Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Thursday, August 31, 2006

To keep you warm tonight...

And to salve the wounds from this afternoon's 6-4 loss to the Yankees, go ahead and watch Craig Monroe's three-run homer from last night again. (Or as The Sports Dude might say, watch the Yankees get "Monrowned.") Knock yourself out.

I'm also a big fan of the term Mike McClary coined: "Clutchitude." Somebody put that on a t-shirt with C-Money's face on it. (Or name and jersey number on the back.)

(Tip o' the cap to AM1270's MySpace page.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Oh, my Craig Monroe!!!

The grand slam against the White Sox was big. The 10th-inning single that beat Minnesota was huge. The eighth-inning home run against Cleveland? Also very, very large.

I've written about Craig Monroe's late-inning magnificence on three previous occasions, and each time, I told myself there are no more ways to describe his mastery of the clutch.

And then he goes and does this.

A three-run homer in the top of the ninth? With two outs? In Yankee Stadium? In a September game that really matters?

I'm not even going to try and capture this man's heroic exploits anymore. Because earthly words can no longer do justice to his feats. Craig Monroe has transcended the ability of mortal language to accurately portray his greatness.

They can start doing Tigers' play-by-play on Mount Olympus. Or Zeus better start blogging. At the very least, he should give up his place on the throne to Craig Monroe. The dude is swinging a thunderbolt.

I was on the phone with Brian of Beyond Boxscores during that ninth inning. Here's an excerpt from that conversation:

"So what are you doing for the holiday?"

"Oh, I don't know... we might have a cookout, invite over some--

"OHMYGOD!!!! OH!! MY!! GOD!!!"

"HOLY $#!+!!!"


"DID HE... ?



After reliving that exchange, I realize that there's something the language of mortal men can do to pay homage to Craig Monroe. We can change the modern vernacular. I know old habits are hard to break. But please give this some consideration.

I'm talking about exclamation. What can you say the next time you get that overdraft notice from the bank? I'm sorry - let's think a little happier. What can you scream the next time you have an orgasm? Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme. How about the next time you're in disbelief and feel the need to share? We know what you used to say. But try tweaking it a bit, to invoke our new higher power.


How does that work for you? I think it has potential. It's certainly appropriate, no? I bet several Detroit Tigers were screaming it tonight. Scott Proctor may have been sobbing it through tears into his glove. Give it a try this holiday weekend, and see what happens. Get back to me later. Tell me how others respond.

And Craig? You keep doing that thing that you do.

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Tigers-Yankees: an observation

Okay, the Yankees just took a 3-2 lead over the Tigers in the 6th inning, so I know other things should be on my mind. But there's one thing I just can't shake while watching this game.

What is the deal with Jason Giambi's mustache?

Is the idea to look like Clu Haywood from Major League? (Or does Sal Fasano already have dibs on that?)

When did that thing pop up? I obviously haven't been watching the Yankees play the last couple of weeks - at least not since they swept five games in Boston. Has this been in the works for a while?

Now if only Joel Zumaya can play the Ricky Vaughn role late in the game...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Elsewhere in Lions Country...

▪▪ First, he smothered himself with college football, covering each of the major conferences and the Bowl Championship Series.

Now, Complete Sports is esconced in NFL teams, beginning with the NFC North Division. (Might as well start at the bottom, eh?) And with that comes your Detroit Lions preview. CS and I are of the same mind, regarding the Lions' record.

▪▪ Can any Lions help your fantasy football team? (Well, I'm hoping so, since I picked Kevin Jones. Hey, he was the best player available in the 5th round, okay? Besides, after this news, I might need K.J. I was really hoping to get Roy Williams, though.)

The Gatorade Dump is profiling each NFL team from a fantasy football perspective. They begin with your Detroit Lions!

▪▪ Greg Eno preaches patience for Rod Marinelli at Out of Bounds. I might point him to the previous post, as I'm not sure that's a virtue Detroit fans currently adhere to.

▪▪ MLive.com's Tom Kowalski has changed his tune, and now thinks both Charles Rogers and Mike Williams will make the Lions' final roster. Why? No other receivers are playing well enough for the Lions to justify taking those salary cap hits.

And it burns, burns, burns...

If you haven't already seen this at Deadspin (or YouTube), please enjoy yet another display of Detroit Lions fandom, courtesy of... some guys who fortunately have a very big backyard.

I know every NFL team has a rabid fan base. But if you're an Eagles fan in Philadelphia, at least those guys have given you NFC title games and a Super Bowl appearance to reward your support. The Bengals? Hey, they made the playoffs last year - the culmination of a plan that has finally yielded positive results.

I'm not sure any team is the beneficiary of as much misguided passion as the Lions. Detroit sports fans care more about their football team, which has essentially ruined 70 years of Sunday afternoons, than they should ever rationally be expected to.

Would any other fans show up at the stadium in the other team's colors to voice their disapproval? Would they march outside before the game? Are they burning jerseys in effigy in their backyards? Despite being given virtually nothing to cheer for during their lifetimes, these fans still care.

What a bunch of crazy mother#@$%ers. We've all fallen into the burning ring of fire and the flames keep getting higher. Welcome to Lions Country.

(However, I do think the chances of Detroit finishing ahead of Green Bay is looking pretty good. "What's wrong with Charles Woodson?")

Monday, August 28, 2006

Talkin' Tigers with the fellas

Thanks to Mike McClary, who graciously asked me to take part in a roundtable discussion on The Daily Fungo Podcast last week. The results are now available online for all to hear.

If you're not familiar with Mike's work, his (sometimes twice) weekly podcast (along with his daily blog) deals with all things Detroit Tigers. He does a great job, and I'm flattered he asked me to participate.

The four of us - Mike, Doug Hill, Josh Wallen, and myself - discussed the current state of the team - Can these guys take a pitch, where did Magglio's bat go, how much you payin' for playoff tickets, etc. - as they make their (blissfully) unexpected run toward postseason glory.

Twice in the past three weeks, someone has told me I sound like filmmaker Kevin Smith), so you can also chime in on that, if you'd like. (Just don't leave any "Jay"-like diatribes, okay?)

You can download or listen to the show here. It is excellent accompaniment for jogging, commuting, yard work, or generally ignoring your fellow citizens. (Anybody else love their iPod at the coffee shop?)

By the way, I swear I don't always sound as sleepy as I seem to on Mike's podcast. I was just laid-back and relaxed. And maybe with a beer in hand.

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This is not going to be pretty

If Rod Marinelli wanted to see how terribly a team could play in a football game played shortly after a cross-country flight, the Detroit Lions gave him a definitive answer Friday night.

Otherwise, I'm having trouble figuring out the point of the whole exercise.

