MLB's new dress code for media isn't new -- if you're a professional

My two cents on a cold Thursday morning in northern Michigan...

The "new" dress code announced for members of the media who "cover" Major League Baseball games isn't new. MLB simply turned unwritten rules into written ones to account for the growing number of idiots receiving media credentials for MLB games.

The "new" dress code, which clearly includes both males and females, does not allow see-through clothing, ripped jeans, one-shouldered or strapless shirts, bare midriffs, "excessively short" skirts, dresses or shorts, visible undergarments, tank tops, flip-flops or anything with a team logo.

Thank you, MLB, for stating the obvious. Well, I thought it was obvious. Anyone with an ounce of professionalism already knew not to wear that stuff, but now that we're in the internet era – with young, "hip" (whatever) bloggers and .com-ers scoring creditials – it's long overdue. I'm so sick of seeing punks in the press box (and I don't care if I sound like a curmudgeon). It's all about professionalism, something SORELY LACKING in much of today's "media."

Something is going down... Tigers just made room on their 40-man roster... but room for whom?

TIGERS OUTRIGHT CONTRACT OF RYAN STRIEBY TO TRIPLE A TOLEDO

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers today announced the club has outrighted the contract of first baseman Ryan Strieby to Triple A Toledo.

Strieby saw action in 130 games with Toledo during the 2011 season, batting .255 (124x487) with 28 doubles, 19 home runs and 76 RBI.

Selected by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Strieby has hit .263 (567x2159) with 112 doubles, 10 triples, 97 home runs and 378 RBI in 588 games during his six seasons at the minor league level.

The Tigers now have 39 players on the club’s 40-man roster.

Ex-Tigers catcher Tebbetts was one tough bird

Just saw this bit of trivia about Birdie Tebbetts and thought it was amusing, so I'm sharing it...

On Sept. 27, 1940, with the Tigers in a tight race with the Indians and Yankees for the American League pennant, Detroit needed just one win to clinch the title. Bob Feller was set to start for the Indians at Cleveland, and Detroit manager Del Baker chose to start rookie Floyd Giebell. Giebell went the distance and beat Feller and the Indians, 2-0. Feller gave up only three hits, but one of the hits was a wind-blown two-run home run by Rudy York. During the game‚ unruly Cleveland fans showered the field with fruit and vegetables. Hank Greenberg was hit by a tomato, and at one point‚ a basket of green tomatoes was dropped into the Detroit bullpen, landing on Birdie Tebbetts' head and knocking him out for a few moments. Police caught the guilty "fan" and held him until after the game. While the rest of the Tigers celebrated their victory, the cops brought Tebbetts to the holding area and allowed him to punch the unruly fan in the face.

Now that's old school!

VERLANDER NAMED AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP

DETROIT – Justin Verlander was named the American League Most Valuable Player today in voting conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Verlander is the first pitcher to win the award since Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starting pitcher to win the award since Boston’s Roger Clemens in 1986.

Verlander has now won the American League Rookie of the Year (2006), American League Cy Young Award (2011) and American League Most Valuable Player (2011). He is the second player in major league history to win all three awards, joining Don Newcombe who did so with the Brooklyn Dodgers by winning the National League Rookie of the Year (1949), Cy Young Award (1956) and National League Most Valuable Player (1956).

Verlander is the seventh player in franchise history to win the Most Valuable Player. He is the fourth Tigers pitcher to earn the award, joining Guillermo Hernandez (1984), Denny McLain (1968) and Hal Newhouser (1944, 1945). Hank Greenberg (1935, 1940), Charlie Gehringer (1937) and Mickey Cochrane (1934) also won Most Valuable Player with the Tigers.

Verlander led the American League with 24 wins, a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts in 2011 to become just the second pitcher in franchise history to lead all three categories in a single season, joining Hal Newhouser, who accomplished the feat in 1945. He became the first American League pitcher to win the triple crown since Minnesota’s Johan Santana did so in 2006. In addition to leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts, Verlander also topped all league pitchers with an .828 winning percentage, 251.0 innings pitched, a .192 batting average against, 6.24 hits per nine innings and 8.39 baserunners per nine innings.

Additional season superlatives included a 16-3 record following a Tigers loss. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the most wins by a pitcher following a team loss since Steve Carlton posted 19 such wins for the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1972 season. With 250 strikeouts, Verlander has now recorded 200-or-more strikeouts in three straight seasons, marking the longest streak by a Tigers pitcher since Mickey Lolich did so in six straight seasons from 1969-74. Verlander now ranks seventh in franchise history with 1,215 strikeouts.

Verlander further etched his name into the record books on May 7 at Toronto when he tossed the second no-hitter of his career, allowing just one walk in a 9-0 victory over the Blue Jays. He became the second pitcher in franchise history to toss two career no-hitters, joining Virgil Trucks who fired two no-hitters during the 1952 season. According to STATS, LLC, he is the 27th pitcher to record two career no-hitters in the American or National League.

He's baaaaack! Tigers agree to terms with Gerald Laird

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers today announced the club has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with catcher Gerald Laird.

Laird saw action in 37 games with the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2011 season, hitting .232 (22x95) with seven doubles, a triple, home run and 12 RBI.

“Gerald is a veteran catcher that is familiar with both our pitching staff and organization,” Tigers President, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David Dombrowski said. “As a righthanded hitter, he is the solid complement to Alex Avila as our back-up catcher for the 2012 season.”

In nine seasons at the major league level with the Texas Rangers (2003-08), Tigers (2009-10) and Cardinals (2011), Laird is hitting .241 (483x2003)with 113 doubles, eight triples, 35 home runs and 204 RBI in 635 games.

Laird has compiled a .988 fielding percentage behind the plate during his major league career, and he has thrown out 35.3 percent of base runners attempting to steal (163x462). He threw out 36.0 percent of base runners attempting to steal (157x436) beginning with the 2004 season through the 2010 season, second-best among all American League catchers during that stretch.

Well It's About Time!

Verlander wins AL Cy Young in unanimous vote
By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer
50 minutes ago

(AP)—There was little question Justin Verlander(notes) would unanimously win the AL Cy Young Award. Now, the far more intriguing question: Will he take the MVP, too?

“Do I think it’s possible? Yes. Would I like to win it? Of course,” he said during a conference call. “It’s kind of a weird scenario.”

No starting pitcher has won the MVP trophy since Roger Clemens in 1986, with Dennis Eckersley the last reliever to get it in 1992. Many say pitchers shouldn’t win the MVP, period, contending they already have their own award.

But Verlander’s season—he won the pitching version of the Triple Crown, led Detroit to its first division crown in 24 years and drew every first-place vote Tuesday in the Cy Young race—has ratcheted up the debate in a crowded MVP field that includes Curtis Granderson(notes), Jacoby Ellsbury(notes), Jose Bautista(notes), Miguel Cabrera(notes) and more.

“Pitchers are on the ballot,” Verlander said. Bolstering the case for all pitchers, Verlander pointed to the “tremendous effect we have on the day of our game.”

“I’m so different from everybody,” he said.

If he doesn’t win, Verlander said he’d like to see Granderson, his former teammate, get the award.

Verlander breezed to the Cy Young, much the way the Tigers’ ace humbled hitters with his 100 mph fastball, sharp curve and wicked slider.

Verlander led the majors in wins by going 24-5 and topped baseball with 250 strikeouts. His 2.40 ERA was the best among AL pitchers who qualified for the title.

The 28-year-old righty was listed on top on all 28 ballots by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and finished with 196 points.

Jered Weaver(notes) (18-8, 2.41) of the Los Angeles Angels was the only other pitcher listed on every ballot and second with 97 points. James Shields(notes) of Tampa Bay was third with 66, followed by CC Sabathia(notes) of the New York Yankees with 63. Tigers reliever Jose Valverde(notes), who was perfect in 49 save chances, was fifth with 28.

“Since the end of the season, people have been saying that the Cy Young is wrapped up,” said Verlander, who added he waited until the announcement to celebrate.

Verlander pitched his second career no-hitter, won 12 straight starts down the stretch and helped the Tigers take the AL Central.

In many games, he was simply unhittable. He pitched a no-hitter on May 7 at Toronto, missing a perfect game just by an eighth-inning walk on a full-count delivery.

In his next start, he held Kansas City hitless for 5 2-3 innings. Johnny Vander Meer is the only pitcher to throw back-to-back no-hitters.

Later in the season, the 6-foot-5 star took a pair of no-hit bids into the eighth inning—one of those came on July 31 against Weaver and the Angels, a 3-2 win at Detroit.

“I felt like it was a statement game,” Verlander said. “A lot of people had eyes on that game.”

Verlander also led the majors with 251 innings, all while issuing a career-low 57 walks. He pitched four complete games, including two shutouts.

This was the ninth time there was a unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young and first since Johan Santana(notes) in 2006, when he won the AL pitching Triple Crown. Verlander said he remembered watching Santana that year.

“That’s a big league pitcher,” Verlander recalled telling himself. “That’s a stud.”

This was the fourth time a Detroit pitcher won it, with Denny McLain earning the award in 1968 and tying for the honor in 1969, and reliever Willie Hernandez winning in 1984. McLain, in 1968, and Hernandez went on to win the AL MVP awards, too.

A four-time All-Star, Verlander became the first former AL Rookie of the Year to also take the Cy Young. This win included a $500,000 bonus to his $12.75 million salary in 2011.

Verlander said he started his push this year in spring training. He’d gotten off to bad starts in previous seasons and decided to be “results oriented” beginning in exhibition games.

