Archive for July, 2004


Morris Shelled, Tigers Winning Streak Snapped

July 18, 1984 White Sox 10, Tigers 6 (62-29)

It’s not too often that your ace gets shelled to stop a nice winning streak, but that’s what happened as Jack Morris gave up 10 hits and seven runs in four innings of work. The last time Jack Morris won a start was June 24, nearly a month ago.

Larry Herndon drove in three runs on a triple, and Lance Parrish hit his eighteenth homer of the season.



Petry, Hernandez, Combine for Five Hitter to Extend Winning Streak

July 17, 1984 Tigers 3, White Sox 2 (62-28)

The Tigers scored three quick runs in the first inning on a sacrafice fly by Kirk Gibson and two run shot by Darrell Evans. Eight innings later, they were still sitting on three runs, but it was just enough to walk away with a win.

Dan Petry pitched another fine game. He went 7 2/3, gave up five hits and one walk, while striking out five to improve to 12-4. Willie Herndandez then finished things up by throwing 1 1/3 perfect innings to earn his seventeenth save.



Maroth One Hits Yankees

There’s not too much more to say then that. This wasn’t the Royals, or the Orioles, or the Mariners. Mike Maroth went out in front of nearly 41,000 fans and threw a one hitter against the best team in baseball. It was his first career shutout, and only his second career complete game.

Gary Sheffield got the only hit in the fourth inning. A-Rod walked, but then Maroth got Jason Giambi to ground out.

There were also some fine defensive plays in this one. Brandon Inge made a nice falling catch at the wall in deep centerfield. Eric Munson, Omar Infante, and Carlos Pena also combined on a nice double play.

Kansas City is crushing the Twins, and the White Sox are down 3-1 early against Oakland. If both of those teams lose out, the Tigers will 4 1/2 back.

I actually saw someone today looking for Tiger tickets. I know it’s the Yankees, but it’s been a few years since I saw someone actually soliciting for Tiger tickets, with little luck.

So the Tigers go tomorrow night to see who can take the lead in this series. One advantage of having a crying hungry baby is get you watch a lot of TV (what else can you do when he’s in your arms), so I’ve got to watch a lot of Tiger baseball. And it’s a good time to be a fan.



Trial By Fire

I’ll write a more detailed report later, but you have to feel for Wil Ledezma. After mopping up in AA, he gets to face Alex Rodriguez as his first hitter in yesterday’s game. A-Rod took him deep, but then calmed down and got through the rest of the inning nicely.



Baseball Cards

I resisted the urge to open my 2004 Topps Factory set yesterday. Not because it would drop in value the moment I took the shrink wrap off, but because I wanted to wait until my son is older to enjoy opening up and looking through the cards.

Which got me to thinking. I had collected pretty heavily in the 1980s. I have each Topps set from 1980-1993. But now I’m missing 1994-2003. So if anyone out there has an extra set they’d like to trade, or if there’s a vendor who wants to work something out with me, drop me a line. I know the card industry isn’t what it was like when I was a kid, but by filling in these sets, then I know I have at least one card of the good players coming through.

UPDATE

Since posting this, I’ve purchased a 1994 Topps set, so I can scratch that off of my list.



Tigers Extend Winning Streak to Four Games on Five Hitter

July 16, 1984 Tigers 7, White Sox 1 (61-28)

Glenn Abbot pitched his best game of the season, throwing a five hit, one run complete game. Glenn Abbot was used as fourth/fifth starter in certain situations, racking up eight starts over thirteen games. After a rough stretch, the Tigers ended up releasing him on Auguest 14, 1984, ending his major league career.

Kirk Gibson was the hitting star, driving in three runs and scoring three on a homerun and a triple. Chet Lemon had two hits, and Lou Whitaker and Rupert Jones also drove in runs.



Bronx Bombers Come to Town

Each of the four games looks like it’s going to be a sell out when the Yankees square off against the Tigers in this four game series. The buzz in the air, and a lot of people are talking about the Tigers. How they do in the next couple of weeks will determine whether we’re buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and a good series here against New York would go a long way towards giving the Tigers some credibilty.

I also have a gripe. I normally don’t take shots at other writers, but this is just plain bad journalism that I have to at least comment on it. I’ve never cared for Jack McDowell’s, former White Sox pitcher, column on Yahoo. In fact, I normally skip them. But this time I got suckered into clicking on it because it was in the main story. Basically it was about surprise teams and who has a shot down the stretch.

Click HERE and go read it. Then come back. You really only have to read the first paragraph.

The freaking Indians? Yeah, I’d say they’re a surprise, but they didn’t lose 119 games last year. We’re tied with the Indians, and in my opinion, have just as good of a shot to make a move then they do. He even mentions the Devil Rays, who have no shot at division title. They can only bank on the Wild Card.

