Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The 2006-07 Pistons: Now Entering FlipMode

Our favorite inflatable defender has left town for greener pastures, emphasis on green. Prevailing logic at the time was this was a huge blow to the Pistons. After LeBron's Cavs almost knocked off the Pistons, and Wade and the Heat used them as a stepping stool to a NBA championship, was Big Ben's departure to serve as a death knell for Deee-troit Baaaasketball?

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the Pistons demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Back in July when the defection to Chicago was made official, it was regarded as "the face of the franchise" leaving town. Ben Wallace was the identity of the Pistons since 2000, and he was gone no one knew what to think. This, just days after The Captain announced his retirement. Those were two big stories that pretty much took a hold of the city for weeks at a time. The words "traitor"and "greedy" were tossed around like rice on a wedding day. "Why?", was the question asked. Well, Chicago offered him a shit ton of money, and Joe D wasn't about to hand out that kind of scratch to a soon to be 33 year old center, who's skills were beginning to decline, and had become a bit of a malcontent. So he packed his bags and brings his energy and hustle (as long as he gets at least 10 offensive looks a game) to Chi-town. Leaving the Pistons with only 3 All-stars left on their team.

Sadly Inflatable Ben has a better Free Throw Percentage.

So out goes Ben, in come Nazr Mohammed and Flip Murray. Flip Murray was one of the best signings of the off-season. He was awesome off the bench in Cleveland's series vs. the Wizards last year, and can be that scorer off the bench the Pistons desperately need. Nazr was not brought in to replace Ben (all previous digs aside, the dude wasn't a 4 time Defensive Player of the Year for nothing), because no one available this off-season could. He was brought in to do something that Ben couldn't do, drive to the hoop, score 10-16 points a game, and hit a damn free throw. With Ben's departure, and Nazr and Flip's arrivals the focus of this team seems to be shifting to one of a offensive minded one. Don't get me wrong, the team can still play D. In fact, last time I checked, Tayshaun, McDyess, and Rasheed weren't exactly slouches on defense. If they can pick it up a notch, the chicken vs. egg question of "Did Ben make everyone better, or was Ben so good because of everyone else?" could be answered.

Mr. Big Shot's a straight baller fo sho.

Oh yeah almost forgot, lost in all the hoopla over who was leaving and coming in, the players that are still here. Chauncey Billups was a contender for MVP most of last year. He's in a contract year, and with every three Mr. Big Shot nails, more dollar bills will get thrown at him this off-season. Tayshaun will take another step toward becoming a superstar. Rip Hamilton will be doing his usual Reggie Miller imitation, except with a better grill. 'Sheed's gonna be 'Sheed. tossing up threes and getting T's Antonio McDyess will get an expanded role, and will probably rotate with Mohammed for the fifth starter.

The most intriguing subplot of the season will be how, and if, Flip Saunders uses the bench. I've already covered what i think we'll get from Flip Murray and Nazr Mohammed. Lindsay Hunter will be the caged animal unleashed on whoever the opposing team's top guard is. Dale Davis will sit there looking like Bubba from Forrest Gump, and try not to get tasered this season.The key will be Carlos Delfino. If he gets playing time and is happy, that's one more guy that Flip Saunders can use at guard or forward and can bring offense off the bench. If not, there will be a Darko part two in the making this year. With the news of Jalen Rose possibly signing with the team, somebody will lose minutes. Odds are it will be Delfino. The simple fact is, like most teams in the NBA, the bench has to produce for this team to go far.

It will be interesting to see how many minutes the young guys get. Jason Maxiell was tearing it up in the pre-season. He played nearly 25 minutes a game and averaged 15.9 ppg, 6 rebs, and 1.1 blocks. If he can keep up the intensity, the "Mad Max" signs will be popping up in full force. Amir Johnson is one of the last players to be drafted straight out of high school. In fact he won't be 20 until May of next year. So any appearance he makes this year will be in "Darko time". He did make enough of an impression last year in assorted blowouts, that I still remember him and his high flying dunks. Rounding out the roster this year are Ronald Dupree and Will Blaylock. Dupree returns to the Pistons after playing in Minnesota last year, and will be used in a very limited role. And by limited I mean if this guy's playing the Pistons are either up/down by 25 points in the 4th quarter, or half the teams hurt and the season's gone down the crapper. Blaylock was the last pick of the draft this year, and was expected to go much higher. Still he just took Alex Acker's spot as the team's sixth guard.

So what to I expect from this year's edition of your Detroit Pistons? Well nobody plays the "underdog" card better than the Pistons. They got a little cocky towards the end last year and got lazy. This team is just as good as the one that won the title in 2004. The question is can Flip Saunders bring his plans of converting this Piston team into an offensive juggernaut. I think he does, and the Pistons win the Central and the 2nd seed in the East behind Miami.

So there you go, and now one more reason to watch the Pistons...AUTOMOTION!

Monday, October 30, 2006

So now what?

I could do a countdown of the days until spring training, but I can't count that high. I could do a season grading thing but the Free Press and others have done it better than I could have. I could wildly speculate on what the offseason could bring, and I more than likely will, but I'm going to wait until all the free agents have declared and some juicy rumors begin to float around.

So with that in mind as the leaves are being blown of the trees with the 30 mile an hour winds that are blowing through the area tonight, I shift focus to the other Illitch team, the team across the street and the team up I-75.

Well to update you on the team so far, the Pistons haven't started (a season preview is in the works), the Red Wings look old and busted, and the Lions are in the running to have Matt Millen select what will be regarded as the worst overall number one pick ever. So the seasons might change but the posts will keep coming.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Last Goodbye

Congratulations St Louis. You deserved it. You played hard, and made the Tigers pay for all the mistakes they made. The Tigers had one hell of a year.

But it still hurts.

This feeling in the pit of my stomach will linger for days, as I'm sure many of the Tigers themselves have that feeling too. But the fact that while I have this feeling, the fact that people actually care about baseball in Detroit again dulls it slightly. This still sucks big time, the way that they lost, but for the first time in a long time there is hope. But it still hurts.

This year probably gave me more memories then all previous years combined, just in the games I attended this year. In May there was the 18-1 game vs. the Twins. Then Verlander and Santana's pitchers duel with Vance Wilson's home run in the 8th to put the Tigers up for good. Followed with he game against Cincinnati, where Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grand slam, and the Tigers fought back with Granderson tying it with a solo shot in the bottom of the 9th and Guillen wining it with an infield hit in the 10th. The Tigers scoring two runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Yankees in June. Pudge's walk-off homer in August to beat the Indians. I was at game 3 of the ALDS and game 2 of the World Series where Kenny Rogers pitched two of the best games I'd ever seen pitched. But the memory to end all memories was being there for game 4 when Magglio ended it. Thinking back on all those games helped ease the pain, but it still hurts.

This team is a winner. My only fear is that everyone will remember the 3 losses to Kansas City at the end of the year and not the 94 wins. The 8 errors in the World Series, not the seven wins that got them there. This team will get back there. Maybe not next year, or even the year after that, but soon. Because like this year, a team with 90 wins could finish third in the division. Though this team will be around in September playing meaningful games. Why you ask? Only three pitchers are over the age of 30. Pudge is the oldest position player at 34. Plus the days of "prospects" like Matt Anderson, Nate Cornejo, and Matt Wheatland, and Kenny Baugh are over. There are guys like Humberto Sanchez, Cameron Maybin, Jair Jurrjens, Kevin Whelan, Brent Clevelen, Andrew Miller, Ryan Raburn, that will allow the Tigers to reload instead of rebuild. So the future looks bright, but right now, it still hurts.

I've been trying to think of an analogy to sum up the ride that this season has been. The best I could come up with is this: You go to a restaurant expecting a hamburger, you sit down and get ready to order, but it turns out you're the lucky one millionth customer and you get a nice Filet Mignon instead. You eat and entire steak, and it's one of the best you've eaten, but the last few bites are all fat and gristle.

