Category Archives: Hooray!

Counter-Punch

maggshit

(Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/DFP)

Well, after the Game 1 tirade, things turned around on the nightcap and the Tigers held on to a 6-5 win with a kung-fu grip. In true Tiger fashion, this one wasn’t in the bag until the last fly ball landed in Raburn’s glove, but a win is a motherf****n win and I don’t care how we get them at this point.

Hat tip to Miggy (solo homer), Maggs (2 RBI), Inge (2 RBI), Grandy (Solo homer, even though he gave the run back on a badly played fly to center) and Fernando (clutch save).

A BIG “We’re not worthy” to Verlander, who ended up pitching eight innings deep to the tune of something like 398,271 pitches.

The only number that matters now is FOUR.

Hunker down, Tigers. Stay hungry.

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The Good Stuff.

denardrobinsoneasterntd rodneypump helmer-again1

Yes, I get it. I’ve been a little quiet over the past couple of weeks. I didn’t get on here and tell you how excited I was that we beat Notre Dame. I didn’t get on here to complain about the Tigers looking like they might have run out of gas on their playoff run. I didn’t get on here and go crazy because the Red Wings are in the middle of preseason hockey.

But just because I didn’t write about it doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it.

Folks, let me tell you something: right now is the most exciting time in the world to be a fan of Detroit/Michigan sports. There is so much going on that it’s almost unreasonable to expect to keep up with it on a regular basis. But this is our reward, this is our prize at the end of the rainbow. It’s funny that the summer, a time of relaxation, enjoyment and just general “feeling good” is for the most part a blank slate of sports. Summer, one of the most popular times of the year, doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for sports as the rest of us fanatics. Summer is our Sahara Desert. Summer is our barren landscape.

But now we have hit the tropical oasis. We have found the magical spring to quench our sports thirst. Drink up friends. The water is cool and refreshing.

The sweetest taste (for me) is obviously the rebound of Michigan football from last year’s mess of a season. With the right pieces in place, the Wolverines have already matched last season’s win total, scored as many points in three games as they did in six last year and have knocked off major foe Notre Dame. Now, the Maize and Blue head into the real deal: the Big Ten season. Every week will be a battle and there will be NO gimmie games. Have the Wolverines truly bounced back from the depths of despair, or is it just a mirage in a desert of uncertainty? I can’t wait to find out.

The Tigers, one season after finishing last in the division, are back in the thick of a division and playoff race. What a roller coaster ride they have been. Sometimes they offer the sweet taste of victory and the next night the bitter taste of defeat. But again, the ride is amazing. There’s nothing like the chase for the playoffs to stir the deepest echoes of fandom, and that’s exactly what the Motown kitties are doing for us right now. Can they deliver? Will they falter? I’m caught up in the anticipation and I’m letting it sweep me away.

And then there are our beloved Red Wings. Yes, they are only at the beginning of a journey that will hopefully last until June, but this campaign brings with it the need to justify their elite status to all those who have so quickly dismissed them. There’s nothing more fun than proving the doubters wrong and then laughing in their face afterwards, which is exactly what we have planned for this season. I can’t wait.

So sit back and enjoy my friends. This is an exciting time for all of us. One that is sure to be filled with ups and downs, trials and tribulations. But it’s not the destination, it’s the journey and I’m just happy to be walking down that road again.

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Eaves inks a one year deal with Wings

eaves

TOTALLY late to the party, but the Red Wings finally got off the sidelines and landed a free agent when they signed forward Patrick Eaves to a one year deal yesterday. Mad props to George Malik over at MLive’s Snapshots who basically called this one on July 25th:

I look at someone like the player the B’s are buying out in Patrick Eaves, a 25-year-old who made $1.4 million last season and will receive a buyout of $933,333.34 spread out over the next four seasons (he had two years remaining on his contract), as someone that the Red Wings might take a stab at if he’s willing to play for a highly discounted rate. The 5’11," 190-lb. winger came into the league as a highly-heralded prospect for the Ottawa Senators, but he topped out at 20 goals during his first season and 34 points in his second, with his speed, skill, and forechecking producing very little since his trade to Carolina.

