Monthly Archives: February, 2014

The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #3

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#3 – Pena absorbs Smoak, Tigers win in 14

There’s a point during every season in which you fall in love with your team. That’s how I’ve always thought about it. Each year, you have to grow to love the particular character of that incarnation of the club and this is the game that did it for me in 2013. It was my birthday, the Tigers were out west, my wife had gone to bed because she “has a job,” and Scherzer was facing Felix. It was a pitchers’ duel for the ages (my favorite type of game) and the defining play came with a perfectly executed relay throw from Hunter to Fielder to Pena who caught the ball up the line and absorb eda huge blow from Smoak. I’m no fan of collisions at the plate, but this was unavoidable based on where the throw was. Smoak had nowhere to go and Pena took the brunt of it, held on, and the Tigers won a thriller at 3am back east. I stumbled around in a daze the next day and a started a post called “Pena, Scherzer, and Falling in Love” that I never ran. Nothing needed to be said, and it still doesn’t.

How Was The Game? (April 17, 2013)

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The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #4

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#4 – Torii Hunter Walks Off

In a rare turn during the 2013 campaign, Max Scherzer was rocky on this afternoon. The Tigers were down 6-3 heading into the ninth inning with Grant Balfour coming on and the author had just gotten on the bus to go to his “real job.” With At Bat fully engaged on my phone, I watched as:

  • Jackson walked
  • Dirks popped out
  • Avila struck out
  • Fielder walked
  • Martinez singled

The Tigers were down 6-4 with two on and two out. And then Hunter launched one to left center. For some reason, the people on the bus didn’t share my enthusiasm as I was shocked to learn their phones were not tuned into the Tigers/A’s game in Chapel Hill, NC.

How Was The Game? (August 29, 2013)

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A Farewell To A Dear Friend

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Note this isn’t a post about baseball. Allow me the indulgence, it won’t become a habit.

“Mom, we have to get her out of here.”

That’s what my sister said when they walked into Kelly’s previous owner’s house. The woman who had Kelly got new animals when she was depressed and then couldn’t take care of them. The woman’s daughter had Kelly too, but it didn’t work out. Another woman adopted Kelly, but that woman’s current dog didn’t like Kelly moving in on her territory [read: lap of her owner]. So Kelly was back in this rough situation. My sister saw it, Kelly was sweet to them, and they took her home.

We had Boomer at the time, a smart but socially awkward mix who was looking for a friend and Kelly was fourth dog we gave him a chance to meet. He liked two of the others, but they didn’t like him. He and the third dog fought. So it was Kelly, lucky number four. Her fourth home, his fourth shot at a friend. They hit it off, and although they’d grow to be siblings more than friends, they were pack.

“She’s so cute!”

The first words I said when I saw her. My dad and brother took a while to come around, but my Mom, sister, and I held fast. We kept her. She was ours. Part of the family [Ben would eventually fall in love with her too]. I was eight. We had gotten Boomer a year earlier, and while I adored him, he had bonded much more with Ben than me. Kelly and I became fast friends and never looked back.

Her tennis ball chasing skills came out immediately and he devotion to her pack came soon after. As she adjusted to her new life and she became trustworthy at night, she started sleeping at the end of my bed. Ten years later, she slept there the night before I left for college.

“I learned everything from my dogs.”

I’m planning to write a book with that title someday. Each chapter will tell the story of a different one of my dogs and what that dog has taught me about life. Kelly’s chapter will be about loyalty, determination, and devotion. She was at my side through everything, and even watched over me as I slept. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and she’d be looking at me, making sure I was okay.

She vetted potential love interests, always making sure the girls I brought home were good enough for her boy and even as she started to slow down, she always kept up with me. I was a little kid when we got her and she and I grew up together. She was never really friendly to outsiders, but she was the biggest doll to her people. She learned English words and phrases, which isn’t really something dogs typically do.

