Monthly Archives: June 2009

Curry Canned

curry

Multiple local and national outlets have confirmed that the Pistons fired Michael Curry today, ending a tumultuous one season run that culminated in the ‘Stones going 39-43 and getting swept by the rival Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.

Good riddance.

Curry was one of the big reasons I gave up on the Pistons this year. He always looked lost, his game plans were boring and he had ZERO respect from his players. In March, I pretty much gave up the ghost, when I wrote:

He has pretty much the same talent that his predecessors had (if not better), and the Pistons have floundered around the bottom half of the East for most of the season.

Quite simply, Curry sucked. I’m glad he’s gone. But please, Joe, don’t go out and hire Bill Laimbeer. If you do, I’ll be off the wagon just as fast as I jumped back on.

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Series Wrap-Ups: Cubs, Astros – A day late…actually, a few days late.

42-33, 1st in AL Central (4.0 GU on MIN)

ingehomer

(Photo courtesy of David J. Phillip/AP)

I’ve pried myself away from the NHL free agency proceedings long enough to force myself to put my hands on the keyboard and type something other than “Marian Hossa”, “free agency” (whoops, wrote it above) and “salary cap.” So sit down, act like you care, and read these words (it will be short).

Well, the series against the Cubs went about as well as we could have hoped. The boys from the Windy City rolled in following our three game sweep of the Brewers, and proceeded to get swept right out of Comerica Park and back to Chicago. Honestly, this was a huge series for Detroit. It was an emotional series against a regional rival (city) and the Tigers delivered. What made it even more impressive is that they delivered in the face of adversity. None of the games were pretty and we had to claw back into two of them, but that’s the whole point: the Tigers fought through the adversity and dug out three wins at home. Frickin’ awesome. I’ll admit, I was finally starting to feel good about this squad after that series, but I tried to temper my enthusiasm, knowing we were about to embark on a road trip.

It’s a good thing I did, because once we took the field in Houston, everything went downhill. Pitching feel apart. Walks piled up. Rookie Alfredo Figaro basically threw batting practice in game two of the series. It was ugly. But, the Tigers were able to grind out a win in the final game and avoid the sweep, which is a solid moral victory for this team. Now I’m sure you are probably snickering and thinking I’m a sissy for dropping “moral victory” into a post, but guess what, I did. And I think it’s appropriate. This team has struggled with chemistry for much of the season, and they could have easily just folded up shop and hopped on the plane to Oakland as losers of three straight. But they didn’t. And that’s a victory in my mind. These are the character building games right now. It’s the final push to the All Star break, and the Tigers are still competing in the close games and finding ways to win. That’s a good thing. But I still want to see the Tigers put together a solid road trip. Hopefully, they can get it going with a trip to the struggling A’s.

*As I type this, we are currently down 6-1 in Game 1 of the series. Ugh.

On Deck: Oakland Athletics

  • Record: 31-43 (4th in AL West, 11.0 GB of LAOCAASNC or LA Angels)

Oakland Athletics Women's Argyle Top

*Alyssa: I forgive you for wearing this shirt. I’ve put a Tigers one in the mail to you.

Monday, June 29

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (8-4, 3.55 ERA, 44 SO)
  • Athletics – Brett Anderson (3-7, 5.74 ERA, 45 SO)

Tuesday, June 30

  • Tigers – Armando Galarraga (4-7, 5.65 ERA, 50 SO)
  • Athletics – Gio Gonzalez (0-1, 8.03 ERA, 13 SO)

Wednesday, July 1

  • Tigers – Justin Verlander (8-3, 3.40 ERA, 124 SO)
  • Athletics – Dallas Braden (5-7, 3.26 ERA, 64 SO)

