No Run Support

Detroit Tigers baseball and other nonsense

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.

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Texas Leaguers

I’m going to step away from Tigers baseball for a minute, I hope those of you bothering to read this don’t mind. Don’t worry, I’ll address the whole Don Kelly Pitching Thing soon.

Since I’m a ways away from any MLB parks, I’m a season ticket holder for the San Antonio Missions, the AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The Missions have been absolutely tearing it up this year; they’ve already secured a playoff spot and as of right now are 53-23 on the season. They’re 23-8 at home. It’s ridiculous. They play at Nelson Wolff stadium, a park that could use some updates but still has a beautiful field thanks to a great grounds crew. It’s out on the west side in what can only be described as a questionable neighborhood. They have two awesome mascots: Henry, a puffy taco, and Ballapeno, a baseball loving jalapeno. Tonight the Wolff hosted the 75th annual Texas League All-Star game.

Photo by Allison Hagen

This guy pictured – James Darnell – has been my favorite player here in San Antonio ever since he set foot on the infield dirt in April of last year. Last night he was the MVP of the All-Star game, after hitting a few homers in the Home Run Derby and then hitting another 2-run home run in the actual game that would turn out to be the game winner.

He’s not the Padres’ #1 prospect, though he was a second round pick in 2008. But he’s a baseball player, you sense it when he steps up to the plate or makes a play wherever they put him. You can always tell that he loves playing the game no matter what’s going on, he’s friendly with fans and generally has a positive presence. It’s rumored that he’ll get sent to AAA Tucson very soon, an overdue promotion: he’s hitting almost .350 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI. I have a running joke with the usher that works the aisle next to my seat – every game I go to I ask him, “What the hell is JD still doing here??” and he’ll shrug and say “Man, I don’t know..”

Based on the crowd’s reaction every time his name is announced, this town is going to miss him. I’m going to miss him. Some nights I’ve stuck around the park after games to avoid traffic, and if I see him on my way out I’ll congratulate him on a good game or just wish him a good night. Anything I’ve said has been met with a gracious “thank you” and a smile. It won’t be the same going to the Wolff a couple times a week and without him in the hot corner, or out in left field, where he plays occasionally. I hope to catch another game with him on the roster before he leaves San Antonio.

I should probably try to avoid getting attached to minor league players. Considering the relaxed environment, it’s easy to strike up a rapport with them, and I have on a few occasions. Later, it can result in nerve-wracking viewings of major league debuts combined with a huge sense of pride no matter what happens. Either way, they’re always gonna come and go.

Good luck to you JD, I can’t wait to see you walking to the batter’s box at Petco (or any other MLB field) with that smile on your face.

Interleague play and the All-Star Game, or, I’m a total sucker

It’s pretty well known that I am one of those baseball fans who completely falls for stupid MLB promotions and ideas to attract more fans/keep them happy.  I can be a serious fan who pays attention to (but maybe doesn’t completely understand) stats other than Batting Average and Wins, and one who tries not to have incredulous knee-jerk reactions to a loss. If a beat writer puts up a post about Victor Martinez and his kid and how much teammates love having him around, I will eat that shit up. I cry at the Beyond Baseball ads (what the hell happened to those?!). If a pitcher takes the mound wearing high socks, you are damn right I pay closer attention. Then if said pitcher gets a hit in a playoff game and is handed a jacket to wear while running the bases, I lose my mind. I think it’s the greatest thing ever. That sort of thing is entertaining to me, being a mostly AL fan. You get the point.

So we’ve come to that time of year for Interleague play, and soon, the All-Star break. I do agree that Interleague play is kind of stupid, it messes with team’s schedules and the managing styles of each league. However, Interleague means that pitchers get to bat, and that is solid gold as far as I’m concerned. It also gives fans a chance to watch teams they may not normally watch – some fans don’t give a shit about players on other teams they have no attachment to, but I do. I watch baseball games simply because they’re on, not because I necessarily care who wins.