Anyway, it pissed me off. The Tigers aren’t perfect, but they’re right there with all the other teams in contention in the division. They deserve some respect.

Game starts in 15 minutes. I’m waiting for the boy to get home so we can watch it. I also got my 2004 Topps Factory Set in the mail. I think I’m going to wait until my son Devin gets older before we open it up and go through the cards. I bought the set from Bruce Harris Cards. The service was great, and I got my cards pretty quickly at a reasonable price. He’s a got a nice site, so be sure to check it out if cards are your thing.



Tigers Win Third Game in Row, Take Series Over Twins

July 15, 1984 Tigers 6, Twins 2 (60-28)

Dave Rozema pitched six strong innings and Aurilio Lopez pitched 3 2/3 innings of one hit ball to earn his eleventh save of the season. The two pitchers each had five strikeouts.

Dave Rozema had some nice years for the Tigers, but never reached his full potential. In 1977, he was the Tigers Rookie of the Year after going 15-7 with a 3.09 ERA. The fact that he struck out only 92 batters in 218 1/3 innings sort of gave everyone a reflection that this first season might have been an anamoly. He finished eighth in the Cy Young voting that year, but he’d never reach double digits in wins again.

By 1984, Dave was near the end of his career. He did have a fine season, as all the Tigers seemed to do that year, playing the role of spot starter and long reliever for the Tigers. He pitched 101 innings, and racked up an impressive ERA of 3.74.

Lou Whitaker went four for five, and Darrell Evans hit had three RBIs and a homerun. Lemon, Bergman, and Howard Johnson all had two hits.



All Star Dreams

It’s a very rare occurance when you get to see the greatest pitcher of our generation throw the baseball to the greatest hitting catcher of all time. Possibly almost as rare as seeing Barry Bonds get a pitch to hit with a man on second and first base open. But that’s the kind of game you’ll get when you watch the All Star Game.

I loved watching this game as a kid, always rooting for the American League (who lost most years during that stretch). I know the game doesn’t have the same luster that it once had, but it’s still a blast to watch. From the opening pitch with Muhammed Ali, to Roger Clemens getting the snot hit out of, and even to the Homerun Derby, which I view as more of gimmick then anything.

Ivan Rodriguez, one of the Tiger’s representatives, had a triple and single, driving in one and scoring once. Probably my biggest complaint of the game was Carlos Guillen didn’t get a chance to play.

And now the second half begins. For the first time in a long time, the Tigers are in the thick of things. I was surprised to hear with the Yankees coming into town, most of all four games have been sold out. Attendance usually rises during the Yankees games, but it’s been a while since a Tiger game sold out for no other reason then they’re playing good baseball and going up against one of the better teams.



Tigers Top Twins in Second Straight Extra Inning Affair

July 14, 1984 Tigers 6, Twins 5 (59-28)

Chalk up another win for the bullpen. Starter Milt Wilcox pitched 5 2/3 mediocre innings before leaving the game with the Tigers down 4-3. Doug Bair pitched 3 1/3 perfect innings, and Willie Hernandez pitched three innings of one hit ball to earn his second win in as many games.

With the Tigers down by a run in the ninth, Dave Bergman hit a solo homer to send the game into extra innings. Then an RBI single by Chet Lemon and a Sac. Fly by Dave Bergman in the twelth put the game away. Tim Teufel his a solo shot off of Hernandez in the bottom half of the twelth, but it wasn’t enough.



Tigers Win in 11 on Lou Whitaker’s In the Park Homer

July 13, 1984 Tigers 5, Twins 3 (58-28)

Jack Morris and the usual suspects in the pen, Aurilio Lopez and Willie Hernandez, kept the Tigers in this one just long enough for the bats to get going and win the game for them.

Jack Morris pitched one of his better games in a while, going 7 1/3, walking none, and giving up only eight hits and three runs (one earned, two unearned).

The game was saved by Kirk Gibson, who threw Tim Teufel out at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (Thanks again to Sparky’s Bless You Boys, this doesn’t show up in the boxscores). Then in the top half of the eleventh, Lou Whitaker hit a two run in the park homerun to put the Tigers up for good. Willie Hernandez improved to 5-0, and Aurilio Lopez earned his tenth save.



Tigers Drop First Post-All Star Game

July 12, 1984 Twins 4, Tigers 2 (57-28)

Another tough loss, as a relatively strong pitching performance by Dan Petry was wasted. Dan went 7 1/3 innings, giving up nine hits and four runs (three earned, one unearned).