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Take It or Leave It

hossa_celeb_112906

The negotiations are continuing. Red Wings fans are still hoping. But the outcome is becoming to look inevitable: Marian Hossa will not be a Red Wing next season.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been down this road. And it won’t be the last. But when it comes to superstar athletes and money in Detroit, people get upset. As far as players go, nobody has been this polarizing for Red Wings fans since Sergei Fedorov decided to hold the Wings hostage with his salary negotiations in both 1998 and 2003. When Fedorov finally spurned the Wings for the Ducks, he effectively sealed his fate as a player who will eternally be despised in Hockeytown. However, the Hossa situation is a bit different. Where Fedorov actually took less to play for Anaheim, Hossa is all about the cash. Or at least that’s what his agent Ritch Winter is leading us to believe. According to a whole slew of reports, the Wings have offered Hossa somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million, but Winter wants closer to 6 million for his client. That’s a pretty big gap when you stretch it out over the long term, and Hossa could potentially lose out on alot of guaranteed money.

But who is calling the shots here? As this saga drags out, the finger of blame is quickly being shifted to Winter and fans and media alike are portraying him as the major hurdle to retaining the service of Hossa. Winter finds himself in the crosshairs of fan anger right now, simply because he has laid out a number that the Wings can’t match. Here’s the thing: I don’t blame Winter. I blame Hossa.

Throughout this entire process, where has 81 been? We haven’t heard anything from him. This was the guy who decided Detroit offered him the best shot at a Cup, and seemed to be buying into the mindset that Detroit continues to carry with them: play our system, respect our decisions and you will win. Now all of a sudden, the man who was interested in winning a Cup and settling down for the “long term” has continued the vanishing act that he started all throughout this year’s playoffs. Meanwhile, Winter is charged with not only securing a contract for Hossa, but also being the face of the entire Hossa camp, since his client has the gag in his mouth. For the time being, let’s table the frustration, and look at this in the way that Winter is. Last year, his client missed out on a huge guaranteed payday to follow through on his dream to win a Stanley Cup. Winter watched the money slip away once, and he won’t let that happen again. Add to that the fact that Hossa’s value dropped as a result of his Houdini like disappearance in the playoffs, and Winter has a responsibility to lock up as much money as possible, and to do it right now. That’s what an agent does and that’s all Winter is doing here: his job.

Sometimes, the passion of the fans clouds the fact that this game (and many others) are a business. In the end, it’s all about the money and less about the championships for some players. And while we in Detroit are insulated from alot of that because of the Kris Drapers and Nick Lidstroms of the world, we occasionally run into a player who is so talented and effective, yet is usually all about the money, that we put away our better judgment and throw ourselves behind their attempt to “help the team.” I’m not saying that Hossa didn’t genuinely try and make the Wings better or try and forge friendships in the locker room. I’m just saying that we should have seen this coming. Hossa has been about the payday his entire career, and just because he had a moment of “clarity” and acted as if he wants to play the game simply for the love of the game, we should have known that his loyalty only ran so deep. Now, Hossa is on the verge of dashing for the cash and jilting the Wings organization and fans.

But let’s be fair, here: Hossa hasn’t gone anywhere. I could just be sitting here spewing my frustrations, while Hossa is putting his name on the dotted line of a 10 year deal with the Wings. If Hossa does re-sign, great. It will be a true testament to the power of the Red Wings brand, as well as a testament to the character of Hossa. But if he does leave, don’t act surprised. Ever since he came here, my excitement has always been slightly tempered by the fact that he has been all over the NHL and hasn’t stayed put. Yes, his quotes about wanting to stay here for the long term got me excited, but there has always been a sense of unease when I think of Hossa and this situation has done nothing to quash those feelings.

