Monday, May 30, 2005
Hark! What is that sound? The gentle rustle of a hundred thousand stiff wheaten bristles, jostling with one another and scratch scratch scratching across the ground, a noise at once minimal and cacophonous, a noise of cleanly joys to one and destructive shame to another....
SWEEP! Ha ha, yes indeed.
Wielding the broom were Dmitri (he of the 'DO-RAG WHICH IS BEYOND QUESTIONING and also homeruns), Pudge (the doubles are coming back, a very good sign that he's getting back on track overall at the plate), Nook (TEH SPEED!), Craigger (teh clutch hitting which doesn't exist but still! also homeruns) and the back end of the bullpen (that being The Farns, Jamie 'holy shit his ERA is still 1.96' Walker, Frankie, and Ugie-- no runs off of any of them).
Carrying the slop bucket behind in shame were Ramon Martinez (0-for-5 with a GIDP, BAD REPLACEMENT PLAYER, BAD!), Ledezma (4 innings, 3 hits, 4 runs, an error, plus 5 walks, kinda speaks for itself), and Chris Spurling (2 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, the same).
A fun fact! If you look at the pitchers used today, you'll see that the Tigers used 6 guys while the Orioles used 5. On the Tigers, only one of those pitchers has an ERA over 3.00 (and that was the starter, Ledezma). On the Orioles, only two of those pitchers have ERAs under 3.00, and one of them was James Baldwin who like played in his first game ever tonight so his stats don't even count. So that's ONE guy under 3.00. I tell you kids, this Tigers bullpen has been catcher-ass hot lately. Troy Percival who?
And those ERAs sure meant something tonight, because it was 6-2 Orioles when their starter, Bruce Chen, left the mound. The Tigs came all the way back to win it 8-6 off of a reeling Oriole bullpen, which is great for Detroit because it's exactly the kind of duke-it-out-and-come-from-behind win they haven't been getting, and terrible for Baltimore because ha ha your bullpen fucked up a huge lead.
The hapless Carlos Pena was not in the lineup tonight. Mario Impemba, the play-by-play announcer for the FSN TV broadcasts of the Tigers games, has a blog and recently asked Brandon Inge how he got out of his slump a few years ago, with an eye towards helping Pena do the same. Inge responded by saying that he went to the team shrink, who gave him the following visualization exercise, which got him hitting again:
"All I think about is the pitcher, seeing the ball and hitting it off his forehead. No mechanics enter my mind. That is my visualization."
Every time Brandon Inge is up at the plate, he is imagining whacking a line drive off of the opposing pitcher's forehead. I love it.
As for the Sox, well, you can get that from all the other billions of Sox blogs out there, can't you? David Wells pitched into the 9th inning after no one in the whole wide world thought he was going to make it out of the first inning alive. He also switched numbers with Edgah, wearing 16 instead of his coveted 3 (a number that Edgah had worn his entire career). Apparently Edgah had to offer a considerable monetary incentive to get his number back, but one has to believe that the immense sucktasticness of Wells' performance with number 3 on his back greased the way for the transaction to take place at all.
David Ortiz launched two homeruns so monstrous that they were bordering on the obscene. COVER UP THAT BALL, IT DONE VIOLATED THE CODES OF DECENCY. Joe Torre fears the Big Papi: "It's nothing new. We've watched that for a couple of years. He's a very tough hitter. Obviously, he has a lot of confidence in this ballpark. You look up there and he's hitting .280. I don't know who's getting him out -- somebody is."
At one point the ESPN announcers were prattling on about A-Rod and his therapy and his lack of a father figure (I am not even kidding) and on and on, and they kept putting the camera on A-Rod the second there was a tiny break in the action (it was a very long and drawn-out at-bat). I was watching the game with my friend Jess, and after this had been going on for about 5 minutes we both started groaning in disgust and rage at the continued A-Rod love-in. The at-bat went on, and the A-Rod talk went on, and on, and it got ridiculous.
Then the at-bat ended. In a bouncing linedrive hit to A-Rod, who let the ball carom off the top of his glove and into the outfield. It was too perfect. The camera zoomed in on his grimacing purple lips and we cackled with glee.
Me: "I'll bet he was thinking about his long-lost father just then!"
Jess: "He's gonna have to discuss that error with his therapist!"
(Yes, I am the meaner one. Couldja tell?)
The last excellent bit came just after Francona had sent Wells from the mound in the 9th ("I didn't know if he was going to give [the ball] to me"). In the dugout afterwards, the camera caught Tito ambling over and offering Wells a handshake. Wells reached out and grasped Tito's hand and shook it. Tito attempted to pull away, Wells gripped harder and pulled back. Tito laughed a little and tried to pull away again, and Wells just tightened his grip and reeled him back in, grinning rather fixedly by now.
Tito finally leaned in and let Wells say whatever he wanted to say (Wells speaking with a very strained smile by now, I imagine he wasn't overly pleased about being removed in the 9th), and eventually Boomer let him go. Jess and I were in hysterics, though.
Jess: "Oh man, he knew there were cameras around, so he couldn't punch Francona, I guess that was the next best thing."
By squashing the Orioles into a widgy little orange smear of birdy bits, the Tigers helped a suddenly-hot Boston squad launch themselves back into second place... barely. The Sox, Yanks, and BJays all have 27 wins but New York and Toronto both have 23 losses, while Boston only has 22. So we're sitting precariously but really need to whallop the O's at Fenway this week to make it stick.
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this series by the Tigers and Red Sox, but the Tigs sweeping (sweeping!) the first-place Orioles and the Sox taking 2 out of 3 from the Yankees (who had just swept Detroit in the previous series) was about as far from my nebulous expectations as possible.
Everything was a surprise. Craigger going yard in all 3 games? Edgah getting his groove back? Moose laying his pretty head down on the mound and sobbing hysterically? Mazzilli leaving in Steve Reed (thanks bunches, dude!)? DaMeat going out before every game of the series, catching an oriole using traps cunningly baited with fruit, and eating the captured prey live? OK, not exactly, but damn, he must've been doing something... 10-21 this season against them, 3-for-4 with a homer, two doubles, and three RBI in this last game? Cor blimey.
To all you Red Sox fans, I'd like to say, on behalf of Tigers fans everywhere:
Sunday, May 29, 2005
“Somewhere, Dmitri Young is putting on his doo rag and having himself a good laugh.”
The quote's from a poster over at the NYYFans game thread, after Paul Quantrill was beaten bloody by the Boston bats (alliteration!). He had 8 runs scored against him, including a grand slam courtesy of the resurgent Edgah, who just happened to be the very first batter that Pauly Q faced (bases loaded courtesy of Mike Stanton). Sweet. Very sweet.
Why so sweet? Come now, I should hope that your memories are not so short.
*insert happy, vindictive sigh here*
Today was a fun game, with a fun score of 17-1, so it led to some fun quotes!
"I threw a lot of pitches -- and not too many quality pitches. Must have been tough to watch... Tomorrow is a new day. I'm looking forward to that day, because this is a very disappointing one for me." --Carl Pavano, the hapless Yankee starting pitcher. Color me unsympathetic (a sort of dull sepia tone, I'd imagine). He hung both the Sox and the Tigs out to dry with his free agency dance, so screw him and his hand-picked Bronx home. Every time he does poorly in New York and the media rips him he can reflect that he's in a steaming pile of excrement of his own making. I wish him nothing but the choicest of failures out there*.
The in-game interview of Terry Francona by Joe Buck--
Buck: “I think last year we had a game, a blowout like this [broadcast on FOX] and you said it was bad for ratings..."
Tito: “We were losing."
Buck: “Yes, you were behind..."
Tito: “You know what, this time to hell with your ratings, we’re up.”
This caused both Joe Buck and Tim McCarver to cackle heartily, but the real beauty of it was the fact that the previous half-inning they had interviewed Joe Torre, and he had just rolled out the boring old expected platitudes about how Pavano didn't have his best stuff and A-Rod is the bestest ever. They interview Tito and he cracks sarcastic jokes. I love it.
Speakin' of McCarver, I'm relatively certain he called Robinson Cano 'Bronson' at least once during the game (which is ironic, since he is occasionally incapable of calling Bronson 'Bronson'). He also gave us the following delightful quote: “There are a lot of things in baseball that are questionable, but Bernie Williams’ dignity is not," which, er, OK. I think that any dignity Bernie may or may not have possessed was lost by association with that comment.
“This game reminds me of a trip I made with my parents up to the foothills of Tennessee. We were driving along, and there by the side of the road was a dead squirrel.....it had been run over by an automobile. Someone cared enough to get it out of the road, but still.....it was dead.
Moral of the story? We're that dead squirrel right now.” –-NYYBombshell, just another enjoyable quote from the NYYFans board. Although, for the record, if you see a squirrel that's clearly been run over but is on the side of the road and not the middle, odds are not good that someone went and moved it. It probably was flung there by the force of the car that hit it. Still a beautiful analogy when applied to today's game, from the Yankee perspective.
“We're down 16 but I'm grateful that we don't have a rally monkey.” –-wexy, the same. (S)He makes a good point. The Yanks may have been beaten like a dugout fan in the vicinity of Kyle Farnsworth today, but I will give them this much: at least they don't have a rally monkey**. Like (apparently) Bernie Williams, they can therefore claim to still have some tiny scrap of dignity.
No, you know what, McCarver is 100% wrong, Bernie Williams has absolutely no dignity left. And I do mean absolutely, positively, none. Mad props to whoever set it up so that in addition to this musical masterpiece you are recommended to check out 'Basic Training: True Homosexual Military Stories', though, that was a truly inspired bit of internet use.
I suppose that's about it, except to note that the Tigs won again today, finally giving JJ some run support. Of course they did it against a rookie pitcher, but still, this means that no matter what happens tomorrow (later today) they take the series, which has got to be heartening. Rangers next, and they did well against the Texan brigade earlier, so we'll see. The spark in the offense is just waiting to be fanned into full flame. I'M FANNING FRANTICALLY OVER HERE, GUYS, but I can't do it all myself, you know.
