The Yin and Yang of Johnny Damon

BallBatGrass.jpgYahoo! Sports’ Steve Henson says Scott Boras — bagman for Johnny Damon — saved the Tigers’ season. Them’s fighting words.

[Tigers owner Mike Ilitch] whipped out his checkbook and, just like that, Damon became the Tigers’ left fielder for 2010.

Luckily for Dombrowski. And for manager Jim Leyland. Both are consummate pros with solid track records, but without Damon they were headed pell-mell for disaster.

Were the Tigers headed for disaster without Damon? No way; they’d have made some other move to steady the offense, but probably not as nifty a move as Damon.

Continue reading “The Yin and Yang of Johnny Damon”

Wednesday Walewanders: Just Barely

spaghetti.jpgThere are about 29 minutes left of Wednesday, so I can still file this collection of Tigers thoughts and make my self-imposed deadline.

  • Did you see that Hall of Famer and Detroit Stars centerfielder Norman “Turkey” Stearnes will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame on Friday? The article in the Nashville Tennessean begins with this anecdote:

    Norman “Turkey” Stearnes could work for Walter Briggs. He just couldn’t play for him.

    During the offseasons between leading the Negro League in home runsseven times, the Nashville native worked in a Detroit car factory owned by Briggs, who also owned the major league Detroit Tigers.could work for Walter Briggs. He just couldn’t play for him.

    Stearnes hit .400+ three times and posted a .350 career batting average with the Stars, the Nashville Elite Giants, the Montgomery Grey Sox, and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

  • I’ve had it with the Johnny Damon saga. Here’s hoping that Dave Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch gave up dealing with Scott Boras for Lent. Assuming they’re Catholic, of course.

  • I tweeted about this but it’s worth repeating (at least I think it is): On this date in 1995 Sparky Anderson lit the flame that burned his bridge to Mike Ilitch when he refused to manage replacement players. He was put on an involuntary leave of absence but probably would’ve been fired if someone hadn’t talked Ilitch down from the ledge. Quick quiz: Who managed the faux Tigers in Sparky’s absence? Answer: Tom Runnells.

Whew! I made it.

Wednesday Walewanders: Late-night Mish Mash

spaghetti.jpgYes, I want an iPad, of course I do.

  • I wonder if Dave Dombrowski thinks of Johnny Damon in Detroit and only sees Jacque Jones.

  • I couldn’t see the Tigers making room for Jim Thome without eating another big contract — and we know that isn’t happening. Still, it would’ve been fun to see him play at Comerica Park 81 times in a Detroit uniform. But instead we’re left to hope that Carlos Guillen’s power numbers return. Sigh. (If only the Tigers had made a run at Bobby Abreu last offseason…) Oh, and what about Jermaine Dye? He’s still available.

  • It bums me out that the Tigers have apparently cut ties with Lou Whitaker (as loose as those ties were). Sweet Lou was always a bit flaky but he was so good for so long — and revered by Tigers fans — the Tigers should not let him vanish. Alas, it looks like it’s a moot point. And one more thing: I still can’t believe he was a one-and-done guy on the Hall of Fame ballot. That, dear reader, is a crime.

  • Happy Birthday to Phil Plantier (41), Rusty Meacham (42) and Steve Demeter (75).

Carry on.

Tuesday Night Therapy Session: Game 163 A Week Later

therapist.jpgIf someone with a stopwatch had timed my lightning-quick zap of the TV last Tuesday evening after Game 163, my guess is that the stopwatch would’ve read less than three seconds.

I couldn’t watch the Twins celebrate, again, on their turf. (Still can’t.)

Think about it: the last time the Tigers were a division champion, they (and we) had to watch Dan Gladden and the suddenly despicable Twins celebrate on Tiger Stadium’s infield.

And the time the last two times the Tigers got close (2006 and ’09), we had to watch Joe Nathan and Co. dance a jig on the Metrodome concrete.

Sickening, really. This time I showed a rare combination of maturity and resignation all at once. Sort of.

So anyway, after a week of stewing and fretting, devouring three servings of sour grapes, followed by a weekend of Schadenfreude, I’m almost ready to move on. More or less.

Three things are still rattling around in my head a week later:

Continue reading “Tuesday Night Therapy Session: Game 163 A Week Later”

Bread Crumbs from Deadline Day

breadcrumbs.jpgI tip my hat to the bloggers who managed to write about the trade deadline as it happened. I decided to let it all settle before doing some after-hours clean up.

  • He won’t be here for long, so here’s a crash course on Jarrod Washburn, who will wear number 53 for your Tigers. Specifically, let’s look at how he’s fared this season against his new division rivals:

    • Indians: 1-0, 1.35 ERA in one start
    • Royals: 0-1, 1.29, one start
    • Twins: 1-0, 0.64, two starts
    • White Sox: No Appearances (yet)

  • I really want to be excited about this trade. I do. In fact, Michael Rosenberg says I’m required to like it. But…but…the Tigers traded for a guy who will help them once a week. What about the other six games — assuming the offense shows up when Washburn pitches?

