Last week, Detroit Tigers third baseman, catcher, centerfielder, oh-hell-put-him-anywhere-and-he’ll-play guy Brandon Inge was called up from the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo to join the starting lineup against left-handed pitchers. A ringing endorsement, I know. Inge was assigned to Toledo earlier this season when his hitting, never stellar, totally bottomed out — .177 in 239 … Continue reading
What’s in a beard? If you’re a hockey fan (as I am) you know that a playoff beard is part of standard lore, and you probably looked forward to seeing the usually clean-shaven Steve Yzerman slowly become a bit scruffier, or the perpetually stubbled Brendan Shanahan turn into a grizzly bear overnight. The Tigers are … Continue reading
Last night, my Monday team, the MIRS Muckrakers, played like the Detroit Tigers. By that I mean the Detroit Tigers of the Alan Trammell era—the Alan-as-manager era, when I just wanted to hug (and gently smack) him when he would lament, post-game, “We just had that one bad inning.” For us, it was the first … Continue reading
It’s time. Pitchers and catchers have reported to Lakeland. I saw five birds on my run yesterday. The snow is melting. We’re (allegedly) going to have an early spring. It’s a day after Valentine’s, and all I can think about is how much I love the Tigers. LOVE LETTER POSTMARKED MICHIGAN AND TRUMBALL It’s the … Continue reading
Cardinal Dreams 1. Firebird, Thunderbird, Sunbird they all seemed the same to me their headlights like eyes unmoving, blank. 2. The Phoenix Center in downtown Pontiac, somewhere near the Fiero plant and Fischer Body where Johnny Cash worked three weeks alongside Abuelito, building the 1951 models. 3. Johnny Cash joining the Air Force, Abuelito’s old … Continue reading
Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said today that the Tigers were never in the hunt for Jayson Werth, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies and one of the coveted free agents up for grabs this offseason. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve ever doubted the wisdom of Dombo (not to be confused with the elephant, Dumbo) … Continue reading
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.
Maybe it’s the Robert Fick jersey popping up at a road game, or a talking head mentioning the time Shane Halter played all nine positions in one game. Sometimes it’s my brother reminding me of the guy I dated that one summer who looked like Rich Becker, or how the name Chad Kreuter seemed to us as children both vaguely pornographic and slightly B-movie horror madman-esque.
However they’re called up, the specters of the players we grew up with (and had perhaps even entirely forgotten about until they were invoked, like disembodied voices at a séance) still linger near the dirt of the on-deck circle, exist, somehow, side by side with Miguel Cabrera even though maybe they’re now living in Florida or running a limo company or imprisoned in South America.
So when Binge (B + Inge = Binge, and describes, for this fan, his feast-or-famine approach to offense) poked one through the infield, turning his all-time hits ticker from 999 to 1000, it was only fitting that the leading edge of Bobby Higginson’s right forearm could be seen as his transparent self marked a cautious lead at third, his whole mouth stuffed with Big League chew and, of course, that fabulous goatee meticulously trimmed.
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!