The Patrick Eaveses and Taylor Pyatts of the hockey world offer the kind of, "We’ll sign you to an entry-level deal if you do well in camp, and then we’ll see what you can do" punch that the Wings are looking for, with Dan Cleary serving as the best example of a player counted down and out of the NHL delivering on his promise, and Brent Sopel’s decision to turn down a contract from the Wings to head to Chicago and fade into the background as a non-playing millstone as the worst result.

Nicely done sir. However, since I never miss a chance to toot my own horn, I had a similar prediction over at WIM two days afterwards, albeit buried deep in the article.

I’d prefer to turn my attention to someone like Patrick Eaves or Taylor Pyatt, who both need to really prove that they belong at this level and would be willing to work through camp to land an entry level type deal, a la Dan Cleary.

Final move: Land Pyatt or Eaves to an entry-level deal worth between $500K and 750K.

Anyways, to the winner go the spoils and GJM upped me by two days. No hard feelings though, as I think all of us agree that this was the right move for the Wings. Here’s to hoping that Eaves pans out and gets it done next season.

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Centennial Celebration.

100th post

So I’ve been MIA for the past few days trying to find the right way to commemorate the 100th post for SIM. I’ve kicked around a ton of ideas. I thought about pulling in some friends to comment on the miserable predictions I’ve made over the last 99 posts. I debated tossing out some more ridiculous predictions that will fail miserably and only serve to further damage my sports writing credibility. I even thought about using the 100th post to call it quits and spare each and every one of you from the endless drivel of Michigan sports that (of late, rarely) graces this site.

But then I started thinking about all of the times we have had together. Yes, things got off to a rough start as Michigan football bumbled their way to the worst record in school history. Michigan hockey looked to carry the banner for the maize and blue, but a disappointing NCAA loss to Air Force ended the season on an incredibly sour note. You hung with me as I divorced that joke of a team that marauded as the Pistons. And you bravely hung with me as I watched my beloved Red Wings come within a game of raising their 12th Stanley Cup, only to be denied on home ice.

Yes, it wasn’t pretty at times. But let’s not forget that, despite some rough patches, there were also quite a few highs. For the first time in over a decade, Michigan basketball made it back to the NCAA tournament, even giving us a first round win. The Tigers, a middle-of-the-pack pick by most experts at the start of the season, currently lead the AL Central. Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge all made it to the All Star game. And, despite not bringing home the Cup, the Wings gave us a heck of a fun run through the Stanley Cup playoffs.

We’ve had our good and we’ve had our bad. And while it’s true that no championships have come home to Michigan since the inception of this blog, that doesn’t mean we won’t see any in the future. Winning a championship is an incredible feat and it never comes easy. If anything, the losses and shortcomings make you cherish those championship moments even more. They will come. And we will celebrate.

But in the meantime, I’m committed to enjoying the ride with all of you. These writings have forged new friendships and facilitated endless discussions. They have opened the doors to new opportunities and helped me embrace the passion of sports fans outside of the state of Michigan. But mostly, they have given me the chance to share something that I strongly believe in with a group of folks that share the same ideology: that sport can unite us, bring us together and provide us with incredible experiences and memories.

To each and every one of you that read this: Thank you. For all of those who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through SIM and Winging It: Thank you. And for those of you that have passed my little corner of the blogosphere along to others: a HUGE thank you. The first 100 posts have been great and have led to wonderful experiences. Here’s hoping to even better over the next 100.

OK. Enough of the sappy shit. Let’s celebrate!

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**Apparently, the Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t wait to give us our first present! According to Wyshynski over at “Puck Daddy”, our good friend Marian Hossa could be out until December with a shoulder injury. Which they knew about when they signed him. So basically, the ‘Hawks drop an injury risk in Martin Havlat to sign damaged goods in Hossa, all while shelling out more cash for him in the process.

*Slow Clap*

He’s the gift that just keeps on giving, ‘Hawks fans. Until you get to the playoffs, that is. ENJOY!

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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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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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