Making his team "comfortable with being uncomfortable"? Okay. But will the Lions ever have to fly from Michigan to California in the morning, and then play a football game that night at any point during the NFL season? Is the team planning to fly out to Arizona (the Lions' only trip out west, unless you count Dallas) for its November 19 game against the Cardinals mere hours before the game?

No? Then really, why bother putting the team through that?

"This is what we have to do," Marinelli said to the press yesterday. Really? Because it seems like something he and Matt Millen cooked up while playing catch in the hallway.

"Hey, you know what we should do? I've always wondered if a team would play like total cow$#!+ if we put 'em on a five-hour flight and then bussed right to the stadium."

"Oooh, I like that. You know what? We'd see how tough these guys are. We'd separate the men from the boys."


"Yeah! Hell, yeah!"

And then they'd bump chests, send out for lunch, and go watch some more tape.

Read more of "This is not going to be pretty"...

So maybe you think the Lions are too soft and you like seeing a head coach ride these guys instead of pampering them. Maybe you think this is exactly the sort of thing that will toughen them up, and yield results later in the season. Maybe all of that stuff is true. And if it is, I'll post a mea culpa the moment we see that.

In the meantime, I don't get it. Were the flight arrangements the reason they lost 21-3 (and it could've been so much worse) to Oakland on Friday? Probably not. As Big Al explains in excruciating detail, the Lions just aren't looking very good right now and a sharp improvement doesn't seem possible. Not unless the offensive and defensive lines begin to play better. Or the front office can find some - any - healthy linebackers to take the field.

And yes, we understand that certain players (Big Mike Williams, Charles "Cheech" Rogers) aren't earning their playing time in practice. But shouldn't the coaches try to see what they can get from these first-round draft picks? If not in exhibition games that don't count, then when? Send messages during the regular season. See if these guys can make some plays now.

Anybody else not yet ready for what we'll be seeing this football season? The Tigers really need to extend their season well into October.


Like stripes on the fur coat of a tiger...

▪▪ When I first heard about the Tigers' various roster moves late last night, I wasn't in much of a condition to comprehend the shuffling. Thankfully, Billfer, Kurt, and Danny Knobler are around to explain it to me.

Wil Ledezma's starting on Wednesday in the Bronx because Mike Maroth isn't ready yet, while Colby Lewis and Brent Clevlen are back down to the minors, making room for Alexis Gomez and Andrew Miller (who was pitching for North Carolina back in June)? Do I have that right? It should all be clear to me after another cup of coffee.

▪▪ So this Miller kid must be pretty good, eh? (Paging Captain Obvious... ! Did I mention I have a headache?) From Omaha to New York in a couple of months. That's a reality TV show I might have watched. Jim Leyland says he wanted Miller up here, and I have to say, it could be interesting to bring that kind of power left-handed arm out of the bullpen late in the season (and post-season).

▪▪ At The Detroit Tigers Weblog, Billfer also makes the case for Marcus Thames. Let's hope Leyland reads DTW regularly.

▪▪ They're feeling a little Kenny Rogers envy in Cleveland, apparently. Where would the Tigers be right now, had he signed with the Indians instead?

▪▪ Useless stat of the weekend? (Not these stats.) In the ninth inning of Cleveland's 4-3 win over Detroit on Friday, reliever Rafael Betancourt tugged the bill of his cap 130 times. That Jacobs Field press box must be an exciting place...

▪▪ Proving that Weavers were apparently never meant to play in Detroit, the Lions cut tight end Jed Weaver yesterday. Jed is a cousin of former Tiger Jeff Weaver.

▪▪ This is Tigers-related, isn't it? At some point next year, Shawn Green - now of the New York Mets - will likely break Hank Greenberg's record for career home runs by a Jewish player.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Kevin Antcliff or "Jeremy Bates"?

Last Friday, Evander Holyfield returned to boxing to fight "Jeremy Bates," an "insurance salesman in "Parkersville, WV." But sources told Sweaty Men Endeavors that there was more to the story, and upon a closer look, we might find a familiar face. So the SME investigative team investigated the story, along with an intriguing correlation between the fight in Dallas and one Mr. Kevin Antcliff deciding to bring his blog to an end.

Coincidence? Well, that's why the SME investigative team investigates.

The question became a national curiosity when Deadspin picked up the story in its weekend coverage. Hundreds of readers tried to draw a connection between a bald-headed, goateed man stepping away from his blog just one day before another bald-headed, goateed man fought Evander Holyfield in Dallas.

Answers were demanded. And the SME investigative team serves the people. We tracked down Kevin Antcliff via Buddy List at his Colorado home, and he agreed to sit down for an exclusive interview, which you will only read here. Nowhere else. Not even Kevin's own blog. Because he's not blogging anymore.

Here's the interview:

Me: Kevin, first of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I know you're a busy man.

Kevin: Not really, but you're welcome, anyway. Hold on, Ian... Can we stop for a minute? I've had a BANGING headache for like, a week. I'm gonna grab some Ibuprofin real quick.

Me: You've been feeling this way for a week, you say?

KA: Roughly, yes. Friday will be about a week. Oh, wow. My nurse just told me today IS Friday. How messed up is that?

Me: You have a nurse? How long have you had one?

KA: No, I said maid. No need for a nurse.

Me: No, you said nurse.

KA: Nope. Why would I say nurse?

Me: You typed it, Kevin. It's right there.

KA: Huh. But today IS Friday?

Me: How long have you had a nurse, Kevin?

Kevin: My maid started last Saturday.

Me: What exactly does your "maid" do for you?

KA: Well...I mean, like cleaning. And she helps me move my arms and remember my name.

Me: She helps you move your arms?

KA: Hey, it's my pleasure. I'm glad to talk to you.

Me: Kevin, where were you last Friday night?

KA: Who?

Me: You. Kevin Antcliff. Where were you last Friday night?

KA: Me. Right. Friday. I was in a meeting.

Me: A meeting.

KA: I think so, yes. Sorry. Did I pass out again, or did you just not ask any questions?

Me: You've been passing out?

KA: I hope not. That would suck.

Me: Kevin, what was this "meeting" about last Friday? Where did it take place?

KA: Well, as you know, I'm really important. So, a lot of the details I will not be able to pass along to you or your readers. What I can tell you is that I don't really remember a thing about last Friday night. I was kind of hoping you could tell me what my meeting was about.

Me: Kevin, were you in Dallas, TX last Friday?

KA: Hold on... My nur... maid... said that, yes, that is possible.

Me: You don't remember?

KA: There's a lot about the last week I don't remember. Man, my head is killing me.

Me: Kevin, I'm going to cut to the chase.

