Glove the one you're with

Miguel Cabrera. Lakeland, Fla. Feb. 28, 2012. Photo by Tom Hagerty.

Winter Haven

Miguel Cabrera and Haven Fielder. Lakeland, Fla. Feb. 26, 2012. Photo by Tom Hagerty.

More bad luck for ex-Tigers: Athletics’ Sizemore out for season with torn ACL

February 27, 2012

PHOENIX (AP) -- Athletics third baseman Scott Sizemore will miss the entire 2012 season after tearing a ligament in his left knee last weekend during Oakland’s first full-squad workout.

Sizemore was injured Saturday at Oakland’s spring training camp in Phoenix. He had an MRI and the A’s announced Monday that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament.

“Broken heart right here. Safe to say I’ve cried more over baseball than anything in my life,” tweeted Sizemore’s wife, Brooke.

The 27-year-old Sizemore was acquired by Oakland last May in a trade with Detroit. He hit .249 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs in 93 games with the A’s.

“I really feel badly for Scott,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s worked extremely hard and was ready for a breakout season this year. We were counting on him to provide some much-needed power from the right side of the plate. Now his total focus has to be on a successful surgery and rehabilitation so he can return stronger than ever.”

Because of swelling, Sizemore will be re-evaluated in two weeks to see when a date for surgery can be set.

The injury came almost a month before the A’s open the major league season. They play Seattle on March 28 in Tokyo to start a two-game series.

Sizemore, who broke his left ankle in 2009 during Arizona Fall League play, was expected to be in the opening day lineup.

Facing another surgery, ex-Tiger Joel Zumaya considering retirement

Most of us predicted this; certainly the Tigers' brass expected it. But only 13 pitches? Sad story for a guy with so much talent.

Feb. 27, 2012: The Associated Press

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – Joel Zumaya's season is over, his time with the Twins ended before it began because of a damaged elbow.

Now he has to decide whether his once-promising career is finished as well, and the reliever with the rocket right arm and the pattern of recurring injuries sounded like he's ready to quit rather than endure another arduous year of rehabilitation.

“Right now, my perspective is probably not,” Zumaya said Monday, two days after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. “I know I'm pretty young, but I'm probably going to go on six surgeries if I go get another one. I'm only 27 years old. I've taken a lot of wear and tear on my body, especially my arm, and then rehab, and it just mentally takes a lot out of you.”

Zumaya didn't pitch last season. He left the Tigers to sign with the division rival Twins, getting an incentive-laden one-year contract with $400,000 guaranteed.

“I've got a little 2½-year-old, so maybe it's time to move on,” Zumaya said.

To resume his career, Zumaya would need Tommy John surgery, the ligament-replacement procedure that typically requires at least a year of rehab. He said he expects to decide within two days whether to have surgery or retire.

“It's tough for anybody involved in a situation when you're talking about a guy going through what he's going to have to go through here,” said Twins general manager Terry Ryan, who hoped to strengthen a struggling bullpen with the high-risk, high-reward reliever. “It's a personal decision between his family and people he confides in and so forth.”

Zumaya was hurt throwing his first session of batting practice after just 13 pitches Saturday. He said he had little doubt after the injury that the diagnosis would be dire.

“I was trying to be so optimistic, but I knew. I knew right away,” Zumaya said. “I've been told. I've asked people, 'How does it feel? What are your instincts? What happens?' Basically right when I came off the field, I just felt that my arm was gone.”

Zumaya has spent much more time rehabbing injuries the last several seasons than showing off that 100 mph-plus heat. After gaining attention as a rookie for the 2006 AL champion Tigers, he has pitched in just 109 games over the last six years while dealing with foot, shoulder, elbow and finger problems.

“People who throw as hard as me ... you're injury prone, you know?” Zumaya said. “It's just hard, man. I guess you're not meant to throw a pitch as hard as I do. My arm's been through some stuff.”

Zumaya has spoken with other pitchers who've had ligament-replacement surgery to help with his decision.

“Last night, it was weird,” Zumaya said. “I probably got like 100 text messages from quite a few teammates, ex-teammates, Tigers, quite a few friends that I played baseball around with."

Zumaya remained on Minnesota's 40-man roster, but Ryan said a decision hadn't yet been made on Zumaya's future with the club if he were to decide to have the surgery.

Zumaya, meanwhile, has already started considering about other potential careers.

“I'm a pretty dang good fisherman, so I might pursue professional fishing,” Zumaya said with a shrug.

Dreams of Fields

Daniel Fields prepares to bunt during batting practice. Fields graduated from University of Detroit Jesuit High School. Photo by Tom Hagerty. Feb. 25, 2012.