Verlander has started his offseason workout program, and plans to wait until January before throwing again. He went to the New England Patriots-New York Jets game Sunday night with teammate Rick Porcello(notes) and said a football was being passed around, but he avoided the temptation to toss it.

The only thing missing from Verlander’s pitching resume is a World Series title. He is 3-3 with a 5.57 ERA in eight career postseason starts, and went 2-1 in the playoffs this year as the Tigers reached the AL championship series before losing to Texas.

He probably wouldn’t mind a hit, either. He’s 0 for 20 with 13 strikeouts in his big league career. He also tied for the AL lead in errors by a pitcher with five.

Clayton Kershaw(notes) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the favorite to win the NL Cy Young when the results are released Thursday. He won the NL pitching Triple Crown, leading with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts and tying for wins at 21.

The AL and NL Managers of the Year will be announced Wednesday.

Who Said You Never Got Anything Free from "At the Corner"

Well, actually it comes to you from The APP Company that offers an IPhone, IPad, I-etc. ap.

I offer it without endorsement, I haven't tried it yet myself. If you'd like you can comment below, or send comments to "Roxy."

I'm not making any money on this guys, and if you think this is no place for commercial announcements, speak up. Guess I just have a soft spot for a PR flak trying to beat the drum; then again, my older sister just said I have a soft spot.

GS

Hi Gregg:
My name is Roxy Duffy, Marketing Manager for The APP Company.
I am writing to introduce you and At The Corner to our latest release, the AccuScore APP for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
I was hoping you would like to write something about the AccuScore App or review it. We think your readers would enjoy learning about Accuscore.
AccuScore is the leading sports forecasting company, renowned for offering the most comprehensive and accurate sports forecasting engine anywhere. AccuScore provides users with everything they need to know before the game. AccuScore is so proven effective that it is used by many top sports media companies including ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports, Sporting News and The Wall Street Journal. The AccuScore App brings all of this information to the mobile platform with its new FREE App.
Here is a link to a sample article we created that you can re-print or edit any way you want: http://db.tt/eYLXBnfC
Also, here is a link to some screenshots you might find useful: http://db.tt/5swKqJIR
We invite you to download the free AccuScore App here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/accuscore/id437178337?mt=8

If you have time, we would be happy to set up interviews with the experts at AccuScore and/or the senior staff at The APP Company. We are available to assist in any way possible.
We look forward to discussing the AccuScore App more with you and working with At The Corner. If you need anything more from us to help you get a better feel for the APP, please do not hesitate to contact us!
Thank you,

Roxanne Duffy - Marketing Manager
PH: 310-293-3266 Skype: roxy.unora.duffy
E-Mail: Roxy@TheAppCompany.com
Web: TheAPPCompany.com

Justin Verlander named Sporting News’ 2011 MLB player of the year

October 28, 2011 – Justin Verlander has been named Sporting News' 2011 player of the year. In voting done by 289 major league players (177 players from the AL and 112 from the NL), Verlander was the first pitcher to win the award since the Los Angeles Dodgers' Orel Hershiser in 1988. The award is presented by Gillette Odor Shield.

Verlander stood out in 2011 among even his most dominant peers with a 24-5 record, 250 strikeouts and 2.40 ERA.

"He's had one of the best seasons for a pitcher. Ever," New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia said.

"He's pretty incredible," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said after Verlander struck out 11 New York batters in the ALDS. "He's throwing 100 mph in the eighth inning. That's impressive. I don't know if there's anyone else in baseball, especially a starter, that can do that."

Verlander's maturation process in the majors wasn't immediate. After a stellar 2006 season (17-9, 3.63 ERA) that earned him the rookie of the year honors, Verlander had a strong 2007 (18-6, 3.66) but a rocky 2008 (11-17, 4.84) before he really started to dominate hitters in the fashion he did this year.

"One of my favorite lines is you can't make a senior out of a freshman," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It takes time. ... You have to go through different experiences before you really get to (your) peak. I think Justin has taken it step by step. He had the big year in 2006. Then he went through a little bit of a humbling period. He's made adjustments mentally, he's made some adjustments physically. He's figured some things out. ... He's matured a lot."

About Sporting News' awards: Voting for Sporting News' 2011 baseball awards was done by major league players, managers and front office executives. Ballots were distributed to all 30 teams, and 289 players, 55 executives and 23 managers participated in the voting. Players voted for player of the year, comeback players of the year and rookies of the year; managers voted for managers of the year; and executives voted for the All-Star teams.

Crown the champion already

One game from crowing a Major League Baseball champion and I’m already looking forward to next season, partly because it means my deployment will be over and partly because I feel good about the 2012 Detroit Tigers being back in the thick of things.

Um...

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'm sure a few of them come to mind when you look at this photo of Mike Illitch. Me? I'm speechless.

Admit it, you'd give anything to have a model of Tiger Stadium like this


Dallas-area hobbyist is a model Texas Rangers fan

Reginald Rutledge built a model of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in his backyard. He got his start on the hobby as a kid building a model of the Dallas Cowboys' old Texas Stadium. His current projects are the stadiums of the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots.


People show their enthusiasm for these Texas Rangers in different ways.

Reginald Rutledge did it by building an amazing, eye-popping replica of Rangers Ballpark inside his Arlington garage.

Now if only we could get a roof over the real thing.

Reginald, 50, describes himself as a “laid-off engineer.” But in his sideline as a sports nut, he works overtime.

And this has been going on a long time. Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., he got hooked on electric football, the old-school game where little players vibrate around on a buzzing field.

Reginald is still playing electric football — or miniature football, as it’s now called.

In fact, he’s the founder and commissioner of a new league, the College Bowl Series of Miniature Football. He recently presided over the league championship in Las Vegas.

And he operates an Internet-based business devoted to miniature football, footballfigure.net.

As part of that business, Reginald builds replica stadiums to go around the electric football fields. And that goes back to his youth, too.

As a kid, he was watching a Dallas Cowboys game on TV one Sunday. “Texas Stadium was still pretty new then, and I really liked the domed look of it. I started building a cardboard stadium of my own,” he said.

“It was real rough, but that was the genesis of everything.”

He has since sold model stadiums to customers all over the world. In his garage workshop, he’s now completing models of the New England Patriots’ and San Francisco 49ers’ stadiums.

But his masterpiece stands on the other side of the garage — the 6-by-7-foot Rangers Ballpark.

“I always wanted to have a piece of Ranger history, even if I had to create it,” he said.

He was suffering heart problems last year during the Rangers’ championship run. Since he couldn’t go to games, he channeled his enthusiasm into building the model stadium.

Banks of tiny LED stadium lights illuminate the field. He can route radio play-by-play of games through stadium speakers. And he plans to add a real video screen to the right-field scoreboard.

The model is highly detailed — right down to manager Ron Washington standing at the dugout. But it’s not meant to be architecturally exact.

“I don’t spend time scaling it or anything. I just start to build,” he said.

Reginald really got excited when I asked: Can you put a roof on it?

“Absolutely,” he said. “Rose and I are always talking about doing that.”

He and his wife, Rosemary, were regulars at games this year. And that meant a lot of suffering.

“It was so frustrating being out in all that heat,” he said. “It was miserable, just miserable.”

Amen to that. I was at two games this season with starting temperatures of 105 degrees.

As an engineer (aerospace and electrical), Reginald has spent a lot of time pondering his model, thinking about ways of adding a retractable roof to the real park. His judgment is painful to hear.

“There’s a way to do it,” he said, “but it’s probably cheaper to just start all over on the stadium.”

Demolishing the ballpark seems unimaginable. I still think of it as our “new” stadium, although it opened in 1994.

The Rangers have investigated the possibility of retrofitting the ballpark with a roof or even some sort of light shade structure, but the costs have been too high.

And Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said Wednesday that he’s heard no mention of building a new stadium.

“It does get hot at times,” he said. “But I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that.”

Reginald predicts more and more discussion of building an air-conditioned, retractable-roof park. And he’s all for it, even if it means building a new model.

“I want a roof,” he said. “It’s hot out there.”

Rough weekend, great year



(Photo By Detroit News)

I could have avoided the television and internet over the weekend and went on in complete bliss.  Saturday night was a big night for this fan, landlocked in Afghanistan and completely at the mercy of the American Forces Network for live/taped sports and ESPN.com and twitter for the latest scores and stats.  Not a good statistical day for the biggest game on the slate, Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

But let’s focus on the positive. 

So now we're all in clinical depression. Where from here

A few observations.

1. I don't need to pay for additional television access to baseball games. I can't keep up with what's on during the playoffs already. If baseball were food, I'd weigh 500 lbs. Since I'm usually eating when watching games on TV, I'm quickly approaching that number anyway.
2. My wife thinks I'm an alcoholic, since I drink during Tiger playoff games. I drink because they lose, I drink because they win. I drink because I'm worried about what will happen next year. I drink cause I still think the Tigers never should have traded Granderson, but all my friends disagree. You have become "all my friends." Gee, maybe I am an alcoholic.
3. And now for the important stuff: what are we gonna do about next year. Somebody get me a Stroh's.

ESPN: Delmon Young activated, will play in Game 2 today

From ESPN website

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Detroit Tigers added Delmon Young to their American League Championship Series roster to replace Magglio Ordonez, who is out for the season with an ankle injury, the team announced Monday.


Manager Jim Leyland said Monday afternoon that Young will start in left field and bat third for the Tigers in Monday's Game 2 (4:19 p.m. ET first pitch).

