Monday, June 23, 2008

And That Happened

Tigers 5, Padres 3: Because I was an 11 year-old obsessed Tigers fan in 1984, I have always thought of the Padres and Tigers as rivals. It makes no sense, really, because they share pretty much nothing apart from that one lopsided, forgone conclusion of a World Series. They have not had an uncommon number of common players, and there have been no further notable matchups. As of now, it's just another random interleague series, the sort of which become less and less special as the years go on.

Or is it? Longtime ShysterBall reader and Michigan native Luke Himebaugh reports from Saturday night's Tigers-Padres tilt:
TONS of Tigers fans. TONS. I don't think, other than a close rivalry, I've ever seen so many visiting team logos around. I know a bunch of us out here are transplanted Michiganders, but it was insane! I swear during the 7th inning stretch, you heard more "root, root, root for the TIGERS" than anything.

On that note, I completely missed the Padres half of the 7th. Why? Because two drunk jackholes (one a Padres fan, one a Tigers fan) got into a fight . . . punching. Seriously. My first thought was "uh, aren't these two sub-.500 teams in the two worst divisions in baseball? What's there to fight about?" I mean, is the Padres fan holding a grudge from 1984 (he looked old enough to do so)? Or, is it a grudge from 2003, when the Tigers were one of the historically bad teams and they came into San Diego and took two of three en route to their 43-win season? Detroit has visited San Diego exactly 3 times in the 40-year history of the Padres. It's not like there's a lot of historic rivalry built up. Really, I was amazed by the amount of Tigers fans there. The amount of Old English D's on clothing.
I called my San Diego-residing and, unlike me, still-Tiger-faithful brother last night to confirm he wasn't in the fight (we worry about him sometimes). I got his voicemail. Maybe he's still in the drunk tank. Maybe he's on the lam. If anyone saw the fight, he was probably the one wearing a Wings jersey, Dickeys dungarees, and purple Dr. Marten boots.

Angels 3, Phillies 2: The second best division leader in the NL is swept by the second best division leader in the AL. That pretty much sums up this league disparity thing. Which kills an NL guy like me, but there's no sense continuing to rail against the obvious.

Royals 11, Giants 10: The second to the worst team in the NL loses two of three to the second to the worst team in the AL. That pretty much sums up this league disparity thing. Which kills an NL guy like me, but there's no sense continuing to rail against the obvious.

Red Sox 5, Cardinals 3: I don't get to watch much baseball on the weekends. That's my big time with the kids, and when I'm not playing with them there are too many things that need to be done around the house. Sometimes, though, I plot and plan in order to get a little bit of baseball watching in. I embark on some project that can be done in the basement where, it just so happens, I have a TV set up. Or I get the kids really involved in some self-sufficient activity like building a cushion fort while I sit on the lounger and catch a few innings. This may sound pathetic to a lot of you, but the married-with-kids guys understand.

Yesterday was a pretty full damn day, but at some point in the middle of the afternoon my wife went to the grocery store, my daughter went to her room to play with her Polly Pockets, and my son decided to chase one of the cats. I knew it wasn't the biggest of windows, but I jumped for the remote and turned the Sox and Cards on. Wouldn't you know it: rain delay. And it went on for like 45 minutes. Just as play was resuming, my wife came home, my daughter came downstairs, my son gave up on the cat, and I was back in family time. It's OK -- I get enough baseball in during the week -- but man, those lost opportunities really stink.

Mets 3, Rockies 1: The Mets wrap up a nice, calm, and uneventful 4-2 road trip.

Yankees 4, Reds 1: Andy Pettitte plays stopper again, winning his fifth straight decision and preventing the sweep. Ever since he beat John Smoltz 1-0 in Game Five of the 1996 World Series, I've really wanted to hate this guy. To hate his low brim. His slick pickoff move. His stuff that, while crisp enough, looks like it should be more hittable than it is. I've tried hard to hate him or, at the very least, to root against him over the years because he always seemed to be giving guys I like better than him hell. But you know what? I just can't do it. To my knowledge he's never had a jerk spell off the field. He's always been ready to take the ball. He always seems to start a game with a plan and with the right mix of caution and confidence, no matter how well or how poorly he's pitched in recent games. The HGH stuff is irrelevant to my assessment of him, but even if you disagree, you have to admit that he handled it all about as well as anyone could have handled it. I've even come to like that low brim, slick pickoff move, and stuff that, while crisp enough, looks like it should be more hittable than it is. I don't like the Yankees much and I've never liked the Astros, but man, I have to admit that I have nothing but respect and admiration for Andy Pettitte.

Rangers 5, Nats 3: Following up on Friday's advice column post, Charles Kitchen has written in to report on his conduct:
I did not boo until extra innings on Friday night. The game just would not end and I let my frustration get the better of me. I did not boo the next two games.
Good for you, Charles. And you're excused for booing Friday night's game. For those who don't follow the Nats and Rangers closely (i.e. all of you as far as I know, with the exception of Charles, Needham and Royce), the 14 inning affair meant that after-game fireworks were canceled and fans were subjected to two of Washington's shamelessly derivative Presidents races.

Braves 8, Mariners 3: Teixeira hits three dingers as Atlanta wins in a laugher. The good Tim Hudson showed up. The bad Jeff Francoeur -- which is the only Jeff Francoeur -- was on the bench. As Mac notes, it's probably no coincidence that an offensive outburst for Atlanta coincided with Frenchy's absence from the lineup. In other news, the Mariners first three games under Riggleman all featured Ichiro in right field as opposed to center, which just about everyone on the planet has noted is a poor utilization of resources. Given how bad the Mariners' season has gone I suppose anything Riggleman does is basically rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but you'd think that at least that egregious McLaren error would have been immediately rectified.