On a completely random note, I wanted to bring this up a bit ago. Lookout Landing had a neat interview with one of the Mariners' top minor league outfielders, Chris Snelling. He's been having a great year, and seems like a really smart kid, but what struck me from his interview was this one line:
The byproduct of a lot of strikeouts, I think, is a lot of walks, and vice versa.
Pretty level-headed and aware, for a minor leaguer. And, I might add, it sums up Mark Bellhorn to a T. Just thought it was worth noting.
Speakin' of minor leagues, John Sickels asks: Who would you rather have, Hanley or Pedroia? With cats!
I honestly don't know who I'd prefer (although the correct answer, obviously, is 'both'), but I can't be the only one who cringes violently whenever they hear Hanley described as 'toolsy' or 'a tools guy', right? Maybe it's the Moneyball in me, but jeez. I know what it means, but you never really know what it means, if, uh, you know what I mean. I know he's the most exciting player, Hanley is, but it's so hard to project how he'll actually do, especially if he is in fact subjected to the projected move to center field.
I also think everyone who compares Dustin Pedroia to David Eckstein is looking just at his stature and is selling his offense short, but what the hell do I know, I'm just an art/zoology geek.
Oh yeah, and Todd Walker's back for the Cubs. Good for him. Let's hope for his sake (and theirs) that he can stay out there.
edit: OK, I remember what I wanted to say, and since I had a cappuccino with dinner and am therefore PAINFULLY AWAKE I may as well say it. This is sort of brought on by the latest post over at the Soxaholix, but it's been something that's haunted quite a few of my baseball-related convesations lately.
Moneyball, as I (the baseball idiot) understood it was not saying that a team filled with guys who relied heavily on on-base percentage would win a ton of games. The whole point of Moneyball is that OBP guys will get you wins in the most cost-effective way. A good Moneyball team won't necessarily beat up on the Yankees; a good Moneyball team would score more runs than the Yankees per dollar spent.
Moneyball, in the true sense of the concept, does not translate into wins. It translates into runs produced cheaply. So a team like the A's might not win the division, but if they're good in a Moneyball sense, they'll score more runs with their cheap players than many other more pricey players on other teams do. Their Moneyball players aren't going to be better than A-Rod or Pudge, but they might be better for the money spent on them.
I'm not sure I stated that very clearly, but it's a misconception (that Moneyball teams are automatically unsuccessful if they don't have crazy amounts of unexpected wins) that's been nagging at me quite a bit. Moneyball's not, at its heart, about on-base percentage. It's about, well, money. Everyone seems to forget that.
That said, the A's suck right now.
*I am a happy fun flowers-and-puppies kind of person! :D :D :D Yaaayyy for teh love that fills my heart!!!11!
**For the zoological dorks in the audience, I'm almost dead certain that the Rally Monkey is a white-faced capuchin monkey, Cebus capucinus. Uh, I'm not sure why I felt it was important that you all know this right now, but in some unfathomable cosmic way, it is.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
nailbiter n. singular:
1. One who bites one's fingernails as a nervous habit.
2. A situation marked by tense nervousness or apprehension, especially an athletic contest whose outcome is uncertain near its finish.
3. Bottom of the 9th. 4-3, Tigers leading, in Baltimore. Ugueth Urbina on the mound. Bases loaded with Orioles, two outs, skinny little Jeff Fiorentino at the plate. Urbina had walked the previous two batters* and was, therefore, looking a little wild.
The count went to 2-2 before he managed to coax a swinging strike out of Fiorentino. So yes, it was most definitely a nailbiter: a must-win game against a good team, coming down to the very last moments. Dramatic. And we all know what a dramatic victory means when Ugie is on the mound and Pudge is behind the plate. Yup. You do know it.
It was an important win tonight for Detroit, and not just because it kept me from chewing off my own hand while watching the Red Sox implode (again), all wild-animal-in-an-iron-leg-trap style. I wasn't actually in an iron leg trap, obviously, but when Alan Embree comes in and turns a tie game into a game you're firmly losing, well, sometimes it certainly seems that way. But by this point the Tigers had already completed their game and won, thanks to the efficiency of Nate Robertson, and I lost no limbs.
Anyways, it was an important game because it stopped a grungy little losing skid that was as baffling as it was demoralizing; because it finally resulted in a quality outing by Gator corresponding with mild run support; because the bats started to lightly heat up, although not so much at the bottom of the order, where Nook and The Anonymous Jason Smith both went 0-4... at least Pena finally had a hit; because the Tigs are catching the Orioles at a time when they're missing Javy and Bigbie and they won't have to face Bedard and they need to get while the gettin' is good. So to speak.
Quick thought that's been nagging at me. Everyone's been frustrated and puzzled by the way the Tigs have good pitching and dismal offense, then the offense picks up and pitching falters, and nothing seems to get both going at once. Without taking a look at which games they've won and lost and how they've done it, let me just throw a little hypothesis out there.
Maybe it's Comerica?
It is, after all, a cavernous pit in the outfield there. Could it be that the roomy confines of Comerica have helped Tiger pitching look good, but have at the same time suppressed Tiger offense, causing (or at least contributing to) the unfortunate inability to perform well offensively and defensively at the same time? I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Tigs were hitting better on the road this year, but the Red Sox game is on, no way am I looking up numbers. If true, however, that just makes this series with the O's even more important-- if they can win more readily while on the road, better do it.
Still, this one was way too close for comfort, it shouldn't have had to be a nailbiter. It was 4-1 when Gator left the game, but The Farns promptly let two inherited runners score, which isn't like him-- I couldn't see pitch speeds because I was watching this part on Gameday, but I could see that he was throwing far more balls than he usually does. The Farns is a strikeout pitcher when he's on, so this was a little worrying. I know he may have had struggles like that in Chicago, but he's been pretty good about not having them this year so far. We'll see. Could very well have been just a poor outing.
Then, of course, there was Ugie loading the bases and all that fun business.
In other words, it was a win, but not the sort of win you want the team to be getting, necessarily, because it's not the kind of game that you can count on to regularly win. And lord knows the Tigers need some regular wins.
Anyways, the Orioles deserved to lose, if only for wearing these jerseys. I mean, honestly. Look, kids, Halloween came early this year!
Matt Clement just struck out the side in the first inning. 'Scuse me, kids, I have a 4th place team to go root for.
*Geronimo Gil, batting .192, not a good walk; and Brian Roberts, batting .374, er, maybe it's better that he walked.
**And yes, there was a small kiss. I couldn't get a good screenshot off of MLB TV, though... it was much quicker and more cursory than the 'We are in the process of winning the World Series' ones anyways. As one might expect. Anywho, sorry, kids. You'll just have to make do with an old one.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Finally updated the links over on the side. Added some more Sox sites that I regularly read, added a couple of Detroit sites (MARIO IMPEMBA HAS A BLOG O GLORIOUS DAY), and stuck up a couple of Wolverine sites. They're all good, check 'em out.
Beth, I don't want to hear it about this. By the time I started doing it they were already down 6-0 (I only missed one inning, ain't that special?), so the usual running-diary-causes-bad-luck thing can't apply. All the bad luck was already in place by the time I got going on it.
I was watching the Tigers game on MLB TV. Jeremy Bonderman was dealing, hitting 96 on the gun, A-Rod up… and my internet stops working. Curious. Annoying. I don’t want to watch Wade Miller get lit up like a lightening rod in an open field, I want to watch Jeremy Bonderman work like, well, a real pitcher. Plus I know that it’s a Red Sox/Yankees series coming up, so I know I’ll be watching that pretty closely, and I wanted to concentrate on the Tigers for a bit.
But fate, or my computer, or some combination of the two has decreed that I shall watch the Red Sox/Blue Jays game, sans internet, and so be it.
We pick up the action, such as it is, in the second inning. It is 6-0, Jays. I don’t know how it happened, and I don’t really want to know.
Gustavo Chacin reminds me in almost every way of a praying mantis. He’s got bug sunglasses and a wide, spreading mandible. His posture, when he brings the ball to an upright position, is distinctly mantis-like, with his torso leaning forward and his arms crooked out strangely. His delivery is mantis-like, with his hand sort of curved into a mantis hook on the back point of his release, sweeping forward in a big mantis-striking arc, with a little dangle on the end. He has a high leg-step thing going on, but it’s jerky and mechanical and, well, it looks as though he’s moving like a mantis would move. He’s ugly enough to be a mantis, for sure.
Jason Varitek singles but the rest of the Sox run screaming from his shiny green mantis claws.
Wade Miller’s delivery is much faster, smoother, and marginally less complicated than Chacin’s. It’s also about a thousand times less effective tonight, which just goes to show that ‘pretty’ gets you jack shit in baseball.
Orlando Hudson (Florida NewYork) is only wearing one sleeve tonight, so one of his arms is dark brown and the other is white. It makes for a fascinating visual when he runs and pumps his arms, for instance, right now as he steals second.
Hillenbrand sort of doubles in FL NY. I say ‘sort of’ because Shea is thrown out at second over his strident objections.
Edgah gets a hit. That’s nice.
JeremI is in for the Sox. That’s Jeremi Gonzalez to the rest of you. I do so enjoy it when our starter goes 2 innings. I’d love to see how Bondy’s doing. Too bad my internet is out.
Wade’s great at sitting in the dugout and stroking his chin, though. Marvelously stoic. I believe he’s found his role for the night: sitting and looking marvelously stoic. Maybe he should be a bench coach.
Mercifully, a quick inning.
I’m not really watching this inning, except to hear Millar talk about hitting himself in the foot. Apparently ‘the guys’ have been ‘ragging’ on him for not wearing a pad in an attempt to be tough, so now he’s wearing one.
Oh look, the ad with the Aflac duck and the mad scientist again. My life, I reflect (as I do every time I view this ad in the hundreds of thousands of times NESN will broadcast it tonight), is now complete.
I wasn’t paying attention, but I think it’s still 7-0. Perhaps Chacin got his wood termite friends to consume the Sox bats. I would believe that.