"He was tested by the doctors and did all kinds of other workouts and exercised yesterday. I just spoke with him," Leyland said. "We were going to wait. It was going to be like an NFL kind of game-time decision. But we've already made the decison. He's fine, swinging good. And he will play.''

Young had been removed from the Tigers' ALCS roster for the series against the Texas Rangers because of an oblique injury, but the Tigers' lack of alternatives in the minor leagues prompted the team to bring him back in hopes that he might be able to contribute.

"He's feeling pretty good," Leyland said. The Tigers skipper said Young "did all kinds of workouts ... We've already made the decision ... he will play."

Leyland had prepared two lineups for Game 2 with Young in one but not the other and was waiting to see Young hit and throw before making his decision.

With Brennan Boesch already out for the season with a thumb injury, Detroit was down to Austin Jackson in center field, Ryan Raburn in left field, and left-handed hitters Don Kelly and Andy Dirks in right.

Clete Thomas had been mentioned as a possibility to replace Ordonez, but he's a left-handed hitter and batted .251 with a .715 OPS in Triple A.

Maggs Out!! Who Gets Called Up?

Ok boyz, Maggs is now out for the year because of an ankle injury. He probably broke it again is my guess. Ok, who gets called up now? My guess is Will Rhymes, but after last nights twitter incident who knows. Will Leyland hold a grudge? I think the sleeper is Clete Thomas who is the only other outfielder on the 40 man roster.

What do you think and how does this affect the Tiger's chances? Stay tuned.

Breathe Deeply, it's just the first game...


Relax, last night wasn't really all that bad. Just one of those nights.

Verlander will get another shot, and everything will be OK. I hope.

Meanwhile, pay attention to the commercials tonight. There are some pretty good ones you've been missing while you're running for beer. Then vote on your favorite at right. (I tried to include a direct link, but I just couldn't do it.)

We're an hour into Friday's rain delay, how long do we wait?

Commentators say the commissioner is meeting with team brass. But what really at stake is TV revenue: every commercial is millions.

Whaddya think?

American League MVP

OK so now what are we thinkng about the American league MVP. Cabrera? Verlander? Gonzales? Granderson? Ellsbury? Others?
It's fun to think about - especially now before the playoffs begin.

Looks like this might put a dent in sales at Burger King, Chuck


Former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain arrested, accused of stealing scrap metal

Former Detroit Tigers star pitcher Denny McLain is in trouble again, this time for allegedly stealing scrap metal from two landowners in Louisiana, authorities announced today.

McLain, who has served time for embezzlement and was once suspended from baseball for gambling, spent the night in jail after getting arrested Thursday in Port Huron, where he accidentally wound up on the bridge to Canada while trying to get to a Cracker Barrel.

Border officials said that McLain, who had become confused by all the construction, turned around without going to Canada. But he was stopped for inspection at the border, where officers discovered an outstanding arrest warrant for McLain from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana.

Louisiana authorities said McLain was wanted over a scrap metal debt. McLain, along with some workers from his company, American K.I.E. Steel and Commodities, had cut a deal with two landowners to buy their scrap metal, but never paid them, they said.

“Everything’s fine,” McLain told the Free Press today, just hours after he was released on a $10,000 cash surety bond.

McLain would not discuss his case, saying only that his lawyer had it right when he said that “there had been a mistake.”

McLain’s lawyer, Grand Rapids attorney Josh Fahlsing, said that his client had no idea that he was wanted in Louisiana, and that there’s been a “mistake” involving the Louisiana business negotiation.

“Mr. McLain had no knowledge of this warrant. He was an accidental fugitive,” Fahlsing said. “He was never on the run.”

Fahlsing would not discuss the details of the criminal allegations, saying only:

“We hope to get this matter cleared up with the authorities in Louisiana as soon possible. I think he’s looking forward to getting this matter cleared up.”

An extradition hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 4 in Port Huron.

Meanwhile, McLain’s wife, Sharon, isn’t taking the news in stride.

“I’m just about at the end,” Sharon Mclain told the Free Press today, sounding exasperated.

Asked whether she was surprised about the arrest warrant, she said: “Oh yes, to say the least.”

Sharon McLain said Denny McLain called to tell her about his arrest, but she did not go to Port Huron to help him, and said she has no plans to travel to Louisiana with him if he's extradited.

According to Capt. Patrick Yoes of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, an arrest warrant was issued for McClain on Aug. 26.

According to Yoes, McLain, along with workers for his company, American K.I.E. Steel and Commodities, approached two landowners in the Bayou Gauche area offering to buy some scrap metal they had on their property. The agreement, he said, was that once the scrap metal was weighed at a salvage yard, the owners would be paid a specific amount per pound.

With the exception of a deposit demanded in advance by one of the landowners, no money was ever paid for the scrap metal, Yoes said. Investigators with the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s office “had repeated conversations with Mr. McLain,” but nothing ever happened so an arrest warrant was issued, he said.

Yoes said he does not know how much scrap metal was involved, or its exact worth– only that it was worth more than $1,500.

This is not the first run-in with the law for McLain, who in 1968 helped the Tigers win a world championship by posting a 31-6 record and 1.96 ERA, and later won the Cy Young Award.

In 1996, McLain and his business partner were convicted of embezzling $2.5 million from a pension fund and then laundering it. McLain was sentenced to eight years in prison and was ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution to the fund.

In 1970, McLain was suspended by then-baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn for alleged gambling. Later, he was fired as general manager of a minor league team for running up its debt; he was in bankruptcy court three times; he pleaded guilty in 1985 to possession of cocaine.

In 1992, he lost his daughter, Kristin McLain-Sutherland, in a fiery traffic accident.


Attorney Christopher Andreoff, who had represented McLain in the pension fund criminal case, was surprised and saddened when he learned about McLain’s arrest.

He told the Free Press that he had not heard from McLain or anyone in McLain's family. The last time he heard from McLain was a few years ago, when McLain telephoned to tell him he was looking for work, possibly in radio.

“I wish him all the best,” Andreoff said. “I feel very bad.”

Leyland always thinking ahead

Cabrera was observed today taking grounders at THIRD. The speculatiuon is that in the National League parks, where there is no DH, Miggy plays third and Martinez is at first so we don't lose their bats. Eat 'em up Tigers!!

Who makes the Final 25 cut?

What a tough job Jim and dave have paring down the team back down to 25. Health concerns? Guillen? Albequrere? Needs? Back up catcher: Santos? Kelly? Inge? Do we need a fifth starter? What do you do with Penny? What about marginal pitchers Purcey? Below? What about Andy Dirks?
What say Ye?

Who is Tiger MVP

OK Who is our MVP? That is a tough question. Many of the boys could get a vote. Verlander? Valverde's 46 saves? Cabrera? Martinez? Avilla - he works so hard? Action Jackson? Peralta? Betemit? Lister? Young?(last three have not been here long enough, but they were valuable additions.) Everyone had a role with this team - even my boy Inge! Where would we be without Benoit? Boesch? Don Kelly? and so on.
The true MVP in my book is Jim Leyland, who made all of the decisions as to when to play the guys and where. Except he is not eligible. So what do you think??

Cry Baby Jim

Watching Leyland during his post game interview was a classic last night. He continued to be pretty stoic, He did enjoy that BIG CIGAR. He has been very calm, throughout this last couple of weeks. He never talks, but mutters and many folks try to imitate his style (I am doing it now). Last Night (or just 5 hours ago) He got choked up when the interviewer asked him about the fans in Detroit. He couldn't say enough about fan support. We are all in this together. Yes athletes and teams make lots of money from sponsors, etc., but the main support comes from fans attending games and buying concessions. Comerica sent an attendance record this year. We fans love our Tigers!!
Eat "em up Tigers

While We're Waiting for the Tigers to Clinch...


Check out Frank Deford's thoughts on the general structure of baseball's schedule which was aired on NPR a few weeks ago.

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/31/140034507/too-many-days-hath-september-and-baseball

Even though I'm old-fashioned, and usually abhor change, I think I like many of these ideas.

Mea Culpa, Dombrowski and Leyland

For a few years I have been critical of Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski (even spelled Dave's name wrong on purpose). With the addition of Betemit (even though Inge is still MY Tiger), Delmon Young,and (especially) Doug Lister - Dombrowski looks like a magician. Cudos!! And the moves Leyland made yeaterday and has been making lately have been brilliant, Got to give those two men credit. When the Tigers finally clinch will Leyland smile? Watchioing him on those post game interviews you would think he lost 12 in a row, instead of winning.
GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cabrera -- champ or chump

Magic number down to 6.
Thereis no denying what a phenomenal season Miggy is having at the plate. He is lots of people's favorite Tiger and, looking at his stats, there are many good reasons why.
I am still troubles by the incident in spring training with the drinking, having open alcohol in the car, and his disrespect of the police. I maintain that if it had been me, I would have been hauled off to the pokey, no questions asked. Miggy got star treatment, back then. Because of his great season all seems to be forgiven, but is it. Remember in 2006 when he and his wife got into an alcohol-related fight. Who am I to judge?

another correction

Cleveland beat Chicago
Magic number is now 7777777777777777777777777777777777

correction

MAGIC NUMBER IS 8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

go tigers

MAGIC NUMBER IS 9!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tickets for potential 2011 postseason games go on sale Monday, Sept. 12

From the Tigers' PR Department...

TICKETS FOR POTENTIAL 2011 POSTSEASON GAMES
GO ON SALE MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 at 10:00 a.m.