  • On the other hand, in two years when some of the prospects Washington, Baltimore, etc., wanted for their hitters are playing for the Tigers, I think we’ll all be glad that Dave Dombrowski held firm.

  • But I still would’ve liked Luke Scott.

  • Jake Peavy does not scare me.

  • The Red Sox have become one of my least-favorite teams. This after years of them not even being on my radar.

  • As I mentioned on Twitter, the Tigers could still land a decent hitter in August…it just won’t be easy. And it definitely won’t be as easy as the Neifi Perez trade in 2006.

  • I’m no fan of Ryan Raburn these days so I’m wondering why the Tigers don’t send him down to Toledo and recall Jeff Larish. I’d rather have Larish’s chance of a home run every so often than the guarantee of a daily defensive butchering from Raburn.

  • In case you were wondering about Washburn’s post-season record, it’s 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts) for the Angels in 2002, ’04 and ’05.

  • So were the Tigers winners or losers at the deadline? Jayson Stark apparently thinks they’re neither. (And Rob Neyer seems to like this deal from the Mariners’ perspective. At least I think he does.)

Happy Birthday to former Tigers Andy Van Hekken (30) and Howard Bailey (52), as well as to Toledo Mud Hens’ hitting coach Leon Durham (52).

Have a great weekend.

Disco Demolition Night 30 Years Later

Disco guy.jpgYeah, so Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney ruined our night tonight. We’re used to that. Take heart. The Tigers still cling to first place.

Doesn’t do much for you? Me either.

So instead of cursing the Tigers bullpen, let’s travel back 30 years to July 12, 1979 and revisit Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, courtesy of Joe LaPointe‘s article in yesterday’s New York Times.

Unlike the commonplace pyrotechnics of Zumaya/Rodney, this doubleheader included the on-field destruction of disco albums between games. Then things got, well, unruly. As Alan Trammell sums it up:

“The outfielders were definitely a little scared and Ronnie (LeFlore) wasn’t usually afraid of anything.”

The thing I remember most about that game was watching Sox owner Bill Veeck limp out on the field with his wooden leg — I had no idea he lost an appendage — to beg the rock-and-rollers to get off the field (and keep their rainchecks!). And I can still hear George Kell trying to describe the action without falling into a “kids-these-days” rant. (Or did he? Does anyone else remember?)

Even Dave Dombrowski, then a 22-year-old gopher for White Sox GM Roland Hemond, had a role in keeping the peace.

Oh, as for the games, the Tigers swept the double-dip 4-1 in the opener and then won the nightcap in a 9-0 forfeit. The victories brought the Tigers within 14 games of the division lead.

What are your memories of Disco Demolition Night?

Monday Night Lite

MondayReport.jpgMOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Checking in from the land of Google and Apple, on the border of Mountain View and Cupertino, Calif.:

  • It’s a shame that I read the USA Today only when I’m traveling, as I am today. There’s usually one or two outstanding pieces in each edition and this morning proved it: a feature on the Tigers by Bob Nightengale.

  • Juan Rincon, a victim of a roster numbers game last month — we’re looking at you, Nate Robertson, has been recalled by the Rockies from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Embrace the humidor, Senor. (Oh, and now that the Rox have run off a late-2007-like streak recently, do we all feel a tad better about them taking two of three from the Tigers? Didn’t think so.)

  • He might not chuck it as hard as Ryan Perry, but it’s close enough and I, for one, am glad Freddy Dolsi‘s back.

  • Did you happen to catch this nastygram from Ken Rosenthal about the Tigers benching Magglio Ordonez? The zingers about Gary Sheffield are amusing but I don’t think anyone in the Tigers front office regrets the decision to cut him loose. And for what it’s worth, I hope that Ordonez finds his stroke soon and that he doesn’t wind up on the Red Sox, poking homers over The Green Monster at Fenway.

  • Speaking of hitters, here are the results of our most recent Fungo Pulse Check poll. The question: Which of These Sluggers Should the Tigers Go After?

    • Matt Holliday: 35% (12 votes)
    • Brad Hawpe: 32% (11 votes)
    • Adam Dunn: 29% (10 votes)
    • Jeff Francouer: 3% (1 vote)
    • Carlos Lee: bupkis

    Be sure to vote in our new poll, available in the sidebar –>

  • Finally, I didn’t weigh in on the Jim Leyland extension when it happened: I believe it came a few weeks too late, but I’m delighted that he re-upped. I don’t want to see the Tigers become the Verizon Wireless of Major League Baseball, with a new manager every two years or so. (If anyone should’ve been shown the door as a result of this clunky roster, it should’ve been [should be?] Dave Dombrowski.)

Have a great week.