We lost Boomer when they were both about eight and she looked lost without him. He was part of the pack. We got Duke shortly after and she taught him the ropes and let him take over the day to day operations of watching the house while she started to age. As I prepared to head off to college, I was ready for the next chapter, but I was sad to be leaving my dogs. Dogs get you. Dogs are always happy to see you and dogs never fake it. Dogs are better than people and Kelly wasn’t just any old dog. She was my dog, but her dog-ness transcended that. A lot of people had given up on her. We didn’t give up and she rewarded us with the kind of fierce devotion that puts Ron Weasley to shame.

When I was away at school, Kelly started to get sick and was diagnosed with a disease that usually ran its course over about two years. Her health was up and down and her ball chasing days were over, but somehow, some way, she kept at it. One year. Two years. Three Years. Four.

She beat those odds and hung in there. I was prepared that every time I saw her might be the last, but she kept holding on for one more trip home. She was always thrilled to see me even when jumping up and down turned into laying on her side and wagging her tail. Even when she had to labor to follow me up the stairs and could barely lift herself onto an air mattress on the floor of my childhood room, she did it. She was there.

Two years ago, I was getting ready to get married to a girl that earned Kelly’s approval and move away on a grand adventure. I wasn’t going to be 45 minutes away, I was going to be 700 miles from where I grew up. I wouldn’t be able to rush home to her side. So every time I saw her, I was prepared. But she kept hanging on. And on.

Even as her health got worse, she was still there. She slept at the foot of my bed when I visited over Christmas, just like she had for the first decade of her life. It was our thing.

I’m of the belief that animals have an unspoken wisdom. They just know things. They know what you need and when it’s their time to go. I know there’s no logical reason to believe this, but I’m convinced that she was waiting for me to get another dog. She didn’t want to leave without a canine looking out for me.

We got Watson two months ago. He passed obedience school last week. He’s had a rough first year, too, but he’s smart and he’s sweet and he thinks the world of me even though he’s only known me for eight weeks. He looks at me the way she did. Like I’m the greatest person in the world even though he doesn’t really know if I am or not.

Everybody thinks their dog is the best dog just like every dog thinks their human is the best human. I’m going to do my best to be the person Kelly thought I was, but Kelly really was the best dog. She watched over me, she taught me about loyalty, and she waited to make sure I’d be okay. Most of all, she was my friend and I was hers.

You were a good girl Kelly, and I know you’re waiting for me in doggie heaven. You can run and play to your heart’s content until we see each other again. I’ll bring the tennis ball and the end of a bed for you to sleep on.

The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #5

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#5 – Cabrera Homers Off Rivera

Cabrera_homer_8-9-13

The Tigers had won 12 straight games and had put the division to bed. They looked invincible, but the Yanks took a 3-1 lead and had two outs and two strikes with the best relief pitcher in history on the mound. The streak was dead – until it wasn’t. A cutter that caught too much plate on the inner half found its way into the netting in centerfield courtesy of Miguel Cabrera. It was an electric, “no one can touch us” moment. Amazingly, the zombie Tigers lost the game in the 10th inning, but that doesn’t change the way it felt to watch the Tigers rally back again in such dramatic fashion at the tail end of the streak that defined the season.

How Was The Game? (August 9, 2013)

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The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #6

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#6 – Miggy and VMart Homer Off Rivera in the Ninth

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So here’s the thing. Two days earlier, Miguel Cabrera hit a massive, game-tying blast to slay Mariano Rivera. It was a Friday night and Comerica Park South (my apartment) went nuts. Then Cabrera and VMart participated in another ambush on Sunday afternoon of the same Hall of Fame reliever. The entire series was ridiculous for many reasons including the Tigers amazing ability to lose both games and basically everything Miguel Cabrera did. I don’t need to set the stage for you. You lived it. There’s video. It was awesome. And you won’t be waiting long for Friday night swing.