So we're left with a bad taste in our mouths, but what the Tigers did this season was simply remarkable. I would like to thank them for that. I foresee good things and celebrations in the future, but for right now it still hurts.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Do or Die time (Part 1 of hopefully a 3 part series)

It all comes down to this. If there isn't any rain, then it will all come down to tomorrow. Same lineup for the Tigers, with Verlander taking the mound. The Cards have Weaver pitching with Belliard in at second batting 6th and So Taguchi in left batting 8th. It's real simple for the Tigers. Get some hits, don't make mistakes, and hope a few bounces go their way. Not really much more to say other than I hope the Tigers can pull one out and get it back to Detroit.

Win or lose, there will be something later.

Game 4 Aftermath

This pretty much sums up tonight's game for the Tigers. Just out of reach. They had the pitching from Bonderman, they had the hitting from Pudge and Casey, they just didn't have the luck. From Granderson's slip, Rodney's overthrow, to Monroe's near catch, it seems all that "team of destiny" mojo that was working for the Tigers in the 7 straight games they won, has shifted to the other side of the Mississippi.
So now it comes down to this: Win game 5 or the season is over. And if you manage that then you have to start all over again with Game 6. And then...well you get the idea. Will they do it? I don't know. It has been done to the Cardinals before, with The Tigers themselves in 1968, and the Royals in 1985. David Eckstein getting run over by a tarp would be a nice start. Can they do it? Sure, if the team that played Games 2-4 in the ALDS and 1-4 in the ALCS shows up. But right now a dire situation is all that appears.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Game 4, Take 2

So it appears that they might actually be able to get game 2 in tonight. No confirmation on the rumor that the rest of the series in St Louis will be played on an ark. Hopefully they can get the game in tonight , because reports are that the weather will be worse tomorrow. Any more delays and there's a chance that the Tigers might face Chris Carpenter again in game 5.

But enough of wild speculation and back to tonight's game. Nothing really has changed. Line-ups, pitchers, everything is still the same. I still think the big key in this game will be Jeremy Bonderman's slider. If it's nasty, Tigers win, if he has to throw fastball on 2-0 or 3-1 counts, the Cards win. Plus it would help if Bonderman doesn't do anything stupid like chucking the ball into the stands(I'm looking at you Verlander and Zumaya).

There has been speculation as to who this day off has benefited more. I don't think it really benefits anyone, since the exact two lineups are facing off against each other. Plus all it does is force a game tomorrow and eliminates a travel day. I could see if a player had an extra day of rest to recover from an injury, but that's not the case. It's just the same teams playing in the slightly less shittier weather than the night before. If there was anything to gain it would be Jim Leyland having one more day to pump the underdog mentality into the Tigers heads like he did before game 2 of the ALDS.

OK, off to my spot on the couch to watch every pitch hovering in between huddling in anxiety, and nervously pacing. I love this game.

For your potential rain delay reading check out these:

- A story in SI where Nate Robertson defends Kenny Rogers.

- Cheap and easy Halloween costume ideas (I have glasses and facial hair, no matter what I'd be Robertson).

- The most entertaining comments section you'll ever read.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

About Last Night...

It seems Joel Zumaya has a lot in common with the Comcast high speed internet he hawks...they both let me down last night. Comcastic my ass. Not that there would of been much from me after that wild pitch anyway. After that I was just sitting on the couch, watching the Tigers record out after consecutive out.
Honestly I wasn't expecting much from the Tigers, since they were facing probably the best pitcher in the National League, but I expected a little more than just rolling over and taking it.
But tonight is another game, that is if Deathstorm 2006 doesn't sweep St. Louis off the map, and there are some changes to the lineup. Guillen is up to 3rd, Polanco goes down to 7th, Casey is up to 5th. Makes sense, have your hitters that are doing damage grouped together. Hopefully there will be guys on base for Guillen and Casey to drive in. The pitching match-up Is Bonderman vs. Suppan. This would seem to favor the Tigers. Bonderman, for whatever reason, pitches better on the road than at home. The Cardinals, with the exception of Pujols and Eckstein, do not fare that well against the slider. Plus, some of the Tigers (Maggs and Inge) have fared well against Suppan in the past. The key is they need that patient bats that got them hear. Force Suppan to throw fastballs over the plate, and everything should be fine. Considering what we have seen in the previous three games that's a big if.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

World Series Game 3 Liveblog

OK everything is in order. I have my Belichickesque lucky hooded sweatshirt on, food and beverages with reach, properly padded chair, rid hands of all traces of pine tar....Let's Liveblog!
Some lineup changes. Encarnacion is out Taguchi is in. Ronnie Belliard is batting 5th. Casey is playing at first. We get to see pitchers bat...woohoo. NL baseball, baby. I just cant want to see all the bunting and double switches tonight.
First a song from Jet. What better was to start a game of America's pastime than with a song by an Aussie rock band. Well musically it's downhill from here. I hate you Jeanne Zelasko. Interrupting Ernie Harwell mid-story during last years All-Star Game should have gotten you demoted to kick ball games in Wyoming. Joe Girardi doesn't like that sticky feeling. GET AWAY FROM ME JOHN MELLENCAMP! Could they get a gayer song to bring the Tigers out to? Is that Chumbawumba? Well the Cards coming out to circus music isn't any better. I'm waiting for the entire team to pop out of a bullpen car. TRACE ADKINS HAS VOICE IMODULATION SYNDROME.
It's gametime!
Top of the 1st:
Those are the gayest "keys to the game" ever. Granderson strikes out, making it roughly 1,565 for the season. Broken bat blooper to Jim Edmonds from Monroe, and there is two away. The midget guns out Polanco to end the Tigers half of the inning.
Bottom of the 1st:
And we have our first bunt of the game. A lot of good that did. One down. Liner that is drawn into the gravitational pull around Polanco's head for out two. Yes, Joe Buck Santiago is out, but it puts their normal starting first baseman in, how is that a disadvantage? 1-2-3 off to the 2nd. 0-0. When did Jay-Z turn into Puffy?
Top of the 2nd:
Carpenter does not fear the Mullet, as he lines out to Mr Miaygi. OK you guys know you can take a pitch or two right? To the bottom.
Bottom of the 2nd:
That's not irony Joe, that's a coincidence. Rolen does his best Beltran impersonation, one down. Good to see Casey can run without his leg falling off. I'm sure if it did we would see it numerous times in slow motion. Did Chris Myers just call Nate Robertson a nerd? Wow St. Louis has some ugly ass people. I wonder if Randy Marsh has a child named Stan? Monroe, straight playa hating in left field...sorry I channeled Stu Scott there. After 2 it's scoreless.
Top of the 3rd:
At least Fox is doing a better job of getting back from commercials, before a pitch is thrown. There's a nice drive with a wood, base hit Inge. Woo Hoo time for a bunt. Boooring...Chris Carpenter does not like to share. He bounces one in and Inge is at third. Granderson grounds out to end the threat.
Bottom of the 3rd:
Arnold from Happy Days lines out to start the inning. So does Carpenter, enter the Midget. I wonder if he is dedicating the series to Nelson De La Rosa? Granderson getting some action in the outfield, he catches Eckstein's offering to end the inning. Scoreless after 3.
Top of the 4th:
C-Mo to start it off. And the whiff. Eckstein has range. Polanco grounds out. Sulu reels in Ordonez's line drive for the third out.
Bottom of the 4th:
Joe Buck mentions no hits...Bang, Wilson gets a hit. You jinxing homer bastard. Pujols reaches out and touches one. Ground rule double, saves a run for the Tigers. Crap, bases loaded, no one out. This does not bode well. Big out, Belliard grounds to 3rd, force at home. Good to see that Inge is able to hit Pudge at home when it counts. A ground ball would be nice. Not that kind of ground ball dammit. Edmonds down the line scores two. Intentional walk to Molina to load the bases for Margaret Cho. Infield fly, 2 down and up comes the pitcher. Gets him to pop out to Casey. End of the 4th Cardinals up 2-0.
Top of the 5th:
Hey it's a hit. Strikeout to end the inning. Here's the part of the liveblog when I get pissy and quiet.
Bottom of the 5th:
The Midget gets his first hit of the series, followed by a strikeout and pop out by Wilson and Pujols. Nate Robertson leaves the game with a Belliard strike out to end the inning. Still 2-0 Cards.
Top of the 6th:
Down 1-2-3, this is not looking good.
Bottom of the 6th:
I've cracked open the Ketel One, and may be drinking to forget shortly. Forgive my terrible joke, but shouldn't Cory Lidle have received the Roberto Clemente Award? It's Zumaya time. I want to see the dark spot on his pants when Lloyd has to step in against some 100+ mph heat.
Inning over still 2-0 Cards.

