Inge Throwing Under the Bus?

I apologize in advance. Many of you have no doubt moved on from Brandon Inge. I hope so, anyway. But I somehow came across this article and it has a surprise ending that rivals The Sixth Sense. Plus it gave me an excuse to mock yet another article written by someone else. You know I can't pass that up, especially with Inge involved.

This comes from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register. “The Ohio Valley. Delivered Like No Other Media.” Thank you for this, West Virginia. It’s about time you did something interesting other than master “Dueling Banjos”.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Empty Cupboard

As we approach the 2013 season, everyone has their own particular issue they want to point out as a potential weakness with the Tigers. Take a look around ze interwebs. It seems to be an early favorite talking point among writers.

Most are focusing on idea of Bruce Rondon as the early favorite to close for the team. Is he ready? Is he too wild? Can he handle the pressure? Can he dance as well as Jose Valverde? Personally, I could care less. Rondon has great stuff. But if he doesn't succeed early, I think the team can get by just fine with Alburquerque, Benoit, or Dotel taking turns. Closing may be the most overrated thing in baseball, next to Derek Jeter.

Others are focusing on the #5 spot in the rotation. Will it be Porcello or Smyly? Do we trade the loser? Who will 12 year olds squeal over if Ricky is gone? My answers are "I don't care", "Hell no", and "Probably Boesch". Ten different pitchers started games for the Tigers last year. So we have six good options to start? This is a GOOD problem to have. If you trade Porcello, you're relying on Casey "Nate 2.0" Crosby to win ballgames for you if someone gets hurt. Injuries are bound to happen. Let a guy play in Toledo or pitch in long relief until he's needed to start for a couple weeks.

No, the biggest potential problem I see is one that's been a pattern with this team in recent memory. I mean, Jim Leyland is our manager. (No, this is not the problem I'm referring to.) What does Jim Leyland like to do most other than smoke, spit food on reporters, and talk about how "tickled" he is about something dumb?

He likes to keep people fresh and play every guy on the roster. This is a problem because the 2013 Detroit Tigers bench might be the weakest I've ever seen.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Enough with the "Win" Stat, Please

Those of you that have read my ranting and raving over the past few years know that there’s two guys that cover Detroit baseball that get under my skin more than anyone: Bill Simonson and Jerry Green.

Now as much as Bill makes me want to burn down entire neighborhoods over his idiotic, poorly thought out opinions, I get that he’s playing a character. At least I hope he is. No one could possibly consistently be that wrong about the sport of baseball.

But Jerry Green should be different. He has written for the Detroit News since 1963. He’s in both the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame, for crying out loud. I want to respect the man. I want to enjoy his columns. Or at least one of them.

But I can’t. His ignorance and “get off my lawn” old man writing style is tiresome. I would avoid reading it all together, but what fun would that be for this blog, eh?

This weekend he wrote about Justin Verlander and how Felix Hernandez’s recent extension with the Mariners could affect the Tigers re-signing JV. Per the norm with Green, he had me at the beginning, for the most part. But halfway through, the train goes flying off the tracks. Happens every time.

Take a look.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Today's Top Story: Victor Martinez Says "Hi" To People

“Victor Martinez is feeling better, is in good spirits, and happy to be back with the Tigers.”

Jeff Seidel’s latest column at the Freep is going to show you how to take that simple sentence and stretch it into an 800+ word column. Sure, it’s Spring Training and there’s not much to write about…I should probably give him a pass. Everyone's doing puff pieces right now in the "real sportswriter" world. But I’ve been gone for a while and I feel I owe my loyal readers some prickish material. And I need to get into mid-season form ASAP before the Simonsons and Sharps of the world start their nonsense up again.

So enjoy this uplifting and encouraging story of the return of Tiger favorite Victor Martinez from his knee injury. With jokes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Detroit Tigers Survivor Wiki

Detroit Tigers Survivor was an imaginary version of the Survivor reality game show created by noted part-time lazy TigerSnark blogger, Scott Rogowski. The show was developed as alternative programming to the unwatchable, horrific borefest that is Tigers Weekly. It featured fourteen contestants that had connections to the Detroit Tigers baseball team and was slated to last 28 days and be broadcast over twelve one-hour episodes, with a two-hour series finale. Due to unforeseen circumstances, production ended after only three days. (See below.)