How Was The Game? (August 11, 2013)

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The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #7

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#7 – Scherzer strikes out Chris Davis

Max_strikeout_6-17-13This single GIF betrays the drama of the moment. It’s hard to describe it, because looking back it was just some game with the Tigers leading by two runs. They were nine games over .500 and stuff, but I can’t circle back to what made it so awesome. Chris Davis was CHRIS DAVIS at the time and Max was MAX, but the rest of it was just another game. It was a fine battle I suppose; a seven pitch at bat. Max went away with heat, got a called strike on a changeup away, and then got a swinging strike down the middle. He was ahead 1-2, went away twice to bring it to 3-2 and then Davis fouled off a changeup. Then this happened, the crowd went crazy, and the Tigers cruised. Maybe this was Scherzer’s national coming out party because it was “win” number 10. Maybe it was the eyes of the country on our star while facing the mighty Davis in a big spot. Whatever it was, it was something.

How Was The Game? (June 17, 2013)

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The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #8

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

 

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#8 – The Iglesias Play

iglesiasslower

Losing your starting shortstop during a pennant chase is suboptimal, but Dave Dombrowski took it as a chance to find a new, long-term solution at the position. He went for defense. He traded Avi Garcia for Jose Iglesias. This was less than two weeks after the trade. You knew he was good already, but you didn’t quite appreciate it until you saw something like this. I’ve heard a scout say that Iglesias is what “an 80 glove looks like” and another say that he was “absolutely” better than Andrelton Simmons. Absolutely. Now the latter scout is in the minority, but when you hear that, you perk up your ears. Whatever, you don’t need me to keep typing, I’m just filling space so that this post is more aesthetically pleasing. I think I watched this play fifty times within 24 hours. Enjoy.

How Was The Game (August 12, 2013)

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The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #9

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#9 – Cabrera homers off Salazar

Cabrera_homer_8-7-13

You have to understand the context to really appreciate this particular moment. The Tigers had won ten straight and it looked like they could do no wrong. Then they ran into Danny Salazar, buzz-saw. Fister was solid, but Salazar was awesome. But awesome only gets you so far when the invincible Tigers sent their invincible man to the plate down a run with a man on base. You get the idea. The Tigers ended up allowing an equalizer, then Bonderman pitched well (!), and they rallied back. This whole game was crazy, and this moment in particular stood out.

How Was The Game? (August 7, 2013)

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The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #10

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#10 Rick Porcello’s First Career Complete Game

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Regular readers know about my affinity for Rick Porcello and my affinity for complete games. In four plus seasons, Porcello had never been given the chance to finish what he started and Leyland offered his starters almost no chances to do so in 2013. But with the offense cruising and Porcello on fire, he got his chance. Porcello walked one and struck out four as he allowed a single run during his nine inning affair and managed to retire the final seventeen White Sox that he faced. For most people, this probably doesn’t crack the top ten moments, but I actually struggled to leave it this low. I’m not sure that I can fully articulate why it filled me with so much joy, but it’s probably the most fun I had watching a Tigers game this year.

How Was The Game? (September 10, 2013)

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The Best Tigers Moments of 2013 – #11

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

For the next several weeks we’ll be rolling out our list of the best The Moment’s of 2013. The list is the product of winnowing down 173 moments from April to October into the best twenty. They vary in their importance but all captivated us in an important way. A few are silly, a few are excellent plays, and a few will travel down in Tigers lore. I hope you enjoy it.

#11 – Victor’s circus play

vmart62313_0002_1

click to play

When you hear the words “Victor Martinez,” the images that come to mind are “good hitter,” “pretty swing,” and “adorable son.” Rarely, does one think “athletic defender,” but he we are. The game was wonderfully weird. There was a botched double play because the Red Sox tagged two Tigers out of order and an Avi Garcia double on a ball that Daniel Nava quite simply caught. But the play of the day, and the 11th best moment of the year, was this ridiculous play by VMart. He dives to his left to knock the ball down, goes after the ball as it rolls away, and then gives a perfect, back-handed flip to Smyly who was on the play the entire way. Just watch this thing a few times and bask in it’s glory.

How Was The Game? (June 23, 2013)

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