The Tigers’ schedule has them playing in Colorado right now, then they go on to LA to play the Dodgers. I don’t watch the Rockies that much, but I love Tulo. He’s just so fun to watch. And personally, I am a huge Vin Scully fan, and I watch the Dodgers whenever they are playing in the NL West so that I can listen to him and the little stories he tells. I am very happy that I’ll get to watch his broadcast of three Tigers games. I actually feel quite lucky, because he’s getting old and probably won’t be calling games much longer. Needless to say, I was excited for this chunk of Interleague, but after the first two games in Denver – Really? Nine total walks last night? – it’s obvious the baseball gods are punishing me for being such a sucker.

I tweeted a few days ago that I’ve voted a ton of times for Alex Avila to start the All-Star game, because hello, he’s the best offensive catcher in the AL right now. I like Joe Mauer even though he’s a Twin, but up until last week he was AHEAD of Avila in voting even though he had been on the DL almost the entire season so far. COME ON PEOPLE. Anyway, the whole get-Avila-into-the-ASG thing has gotten to me and once again, I’m excited for it even though it will inevitably suck. The suckage will occur only after  the Home Run Derby is over and they stop showing all the players with their kids and interviews illustrating that they are Just Like You And Me. Per usual the game will begin and it’ll be boring and the announcers will be terrible. I’ll actually feel disappointed because.. wait for it.. I’m a sucker.

Oh well. Let’s win one today, shall we? The thin Colorado air is no match for Justin Verlander’s fastball, I’m certain of it.

Stuff & Things, Look I’m Finally Posting Edition

I couldn’t think of a decent title for this post. I’ve been a horrible writer lately, in that I haven’t… written.. anything. It’s a terrible rut I got stuck in and I don’t really have any excuse.

I don’t have time or energy to recap everything that’s gone on with the Tigers since I last posted almost two weeks ago. We definitely know that this team sure is streaky so far this year. Seven game losing streak at the end of April, then a seven game win streak May 6-14. The last two were a couple of frustrating losses; on Monday Joaquin Benoit continued his expensive implosion. Last night in Boston was insanely foggy and rainy and the team couldn’t be bothered to move any runners that managed to get into scoring position, while Phil Coke quietly pitched a fantastic game. My response to that was “whatever” and I promptly went to bed before 10pm.

Is it bad that this tends to be my response to particularly pathetic losses? Last night’s game was boring to begin with, what with the rain delay and unexpected pitcher’s duel, so maybe that was part of it. At some point in the midst of that losing streak last month, I broke a TV remote when I threw it across the room in response to some sort of fail, I can’t even remember what happened. Like most people, I don’t enjoy being proved right when I instinctively know that a reliever is going to blow the game or Ryan Raburn is going to strike out looking to make the last out. After that happened I decided two things: cut back on the whiskey a little, and stop caring so much, especially this early in the season.

One development that must be mentioned is the Bless You Boys podcast. BYB is the other place I blog, and us editors have gotten together to start recording a weekly (or semi-weekly, not sure yet) podcast. After two recordings I still cannot get used to the sound of my voice. Even though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my voice, I still cringe when I hear it. Last week Al Beaton and I recorded the first one, and this week our managing editor Kurt and other editors David and Matt joined in. It’s been fun and well received so far, so if you like No Run Support, it’ll probably be worth your time. Plus, in this week’s episode, Kurt gets his arm bitten off by his dog mid-sentence and it’s hilarious. You can find it on iTunes, or just go to today’s post about it for more mediums of listening.

Anyway, last weekend I went up to the DFW area to hang out with a couple friends and go to my first MLB game of the season. I saw the Angels play the Rangers. The Rangers lost, but it was a fun game. Rangers Ballpark has been sold out a ton of times already this season, and the game I attended on the 14th was no exception. I can easily say that it’s my major league park to go to. This isn’t a ballpark blog or Rangers blog so I won’t write a novel as to why, but it’s a really fun and fan-friendly place. When I say fan-friendly, I mainly mean the beer and food are cheap. It’s also pretty awesome in that the place is designed well enough so that a sold out game doesn’t mean you are fighting your way through the concourse or waiting an entire inning to use the restroom. Plus, it’s beautiful, inside and out (This reminds me I need to take more photos of the park in general with a wider lens. Note to self!) and I finally got to check out the new scoreboard. The rest of the photos from that day are here if you’re interested. Other highlights to the trip up were attending one of the first two In-N-Out burger locations in Texas – yes, we waited an hour to eat, and yes, it was worth it – and coming across a copy of the Maple Street Press Tigers Annual in a random Borders location:

Since I don’t live in Michigan and none were to be found anywhere near Lakeland when I was in town, it was pretty cool to see something I contributed to sitting on the magazine rack. So, yay for that.

