No Run Support

Detroit Tigers baseball and other nonsense

Category Archives: mlb

Baseball writing. How does it work?

I made a promise to myself to keep this blog up and running with more content this year.

If I stare at it long enough, something will come to me.

It’s not like I don’t have a ton of inspiration to do so. All the links listed to the right (and several more that I need to add) provide that on a daily basis.

It’s not like the Tigers aren’t putting a great team on the field to help me come up with fun and hopefully positive things to write. Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder… to Brandon Inge’s various controversies among fans and other writers, and everything in between. It should be a hell of a team and a fun year.

I’ve already got my trip to Detroit for this year planned in August. In addition to that, there’ll be the usual quick weekend trips to Arlington, and there’s tentative plans for Cincinnati and Denver, too. Those trips are bound to give me plenty of ideas.

Then why does it feel like such a daunting task? I know I’m capable of it and I have done it in past years, and many of my friends have managed to write about baseball almost every day during the off-season. Laziness and other life things get in the way, I guess. For photographers, there’s always helpful lists for those who choose try to take a photo every day for a year – such as Project 365 – and then there’s National Blog Posting Month. These projects often offer special challenges or prompts to help get you going.

Baseball can provide the prompts itself, and as they say, you can’t predict baseball. All kinds of weird or interesting shit is bound to happen each day. Maybe I’m just writing this for self-motivation, because I can’t see how this could be useful or entertaining to anyone else. For that I apologize. But I want to get my shit together this year. My hope is that sometime, I’ll have the means and be in a situation where I can focus on nothing but writing. Maybe putting it down in black and white here will help me kick my ass into gear.

***

Meanwhile, in stuff related to baseball itself, I’ve actually been enjoying the fact that the Tigers haven’t been televised yet. They will be tomorrow, but as a split squad against the Phillies on the Phillies broadcast, and I won’t be home to see it. There’s something comforting about easing back into the season and letting some excitement build just by listening, reading accounts from people that are there, and not actually watching.

Don’t get me wrong, though. This weekend, I would’ve been in Lakeland if other things hadn’t come up, and I really wish I was. Maybe opening day will be even sweeter having been forced to only live vicariously through the TV and other people this time around.

Dinner of Champions

Yes, I am posting to my neglected blog just to show you my dinner (because it arrived via UPS during the day today):

I’m guessing if you’re a Tigers fan you know that Justin Verlander has his own cereal now. You can buy it at Meijer in various Michigan cities (and Toledo, I’m told). You can also order it online, and even get a box of cereal packaged with a t-shirt if you are so inclined. I got the shirt, and in person the colors are navy and orange like they should be, unlike the example on the website. The cereal’s good, basically generic frosted flakes, and the proceeds from all sales go to two VA hospitals in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

So, fun times. I wonder, if I eat a second bowl, will my fastball go up a few MPH? It has to, right? And yeah, that’s a grocery store purchased Christmas themed clearance bowl leftover from when I lived with my ex. Don’t fuck with a girl and her favorite cereal/pasta bowl. I have no memories attached to this thing other than the awesome stuff I’ve cooked and subsequently eaten out of it.

Oh, and I’m actually planning on doing some writing around here once spring training and the regular season begin. Really. I swear.

The Winter

Oh. I have a baseball blog. I forgot, apparently.

I woke up this morning with some sort of icky-sinus-general-malaise thing. In between naps I began to form a pathetic excuse for a blog post in my head that would catch up everything in between my last entry’s eternal hope and now, the day after Christmas. I came to WordPress and logged in, and found a draft that I never published. Here it is:

Nothing to say about baseball, but this.

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.” – Bart Giamatti.

It was last edited on October 16th, the day after the Tigers were eliminated from the playoffs in that joke of a 15-5 loss to the Rangers. So, yeah.

From what other people say, this year’s World Series was a good one. I watched at least a little of every game, my heart not really in it, vaguely rooting for the Rangers. I’m not one to stay bitter for long, especially if my team’s loss was well-deserved, so to speak. The Rangers played better than the Tigers overall, plain and simple. And then they didn’t. It was hard witnessing the heartbreak of so many friends who are big Rangers fans, for the second year in a row.  I go all in when I love something; a person, a sport, a band. And I tend to surround myself with people who do the same. After this year’s second place finish, one friend even put himself in therapy – no joke. He’s doing better now.