Computer problems, and Zumaya firing one into the third row might see the end of the liveblog.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What did I miss?

So apparently something happened with Kenny Rogers at the game last night. I've been scouring the interweb to find out what happened but haven't found anything.

So I may have been a little facetious there, but the "mud spot" has all that has been talked about today in assorted media outlets ad nauseam. It might have been pine tar, it might not have been. Bottom line:
  1. The umpire didn't eject him from the game
  2. Spot or no spot, the Cardinals were hitless from the 2nd inning to the 8th.
  3. Find me a pitching staff that doesn't have one guy that puts a little something extra on the ball, you were probably one of the people that thought nothing of guys like Brady Anderson suddenly jacking 50 home runs. (think I'm exaggerating read this)
So let us never speak of this again.

I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize what what happened last night during the 9th inning. You see everything was going swimmingly for our favorite mustachioed closer, so myself, having roughly 40,000 people in front of me, decided to sneak toward to aisle to ease in my exit. When the bases became loaded, I realized my error. Whenever I leave my seat during a game bad things happen. After realizing this, I went back to my seat, Molina groundball, game over. So you see this was not Todd Jones' fault, it was mine. I accept full responsibility.

Anyways back to the promised pictures, well every time a took a picture it seems some on in front of me had a strategically placed Tiger Towel in the frame. Also it was fucking cold. I spent most of the game huddled in a ball trying to keep score with shivering hands. A big "fuck you" goes out to John Cougar Mellencamp, who not only subjected the crowd to a live action version of a Chevy commercial, he also came out to perform said song, then disappeared for a couple minutes delaying the game and causing the crowd to freeze our collective asses off a few minutes longer than necessary. I am calling for a bombing campaign of Indiana as retribution.

All right I think I've rid myself of enough vitriol for today, come back tomorrow for some Game 3 liveblogging goodness.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

About that overwhelming favorite thing...

Well the most positive thing I can say this morning is hopefully everyone combined the crappy game they were due to have into one, so that's all out of the way and back to dominance in game 2, right? Please? Other than Carlos Guillen and Craig Monroe, everyone left their big boy bats at home today. Other than Guillen and Monroe, everyone else went 0-fer. While Verlander had 8 K's he gave up 7 runs on 6 hits. Let's not even go into the 3 errors.

But things are not as dire as they seem, the Cards only had two more hits than the Tigers, and committed two errors themselves. Much like game 1 of the ALDS, while the score was lopsided, most of the damage was one big inning. Hopefully the Tigers fueled by (words I thought I'd never type) playoff hero Kenny Rogers, and a little resurgence from the bats can even it up tonight.

Again I'll be there, and try to get some good pictures up, well as good as a crappy digital camera from the upper deck can deliver.

Friday, October 20, 2006

World Series Preview

Get ready for it. The flashbacks to Bob Gibson and Mickey Lolich. The play at the plate with Lou Brock and Bill Freehan. Denny McLain popping up out of the woodwork. Every possible aspect of the 1968 world Series revisited. If I was a Cardinal fan, I'd want more to be made about the 1934 series, they actually won that one. Let's break it down shall we?


Game one features a battle of rookies. Anthony Reyes has giving up an average of one home run in every one of his starts this year. He faces Justin Verlander, who only had three pitchers with more wins and was in the top 5 in ERA in the AL. Chris Carpenter is the only Cardinal starter to win more than 12 games. He was second in the NL in ERA but no other Cardinal starter had a ERA below 4.00. Adam Wainwright used his knee-buckling curve to propel the Cards to the World Series. The downside to that is every Tiger player saw that an will be waiting for it. In addition to Wainwright there are two other rookies in the bullpen, and the player with the most experience is Braden Looper. While the Tiger pen is relatively young as well, they have been pretty damn good throughout the playoffs. The have only giving up 12 hits in 20 2/3 inning. Just Looper himself has given up 8 in 6 1/3.
Advantage: TIGERS


Name a Tiger who hasn't had a big hit in the playoffs. OK, besides Neifi Perez. With the return of Casey, Neifi will be back on the bench and the lineup that so far has produced 82 hits, 19 doubles, and 13 home runs will be intact. Placido Polanco is hitting .471. that's practically two hits a game. The Cards as a team are only hitting .256, and yes I know the pitchers batting will drag down the average a little, but when Yadier Molina leads your team in average, RBI's and home runs, that's not a good sign.
Advantage: TIGERS


This aspect is pretty much a wash. Each team has it share of guys that can make outstanding plays, then boot the next ball hit toward them. So this one splits down the middle.
Advantage: EVEN


One's has a 5-12 World Series record and loves kitties. One is a Marlboro smoking bad ass who has turned a perennial loser into a winner. I am bit biased here, but how can I vote for a guy who wears sunglasses at night, over a dude that still wears spikes in the dugout.
Advantage: TIGERS


Everyone outside of St Louis has the Tigers winning this easily, and that makes me a little cautious. After all this is the same attitude the greeted the Yankees against this same Tigers team. Then again everyone thought in 1998 the Yankees did what everyone though they would do and swept the Padres. While the bats have been hot of late, what's been the Tigers bread and butter this year, is the same reason teams win in the playoff, their pitching. So that's why it will be...
Tigers in 5!

No liveblogs this weekend. I will be glued to a T.V screen at various parties on Saturday, and attending Game 2 on Sunday. I'll try to get game recaps and some pics, and will more than likely liveblog game 3 on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Bandwagon Fan Quiz

I've heard a great deal of talk over the season about the influx of so called "bandwagon" fans taking over the ballpark. These are also the same people who yell "swing to every batter, then bitch when they take a called strike. Personally I have no problem with them, the new fans not the crusty complainers. Most people use sport as an escape from their own crappy life, why latch on and identify yourself with a loser. Everyone loves a winner, except Cubs fans who use their team as an excuse to get drunk at 2 in the afternoon. The Tigers are winning so there was bound to be large amounts of Tiger gear being sported around town. The measure of a true fan is how loud you cheer, not when you bought your hat.
So, I give my unconditional welcome to the newbies on two terms:
  • Please stop trying to start the wave during key situations in the game. Here's a tip, if a lead is less that 3 runs and there are men on base, sit your ass down and and enjoy the game. If a close game can't keep your attention, stick to watching cars go round in circles.
  • Know something about the team. I've resigned myself to the fact that whenever Brandon Inge's name is announced the shrieks from all the ladies will begin, but at least they know one player. I've met people who thought "Pudge" and Ivan Rodriguez were different people.
To help I've created a handy little test that you can take or give to others to consider them worthy to be a Tiger fan
(answers are in the comments)
1) Name at least 12 Tigers that have played in a game this season as you can. (hint, there were 40, 19 position players and 21 pitchers) Get 30-35 you've been to the ballpark a lot. Get all 40 you're Jim Leyland.
2) Name the as many of the 10 players from the 119 loss 2003 team as you can. (Hint: 6 pitchers, 4 Position) 4 is good, but the 8 to 10 should be easy if you have been paying attention.
3) Name any player from that same 2003 team that is still in the major leagues. (Hint: one was still with the team at the beginning of the year) There are 8, I knew 4. If you get them all, you are either Howie Schwab, or a liar.
4) History lesson, name the six players enshrined with statues in left field. Bonus points if you can name the one born in Detroit.
5) Not counting this year's trip, how many times have the Tigers been to the World Series. Bonus points for years, outcomes and opponents.