For Individual Tickets to ALDS Home Games call 866-66-Tiger or visit Tigers.com

DETROIT – Individual game tickets for potential 2011 American League Division Series home games at Comerica Park will go on sale Monday, September 12, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

Tickets will ONLY be available by calling 866-66-TIGER or visiting www.tigers.com. Tickets will not be available at the Comerica Park box office. There is a limit of six tickets per customer, per game.

For ticket prices and dates for potential Division Series home games at Comerica Park visit tigers.com/postseason.

Fans who wish to guarantee the opportunity to purchase tickets for all potential 2011 postseason games at Comerica Park, including potential World Series games, can do so by placing a deposit on 2012 Tigers full season tickets. Contact a Tigers ticket sales representative at (313) 471-BALL (2255) or visit tigers.com for more information.

Yankees or Red Sox? Which would you choose for the Tigers?

I'm thinking that an 8 1/2-game lead with 19 to play is pretty safe. So Leyland can start arranging his rotation. (And also start working on that "Sorry, Brad, we won't need you in the postseason... or ever again, actually" speech).

First game of the A.L. playoffs is set for Friday, Sept. 30. We already know the Tigers will play either the Yankees or Red Sox because teams from the same division cannot play each other in the first round.

Unless the Tigers stay hot and finish with the best record in the A.L. (highly unlikely), they will either: Travel to play the A.L. East champion if they finish with a worse record than the Rangers -or- Host the wildcard team if they finish with a better record than the Rangers (they're both 81-62 as I write this).

Yankees or Red Sox? Which team would you rather see the Tigers play? Why?

Mister Fister is a keeper

Can you think of a better trade. Fister and Pauley (still needs to show his worth) for Wells and Furbush. As exciting as picking up Doyle Alexander in 1987. Fister was masterful today - his personal high - 13 strikeouts. 7 1/2 game lead over Cleveland. Can anybody get me playoff tickets??

Kind of feel Stuffed?



It's like when you go over your favorite cooking-friends house for dinner, they spread an enormous feast for you, and just when you think you couldn't stuff in another bite, the host says, "Well, you must try this special desert I made just for you!" How could you say "NO?"

Well, when you score 18 runs, a lack of pitching doesn't really matter...but Sherzer did look pretty good, last night, didn't he?

Allright, I'm caving in to giddiness.

go get 'em Tigers

OK - all you 3rd place finisher predictors - what do you say now? I am pumped! Loved the post the other day about Verlander, but in this blog Iam no longer able to comment, but JV does deserve MVP consideration where would the Tigs be without him? It sure is exciting and fun to go down to the new corner. Looking forward to an awesome September. How long before Inge catches - this week I am sure. I am so glad to see Inge back - he is my Tiger. "Bless you Boys!"

Stats don't lie: Justin Verlander makes a case for MVP

By Tony Paul, Detroit News

DETROIT – No pitcher has been named league MVP since Oakland A's closer Dennis Eckersley in 1992.

And it's been even longer for a starting pitcher: Roger Clemens in 1986.
So, why the decades-long drought? A couple of reasons.

For starters, it's tough for some to fathom that the most valuable player of any ballclub, let alone an entire league, is a guy who doesn't play every day, or almost every day, or at least more than every fifth day. Then there are those stubborn Baseball Writers Association of America voters — full disclosure: I am one — who see the Cy Young as prize enough for pitchers.

Well, this year, it's not enough. Not even close.

Tigers ace Justin Verlander will win the American League Cy Young. He also should be the MVP.

Just think for a moment about where the Tigers would really be without him.
Certainly, they wouldn't be in first place in the AL Central, three games up on the Indians with 40 games to go. Heck, they'd probably be at least a distant third, watching the Indians and White Sox duke it out.

A stretch? Don't think so. Just consider these numbers:

* The Tigers are 19-8 when he pitches, 46-49 when he doesn't. They've won 17 of his last 20 starts.

* Verlander is 10-1 with a 2.38 ERA against the AL Central, after Tuesday's victory over the Twins.

* Verlander: 18-5, 2.31 ERA. Rest of Detroit's starters: 33-37, 4.88 ERA.

* He's accounted for a whopping 19 percent of the entire staff's innings, yet just 10 percent of the earned runs, 11 percent of the walks and 13 percent of the hits. Twenty-five percent of the K's are his.

* He's 14-2 with a sub-2.00 ERA following a Tigers loss. Three of his wins have come after the Tigers lost two games in a row, and two of his wins have stopped three-game losing streaks.

And all that doesn't even take into account all Verlander's personal accomplishments, like the no-hitter; the two near no-hitters; the All-Star Game that he would've started had he been allowed to; and the league-leading 18 wins, 204 strikeouts and 0.88 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched).

(For all we know, he might've even single-handedly saved Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski's jobs. Not that that's an argument come award season.)

What other player in the AL can claim to be so critical to a team's bottom line? If you took Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury or Adrian Gonzalez off the Red Sox, or Curtis Granderson off the Yankees, it's a good bet you'd still see the two AL East powers waltzing into the playoffs. And if you took Jose Bautista off the Blue Jays, well, that team still wouldn't make the playoffs. To be fair, several arguments made for Verlander apply to Angels ace Jered Weaver, too, but Los Angeles' playoff hopes recently have tanked as fast as Weaver lost his cool in Detroit late last month.

MVP awards often go to players on playoff-bound teams, or at least contenders. And the Tigers are contending for the ballclub's first division championship since 1987. Yet, imagine if you plucked Verlander off the team and said, "There, try that." That wouldn't be a pretty picture.

He limits losing streaks, keeps the bullpen fresh and beats the rivals. He's dominant. He's indispensable.

He's Detroit's MVP, no doubt, in a landslide. And he just might be the league's, too.

If that actually happens — it's no slam dunk, because, again, voters are conditioned to make the MVP the MVPP (most valuable position player) — Verlander would follow an interesting pattern. Because, as rare as it is for pitchers to win the MVP, the last four Tigers MVPs have been pitchers: Willie Hernandez (1984), Denny McLain (1968) and Hal Newhouser (1944-45). A Detroit position player hasn't won the award since Hank Greenberg in 1940, though there've been close calls (Alan Trammell, Cecil Fielder, etc.).

At this rate, Justin Verlander figures to make eight more starts in 2011 — and if he manages to win most of them or even all of them, he'll put the finishing touches on one of the greatest pitching seasons in Tigers history.

Pivotal Series?

Well here we go -- Tigs vs. Indians - 3 wins = 7 game lead, 2 wins = 5 game lead, 3 losses = 1 game lead. Go get 'em Tigers!!

Tigers give Dombrowski, Leyland contract extensions

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers announced today the club and President, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David Dombrowski have agreed on a four-year contract extension through 2015. In addition the contract of Tigers Manager Jim Leyland was extended through the 2012 season.

In accordance with team policy, additional terms of the deals were not disclosed.
“Dave has built a solid foundation for this organization and assembled competitive teams that give us a chance to win year in and year out. We have a lot of confidence in his continued leadership of the Detroit Tigers,” said Owner/Director Michael Ilitch. “I am pleased Dave has agreed to continue to lead our organization.”

Regarding Manager Jim Leyland, Mr. Ilitch added, “I know Jim shares our desire to deliver a winner. We’re pleased to have him continue leading the Detroit Tigers on the field.”

Dombrowski, in his 10th season with the Tigers, and his 33rd in professional baseball, was named the club’s president and chief executive officer on November 5, 2001, before adding the role of general manager on April 8, 2002. The Tigers captured the American League Pennant in 2006, Dombrowski’s fifth season with the club.

“I am grateful for the continued opportunity Mr. Ilitch has given me to run this franchise, and I am equally appreciative of the unwavering support he has demonstrated the past ten seasons in our efforts to bring a World Championship back to Detroit,” Dombrowski said.

Prior to joining the Tigers, Dombrowski served as the president and general manager of the Florida Marlins. He was named the Marlins first executive vice president and general manager on September 19, 1991, and he added the duties of president on March 1, 2000. Dombrowski was the architect of the 1997 World Series Champions Marlins.

Leyland is in sixth season as the manager of the Tigers, compiling a 485-442 record (.523). He led the Tigers to the 2006 World Series and is 15 wins shy of becoming the fifth manager in Tigers history to register 500 victories with the club. Leyland, now in his 20th season as a major league manager, registered the 1,500th win of his career on April 15 at Oakland, becoming just the 19th manager in major league history to accomplish the feat.

“We’re delighted Jim will continue as Tigers manager through the 2012 season,” said Dombrowski. “He has led the Tigers to a World Series, and guided a contending team on a consistent basis during his tenure as manager. Jim’s managerial record and accomplishments speak for themselves.”

In related announcements, the Tigers have also extended the contracts of Vice President/Assistant General Manager Al Avila, Vice President, Amateur Scouting/Special Assistant to the General Manager David Chadd, Vice President, Player Personnel Scott Reid, and Vice President, Baseball Legal Counsel John Westhoff.

“Collectively, it’s as fine a group of quality baseball people as you will find,” said Dombrowski. “They continue to make significant contributions to the organization.”

The Tigers also promoted Duane McLean to Executive Vice President, Business Operations.

“Duane does a great job of running the day-to-day business operations and the title change reflects the additional responsibilities he continues to take on,” Dombrowski said.

Blockbuster trade??

Tigers got the 5th starter that they hope will keep us on top. With Seattle not in out division, I do not know much about either Fister or Pauley, but they have to help. Early in the season I liked Furbush, but he has faded - I still believe he is a great prospect. Casper Wells was on a team with a crowded outfield - has to be a good move for both teams.
What say Ye?

