The Non-Sequiturs: Trick or Treat Edition

pumpkin.jpgEach October, I’m astounded to learn that Halloween is the second-largest retail holiday of the year. I’m not a fan of Halloween, though I do like the occasional, or frequent, Kit Kat.

It’s a treat to be able to watch the World Series on Halloween, though the Aubrey Huff and Edgar Renteria sightings are undoubtedly the “trick” part of the equation.

  • In our highest vote-gettin’ poll of the season, Fungo readers were emphatic on what the Tigers’ next offseason move should be: target Nationals’ slugger and free-agent-to-be Adam Dunn.

    Twenty-four percent (148 voters) of the 628 readers casting votes selected Dunn as their top choice. Here are the runners up:

    • Sign Jason Werth (16%, 103 Votes)
    • Sign Victor Martinez (15%, 97 Votes)
    • Trade for a starting pitcher (14%, 88 Votes)
    • Pickup Jhonny Peralta’s option (14%, 88 Votes)
    • Sign Magglio Ordonez (12%, 73 Votes)
    • Other (5%, 31 Votes)

    Thanks to everyone who voted and a special thanks for those that left comments. It was a great discussion. Keep those comments rolling in.

    Continue reading The Non-Sequiturs: Trick or Treat Edition

Monday Mankowskis: World Series Edition

This edition features flashback photos of Tigers alumni we’ve all heard too much about this postseason, Cody Ross and Andres Torres:


  • Tomorrow the Diamondbacks will announce that Alan Trammell will be Kirk Gibson’s bench coach in 2011 — the same role Gibson served under Trammell from 2003-05. This was a no-brainer once Tram was told he wouldn’t be considered for the Cubs managerial job. The only thing that delayed it was, among other things, the matter of Gibson having the interim tag removed from his title.

  • There’s been a lot chatter about Rangers’ catcher Bengie Molina playing for both the Rangers and Giants this season. He’s one of only five players in major-league history to have played on both World Series teams in the same year.

    Did you know that one of the remaining four did so with the Tigers in 1984? Indeed: ye olde Sid Monge. The lefty reliever appeared in 13 games with the Padres (2-1, 4.80 ERA) and 19 for the Tigers (1-0, 4.25 ERA). has a story on the last player to do so before Molina.

    Oct. 26 Update: As posted on Keith Olbermann‘s baseball blog, Monge doesn’t fall into this category because he wasn’t on the Tigers’ World Series roster. I knew Monge didn’t make the roster, but I didn’t realize the qualifier for this two-team distinction was to appear in the World Series. Live and learn.

    Continue reading Monday Mankowskis: World Series Edition

Familiar Faces in Playoffs for Tigers Fans

2010postseasonLogo.jpgNot sure if this makes the postseason more or less interesting to you, but if you watch each league’s division series you’ll likely to see lots of former Tigers:







Widespread Selective Amnesia from Media on Huff’s Pennant-Race Experience

AubreyHuff.jpgThe other day, friend of the Fungo, Doug Hill, sent us an email relaying what he heard Dodgers’ radio announcers say earlier this week: “how great it must be for Aubrey Huff to be in a pennant race for the first time in his career.”

Doug and I had the same reaction: What about last season when he arrived in Detroit as the Tigers were fighting off the Twins?!

Apparently there’s some collective amnesia in the media about Huff’s time in Detroit — not that we can blame them. After all, in 40 games with the Tigers last season Huff was dreadful: .189 average, six doubled, two homers, 13 RBI and an OPS of .567.

During Saturday’s Padres/Giants game on FOX, play-by-play guy Chris Rose also mentioned Huff’s long dry spell — and omitted his uselessness last season in Detroit.

And now there’s this: an ESPN The Magazine mini-article focused on Huff’s “epiphany”:

Huff’s first season in San Francisco has been a life-changing experience. “Until this year, I didn’t know what the big leagues were about,”says the 33-year-old.


[I]t’s hard to blame Huff for letting the losing get to him. Except for disjointed stints as a late-summer rental for the 2006 Astros and 2009 Tigers, he’s spent more time in the cellar than a ’64 Bordeaux — his clubs have finished in last place six times, and only two active players (Randy Winn and Michael Young) have played more games without a postseason trip.

I’ll be honest, of all the Tigers’ recent late-season pickups I harbor the most bitterness for Huff. He was given a golden opportunity to be a difference maker for a division-leading team and he failed miserably. I can only scratch had in bemusement for this sudden love for him in the media.

He might be a great guy and a model teammate with the Giants. But with the Tigers, he was a colossal bust.

How are Former Tigers Faring in 2010?

Rearview Mirror.jpgLooking around the majors there are plenty of former Tigers doing well — and some not so well. Here’s a look at some of the more notable players and their current numbers:

  • Placido Polanco, Phillies: .314 avg., 6 HR, 42 RBI, .348 OBP. Currently fifth in the N.L. in hitting, which is just another reason the Tigers (and fans) are regretting his departure.

  • Omar Infante, Braves: .347 avg., 7 HR, 37 RBI, .837 OPS From Rob Neyer: “At the moment, he doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify [for the batting title]. To reach 502, he needs another 169 in the Braves’ 38 remaining games.”

  • Andres Torres, Giants: .287 avg., 13 HR, 57 RBI, .869 OPS. Torres is the embodiment of stick-to-itiveness. Nearly a decade after he was touted as a centerpiece of the Tigers new wave of young talent, he’s downright essential to the Giants offense. Good for him.

