Miggy and the minors
A funny thing happened to the Detroit Tigers after the All-Star break – something that seems to happen to some degree every year around this time, as @joshlandon noted, though I am not certain it involves Jim Leyland taking the boys to Tijuana for hookers and coke.
After making most of the American League Central look confused, outplayed and sometimes embarrassingly outclassed the first half of the season, the Tigers can’t buy a win. At least this time there’s a pretty obvious culprit: the dreaded injury bug.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. Johnny Damon’s been scratched more than a handful of the last few games (flu) (back) and in the meantime, our pitching staff has had a difficult time staying in the majors, with Rick Porcello and Armando Galaragga each taking their turns in the minors.
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! (Note: I didn’t come up with that on my own – some Facebook friend or another said the team looked like Miggy and the Minors, and since then, I haven’t been able to get the notion of Miguel Cabrera as the “Charles in Charge” lead of a team of baby-faced baseball players – surely a Friday night sitcom. )
The infield especially – in the past few days before the Peralta trade, the infield was actually Miguel + Ramon (who, let’s be honest, only this year played his way into the position, so he may as well be a rookie). Don Kelly – the 30 year old rookie – was even taking a few turns at third.
Sure, it’s slim pickings, but the fact that our boys in blue are even scoring or not looking like those teams we annihilated earlier in the season is in itself remarkable, and a fabulous endorsement of the minor league system we’ve got working. And, as you’ll no doubt learn over the coming months, gentle reader, I am especially grateful for the opportunity to see names in the lineup that riff easily into nicknames – such as Will “Busta” Rhymes, holding it down at second and holy hell, is the kid fast, by the by.
But it’s not just the admirable performance of the “and the Minors” that’s keeping this team together. Let’s turn to Yeats. The opening stanza of “The Second Coming:”
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
Disclosure: my relationship with baseball borders on the ecstatic/religious, so you’ll immediately note why I am thinking of Yeats when I say this: that the truly noteworthy aspect of this season is that, for the Tigers, the center IS holding, and the center has a name and wields a terrible bat: Miguel Cabrera.Look again at Cabrera’s stats for Sunday. Batting with almost no protection (due to the prolonged slump of Boesch, the absence of Ordonez/Guillen, etc) he still went 2 for 4 with no strikeouts and a walk. He still, nearly singlehandedly on some nights, has kept the Tigers’ season on life support. The savior comparison is obvious and insulting, so I’ll let you fill in the blanks on that one.
But it’s not just a poetry-meets-humor-meets-baseball-and-Jesus post, folks. It’s the airtight case for Cabrera as MVP, regardless of whether he rocks the Triple Crown this year or not. The man has saved more games than Valverde can legitimately lay claim to, and he doesn’t have an off night.
First game back after his new baby was born? Three homers. In. One. Game. (The Tigers did lose the game – a rare night when the boys wasted Miggy’s rare talent.)
Sure, Robinson Cano is having a great year, too, but people, I think I could have a great year too if my teammates were the Yankees.
Maybe Yeats makes the best case for Cabrera, MVP:
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! …
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?