So there you have it, print it out and quiz your friends.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Shot Heard 'Round Brush Street revisited

Bill Mazeroski, Chris Chambliss, Joe Carter, Todd Pratt, Aaron Boone, David Ortiz, Chris Burke, and now Magglio Ordonez.

In the 103 years that baseball has had playoffs, those are the eight men who have ended a series with one swing of the bat. Some are the stuff legends are made of ("Shot heard 'round the world). Some leave you swearing (Aaron Fuckin Boone, Fucking Joe Carter). Some you forget even happened (Todd Pratt). But actually being there for one, I'm still at a loss on how to describe it fully. This video from someone at the game pretty much sums up what it sounded and looked like. As for that feeling, ask anyone that's worn the Old English D for the past few years, how things are going, and you'll get an idea.

video via Deadspin link

Sunday, October 15, 2006

ALCSgams: Game 4, SWEEP!

Growing up I've always heard stories from people about being present for dramatic events throughout Detroit sports history. Mickey Lolich's 5 hit win in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series, Kirk Gibson's HR off of Goose Gossage in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series. The Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup and Barry Sanders breaking the 2000 yard mark in 1997. Now I can say "I was there" when people bring up Magglio's home run. I still can't describe the feeling, some 28 odd hours after. All i can remember is hearing the crack and the roar getting louder and louder as the ball was getting closer and closer to it's landing spot in left field. I scrambled to get my camera out and take a picture of the mob scene at home plate, but in between my hands shaking from pure joy, and the fist pumping of the crowd in front of my I wasn't able to get a good shot so I'll leave you with some other pictures of game 4. Sorry, but they were the best I could do from the nosebleeds.

The first pitch of the game and the "Tiger Towels" in full effect.

Players (l) and Jim Leyland (r) take a victory lap around the field.

The American League Championship trophy presentation, and the sign speaks for itself.

Friday, October 13, 2006

ALCSgasm: Game 3, The Gambler Flops the Nuts

When you think of clutch Tiger pitching in the playoffs, the names Mickey Lolich, and Jack Morris come to mind. Well now after today's 2 hit 6 strikeout performance, Kenny Rogers enters that conversation. This was one of the best playoff pitching performances in the history of the Tigers. The 2 hits sets a record for the fewest hits allowed by Tiger pitching in the playoff. The previous low being three, set most recently by Milt Wilcox in the 1984 ALCS. It seems as though Kenny has made it his personal mission to exorcise the ghosts of all those losing Tigers teams over the last decade and a half, by ridding his legacy of playoff implosion of the past. How else can you explain a guy that previously was winless and an ERA above 9 , into 15 scoreless innings (he has recorded 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings if you count his last appearance in 2003 with the Twins) 14 strikeouts and two wins? It's not like he's a soon to be free agent, young, power pitcher. He's 41 years old. At 41, he is the second oldest pitcher (Roger Clemens at 42 in 2005) to win a playoff game. Clemens got his win by entering an 18 inning game in the 15th and pitching 3 scoreless innings. His next start (Game 2 of the World Series) he left 2 innings into his start with an injury, and began his second retirement. Kenny Rogers has shut down and humiliated one of the best offenses in the game with the Yankees, and the #1 run scoring team in the league since the all-star break in the A's. He has taken the mound in arguably each playoff series biggest game, and pitched two of the best games of his life. Being at Game 3 of the ALDS last Friday, and hearing the 43,000+ shake the upper deck with shouts of "Kenny! Kenny!" will be one of the things that will always come into my mind when I look back on this season. Now the Tigers are just one more win from those chants taking place in the World Series.

I will be at Game 4 tomorrow, and I will try to get some pictures and recap here on Sunday, with a liveblog of Game 5 if there is one.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ALCSgasm: Game 2, The Liveblog

Well with the events of earlier today involving Cory Lidle, I venture into the serious (for once) and leave the lighthearted stuff for later and offer prayers and condolences to anyone involved. Back with the snark when the game begins...
Top 1:
And were off...and three pitches into the game Steve Lyons is annoying. Granderson takes one to the warning track. Neifi Perez is batting second, and promptly strike out looking. Super duper. It's like Leyland wants Polanco to bat with at least an out. Milk duds for everyone, Polanco gets a single. Apparently Loaiza dos not fear the mullet, Maggs strikes out to end the inning.
Bottom 1st:
Parliament Funkadelic is being used to sell minivans, fuck you Honda. Fugly Kendall pops out to start it off form the A's. And there goes the no hitter, Kotsay gets to second on the muff(tee hee hee) by Maggs. Way to block it Pudge, Kotsay to third. Milton Bradley shattered bat single just over Polanco's head. 1-0 A's. And a fucking balk? Not good. Big Hurt, big whiff, 2 away. Verlander seems to be hitting 100 mph, a lot more than I remember him ever doing. I don't think Fox's radar gun is fair and balanced. Chavez to Granderson to end the inning. Inning over 1-0 A's
Top 2nd:
So that Cubs fan has been up there since May? Lead off double for MVP Guillen. Pudge, time to make up for that passed ball. He advances the runner, you're off the hook for now Pudge. Sac fly from Monroe, who said the Tigers can't play smallball? Gomez is the DH? Well he lines out to end the Tigers half. Game tied at 1 a piece.
Bottom 2nd:
A first pitch out with Payton flying out to left. Somehow it makes sense that Nick Swisher went to tOSU. And he strikes out looking to an educated curveball. Domo arigato Mr Scutaro. He strikes out to end the inning. Still tied 1-1.
Top 3rd:
At this rate this game will be over by 10:30. Good more time for me to play Tiger Woods 07. That ball didn't want to come down because Kendall is so ugly. Well at least Neifi didn't strike out, baby steps. To the bottom.
Bottom 3rd:
A foul was just called on that Navigator. Wow, I can't see why those guys on the Holiday Inn commercials shows got cancelled last year. Brown Sugar Jimenez out with an infield pop up. Steve Lyons laughs like a guy I know, Crazy Don. They probably are of equal intelligence as well. Another double for Kotsay. Poop, 2 run homer for mister personality Milton Bradley. 3-1 A's. Another K for Thomas ends the inning. 3-1 A's
Top 4th:
of Casey's leg tear. Thanks Fox. Ah Fuck it's Gomez instead of Inge. Better represent Toledo, Another hit for Polanco, right up the middle. Maggs follows that with a single. Two on for the MVP. A very unMVPlike whiff for Guillen. Bases are ripe and juicy for C-MO. BASE HIT!!! Bases still loaded for Inge. Oh balls, now the trainers are looking at Monroe. Great the Zapruder of Casey calf muscle tear. Thanks Fox. Alexis Gomez is up. represent Toledo. A simple ground ball whoop! it squirts through for 2 runs. 4-3 El Tigres. Close play at the plate...good call ump. Monroe's safe with the 5th run for Detroit. Inge foul tip ends the half Tigers up 5-3.
Bottom 4th:
Sit on it Potsie! Chavez caught looking to start the 4th. Swisher's swinging to tie up the game. Saaawing and a miss. 2 Down. Verlander jams Scutaro to end the inning. Still 5-3 Tigers.
Top 5th:
Jimmy John's commercials creep me the hell out. Before I could even type anything funny to say Neifi Perez grounds out. Well played Mr Perez. Polanco is 3 for 3. Ordonez with a looong strike, then promptly hits into a double play.
Bottom 5th:
Stop lying Thom Brennaman, you still haven't had your first kiss, well from a girl. Polanco nearly pulls a play out of his ass. Verlander is having problems throwing strikes...this could be trouble. Milton Bradley obliges with a line out to centerfield, and Big Hurt with a little groundout to end the inning. 5-3 Tigers.
Top 6th:
Mark this day down, the announcers are fellating Detroit. I withdraw my previous comments Mr. Brenneman. With 2 out, C-Mo disrespects that fastball into the gap in center for a double. I don't think it was Leyland's magic that Gomez got that hit, it was more Chavez booting one. OK that one was all Leyland. Gomez goes deep to put the Tigers up 7-3. Buenos Noches Esteban.
Bottom 6th:
Chavez, welcome to October. He makes it 7-4. There appears to be no quit in Oakland. OK Jim, time to get Verlander. And he does, looks like Wil Ledezma. Let's hope he can keep his cap in one piece tonight. Swisher fouls his way to a walk. That made sense right? Marco Polo, pops up for the second out. And after much trepidation, a fly out ends the inning. Tigers lead 7-4 after 6 and it looks less and less likely I will have time to play Tiger 07 tonight.
Top 7th:
C Grand leads it off with a single. His first hit of series. Hey Neifi did something right, a sac bunt gets Granderson to second. They're intentionally walking Polanco, OK, will Maggs make them pay? Well no, but he didn't hit into a double play and there's runners at the corners for Guillen. Line drive ends it. Time to stretch.
Bottom 7th:
Jason Kendall likes gladiator movies and wrestling, go figure. Ledezma with a wicked slider gets Kotsay swinging. Milton Bradley makes it a little closer with a solo shot. 7-5 Tigers. It's Grilli Time!!!! OK that radar gun is way off Grilli just hit 98. Grilli gives him the heater and sits down Frank Thomas. End of 7, 7-5 Tigers.
Top 8th:
C-MO two feet away from a homer down the line. And what always seems to happen after a near home run, a out is made. The A's seem to want Alexis Gomez on base for some reason. Another booted ball and Gomez stands at first with two out. But Inge hits into a fielder's choice and we go to the bottom.
Bottom 8th:
Crooked hat time. Rodney is in. He starts off by getting Chavez to strike out swinging. Payton's place is on the bench as Rodney gets another K. Rodney strikes out the side. Crooked hats for everyone. Tigers up 7-5 as we go to the 9th.
Top 9th:
A's pulling out all the stops, their closer Huston Street is in. So much for that. C Grand is MONEY! Deep to centerfield, and that my friends is insurance. Lou Pinella wants to make out with Curtis. Hey he got it out of the infield. 0-3 with a sac bunt, Infante couldn't of done that? OK, OK they're winning I'll stop now. Finally they get Polanco out, with a strikeout. Maggs grounds out for the third out. It's Sponge Todd One-derpants time.
Bottom 9th:
First pitch strike, it's over. Teenage Mutant Ninja Scutaro leaves his Bo staff on his shoulders and strikes out looking. Jonesy with another first pitch strike. Another one bites the dust. Two down. Captain Fugly spoils the perfect save with a little base hit through the infield. Jonesy loves drama, throws 3 balls, then 2 strikes for a full count. Milton Bradley looming. And he will come up after a Kotsay single. I'm not at all nervous. Soft dribbler over the mound, everyone's safe. Bases loaded for Frank Thomas...fuck. First pitch strike. GAME OVER, and in the good way. Thomas goes o for 5, and the Tigers win. 8-5.
Post Game:
The Tigers are heading back to Detroit up 2-0. The Tigers fought from behind twice and took the lead and defended it well. The got the A's swinging early and often. Now they are two games away from an even bigger party at Comerica.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