So where do we go from here? Hossa technically becomes a free agent on July 1, at which point he can take the highest bid from any NHL team and the Wings would be out a 40 goal scorer with no compensation. However, Ken Holland is no fool, and if he feels that this situation isn’t workable, he will do everything he can to trade Hossa’s negotiating rights and at least get some form of compensation. Right now, the Los Angeles Kings appear to be the top choice, as they have plenty of cap room and are very interested in adding Hossa to their lineup. But here’s the thing: the Kings aren’t going to win a Cup anytime soon. Both Hossa and Winter know this. Now, this doesn’t mean Hossa is guaranteed to sign with the Kings, but their price would likely be in the ballpark that Winter has suggested, Hossa would immediately be billed as the top player on that team and he would likely be paired up with the exciting Anze Kopitar to form a formidable scoring tandem. But the Kings are a work in progress, and it would be a long haul with alot of losses before Hossa would get another shot at the Cup. If Ken Holland feels that Hossa is a lost cause, he’d be well served to get something from the Kings and let Winter and Hossa figure out the rest. If Hossa is serious about making more money while still competing for a Cup, he won’t play in LA. If he does, then we know EXACTLY what Hossa is all about.

No matter what happens, remember this: When a true champion gets close to their goal, they do whatever it takes to get back and get it done. If Hossa’s goal is a Cup, then he’ll be back because the Wings are a constant threat to get there. If the goal is more money, then don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

The clock is ticking and there’s only one person who can make this decision. So what’s it gunna be ‘Hoss?

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Jeebus Does Not Approve of This Shirt. “Hockey Jeebus” Does.

cupshirt1

cupshirt2

(Courtesy of www.ThePensBlog.com, Designed by Steven S.)

The folks over at ThePensBlog have issued their own shirt to commemorate their Stanley Cup win this year.

First, let me just say that it’s a pretty neat looking shirt. I like the concept.

But holy hell is it funny to see it say “Satan” on there. I know, I know: it’s “Shuh-Tan.” But a spade is a spade in my book, and when I see it, all I can do is giggle. Kinda like when Satan had the Yahoo! fantasy ID number of 666 this season.

C’mon, I gotta find humor somewhere, right?

Wait a second…

Which one do they mean?

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Series Wrap-Up: Brewers – This Brew Goes Down Smooth.

38-31, 1st in AL Central (4.0 GU on MIN)

rodneypump

(Picture courtesy of Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press)

Well then! Apparently all it takes is a little ranting from yours truly, and all of a sudden the wins start piling up and the brooms get dusted off. Obviously, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but sweeping a division leader is something that is never easy. But the Tigers held fast, surviving a couple of rain delays on Friday, a rookie on the mound Saturday, and an old fashioned pitching duel on Sunday to get the sweep of the Brew Crew and get back on track in the standings.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. Literally. Friday night’s game got underway with the threat of rain looming, and Armando Galarraga pitched like he was afraid of getting hit by a lightning bolt on the mound. The “Sick Cat” pitched the Tigers into an early hole, giving up a three run shot on a miserable changeup to Prince Fielder. Honesty, Galarraga just doesn’t have it right now and it’s really starting to show. Seriously, when he’s on the mound, does ANYONE feel like the Tigers have a chance to win? I sure as hell don’t.

Anyways, despite Galarraga’s best attempts to fail, the Tigers’ bats came alive and the baseball gods offered up a rain delay after the boys clawed back for a lead, mercifully ending Galarraga’s night. Marcus Thames popped a pair of home runs, and Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson added their own, fueling the Tigers to a 10-4 win.

Coming into Saturday’s affair, all of the talk was around 24 year old starter Alfredo Figaro, making his major league debut. However, the storyline quickly shifted to the re-energized Tigers’ bats, led by Thames and Cabrera, who both went 3 for 5 on the day. Add to that rookie Don Kelly adding three hits, and the Tigers offense was officially back in the swing of things (no pun intended.) This is not to take anything away from Figaro, though, who performed very well in his first start, going five innings while giving up two runs on eight hits and striking out seven.

With a sweep on the line, both squads trotted out their aces on Sunday, as Justin Verlander squared off against Yovani Gallardo. Neither pitcher disappointed, as they both threw late into the game and struck out eight each. But it would be Brandon Inge’s sixth inning home run that would be the difference in this one, giving the Tigers a 3-2 win and a series sweep to boot.