So what’s been going on since then? I made a trip up to Dallas for the Winter Meetings. I meant to write about that here, or at least mention it before I went, but I guess I just never got around to it. I did write about the experience over at Bless You Boys (here and here). I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Tigers chose the year I went to do almost nothing during the Meetings, and then once they signed someone (Dotel), they did so while I was on a plane going home. Most of the big deals occurred right about then, actually, not that there would have been much fanfare had I been around for it. Just some more buzz amongst those in attendance, writers running for the media room, etc.

I’m unsure if I’ll make it to spring training at all next year, but I’m starting to get antsy for mid-February. After the stress of the playoffs I was actually happy baseball was done, at least for a little while. I slept a lot. On the whole, this offseason has seemed kind of blah to me. Maybe it’s because the Tigers haven’t done much. I didn’t really think they needed to, but I can’t help but be left with a bit of an underwhelmed feeling. Besides the Pujols sweepstakes, I get the impression other people feel the same way. Here’s hoping this just means the 2012 season will be amazing all around baseball. I’m just about ready for it.

Give Me Everything.

I’m not going to lie. The song has grown on me. The song that’s played every time Victor Martinez comes up to bat, just a little bit louder than the others. Just a little bit longer than the others, because often late in games they let it play while the opposing team inevitably calls the bullpen to face him. The song that sparked the #vmartatbatmusic twitter hashtag:

At first I was annoyed he picked this song. It’s been all over top 40 radio – that I admittedly listen to in the car, and in the car only – for months and months. I can’t stand any other Pitbull songs and I hated this one at first. But after the summer V-Mart has had, I kind of love it.

It didn’t really start happening until I got to Detroit in July and I heard it in person. I found myself singing along and jabbing my friend Cee in the arm along to the beat as she rolled her eyes and laughed at me. I’ve gotten in the habit of tweeting the stupid hashtag or texting whatever Tigers fan friend I think could use a smile every time I hear the song. So many times this season, it’s signaled a big hit in the game. Tonight was no exception: it preceded an 11th inning walk-off single.

To me, it’s become the theme song of the 2011 team. As they head towards the playoffs, it’s all too true. For all we know, we might not get tomorrow – let’s do it tonight.

Well, they did it. And I finally have something to say.

Brandon Inge: Always finding new ways to be a dork. Photo by Ben Margot for AP.

I may not have put it down in words as often this year, but I’ve been watching the Tigers with as much intensity as ever throughout the season. The incredible run so far in September – they’ve only lost two games (make it three, I wrote this during Saturday’s game) – has been impossible for even the most casual fan to ignore.

2009, as much as I’d like to forget the end of it, left its mark on my psyche. The second half rolls around and dumbasses talk about THE COLLAPSENING, and as stupid as I think it is, I knew in the back of my head that it’d be par for the course if they started sucking. Going into the clinching game last night I was as nervous as I was for game 163, even though I knew their entry into the playoffs was inevitable. I said in my last post that I was through being paranoid, and I am, but it was really hard not to expect Valverde to blow his first save of the year last night.

But he didn’t. As the final out was made, I let out a whoop so loud it even surprised me, and ran to the kitchen to get the bottle of champagne I had bought the night before. I quickly posted an open thread for people to chat during the locker room celebration, and sent out/replied to a ton of text messages. Prior to the game I had set up my old laptop on the coffee table and updated Skype so that my friend Wendy, a fellow Texan Tiger fan without FSD, could watch the celebration via video chat. I called her and we popped our bottles together, mine spilling all over me and the floor. We did a quick toast and then I got out of the way so she could watch the party. Watching Jim Leyland’s eyes well up as he talked to Mario Impemba was almost too much; I think my glass had as many tears in it as it did champagne. No matter how he goes about managing the team, the old man cares more than anyone could ever understand, and that’s partly why the team has gotten to where they are.