My mother, in her infinite wisdom, restores the internet. It involves hooking up the doohickey to the pluginator, and rerouting the whatsit to the whangdinger, and thumping the wall, and praying to the Giant Charcoal Gray Sharksfin, which is the actual internet broadcast god. I’m not kidding, it’s a Giant Charcoal Gray Sharksfin.
I check the Tigers score. It is 3-1, Tigers. Everyone has at least one hit except for Carlos Pena, and Bondy has 2 Ks. I quit Safari. Clearly, my not watching the Tigers is good for them.
A 1-2-3 inning for JeremI. His efficiency, compared to that of Wade earlier in the day, makes for a lovely contrast, like watching a political debate between a Harvard student and a Salem State student.
Still, surprise! 7-0.
Haven’t seen Jay Payton in a while, it’s been all Trotter all the time lately. With the lefty pitchers we were expecting to see Jay, though. Jay. JayPay! I'm rambling. I don't particularly care.
Shea kicks a Bellhorn 'hit' (it would've probably been an out if fielded cleanly) and Jay is on to third. My glee at this is muted. Then he scores on a sac fly by Johnny Damon. More muted joy. O BOY WE DONE SCORED ONE RUN WE’RE A-COMIN’ BACK.
I open up Gameday to see the bases loaded with Yankees, Derek Jeter at the plate, one out. I make a small ‘argh’ noise and immediately fear that no matter what happens A-Rod will be up shortly. However, it transpires that A-Rod is batting 5th. I am confused. Why would you have A-Rod batting 5th? I do not know. I am not Joe Torre.
Jeter grounds into a force out and scores one. JeremI makes one out but a strange, strange play sees the ball come shooting out of Millar’s glove into center field. I have no idea what happened, except whatever it is did not result in a second out.
It is time for dinner.
So I miss an inning and two thirds and it is apparently 8-1. Hooray. I notice that we have chased the mantis from the mound, though, and some dude named Walker is pitching. Hello Walker-presumbly-not-Todd. We would like to tee off against you, if it is at all possible.
Well, he strikes out Bellhorn, but that is nothing new.
My cat Izzy comes in to watch the game. “He’s had a good night tonight,” my dad says. “Who, Izzy?” “No, Renteria. He’s got a couple of hits.” Edgah rips another one as we watch.
Fat lot of good that did.
Izzy leaves the room in a cloud of distaste and cat hair (despite the cold weather, he’s shedding his winter coat).
My brother lost his tennis match against arch rivals Marblehead today, and as such is in a foul mood. He kicks me out of the room where I had been watching the game. I retire to the den, which has the biggest TV but is pretty much the only room in the house without internet access. I cannot check the Tigers score. I cannot decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Shawn Wooten is in. “Oh yay!” I say. Haven’t had a chance to see him before. He’s wearing a hockey mask, which had better be a temporary concession to his Canadian location… if he wears that thing all the time someone (‘Tek) is going to need to have some Stern Words with him about how to be a proper Red Sox.
Alan Embree is in. “Oh, no,” I say. It is a preemptive ‘oh no’.
Remy pronounces ESPN phonetically, referring to it as ‘ess-pin’. Embree, shockingly, gets a 1-2-3 inning. The words ‘fat lot of good’ float across my mind again.
Wooten up to bat. He makes an out quickly, before I can get a good look at his swing. So much for my first look at Shawn Wooten. My impression of him for the night will be that goddamn hockey mask.
Kevin Millar has an enormous white shin guard which, on top of his high red sock, looks ridiculous. They must’ve been ragging on him quite hard. A fan touches the ball and he gets a ground-rule double.
Youks is in. May as well, right? Hey, with Wooten up maybe he’s finally not the ‘rookie’ on the team.
Millar wanders off the bag and is picked off at second. Remy makes a ‘mmn mmn mmn’ noise, like he’s shaking his head and muttering.
Despite the infusion of youth into the lineup all of a sudden, it remains 8-1.
The LOOGY is in to pitch. He promptly socks Frank Menechino on the shoulder. I am not particularly clear on why we have our LOOGY pitching to right-handers but then again I am not getting paid to think about these things.
Izzy comes back in. We have a short staring contest, which I win. Izzy remains impassive even in his defeat, and wanders back out to the kitchen. The image of Wade Miller sitting blankly in the dugout drifts across my mind for no particular reason.
Russ Adams looks younger than I do. (He is, allegedly, 5 or so years older.)
Youks falls into the crowd in pursuit of a foul ball and in the process of regaining his feet is cradled lovingly by a fan for a long few seconds. Amy must be so jealous.
*grabs brim of hat, half-tips it*
"Always wear hats."
Bill Mueller and the happy matter of the Bob’s ad makes it marginally better.
Walker-not-Todd throws a ball to the backstop. Then he gets Youks to strike out, which is rare and unpleasant, not entirely unlike the bite of the brown recluse spider.
Bellhorn pops out to end the inning, the game, and the series.
The Toronto Blue Jays have swept the Boston Red Sox.
I only saw the last couple of innings of the Tigers game. In fact, I tuned in pretty much just in time to catch The Farns coming in. Damn did he look good. He was mixing speeds, throwing strikes, and generally dominating the shit out of the game of baseball. Actually, I don't think any runs were scored off of the Tigers bullpen. And Bondy didn't have a terrible outing. It's just this damn anemic offense that's not doing any good.
I did see Pudge get a double, though. That was nice. And it was fun to hear Rod talk about it aftewards.
“That’s when he’s at his best, when he’s trusting his hands, allowing his lower half to do the work for him.”
Rawr. Indeed, Rod, indeed.
So yeah, both my teams got swept, and both are in 4th place in their respective divisions, behind the Surprising Upstarts at Number 1 (Baltimore, ChiSux), the Usual High Seeds at Number 2 (Yanks, Twinkies), and the Excruciatingly Mediocre But Still Better Than Us Teams at Number 3 (BJays, Indians). Surprisingly parallel, actually, come to think of it.
Thank god each division also has a Perennial Cellar Dwellar (DRays, Royals) as well, or I shudder to think of my mental state right now.
Still. AIN'T THIS FUN?
Thursday, May 26, 2005
This is basically two posts in one day, separated only by the fact that we're going the vaguely insomniatic route tonight (not my fault, the rain slamming into the windows is keeping me up), and I try to avoid doing two posts in one day as much as is humanly possible, but just when I start to feel down about these latest games, I mope and mutter and read some of the articles written about them.
And I remember why I really, really love these guys.
In Tuesday night's game, A-Rod was hit by Frankie. Intentional, not intentional, debateable. Whatever. Later in the game, Paul Quantrill throws at The Anonymous Jason Smith. He misses, and is warned. Next pitch he throws at him again, higher, and hits him. Fracas, ejections, etc. We've already gone over all that. What I hadn't read were the reactions from the Tigers.
Said former Yankee Rondell White: "I lost a lot of respect for [Quantrill]. A lot of guys on the team feel the same way. To me, that's terrible... I'm glad Marcus [Thames] went deep to make his ERA go up. Let's put it that way."
Nice. The best, as usual, is Dmitri Young.
"I didn't think he was going to try again," Dmitri Young said, "but then he did. And then he had to go aim at the guy's head. [Quantrill] doesn't even know that [Smith's] wife is about to have a baby ... and then he goes at the guy's head? He can kiss my ass for all I care. Thank you. Print that."
The article had 'ass' replaced with '[rear end]', but c'mon, you put rear end in brackets and I'm pretty sure we all know what Dmitri said anyways. I'm not sure what all that bit with the baby is, but goddamn Dmitri, I heart you. It gets better, though. There was a little more chatter tonight. Apparently someone told Quantrill about Dmitri's comments and he felt inspired to respond.
"Dmitri wears his doo-rag too tight," Quantrill said. "He took out [John Flaherty] in a Spring Training game, made some wonderful predictions for his team and he's the one that wants to speak out about his ideas on the world. I don't need to hear Dmitri's opinion."
When reporters took that answer to Young, he suggested that Quantrill come over and loosen his doo-rag... "We're in the AL Central," Young said of his club. "We're the trash-talkingest division in baseball."
Every damn thing about this awesome. Quantrill just had to bring up the doo-rag, didn't he? Hilarity. Can we claim he's being mildly racist or something? That would be great. Funny enough on its own, though. And I can just see the reporters running from one clubhouse to the other, gleefully carrying these quotes and trying to egg the ballplayers on. And Dmitri 'suggesting Quantrill come over and loosen his doo-rag'.... and calling the AL Central the 'trash-talkingest division in baseball'..... my god. Every bad thing that happened on the field tonight has been nullified. I love baseball.
I love Dmitri Young.
edit: Additional chatter and a clarification. A-Rod was hit in the bottom of the 7th inning. Top of the 8th, Quantrill comes in and faces Brandon Inge, Ramon Martinez, and Vance Wilson all before getting to and plunking TAJS. Up 11-0 in the 8th, if you're going to be hitting guys, why not hit Inge? At least he's an everyday player, not some poor backup, and he's the first guy you face, so it makes some small degree of sense.
Dmitri wonders about the same: "If they hit [leadoff man Brandon] Inge down low, there's no problem with that. We hit their superstar after two home runs. That part of the game happens... But when you go after a backup player because you're scared to hit an everyday player, to me you're not a good teammate, because you hit a backup guy around the head."
Which sure sounds like the A-Rod HBP was intentional, but eh. Quantrill also had a little more to say.
"If they want to come out on the field and chirp, then just come out to the mound... When guys get wild when our guys are having a fantastic day at the plate, that leads to tension. The guy pitching for the Tigers, whatever his name is, it must have been the rain, the ball was slippery.''
His name is Franklyn German, Pauly. What is it with Yankees 'forgetting' the names of their opponents? Is this a 'we're too good to actually know who we're playing' kind of attitude, or are they all just so old that the Alzheimers is starting to set in?
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I've been neglecting the features.
And, since I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT TONIGHT, I figure it's a perfect time to address them. First off, the RantBlog is not dead, I've been working on it. It's just taking a bloody long time, since there are a great many Red Sox sites to go through, and I keep deleting huge swathes of it in fits of pique. So since that's not ready to go for tonight, we're going to resume one of our old favorites.
Yes, it's time for more Fun With Roster Photos!