KA: Not a problem, Ian. I'm glad to sit down and talk to you. Go ahead with the first questions.

Read the rest of my exclusive interview with Kevin Antcliff...

Me: There's been rampant speculation on the internet that you fought Evander Holyfield last Friday in Dallas. Did you?

KA: That's a good question, Ian. That's all I really have to say on that subject.

Me: Do you like to box, Kevin?

KA: Not anymore.

Me: when did that stop?

KA: I don't really know. Recently.

Me: Like last Friday night?

KA: That is a distinct possibility.

Me: Kevin, you have a shaved head with a goatee, right?

Kevin: Yes, I do. Does it look good?

Me: It looks fine. Kevin, how many people would you say sport such a look?

KA: Wikipedia says 11. I'd guess the number is actually quite higher. In the millions, most likely.

Me: Oh, really?

Kevin: Maybe billions.

Me: I don't think so, Kevin. When I went out for my morning coffee this morning, no one had a bald head and goatee

KA: Trillions, even.

Me: Last night at the movies? All the heads had hair, Kevin.

KA: How do you know? It was dark! Hats? Wigs?

Me: It's not dark before the movie, Kevin.

KA: Mmmm hmmm. That's one man's opinion.

Me: No, it's not. You know why? You wanna know why? Because I just yelled out my window and asked if anyone had a bald head and goatee. And no one answered, Kevin. No one. Care to comment on that?

KA: We're a very private group of people. Hold on. My freaking nurse has been letting this damn phone ring for like a week. Answer the freaking phone!

So that's what all those cranes were for...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Like stripes on the fur coat of a tiger...

▪▪ Scratching your head about Neifi Perez leading off for the Tigers last night? So was Fire Joe Morgan.

▪▪ By the way, I'd like to calculate The Neifi Index right now, but I'm afraid of the jinx. So let's just table that talk until later.

▪▪ While profiling Kenny Rogers, the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers notes that "The Gambler" could've been pitching for the White Sox, instead of beating them in important late-season match-ups.

▪▪ Speaking of Phil Rogers, he somehow managed to compare Placido Polanco to both Tadahito Iguchi and Gary DiSarcina (?) on Sunday.

▪▪ After reading this piece (also from Sunday's Chicago Tribune, via Mack Avenue Tigers - follow the bouncing links) that turned up the flames under Magglio Ordonez's seat, I wondered if the Tigers have ever considered moving him to first base. Not this season, but next season. Just a thought. But perhaps a moot one, after Maggs flashed some nice leather in right field last night.


Links that aren't Tiger stripes

▪▪ My Opinion on Sports has an interview with ESPN the Magazine's senior college football writer, Bruce Feldman. His pick for pre-season #1 might surprise you.

▪▪ Speaking of college football, have you been reading Complete Sports? Twins15 has been profiling conferences like a madman. I chalk it up to the energy of youth. Kudos on the heavy lifting, Sport.

▪▪ Big Al might be feeling a bit smaller after being taken to task by one of his female readers at The Wayne Fontes Experience. Buy the man a beer.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Talking softly, carrying big sticks

To me, the Tigers' clubhouse looked really tense on Sunday afternoon. Following the 7-6 loss to Texas, very few players came out to talk to the media. And those who were at their lockers weren't saying much.

I didn't know what to think. But consider my viewpoint. That was only my third time in a professional locker room, and second in the Tigers' clubhouse. So maybe what I witnessed was relatively normal for that environment.

(And this probably deserves its own post someday, but if you look at it from a distance, the dynamic between athletes and the media in a locker room can be kind of strange.

Media: Does he want to talk? Let's go over there. Oh, wait - he's not talking. Okay, let's wait to see if anyone talks. No one's coming...

Athletes: Please just let me get dressed first. Oh man, they're all looking over here. They're coming over here. Okay, I should talk. But do I want to?)

Justin Verlander refused to talk about Monday's start against the White Sox. Actually, no one wanted to talk about the White Sox.

Bob Wojnowski's column in yesterday's Detroit News captured the atmosphere pretty well.

"I'm almost tired of talking about that, to be honest," Monroe said to Wojo. "Let's just play the games. Who cares what you say before the game. I'm excited about the series and every guy in here is excited."

Again, the whole scenario is pretty new to me, so I didn't know what to think. Was it a good thing that the Tigers seemed irritable? They were mad about the three-game losing streak, and sick of hearing questions about their record against Chicago. Maybe Verlander doesn't usually talk about his next start, but everyone wanted to ask, since it was against the White Sox. Okay. But what if they were tense because the White Sox were in their heads, and they were feeling anxious about the next four games to come?

So much for that, eh?

If this is what happens when Verlander doesn't want to talk about his next start, then maybe he shouldn't face a camera, microphone, or tape recorder for the rest of the season. You're not hearing any talk about whether he tips his pitches today.

This post has been a little too much about me, hasn't it? Let's fix that:


Monday, August 21, 2006

The Neifi Index comes to Detroit

I happened to be at yesterday's Tigers-Rangers game, working on some stuff for Motor City Sports Magazine, and was checking my voicemail when the Neifi Perez trade was announced in the Comerica Park press box.

One of those messages happened to be from The Daily Fungo's Mike McClary. So I figured, why not help out a friend - who happens to be a Tigers blogger - with some breaking news? Hey, everyone else was making phone calls, too. So I wasn't calling my editor or the copy desk, okay?

I don't know if Mike broke it first in the Tigers blogosphere (I think Mario and Rod announced the trade on FSN before I could call), but I'm hoping he came close. Anything for a pal, right?

I have a thought or two on the trade, but a lot of other people got to it first:

  • Here's Mike's follow-up to the breaking news, with a little bit of personal reminiscence thrown in.
  • Much like Lois Lane telling Superman that the world didn't need a savior, Mack Avenue Tigers says Perez won't play such a role for the Tigers.
  • At The Detroit Tigers Weblog, Billfer thinks Perez's contract is a bad fit for the roster.
  • Tiger Tales doesn't like the remaining $2.5 million on the deal either, and details Perez's good-field/no-hit career.
  • In the CoPa press box, a Chicago writer or two remarked that Cubs fans would celebrate Perez's departure. And The Cub Reporter backs that up.
  • Bleed Cubbie Blue says Perez isn't so bad. It's just that Dusty Baker misused him.

Shortly after the deal was announced, someone asked me if Perez steals many bases. I didn't have the stats immediately on-hand, but I knew the unfortunate truth. And that was my immediate thought: it would've been nice if the Tigers picked up someone with some speed. (Where have you gone, Pokey Reese? A banged-up middle infield turns its lonely eyes to you.)