Did You hear that on "Baseball Tonight?"

Sunday morning, "Baseball Tonight" (I know, sounds silly, Baseball Tonight in the morning. Blame them) reported a rumor about the Tigers acquiring James Shields.

To sleep, perchance to dream...

Great Article


This article is appropriate for the start of the weekend series with the White Sox. Deadspin has an article titled: The 100 Worst Baseball Players of All-Time. It is hilarious, but yet at the same time so true. In honor of Ozzie Guillen, here is his description. By the way, the article can be found at: http://deadspin.com/5820716/



9. Ozzie Guillen, 1985-2000 (White Sox/Braves/Rays/Orioles)
Ozzie Guillen, like many managers, was a bad baseball player. His on base percentage in 15 seasons was .286. His slugging percentage was .238. But he won a Gold Glove, you say. And a Rookie of the Year award! He was a three-time All Star! And he stole a lot of bases! Actually, Guillen was caught on almost 40 percent of his attempts. And after his last All Star appearance at age 27 (for a season in which he had a .284 on-base percentage) he hung around for nine more years, doing nothing in particular with his glove and less with with his bat.

ENJOY THE WEEKEND AND GO TIGERS!!!!!

First Place at the All Star break

Wdell somehow we are in first place at the break, but don't get too comfortable. The second half promises to be a roller coaster ride. Biggest concerns has to bde Inge, Rayburn, and Maggs. Inge is my Tiger, but he is not living up to his potential. Not sure why Leyland is sticking with Rayburn so long. And they are stuck with Maggs $10 million contract. But there are lots of bright spots - so no need to panic. Once Rick Knapp was fired many folks were screaming for the release of McClendon. But we do have four of the American League's top ten hitters on our team, with Avilla not far behind. What a joy Avilla has been! Then there is the pitching - there is enough there for a separate blog. You can never be too rich in pitching. Did the Cincinattie Reds really start Dontrelle Willis yesterday?
What changes will Dombrowski make before the trading deadline to make the playoffs and try to save his job and Leyland's. Stay tuned for a fun ride.

Ernie - The Play

Do yourself a favor, if you live in the metropolitan Detroit area and go see Mitch Albom's play, Ernie. You will not be disappointed! It is a one act summary of Ernie's life. I was mesmerized for almost 2 hours. Lots of great one liners, I wish I had taken notes. And who was sitting three people away from me? Paul Carey! What a treat that was to watch his reactions. In case someone reading this migtht be able to go I won't go into details so that I don't ruin it for them. Just go!

CY Young, here we come?

Was Verlander something else last night? Some excited fans posted a large pre-printed K from the stands with every strikeout. Only problem is that they didn't pre print enough - they had tpo manufacture some on the spot. He is dominating and gets stronger as the game goes along.

Tied with the Indians again. They lost their game when their pitcher was called for a balk with the bases loaded, a cheap way for us to regain a share of first place, but we'll take it.

Welcome Gibby and Tram

Hope to get down to Comerica for a game this weekend. Exciting to see Kirk and Alan here in Detroit. Niether played here. And we know what happened to poor Tram while he managed here. Great to see the Diamonbacks at or near the top of their division. I think Kirk is in training for the Detroit job when Leyland leaves -- who knows. Glad they will be here when Sparky's number is retired Sunday. I am sure that will be an emotional day. I will be helping to celebrate Fr. Prus's 50th anniversary of priesthood. He is a fantasy camper of the Tigers, among many other accomplishments.
Go Tigers!!!

A Sweet Father's Day Story


(From the Dallas Morning News)

ATLANTA — I took my father to a baseball game Friday. It was his last.

He is 87, dying from congestive heart failure and has been in the care of a hospice nurse for two months. We know what lies ahead shortly.

And yet, this is not a sad story. Not in the least.

Some 40 years ago, just down the block in what is now a parking lot, my dad introduced me to Major League Baseball. By taking my hand and walking with me on what was a perfect day — at least as far as I remember — into Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, he opened a door to a world that has become my passion and my life.

I wanted to simply try and repay him by taking him to one game as a way of saying thanks.

It was going to be my Father’s Day gift to him. Instead, it is about a gift he gave me.

This whole idea arose during spring training. Dad, who celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary to my mother in December, was in and out of the hospital on a couple of occasions because of fluid retention and what we assume is the continual decline in his heart function. One morning, his doctor called me in Arizona.

“Evan, I think you should be prepared to lose your dad fairly soon,” he said.

I thought I had been prepared already. He’s been in congestive heart failure for 13 years. In 1998, I had rushed back to Atlanta when he took sick and seemed to be failing fast. During that time, Mom and I made burial plans. When I finally had to leave to return to Dallas, he was still in the hospital, pale and frail. I hugged him tight, really thinking it would be the last time I’d see him.

Somehow, he stabilized. Nearly a year later, a new cardiologist performed a second heart bypass on Dad with great results. But I knew then, the next episode would probably be the last. For 10 years, I’d been preparing myself.



Flood of memories

Then baseball had to get in the way. After the doctor’s call, I wandered around the Rangers complex in Surprise, my head flooded with memories of Dad and I at sporting events. As a child, that was our bond. He liked sports, and I loved them.

There was a Hawks game for which he’d prepped me with stories about “Pistol Pete” and his droopy socks. The Hawks played a championship-caliber Milwaukee team that night, but I can’t remember what Lew Alcindor or Pete Maravich did. I only remember walking with my dad toward Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

There was a Falcons game against Chicago. Later, during a five-year “exile” in South Florida after jobs dried up in Atlanta, there was an NBA exhibition in which Artis Gilmore nearly ran over my mom. There was a trip to Yankees spring training when I somehow scored a baseball autographed by both Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. There was a time he indulged me with wrestling tickets to see the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes in a “Bunkhouse Match,” whatever that was. We never saw it, though, because I was ejected from the arena for tossing an empty Coke cup at bad guy Jos LeDuc.

When I ask him at lunch Friday about his most vivid memory of us at a sporting event, he says: “Unfortunately, that wrestling match when you got ejected.”

I got it: That wasn’t very sportsmanlike.

And every year, there was a whole day trip to West Palm Beach to see my beloved Braves play a spring training game. Every spring, I found a game on the schedule that sounded exciting. We’d make plans and drive an hour — seemed like three or four at the time — from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm so I could hopefully see Phil Niekro and Jeff Burroughs and Brian Asselstine. Hey, it was the late 1970s, man.

Plan takes root

The conversation with the doctor wasn’t nearly as depressing as it was inspiring.

I wanted one last chance to spend time at a sporting event with Dad.

The Rangers schedule provided the slightest glimmer of hope. Father’s Day weekend, they’d be in Atlanta, which meant so would I. I called my parents.

“Mom, if he makes it until June, I’m taking Daddy to a baseball game,” I said.

First, she dismissed it. Then she, in her role of caretaker and guardian, explained all the logical reasons why it couldn’t happen.

I didn’t budge.

Her response: “Alevei!” It’s Yiddish. Basically, it means: “we should be so lucky!”

We were very lucky.

Dad began at-home hospice care in April. It is not a bad thing. The hospice people have reduced his medications dramatically. It may make it more difficult to prolong his life an extra couple of weeks or a month, but he is now more alert and energetic and he can, to some extent, enjoy what days remain.

For him, though, enjoyment these days is mostly a bingo game. Or an outing to Costco, his favorite store on the planet, to sample foods and drive the electric cart while picking up household supplies.

On Friday, when I see him for the first time in two months, he looks hunched over, but more steady on his legs than before. He hugs me close.

“Are you excited about tonight?” I say. “Because I am.”

“I’m excited to be with my son.”

Game day

There are moments when I think this has become an exceptionally bad idea. He doesn’t sound nearly as excited as I feel. His vision is so impaired now that when he squeezes lemon into his Diet Coke at lunch, he misses the glass by a couple of inches. His hearing is so impaired, he asks for repetition of almost every statement. If he can’t see or hear, how can he enjoy the game?

On top of that, I realize you can’t account for everything shortly after we leave their apartment. I think I’ve got everything covered: wheelchair, handicapped parking, covered seats, a portable oxygen tank and the hospice number in case anything goes wrong. But I forgot to pack an umbrella and as we head downtown through miserable Atlanta traffic late Friday afternoon, it starts raining. Hard.

Just before we arrive at Turner Field, the rain stops. A cool breeze is actually blowing instead of the humidity that enveloped as we left their apartment.

As I wheel him into the stadium, I feel almost the same as I did on that summer afternoon in 1971 when Dad walked me by the hand into the stadium. I feel like everybody’s watching us. And I feel an intense pride.

We take our seats behind home plate. I ask him what he can see, and he says only silhouettes of the players. He can hear the crowd noise, but not the P.A. announcer’s lineups.

He asks how Scott Feldman, one of his favorites, is doing on rehab. When Michael Young comes to the plate he says, “he’s a helluva hitter isn’t he?” He asks how that “fella who left for Philadelphia is doing.” I say “Cliff Lee? They hardly think about him.”

I give him brief descriptions of plays, though a lot of time is spent in silence. He looks at a field he could see clearly 40 years ago. I look at my dad and see him as he was 40 years ago.

Tradition takes hold

He wants peanuts, just as he always does at the ballpark. I’m a little worried they will frustrate him. Does he have the manual dexterity to crack them? Does he have the vision to separate shell from nut? Are they too salty for somebody whose body retains fluid like a sponge?

