In which I HAVE HAD IT UP TO HERE

It started when Joel Zumaya faced another setback. Which would seem to be just a very Zumaya-esque form of horrible, gut-wrenchingly unfair luck for a kid who just seems so deserving of success—until I remembered reading this wonderful Sports Illustrated piece about Zoom Zoom’s mechanics.

What? What? You mean to tell me that in the past 5 years, the Tigers’ pitching staff hasn’t bothered to address Joel’s mother-trucking mechanics issues?

What do they do all day, if not work to protect and extend the life of one of their most promising young arms? As a mother—and we know I feel very maternally for Joel—I am fucking pissed. Chuck Hernandez, Rick Knapp, why haven’t you fixed this? The knock on Joel that he’s just fragile when, REALITY, he’s prone to injury because his MECHANICS ARE FAULTY—that’s your fault, Chuck, and yours too, Rick.

I mean, it’s your JOB to work on these issues. Now, before you get all whiny with me or explain how hard it is to alter some lifelong mechanics, let me say: bullshit. First, again, it is your job. Second, it is also Zumaya’s job. Third, what else do you have to do?

Example: I hired a coach. I have thrown sidearm, mechanically poor and physically prone to injury, since I was five. Now, 26 years later, it took less than 25 one-hour sessions to fix. And I’m not even getting paid to throw! Now, if my coach—who is awesome, obviously—can fix my arm, why can’t a major league coach fix a relatively simple major league mechanical flaw?

It got me thinking about what appears to be a systemic issue for the Tigers: the coaching isn’t working, if it is happening at all.

Example: As I learned from watching Ken Burns’ latest installment of Baseball, the reason the Yankees are dominant is because they fucking rock out at situational hitting. That’s right: it’s not dumb luck that a soft single lands in right field on a full count after three foul balls with a man on third. It’s the product of months and years of practice.

The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are also killer when it comes to situational hitting. The Twins work on it in batting practice—even before road games. The Tigers?

Well, as my friend Brett pointed out this weekend, the Tigers haven’t gotten any better at situational hitting or even baserunning in the past 5 years. (See: Will Rhymes’ slide that featured him TOUCHING THE CATCHER’S GLOVE, essentially tagging himself out—because the umpire mistakenly thought the catcher had the ball in his glove.)

When you take a look at what’s plagued the Tigers for years now, it becomes obvious where the failure of coaching comes into play.

How do you lose a game 2-0 when Verlander pitches a gem? When you leave men on base, which the Tigers do en masse night after night after night.

Saturday, it was Magglio Ordonez swinging (for the fences) on the first pitch with the bases loaded. Fly ball out, side retired, goodnight.

There’s something deeply wrong with the approach to hitting taken by the hitting coach when a.) your 7,8,9 hitters fare better than your 1,2 hitters and b.) your hitters never seem to improve at situational hitting or plate patience.

How many times have we heard Jim Leyland, who we all know I absolutely adore, say after the game that we just didn’t hit the guys around?

What I want to know is what the repercussions are for it?

When I hack at pitches outside the strike zone during batting practice, my coach adds ten pushups to my payment. That’s right—I pay him, and he punishes me for getting lazy. What happens to Magglio, Jackson, Rhymes, etc., etc., etc.? What happens when the entire team is swinging for the fences instead of taking the outside pitch opposite field?

Nothing. Which must be true, because we have seen little improvement. And really, who bothers to change if there are no consequences for staying the same?

People, something has to give. It’s time, as my friend Kyle mentioned, to give up this idea that only second basemen can hit second in the order. It’s time to jettison this BS nonsense of “saving” your quality relievers for the upcoming series or the later innings when it’s more important to win NOW, to hold the lead NOW.

(As another pal, Steve, pointed out – it’s not like the Tigers have lost the AL Central 2 of the last 4 years by one game and these early wins aren’t important. Oh, wait.)

None of this absolves Leyland.

Leyland has got to stop managing these talented players like they’re the Miami Heat. We’ve seen him go ballistic on umpires – I’d like him to unleash some of that on players who don’t do the little things it takes – and the big things it takes – to win.

Yeah, maybe we don’t want a full-fledged Ozzie Guillen type management experience in Detroit, but I don’t think holding players accountable is over the top.

Including, obviously, their off the field issues. As my friend Shane often lambastes Mark Dantonio for not punishing his troublemaking players, I think it’s time for Leyland to come down on Cabrera for his off-the-field train wrecks.

This team needs something. It needs a kick in the pants. It needs Jim Leyland to channel Sparky Anderson and bench slackers, send down struggling players and challenge his boys to do more than the bare minimum.

This team needs a coaching staff that isn’t afraid of the players and isn’t lacksadasical about DOING THEIR FUCKING JOBS. That means getting Austin Jackson out of bed at 7 am, Lloyd, and hitting off the tee and then with a bullpen catcher pitching some live toss until he fixes his timing. You’re a hitting coach. This is an easy fix.

That means, Rick Knapp, fixing the mechanics of gunners like Zumaya and working with every pitcher in the rotation and the bullpen to pinpoint what they’re doing wrong – and fix it.

That means hiring a bench coach who isn’t going to shrink away from asking Miguel why he was running for home on a bloop single to left. That means getting in the face of Raburn when he airmails it from the outfield.

It means making clear whose asses are on the line, and whose are going to be benched and kicked.

It means no more ass kissing, bitches. I’m tired of seeing this sparkless, gutless baseball. If I wanted to see this, I’d play the Lions 0-16 season on repeat.

Do it right, or take your talents to South Beach. We don’t have time for prima donnas and half-assing it here.

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2 Responses to “In which I HAVE HAD IT UP TO HERE”
  1. MaggieMI says:

    Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Give ’em hell, Angeler!

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