Besides his semi-outrageous contract and seeming lack of discernable offensive skills, however, the other aspect of this deal that should concern Tigers fans is... The Neifi Index.

If you're not familiar with this, Salon.com's King Kaufman created The Neifi Index three years ago to explain a particular phenomenon he'd noticed with his beloved San Francisco Giants. (The emphasis is mine.)

What if your favorite baseball team had a secret weapon, some card the manager could play that would damn near guarantee a victory? Not long ago I discovered quite by accident a team that had just such a thing. That team was the Giants, and the secret weapon was a utility infielder named Neifi Perez, one of the more anemic hitters in baseball, a man who managed to put up minuscule offensive numbers while playing his home games in Coors Field, a hitter's paradise, and who, on the rare occasions when he gets on base, is very good at getting caught stealing. (Good fielder, though.)

I discovered a few weeks ago that when Perez didn't play, the Giants were 13-1. That was the secret weapon: Sit Neifi. When Perez played, the first-place Giants were a humdrum 26-22. Sit him down and they became world beaters. The Giants are paying Perez more than $2 million a year to make outs at his prodigious rate, so it's nice to know he's good for something.

To sum it up, The Neifi Index is "the difference for each player between his team's winning percentage when he plays and when he does not." The better a team's performance in a player's absence, the higher his Neifi Index. (Here's further explanation from Kaufman.)

I suppose all of this is kind of a long-winded way of saying this guy ain't very good. But maybe this is what the Tigers were stuck with, after Kansas City passed on trading Mark Grudzielanek. What, you think they should've taken that Mark Loretta deal with Boston?

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Thanks, but no thanks, Theo

Here's an interesting Saturday morning tidbit, via Buster Olney's ESPN (Insider) blog: According to the Boston Globe, the Red Sox wanted to make a deal with the Tigers for second baseman Mark Loretta, but Dave Dombrowski balked for a couple of reasons:

1) The Red Sox wanted two players from Detroit's major-league roster. (The Globe speculates that Wil Ledezma, Zach Miner, and Jamie Walker were among the names Boston proposed.)

2) The Tigers' need for a second baseman might not be as urgent as originally thought, with reports that Placido Polanco will miss 4-6 weeks, and could be back for the playoffs.

Saturday morning reading scraps

▪▪ Yesterday, ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote on his (Insider) blog that Vernon Wells passed on signing a contract extension with Toronto, and thus will likely be traded. Wells wants to play closer to his Texas home, so that would likely eliminate Detroit from consideration. This is total speculation on my part, but if the Jays are looking for pitching help in return, do you think he might dial up the Comerica Park offices this offseason?

▪▪ This is completely non-Tiger-related, but if Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria fires his manager, Joe Girardi - as he allegedly had to be talked out of doing - then he truly is a complete idiot. If Girardi wants to resign, however, it would probably be tough to blame him.

Here's the story, if you're not familiar with this already: About two weeks ago, Loria - who was sitting behind the Marlins' home dugout - yelled at Girardi for not running onto the field to argue a ball-strike call. Girardi, as you might imagine, defended himself and yelled back.

Even after being talked out of firing him by cooler heads in the organization, Loria reportedly didn't back down from his stance until Girardi agreed to publicly apologize to him in front of the team.

Never mind that Girardi had the Marlins in the National League Wild Card race through much of this season, despite a lineup that seems almost entirely composed of rookies after the franchise's latest player fire sale. (Judging from this post, Marlins Today might disagree with that.)

Does it revolt anyone else that a guy like Loria has a World Series trophy with management skills like this, while teams that have done it the right way for years are still left wanting?


Friday, August 18, 2006

What are you doing this weekend, Kevin Antcliff?

As some of you know, our dear friend Kevin Antcliff has decided to step away from his blog, as his plate has recently filled up with new opportunities and responsibilities. It's a very exciting time for him, and we'll be seeing plenty more from the guy, but for now, the blog is on hiatus. (Not without one last shot at the prize, however. Way to go down swinging, K-Dog.)

However, sources tell Sweaty Men Endeavors that there might be more to the story than Mr. Antcliff originally let on. This morning, our investigative reporters were told to "follow the money... oh, and watch Fox Sports Net tonight."

What's on Fox Sports Net (after the Tigers-Rangers game, locally) tonight? Evander Holyfield's (ill-advised) comeback to the boxing ring. Holyfield's opponent is listed as "Jeremy Bates," but the SME investigative team has been doing some work in the photo lab, and has come back with some results that could be very intriguing to our readers.

We've lined up the photos for you to look at, side-by-side. On the left is the aforementioned Mr. Antcliff. On the right is Holyfield's opponent tonight, "Jeremy Bates."

Interesting similarities, no? Think about this: How many other people do you see running around with bald heads and goatees?

And isn't it intriguing that "Jeremy Bates" has a heavyweight boxing match in Dallas the same week Kevin decides to put his blog on the shelf?

As a large 24-hour news channel might say: We report, you decide. All we can do is give you the information. How you choose to disseminate the data is entirely your prerogative.

Good luck tonight, "Jeremy Bates." And take it easy on Mr. Holyfield. He's not sounding too good when you hear him talk these days.

Emmitt Smith: Keeping my man card safe

Thanks to former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith for making it safe to watch Dancing With the Stars without jeopardizing the status of my Man Card.

For those of you who don't know, Smith is following in the footsteps of Jerry Rice, and will compete in ABC's next televised dance-off, beginning September 12.

Now, Emmitt just has to stay in the competition as long as Jerry Rice did last season, so I keep using him as an excuse for why I'm watching.

"Oh, I just wanted to see what Emmitt Smith was doing after retirement. Isn't it fascinating to see how someone so dominant on the football field could struggle on the dance floor? It's not just about muscles. This is about grace. Um... yeah, the dancer I'm dating tells me it's all about grace."

See how it works? And just between us, I've never dated a dancer. But really, shouldn't the number of hot women on the show earn me a pass with the Man Card Committee?

I don't quite remember how I got roped into watching this thing last season, but I did. And I fell for it harder than I'd like to admit. However in years past, whenever I've watched a reality TV competition (Survivor, The Amazing Race, etc.), I tend not to be interested the following year. I tune in to see what the hype's about, then it's flushed out of my system. We'll see if that's the case this year.

So you're my alibi, Emmitt Smith. Don't botch this. But I know you won't. You were a champion. And one of the toughest football players I can remember.

But you know what? You wouldn't see Barry Sanders doing this stuff. I'm just sayin'...

(Thanks to The Wayne Fontes Experience for the "Man Card" graphic.)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Catching up - Part 1: Mr. Tony on "MNF"

I'm probably biased, but of the many post-mortem critiques I've heard and read about Tony Kornheiser's debut in the "Monday Night Football" booth, I thought The Wayne Fontes Experience nailed it best.