Now, we’ve already got the Sox and their main AL East rival, the Yankees. We already have the Tigers, so it seems only appropriate that we do one of their AL Central rivals, who just happen to still be the best team in baseball. Everyone should know the faces of the best team in baseball, so this will be both fun and educational!
So, without further ado, I give you the Chicago White Sox.
Piggy eyes! Piggy eyes piggy eyes piggy eyes! Pity the very first photo has to be so completely terrifying, huh?
He’s not a Mariner, so we can’t call him the Ancient Mariner, but the Ancient White Sox doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. I wonder if he remembers the Black Sox scandal? He certainly looks old enough.
That’s about three hairs away from being a unibrow, that is. I’d say it was one and the MLB folk airbrushed it out, but it’s painfully evident that these people couldn’t use an airbrush if you gave them a year-long tutorial on it.
Never a good sign when your head shape most closely resembles a poorly wedged brick of clay.
It’s a marvel he can pitch so well even though he’s crosseyed, isn’t it?
Dustin, on the other hand, can evidently look in separate directions at once, like a chameleon.
There’s basically no contrast whatsoever in this photo. He has no features except for eyes. What the hell did they do, light it with shadow-killing fluorescents? Oh wait, they probably did.
Pale, skinny, poor complexion… yup, he’s getting wedgies from the bigger players in the lockerroom.
Me troll! Me eat bones! Me bang rocks with more rocks! Me eat McCarthy! Rargh!
I can’t be the only one terrified by his perfectly arched eyebrows. Like they were drawn with a protractor!
Piggy eyes part II. Also, his cheekbones look like they’re trying to explode out of his skin.
Wow, the Pillsbury Doughboy plays baseball! (why do I feel like I used that joke in a previous Fun with Roster Photos? oh well, too lazy to go back and look)
How he managed to mouth off to so many Giants with that teeny, tiny little mouth we may never know. (Who managed to spell his name without looking at any references? Ha ha, I rule.)
He looks so hopeful, I hate to disappoint him… but, Chris, you appear to be missing half your eyebrows. You also appear to have a dessicated catepillar dying slowly where your goatee should be. I'm so sorry.
The Neanderthal brow is always a wonderful addition to any color-washed-out portrait.
You smoke the weed after the photo shoot. After! How many times do we have to tell you guys?
Other than the obligatory washed-out color, this isn’t a terrible shot. He doesn’t really look too bad here. Congratulations, MLB photographers. Your thousand monkeys have written Shakespeare.
Is he wearing blush? He must be, to get any color at all in this blasted lighting. Oh Konerko, you big girl.
He either doesn’t have eyebrows at all (a la Mona Lisa) or he’s really, really startled.
Mmmm, pizza, piiiiizzzzaaaaaa… oh, uh, you’re taking a photo, what?
Seducing you with his bedroom eyes. Disturbing, but only mildly. A relative photographic victory.
He’s far too cool to look at the camera head-on, obviously.
If he didn’t have the goatee to tell us there was a distinction, his head would blend perfectly into his neck. Hooray bad lighting.
Either Podsednik has had cosmetic surgery to correct a harelip… or the photographers have made him look like he did. Either way makes him a special, special person.
No one should ever, ever take goatee-shaping advice from Kevin Millar. Shame on you, Rowand, shame on you.
And that's it. I've got nothing more to say, except that a 6-day suspension probably throws off your rhythym a bit, Jamie Walker is the most unexpected stud ever, and both offenses sucked tonight. There, that's it, I'm off to watch Baseball Tonight and some nice, soothing Dodgers/Giants, or whatever California matchup is on ESPN tonight. Hooray for baseball that won't make me want to cry.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Blame the Wilson's warbler.
Wilsonia pusilla, click for big.
This horrible night of baseball is all his fault. I know that my computer desktop images have a huge impact on the outcome of baseball games... after all, the Red Sox started winning in the final stretch last year as soon as I put up the 'Have You Hugged Your Star Quarterback Today?' wallpaper, and so long as I kept it up they kept on winning, right up to the World Series... at which time I put up some nice homemade World Series champions wallpaper, obviously.
But for tonight I had the Wilson's warbler, and as both the Red Sox and Tigers went tumbling into the abyss, I think we can pretty firmly blame him.
To be fair, though, the warbler wasn't out there playing on the grass (or faux grass, as the Sox were in Toronto), so there's some blame left over to be spread among the actual, y'know, players.
For the Sox the obvious person to blame is Alan Embree, aka The Chipmunk, aka The Chaw, aka The Known Shitty Quantity (via ECA), aka YOU SUCK EMBREE YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK. The walk-off homer by Reed 'I am named after a piece of a fucking clarinet' Johnson hurt, but let us not forget that Embree also let Florida NewYork* single and walked McDonald before Reed even got to the plate. So it wasn't just a small moment of suckitude, a tiny little mental lapse... no, you musn't think that. It was Alan Embree being his usual craptastic, ineffective self through and through.
In the battle of the Davids (Bush vs. Wells), no one was a winner, but since we don't really give a crap about Toronto we're just going to focus on what David Wells did wrong. What he did wrong was give up hits. And runs. Seven of the former and five of the latter, actually, in 6.3repeating innings. At least he went 6 innings this time, right? Got further than the second inning, right? Hooray. He was still much more hittable than the Sox can afford him to be. Plus someone on the SG messageboard dug up this image of Wells, David Cone, and Jeter, which haunted me all game and will probably continue to do so all night.
I'm also blaming the Toronto field, because I hate it in many varied ways. The fake grass under the dome, while no longer the murderous Astroturf, is still unpleasant. I don't like the dirt-less basepaths, the little orange islands around each base. I really don't like that video board out in center field, on the field-level, because it confuses and angers me. Why do you need a video board on the ground? When someone makes a play out there and the camera focuses on them it makes your eyes go hooey. Plus it's unsafe-- Johnny Damon cut up his hand on it earlier in the season when he slammed into it on one of his usual reckless fielding plays.
Also, Kevin Millar... I am not blaming him, per se, but I can't be the only one darkly amused by the fact that he tells Boston fans to lay off Renteria one day, and the next day Edgah goes 2-4 with a fancy little triple while Millar goes 0-4 and grounds into a double play. It could be good for Edgah to get away from Fenway for a couple of short series, get his act together and be better prepared to face the rabid booing masses when he comes home, but regardless I think he probably would have worked out of his slump without Millar poking his hooked nose in. Kevin, you yourself have not exactly been a hitting machine lately, possibly you should concentrate on that.
Of course, it must've been nice for Edgah to know that his teammates would stick up for him in public like that. As opposed to, say, this:
[Alex] Rodriguez... was plunked near the hip by Franklyn German in the seventh, a pitch that appeared to be intentional....
Paul Quantrill retaliated in the eighth, throwing behind Jason Smith and then hitting him with a pitch in the back. That brought the Tigers out of their dugout, and Quantrill egged them on, gesturing for them to come out for a fight.
But the Yankees never left their bench, and order was quickly restored with no punches thrown. Quantrill and manager Joe Torre were ejected.
The Tigers come racing out of their dugout, and Quantrill's left standing out there all by his lonesome. Nice. There's also the irony involved in who he hit, of course. The Tigs plunk A-Rod, who had hit a homerun in each of his previous at-bats and had already hit eleventy billion longballs on the year. So New York retaliates by hitting... The Anonymous Jason Smith, who has a .212 batting average on the year (.227 lifetime!) and looks like one of the most blandly inoffensive fellows in the game.
Not only that, but A-Rod had been hit in the hip, which is the right way to go about intentionally hitting a guy. Quantrill threw behind TAJS, then at his head, then gestured at the Tigers bench when it emptied to try to start a fight. All this, mind you, while his team was up 11-0. New York, New York, it's one heckuva classy organization, huh?
As for blame being assigned, well, you can't really do it in this game, because basically everyone on the Tigers was at fault here. Pitching? Ledezma deserves blame for giving up 7 runs in 4 innings, Ginter deserves blame for giving up 4 runs without recording an out (and being removed with that standing... isn't that something like an infinite ERA on the game?), Doug Creek deserves blame for being so abysmally bad that Robinson
Crusoe Cano got a homerun off of him.
Franklyn German is the only one I'm not blaming for this pitching performance, mostly because he hit A-Rod and in a game this bad you have to admire the spirit. You'll also note that A-Rod didn't charge the mound with German on it. I guess the 'string bean' that is Bronson Arroyo is one thing, but when you see 6'7, 270 lbs of pissed-off pitcher staring back at you it's probably best to avoid making any sudden moves towards him.
As for the offense, pretty much everyone's in the doghouse (cathouse?). The slumps of Pudge and Pena both continued, Nook had a hitless night, Guillen had a hitless night plus error, Bingey went 1-5. Rondell and Ramon Martinez had some hits, but they were all singles and did absolutely nothing for the Tigs. The one bright spot was the three-run homer by The River Thames, and all that did was make sure the Yankees didn't get a shutout.
I'm not sure you can say that much else happened today that was good... Bill Mueller had a two-run homer that I quite enjoyed, but of course he was hit in the foot later in the game (thanks, NESN, for replaying it so that we could actually hear the thunk of the ball hitting him, and letting us watch him roll around on the ground in extreme agony, I always like seeing my favorite players in those situations) and had to leave. The Orioles won but lost Javy Lopez to the DL (broke a bone in his hand) and maybe Brian Roberts for a few games (took a ball to the knee then slid into second base and aggravated it), so maybe that counts as something good.
Look, I've been reduced to counting the misfortunes of our divisional rivals as 'good', that's how depressing today was**. And all because of that goddamned warbler.
The warbler has been replaced, by the by, with Barry Zito sitting in the clubhouse playing guitar and looking pretty. If he doesn't work tomorrow for at least one of my teams, we'll know he's really lost all his Barry Zito mojo this season.
edit: This is neither here nor there, but I think that Doug Mientkiewicz may be clinically depressed. Not eating or sleeping? Maudlin apologies? Verbal self-flagellation? Jeez, if he doesn't start hitting soon the Mets are gonna have to start putting him on Prozac.