When the editors of Bless You Boys did projections for the year, almost all of us had the Tigers going to the playoffs. Things were looking good for the team, and new Catcher/DH Victor Martinez was sure to be “the straw that stirs the drink”, as Rod Allen would say. Even if he wasn’t enough, I felt strongly that Dave Dombrowski would do everything he could to make the necessary moves at the trade deadline to put the team over the top. And so, for the hell of it, I put them down to win the World Series. Nobody else had them getting past the ALCS. I figured, “Why not? Someone’s got to at least pretend to believe.” Little did I know that in mid-September, I’d find myself believing it for real.

I saw both wins and losses when I attended four games in Detroit this July. At that point they were battling for first place and went back and forth between being up a game and tied while I was in town. Even when they didn’t win, being there in person helped me understand what others were saying: this team is special. Justin Verlander is having a Cy Young worthy season, he could even be MVP. The whole team is contributing every game behind the big boys that just seem to keep getting it done. Everything is just right and fans are lucky to have them. There’s a lot more work to be done, but personally I’m just trying to enjoy it, and I hope everyone that reads this does the same.

This is really happening.

 

I’m done being paranoid about September.

Of course Jim Thome hits his 600th off a Tigers pitcher.

Of course he does.

And honestly, I couldn’t be happier for him. Congrats, Jim Jam.

Getting real for a minute: Visiting Tiger Stadium

I’m currently in Detroit, about to leave in a couple hours. I’ve been here since last Friday. Things were so crazy at work before I left and I’ve been running myself ragged since I got into town, so I haven’t even had a chance to talk about it on here, let alone process every amazing minute of this visit.

Photo by Allison Hagen

Uploading the photos I took when I visited the remnants of Tiger Stadium the other day has me tearing up just like I did when I walked through the gate and towards the makeshift home plate. I don’t know if it’s because I’m sad to be going home or just plain exhausted. It’s weird to have such a strong emotional response to that place specifically. I haven’t lived in the Detroit area since I was small. But I love baseball and the Tigers organization and it was just so jarring to see the field, the property with nothing on it. Just some bases, an infield and pitcher’s mound, and some chalk lines kept up by volunteers. A real shame. Appropriately enough, it was dark and dreary and then a quick storm rolled through downtown Detroit about 20 minutes after I took the photo above.

I realize this is kind of personal for a baseball blog, but I’ve had a few hours of downtime this afternoon to just sit and think about about the last few days I’ve spent here. I didn’t take as many photos at games as I normally do, as I spent a lot of my time at Comerica enjoying the company of a lot people I care about while watching the games. I got to hang out with a lot of awesome people that I don’t see enough, and met some new people that I would be privileged to have in my life from now on. Hopefully I’ll have more soon after I get home.

Don Kelly pitched.

…and I wasn’t even home to watch it. I was keeping up with the disaster that was last night’s 16-9 loss on my phone from the minor league game last night, and my panic about the Don Kelly Pitching Thing is well documented. If you know me, you know I am one of the few people who actually likes Don Kelly and is happy to have him on the roster. Dude is a jack of all trades and master of none, but having him around is pretty useful at times. I wonder which glove he used while on the mound last night, as he has at least four. I’m thinking the fact that he was better at getting an out than most of the other pitchers will change a few people’s minds about him (cough Rogo cough).

Something I didn’t realize until Old Time Family Baseball pointed it out – Kelly has played all positions in baseball except catcher in his major league career. He just so happens to be the Tigers’ emergency catcher, and Jim Leyland had better let him catch an inning sometime this year or I will be severely disappointed. This is something that needs to happen, JL. Do it.

Congrats, Mr. Verlander

Photo by Allison Hagen

The game went on just long enough for the Derby to be over and for JV to get the full attention of everyone in my family’s house for the bottom of the 9th. Such a badass. So proud to be a Tiger fan. So proud to have him on the team. Not many fans can say a pitcher on their team has a no-hitter; the Tigers #1 pitcher has two. Think about that for a minute, and appreciate it. I’m off to do another shot of bourbon.