I get them anyway. He shells and pops them into his mouth like a pro. Nelson Cruz doubles to give the Rangers the lead.

“Cruz,” he says, “he’s a pretty fair hitter, isn’t he?”

“Yep.”

“Yep.”

He goes back to popping peanuts. I go back to my brief descriptions of plays, leaning in ever closer so he can hear. An inning later, I instinctively lay my head on his shoulder, my arm wrapped around his shoulder. He is still popping peanuts.

By the fifth inning, Dad is checking his audible watch. When the inning is over, I ask him if he’s ready to go.

“Yes,” he says. “I think so.”

On the way out, I notice a photo collage of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium’s history. We stroll by it. The first photo is an aerial shot of the stadium and tiny specks are crawling along the plaza toward the stadium. That image of us walking to the stadium for the first time flashes through my mind vividly all over again. Now, however, it is joined by a new one: Dad and I, together at his last game.

I wheel him to the car. We listen to a couple of innings on the way back to the apartment.

I call mom to let her know we are heading back.

“How’s he feel?” she says.

I repeat the question to my dad.

“A, number one,” he shouts.

Mom and I laugh.

I take him home and hug and kiss them both.

“Son,” he says, “thank you for taking me to the game.”

No, Dad. Thank you.

Hate to keep Harping on the Granderson Trade, but...

Most HR's in the majors in the last 18 months?
21 this year?
You see his RBI/almost HR this afternoon against the cubs?

BIG THREE GAME SERIES

Our boys are hot and Cleveland is stgruggling. Two out of three would be nice, A clean sweep would be even nicer. What do we do with Maggs? Can not afford to bat him sixth with what he is being paid. Sports talk radio guys were arguing about trading him - however does he have any value left with that salary? Other than Rayburn, everyone is doing well. What will happen when Inge recovers from mono - he needs to get hot in a hurry.

More Clues in "Name that Tiger"



A few friends who can't seem to hack their way into "At the Corner" have e-mailed me guesses, but none succeeded, so here are a few more clues:

He was a starting pitcher in the 1930's known for his "Submarine Ball" or screwball; nobody was quite sure if he threw a screwball or was a screwball. Moot point I guess.

Our First Place detroit Tigers

What an awesome game. Knowing that the Indians lost certainly added a little incentive. Lucky enough to have been there tonight. Everyone was hot, except for Rayburn -- I thought he was our every day second baseman? Keep it up boys

NAME THAT TIGER!!!



IF YOU ARE THE FIRST TO CORRECTLY IDENTIFY THIS GUY, YOU WIN ONE NIGHT'S FREE LODGING AT THE SHIELDS BASEBALL MUSEUM! (GUESS AT THE COMMENT BOX BELOW, OR SEND IT IN AN ENVELOP WITH A $20 BILL TO MY HOME ADDRESS.)

Did you ever think you would root for the Yanks?

Cleveland is playing the Yanks this weekend. I hate the Stankees, but I sam rooting for them to kick the crap of of the Indians. Only one game out of first. Can you feel thhe love? The last time I uttered that was to all of the guests at my daughter's wedding.

Jim Northrup

Just heard that Jim Northrup has died at 71. One brief account I read said that he recently had enetered a facility for Alzheimer patients. He was a good guy and one of the heroes of 1968. bAs History wore on, his stst looked more impressive. I remember him for hitting grand slams, but in reality he probably didn't hit too many. Was so likeable and then he went on to be a broadcaster. God Bless #5

I can smell first place

I know I know - most of you think our Tigers are not much better than a .500 ball clube, but after last night's impressive victory we are only 1 1/2 game behind the Indians. I am definatley a "homie" Boesch was incredible last night. When the Tigs were ahead 7-2 I looked at "baby" Matthew and said that 7 runs would not be enough tonight, how right I was. To gain first place and stay there we will need stronger pitching. It is working for now and "I'm so excited!!"

Ray Oyler and Ryan Rayburn

Both struggled offensively - but there is a place for them. Did Oyler even his weight? Through the canny magerial ability of Mayo Smith there was a place for Oyler on that 68 roster. And Smith figured how to get our hero - Al Kaline - into his only world series.
Now what sghould Leyland do with Rayburn?

No funeral rites for Sparky


The Other Side Of Sparky Anderson
Written by: Steve Henson (The Post Game http://www.thepostgame.com/features/201105/other-side-sparky)
There was no funeral for Sparky Anderson when he died last November. No memorial service, either. No one from the legendary baseball manager's family attended the opening day ceremonies in his honor in Cincinnati or Detroit. And no one named Anderson showed up at an awards dinner for him last week in Los Angeles.


Many in baseball are perplexed by his dying wish that his passing go without traditional observance. Understanding the reason begins with recognizing that Sparky Anderson and George Anderson -- Sparky's given name -- were vastly different sides of the same person. George administered last rites to Sparky years ago.

When he and his wife visited a dying friend in a hospital, a priest dropped in to comfort the friend but saw the familiar face sitting across the room and excitedly began talking baseball. George was mortified. He'd been a devout Catholic his entire life, often rising at daybreak to attend Mass. But he decided then and there: no church service when he passed.

George was committed to putting his family first. Sparky was folksy and friendly and a diamond icon as manager of the Reds from 1970 to 1978 and Tigers from 1979 to 1995, but at a cost familiar to many who make baseball a career. He was immersed in the season nine months a year and unable to say no to charity organizers, writers, friends and former players the other three.

Sometimes nothing was left by the time he got home, sometimes he barely recognized who his children had become and they could barely stand who he'd become. But once he took off the uniform for the last time and left the broadcast booth for good, he morphed back into George. He found sturdy common ground with his two sons and daughter, and relished time with his grandchildren, nephews and nieces. As he lay dying Nov. 4, 2010, even through the thick haze of dementia, he knew who he wanted to be in death.

He'd go as George Anderson.


***

The intent of the Rod Dedeaux Award dinner last week was noble, and giving the honor to Anderson wasn't contrived: The late Dedeaux -- who won 11 national titles as USC baseball coach -- had been Sparky's childhood mentor, and proceeds went to the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy. But the event confirmed that George made the right decision for his family.

Joe Morgan, Tom Seaver, Doug Harvey, Vin Scully and others reminisced about Sparky, the nickname George took on as a hot-tempered minor league manager in the 1960s and his persona until he retired as one of the most successful big league skippers of all time.


A funeral and memorial would have included a parade of well-meaning baseball people paying homage to Sparky -- the Dedeaux Award dinner by a factor of 10. They would have thought they were doing the right thing. They wouldn't have known better. It would have been miserable for George's wife of 57 years, Carol, and the kids.

George's final days were all about family. By his side was his oldest son, Lee, whose long hair and rebelliousness at a time his conservative father enforced strict grooming rules on the Reds in the 1970s was described in Joe Posnanski's excellent book The Machine.

Lee Anderson, a successful concrete contractor and man of integrity, still wears his hair beyond shoulder length at age 52. George not only learned to accept it, he came to love it dearly because his son's locks were the same gleaming blast of premature white as his own.


***

My insight into the Andersons comes from being their neighbors in Thousand Oaks, Calif. since the 1960s. I played on a 12-year-old team with Lee. My mom and Carol Anderson sold baked goods together to raise money for the Little League. Later I coached Lee's younger brother, Albert, and their cousin Mike Sheehan, who has remained a lifelong friend. I observed George and I observed Sparky. Then I observed George again.

Throughout our 40-year acquaintance I addressed him only as Mr. Anderson. I've been a sportswriter my entire career and never wrote a story about him until now. I didn't tell him what I did for a living; why complicate a perfectly good friendship with that sort of information? To Mr. Anderson, I was the local guy he called Stevie who coached teenagers year after year as a volunteer. That was something he could respect.


After the infrequent seasons when his team didn't make the playoffs, he would help out with our fall league. He'd show up in paint-splotched pants, hit mile-high fungoes and give the kids funny nicknames. I'd recklessly wave a runner around second while basecoaching, and after the inning he'd shake his head and say, "Never make the third out of an inning at third base, Stevie. Never."

The kids would pile into his wood-paneled station wagon and we'd drive to the farm communities of Oxnard and Fillmore for games. Opposing teams would see us approach the field and blink hard: The man with the white hair was instantly recognizable, and the kids would form a single-file line to have him autograph their gloves before we'd play ball.

Days like that blurred the line between George and Sparky. He was there for the love of his son and a love of the game. Nobody called him Captain Hook and nobody expected him to run away with the pennant. Baseball can be a simple pleasure, and Mr. Anderson enjoyed reminding himself of that out of the spotlight in Thousand Oaks.


***

Home openers at Detroit and Cincinnati this season were odes to both cities' most successful manager. The Tigers raised a flag with his name on it at Comerica Park and will retire his No. 11 on June 26. The Reds had retired his No. 10 in 2005. Both teams are wearing patches on their jerseys that say "Sparky."


All are fitting nods to a manager whose 2,194 victories ranks sixth all-time. While he was alive, the ceremony Anderson most cherished besides his Hall-of-Fame induction came Jan. 29, 2006, at a small private school a block from his home. California Lutheran University christened its new baseball stadium the George "Sparky" Anderson field. It was appropriate because his 40-plus year relationship with the school was an effective blend of George and Sparky.

George took brisk early morning walks around the university track with matronly school secretaries and nerdy professors. Sparky held a celebrity golf tournament each year that raised money for the baseball program.