*That's Orlando Hudson t'you.
**Of course the nor'easter currently battering us hasn't helped matters.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Oh fer crissakes...
Today the Red Sox and the Tigers match up in a inconsequential game at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Well, sort of inconsequential.
"Going through the Hall itself is the highlight of the trip for me," manager Alan Trammell said. "It takes me back to my youthful days of dreaming and aspiring of someday being in professional baseball.
"When I was young, what I used to do in the summer is go to the library and read about sports, especially baseball. That was just me. When I go to the Hall of Fame, it brings back very good memories of those days.
"I'm sure I'm biased, but I think the history of baseball is better than any of the other sports. When you talk about baseball history, we all can name players from way back -- and that's the part I really enjoy." --Detroit News
Someone care to tell me why this guy isn't already on the ballots?
Anyways, I'm hoping the Detroit fans at the game today start up a "LET TRAM IN" chant at the Hall of Fame field or something. At the very least they should have some signs.
Meaningless? Maybe to some...
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Red Sox Fan Foto, making sober people look drunk since whenever the hell they started it.
So we've got the Boston Red Sox playing the Atlanta (and formerly Boston) Braves, the New York Yankees playing the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers playing the Los Angeles/Anaheim/California (i.e. Rally Monkey) Angels, the Houston Astros playing the Texas Rangers, the Florida Marlins playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Chicago Cubs playing the Chicago White Sox... Cleveland versus Cincy, Oakland versus San Fran...
And then there's the Detroit Tigers playing the Arizona Diamondbacks. Natural rivals! I mean, man, Detroit just hates Arizona, it's all hot, and, uh, dry, and not crime ridden, and also hot. And... tigers hate snakes. Especially purple and teal ones. And, uh, really old teams hate expansion teams. Sorry kids, I got nothin'.
Anyways, I was indeed at the game tonight against the Braves, and we did indeed win, although not before Keith Foulke made it interesting. A bunch of people started leaving after the 8th inning, and I turned to Jess and said (sarcastically), "Man, why would you leave now? Foulke's coming in, we've got a whole half-inning to let the game get really close!" Foulke, bless his round little skull, proceeded to give up a number of booming hits that stayed in the park only due to the collective, inward blowing power of prayer emanating from the Fenway stands. A 4-1 game rapidly became a 4-3 game before he managed to squint and groan and strain and get the last out. I hate it when I'm right.
Jess and I didn't get there terribly early, but we did get there early enough to watch Manny and Ortiz run backwards across the field together in warmups, and to see Foulke, Mueller, and Edgah signing for the little kids along the first baseline. My first thought, upon seeing this, was, "Aw, how nice of them!" It was only with my second thought that my brain declared, "Fucking kids, they don't properly appreciate close proximity to the majesty that is Bill Mueller."
I got to see Emma before the game started, which was cool. Look mom, I met one of the mystical internet people, and I live to tell the tale!
I would like to reiterate the fact that I hate the pink hats. Hate. HATE. And you people who showed up in the pink hats and pink tshirts, over which you put pink sweatshirts later in the game, making for an entire sickening pink Red Sox attire ensemble? I do not know you personally, but I hate you. I found you more obnoxious and insufferable than that one really vocal Braves fan in our section who hooted and hollered like he'd won the lottery every time Julio Franco lifted his arm up without it falling off, and he was pretty fucking insufferable.
Coming into the game I was very interested in seeing both Hudson and Miller pitch, as I'd never seen either before. Miller was dominant for the first few innings, but then he lost one or two mph off of his fastball and seemed to throw the curveball a bit less, and he started having trouble hitting his spots. As Jess noted, he was throwing strikes early in the game, and later he was having to get guys out with long at-bats and defense. Which is fine, I guess, an out is an out, but you could see the difference as the game progressed, and I don't want to see the difference as the game progresses.
With Hudson it was just the opposite. He had a horrible first couple of innings, and then he settled down. Going into the 7th inning I didn't think that either pitcher would be back-- Wade had thrown 90-some-odd pitches and was looking shaky, Huddy had thrown 100-some-odd pitches and hadn't looked terribly frightening all game-- and I didn't really think that they should. I figured the Braves wouldn't let Huddy's pitch count ride up too high, especially in light of the oblique problems last year. I saw no reason for Miller to go out for the 7th, not with a fully rested bullpen and the way he had been pitching the inning before.
Miller did end up going to pitch part of the 7th and was taken out in the middle for Timlin after getting an out or two (hey, it's not like I was taking notes) and giving up a double. I still don't like it. I don't think he should've been out there for the 7th at all. Sure, it was nice to see him walk off the field to an immense standing ovation ("It felt great," Miller said of the ovation. "I felt like I was part of a team"), but I'd feel pretty comfortable with a well-rested Timmy going 2 full innings, and Miller's struggles in the later innings were of the "Aaargh, my arm is sore, also everyone in the stadium sees my pain and angst and inability to have a short at-bat" variety.
I also can see exactly what people mean when they say that he 'throws across his body'. It's a pitching motion that goes sharply from his right shoulder to his left hip, and it looks like a shoulder injury waiting to happen. Er. A shoulder injury that already did happen, and that we're really hoping doesn't happen again. Honestly, seeing the way he pitches, I'm surprised he was able to completely rehab a frayed rotator cuff without surgery, but what the hell do I know... if it works, I guess it works.
Huddy's delivery looked much the same as it always does, although I thought he was cutting back on the giant slide-step a smidge tonight. His fastball wasn't anything to write home about either*, but he kept it in the low 90s more consistently than Wade did, and later in the game he would hit 90 for a big pitch, when he really needed it, so you could tell that he was reaching back into his reserves of pitching stamina, and that this was effective up to a point.
And, after the second inning, when it became evident that he was going to look emienently hittable for at least part of the night, I was able to sit back** and enjoy the fact that he has a really very lovely, ah, posterior aspect. So to speak.
Offensively there were high points (Billy going yard) and low points (Edgah making final outs twice in bases-loaded-two-out situations-- kill, KILL!). Timlin looked really strong to me, throwing in the low 90s and just blowing past Braves batters. Plus he wears the high socks. And has a 0.86 ERA, which is so hot that it trumps high socks for hotness points. I'm starting to maybe regularly feel good about the game when the strains of 'Black Betty' fill Fenway.
To the people in the outfield who started the wave, and to the guys sitting directly behind us who gloried sickeningly in it: I hate you all too. After the second or third time the wave went around and I dourly refused to budge, Jess turned to me and said, "Aw, you don't like the wave?"*** to which I replied, probably too loudly, "I'm here to watch a goddamn baseball game, I don't want to do the fucking wave." The older gentleman in front of us, who had a scorecard and meticulously pencilled in the appropriate data all game long, turned his head slightly and nodded solemnly. It was ace. Oh, and I know that Kristen, at least, agrees with me. And she was in the outfield seats, I can't imagine how vile it was out there.
I also saw two beachballs, one in and around our section and one out in the outfield seats, which immediately made me think of the delightful Dodger Thoughts post and subsequent commenting discussion on the same. Apparently they're quite the plague in LA, flying thick as multicolored plastic inflatable locusts in the bleachers. Now, I only saw the two at Fenway, and the one on my side of the field was small-- say, a couple notches smaller than a basketball-- but I was still mildly enraged.
Beachballs just seem so... I don't know, so day game, not so Friday Night Game. So LA, not so Boston. So "we don't really give a shit about our team, we're just here 'cause it's cool and/or we were bored", not so "it's so fucking hard to get tickets, if you're in this park you'd damn well better be a good fan". Sadly, a lot of awesome fans can't go to Fenway due to the unavailability/priciness of the tickets while lots of pink-hatted sorts get in, but I still like to think that the majority at least are there for the baseball. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm overreacting to the beachballs (OK, I know I'm overreacting to the beachballs).
Then again, maybe beachballs at Fenway is the sign of The Beast and the world as we know it about to come to a fiery end, and Mark Bellhorn will never strike out again, and something more hilarious than Dale Sveum catching warmup pitches will happen between innings.
I note that we're getting back into the periodic raging against men who can't comprehend women who know sports mode, which is always good for a discussion or three, and is much less likely to make me want to sob hysterically than the other conversation that is never resolved and haunts my life, which is the whole What is Art? schtick.
Now, if you read what Beth wrote there, I think she's giving you male critters far too much credit... I mean, no way are you sneaky enough to talk in code, most of you have enough trouble speaking plainly. Ha ha, I kid! It's only the Michigan State and Ohio State types among you who have that problem. In my everyday life I experience this phenomenon little-- in the art school, it's shocking that anyone knows anything about sports, and the few guys who enjoy a little baseball chatter are so utterly relieved to find someone to talk to that I could have a giant praying mantis head and they wouldn't notice or care.
That said, let me relate a couple of pertinent anecdotes from tonight.
There were some lightly soused gentlemen sitting a few seats down from us, and every so often they would get up and shuffle out of the row to go get more alchohol or empty their bladders or cut out their already-ineffective livers and throw them at Braves fans or whatever the drunk people at baseball games do when they get up all the time. Jess and I were sitting on the end of the row, so every time they got up they would pass us, usually with a, "Sorry, ladies, *lopsided wink*" type of thing.
At one point they got up and one of them addressed me as he passed, saying, "Hudson's done, he's gonnah get lit up now, he's got nuthin' left." I hmmed and said, "Well, Miller doesn't have much left right now either, he hasn't exactly looked great, I wouldn't get too cocky about Hudson." Cue squinty confused drunk guy stare. Whuh? Female? Opinion on pitching status? Brain much hurty. Must consume more beer. Which, whatever, I was maybe 2% mildly offended and 98% amused.
After the game, as we were walking around outside Fenway, we came up alongside a pack of guys discussing the New York series. One of them was loudly gabbling on about, "Hey didjoo guyz see how Pedro did tuhnight? Pedro's been doin' real good out there, I'm followin' him all yeah, I wanna see how he did tonight," and then they all went on to talk about Pedro and the Mets and the Yanks. Jess and I were rolling our eyes as we passed this group and I muttered, "Yeah, OK, but Pedro's not going tonight, it's Kevin Brown versus Carlos Zambrano, Pedro was supposed to pitch but he got moved back, sheesh."