In response to a Detroit sports talk show's criticism of Mr. Tony, Big Al wrote:

He did just fine. His appearance was going to rate high in my mind anyway, because as we all know, the less of the Norman Einstein quoting Joe Thiesman we hear, the better. But the Sports Infermo guys are going off on Uncle Tony because he's not your typical analyist. As if there isn't enough of boring, clueless, illiterate, and loud former football players on the air already. You mean they want more of the grating Theisman? Or miss the past his prime, and hugely annoying video game pimp, John Madden? It's basically the same lame arguement many gave when Dennis Miller was doing MNF.

To quote Allen Iverson, "we're talkin' 'bout practice." And that's the point that so many of the naysayers seem to be missing. How many more people watched a pre-season game between the Vikings and Raiders, just to see how Mr. Tony would do? Isn't that what ultimately matters?

I said this in Big Al's comments already, so I apologize if it's a rerun, but it bears repeating: When the hell did this become so serious? Are football fans actually determining their viewing habits based on who's calling the game? Sure, a broadcast is more enjoyable with a competent, entertaining announcing team. But weren't you going to watch the game anyway?

This isn't an insult to fan intelligence, like cartoon baseballs on FOX. This is about bringing a different perspective to a telecast with likely the largest audience. Is it so bad to have someone cracking jokes in the booth or making irreverent observations? Don't a lot of us do that while we're watching the games?

And don't fall for Kornheiser's "I only know eight players in the NFL" schtick. You're just buying into the persona he's created to get worked up about that. He knows what he's talking about. His career is a testament to that. He knows he's not there to break down pass coverages and a quarterback's progressions. That's Theismann's role.

Here's another question: In today's world of sports bars, how many people even hear the announcers while watching the game? Maybe more people view "MNF" at home, given the late Eastern time zone start. But a hell of a lot of people are watching at the bar with their buddies. And I don't hear too many people critiquing the announcers in that setting.

Maybe this eventually won't work. But is it really that bad to have tried?

Besides, isn't it more fun to picture what the Washington Post break room would be like if Kornheiser and Paul Farhi were there at the same time? Or is it just me? (Sorry Tony, I guess you don't get the Mitch Albom treatment. Clearly, Carole Leigh Hutton isn't running things at the Post.)

Catching up - Part 2: What were they wearing?

Lost in all the chatter about Tony Kornheiser's performance on "Monday Night Football," I think an important question is being lost. Namely, the ugliness of the Minnesota Vikings' new uniforms.

Okay, I get it: the stripes on the shoulders are supposed to resemble Viking horns. Fine. But what's with all the piping and striping going on in the back?

Of course, I don't think I ever like football uniform changes. Except Tampa Bay's and New England's. Those had to be done for everyone's sake.

So this will probably grow on me. Or I just won't care by the time the Lions play the Vikings. But for now, Minnesota Vikings' uniforms: You're on notice.

Another note from the game, which bummed me out: One of "my" Iowa Hawkeyes losing the rest of his season to a knee injury. Come back strong, Chad Greenway.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Look! Up in the sky!

It's a bird!

It's a plane!

No, it's a home run by Magglio Ordonez!

Looks like someone finally remembered to eat his spinach before tonight's game.

Thank you, Magglio. Thank you for finally adding some numbers to that "HR" column after the All-Star Break.

(And another "Atta Boy!" to Brent Clevlen, who added a homer of his own four batters later in the sixth inning.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

When they say "nice pick"...

Check out this photo, snapped by Red Sox-Tigers hybrid blogger Samela, before last night's game at Fenway Park. You can see the rest of Sam's album at her Flickr site.

A Red Sox-Tigers series always seems to divide the heart of young Samela, so I'm usually concerned about the lass when her two favored baseball teams play. But she seems to be managing nicely. And hey, a few well-placed "hellos" from those on the Olde English D side probably go quite a way with her loyalties.

Nice work, Samela.

Hey, if it helps Omar Infante grip the ball on defense, I won't knock it.

However, I would caution the rest of the Tigers to exercise discretion when high-fiving their teammate.

And for everyone's sake, let's hope Omar doesn't subscribe to the Jorge Posada-Moises Alou school of hand care.


Painful to read, perhaps, but worth a peek

If you're interested in some more national opinions on our Detroit Tigers, check out Stephen Rodrick's article from yesterday's Slate. It's a recap of recent Tigers history, so there's probably not a lot in there that you haven't already read or didn't already know. But I thought Rodrick's choice of tipping point, from which it all started to go downhill, was interesting.

When did it all go south for the once-proud franchise? I'd say about 9:45 p.m. on Oct. 11, 1987. The Tigers were down two games to one to the humdrum 85-77 Twins in the ALCS. In Game 4, Detroit was a run down in the sixth inning with one out and Darrell Evans on third. This was pre-X Files, mind you, but Evans was known to bore teammates with his UFO beliefs. Some kind of extraterrestrial kerfuffle is the only thing that could explain what happened next: The 18-year vet was picked off third. Who gets picked off third?! It doesn't even happen in the Special Olympics.

It's a bit depressing to see so many of the Tigers' missteps assembled in one article - or in the case of Randy Smith's tenure as general manager, distilled to one paragraph. But it also makes this season that much sweeter, when you see what the current regime had to overcome and how they did it.

Plus, the article's written by "one of us" - someone who grew up watching the team, who's lived through the oh-too-long down cycle, and is only too happy to stick out his chest with pride now.


Keep an eye on "my" Hawks...

The Washington Post has been running through its College Football Top 25 for the past week, and yesterday, they profiled #17 in their poll, "my" Iowa Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes look positioned to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten championship. At the center of it is [Drew] Tate, who passed for 2,828 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. The star quarterback wants to make the most of his senior campaign in which he has at least an outside shot to win the Heisman Trophy.

I could be biased, but they're looking like a contender. The wide receiving corps worries me, with Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon gone. (Oh, Adrian Arrington - you could've helped your home state Hawks...) But if Albert Young picks up where he left off last season, the running game will be in great shape, and could make up the difference.

And the defense has to recover from losing Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge, but have a couple of juniors ready to step in those linebacking slots. But every starter returns on the defensive line, and the veteran safeties should compensate for the inexperience at cornerback.

Ultimately, in Kirk Ferentz we trust. The only thing that should keep Iowa from being a perennial Big Ten power is Ferentz deciding he'd like to ply his trade in the NFL. But he's already turned down some great offers, so maybe he's a Hawkeye lifer. Fingers (and corncobs) are crossed.

Okay, carry on. I'll keep my thoughts of Iowa City and fried pork tenderloin sandwiches to myself...