Like I said earlier, this was a big sweep for the Tigers. Not only did it give them a four game winning streak *knock on wood*, but it was a real confidence booster for a team that has struggled to sustain any sort of momentum throughout this season. That said, any momentum earned over the last four games will be put to the test when the Cubs come calling, and the Tigers will need to play to their full potential to win what is all but guaranteed to be a fun and entertaining series over the next few days.

Roster movin’: The Tigers will recall right-hander Freddy Dolsi before tonight’s game. Dolsi appeared in 42 games for the Tigers last year, and had a 3.97 ERA. (I also gave him many shouts of Budweiser infused encouragement last year during a warm-up session in the Safeco Field bullpen. Not that this has any bearing on his call-up. Just thought it was worth a mention.)

Also worth noting, Jim Leyland has said that he will move Alfredo Figaro in between Verlander and Edwin Jackson in an attempt to provide the bullpen with more regularity when it comes to their appearances.

And just because I forgot to mention it this weekend, Skippah’ Jimmay signed himself a two-year extension, ensuring that that ever-present cloud of Marlboro smoke in the dugout tunnel isn’t going anywhere.

On Deck: Chicago Cubs

  • Record: 34-32 (3rd in NL Central, 2.5 GB of St. Louis)

Tuesday, June 23

  • Tigers – Edwin Jackson (6-4, 2.39 ERA, 72 SO)
  • Cubs – Carlos Zambrano (4-2, 3.44 ERA, 59 SO)

Wednesday, June 24

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (8-4, 3.54 ERA, 41 SO)
  • Cubs – Rich Harden (4-3, 5.27 ERA, 64 SO)

Thursday, June 25

  • Tigers – Armando Galarraga (3-7, 5.62 ERA, 45 SO)
  • Cubs – Ted Lilly (7-4, 3.04 ERA, 75 SO)

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Series Wrap-Up: Cardinals – Thud.

35-31, 1st in AL Central (2.0 GU on MIN)

magswall

(Photo courtesy of Chris Lee/MCT)

Honestly, the trip to St. Louis really sucked. After looking like garbage in Pittsburgh, I was counting on the pitching of Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson to lead us back to our winning ways, with at least 2 of 3 against the Cards. Yea right.

Verlander gave up five total runs and eight hits in four innings of work, which was one of his shortest outings of the season.  For Jackson, the story was different, but the same tune he’s heard all year: lack of run production.

Honestly, I could sit here and blab a ton about the stats and about how “Verlander was due for a bad night” and how Jackson tied his career high in strikeouts. I could tell you all about how Rick Porcello is quickly becoming one of the best young pitchers in the game and how excited I was when the bats finally did come alive last night.

But I won’t talk about those things. Why? Because they don’t matter. What does matter is the fact that this team is horribly inconsistent, scoring five runs over the first two games of the series, and then almost matching that total in the first inning of the third game. Yes, sometimes teams go through funks. That happens. But this team is in a permanent funk for the most part. When you expect them to excel, they choke. When you expect them to choke, it’s a 50/50 chance that they choke even harder or that they fight it and come to play. And then when they hit the road, it becomes the ultimate crap shoot.

Look, I know that we are all looking for something to cling to (at least I am) when it comes to this team. For me, that something is a win streak here and there amidst winning each series they play. Will that always happen? No. But it NEEDS to happen more often than not if we want to have a legitimate chance at the postseason. This team needs to win the games that they SHOULD win (coughcoughPIRATEScoughcough) and compete hard in the games that will define their mettle. Look, I know we aren’t even at the All Star break, but this team looks like they are headed for a big breakdown at some point. Every night the lineup looks cobbled together at best. The pitching staff could implode at any minute. Add to it that Magglio Ordonez is now on the bench indefinitely and Dontrelle Willis is back on the DL with his “anxiety problems”, and anyone that calls themselves a baseball fan can see that there are problems brewing. This does not look like a championship caliber team right now.

