Last week the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club was swept by the Royals, then swept the White Sox to tie for first place in the Central, and then on Labor Day lost to the Indians in the first game of the next series. Now, baseball is a funny auld game. Consider that each day is as important to the players as the last day of the season, and then they must immediately forget it happened. Win or loss, it’s water under the bridge. This kind of compartmentalized mental focus is inherent in the game, much as George Will characterizes baseball as requiring great ‘equipoise,’ remaining relaxed until the exact moment of vigorous action. Continue reading →
The provenance of three so-called “double plays” (worth two outs) including one with the bases loaded and one away, vouchsafed the Tribe’s escape with a 3-2 win.↩
With little of the expected shame and embarrassment befitting the act, I have stolen the idea for this post from Carson Cistulli, whose humdinger of a website The New Enthusiast has been my (admittedly belated) obsession this week.
Cistulli turns out to be a fascinating individual a mere three months my junior. I became familiar with him due to my similarly recent fixation on a Sabremetric baseball site called Fangraphs dat com, a vision of interesting baseball statistical minutia catalyzed with a thoroughly human perspective, much due to Cistulli’s regular influence. He creates a NERD score for each game, an original metric deciding which game in the entire league is the most interesting based on his delightfully presumptuous and “infallible” statistical valuation. Even in the potentially sparse territory of baseball analysis, Cistulli manages an elegance and humor which is thoroughly delightful. “No little faddling” indeed.
The post is great, and for some reason the amount of spam I’ve received lately has absolutely catapulted. I would be loathe to dispassionately jettison these epigrams of the spam-bot spiders into the void without fastidiously cataloging them here for your pleasure, dearest reader (read: myself)! So below in all their glory are some actual spam comments I’ve gotten in the last week, accompanied by my falsified subconscious reactions:
keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. this was actually what i was looking for, and i am glad to come here! Continue reading →
I think that about a third of a being good improvisor is being an invested human being. Another third of it is being a good listener. And then the final third is being a real weirdo, having a unique point of view.
In honor of the opening week of baseball season, today I’m going to focus on two of the funnest, weirdest points of view I’ve encountered lately. They came up through rewatching that Ken Burns Baseball documentary. Inning 7, chronicling the 1950s, absolutely kills me. (In a good way, but it also in a bad way, considering the Yankees success, on which more later.)
Something about the ’50s really gets me. The Brooklyn Dodgers finally win a Series. The country is idyllic, but rife with social issues which would explode in the ‘60s. Things were perfect, but so terribly off. Though it was published in 1963, I think part of my fascination with the era may well come from the voice of J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, which I read not necessarily every year, but frequently. Rightly or wrongly, I equate his writing style with a very ‘50s sensibility. (That book speaks less to me now than when I first read it at twenty-three, the age of the narrator, but I still sure do like it.) There’s something innocent but also depraved about that whole time period, and about that story. The weird wholesomeness juxtaposed against impending tragedy. Continue reading →
Tuning in to spring training baseball is simultaneously fascinating and boring (presupposing avid interest the game). There are many side plots, but a main factor of interest for me are the lesser-known young players scrapping for roster spots, fighting to be the 1% of the 1% who make it. Or trying to make a memorable impression when injuries crop up. Waves of players whose names I’ve never heard foul off cut fastballs, field fly balls in dramatic escapades, fly around the basepaths. The difficulty of the game is startlingly clear, and it strikes me how routine the elite players make it look. I am continuously reminded: baseball is hard.
I haven’t made it through a whole spring game yet, but at the moment I am consumed by the notion of how do we evaluate what is good? These young players no doubt evaluate themselves in a specific way, their hits, or walks, or on base percentage. But if Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon doesn’t see the swinging mechanics he needs to, it doesn’t matter. If pitching coach Jeff Jones doesn’t see the young reliever hitting his spots, or his arm slots, or whatever metric, even if the kid gets out of a jam and keeps a sub-3.00 ERA, it doesn’t matter. Because it wasn’t good enough.
The notion of what is good and how do we know what isgood is on my mind because this week the improv team I coach was “retired” from the theatre which created it, after six months. The explanation behind the decision essentially boiled down to the notion that even if audience members, the players on the group, and I felt the work being done was good, it doesn’t matter because the decision-makers concluded it wasn’t good enough. And we will lose that argument every time. Continue reading →
Such as, what happens when the 270 pound version of Miguel Cabrera plays third base for the first time in four years? Does hilarity ensue?! Does a professional ath-a-lete simply display the staggering physical acumen de rigueur in the league? We shall see!↩
These figures are arbitrary but seem highly accurate to me at the moment.↩
Two years ago the Tigers were so depleted of A-listers by injuries that in September there was merchandise online with the Tigers logo, but the team name was changed to “Miggy and the Mudhens” (referring to Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers’ AAA team, the Toledo Mudhens).↩
As soon as Victor Martinez went down, I thought, “well, season’s over.”  But then the Tigers won the Fielder sweepstakes (at a cost that boggles the mind: apparently Little Caesar’s is a pretty lucrative organization. Everybody reading this please buy a five dollar Hot N Ready so they can pay the Prince. And here is my obligatory admission that the back end of that contract is going to be a total nightmare). A season that looked suddenly suspect just as suddenly became the most exciting spring I can remember.
If they can keep healthy, and get production anywhere close to last year from Delmon Young, Alex Avila, and Brennan Boesch’s first half, and get consistent quality from Messrs. Verlander, Fister, Scherzer, and Porcello (not to mention the newly Dotel-ified bullpen), it augers Another Very Interesting Year To Be A Tigers Fan.
There are still some big question marks. It’s looking like a platoon of Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago at second, which doesn’t do a ton of favors at the plate. With the diminished defensive range and crInge worthy batting of the once-exceptional Brandon Inge, the Miguel Cabrera return-to-third experiment will be interesting and hopefully not embarrassing. Danny Worth and Don Kelly will probably spot start there as well. Finally, can Austin Jackson achieve leadoff effectiveness even approaching two years ago? Continue reading →