Jess laughed and said, "I love how you could totally kick the butt of any of these guy baseball fans," and we got some startled looks, and went on our way. But isn't that sad? I haven't even been really following Pedro this season so far, and here's this guy claiming to be a great big Pedro fan, and he doesn't even know what days he's pitching on. Oh well again.
Also, don't a lot of people read Will Carroll's The Juice blog? I rather thought they did. So how the hell did no one comment on this entry by Will's blogging partner, Scott Long?
Fox has decided to add chicks to a couple of their shows to which I would offer--WHY? I would consider myself unique in that I enjoy talking to women about sports, unlike most guys who would rather they never utter a word on the subject.
Having mentioned my enlightened thoughts on the subject of women and athletic conversation, let me also throw out the caveat that women should not be doing sports radio, as they don't have the knowledge or the voice to do it. Sorry, but it makes me want to turn the channel. I never got the whole Flabbiest Sports Babe phenomenom, as I thought she was just a big-mouth with little to offer. I have no problem with women doing sports highlights on TV, but they shouldn't be breaking down male sports.
Wow. He's enlightened, kids, he doesn't feel threatened by women who want to talk sports with him! He just doesn't think they're smart enough to be on the airwaves. Seriously, how the hell did no one comment on that before?
I want to finish this up because I'm dead certain no one's still reading it anyways, but it is utterly vital that I make sure everyone knows about Marcus Giles getting ejected. He got tossed just after a called third strike, so my guess is that he was arguing balls and strikes and that got him thrown. He then proceeded to go mad and attempted to attack the umpire. He was forcibly restrained by his own treammates and slowly walked off the field. As he went, the sound system fired up and 'Sweet Caroline' came on, much to the delight of the crowd.
For those of you who have not had the luck to visit Fenway personally, 'Sweet Caroline' is played every game, and every game the crowd sings along. The Fenway sound system people stop the music at the 'oh oh oh' parts and the crowd tunefully shouts on its own.
So as Giles was being led back into the visitors dugout, helmet off, head down, muttering angrily, the entire crowd was shouting "OH OH OH!" and, in some cases, waving cheerfully at him. I am not sure Giles even knew what was happening. It was bloody hilarious.
Oh yeah, and Julio Franco, the Braves DH, is older than Terry Francona, the Red Sox manager, by at least a year, possibly more if his actual age is older than his listed age. I don't even know what to say to that.
*Kyle Farnsworth, you have spoiled me!
**Metaphorically speakin'. I actually spent almost all of the game hunched over, elbows on my knees and chin on my fists. This is normal. I am not sure if I am capable of sitting upright for a live Sox game. I don't think I could contain the nervous energy.
***She knew I was going to react like that, too. I'm far too easy to prod.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
*Dramatic confrontation between Jeter and A-Rod, standing on a baseball field surrounded by HOT MOLTEN LAVA. Jeter is wearing pinstripes and a simple tan robe, emblazoned with Gatorade symbols. A-Rod is wearing his gray away uniform with great big black leather boots (the boots will not be explained). Both carry bats, both have their uniforms artfully smeared with pine tar, and both wear expressions of poorly-emoted anguish. Tino Martinez stands between them, with his hair in a fetching braid, hands raised imploringly to A-Rod.*
Tino: Alex, baby, don't do this. You're such a good guy. I know everyone's been saying lies about you to the media, I know you're a True Yankee!
A-Rod: IT'S JETER, ISN'T IT? YOU'VE BEEN LISTENING TO JETER! HE'S POISONED YOU AGAINST ME!
Tino: No baby, it's not like that! I know you're a good Yankee!
A-Rod: THEN COME TO ME! WE WILL DESTROY JETER, I AM MORE POWERFUL THAN HE IS! TOGETHER WE WILL RULE THE YANKEES AND MAKE EVERYTHING JUST HOW WE LIKE IT AND JUST HOW IT SHOULD BE, AND THE YANKEES WILL NEVER LOSE AGAIN!!
Tino: Oh my god.... you.... you've gone mad... you're not the man I thought you were! Jeter was right!
*Tino backs away, hands raised imploringly in front of him, face scrunched up in cringing terror and sopping wet from a combination of sweat and tears. His braid is all awry.*
A-Rod: I WON'T LET HIM TAKE YOU AWAY FROM ME!! HE TOOK MY POSITION, HE TOOK MY UNIVERSAL POPULARITY, HE WON'T TAKE YOU! RRRARRRGH!
*A-Rod beats Tino with his bat, stamping about madly with his giant black boots to indicate his unstable mental state. Tino cowers and screams and, for some reason, protectively curls up around his abdomen.*
Jeter: Alex! Stop it! You're hurting him! LET HIM GO!!
Tino: Nooooo, my baaaabbbbyyyy.....
*Tino is knocked unconscious on the ground. A-Rod and Jeter square off properly, without his useless and girlish idealism or interference. Both let their hands drift to the handles of their bats. The New York media crowds around, camera lenses glinting in the dancing orange light of the HOT MOLTEN LAVA.*
Jeter: Look at you! Look at what you've done! What you've become! Those hideous red eyes and that waxy complexion which is, like, so Transylvania. That will totally never fly in the Big Apple. I... I have failed in your training. I have failed you.
A-Rod: I HAVE POWERS NO YANKEE HAS EVER HAD BEFORE! I HAVE POWERS YOU CANNOT DREAM OF! IT IS MY EMPIRE NOW, MINE TO RULE OVER! IT IS MY PLACE TO SPREAD PEACE AND JUSTICE AND WORLD SERIES VICTORIES THROUGHOUT! MINE! MINETY MINE-MINE MINE! ALSO I HAVE NEW CONTACTS. LOOK, RED! THEY SAY THEY BLOCK OUT SUNLIGHT SO I WON'T LOSE FOUL BALLS ON SUNNY DAYS.
Jeter: A-Rod, you were supposed to be the Chosen One! You were supposed to destroy evil and restore balance to the Yankee Way, not leave it in tatters!
A-Rod: YOU ARE WEAK! YOU SHUN THE DARK SIDE OF THE YANKEE WAY! I HAVE EMBRACED IT, AND MY POWERS ARE UNBEATABLE, AND I AM TOTALLY A BETTER SHORTSTOP THAN YOU ARE.
Jeter: *gasp!* The Dark Side! OMG you're on STEROIDS. You have been subverted by Giambi and Sheffield, lured by the temptations of power hitting!
A-Rod: NO YOU PINHEAD I'M NOT ON STEROIDS. I'VE JUST EMBRACED THE DARKER SIDE OF BEING A YANKEE, LIKE REVELING IN MY ILL-GOTTEN AND BLOATED CONTRACT INSTEAD OF TASTEFULLY IGNORING IT, AND ADMITTING TO BUSH-LEAGUE ATTACKS ON OPPOSING PITCHERS, AND STUFF.
*Jeter raises his bat, tears running down his face, choking on heartfelt sobs, turning his head to make sure the TV cameras properly capture the tragic glistening trails*
Jeter: You... you were like a brother to me! We shared the same infield! I loved you!
A-Rod: YOUR TIME IS OVER, OLD MASTER. THE INFIELD IS ALL MINE. I HATE YOU! OH WAIT.
*A pause, during which A-Rod reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small compact. He hastily applies dark eye shadow to make his eyes look smoky and dramatic and to better highlight his red contacts.*
A-Rod: OK, MUCH BETTER. NOW YOUR TIME IS UP, BITCH!
*A spectacular fight ensues. Jeter and A-Rod attack one another with their bats, making staticky whooshing noises with their mouths as they do for no adequetely explained reason. They leap about with the sort of acrobatic ability one would expect from two master shortstops (or one shortstop and one former shortstop bitterly forced into playing third base), hurling themselves from base to base. Jeter throws himself into some nearby stands with reckless abandon, although there is no reason for him to do so, and the media hoarde murmurs appreciatively. A-Rod runs with a feminine, weak-wristed motion and slaps Jeter's bat out of his hands, leaving Jeter to scramble for his weapon. Several cameramen are inadventently knocked into the MOLTEN HOT LAVA and perish.*
A-Rod: I WILL HIT HOMERUNS AT A RATE YOU HAVE NEVER HIT THEM IN YOUR ENTIRE MISERABLE CAREER. I AM THE MOST POWERFUL YANKEE EVER TO EXIST, EVER, IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.
*A-Rod raises his bat, waggling it dramatically.*
Jeter: Don't try it, Alex. Don't do it.
A-Rod: YOU UNDERESTIMATE MY ABILITIES, JETER!
*A-Rod leaps into the air, bat lifted high to smite Jeter where he stands. But Jeter has been around longer and is wiser in the ways of Yankeedom and, more importantly, Yankee Stadium. He instantaneously and perfectly projects A-Rod's trajectory in his mind, knowing the ground from which he launched himself. With this knowledge, which lets him cut off a line drive during a game, Jeter brings his bat around and breaks both of A-Rod's knees while A-Rod is still in mid-air. A-Rod falls to the ground, shrieking, crippled. The MOLTEN HOT LAVA burbles ominously.*
Jeter: *whispering* I loved you...
*A bubble of MOLTEN HOT LAVA bursts, sending a shower of sparks into the air. Many land on A-Rod, igniting the pine tar covering his uniform. The flames spread up his body, exploding into a small mushroom cloud when they reach the highly volatile spray he uses to keep his hair looking metrosexually perfect even under a batting helmet.
Jeter, sobbing freely, also very sweaty, picks up A-Rod's bat. He walks away, returning to Tino, who is beginning to weakly stir with consciousness. He directs Jorge Posada (inexplicably attired in a natty gold suit and walking like he has a stick up his ass) to pick up Tino and place him in the executive Yankee limo.*
Tino: Je.... Jeter... is Alex....?