MVY, CY Young

Justin Verlander. Feb. 25, 2012. Photo by Tom Hagerty

Prince Charming

Prince Fielder. Feb. 24, 2012. Photo by Tom Hagerty.

Hope Springs Eternal

Tigertown. Feb. 21, 2012. Photo by Tom Hagerty.

In 1968, Sports Helped Temper a Year of Rage and Upheaval

Great article in the N.Y. Times by my friend Tim Wendel, whose new book “Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball, and America, Forever” comes out next month. Enjoy!

Pub. date: Feb. 18, 2012


Culture wars. Political discord. A divisive presidential campaign.

One of the reassuring aspects of history is we can often find an era, even a year, when the times were as bad or even worse than they are now.

One such year was 1968. In April, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Two months later, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was killed. By late August, emotions boiled over on the streets of Chicago, where thousands protested what was unfolding at the Democratic National Convention. Through it all, the presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon, Hubert H. Humphrey and George C. Wallace slung the mud, and the electorate was often left disillusioned and angry.

“A year of great convulsion and heartbreak, 1968 was the closest we’ve come to a national nervous breakdown since the Civil War,” said Hampton Sides, the author of “Hellhound on His Trail,” which described the events of King’s assassination.

The traumatic year of 1968 has been analyzed and written about from all sorts of angles — political, cultural, even musical. For this was the period between the Summer of Love and Woodstock. A time when even the best band in the world, the Beatles, was shaken to its core.
But what has often been overlooked in that crucible of years was the pivotal role sports played.
In ’68, Detroit was in dire straits. Swaths of the city had burned the summer before as it experienced one of the deadliest riots in American history. Tigers outfielder Willie Horton, who had grown up in the Detroit projects, went into the streets and pleaded with his fellow citizens to stop the burning and looting, to no avail. Meanwhile, his teammate Mickey Lolich went from the pitcher’s mound to patrolling downtown Detroit as a member of the National Guard. When the ’68 baseball season was delayed by King’s funeral, the Tigers players and athletes nationwide discovered that more eyes were upon them than they had realized.
“We quickly learned that if we could pull together as a team — that meant everybody, blacks and whites — perhaps we could set an example for the rest of city,” Horton said. “There was a lot more riding on that ’68 season for us, for the city, than just wins and losses.”

In St. Louis, blacks, whites and Latinos came together to once again be the best team in the National League. Here was a ballclub that reveled in its racial diversity. A rainbow coalition well before the Rev. Jesse Jackson ever coined the phrase.

How athletes responded to the upheaval in 1968 was often human and something fans could find solace in. The Cardinals’ Bob Gibson, for example, was saddened by King’s death. He and his teammate Curt Flood greatly admired King. Perhaps as a result, Gibson did not start that season well. But when Kennedy was gunned down after winning the California primary, Gibson responded by pitching his first shutout and went on to put up a season for the ages: 13 shutouts, 28 complete games and a 1.12 earned run average. He found a way to channel his rage into superior efforts. His 17 strikeouts in Game 1 of the ’68 World Series stand as one of the most iconic performances of that season and perhaps any other period in sports. Gibson unleashed his pitches like a man on fire, battling to set right the world around him.

In comparison, Horton decided he had to rearrange his life so he was never far from home. That would seem an impossible task for a ballplayer who spends so much time on the road. But Horton, almost in a methodical fashion, made friends in every other American League city. Close enough friends that he could stop by and have dinner at their homes if he felt the need.

“That’s one way I kept going,” he said. “You had to find something when everything was falling apart around you.”

When I began “Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball, and America, Forever,” I knew I would write about two of the greatest teams in the Tigers and the Cardinals. What I did not expect to discover were athletes who were struggling like so many others in the country to find a way to move forward, to somehow come together.

Such stories were not restricted to baseball. By sitting with teammates of color at the Jets’ training table, Joe Namath helped guide them toward a Super Bowl championship that season. The Mexico City Olympics are best remembered for the raised fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. But those Summer Games should also be relived for the silver medal an ill-prepared Jim Ryun captured in the 1,500 meters at altitude. In basketball, the player-coach Bill Russell rallied the aging Boston Celtics past Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers, then Jerry West and the Los Angeles Lakers for another championship.

“If anything, this was the biggest year in all of U.S. history,” said Robert J. Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that sports was right in the middle of the metaphoric pot of a roiling culture.”

One can argue that times are different now. The money in sports is so much more plentiful, and many athletes probably have a greater sense of entitlement. Yet every now and then, we are reminded that sports can transcend even the worst of times. From the newfound magic of Jeremy Lin to the improbable championship run of the Giants to one of the best World Series showdowns in recent memory, we gain a glimpse at the way sports can not only thrill us, but heal us, too.


