Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Detroit Tigers

Jenni has requested that I write about the Detroit Tigers here. I am grateful for the opportunity to articulate my thoughts about this postseason, because they are all over the place! I can't recount what happened in the ALCS Game 1 except that it involved a rain delay and the Tiger's Justin "MustSeeTV" Verlander was defeated by the Texas Ranger's C.J. "str8edgeracer" Wilson. You'll mostly get my feelings for the Tigers' endeavors so far, a little bit of recapping Game 2, and some other random, likely irrelevant, notes. A follow-up post to this one may or may not be called for.

I was greatly pleased to see the Tigers clinch the AL Central division, and I was even more pleased to see the regular season end with Miguel Cabrera as the league's batting champ with an average of .344. I was sorry that the (my) Tigers eliminated the (Jenni's) Yankees, but the Tigers did it, and by "it" I mean "narrowly get by." I don't feel like looking up numbers but I get the impression that the Tigers are not producing offensively this postseason. Whereas I distinctly remember people talking (tweeting) about Robinson Cano's threat to every Tigers pitcher, and a game where the Yankees scored 9 runs against the Tigers. Moreover, most of my Twitter feed seems filled with pitching information, like how Justin Verlander probably angered a weather god (a.k.a. Tom Skilling) or the difference between Jose Valverde's ERA in save and non-save situations (something like well under 1 and just under 7, respectively). Also in my feed: constant concern about Tigers injuries, like Magglio Ordonez's broken ankle and Delmon Young's tore up leg or whatever, which prevents him from throwing more than hitting. So, as much as I am rooting for a Tigers vs. Brewers World Series in which the Tigers silence the pest that is Nyjer Morgan*, rest Ryan Braun's bush baby eyes**, and end Prince Fielder's tenure as a Brewer***, I am cautiously optimistic about Detroit's postseason.

I have a hard time watching the Tigers in the postseason live, or listening to the game on the radio, or even checking Twitter while the game is on. It makes me so anxious. Until I see radio announcer Dan Dickerson's fusillade of post-game tweets, I feel like I will upset energy fields and ruin the game for Detroit (someone has written about this topic in the philosophy of physics; I'll get back to you about that when I figure out what quantum mechanics is, which is never). But I am slowly getting over this. I sat on the couch after coming home from an undramatic wisdom tooth extraction and turned the TV on. It had been left on FOX, so the ALCS Game 2 was on and the game was tied at 3-3. I resisted the urge to change the channel to food-related networks and decided to watch the game. The Rangers had established 2 runs from some doubles by Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre off of Max Scherzer, and then Ryan Raburn had hit a 3-run homer off of starter Derek Holland. Then Nelson Cruz homered, off of I think Maxwell, and by the time I turned the TV on, Joaquin Benoit and the remains of his boil from the Yankees series was pitching.

Here are some things that happened before I turned the TV on:

 Ryan Raburn brings V-Mart and Miggy home. I concur with the guy who yelled "HEY CABRERA NICE HAIRCUT" during the Yankees series. 

Leyland looks like he's being bullied but refusing to succumb. I think there was a question as to whether V-Mart had been hit by a pitch or if he hit the ball?

Miggy slid home on this questionable play, but I think he was sent back to third as the at-bat was ruled a HBP. Derek Holland looks like an overgrown junior high school kid who could probably be a little more into things.

Here is what I did observe on TV:

V-Mart had a chance to bring the speedy Ramon Santiago home from third to untie the game, but Elvis Andrus barely made this catch. He said it spun weird. 
  Nelson Cruz was hit by a Jose Valverde pitch. He was hit in the wrist, then chest. I was wondering if he had a collapsed lung. They might want to do chest x-rays just to be sure! (But don't let a bogus nurse read it and send you home with extra-strength Tylenol and instructions to relax and take a bath, only to be called back to the hospital to get a chest tube inserted for a collapsed lung.)

  At some point, this happened. Andy Dirks misread the ball and did not catch it. I saw him looking into his glove, like "Is it there?" No, it's on the ground behind you. The ball appears to have hit Austin Jackson's leg, so it didn't get behind them, which prevented a game-winning run. Maybe reliever Ryan Perry would have even preferred that kind of loss, because this loaded the bases for...