George occasionally sat quietly in the corner of the dugout during practice, and he'd pull aside marginally talented Division III players and whisper sage advice. Sparky would show up at a Cal Lutheran game in February before heading to spring training and sign autographs until the sun dropped behind the Santa Monica Mountains.


***

Dennis Gilbert, a Chicago White Sox executive and former superagent to Barry Bonds and others, surveyed the well-heeled throng sipping cocktails before taking their seats at the Dedeaux Award dinner. He was disappointed no one from Anderson's family had come, but he understood.

"Sparky felt uncomfortable at places like this," Gilbert said. "He'd say, 'I don't want to be a greenfly.' "

That would have been George talking. Ridding his backyard garden of those plant-sucking greenflies, or aphids, was a challenge he took seriously. Sparky would have had the Dedeaux Award crowd eating out of his hand; George would have avoided it with a polite wave of the same hand.

Sparky was an entertaining speaker, unsophisticated yet insightful, ungrammatical yet pointed. He was best off-script, talking not about baseball but about life. It was then that George's sensibility sneaked into the message.

A son of Lance Parrish, who caught for the Tigers under Anderson from 1979 through 1986, played at Biola University, another small private Southern California school. Anderson came to the team's banquet at Parrish's invitation a few years ago and the coach asked him if he'd say a few words.


"He jumped at the opportunity, which kind of surprised me because he wasn't asked to do it in advance," Parrish told The Sporting News. "He poured his heart out to everybody. He talked about the importance of being a good person and caring about people and doing the right thing.

"I don't think he talked about baseball one sentence, but he let everybody know what was on his heart. It was just a great night."

One of Anderson's favorite pieces of wisdom was simply to be nice. "It doesn't cost a nickel to be nice to people," he'd say. "It's something you can give away for free and it means more than a million dollars."

Since his death, that's all anyone wanted to express. His former players and friends needed a place and time to say nice things about a man they admired: the great manager Sparky Anderson. A few were able to do so thanks to the Dedeaux family, who knew well the story of the big-eared 14-year-old kid in 1948 that lived a block from the USC campus asking Dedeaux if he could serve as the Trojans' bat boy.

Dedeaux called him what his mother called him: Georgie. Along the way he became Sparky, an iconic figure who belonged to baseball first and family second. He retired at 61, young for a manager, giving him ample time to adjust his priorities.

The Andersons didn't need a funeral or a memorial service to convey any of that. Their strength was ensuring that Sparky went quietly. George Anderson rests in peace.

Rod Allen, Verlander, 500 ball, Zumays

1. Rod Allen. He was classic last night. Benoit was pitching. Rod said on the air, "Benoit needs to move the next pitch over about 6 inches and this guy will hit one to Peralta and the game will be over". The words weren't out of his mouth and there was a grounder to Jhonny P. Rod is so knowledgeable.
2. Tigers are now on their win streak - we get high when they win and mad when they lose. But that is their pattern. Ther division is ours if we just could be consistant.
3. Verlander is our ace. And I forget how young he is - he will go down in History as one of our best pitchers. Didn't he come up the same year as Zumaya - a tad of sarcasm there.
4. People make excuses for Joel all the time - my feeling is he was a loose canon, who did as he pleased and i believe his career is over

Talkin' Verlander, Polanco and Leyland

I can't believe that no one has commented on Keith Johnson's post from three days ago. I'm just as guilty... I hate it when my job interferes with my blogging! Been busy here in northwest Michigan, but I'll quickly comment on:

1) JUSTIN VERLANDER. I'm finding it very difficult, even after two no-hitters, to put Verlander among the Tigers' all-time greats... yet. Why? His inconsistency (certainly prior to this season) has been aggrevating. Yes, he can crank it up and be lights out. His near-perfect game was a thing of beauty. And yes, so far this season he has generally done his job by keeping the Tigers in the game when he doesn't have his best stuff. But, with all due respect to my friend Lynn Henning (who wrote a column today with the headline: "Tigers’ Justin Verlander on his way to acing Hall of Fame"), I don't think of Verlander in the "ace" category that I do other pitchers. When I think of true aces, I think of guys like Roy Halladay and Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux because of their ability to calm the masses and stop losing streaks. Your ace is supposed to be the guy who steps up and stops the misery. I just don't see Verlander doing that on a consistent basis. I'm willing to be corrected by statistical proof (because I did not research this), but I'm not alone in this thinking. When Verlander takes the mound, do you say to yourself, "Whew, here's a win"? Or do you STILL hold your breath a bit? He has proven too many times that he's one or two bad pitches away from losing 3-1 or 5-2. When Halladay takes the mound for the Phillies (and I felt the same way when he was with the Jays), I think: "Count it." I'm so confident that he's going to win that I'm surprised when he doesn't. True, Verlander can be an "ace" without being Roy Halladay, but it's the feeling I have when he takes the mound. Do I KNOW the buck stops here? Or do I HOPE the buck stops here? I know I'm being a little hard on the guy, since every team in the majors would love to have him, but stop talking about the Hall of Fame, please. It's a tad early, folks.

2) PLACIDO POLANCO. I said it then, I'll say it now: How stupid can you be not to even offer him arbitration? Whether or not you truly wanted to sign Polanco... whether or not you questioned how much he had left in the tank... you do NOT let him walk away without at least getting a draft pick. Then to give a completely bogus excuse that it was a "cost-saving measure" -- only to sign Johnny Damon to bat second in the order (Polanco's spot) for almost the same amount you could have gotten Polanco for TWO seasons? That's insulting the intelligence of anyone who cares about the Tigers. This is not not a knock on Dave Dombrowski. He is waaaaaay smarter than that. The Polanco debacle was a TOTAL Ilitch move. I just wish he would stick to signing the checks and let Dombrowski make the baseball decisions. You want a better team? Let Dombowski do his job. He gets it right most of the time (Jurrjens-for-Renteria not withstanding).

3) JIM LEYLAND. Does this guy overmanage his pitching staff or what? Pulling Porcello after 84 pitches and one hit on Sunday? Why? Because the "situation" dictates that the closer comes in? He goes with his gut one moment, then with what the "situtation" dictates the next time around. He leaves some in longer than he should (veterans like Verlander and Penny seem to get the benefit of the doubt), but then he pulls a guy who is clearly cruising? Come on!

NO HITTER

nothing about the Verlander no hittter almost perfect game...faced the minimum batters.
disappointed not to see anything so far. how does he compare to other great tiger pitchers?
Jack Morris, Denny Mclaine

Dirks joins Tigers


Here's the newest Detroit Tiger, Andy Dirks, hitting for the Lakeland Flying Tigers on May 6, 2009. Other former Flying Tigers currently on the Detroit roster include Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Ryan Perry, Brennan Boesch and Brayan Villareal.

are we done with .500 Ball

Well what do you think? win three lose 3. Lose six, win 6. That is the way this season is shaping up. Cleveland is only team in the division who has been consitent. Austin appears to be breaking out of his slump. martinez is healthy. Pitching is always a concern - our 1-2 punch is awesome, but then scary - look at Ryan Perry last night. Maggs and 2nd base still a concern. What is latest on Guillen? - of course he will get injured when he returns. Got to get out of this .500 slump. I am ready!!

Baseball's Longest Game



Baseball's longest game, 30 years later

By Steve Hartman .
CBS Video

Reliving baseball's longest game

Thirty years ago, baseball history was made in Rhode Island in front of a crowd of almost nobody when the Pawtucket Red Sox took on the Rochester Red Wings in a game that lasted 33 innings. Steve Hartman reports on the longest baseball game in history.

(See the video at http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363159n&tag=related;photovideo

(CBS News) PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Thirty years ago tonight, baseball history was made in Pawtucket, R.I., in front of a crowd of almost nobody.


Bob Brek recalls being "the only fan on the first base side, at the end of the game."


By comparison, the third base side was packed, according to Gary Levin. "There were about 5 to 8 actual fans here."


Of course, it didn't start out that way. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports earlier that evening, 1,740 people had shown up to watch a minor league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. Most of the fans, we can only assume, had every intention of staying until the end of the game.


Baseball Hall of Fame remembers the game


But several events conspired against the fans. The first was the weather, as it was cold and windy that night. And yet, it wasn't the cold that drove away the bulk of them - it was the clock. The game started just after 8 p.m. and continued until just before sunrise. It was the longest game in baseball history. They played 32 innings that night, spent 8 hours in the frigid cold, and still nobody won.


Around 4 a.m. the league president ordered the teams to finish it another day - which they did - in just one inning. Pawtucket finally took it in the 33rd inning by a score of 3 to 2.


Today, folks in Pawtucket continue to celebrate every 5th anniversary of the game. The tradition is not only meant to relive the memories, but, according to then-equipment manager Michael Kinch, to be re-inspired by them as well.


Dan Barry's book "Bottom of the 33rd"


"I think I got a good life lesson right there," Kinch says. Back then his nickname was "Hood," which he got for stealing hubcaps. He says he was never a bad kid, but seeing those guys fight so hard, for so long in such cold, definitely made him a better adult.


"I found out what a professional was after that game and I carry it through in my professional life." says Kinch, who's now a deputy police chief. His words help explain why people in Pawtucket still cling to that game all these years year later. But it still doesn't explain why anyone, who's not getting paid, would spend 8 hours at a meaningless minor league baseball game.


Both Brek and Kinch say they'd never leave a sporting event early - for fear of missing a comeback.


So let that be a warning to parents you might find your children frozen to death in their seats.

Even Verlander has an "oops" moment


What the?! Justin Verlander commits the balk of the year

By David Brown

Detroit Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander(notes) did a quick bit of thinking — just not quick enough to slip an illegal pitch past the Oakland Athletics. Or the umpires, for that matter.