Fielder's Choice

Feb. 21, 2012.

More playing time for Andy Dirks

A guy I think could have a big year for the Tigers is Andy Dirks. He has spent his offsesason tearing it up down in the Caribbean league. He is the story about that he is a bit of a iconic figure right now in the Dominican Republic. I liked the way he played last year. He is a better outfielder than both Delmon young and Brennan Boesh. Both of those guys have a little more power than Dirks so it would make sense to play Dirks in the outfield and have Young or Boesh as the DH. He is kind of a high energy guy and he provides a bit of a spark when he plays. I am kind of scared to post that I like Andy Dirks because every time I like a young Tigers player my father in law buys me an autograph baseball of that player and they either get traded or hurt. This list of players includes Matt Joyse (traded), Clete Thomas( hurt and may never be the same again), and Ryan Perry (traded). My in laws also gave me an Andrew Miller jersey. I wish they would give me a Brandon Inge signed baseball.

LaRussa to be in Lakeland

Former Cardinals manager will help in a non-official capacity
By Jason Beck / | 02/16/12 7:15 PM EST

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Twelve years after Tony La Russa and the Cardinals helped give Jim Leyland a chance to stay involved in the game after Leyland's retirement as a manager, the Tigers are returning the nod.

La Russa, the longtime manager who retired after leading St. Louis to another World Series title last fall, will spend this Spring Training in camp with the Tigers in a non-uniform, non-official capacity. Leyland made the announcement while talking with reporters on Thursday after arriving at Joker Marchant Stadium.

"Tony's going to be down for a couple weeks," Leyland said. "He's going to work with Dave [Dombrowski] in the front office, and he's going over to Jupiter for a few days and then go out to Arizona for a few days. He will not be in uniform."
Tony La Russa will help old friend Jim Leyland and the Tigers in a non-official capacity this spring. (AP)

The friendship between Leyland and La Russa is well-known. La Russa hired Leyland out of the Tigers' farm system, where he had managed for more than a decade, to join La Russa's coaching staff with the White Sox in 1982. The experience helped Leyland earn his long-awaited chance to manage in the big leagues with the Pirates in 1986.

While La Russa went on to win a World Series title with Oakland in 1989, Leyland built a previously dormant Pirates club into perennial contenders, leading them to three straight National League East titles from 1990-92. Leyland went on to win a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997.

After Leyland resigned from the Rockies' managerial job following the 1999 season, seemingly ready to retire, he joined the Cardinals as a special assistant. Leyland regained his passion for managing, rejoined the ranks with the Tigers in 2006, and led Detroit to a World Series matchup against his former employers in St. Louis. The Cardinals won, earning La Russa his second title, then did it again this past season.

La Russa announced his retirement the day after the Cardinals held their championship parade, becoming the first manager to retire immediately after winning the World Series. He said he'd be open to another position in baseball, leading to speculation he'd join a front office, possibly back with the White Sox.

Once Joe Torre stepped down from his position with Major League Baseball to join a group bidding to purchase the Dodgers, speculation included La Russa possibly becoming Torre's successor.

One member of the White Sox front office during La Russa's time in Chicago was Dombrowski, then an assistant under general manager Roland Hemond. La Russa and Dombrowski were both let go around the same time by Hemond's successor, Ken Harrelson, and both went on to success elsewhere.

Now, more than a quarter-century later, the time with Dombrowski could give La Russa the experience to decide whether he wants to try an executive role somewhere.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brandon Inge to 2nd?

Well Jim Leyland's first "big announcement" of the spring was to let the media know that Inge approached the skipper and asked for the opportunity to start at 2nd. I happen to be a huge Inge fan (- my son-in-law happens to be a huge Inge hater. So anything positive I say about Inge he will negate.) In addition to his longevity, do the Tigers have a more loyal player? No catcher? we got Inge! help in the outfield? - we got Inge! help aty 3rd? we got Inge! Struggling at the plate -- wanna go to Toledo? we got Inge! Help at 2nd? we got Inge! Granted he is older and has never turned the double play and his bat was not too effective last year - but he definately deserves a shot. Thank goodness for the open-mindedness of Leyland. Can't wait for spring training to begin.

Zoom-Zoom’s contract details: Twins will get One Last Amazing Pitch

Since I posted this on the other blog site, which came and went as fast as Zumaya's fastball used to in 2006, I thought I'd share this again in case you missed it. Funny stuff!