I apologize, Shaun Bodiford

In Friday's live blog of the Lions-Broncos pre-season opener, I made the following ignorant comment:

7:52 - And who is this Bodiford guy for the Lions? Anyone heard of him outside Allen Park? Is he even supposed to be in the game this early?

And with that, I exposed myself as someone who just hasn't been reading training camp reports from the local newspapers very closely.

If I had, I would've seen George Sipple's profile of Bodiford in last week's Free Press. Not only is it a good article, but Bodiford has a great story - the kind of comeback story fans and sportswriters should celebrate. The man has overcome some serious obstacles, not the same self-destructive behavior fellow wide receivers like Cheech Rogers and Big Mike Williams have engaged in.

(Hat tip to the Detroit Lions Weblog and MLive.com's Highlight Reel.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

When losing is good?

When friends or siblings who don't follow baseball that closely are leaving messages on my voicemail, asking why the Tigers suddenly suck, what does that tell you?

Is it an indication of just how well the Tigers have been playing when five straight losses - something of a given over a 162-game season - raise an eyebrow? At Mack Avenue Tigers, Kurt reminds us that these things happen.

In the other three big sports (i.e., the ones most of us have paid attention to over the past half-decade or so), a five-game losing streak can adversely affect the trajectory of a season. Does this show how foreign a territory Detroit sports fans find themselves in right now? With his hand held over the panic button, Big Al says yes.

Of course, as Billfer points out, when a 10-game lead is cut in half in a week, it's a bit jarring. Concern is the natural reflex. Yet he also reasonably concurs that this is the bad stretch that other teams have faced. Right now, unfortunately, it's the Tigers' turn.

So those who write about the Tigers - be it for the newspapers or blogosphere - appear calm. Trepidatious, certainly, but of an even disposition.

Why is it, then, that I feel like most of us are Kevin Bacon in Animal House, trying vainly to hold his ground against an onslaught of frenzied, fleeing bystanders?

Time will tell if we end up flattened on the sidewalk like he was.

But here's what I'd say (besides "Remain calm! All is well!") to the Detroit sports nation: The Tigers need this.

As Danny Knobler wrote yesterday, before four consecutive losses became five, "The test is on." Perhaps with the exception of their slide in mid-April (the one which earned The Wrath of Leyland), the Tigers haven't faced much adversity this season. Every time they've been confronted with "a real team," they've come out sparkling. And maybe this was starting to look a little bit easy.

Remember the last Detroit team this happened to? Or has basketball season been erased from your memory already? How about hockey season? That, too?

The Pistons and Red Wings both blazed to the best records in their respective leagues, outdistancing the competition by so far that the last quarter of the regular season was rendered near-meaningless, becoming nothing more than an exercise in what we thought was delayed gratification. But while both of these teams were going through the motions, waiting for the games that mattered to begin, they became lackadaisical and sloppy. They had the time to read and hear about how great they were, especially when that's all there really was to talk about and respond to.

And what happened once "winning time" came around? Two teams that looked almost unbeatable realized that you can't just flip a switch and start playing well again.

Need one more example? Three words: The Indianapolis Colts. How'd that work out last year?

We hear this all the time before the NCAA basketball tournament, too. Inevitably, someone will say that one of the top teams - Duke, MSU, Kansas, etc. - would be helped by losing a game before going into the tournament. Why? Because it wakes a team up. It makes them start listening to their coach again. It reminds them that they're not, in fact, unbeatable.

And that's why this could actually be good for the Tigers. They need to sharpen their focus again, especially on defense. They need to remember what helped them win all those games up until this point. They need to listen to their manager again, instead of just nodding when he says things he's been saying all season long.

Of course, if they get swept in Boston, and return home with a lackluster showing against the Rangers, I'll be tugging on Big Al's shirt, wondering when I get to push the panic button...


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Now that he mentions it...

While I watch Magglio Ordonez and his lustrous locks (I've seen them in person, and they're spectacular) talk to Shireen Saski on the FSN Tigers Pre-Game Show, I'm reminded of a note from Danny Knobler's story today.

Where'd the power go, Magglio?

The Tigers' cleanup bat hasn't hit a home run since the All-Star break, putting him in the company of such esteemed power hitters as Chone Figgins, Jason Kendall, and teammate Placido Polanco.

Magglio's hasn't reached the seats in his last 105 at-bats.

And since you asked, the fact that Magglio anchors the outfield of my fantasy baseball team has nothing to do with my plea. I resent such an accusation.

I will note, however, that Coco Crisp (who's also a member of the Natural Juicers) hit his first post-All-Star-break home run last night. Do I have to bench you for Coco, Magglio?

C'mon, dude - eat some spinach or something. Strong to the finish if you eats your spinach - Toot toot!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pre-Season Marinelli Era Begins: The Live Blog

7:30 - Are the announcers really going to compare Rod Marinelli to Monte Clark and Jon Kitna to Gary Danielson? Does the TV50 CW50 broadcast crew think the imaginations of Lions fans is that limited? Is that the kind of stuff they want to dredge up?

Did I miss something? Were Clark and Danielson Detroit's version of Walsh and Montana?

It is way too early in the (pre)season to be this irritated about something...

7:36 - Wait! What was that? Tight ends moving across the formation. Backs and receivers shifting from one side to another. Is that... motion?

7:37 - Yes, I'm that easily impressed. It's football in August.

7:38 - Okay, Kevin Jones just had a nice 12-yard run - a play you didn't see very much from him last year. Kelvin Pritchett, the analyst for this broadcast, noted that Jones ran with "extreme physicality" on the play. Except he said it the same way most of us would describe watching water run out of a faucet. Wake up, dude.

7:40 - A 19-yard pass from Kitna to Roy Williams on a seam route! Did Steve Mariucci know you're allowed to pass the ball more than 10 yards downfield in the NFL? Did the Lions have a 19-yard pass play last season?

7:43 - Some things never change. Jones drops an easy, short third-down pass. Here comes the field goal unit.

7:47 - Uh-oh, Frank Beckmann said Denver's David Kircus was from "Saginaw Valley State." Go get him, Lakers fans.

7:50 - After the commercial, Frank pleads a mea culpa to the Grand Valley State fans. And you always wondered what gets said into those headphones.

7:51 - Okay, really - who the hell is Mike Bell?

7:52 - And who is this Bodiford guy for the Lions? Anyone heard of him outside Allen Park? Is he even supposed to be in the game this early?

7:53 - Some things never change. Denver's Stephen Alexander catches an 8-yard pass on third down. First down, Broncos. Another former Lion comes back to haunt the Honolulu Blue and Silver.