*Jeter strokes Tino's cheek and stares off into space, pressing his lips together tightly. It is a great shot of stoicism and leadership and several more cameramen perish, this time from paroxysms of joy. Everyone gets in the limo and they drive off.*
Meanwhile, A-Rod's burnt form is lying twitching on the ground. Another limo pulls up and an ominously Hooded Figure steps out. What little can be seen of its head is hideous with pallid wrinkles and sagging jowls. A terrifying flash of white turtleneck is seen, only to be quickly cloaked again.*
The Hooded Figure: There he is! My apprentice! Tend to him!
*A bevy of batboys race forward and begin to encompass A-Rod in terrible, pinstriped armor. The Hooded Figure cackles briefly and gets back into its limo. The limo races off, wheels squealing. Many slightly singed dollar bills shoot from its exhaust pipes and settle ashily into the fiery depths.*
So, uh, guess where I was tonight? (By the way, kids, he turns into Darth Vader at the end. I know, I've just ruined it for everyone).
I just feel obligated to add that I have absolutely no memory whatsoever of writing that post last night. Looking at the timestamp I posted it around midnight, which with the hours I'm keeping lately is more like 3 am, as should be evident from the incoherence and the small factual errors (Rondell's single in the 11th brought in Brandon Inge from third, not second... Inge had doubled, and Opposite-Nomar had sac bunted him over).
This, kids, is what happens to your brain when you get up at 4:30 am on a regular basis to spend a freezing cold morning/moderately warmer afternoon trying to puzzle out the difference between a second-year and after-second-year catbird, all while said catbird is screaming its fool head off and trying to beat you to death with its wings. You become incapable of thinking in long sentences, and you watch a Tigers game and can only process things like 'Rondell good!' and 'men left on base bad!' and 'bullpen good!' and 'Carlos Pena hot but teh suck' and 'should not be such battle with fucking Tampa Bay'.
I also only saw the first few innings of the Sox game, and thus missed out on the bullpen suckitude and the heroics of Edgah. I'll probably miss the end of today's game because I'm supposed to go get a new streak dyed into my hair (sort of a burgandy-ish red, and if you think that has nothing to do with the baseball season, well, go right on thinking that. I am the worst art student ever-- I should be dyeing my hair because it EXPRESSES MY CREATIVITY AND ALSO ANGST, not because YAAAY RED SOX!).
Friday, however, I will be at the game, because my dad is cooler than the dad of any blogger in the whole of the blogosphere, so if you see a girl with a Red Sox hat on and a ponytail with a streak of red in it, tugging along a shell-shocked shorter girl while keeping up a steady stream of invective and factoids about the Braves, that's me. Not the shorter girl. That's my friend Jess.
Poor, poor Jess.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Triples! In the 10th! Doesn't get brought home because the Tigers as every bit as keen on leaving men on base as the Red Sox are.
Long single in the 11th to score whoever the hell was at second base (Inge? I want to say Inge) to WIN THE GAME!
11 innings! JJ going 8 strong with only two earned runs! The bullpen (The Farns, Ugie, Walker, German) was PERFECT for the 9th, 10th, and 11th. Pudge had the hit in the bottom of the 9th that tied the game!
RONDELL BERNARD WHITE, YOU ROCK.
What does not rock is Carlos Guillen leaving the game with knee soreness. KNEE SIREN, wheeeee oo, wheeeeee oo. Please lord make it stop.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Ah, you east coast college kids have no idea how important choice of university can be. Ones university determines friends and foes, alliances and enemies. Families are torn asunder. Random strangers are perfectly willing to do battle. It's not entirely unlike the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, only more blatantly centered around football. Also, one side is several hundred times more intelligent than the other. Ahem.
I had the following conversation with Rob from The Cheap Seats earlier tonight. I find it a delightful example of how something like Tigers blogging can bring people together, but, in Michigan, the collegiate rift makes it all too easy to slip into heated argument...
(screen names, as per usual, changed to protect the blatantly guilty)
BostonFanMI (5:31:01 PM): OUR MASCOT IS NOT WEARING A SKIRT [referring to the Michigan State Spartan, who is wearing a skirt]
BleacherSeats (5:31:31 PM): your mascot is essentially a rabid weasel.
BleacherSeats (5:31:49 PM): (all apologies to the University of Wisconsin)
BostonFanMI (5:32:12 PM): our mascot is FEROCIOUS and A NOBLE WILD BEAST
BostonFanMI (5:32:26 PM): and it would totally rip off the leg of your mascot in a trice
BleacherSeats (5:33:25 PM): our mascot would smite yours with his mighty sword...(and then take a fifteen yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which that crazy SOB JLS would just chalk up to "effort.")
BostonFanMI (5:34:15 PM): oh please. our mascot would just have to bare his teeth and snarl and your mascot would flee in terror, feathered helmet flapping in the fetid east lansing breeze
BostonFanMI (5:35:08 PM): take THAT! i fight you with IMAGERY!
BleacherSeats (5:37:25 PM): our mascot would put out a few rodent traps and go hang out on the deck at the peanut barrel for a few hours, only to return and find your mascot ensnared, lured in by some of Ed Martin's "cake".
BleacherSeats (5:38:00 PM): (i don't need imagery when i can play the ed martin card.)
BostonFanMI (5:38:57 PM): i knew it! BLOODY FUR TRAPPERS! POACHERS! thwarting the law to entrap an endangered species simply to prove your own manliness by prancing around in camo clothing with a great big gun! just what i would expect from michigan state!
BleacherSeats (5:40:47 PM): camo, my dear feline anarchist, is not necessary when stalking an animal as guileless as a mere wolverine
BostonFanMI (5:42:35 PM): oooo, so you don't deny the shameless bloody gratification your mascot needs to use to prove himself a worthwhile human being? pah.
BleacherSeats (5:43:46 PM): and YOUR mascot wouldn't be engaging in shameless bloody gratification whilst ripping MY mascots leg off, eh?
BostonFanMI (5:44:04 PM): no, he would be doing what wolverines do naturally
And that, my friends, is why the blogosphere is awesome. Because it is populated with awesome individuals who have awesome conversations of this sort. God bless crazy Midwestern college rivalries.
Anyways, the point of all this, insofar as there is one, is that the Sox just finished up a series against the Seattle Mariners and I got to see quite a bit of JJ Putz. Former Michigan Wolverine JJ Putz, pictured up there at the top in his fine Maize and Blue.
Having spent this past series contemplating JJ Putz pretty closely, I have to say that he was surprising. Oh, I wanted to like the guy as much as I could like a Mariner we were playing against, but to be honest I didn't know much at all about his pitching style or how he had been doing in Seattle.
Putz was throwing hard against the Sox. We’re talking 96, 98 mph fastballs flung at the Boston bats, with really only that one rather large mistake that Trotter sent along its merry way to the tune of a grandslam. The thing is, with his gently baggy jersey about the belt (no doubt hiding a softly pudgy middle), his weakly receding chin (inexpertly and ineffectively camouflaged by a blonde scrap of goatee), his ponderous yet awkwardly rangy limbs, he’s got to be the most unassuming fireballer I’ve seen.
I mean, he doesn’t have the imposing height of a Randy Johnson, the compact spring-loaded look of a Rich Harden, the blatantly powerful muscles of a Kyle Farnsworth. He looks like he should be soft-tossing in the mid to upper 80s, junkballing on the side, which just goes to show that I guess you really can’t go ‘try to sell jeans’ when evaluating a baseball player, to put it Moneyball-ly. Yes I just made Moneyball an adverb. I’m a blogger, massacring the English language is practically in the job description.
So I was quite pleased and gratified to see a Michigan guy performing up to the high standards one would expect from a Wolverine, and I swear Rob, if you bring up Mark Mulder, I will have to go for a nice long drive until I find a field full of cows, and then I will mock them. Y'hear? I will find the beloved friends of Michigan State grads everywhere and I will mock them mercilessly.
Oh, and I know there's a Sox game going on right now... when I turned it off it was tied at 4. I would dearly love to stay up and watch the rest of it, but alas, I must awaken rather early on the morrow. Here's what I had in my notes from the early innings.
Ah, it’s always a pleasure to watch Youks tee off against Oakland. Ha ha, you have to wonder if they’re planning to use him twice in this series to really give Millar and Mueller a rest, or because Theo just wants to dangle him in Billy Beane’s face during this series. OK, it’s probably because they really want to give the corner infielders a rest, but I prefer to think otherwise in my deranged little mind. Also, he just worked a walk in his first at-bat. Youks is da man.
Mark Bellhorn just did what Mark Bellhorn does… watch the ball go by. In this case, he let Saarloos make his own mistakes until he gave him a little tailing fastball that Bellhorn didn’t entirely dislike and was able to drop in for a basehit. I imagine Bellhorn’s train of thought in this at-bat went something like this:
“Oh look another ball I will let that go by.”
“Another ball I will stand here some more.”
“3-0 I will still stand here oh he’s going fastball I see.”
“Look at that I am on first base also we have scored two runs.”
Mark Bellhorn does not use commas in his conversations with himself. Obviously.
The curveball Bronson struck Charles Thomas out on (bottom 3rd), in the replay, was a beauty. It ended up being snagged by ‘Tek in the dirt, but when Thomas saw it it was waist high, hanging fat in the air. It dropped down fast, too late for him to do anything but swing and look silly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: that ‘chicks dig the longball’ stuff is bunk. Strikeouts are so much hotter.
The bottom of the 5th inning is downright hideous, with 9 men batting and Arroyo hitting two of them. It’s that damn breaking ball, not intention, of course… he didn’t lead the league in hit batsmen last year because he’s some kind of crazed headhunter, he led the league in hit batsmen because one of his favored pitches tends to break wildly inside and, well, hit guys. The A’s, to their credit, seem to realize this—they don’t make a fuss over the hit men, just take their bases with some light wincing. The Yanks would have started a brawl by now.
And that's all I've got, other than noting that Remy and Don seemed unnaturally preoccupied with Kirk Saarloos' hair. It is very voluminous and spiky and black. They compared it to Barry Zito's hair. Then Danny Haren sat down next to him and he's got the same hair. Creepy.
Oh yeah, and we all strongly dislike Eric Byrnes, but you have to admit that the video of him tackling the fan who ran out onto the field was bloody hilarious. I must now sleep, PLEASE let me wake up to a Red Sox victory.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Not to get too sentimental about this or anything, but it's something that's been an awful long time in the making, and Manny Ramirez's 400th career homerun deserves all the cheesy photoshopping it can get.