On Deck: Milwaukee Brewers

  • Record: 37-29 (1st in NL Central, 1.5 GU on St. Louis)

Friday, June 19

  • Tigers – Armando Galarraga (3-7, 5.56 ERA, 44 SO)
  • Brewers – Braden Looper (5-3, 4.62 ERA, 44 SO)

Saturday, June 20

  • Tigers – Alfredo Figaro (0-0, –.—ERA, – SO)
  • Brewers – Dave Bush (3-3, 5.31 ERA, 58 SO)

Sunday, June 21

  • Tigers – Justin Verlander (7-3, 3.39 ERA, 110 SO)
  • Brewers – Yovani Gallardo (7-3, 2.93 ERA, 85 SO)

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Series Wrap-Up: Pirates – Plundered.

34-30, 1st in AL Central (2.0 GU on MIN)

crysobcup

(Photo courtesy of Gene J. Puskar/AP)

**It’s been an incredibly busy week in the real world, so the series wrap-up from this weekend got bumped up until tonight. Sorry for the delay, folks. Also, the standings throughout the post are updated to reflect tonight’s ass-whoopin’ from the Cardinals.

As if the city of Detroit hadn’t had enough of the city of Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Tigers had to head to PNC Park for a three game series against the Pirates. After winning on Friday to ever-so-slightly ease the pain of losing the Stanley Cup, the Tigers had the recently commandeered trophy paraded in front of their noses by Crysob, and promptly folded up shop, losing the next two. Jeez. The Kid plunders our hardware and the Buccos plunder our pride. Blegh.

Needless to say, I am WAY OVER Pittsburgh.

Anyways, like I said, things got off to a good start. Rick Porcello came out and pitched another solid game, while continuing to make his case for being considered as Rookie of the Year in the AL. But his pitching wasn’t even the best part of his game that night. The rook’ wound up with a pair of hits and a pair of RBI’s, singlehandedly providing the offense to protect his lead on the mound.

Hear that? That rumble of thunder? It can only mean one thing…trouble’s a comin’! And when you talk about trouble with the Tigers, it only means one thing: Armando Galarraga and Dontrelle Willis must be taking the mound.

First into the ring of “sucktastic-ness” was Armando. And boy did he EVER come through!

  • 2.0 IP (TWO!!!), 4 Runs, 8 Hits

Wow. Mindblowing stuff.

But “you can’t have one without the other” (Michigan football fans should get that one)…c’mon down D-TRAIN!

  • 3.2 IP, 6 Runs, 6 Hits, 8 Walks

All that for only 29 million dollars!

Look, these two are in bad shape. Galarraga is better suited to throw batting practice right now, and Willis couldn’t toss a beach ball into the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, Zach Miner is just hanging out in the bullpen, waiting for his chance to come in for some relief work. Is he the solution? No. But anything is better than trotting Galarraga and Willis out on back-to-back nights with shovels in hand so they can dig their own graves. They just don’t have it right now. However, hope may spring eternal, as Jimmy Leyland announced that Willis will be missing his next scheduled start, although he didn’t specify who would be stepping in for him. At this point, anything is better than the D-Train. Now if we could only do something about Galarraga…

On Deck: St. Louis Cardinals

  • Record: 35-30 (2nd in NL Central, 2.0 GB of Milwaukee)

Tuesday, June 16

  • Tigers – Justin Verlander (7-2, 3.02 ERA, 106 SO)
  • Cardinals – Adam Wainwright (7-3, 3.49 ERA, 71 SO)

*Apparently Verlander caught the “Armandtrelle” bug, because it was nasty tonight. Here’s how the pitchers fared:

  • Verlander: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO, Loss (7-3)
  • Wainwright: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, Win (7-4)

Wednesday, June 17

  • Tigers – Edwin Jackson (6-3, 2.24 ERA, 65 SO)
  • Cardinals – Todd Wellemeyer (5-6, 5.50 ERA, 46 SO)

Thursday, June 18

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (7-4, 3.71 ERA, 38 SO)
  • Cardinals – Joel Pineiro (5-7, 3.99 ERA, 35 SO)

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