ALCSgasm: Game 1

Rumor has it that Barry Zito will be on his way to the Yankees next season. If that's the case he fit right in with the Yankees of this season with a piss poor performance in Game 1 tonight. Of course the A's lineup was doing their impression of the world's greatest assortment of hitting professionals in the history of the known universe, by leaving twenty (that's 2-0) men on base and going 0-12 with RISP. It didn't hurt that Craig Monroe flashed a little leather, and the infield turned a record tying 4 double plays, and for once Nate Robertson actually had a lead to work with. How you may ask did they chase one of the AL's best pitchers after 3 2/3 innings? Cue a whistling Axl Rose...with just a little patience. They took pitches and forced Zito away from his knee-buckling curve and into throwing fastballs. Everyone knows that the Tigers love fastballs like fat girls love cake, and the hits just started coming. Yet again someone different came up with the big hit. It's like the Tigers spin a wheel before each game. The arrow landed on Brandon Inge tonight. He went 3-3, reached base 4 times, and was a triple away from recording the cycle. The only bad news of the night is that Sean Casey went down with a leg injury, which descriptions ranged from a blown calf muscle to Casey being back for game 3. Don't start bring your Sloth Shelton jersey out of mothballs just yet, he was left off the roster for the series. So more than likely The Tigers will have Pudge at first and Vance Wilson behind the dish, or lie they did tonight, Guillen at first and Santiago or Infante in at shortstop.

While being up 1-0 after knocking off the other team's best pitcher is nice; to paraphrase The Wolf, "Well, let's not start clucking each other's roosters quite yet". It's one game. There are 3 left to win. The A's did leave a number a runners on base. If they start hitting with those runners on base there could be trouble. That's where the pitching comes in. All the match ups would seem to favor the Tigers, they just need to perform like they did against the Yankees, and by this time next week I'll be breaking down the matchup against the NL champions

Live Blog of Game 2 tomorrow.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Going, going. Back, back. To Cali, Cali.

Comerica Park has finally dried from Saturday night's champagne bukkake. Now, after every one's hangover has lifted, this is where focus turned to the next obstacle at hand. While, yes it was awesome to beat the Yankees, at home, the way that they did; the thought resonating through my mind today hopefully is the same one that Jim Leyland will preaching to the Tigers on the flight to Oakland. "That's not good enough." Great we beat the Yankees...in the ALDS. They won 3 games in convincing fashion...they need to win 8 more.
So with that being said lets take a look at the Tigers sworn enemies for the next 4 to 7 games, the Oakland Athletics, and break it down like L.L. Cool J


The similarities are striking, no pun intended. While the Tigers don't have a superstar stud like Barry Zito, the four starters they will throw at the A's were 7th, 11th, 12th, and 14th in ERA. Zito and Dan Haren were the only A's starters that didn't have a stint on the DL. Rich Harden only started 9 games. some have questioned Nate Robertson starting game one against Zito, but I like it. My gut says it's Leyland way of giving Robertson confidence. Plus that sets up Kenny Rogers (who is 24-5 career against the A's) and Bonderman (the former A's prospect) pitching in games 3 and 4 (plus 6, and 7 if necessary). The bullpens are a wash. Jones and Huston Street both had 37 saves. Kiko Calero and Justin Duchscherer are to Oakland what Zumaya and Rodney are to the Tigers (minus the K's). This bullpen wasn't really touched by Minnesota in the ALDS, so the Tigers must get to the starters and wear down the bullpen. But the Tigers did just shut down the greatest hitting lineup in the history of western civilization, so that has to count for something, right?

While the Tigers did better in pretty much all the offensive categories in the regular season, except with on base percentage. But in the playoffs the Tigers were better, in fact even the Twins were better than the A's, but still lost the series. More than half their line up is hitting below .215. These aren't the bottom of the order guys either, these are guys like Jason Kendall their leadoff hitter, and a power hitter like Eric Chavez. If it wasn't for Frank Thomas, and Torii Hunter's error, more than likely the Twins win the first two games of the series, and we have a Central Division ALCS.

The A's were missing their starting shortstop going into the playoffs, and now they will be without their starting second baseman(Mark Ellis). That would seem to put Oakland at a disadvantage fielding and hitting wise. But other than up the middle the defenses are evenly matched. As for managers, Ken Macha left the A's then came back when only the Devil Rays came calling. Jim Leyland more than likely will win AL Manager of the year.

The Tigers are on a huge emotional rush right now. That could help or hurt a team. With Leyland in charge he'll find a way to focus that energy from knocking off the Yankees into success on the field against the A's. Zito wins both his starts in games 1 and 5, but the Tigers led by the Gambler, take it in 6, and have another scene like this below.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Live Blog: Game 4

Jeremy Bonderman vs. Jaret Wright. The Tigers don't want go back to Yankee Stadium to face Wang. The Yankees don't want to go home for the year. This game scares the hell out of me. The match-up seems to favor the Tigers, and that's what bothers me. This takes me back to the last weekend of the season. All they needed was one win, and couldn't get it against Kansas City. But that Tigers team hasn't been the one that's taken the field the first three games this offseason. The entire pitching staff has stepped up, it's now Bonderman's turn.