I could throw all the numbers at you, how he's the 39th player to reach the 400 homer mark, or how he reached it the 5th fastest to get there, behind Mark McGwire, Babe Ruth, Harmon Killbrew, and Jim Thome. Not such shabby company to be keeping.
Impressive as the numbers are, though, they don't really matter. Manny, in his usual Manny way, has an idea of this: "Just another home run. That's a great moment in my life, but tomorrow it doesn't mean nothing. I'm just going back and trying to hit [another one]."
All I know is that I was in the car with my mother, the back full of new deck chairs, listening to a rising chorus of boos as Manny stepped to the plate. "They're booing Manny," I said, amused, because you only ever get booed in a far distant stadium if you've done something bad (see: Giambi) or if you're too damn good, and there's no doubt about which category Manny, even a slumping Manny, falls into.
Moments later we were listening to Castig and Trupe yell with excitement as "number 400" fell into the seats. "That's what you get when you boo Manny!" we crowed, triumphant, and we high-fived, right there in the car, and I sat back and thought, "Four hundred. COOL," because fuck erudition, Manny had just hit 400 frikking homeruns. Adjectives, as they say, failed me.
Then we got home and put the chairs on the deck and I went in and watched the rest of the game, hoping for that one elusive run to tie it up, wondering why the hell bloody Miguel Olivio was suddenly so good, seeing the replays of the homerun and Manny's subsequent greeting at the plate and in the dugout, the long chain of hugs as he worked his way through the team, because what better way to congratulate the much-celebrated master of the manhug than with 24 (and change, with coaches) of the same?
It's been a long road from 1993, from that first homerun at Yankee Stadium. Home ground has been traded, from the Jake to the Monster. There have been the sartorial changes, from Chief Wahoo on his sleeves to a World Series Champions logo, from the tight pants of a self-conscious rookie to the baggy carelessness (or carefree-ness, depending on how you look at it) of today. His hair has gone from close-shaven to bushy to cornrowed to braided to bushy again to close-shaven to even more voluminous than ever, back to braided, and on to loosely dreadlocked. Hugs with fellow slugger Jim Thome have been traded for hugs with fellow slugger David Ortiz.
Maybe Cleveland has, to date, gotten to see more of Manny, but Boston has certainly seen the best of him. And yes, he's been 'distracted' lately-- given the history, I'd take this with a handful of salt-- but Manny will be Manny, and the reason could be anything. We've complained about this before only to eat our words later in the season. Maybe this time the decline is for real, though, maybe he's getting too old, maybe we're seeing the beginning of the end and it's time to start cursing that bloated contract in earnest.
Regardless. Today Manny hit his 400th homerun. The fan who caught it gave it up without a fuss, and there were hugs all around, and Manny joked about selling it on E-bay, and it was business as usual. Except it wasn't, because that was a homerun 12 years in the making.
Here's to hoping we get to see at least a few more of the same.
OK, that was too sentimental, wasn't it? Meh. If it's laughs you crave, go check out Royals Review, the newest SportsBlogs site about, yes, the Royals. I think the guy writing it is clinically depressed, although it's hard to tell if it's him, or the team he's writing about, or some combination of the two.
"Sadly, the more I think about it, is there anything to be gained by having anyone in a Royals uniform?... there is the service the Royals provide to the rest of MLB, allowing for a round number like 30 teams and helping to make sure that the Cardinals, who as you know have the "best fans in baseball", completely dominate in Missouri."
In any event, go read it, it's fucking hilarious.
EDIT: You know how there was chatter about how Millar had talked to Miguel Olivio before today's game and gave him some help on his batting stance, and then Olivio went ahead and looked awesome in the game? Ha ha ha, what a sad and funny coincidence, you say. Not so much. Lookout Landing went to the trouble of getting images from the game before and the game after Millar talked to Olivio, and damn if the guy didn't go right ahead and change his batting stance to start hitting the ball again. Thanks bunches, Kevin. Someone remind me why the MLB has a rule (albeit an oft-ignored rule) against fraternizing with opposing teams?
Thursday, May 12, 2005
The flexor pronator muscle mass. A bundle of muscle fibery joy that most of you ignorant folks have never heard of. OK, most of you normal human beings who have never taken anatomy classes focusing on musculature* have never heard of. It's the thing(s) that Troy Percival has (have) injured. The Tigers official site is saying that he has a 'partial tear of his right flexor pronator muscle mass'.
I've seen a fair amount of chatter about how the big risks the Tigs took this offseason are killing them, or how smart holding onto Ugie seems now, and how OMFG IMA KILL THAT BITCH DOMBROWSKI HE A-RUININ' OUR SEASON WIT HIS FANCY IDEARS OF WHAT MAKES A GOOD FREE AGENT, but I haven't seen anyone talking about what the hell the flexor pronator muscle mass is, or what it means that Percy has hurt it, or anything like that.
Who better to enlighten us all than an art student with no medical knowledge whatsoever? Hey, if I can draw it (see above nattily labeled 'medical illustration'), I can talk about it! I poke dead sharks with pokey metal bits! I am teh smart!
First off, let me say that the Tigers are releasing very little information about the damage that Percy's done here, much like the Sox have been doing with Schilling-- the "It's just a flesh wound!/Black Knight" syndrome, in part, and in part to keep fans from panicking, although would Detroit really panic over this? Relief pitcher on the DL, let's burn the city again! No, that's much more likely in Boston, but since I don't think we've ever burned Boston to the ground, you could say... uh... let's drown the city in molasses again!
Anyways. I mean, the flexor pronator muscle mass, as best as I can tell, is a collection of muscles, not any one single muscle. So when they say that he has a 'partial tear' of this, do they mean he partially tore all of them? Tore a couple and left some intact? Ripped some connective tissue but left actual muscle mass untorn? I don't know, so it's hard to say exactly what impact this will have on Percy.
What does the flexor pronator mass do? As the name suggests, various muscles in the group aid in flexion and pronation of the hand and forearm. Flexion is exactly what it sounds like (bending at the joints, you know), and pronation is the rotation of the arm so that the palm of the hand faces downwards towards the ground when you're holding your arm out in front of you, like the way you would hold it to condescendingly and dismissively pat the head of a misguided child who said that he thought A-Rod was the best player ever.
The flexor carpi ulnaris is responsible for flexion of the wrist and pulling the wrist towards the ulnar side (moving the hand laterally towards the outside... er, like away from your thumb, only not, because the thumb is attached and going along for the ride, but you know what I mean). The palmaris longust is responsible for flexion of the hand, and is the weakest muscle in the group. The flexor carpi radialis is responsible for flexion of the wrist and inward (thumb-side) rotation of the hand. The pronator teres is responsible for pronation of the forearm and helps in flexion of the forearm from the elbow joint. The strongest muscle of the group, the flexor digitorum sublimis, is not pictured in the above diagram because it's a deeper muscle and can't be seen from the surface... it's responsible for the flexion of the middle and distal phalanges of the fingers and also some wrist flexion.
Obviously these (flexion and pronation) are both motions that are important to a pitcher, but Will Carroll has an interesting little entry up about the importance good pronation has on a pitcher's arm health. Basically, good pronation makes a pitcher much less likely to blow out his elbow with his curveball. Carroll asks you to hold a hammer and use it to mimic curveball-throwing, and it's a fun exercise to see what he means about pronation. It's even more fun if you imagine you're using the hammer to beat someone who deserves it.
Blue Cats and Red Sox: *brandishes hammer gleefully*
Keith Foulke: *quails*
BCRS: Ha ha! Fear my hammery wrath, gopher ball boy!
Foulke: Oh my gosh, please don't dash my brains out!
BCRS: *violently bangs about with the hammer*
BCRS: Shut up, bitch, I'm learnin' about pronation!
Anyways, I did a little judicious research on the flexor pronator muscle mass. When it comes to a pitcher, it's mostly important in how it relates to the elbow... it seems to have less problems with wrist flexion, and more with elbow pronation.
There's this important ligament, called the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which is the primary stabilizing ligament of the elbow for a pitcher. Sometimes pain will show up in the flexor pronator muscle mass because it is acting as a secondary support to an injured or failing UCL.
Since we don't know exactly what's wrong with Percy, I'm worried that this is a possibility. He may not need surgery for a partially torn flexor pronator muscle mass, but there could be trouble if he's wrecked his UCL.
You know what a wrecked UCL means? Yup. You guessed it (or not, but I'll give you guys the benefit of the doubt).
Tommy John surgery.
There's also the possibility that he's been throwing his curveball with poor mechanics, repeatedly stressing his arm in a particular way that can pull his elbow joint apart. I know Percy had that trouble with an inflamed elbow last year, but I don't know what it was exactly. If it was anything along these lines, his UCL could have stayed intact, but wouldn't have been able to support his arm medially (on the side facing in to his body) at all, and the flexor pronator muscle mass would have been open to strain. If his current injury is in fact solely to his flexor pronator muscle mass, this could be the reason for it. After long years of abuse (which Percy has certainly had), a single hard throw can cause this sort of injury, which would also tally with the story of him hurting himself while warming up.
It's hard to say anything further... this is all just the idle speculation of someone who knows less about medicine than Manny Ramirez knows about the gender distinction characteristics of myrtle warblers anyways. I just thought it was an odd injury, not your basic 'fatigued elbow' or 'frayed rotator cuff' or 'exploded knee' or 'Nomared groin' or 'errrrm, parasite' sort of thing, and it seemed like someone ought to at least attempt to take a look at it.
If that attempt gave us an excuse for more bad drawings, then so be it!
By the way, kids, in case you couldn't guess, this is what happens when both your teams have an off-day at the same time. *insane twitch*
And since I can't think of a good way to close this out,
Ovenbird! Seiurus aurocapillus. Click for big. Ovenbirds are awesome. And they don't throw sketchy curveballs. So everyone wins.
*Obviously art anatomy classes focus on skeletal and muscular structure. No sense in studying anything except what you can see.