From The Onion, Jan. 30, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – Injury-plagued fireball reliever Joel Zumaya informed reporters Monday that his new $800,000 contract with the Twins obligates him to throw one last beautifully self-destructive pitch that will finally annihilate his arm forever.

“I’ve undergone dozens of surgeries and months of painstaking rehab to get my arm in good enough shape to pitch again, so that pitch is going to be absolutely incredible,” said Zumaya, whose single-pitch contract is laden with incentives for velocity, accuracy, and the horrifying sound his elbow makes when it implodes from the torque. “Bones will splinter, arteries will be spouting in all directions, ligaments will twang through the air like snapped guitar strings, and when the shock and disgust finally subside, they’ll look at the radar gun and see ‘235 mph.’ ”

Zumaya then broke his wrist clicking a pen.


Praying for a sports team

I read this article and I found it very interesting.


I just wanted to take a few moments to reintroduce myself. I posted a few times a couple years back under the name Miggy4Mvp. A lot has changed in my life since I last posted. I am now married to a beautiful woman named Ellen (who also happens to be Chuck Piotrowski's daughter). I have always been a happy person but I am truly happier now than I have ever been in my life. I am a lifelong Tiger fan. I am a little to young to remember the 1984 and 1987 seasons. When I first really started watching the Tigers was about when I was 8 or 9 years old. Cecil Fielder had just joined the Tigers and Mickey Tettleton was my favorite player. I always liked his batting stance. I watched through some down years. The Randy Smith years were right up there with the Matt Millen years here in Detroit. I have enjoyed how the team has been very relevant since 2006. I am excited about the upcoming season with the acquisition of Prince Fielder. I look forward to talking to everyone! Go Tigers!

Lots of parishes closing in Archdiocese

Since many of us got our start at SHS, I thought I would put it out there for discussion abou the closing of parishes. Mergers and clusters and out and out closings are to be announced on Feb 20th. Why are they closing. Mismanagement of funds by the venerable Adam Maida is certainly one reason. The fiasco of the John Paul II center was the icing on the cake. But parishes have been borrowing money from the Archdiocese for years, knowing that the money would be impossible to pay back. St. Leo's owes "downtown" 2 million, Madonna owes 1.4 million, etc. St. Benedict's laid owe the Archdiocese $30,000 per month so they laid off all of their staff and work with all volunteers. Predicitions are that by 2021 there will only be 190 priests. Scary times for sure. Our own Fr. Walker retired a number of years ago and now, at age 80 (yup I said 80), he is pastoring 2 parishes. Four parishes on the Eastside have been told to seel all their properties, and merge into one, while building a brand new church on Jefferson near Belle Ile. None of the four parish communities agree with this. All the while the "faithful" seem to be going elsewhere or staying in bed on Sunday morning. The mega churches are growing in leaps and bounds, but I am not sure they are the answer either. The new pastor at Our Lady of the Woods is a big disappointment, forcing our family to look elsewhere in a hurry. Thank God we found Rick Hartmann at St. Roch- we hit the jackpot - but not everyone is willing to look that hard. many just give up.
Thoughts, Comments, Observations?

Bye Bye Mags

Obviously there is no room for Mags. he was our hero in 2006, had a few injuries - but was a team player. Sunday's freep made it sound like he was headed to Oakland. I just hope wherever he goes he lands on his feet. My wife wants to know what to do with orange Tshirt, with Mags' name on the shirt.

Turner of Smyley? Or maybe Schlereth.

Dave Dombrowski sees six Tigers in mix for fifth starter spot
By Tom Gage
The Detroit News
Detroit — If a right-hander wins the Tigers' fifth starting spot, it's hardly a surprise that it could be Jacob Turner.

But if a lefty emerges, it could be Drew Smyly — because there are those within the Tigers' organization who've told president and general manager Dave Dombrowski that the 22-year-old non-roster invitee — despite just one year of professional experience — is already capable of pitching in the majors.

And with the Tigers' No. 5 starting spot open, Smyly will get an opportunity to do so this spring.

But so will several others — which leads to this question: Just how many pitchers will be given a chance at spring training to win the Tigers' No. 5 starting spot?

"There's probably five or six guys who'd potentially have a chance," Dombrowski said at a Detroit Sports Broadcasters luncheon Tuesday.

In addition to Turner and Smyly, Dombrowski listed left-handers Casey Crosby, Andrew Oliver, Duane Below and Adam Wilk.

"I feel comfortable if Below or Wilk were the No. 5 starter that they could do a job for us out there," Dombrowski said. "But unless something really surprises me, they don't have the overall upside of a Jacob Turner — who I'm not really sure is ready or not.

