You Better Shop Around
When I was a kid my American League team was the Detroit Tigers.Â In those days before interleague play, it was safe having a team you liked in the other league, and since there was only one nationally televised baseball game a week, and half of them were American League games, you needed a rooting interest over there.Â Iâ€™m not sure how I came to the Tigers, exactly, although I think when I first saw the batting stance of Dick McAuliffe my natural penchant for the eccentric was piqued.Â Plus, Mickey Lolich was fat.Â (I was pretty skinny back then, so this was again my tendency to celebrate human oddity.) They had a couple of Â some sluggers, Willie Horton (no, not the revolving door one) and big Gates Brown off the bench.Â Then came Birdmania and Mark Fidrych, even if the teams werenâ€™t nearly as good.Â
My Tigermania didnâ€™t really last that long.Â By the time they won their second World Series in my lifetime (1984) they were coached by Sparky Anderson, who took the Tiger Beat in 1980.Â I never liked Sparky Anderson, so that pretty much put an end to it.Â I recognized that Trammell and Whitaker were great players, but Sparky was too much to maintain my love for the laundry. (Anderson and Lasorda were my two least-favorite managers, at least until La Russa came storming up from behind. ) 1980 is also when Magnum PI premiered with Tom Selleck in his trademark Tigers cap.Â My crush had reached the mainstream, so I had to move on.
Why am I talking about the Tigers? Well, I was just looking at the team batting numbers and the Tigers are the only team that has not yet hit 100 homers. Not coincidentally, they are also the only team that hasnâ€™t scored 500 runs. And while their spacious park bears some of the blame, that notion is belied by the fact that their pitching staff has given up 600 runs. Until I looked them up a moment ago, I couldnâ€™t have told you who a single Tigers pitcher was, and even now that that Iâ€™ve looked them up I have no idea who any of them are except Joey Wentz.
So I have no real reason to recount any of this except out of gratitude for my National League team, who I didnâ€™t even pick: they picked me by moving to Atlanta in 1966.Â Sometimes you just get lucky.
You Can’t Win If You Can’t Score
So it is general wisdom that the loss column matters more than the win column. The theory behind this is that you can always create another win, but there is no way to reduce your total losses. But even when you win 70 percent of your games, your chance of winning any particular two games is only about 50 percent. Tonight the Braves, trailing the Mets by two wins, made up one of those games in a tilt against the Phillies, and failed to score, thus falling a game-and-a-half behind the Mets.
Maximus was on the mound against Yogi Bear’s nemesis: Ranger Suarez. (“I did not realize those were pic-a-nic baskets, Mr. Ranger, Sir!”) The Phillies managed the only run of the game in the 2nd when Realmuto reached first on an infield single, advanced to third on a single and scored on a sac fly.
Lee and Minter pitched three good innings, but they were matched by Zach Eflin (now working out of the bullpen) and Jose Alvarado. There were plenty of opportunities for both teams but they combined for 0-12 with runners in scoring position and 16 men left on base.
The weather has turned cold up here in the Northeast, which might signal a reduction in homers. If true, this might be bad for a homer-dependent team. But it’s not like there were a lot (or any) warning-track shots tonight, so let’s hit the ball hard in the three remaining games of this series and then see how far it flies.
Chip took the night off. AJ Pierzynski really likes to talk. Kenny Albert appeared to recognize he gets paid no matter how much AJ talks.
Grossman got hosed. Bats are cold as ice.
Very tough loss. Atlanta had incredible opportunities to score but could not cash in. They were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. Based on what was said on the radio, the wind robbed a few homeruns from both us and the Phillies. Let’s hope we get the good Odorizzi tomorrow. We face our nemesis (day games) on Saturday and Sunday.
Ranger Suarez, the projection systems seemed to think, was a dark horse to be a very good pitcher, so I took him in fantasy. This has allowed this particular Phillie to disappoint me in two heretofore unexpected ways: first, his individual season up to now against the other 28 teams, and second, his performance last night against our doughty nine.
Bit of a white flag lineup last night, to be honest. At this point in the season, the only thing more important to our October hopes than the divisional pennant is Ronald’s health, so I’d consider that an acceptable ordering of priorities.
I hope that now that Matt Olson has broken his massive slump, he’ll get hot. Lord knows we could use a middle-of-the-order bat. And he’s on the team for the next decade. He’s got all the home cooking he needs. So now he’s just got to go out and be the hitter he can be.