That’s about all I’ve got for now. Verlander vs. Beckett tonight. My friend Cee wrote a nice piece about that and pitching duels in general, so check that out if you have a chance. Please no more rainouts or rain delays, Boston.

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.

The cure-all

Last night, Will Rhymes was demoted to Toledo and the Tigers are calling Scott Sizemore up. This is an understandable move, as Rhymes is barely hitting over the Mendoza line and Sizemore has been absolutely tearing it up for the Mud Hens (to the tune of a .408/.495/.605/1.100 line). The Tigers have now lost seven in a row and something had to be done to shake up this lineup; thankfully Victor Martinez is set to be activated off the DL tomorrow and should also provide a little more pop. Rhymes had this to say late last night after the transaction was made:

Poor dude. I don’t blame him. I’m glad to hear he knows Jameson cures everything (in moderation, of course). Keep your head up, Will, you’ll be back in Detroit sometime.

Finding the good, I guess

I know I haven’t posted anything in forever, but I really don’t have much to say about the Tigers being swept two series in a row. So let’s just do my usual cop out and take a look at something from the Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball feed:

So, there’s that. Once again JV saves the day (month).

The weird thing about this April

Photo by Allison Hagen

Justin Verlander pitched his ass off – again – last night, and happily the team backed him up with some offense. That brings his Win total to two for the month of April. He’ll have one more start next week before May rolls in.

Any Tiger fan knows that he has historically struggled in the month of April. It’s been nice to see that with the exception of one of his five starts so far, he’s been his mid-season dominant self. The problem is, the rest of the team hasn’t. His record stands at 2-2 with one no decision. I am not a person that feels the Win/Loss/No Decision stats really say much about a pitcher, in fact I think they’re kind of stupid. This situation is a perfect example of why.

Just something I thought of this morning. Awesome Verlander got his shit together and showed up in April, yet the team held off on the run support. They scored a total of two runs in his two losses.

West coast weirdness

Having spent almost half of existence living on the west coast, I really never thought I’d be one to complain about the Tigers’ west coast road trips, but here we are. I’m not even on EST, and during the week I just. cannot. stay. awake. for these damn games. The four beers I had in preparation for Ryan Raburn at second base probably didn’t help, though.

I’m pleased to report that the beer wasn’t even necessary. I don’t recall him making any miscues, he even got to be the first batter to hit a pop-up into the ceiling of Safeco Field. Casper Wells entered the game after Victor Martinez made it obvious he is not healthy enough to be in the lineup. Watching him swing was painful. I really hope he didn’t hurt himself even worse. I fell asleep sometime after the 5th and woke up a couple times after that when runs were scored. I remember hearing something about a Peralta triple and thinking, “really?” and rolling over and falling asleep for good. And hey, they won the game after splitting the series in Oakland. A .500 road trip to anywhere is all I ever really ask anyway, since Jim Leyland’s Tigers seem incapable of playing well away from home.

I’m sorry but these alternate Mariners jerseys are hideous. Maybe it’s the navy long sleeves underneath throwing me off, they might look better without that.

Anyway, waking up at 6am with a laptop in your face telling you “THANK YOU FOR WATCHING” isn’t all that pleasant, by the way. I can’t be the only one that’s done it on west coast swings. I can’t wait til they get back to Detroit later this week.

Housekeeping note – some changes (yes, again)

No Run Support will be leaving Aerys Sports soon – I just haven’t had the time to keep the site updated properly. Erin at Tigers Amateur Analysis will be taking my place. Please check out her new site; it looks great! Don’t worry though, I’m not going away.

If you’ve been following this site via RSS using the Aerys Sports URL (http://aeryssports.com/no-run-support/), please update that to simply http://norunsupport.com; once I get my domain redirected, I’ll be continuing to post on my own again whenever I have time.

Thanks to those who have kept up with my moves so far this season. My “real” job unexpectedly got busier than ever this year, but I’ll still be writing when I can. As always, you can find me in the BYB game threads and on twitter, making snide comments and generally nerding out.