Kevin Kennedy said Kenny Rogers pitched better yesterday than he did during a his perfect game, paging Joe Morgan. Padres look like they're going to stave off elimination with a win in game 3. Is it just me of does Jeanne Zelasko look like she's spilled cookie crumbs down the front of her. Looks like Fox is getting all of the "New York World Series" taped features out of the way...just in case. R.I.P. Buck O'Neil. Maybe now he'll get in to the Hall of Fame, where he always belonged. IT'S GAME TIME!!!!!!
Top 1st:
Tim McCarver and Joe Buck will have to fellate the Yankees somewhere else other than the airwaves of Fox today. A-Rod batting 8th, no HGHiambi. One up one down. And another one goes. The series was just compared to Average Joe's vs. GloboGym...simply awesome, Josh Lewin. 7 pitches, 3 outs for Bonderman.
Bottom 1st:
Rust belt Cinderella, that finished two games back of GloboGym. Cano fields a line drive, two down. Casey ends the inning. 9 pitches for Wright. 0-0 after 1.
Top 2nd:
and the WHIFF! Bonderman K's the unSwedish Shef. Bonderman is on so far. Another 1-2-3 inning.
Bottom 2nd:
Magglio Ordonez is JACKIN IT!!!!! Fear the Mullet, 1-0 Tigers. Pudge works a 0-2 count into a walk. Yes Pudge drew a walk, today could be a good day. C-MOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3-0 Tigers. And there's action in the Yankees bullpen. Shattered bat single for Thames. A-Rod look like he's wearing those sunglasses old people wear over their bi-focals. And Joey Blueskies reference from Levin, I have a new favorite play-by-play guy. A Granderson lineout ends the inning. Another 3 run second for the Tigers at home.
Top 3:
Nice catch Monroe. Yet another first pitch swing by this supposed patient Yankee lineup. 9 up, 9 down. To the bottom of the 3rd.
Bottom 3rd:
Polanco pops out, here comes the Mayor. Same result as Polanco, pop out to Melky. E-Rod, Magglio safe at first. MVP Guillen, bloops one over Cano, Maggs to third. Pudge with a base hit up the middle, nice hustle by Guillen gets him to third. Tigers take advantage of a Yankee error with two out yet again and score a run. Jaret Wright's day is over, Cory Lidle is in. He strikes out C-Mo to end the inning. 4-0 Tigers.
Top 4th:
Wicked, Wicked slider by Bondo get Jeter swinging. 2 down. Abreu hit like 500 home runs at the CoPa during the Home Run Derby two years ago, I don't think he's gotten one out of the infield yet, he pops one out to Guillen to end the inning.
Bottom 4th:
Lidle gets two quick outs. And Granderson ends it with a fly out to Damon. Still 4-0 Tigers.
Top 5th:
And the shadows set in over the plat. Undaunted Sheffield sends one deep, for a long strike, and then promptly whiffs. Another first pitch swing and out, two down. Cleats, Twinkies, and Marlboro's the secret to Leyland's success. Bondo whiffs another one. 39 pitches 7 balls through 5.
Bottom 5th:
Polanco starts it out with an infield hit. Textbook Mayor with a hit through the hole and into right field. Polanco runs his ass off to third. Runners on the corners nobody out. Base hit Maggs, 5-0 Tigers. Guillen doubles, 6-0 with runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Lidle's day is done. They have the Yankees knocked down, time to step on their throats. Fat Boy Bruney is in. Pudge hits it to shallow center, but Damon has a baby arm so it's a sac fly for Pudge, and back to the bullpen for the Yanks down by a touchdown. Proctor is in, where's Lt. Harris? He gets Thames looking, end of the inning, 7-0 Tigers.
Top 6th:
22 minutes sitting in the dugout and bang, first pitch strike for Bondo. And there goes to no-no. Strangely enough Cano, who broke up a no-no bid by Daniel Cabrera late in the year, gets the hit here. Hey A-Rod reached base, good for him. Two near double plays, but the inning's still going. Not anymore, Damon grounds out to end the inning.
Bottom 6th:
2 Down. Polanco is a stone cold pimp, he picks up the 10th hit of the night for the Tigers. Casey follws with the 11th a double down the line that brings in Polanco. Maggs pops out to end the inning. 8-0 tigers.
Top 7th:
Jeter leads it off with a single. Abreu follows that with a single and there's runner on the corners with nobody out. Walker and Rodney, up in the pen. There goes the shutout. Matsui gets on with a fielder's choice and Jeter scores. 8-1 Tigers. Another hit, this should be Bondo's last batter. And he gets Cano to pop out to Granderson to record the third out.
Bottom 7th:
Another hit for Guillen. His 3rd of the day. Is that Steve Lyons or Paul Lukas in the announcer's booth? Thames to A-rod, who throws him out to end the inning. 8-1 Tigers after 7.
Top 8th:
Bondo's still out there, and he gets A-Rod to fly out to Granderson on the warning track in straightaway center. Damon reaches on a walk but Jeter lines out to end the Yankees half of the 8th.
Bottom 8th:
Hey, Brandon Inge, welcome to October. A hit to lead off the 8th. Farnsworth's in, I wonder if any one's going to get tackled. Sheffield shows why he has never played first before. Drops a sure double play ball, and Polanco is up. And out,Casey follows with a groundout. It looks like Bondo's coming back out for the ninth. 8-1 Tigers after 8.
Top 9th:
3 outs away from the ALCS and the A's. Abreu's singles. CRAIG MONROE!!!! Glove save and a beauty. Bondo leaves to a standing O. 2 outs away. Cowboy Walker in to finish it up. Matsui with deep out to center. One out away. Posada delays the inevitable with a two run shot 8-3. Cano. Ground ball. GAME OVER!!!! 8-3 Tigers.
Post Game:
The sight of Leyland carried off the field on the player's shoulders, and the players coming back out to share the celebration with the fans, was one of the best moments in Detroit sports history. Now if you'll excuse me it's very dusty where I write this and my eyes are watering. Off to get drunk and party like it's 1984 sans burning police cars.

ALCS preview on Monday.

Three is a magic number.

Kenny Rogers will never have to pay for a meal in Detroit again. His performance in game 3 was simply dominating. The stat line speaks for itself

7 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts. Yankee batters 0-8 with RISP.

But the way he did it was unreal. 8 K's against Murderers Row version 2.0. In the fifth and seventh inning he gave up lead off doubles to Matsui and Posada respectively. In the 5th he struck out Williams and Cano, and got Damon to ground out to short to end the inning with Matsui stranded at second. Great, but he was even better in the seventh. with Posada on second he got Matsui to ground out, which advanced Posada to third with one out. Rogers stuck out Williams (who was hitting .353 with 2HRs career vs. Rogers) again, and then a Cano ground out to end the inning. He came out in the 8th and was breaking 90 mph while nearing his 100th pitch. He was one Jeter foul tip away from striking out the side, ended up walking him, and was pulled for Zumaya after getting Abreu to go down swinging. No inning was longer than four batters.

The first playoff game at Comerica Park, and the first playoff game in Detroit since 1987, had the crowd raucous. I have never heard a better baseball crowd than the one tonight. The upper deck was rocking, literally. You could feel the vibration of the noise making the floor sway a little bit. The crowd was up and cheering every two strike count after the fifth inning. The only other crowd that I have been to that was loud was game 7 of the Pistons-Magic series in 2003. Detroit jumped out to a 20-8 lead and the roof was torn off. Now the mission is to win game 4 so there can be more playoff experiences at the CoPa.