What happened in Philly last night was very sad and unfortunate.
What happened in Gwinnett last night was hilarious.
This poor guy. I mean, yeah, it definitely looked long gone off the bat.
Alright, looks like we’re gonna need a weekend sweep moving forward. I don’t have a ton of confidence in the A’s, but maybe they can steal one at home vs. the Mets.
Aside from quick score checks on the MLB app, missed every bit of last night’s game. Went to see Blue Oyster Cult (remember them?) Their singer was rocking a Mets cap all night.
My fave Detroit Tigers moment from the Game-of-the-Week Era:
Back in those days, my fave AL team was always the Orioles. Why? My father met Brooks Robinson on a USO tour in Vietnam & he sent back an audio tape with Brooks & Mel Allen giving me shout outs. (Torre, Killebrew & Musial were also on that tour.) When I became conscious to baseball a couple years later, it was the 1970 WS & Brooks just owned that series. Made perfect sense to me.
The path from Marichal to Campaneris to Clemens shows just how much kindler and gentler we’ve become.
PS: My late cousin used to be a sound engineer for BOC.
@7 – I remember the Campaneris incident well. It’s for the best that you didn’t go back to Ty Cobb.
I just looked it up and Juan Marichal was suspended for a grand total of…EIGHT GAMES!!! Which, as a starting pitcher, is at most TWO STARTS!!! I mean, holy crap! If that happened today, he’d be suspended at least a year and probably face criminal charges.
Yup… and then there’s NHL hockey…
In the Campaneris incident, MLB suspended Campy for the remaining 3 games of the ALCS, the first 7 games of the ’73 season, but not the ’72 World Series vs. Cincy that followed… plus he was fined a grand total of $500. (Considering that Campy was Charles Finley employee, that was probably somewhat significant.)
And pretty amusing how crazy Billy Martin got… considering he’s the guy who ordered his pitcher to hit him.
@9 If that happened today, they’d have to suspend him at least 20 games, if the goal was for a starting pitcher to miss 18 innings.
It’s pretty amusing that he got to play in the World Series in the middle of his suspension, and is as good an illustration as any of how separate the two leagues were prior to the mid 90s.
@5 This is the other bookend to the home run hit by Jeremy Brown at the end of Moneyball
Classic… no knockdown pitches necessary. Eternal embarrassment will suffice.
JonathanF, nice paean to the 60s/70s Tigers. I always followed the Tigers because their AA team was my hometown team (aka the Montgomery Rebels). Of course, I was drawn to the Braves and Orioles in 1969 – hence my extreme distaste for the Mets. I have always been drawn to the big lefties (handedness is my special bias – I hate to admit I liked Koosman and Matlack) so Lolich and McNally were a couple of my faves. I think I may have that McAuliffe card in my collection somewhere (or maybe it was a ’69 McAuliffe). I loved watching Bird, Whitaker, and Trammell. Earlier I was a Bill Freehan fan (I think of Freehan as the pre-Fisk) and who could not like Al Kaline.
No RAJ again…sigh
It is Stinky pitching… funny how Nola locks us down but gets torched by the Mets.
Braves taking a half game lead on the division for a single day seems like it will be the high point of the regular season :/
The truck was backing up when Odorizzi was pitching again tonight
Nothing 10 runs won’t cure.
@20 the last two games are no indication of that
Odorizzi definitely isn’t Will Smith.
I’d make Odorizzi throw 300 pitches tonight.
Nothing 20 runs won’t cure.
Wow .. either we are giving up and resting or we are wore out .. and limping to the finish
Matzek at 91 mph on the 4-seam…
I didn’t even know we had Rylan Bannon. The guy has had some pretty decent years, but he looks to be AAA filler. This is the 7th team he’s played for since 2017 and he didn’t even play in 2020. Not an easy life.
Interesting that this team didn’t have a 3-game losing streak until its (record-setting?) 110th game and, despite continuing to play pretty well, now has had four such streaks. It’s almost as if that sort of thing is partly random.
Not sure how I feel about Steve Bannon’s son being on the team…
Mike Cuellar, dude…
Silver lining: no regrets about a close one getting away.
In lieu of talking about THAT, here’s something I missed till just now. Neat!