7:56 - If I hear that "Get ready, cuz here we cooome" promo for the CW one more time, I might break something. Should a Detroit station run spots with mangled Motown music like that?

Quick - name two shows on that network based on those ads. (Okay, I can. Clearly I watch too much TV.)

7:58 - Dan Orlovsky takes over at quarterback for the Lions? Ahead of Josh McCown? Okay, let the speculation (and potential back-up quarterback controversy) begin.... NOW!

7:59 - And only one series for Kitna? Boy, he must've been sharp in practice this week. Or Mike Martz likes talking to him on the sidelines.

8:01 - Okay, seriously - what is up with Pritchett? I describe what I had for lunch with more enthusiasm and insight than this guy is offering. Did he threaten to sit on someone to get this gig?

8:03 - Cheech Rogers enters the game! Man, he looks good running in from the sideline. Quick. Head up. In other words, not high.

8:07 - TOUCHDOWN, LIONS! TOUCHDOWN, LIONS! Orlovsky to Arlen Harris out of the backfield for a 20-yard score! Shades of Kurt Warner to Marshall Faulk, my friends. NFL, consider yourself on notice!

8:08 - It's 10-0, Lions. I'm quitting while the home team is ahead. It can only go downhill from here, right? This is all the exhibition football I can take. If the starters aren't playing the whole game, I'm not live-blogging it.

Besides, the game that counts - Tigers vs. White Sox - is about to start. Verlander's starting, man!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Five Questions... about your Denver Broncos

I know it's baseball season around here like it hasn't been in a long time. So we'll see how much this is Lions Country over the next few weeks.

But with the Lions beginning their pre-season on Friday with an exhibition against the Denver Broncos, I thought it might be a good time to talk some football. Playing "Five Questions" with Thank You Brian Sabean about the Minnesota Twins a couple of weeks ago went so well that I thought we might try it again. So I exchanged some questions with Kevin Antcliff, who now whirls his wit from the Rocky Mountain region, and tried to ask the same sort of hard-hitting, insightful questions about the Broncos.

Just remember, it is the pre-season, so we still have some sharpening up to do. My answers to his questions on the Lions can be read at Kevin's blog. Here's our conversation:

Me: Any truth to the reports that Mike Shanahan didn't want to make the trip to Detroit, saying that his scout team would provide better competition in practice than the Lions?

K-Dog: None whatsoever. The only reason Coach Shanahan didn't want to go to Detroit is because... it's Detroit.

Me: Who the hell is Mike Bell? And is it true that the Broncos will feature a "play running back and get 100 yards" contest in each game this season?

KA: I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but I have heard of no such contest. That said, the Broncos will be holding their yearly "Be a no-name and get 1,000 yards" contest.

As for this Mike Bell guy, there is very little information available about him. My mole tells me that he was just the guy Shanahan picked out of a hat to be the next RB to prove that anybody can gain 1,000 yards in his offense. Other names in the hat included Willie Roaf, Ty Detmer, the kid in the wheelchair from Malcolm in the Middle, and Phyllis Diller. Shanahan is convinced that any of them could have rushed for 1,200 +. Hard to argue with him.

Me: Did you see Maurice Clarett got arrested again? It's a cry for help! Seriously, don't the Broncos feel bad about that? The guy just wanted a job, just wanted a chance, and he was kicked to the curb. Couldn't they have spared him the indignity of having to return to, of all places, Columbus? Really, wouldn't you go crazy too?

Mr. Antcliff: Ian, it's hard for me to be very tough on the guy, to be honest. You see, I recently came into posession of a document that opened my eyes to a few things. I cannot post it here, but I will provide a quick summary.

Maurice left the Broncos - the Broncos didn't cut Maurice. The reason? Maurice made more money in his freshman year at Ohio State than the Broncos were willing to guarantee him. Shocked, Maurice then made a series of bad decisions that brought him to where he is today. So, this isn't the organization's fault. This is Ohio State's fault.

Me: Why hasn't Ashley Lelie been traded yet? Did he and his agent veto the deal to Chicago when they found out Rex Grossman would be the guy throwing passes to him?

Kevin: The Lelie situation is a difficult one. On the one hand, you have a receiver who thinks he's one of the best in the NFL, and just needs a chance to prove it. On the other hand, you have Ashley Lelie.

As far as the Bears trade is concerned, it was the Bears who pulled the plug on the deal. In an effort to prepare him for a future role with the team, the Broncos had Jake Plummer handle the negotiations. The conversation between Plummer and the Bears took place over a cell, so the connection was fuzzy at times. The Bears thought they were sending Thomas Jones to Denver in return for "a picture of me [Plummer]", so they were all for it. Strange. Over a cell "A picture of me" and "Ashley Lelie" sound really similar.

Me: Does Jay Cutler tearfully thank a higher power each day for the Lions drafting Ernie Sims instead of him?

K-Dog: Yes. Mike Shanahan.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Only delaying the inevitable?

After Mike McClary generously mentioned my "crusade" (actually, it's really more of a nudge) to give Craig Monroe a tag worthy of his clutch-hitting mastery on The Daily Fungo Podcast last week, I was hoping to have a hot, fresh update on his nickname situation for you.

Unfortunately, I was thwarted in my attempts to learn if Monroe's teammates had slapped any creative handles on him.

I can't complain. (Okay, I may have complained to one or five people during my drive home. But I assure you it was polite.) As credentialed media (thanks, Motor City Sports Magazine - August issue on newsstands now), I still got to sit in the Comerica Park press box on Monday night. But since the story I was working on didn't require speaking to anyone in the Tigers' clubhouse, I wasn't allowed in that area of the ballpark. I'm not arguing. There was no reason for me to have that access.

Was I disappointed? Certainly. I had a wonderful spiel prepared for Mr. Monroe. Alas, it wasn't to be. If I'm fortunate enough to make at least one more credentialed trip to Comerica Park this season, I can only hope that clubhouse access is part of the package. Because if Craig Monroe was given a sweet nickname by his teammates (especially if it was slightly dirty), we should know about it.

We, the People!

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Hey! You bloggers! Down in front!

It's the talk of the metro Detroit sports blogosphere!

Bloggers are meeting at Comerica Park. The date is September 5. The opponent is the Seattle Mariners. We'll be sitting in Mezzanine Section 212, which is a little far for Ichiro to hear my declared (heterosexual) love for him, but we'll be in Row 1, and I'm told my voice carries, so we'll see what happens.

Ichiro. Casselberry. Hing Dai. Chung Kwo. (Deadwood reference. Sorry.)