Come back for the Game 4 live blog tomorrow.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The other Ilitch team

Tonight the Red Wings opened the season with a 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. An less than auspicious start to the post-Yzerman era. But the beginning of this season marked another first, my indifference. I didn't realize that the NHL started Wednesday until I read something Tuesday night. I didn't know who the Red Wings were playing tonight until I turned the game on. It's not like I was turned on to hockey as a fad when the new team moved into town. Detroit is an Original Six town, I was born and raised on hockey. I played it, my Dad played it, uncles and cousins played it, it is in my blood. Growing up it was baseball and my Tigers hat in the summer, when fall came it was my Red Wings jersey and hockey. However, the same thing that happened with my love for baseball as a child is happening to hockey right now. It took a few years after the strike to get back into baseball, and it looks like it will take me a couple years to get back into hockey full time. With Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel, hockey's future looks bright. Hopefully they'll stop trying to "fix" the game so I can start watching again.
Anyways, here's a little preview of the 2006-07 Red Wings

Farewell to:
- The Captain. Next to Gordie Howe, no one in the 80 year history was the team more than Steve Yzerman.
- Brendan Shanahan. a 37 year old slow winger who doesn't produce in the playoffs. Have fun with that New York
- Manny Legace. Nice guy, good goalie, just made the cardinal sin of not being able to bail out an under performing team in the playoffs and was rode out of town.

Hello, Newman:
- Dominik Hasek. His 3rd tour of duty with the Wings, the over-under on when his groin (and/or brain) explodes, December.
- Danny Markov. He is expected to fill the hard hitting, intimidating defenseman role left open by Jiri Fischer.

Forwards: Henrik Zetterberg was just named an assistant captain along with Kris Draper. This will be Zetterberg's team in a few years and he needs to lead by example. This shouldn't be a problem with Pavel Datsuyk feeding him the puck. Robert Lang and Mikael Sameulsson have to step up to fill the goal scoring void created by the departure of Shanahan. Also prospects Jiri Hudler and Tomas Kopecky need to produce as well. They have been stuck down in the minors for the past few years due to the talent overflow. So they should be ready to contribute right away. Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen are big bodies that should plant themselves in front of the net and cause havoc. Jason Williams, and converted defenseman Brad Norton will complete for the 4th "Grind Line" center position between wingers Dan Cleary and Kirk Maltby

Defensemen: New captain Nicklas Lidstrom is simply one of the best to play the game ever. Chris Chelios was, but he'll be struggling fro playing time as the 6th man on the game roster. The aforementioned Markov and Andreas Lilja are there to provide a physical presence. Kronwall needs to take his development as "Nick, Jr." to the near superstar step. Brett Lebda and Mathieu Schnieder round out the D corps as the offensive specialists.

Goalies: Hasek is back, who knows how long he'll play. If he starts to struggle, look for his "groin" to begin acting up like past seasons. Chris Osgood is to goalies is what Trent Dilfer is to Quarterbacks. A guy better suited to be a back-up yet somehow lead a team to a championship. Joey McDonald is up as the 3rd goalie because they can't send him to the minors with the chance of losing him to another team on waivers. He'll only see time if/when Hasek gets hurt.

Overall: Pretty much the same team that had the best regular season record that got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, but one year older. While that year added experience to guys like Zetterberg, Datsuyk, Lebda, Kronwall, and Williams; it also made Chelios, Schnieder, Maltby and Draper one year slower. The age will catch up to this team, and Nashville has closed the gap, but the do still play Chicago, Columbus, and St. Louis a lot, so that's good enough for the 4 seed. Plus Ken Holland will be in the market to make a trade if need be. The future looks good as well, the farm system is stocked with players such as Valterri Filppula, Jimmy Howard, and Igor Grigorenko. They might not win this year and lose a few more players to age and the salary cap, but they won't have to rebuild, just reload.

Game 2 Revisited

It's all tied up coming back to Detroit. The Tigers must have made a call to Dr. Venkman, because the ghosts of Yankee Stadium had no effect on them today. The old adage of great pitching beats great hitting held true today. Verlander pitched like a grizzled vet. He had problems with finding the strike zone at times, but fought his way out of every jam he was in. All the while hitting 100 mph on the radar gun more frequently than any regular season game than I recall. His only mistake was a fastball to Johnny Damon that landed in the upper deck. Verlander came back, stopped the bleeding, and kept another big inning for happening for the Yankees. Then the bullpen shut it down allowing only one hit after Verlander left. While on the offensive side of things Marcus Thames seems to have made this series a personal vendetta against the organization that had him in the minors so many years. I'd be pissed too if I had to spend that much time in Columbus. Guillen is playing like a team MVP should, and Curtis Granderson seems to have snapped out of his post all-star nose dive as well. All in all the Tigers leave New York with 20 hits in the two games against the Yankees best two pitchers. The biggest thing is that they never showed fear. Trailing by two they just kept chipping away and played like the team that was 40 games about .500 at one point this year. Now, instead of being for staving off elimination as previously thought, the home games for the Tigers could help them advance to the second round. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. This was just one game, putting everything is back to square one. It's now a best of three game series with Detroit having home field advantage. The Tigers have to go out and play just as well here, if not better, than they played in Detroit. It's nerve racking, exhilarating, and sometimes painful to watch. But playoff baseball is something that has been sorely missed, and something that Detroit would love to get accustomed too.

Game 2 Hero: Todd Jones, and the rest of the bullpen. (0 runs, 1 hit, 4 k) A Todd Jones appearance is defined by his ability to throw strikes. After Matsui reached, the next three batter were sent down in order all after falling behind to first pitch strikes. Jones took all the abuse for a few bad games earlier this year. His gets my kudos for slamming the door in a huge game today.

Goat: It would be so easy to single out A-Rod, so why fight the urge. 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts and stranding 3 men on base will not win you any favors in Kansas City, let alone New York.

No live blog for Game 3, I will be there in the flesh. Recap late tomorrow night unless I get sloshed.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Live Blog: Game 2 Electric Boogaloo

So apparently Joe Morgan will be doing the game tonight. The one person that makes me long for Rod Allen. Maybe he'll be winded from the Mets-Dodgers game earlier in the day. Why couldn't they convince Vin Scully to do the double duty?
Pregame: That Travelodge bear creeps me out. Joe Morgan looks like he has wicked glaucoma, that explains sooo much. Yeah you can't stop the Yankees, right Daniel Cabrera? And there's a going to be a weather delay. They show Joe Morgan in his travel from Shea to the Bronx, Joe studying, Joe Morgan's "notes" were written in crayon. Oh good they're nailing down the tarp into the field, that's always a good sign. Well this game isn't starting anytime soon. I'll crank it back up when it does. 10:00 first pitch...this is going to be a long night. Scratch that game cancelled. Rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon. So this is the end of the live blog adventure. I will be trapped in a cubicle for the game tomorrow. so I guess I'll have a post-mortem and a little something about the NHL starting back up.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Live Blog: Game 1