"I don't know if we'll know that until we get down there (to Florida) and see him perform and see some of those other guys perform," Dombrowski said.

"First of all, (Turner) has quality stuff and is going to be a tremendous big-league pitcher. I don't have a question about that. This guy is really good.

"But last year, if you were watching us at the big-league level, you would have said, 'There's no way this guy could be ready.'"

That was last year, though.

"I've seen guys who get a cup of coffee at the big-league level, for whom the game moved real fast," Dombrowski said, "and they come back and pitch very well. But I'm interested in seeing where some of those young guys are in their development, and whether they can step forward to do the job.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see Crosby keep taking a step forward. But one guy I'm interested in seeing, because I've not seen much of him, is Smyly.

Dombrowski said that while Smyly has been in the Tigers organization only one year, "there are some people in our minor-league system, and I don't know if they're right or wrong, but they feel he's ready to pitch in the big leagues right now."

As for the bullpen, Dombrowski all but filled in the next-to-last bullpen spot by saying about right-hander Collin Ballester, whom the Tigers acquired from Washington for Ryan Perry, "We look for him to be on the club."

He added: "He can pitch multiple innings. We like him a lot. He's out of options, but when we made the deal, we did so with the idea he was going to be on our club.

"He has to earn it, but the feelings are that he will."

By also including Daniel Schlereth "as a leading candidate" to earn one of the lefty roles, only one bullpen spot could be "a wide open battle," said Dombrowski.

Josh Hamilton

Due to his drinking problem, all of us know way too much about his personal life. Was saddened to read of his latest relapse. Sure hope and pray he gets it right. He is too good of an athlete to get drunk. And because of his career combined with his sobriety - he has a chance to really be a role model. Then you hear what happened last week and you wonder can he rebound? How many other relapses have been unannounced?
Pulling for you Josh!!

Oh Denny, you fat slob, when will you learn to keep your mouth shut?

Denny McLain could learn from Brandon Inge instead of ridiculing him

Tom Gage

Tigers pitcher Denny McLain got some laughs over the weekend when he showed a photograph of the Tigers’ Brandon Inge to a Madonna University fundraiser crowd of several hundred and said, “This was Brandon Inge’s last photo before he began whining about his playing time.”

Tigers pitcher Denny McLain got some laughs over the weekend when he showed a photograph of the Tigers’ Brandon Inge to a Madonna University fundraiser crowd of several hundred and said, “This was Brandon Inge’s last photo before he began whining about his playing time.” (Associated Press)

Cheap shot or joke?

I say cheap shot.

If you read Terry Foster's column on Monday, you know former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain got some laughs over the weekend when he showed a photograph of the Tigers' Brandon Inge to a Madonna University fundraiser crowd of several hundred and said, "This was Brandon Inge's last photo before he began whining about his playing time."

Then McLain tossed the photo to the ground and said when it landed, "it's the first time he's hit something in two years."

Terry wrote the crowd chuckled both times.
Pot, meet kettle

I wonder, though, how McLain would have liked it if Inge had been able to counter by saying, "This was Denny McLain's last photo before he (fill in the blank)."

What words would have been appropriate?

As for whining, it manifests itself in many forms, doesn't it?

I remember an athlete who was struggling toward the end of a turbulent 1970 season.

A once-great pitcher who was 3-5 at the time after winning 55 games the previous two years.

A pitcher who wasn't accustomed to being criticized or, worse yet, to not getting enough attention. So his last act as a Tiger, either on a dare or for a laugh, was to pour a bucket of water over two reporters.

And to get suspended by his team for it.

Before he got suspended by baseball for another matter.
Watch and learn, Denny

Brandon Inge wasn't whining, Denny. He still wants to play, that's all. He wants to play better than he has recently — just as you wanted to pitch better than when you were 3-5.

The way Inge has approached his decline is to work hard, get himself stronger after being weakened by mono last year, and to hope he'll be able, on a regular basis, to help the team for which he has played since 2001.

As befits your flamboyant personality, of course, you approached your decline differently.

Besides, considering Inge is 34 and in the final year of his contract, isn't he allowed to think about how the domino effect of signing Prince Fielder might shape his future?

Inge's career has been over-discussed through the years. He has supporters. He has detractors. For his various pluses and minuses, he deserves both.

This is not a defense of his performance.

This is, however, a defense of an individual who's not whining, hasn't whined, but was cheaply ridiculed in public for doing so by someone who's still pouring water over people for a laugh.

But it wasn't a bucket this time.

It was a photo McLain threw to the ground in an attempt to be funny.

That's ol' Denny, though, a real comedian.

Spare me.