Behind lefty Dallas Braden(notes) and four relievers, the A's beat the Tigers 6-2 on Saturday night, but not before a moment of levity when Verlander committed the balk of the year.

Watch the weirdness unfold
http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=13867701

In the fifth inning, the A's led 3-1 and put a runner on first with David DeJesus(notes) batting. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Verlander stepped backward from the pitching rubber, but he found his body in the wrong position for a throw to first base for a pickoff attempt. Instead, he comically short-armed the ball toward home.

It rocketed toward the ground and appeared to hit an unprepared DeJesus on the bottom of his right foot before it rolled to the fence. Umpires called time, and DeJesus lobbied for a HBP. Off he went to first base on his own, but umps were too confused initially to make any ruling.

"What was that?!" Tigers analyst Rod Allen said.

A's manager Bob Geren called it "the strangest thing he had ever seen."

Both managers came out to question the play. Players in both dugouts showed quizzical looks. Verlander tried to hide a grin behind his glove.

So, what did happen?

After a conference, the umpires got it right: Verlander had thrown an illegal pitch. A balk was called, the runner on first base moved to second and DeJesus' at-bat continued. He eventually walked.

Here's Verlander's explanation:

"I went to go pick one and I didn't get my body turned," Verlander said. "The way I thought — and this was all in milliseconds — if I just throw it home, they won't call anything."

Rick Eymer of MLB.com described it fittingly as something suited for a softball game. It resembled a crow hop. The A's didn't know what to think.

"That was the strangest thing I've ever seen," A's manager Bob Geren said. "It took like six coaches to try to figure out what he did."

Verlander found the whole thing funny.

"I saw the video of it and I couldn't help but laugh at myself," Verlander said. "It might be the first time it happened in general. I thought nothing could happen at the plate. It was funny talking to the umpires. They gave me a hard time about it, too."

Rightly so. Verlander got out of the jam in the fifth ("At least I did that right," Verlander said) but ended up taking the loss.

How 'bout that Rod Allen

With all of the time off I have had - I have watched much Tiger baseball. The analysis provided by Rod Allen is right on. Yesterday when Michael Young came to the plate, Rod commented that Young is the most dangerous hitter in the Rangers lineup. Young promptly doubled - exactly as Allen predicted. Today the Tigers brought in Villarreal to pitch. Allen commented that Jim brought in Villarreal to pitch because of his superb move to first base. He no sooner got that out of his mouth when Villarreal caught Borbon leading off too far for the third out, without throwing a pitch. Then in the bottom of the 9th Cabrera came up witht he bases loaded and Rod commented, "no disrespect to O'Day, but he doesn't have a pitch that can get out Cabrera." and then Cabrera hit a game winning single. Awesome. Those of you with brighter minds ight say those are all obvious statements, but Rod made them on alive TV broadcast. "You go Rod!"

ByeBye Zoom Zoom

In today's Free Press one of the writers wrote about the Tiger's need to cut their losses and admit that Zumaya is done. Yes he was thrilling in 2006, but that was five years ago and he is always injured; many times caused by something "freaky" The present and the future is what we need to dwell on and not the past. Whay say Ye?

Be afraid. Be very afraid. A Texas scouting report

These Texas Rangers are coming to town with their guns loaded, and they shoot straight.

Alright, enough of the corny metaphors. The Tigers are in real trouble this week. The Rangers have the lowest ERA in the majors (2.48), and the only good thing I can say is that they probably won't face Derek Holland who shut out the red-hot O's yesterday. (Did I say red-hot? Rangers beat them two games out of three.)


Today's starter, AlexiOgando is kind of the rummy of the staff. (Only two big-league starts, but he was great at both.) I would expect they see Matt Harrison and C.J. Wilson for the rest of the series. Yeuch. These young guns are good. (Sorry, slipped back to the Texas Western slang there.)When the starters a through, you face last year's Rookie of the Year, Neftali Feliz, and he ain't facing no sophomore jinx.

The other elements of their game are just as good, with Beltre, Hamilton, Cruz and Kinsler all off to great starts with their bats. All these guys have good speed, and sound gloves. Borbon, who role-plays in center, covers as much ground as any in the bigs.

I'm getting in line for World Series tickets. Unfortunately, I predict them to take 2.5 games out of 3 against the Tigers this week. (How do you lose.5 games? I'm an optimist.)

Yankees Cheat, There, You have It!


Yankees to stop hand signals after MLB inquiry

By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Sports Writer
Apr 2, 4:16 pm EDT

NEW YORK (AP)—The New York Yankees say they are finished flashing hand signals from the stands—at least for now.

General manager Brian Cashman confirmed that the team received a call Saturday from the commissioner’s office inquiring about a club employee relaying information to players after each pitch on opening day.


The Daily News reported Saturday that broadcaster Keith Olbermann, a New York season-ticket holder, put a photo on Twitter of Brett Weber, a Yankees baseball operations coaching assistant, holding up four fingers toward the field during Thursday’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

Weber was sitting behind home plate and wearing a headset.

Major League Baseball rules prohibit club staff from using hand signals to communicate pitch types or speeds to players.

Cashman said there was a simple explanation: The Yankee Stadium scoreboard was on the fritz, so Weber was just providing the sort of post-pitch details that normally appear for all to see, such as “93 mph fastball.”

“The scoreboard went down. He was relaying after the fact with his fingers to some hitters who wanted it what the velocity was, pitches to the opposing teams’ hitter, to the guy on deck,” Cashman said. “There’s nothing to hide. We’ve got nothing to hide.”

Cashman said Weber wears headphones during home games so he can communicate with the scoreboard operator, relaying pitch information that can be displayed in center field for the fans’ enjoyment.

Cashman said Joe Garagiola Jr., baseball’s new disciplinarian, spoke Saturday morning with Yankees vice president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman about the issue. Cashman said there was no mention of any potential punishment and he thought Garagiola was satisfied with the team’s explanation.

“I think he recognizes the fact that there’s no real advantage here. But at the same time there is a bulletin out that says you’re not supposed to do that. We explained to him that the first inning the scoreboard was reading 912 mph, so normally that stuff’s out there,” Cashman said. “I think it’s really silly, personally. But we provided all information in a truthful and honest way to Joe.”

Cashman said he thinks Garagiola plans to review the policy next week with former Yankees manager Joe Torre, now MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations.

In the meantime, the Yankees will put a stop to those hand signals from the stands.

“We’re not going to do it until they resolve what they want,” Cashman said.

Regardless, the GM was surprised by all the “blogosphere” buzz on Friday.

“It’s probably more work talking about than it’s worth,” Cashman said. “The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did ‘em a favor by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others.”

"Rules" you never knew about


Call the baseball cops: Jake Fox violates year’s first unwritten rule
By 'Duk
Last season may have been the Year of the Unwritten Rule in baseball, but 2011 is getting off to an awfully early start.

And Jake Fox(notes) is accused of being this year's first big violater, not only by the opposing team, but by his own manager as well.

According to Jeff Zrebiec of the Sun papers, the Baltimore Orioles catcher ruffled the feathers of the Detroit Tigers and O's manager Buck Showalter during the eighth inning of Monday's spring training game in Sarasota. His big offense? Swinging at a 3-0 pitch with no outs and runners on second and third.

That doesn't sound that egregious — especially since there were runners in scoring position and the at-bat ended in a bases-loading walk anyway — so what was the beef?

Apparently, the O's were winning 13-3 at the time and there was a minor league pitcher on the mound, so Fox's bat should have been on his shoulder. Or so some would have you believe.

From The Sun:

Swinging 3-0 in a 10-run game with no outs in the eighth inning with a minor league pitcher on the mound is a decent way to make sure you get a fastball in the ribs in your next at-bat. The average fan may not think it was a big deal but Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Tigers manager Jim Leyland certainly did.

Showalter angrily yanked off his hat, and was seen yelling in the home dugout to anyone in particular. His hat off the whole time, he kept shaking his head and muttering throughout the rest of Fox's at-bat, which resulted in a walk. Leyland, meanwhile, yelled at Fox from the top step of the dugout.

When Fox was removed for a pinch runner, Showalter made sure that he was one of the first people to meet him in the dugout and he gave him an earful. The Orioles manager was still fuming about it after the game as it apparently wasn't the first time this spring where Fox ignored a clear take situation.

First off, the objections of Leyland and Showalter, of course, are completely ridiculous because we're talking about spring training. For the past month, we've watched games where starters threw 10 changeups in a row, closers worked the fourth or fifth innings, and everyday players got one or two at-bats before showering, dressing and leaving for their condos by the time the seventh inning rolled around. If there's one rule about spring training baseball, it's that the normal rules of baseball don't apply.

Going further, though, Fox is a special case who should have been swinging away as long as he hadn't received a sign saying otherwise. Though he hit a whopping 10 homers this spring for the major league lead, his deficiencies on defense kept him in limbo on a team that's already full of guys who can go deep. It wasn't until Tuesday that he found out that he'd officially made the team as its lone backup catcher. Until that news, he should have been using every opportunity — something that spring training is designed for — to show what he can do (namely, launch baseballs at a sometimes prodigious rate).

By the way, if Leyland and Showalter continue to insist that the score of a spring training game should dictate anything that happens on the field, there's this: The final score of Monday's game was 14-9, so that 10-run lead at the time of Fox's "transgression" wasn't as much of a lock as it looked. (Nor did any of the players in the game give up either.)