Pregame: No one outside of Detroit, even inside of Detroit, is giving the Tigers much of a chance. so I'll leave it at that, and hope I'm not pulling a T.O. by the 3rd inning
Pre-Game: Audioslave song to open things up...well it beats Rob Thomas. And the series you'll end up hating before one episode even airs is..."Justice". I have the T.V. on mute but I think butJoe Buck is saying, "Hello, I'm Joe Buck and I think my own farts smell delicious. Tim McCarver is down in the Yankee dugout sucking Jeter's "intangibles". I don't know I'm not good at lipreading. IT'S GAME TIME!
Top of the 1st: Well at least Granderson didn't strike out. Polanco grounds out, I sense a recurring theme. Wang gets Casey to ground out to end the inning. I'm not impressed anyone can get Casey to ground out.
Bottom 1st: Unfrozen Caveman Outfielder with the groundout. Jeter with a little single over Guillen's head. Let the fellatio of Jeter begin. Big League Nate jams Abreu, Jeter out at 2nd. It's deep, It's out. End of 1, 0-0.
Top 2nd: Yes Tommy, October is the time to root against the Yankees. Maggs with a deep leadoff double. Fear the Mullet. 3-0 to Guillen. Full count. Walked him 2 on no one out. Hit and Run without the hit, Maggs is dead at 3rd. Pudge with a K, Monroe with a groundout, inning over.
Bottom 2nd: Take THAT juicer. A-rod up. Hey Pat Ewing's here, what better good luck charm than a guy who's won nothing. NICE SNAG of a line drive by Polanco. Matsui pops out, 2 down. Posada goes through the middle two on. Thank God Giambi's fat ass won't be able to score on a base hit...in theory. Nice pitch by Nate, Cano is jammed and the Tigers are out of the inning. End of 2, 0-0.
Top 3rd: former Yankee farmhand Marcus Thames with the second leadoff double for the Tigers. Time for some smallball? Inge hits a dribbler to A-rod, Thames stuck at 2nd. Base hit Granderson, runner at the corners with 1 out, and Polanco coming to the plate. Double play, poop. Another wasted opportunity.
Bottom 3rd: UCO simulates one of his throws from the outfield with an "infield single" McCarver said something about guys that squat for a living. I'll be putting it back on mute shortly. Crap, Jeter doubles, and runners on 2nd an 3rd with no outs. Abreu double, 2-0 Yankees. 3-0 with Sheffield bringing in Abreu with a single, please stop the bleeding Nate. Juiceambi goes yard 5-0. I have now soiled myself. A-Rod with a hit, anyone not get a hit yet? Grilli up in the pen. Finally, Matsui makes the first out 2 hours into this inning. Nice catch Maggs. Robs a double from Posada. Cano pops out to Monroe, inning of hell over. 5-0 Yankees.
Top 4th: Tigers need at least a run or two simply to keep myself motivated to keep doing this blog tonight. Casey does not hit a leadoff double. Maggs out on the first pitch. Super. Double for Guillen. Leyland might need one of those other tirades to light a fire under the Tiger's asses right now. Yet another gratuitous celebrity shot, who are they going to show in Detroit? Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels? Pudge swinging for the fences, strikes out. Another runner in scoring position stranded.
Bottom 4th: Way to miss the beginning of the inning Fox, UCO flies out to right. Yet another hit just over the head of an infielder. Next year all 7 footers. Mr Intangible caught in a rundown, 2 out. Inning over, no further damage. Still the Yankees 5-0.
Top 5th: Solo shot by Monroe...baby steps 5-1. Another groundout. Base hit Inge. Now would be a great time to put some hits together. Nope, pop out from Granderson. Polanco brings in Inge with a double 5-2. Casey with a double, 5-3, now we got ourselves a ballgame. Action in the Yankee Bullpen, some fat guy, didn't catch the name. Bruney? Maggs strikes out. Good inning nonetheless. A quick bottom of the 5th would be delightful.
Bottom 5th: Pop up from Sheffield, good start. Doink! Juicer gets plunked again. Delayed called strike 3, sit down A-Rod, good middle. Matsui out, good ending, I get my wish. End of 5, 5-3 Yankees.
Top 6th: Proctor up in the bullpen. Wang likes pasta, what is this the little league world series? I don't give a shit what Wang listens to. 3 groundball outs.
Bottom 6th: What a play by Inge to bail out Robertson's sorry fielding ass, 2 out. Damon sticks out his bat and gets a hit, everything's coming up Milhouse for the Yankees tonight. Grilli and Walker up in the Pen. Jeter's 4for 4 with a double, Damon to 3rd. Crap. Ground ball Polanco can't get it...and he's still down, 2 runs score. 7-3. Not good. Robertson's night is over. Grilli in, pick off thrown away, Abreu to 2nd. Sheffield grounds out to end the inning. 7-3 Yankees and the Tigers need to score some runs in the next inning or it's over.
from Inge. Wang is pulled (Top 7th: Made in TaiwanG that is so gay. But he did just get Thames to whiff, and a groundouthee hee hee), Mike Myers is in, I pray he doesn't pitch on Halloween, Buck and McCarver would force mass suicides with that one. Now's the time to get those runs, before Rivera gets in. Ask and you shall receive Granderson takes it deep. 7-4. New pitcher coming up for the Yankees. Proctor is in, and promptly gives up a hit to an apparently non-injured Polanco. Another hit, runners at the corners for Maggs, make them pay you Venezuelan piece of shit. Sorry channeled Ozzie Guillen there. Pop fly out, though I had flashbacks to a couple years ago with Damon barreling in like that. Need to shut them down in the bottom of the inning and attack the Yankee bullpen before it's too late.
7th inning stretch.
Bottom 7th: Now Walker's in let's hope he doesn't repeat his performance from Friday. If you were going to walk Giambi why not just plunk him again? A-rod lines out, and 0 for 3 Matsui's up, why do I smell a hit? Nope a fielder's choice but nice hustle by Matsui. No wonder the U.S. auto companies are in trouble look at that Japanese work ethic. And he's at 3rd now, after a Posada single. Finally the Yankees leave some runners on the bases. Now the Tigers have Guillen, Pudge and Monroe up. Pretty much a last chance, I don't see the bottom of the order (or any of the order) doing much against Rivera.
Top 8th: Farnsworth's in. It's like Fox is ordering the Yankees to make it closer so people will watch. 4 pitch walk. Keep taking it he throws a strike, then take him deep. 7 pitches later his first strike. Pudge needs to get back on the juice. One out. Damn you Tim McClelland and your late strike calls. Two down. We get it there are people in the stands, I can hear them,
STOP SHOWING THEM AND MISSING ACTION ON THE FIELD!!!!! Fuck me, a pop up and the half of the inning(and more than likely the game) is over.
Bottom 8th: If there was any lingering doubt in my mind about the outcome of this game, Jeter caps his 5 for 5 night with a home run. 8-4.
Top 9th: Last stand. Consider the Tigers lucky if they get one person on base. There's your one, Granderson loops a broken bat single into left. Double play, game blouses. Yankees win 8-4, up in the series 1-0.
Postgame: The Tigers only had two hits less than the Yankees, but 4 less runs. Not to sound like Roy Williams, but the Tigers left at least 4 runs out on the field. The Yankees didn't, they won. The positives I'm taking away from this game, is that if somehow the Tigers get to the starters, they can win. But that, along with actually stopping the Yankees bats is a huge if. Verlander must pitch his ass off tomorrow.
Hero: Jeter did go 5-5 but it was Abreu who brought him in twice. It was his 2 out 2 RBI single in the 6th that put the Yankees back up by 3 and back in the driver's seat in the game.
Goat: Pudge. The one guy on the Tigers that been there before puts up an 0fer. Stop swinging for the fences and start getting base hits, that's what is going to win games.
Another live blog for game 2 tomorrow.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Screw Gum, It's beard time.

Back in 1997, as a lark I tried something to help the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup, that in my previous 17 years could not do. I grew a playoff beard, well the scraggly-ass 17 year old version of one. The day after the regular season ended I stopped shaving, and a after a sweep of Philly in the Finals (clinched on the day I graduated from High School no less) I had a scatter-shot pattern of facial hair, but the Wings were victorious. The next year, I tried the same thing, beard grew in a little better, and got the Red Wings the same result. I decided to test fate in 1999 and the answer was a semifinal loss to the Avalanche. In 2000 I felt it was unfair to use my beard against Ray Bourque even though he did play for Colorado, so I stayed clean shaven and Bourque and the Avs won the cup. Brought it back in 2001, another Red Wing championship. In 2002 I decided so see if the beard's power worked on other sporting teams. So for the Piston playoff run I was as hairy as a lumberjack, and everything was more that OK, an ass-whupping of the Lakers and an NBA title for the Pistons. I decided to retire the beard to save up it's magical powers for the teams that needed it the most...the Tigers and Lions. I swore the next time the beard cam out it would be for one of those teams. Well the razor has been stored away in the medicine cabinet. It's beard time and may God have mercy on the Yankees for they do not know what wrath I have brought down upon them.