Last week, my friend Zack sent me a link to the New York Times bit about the lack of legendary nicknames, a subject I meditated on way back at the beginning of this column’s career. The Times, of course, picking up on something that’s been written better and with more nuance by people who actually … Read more
Well, it finally happened: I went down—hard—with the flu. Not the “oh-that’s-what-Coco-Puffs-look-like-in-reverse” flu, but the achy, heavy chest, head pounding, feel-modestly-normal-until-I-stand-up-and-am-dizzy kind of flu. The only upside to being home sick is finally having the uninterrupted access to the television and general home silence required to do something I almost never do, which today has … Read more
“There’s no anger or animosity from us, your first reaction is for the person,” Avila said. “Millions of people have problems with alcohol and drugs. It’s something that can be overcome, but you need a lot of help.” —The Detroit News, February 18 Miguel Cabrera. Of all the strange ways life foreshadows itself, there’s this: … Read more
Even now, I or another of my teammates on one of my co-ed Lansing rec league softball teams will say to a struggling hitter, “Swing level.” My good friend Maggie, who rediscovered her swing the first year I played on her team, said she can always hear her father, good old Ray Striz, telling her … Read more
Watching the wonderful new installment of Ken Burn’s Baseball (the original, I sheepishly admit, I have yet to watch), The Tenth Inning, a player mentioned something similar: the chemistry comes when you’ve been winning together, when you are all bought into the plan, when the games get tough and you all— each of you—grind out each at-bat, each pitch, to get the right ball to hit and the hit that drives in the run that wins the game.
That kind of focus and workmanship has been missing from the Tigers since, well, 2006. And it’s the kind of thing you don’t get by building, or retaining, guys for amorphous reasons, like “He’s a veteran,” “He’s a leader,” or “The sound of the ball off his bat is different, like all the greatest hitters the game has ever known.”
So the Tigers have already announced who is not coming back—at least, not at this pay scale.
It’s the seasonal equivalent of Sunday dread, that moment as the last of the weekend turns into the first of the work week (or, years ago, fresh seven days of school) when you begin to feel your entire life weigh heavily upon you. Somewhere recently I read that Sunday dread is the bit of evening where you are nearly smothered by the choices you’ve made, and the doubts you have about them – should I have gone to grad school when I was young? Is it too late to become President? Why didn’t I try harder in fifth grade? Will we ever be the people living in the same neighborhood as Tom Izzo?
It’s when September is just about out of days and the Tigers, God bless them, are officially, mathematically, scientific-method tested and retested and confirmed, out of the playoff picture. Again.
First Joel Zumaya’s beautiful right elbow went supernova, a truly sickening thing to watch in real time, as I did, tearing up because I just want to hug the boy and tell him, it’s ok, son, you’ve got one more brutal recovery and storybook comeback in you.
Then in rapid succession: Brandon Inge (fractured hand) Magglio Ordonez (broken ankle) and Carlos Guillen (calf strain) fall like dominos, as though they were all single file on the third base line, just waiting their turn.
Which brings us to now. Take a look at Sunday’s starting lineup for the Bless You Boys:
A Jackson CF
W Rhymes 2B
R Raburn LF
M Cabrera 1B
J Peralta SS
B Inge 3B
B Boesch DH
C Wells RF
A Avila C
It’s Miggy and the minors!