Astros 3, Rays 2: A team playing about the worst baseball in the game waltzes into the stadium of one of the best home teams in the game and takes two of three. Go figure.

Dodgers 4, Indians 3: Paul Byrd has definitely been the weak link of the Indians' rotation this season. No, I suppose four runs over seven innings isn't terrible, but when they all come in the first inning, it really changes the game, ya know?

Brewers 7, Orioles 3: Prince Fielder ( 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI) continues his torrid June during which he has raised his OPS around .100 points. The Brewers are still behind St. Louis, but right now they're my favorite to win the Wild Card.

A's 7, Marlins 1: Justin Duchscherer lowers his ERA to 1.99. He's now 4-0 in June and will probably go to the All-Star game in Yankee Stadium. I'm guessing that exactly 3 baseball writers in the New York Metropolitan area have any idea who he is. Marchman is one because he knows everything. The other ones were the two beat reporters who drew the short straws and had to stay for the whole June 11th game when Duscherer beat the Yankees (everyone else was watching Erin Andrews' yellow dress that night).

Twins 5, Diamondbacks 3: Look, none of us are proud about those "can Webb win 30?" conversations from last month, so let's all just pretend they never happened and never speak of it again, OK?

Cubs 7, White Sox 1: A pretty dominating sweep of the Chisox makes for fourteen wins in a row at Wrigley for the Cubbies. Like the Celtics, the Cubs may play in the inferior league/conference, but they are clearly the best team in the game. If you don't think so, ask yourself: before the season, if someone would have told you that the Cubs were going to lose Soriano and Zambrano to injuries, how many wins would you have put them down for?

Blue Jays 5, Indians 3: Jimmy Key scatters six hits and three runs over nine innings and George Bell and Lloyd Moseby go deep as Cito Gaston gets his first win as Blue Jays' manager. Meanwhile in West Virginia, a young Shyster has his heart broken via a note informing him that his sophomore crush likes him, but doesn't like-like him. He keeps his composure, however, and vows to redouble his efforts at attaining her like-like once he gets his driver's license in July.


Osmodious said...

Craig, Andy Pettitte is one of the reasons I got sucked back into baseball...that pick-off move was just magic to me, and the way he was (has always been) unflappable when in a jam...and his post-season record....he's a big-game pitcher almost every outing.

As to him being a nice guy, apparently he is one of the nicest in baseball. He always stands at his locker and talks about the game, no matter how bad he was. He always gives his defense (and hitters) credit, usually downplaying his own role in a victory while overplaying his role in a loss.

And to give you an idea of how clean-cut this guy is, when he was with Houston and Pujols hit that dinger to extend the playoffs, the camera showed him in the dugout...while people in the crowd were saying things like "Holy S--t", a la the end of The Natural, you could clearly read his lips say "Oh my gosh!" Seriously..."Oh my gosh!" THAT from a guy who, when he glares out from under that cap on the mound looks like Satan incarnate...

William said...

Osmodious, I have to disagree about Pettitte as a big-game/great post-season pitcher. (Full disclosure: I'm a Red Sox fan...) To me, he was always that solid, yet unspectacular guy on the Yankees staff. He always keeps his team in the game and gives them a good chance to win more often than not, but I never saw him as a guy who would just go out and win a big game for his team. A quick glance at his postseason v. regular season numbers seems to confirm this:

Regular Season:

3.85 ERA
1.36 WHIP
6.56 K/9


3.96 ERA
1.35 WHIP
5.73 K/9

Granted, these are solid numbers, and he gets a little credit for being almost as good against the higher level of competition in the post-season... but its nothing that blows you away. A series by series look only shows 3/25 where he put up great numbers and his team won (2000 WS and 2001 ALDS + ALCS).

Would most guys kill for his record? Sure. Would I call him "clutch" or spectacular? No.

Levi Stahl said...

The Presidents' race is shamelessly derivative . . . but it's worth it to see Teddy Roosevelt's glorious phiz tool around the bases--look at that mustache go! The funniest part is that the couple of times I've seen the race on TV, it's been obvious that TR's cheated, cutting across the diamond, which does seem a bit unsportsmanlike for Roosevelt.

mahnu.uterna said...

Craig, I totally sympathize about that whole family-before-baseball thing. I had to track the St. Louis Cardiacs vs. the Boston Reflux by bribing my son to step away from the computer every ten minutes so I could peek at the scoreboard. It's a big incentive to get him to be a fan, too...

Chris Needham said...

You're just baiting me now.

Just for that, I reallllly hope the Nats reup their franchise agreement with Columbus. You deserve another season of our 'prospects!'

Mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mac said...

The thing about Ichiro in right is... Well, he didn't look very good out there. On the biggest hit of the series, Norton's double on Saturday night, he looked like he was stuck in quicksand, and let the ball roll to the wall; a faster player probably would have made it to third with the winning run. He didn't look too strong at the plate, either.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Craig...the NL will come around. These things usually happen in cycles, right?

Jake (San Diego) said...

I, a transplated Tigers fan, attended all three games down here in San Diego over the weekend, and I have to agree -- there were TONS of us there. I mean, I've been to several Padres games when they played LA or SF, and the number of Tigers fans was on par with, or even exceeding, the number of visiting Dodgers or Giants fans.

My favorite part was when, after the 5-3 Tigers win on Sunday, one of the frustrated Padres fans yelled as I was walking away, "F*** you Detroit!"

I turned around, and with a big smile on my face replied, "You stay classy, San Diego!"