Other bloggers who will be happy to shake your hand, talk baseball, and accept any offered free hot dogs and beer thus far include Billfer of The Detroit Tigers Weblog, Samela of Roar of the Tigers (and Blue Cats and Red Sox), Brian of Beyond Boxscores (and Big Ten Hardball), Rob of The Cheap Seats, Ryan of Tigers Central, and Greg Eno of Out of Bounds (and Where Have You Gone, Johnny Grubb?)

Is that it for the italicized hyperlinks? No! Because Big Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience has told me he'll be in attendance, as well.

Operators are standing by and invitations are being passed out, so who knows who else will be there? The Leelanau Sports Guy? The Sports Dude? Maybe Terry Foster and Pat Caputo can stop by, since they're bloggers too.

It'd be great if Mike of The Daily Fungo and Kurt of Mack Avenue Tigers could join us, as well. But that would be kind of a hike (especially for Mike, out in Arizona). And what, no K-Dog?

I made the comment at The Detroit Tigers Weblog that I'd prefer people approach me through my publicist and not make eye contact with me at any point during the evening, but that was a joke. I'll be the guy with the stack of 8 X 10 glossies in his lap, waiting to be passed out. Please come on over and say hi, bloggers and readers, one and all. It should be a fun night.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Not the man you take him for

Here's something interesting, if you happen to be a fan of Detroit sports and the TV show Deadwood. (And it just so happens I know a guy who co-writes a Deadwood blog...)

Ian McShane, better known as Al Swearengen, quite possibly the best #@$%ing villain in the history of television drama, is something of a Detroit sports fan himself. I don't think I'd have guessed that one.

From a Q&A at SI.com:

SI: You moved to Venice Beach in 2003, when you signed on for the Deadwood role. Have you become immersed in any of the Los Angeles teams?

McShane: My wife is American and she's from Detroit. My teams are the Red Wings and Pistons. I am very sad that Brendan Shanahan has left the Red Wings and Ben Wallace has left the Pistons.

The idea of Al Swearengen - a man who'd just as soon cut your throat as shake your hand - feeling sad about Big Ben and Shanny leaving Detroit is almost too absurd to believe. Yet also so cool. (I'd sure would've loved to hear his opinions on those defections, however. Ooooh, our ears would burn!) But I suppose it does make me feel a bit better, knowing our pain is felt elsewhere.

Maybe I can parlay my "night job" as a "sportswriter" into some quality sit-down time with Mr. McShane. Plus, we both have the same super-sexy first name. We'd have so much to talk about!

Five questions with Al Swearengen in the future? As Al might say, "Not #@$%ing likely."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

All I know is that I love it

I don't know about you guys, but I'm quickly running out of adjectives to describe what the Tigers are doing this season. And rather than try to recap yet another incredible late-inning moment, I'll let Eric Seals' photo in today's Detroit Free Press do most of the talking.

After screaming in disbelief as soon as Pudge swung at Fausto Carmona's first pitch (and the body language on both hitter and pitcher told you all you needed to know), I just sat back with my hand over my mouth.

This is the kind of season we've watched other teams experience for so long. These moments that the Tigers are giving us were previously reserved for highlights on "Baseball Tonight" - certainly admirable, but since they belonged to another team, not truly enjoyable.

But now that this is happening to the Tigers, and it's our guy hitting a game-ending (save that "walk-off" jazz, okay?) home run, and our team gathered into a jumping, jubilant, celebratory mob at home plate, envy is being replaced by joy.

How much #@$%ing fun is this right now?

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¡Que Lastima, Fausto!

Since we were talking about nicknames, how about one for Fausto Carmona? Is it safe to say this kid will not be staying in Cleveland's closer picture?

After serving it up to David Ortiz earlier in the week, and now Pudge, I propose that Carmona be known from now on as "Camine Apagado" - Spanish for "walk-off."

"The Griddle" at Baseball Toaster has Carmona's week laid out in cold, grisly detail. No horror movies necessary for Indians fans this weekend.

Can Mark Shapiro call a mulligan on that Bob Wickman trade?

(Photo by Eric Seals/ Detroit Free Press)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Okay, seriously - give this guy a nickname

As Rod Allen excitedly blurted into his microphone last night, "CRAIGDIDITAGAIN!!!" (At least I think that's what he said. A bit hard to make out, in all the excitement.)

This has now gone from "Hey, that's an idea" to "Why hasn't it happened already?"

Even Mike McClary has buckled under the recent onslaught of important hits from Craig Monroe's bat, and is now ready to give the man his due status.

Monroe needs a nickname. And we'll have to do it ourselves, because outlets like ESPN apparently think David Ortiz is the only guy who comes up with big hits in important moments.

Ask the other teams in the AL Central what they think about Monroe in the clutch. The White Sox, Twins, and now, the Indians have each found themselves on the business end of Craig's late-inning six-shooter.

Beginning in the sixth, the Tigers began to chip away at the Indians' six-run lead. 5-2. Then, 6-4. How about 6-5? And after Fernando Cabrera (hey, at least it wasn't Carmona, Tribe fans) served up an inside pitch that Monroe hit deep, but foul, he put the next one right over the plate. 7-6. The legend continues.

Give the man a nickname.

And I'm not talking about this "C-Mo" stuff that I heard tossed around the broadcast booth and clubhouse after the game. The whole first-initial-combined-with-first-syllable-of-the-last-name nickname trend is played out. We can be more original than that, can't we?

Samela tagged him with "Craiggers" a couple of years ago, and that's nice, but it doesn't capture the majesty and epic nature of Monroe's latest feats.

So I'll put my brain to it today and if I can come up with anything. I'll be at the Tigers-Twins game on Monday as "media" for Motor City Sports Magazine, so maybe I can see if any nicknames have been thrown around the clubhouse. Otherwise, please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

Meanwhile, I didn't catch all of the game (a negligence that also afflicted Billfer and Kurt last night), but a couple of arbitary thoughts about the Indians struck me:

1) This Shin-Soo Choo kid can play! Last week, I said "Shin-Soo Who?" (yeah, I'm sure that was original) when I saw that Cleveland had traded Ben Broussard for him. But between the pop he's shown at the plate, and that agonizingly impressive diving catch he made on Magglio Ordonez in the eighth, I'm taking notice.

2) Andy Marte has a gun at third base. I know he hasn't hit for squat since being called up from Triple-A, but did you see the play he made in the sixth? After snagging Brandon Inge's hot shot down the third-base line, from behind the bag - and in foul territory - Marte zings a throw to first that Casey Blake catches chest-high. Inge was safe, but not by much.

Am I overestimating that throw? Too easily impressed by a play other third basemen have made? Are you sure? How many guys would've bounced that throw to first? Again, it hit Blake's glove at his chest. Once that guy starts hitting (and he looks like a 40-homer guy in the making), watch out.

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