Bruised Nelson Cruz, who hit the grand slam to end the game 7-3. I think this is the best way to head to home plate after a walk-off grand slam, the first in your team's postseason history. I know a lot of people like small and smart ball, but I like big AL ball. This is my kind of win, but for the WRONG TEAM.

One thing I have a hard time understanding is how pitchers tolerate or manage the pressure they can be under, particularly the relievers. What did Ryan Perry do on his flight back to Detroit? In a postgame interview, Andy Dirks seemed to take some of the responsibility of the loss by putting Perry in a crappy spot. What did Dirks do on the plane home? Did they both wear dunce caps and sit in the last row of the plane and serve everyone on board?

These are some of the things I saw, but for which I unfortunately cannot provide photographic evidence:

-Nolan Ryan's rolling side eyes as he applauds Elvis Andrus' shaky catch, which FOX showed a total of three times and I saw on ESPN at least once later that night
-Terry Francona replacing Tim McCarver as a FOX commentator, sitting real close to Joe Buck with his arm around Buck's seat
-Josh Hamilton's reddish beard, which creeped me out a bit.

I don't really have anything against the Rangers; I even kind of like them. I like that Nolan Ryan watches the game from the park; I like Ron Washington's face; I like the Dallas-Forth Worth area largely because of Host of Hosts Dr. Teddy; Jorge Cantu was a Ranger briefly last year; I wanted them to win last year because I abhor Brian Wilson...and there must be other random reasons. But I do not like Josh Hamilton's undeserved 2010 MVP title; I am getting sick of C.J. Wilson's tweets though he seems like a genuinely nice and thoughtful guy (and he is easy on the eyes); I get Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz confused all the time; I don't like to see red in the postseason; and I don't like to see the same teams year after year in the postseason. So, in my eyes, Detroit must destroy the Rangers and move on to mow down the National League team. I realize the AL teams always get home field advantage from the All-Star games, so it's nice that the NL is finally getting their chance, but I'm tired of it already. The underdog doesn't get much love from me. But more than anything, I want Miguel Cabrera's talent to be fully realized and recognized by everyone, I want Little V-Mart to rejoice, and I want to see Jim Leyland cry.


*I kind of liked Morgan because I had him on fantasy teams, but my loyalties immediately crystallized into the other direction when he was involved in a brawl with some Marlins players towards the end of the 2010 season. Now, this may seem to be the case because I am 1 of what, 14? Marlins fans, but the more specific reason is because he seemed to anger Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez. In defense of human skyscraping pitcher Chris Volstad, Gaby came from nowhere and CLOTHESLINED Morgan. My intuitions, entirely based on Twitter†, tell me that Mr. Sanchez is a gentleman, so to incur his wrath, I imagine one must have done something quite egregious.

†My evidence: (1) He asked for pet picture tweets last year during the off-season, and he replied diligently to every one. I tweeted a picture of a young Mitsu, to which he replied "He is very cute!" or something like that. (2) He even responds to Logan Morrison's stupid and sarcastic tweets. Regarding a photo contest for free Marlins tickets held by Gaby and his wife, LoMo tweeted with playful sarcasm, "Can I enter your contest?!" Gaby responded sincerely (it seemed to me), "Sure, of course." (3) Gaby and his wife seem to hang out with another Marlin gentleman, Mike Stanton despite a six year age difference. 

**I don't dislike Ryan Braun but those eyes are worse than Emma Pillsbury's. One reason why I don't dislike him is because he did not express bitterness at Jose Reyes' decision to leave a game to maintain his leading batting average. I like to believe that Braun has this right: the Brewers are in the postseason, whereas the Mets are drenched with bad karma, luck, everything, and that is a permanent state of things. Also, Mets fans booed Reyes for his decision. Braun doesn't need to stir that already messed-up pot.

***My baseball holiday wish is that White Sox GM Ken Williams will pull one of those "What the..." moves on the baseball industry by somehow dumping Adam Didn't-Dunn-Did-It and picking up Prince Fielder.

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