    Continue reading How are Former Tigers Faring in 2010?

No Hitters? No-Hitter!

Thumbs Down.jpgIt seems awfully unfair for a guy to throw a no-hitter against a team that evidently has no hitters, doesn’t it?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t see any of Monday night’s bizarro-rama — Max Scherzer also had a no-hitter going into the sixth?! — because I was out at a family thing. (I think I would have put my marriage in jeopardy had I attempted to participate in Baseball Tonight Live on while at the restaurant.)

Nevertheless, I listened to the Rays’ announcers call the ninth inning on XM Radio on my way home. What a weird experience that was. The last time the Tigers were no-hit — June 2, 1990, by Randy Johnson — I couldn’t have listened to the Seattle feed even if I wanted to.

Whoa. Got off track there.

Anyway, what are Tigers fans supposed to do now? Their team is still — astonishingly — a mere three games out of first place at the end of July. You can’t give up on them, can you?

After all, on July 26, 2009, the eventual division champion Twins were one game under .500 and in third place just four games out.

Apple to apples? Not even close. Even though the Twins lost Justin Morneau they surged. Without Magglio Ordonez the Tigers are already showing signs of retreat.

So what if the Tigers pick up a hitter or two this week? Does Adam Dunn give them enough of a jolt — and protection for Miguel Cabrera? More than Aubrey Huff did last year. Would it help to bring Jermaine Dye back from retirement home? What about Carlos Delgado? Or Joe Crede?

Now this post has taken a turn toward the absurd. But that’s what we’re facing, isn’t it?

Even if Dave Dombrowski manages to add a few pieces will they be enough. It’s hard to believe they would be.

But he better get someone to hit the ball. Otherwise, Matt Garza‘s no-hitter might not be the last we see against the Tigers this year.

Three for Thursday: Verlander, Branyan and Birthdays

FireballXSmall.jpgWho needs a groundhog? Two weeks until pitchers and catchers arrive in Lakeland for Spring Training.

  1. I never doubted for a minute that the Tigers would sign Justin Verlander to a long-term contact, did you? Given the questionable extensions of recent years — Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson to name two — the Tigers were due for a wise contractual decision.
  2. Last year at the trading deadline I thought the Tigers might make a move for the Mariners’ Russell Branyan. Instead they went after Aubrey Huff. Bygones. Today, Branyan is still looking for work. Should the Tigers be interested? Not at the three years, $20 million he had in mind, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. ESPN Rumor Central spells out the risks of Branyan for any team:

    Branyan hit 22 homers and posted a .956 OPS before the All-Star break last season, but his OPS dipped to .688 after the break and he was forced to shut it down in late August with a herniated disc in his back.

    So, the question then is, “Is Branyan essentially Carlos Guillen?” Probably.

  3. Happy Birthday today to: Stan Papi (59), Rusty Kuntz (55), Chris Bando (54) and the late Joe Sparma. If you want to hear an interview I did with Rusty Kuntz, you can find it here.

Monday Mankowskis: Are the Tigers the 2007 Padres?

We survived Stormageddon in Arizona and are delighting in the prospect of Cactus League games in five weeks. In the meantime …

  • I was looking at my notebook of random Tigers thoughts and here’s one leftover from the fall. The 2007 Padres lost a Game 163 and began a downward spiral that’s still in motion, more or less. Are the ‘09 Tigers following a similar path? What might the Padres look like if they had beaten the Rockies — and has Matt Holliday yet touched home plate? How would the 2010 Tigers look had they beaten the Twins in Game 163?

    My initial thoughts on the subject led me to believe the Tigers’ competitive window was just about shut and locked. Now, I’m not so sure. A month after the Curtis Granderson trade, I’m more confident that the Tigers are on footing that’s much more solid than the Padres of recent years. What do you think?

    Continue reading Monday Mankowskis: Are the Tigers the 2007 Padres?

And One More Thing

Just how inexcusable has Miguel Cabrera‘s disappearance been? A clean-up hitter who’s hitting one for his last 12, grounding into first-pitch double plays with regularity, is a gynormous problem, isn’t it?

Everyone in the media piles on Aubrey Huff (who deserves every bit of the criticism) and to a lesser degree, Brandon Inge, but where’s the scrutiny of Cabrera?

Maybe it’s because he’s hitting .321 over the past seven days?

Late-Night Therapy Session

therapist.jpgHere’s what I can’t figure out. This Tigers club has never, not for a nanosecond, felt to me like a team of destiny. Nor is it the team of which you say “They’re never out of a game”, because, well, we saw plenty of games this summer that they were out of by the second inning.

In spite of this, the Detroit Tigers are tied for first on the final day of the regular season. Here are my semi-rhetorical questions about the current sitch:

  1. Are the Tigers poised to disappoint a Twins fandom that will be rocking and rolling at the Hefty Bag on Sunday — each and every rooter salivating at the chance of sending off that ramshackle disgrace with a postseason run?


  2. Is it the Twins that are the blessed ones, ending a 27-year run at the Dome with a championship of one sort or another?


  3. Will the teams be tied after Sunday giving the Tigers a chance to go to Minnesota and make amends for the Don Kelly Game and stick the Twins with a final HomerDome shiv of disappointment?

What do you think? Help me out here.