Frank Viola was a just a little bit better. Eight innings, five hits, one run, and five strikeouts. 1984 would be Frank Viola’s breakout season, and for the last half of the 1980s, he was dominating as any pitcher, including 24 wins and Cy Young in 1988. Frank was also the World Series MVP in 1987. From 1984 through 1988 he won no less then 16 games in a season and never pitched less then 245 innings. After a rough 1989 season, he bounced back and won 20 games in 1990 with the Mets.



Turnaround on the Road

I just got done watching the Tiger game this afternoon, and at this point, Jason Johnson has to be thrown into the long list of surprises this year. He threw a five hit shutout today, and in four of his last five starts, he’s given up one earned run or less, and he’s 3-0 during that same stretch (which included the one hitter against the D-Backs. If the White Sox lose (they’re down 3-1), then the Tigers will be five games back heading into the break.

I heard some great commentary this morning by Pat Caputo, who I consider the Detroit area’s media expert on baseball. He also said, despite the logic of a 43 win team bouncing back and making the playoffs the next year, that the Tigers should be considered contenders and they should make a deal to improve their team without mortgaging their future.

I now have the Futures Game on the TV, which is always a fun game to watch. The Tigers send Kyle Sleeth and Will Ledezma to the game, so they’re well represented. Prince Fielder, son of former Tiger Cecil Fielder, is up to bat and roped an opposite field single.

White Sox just took the lead, so if they win, then the Tigers will lose that half game. They are seven games behind the White Sox in the loss column, which is a little more telling of how much ground they have to make.

I started playing MVP Baseball 2004 this weekend. I’ve basically mastered the easy level, and I’m going to move up and see how I do. I think the guy who’s supposed to imitate Charly the singing hot dog guy does a very poor impersonation of him. Outside of that, a great game.

I also went to Electronic Boutique to try to sell a handful of games. The amount they wanted to give me was inadequate. Regardless, if anyone has a PS2 or XBox and wants to trade some games, drop me a line.



Books and a Tiger Bounce Back

I had some nice responses to my last post on Moneyball. Not so much on the actual book, but from fans of some of the other books I’m reading. If you ever want to talk books or stocks, as well as baseball, feel free to drop me a line. I have my opinions. And hopefully everyone went and read Aaron’s work. Those were some really good columns.

The Tigers bounced back from a poor performance on Thursday to even the series with the Twins. Rookie Jason Smith doubled his career homerun total with two solo shots, and Jose Guillen hit a three run shot to start things off in the first to give the Tigers the lead, for good.

With the win, the Tigers won their 40th game of the year. That was July 9th. Last year the Tigers didn’t win their 40th game until September 24th. They could realistically pass their previous season’s mark for wins the weekend after the All Star Break.

Last year, the Minnesota Twins were down by 7.5 games in the AL Central and sitting in third place right before the All Star Break. Two wins this weekend, and Tigers will be five games back (5.5 if the White Sox win both their games) and probably tied for third with the Indians. Yes, their pitching could wear down. But it may not. I’m going to go on record now, because I haven’t said it before, but this team now has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.

Look at it this way. If Vina and Inge come back, it will help the offense down the stretch. We’ll bring up Will Ledezma and Nate Cornejo to bolster the pen. What I’d like to see them then do is trade Urbina, but not for prospects. Maybe get two good middle relievers who will really help in critical situations. I know there’s a ton of if’s, but this isn’t unrealistic.



NL Tops AL in Pitching Dual

July 10, 1984 National League 3, American League 1

The National League scored one run in each of the first two innings, and that’s basically all they needed. Gary Carter hit a homerun in the second inning, and I believe he ended up the MVP.

Tiger notables included the following:

Lou Whitaker 2 for 3
Chet Lemon 1 for 3
Lance Parrish 0 for 2
Jack Morris 2 IP, 2 hits, 1 BB, 2 strikeouts
Willie Hernandez 1 IP, 1 strikeout, gave up a solo shot to Dale Murphy



Moneyball, the All Star Break, and the Twins

If there’s one place I love more then my house, it’s the library. For those of you who don’t know me, I love to read. And I love to read about a wide range of topics. At this very moment, I’m reading the following:

Damn Right – A biography of Warren Buffet’s partner, Charlie Munger
John Adams – A great biography of our second president
Havana – a novel by Stephen Hunter, great author
Song of Susanah – a recent start, the sixth book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series
Options as a Strategic Investment – Basically a text book on investing in publicly traded options.

Also for those of you who don’t know me, I’m a business junkie. I have an MBA in accounting, and when I get home, I don’t flip on Sportscenter, I flip on CNBC. I was in the library last week looking for the book Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis, which is basically about Mr. Lewis’ time with Salomon Brothers as a bond trader.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have it. I purchased it, along with a reprint of the 1940 edition of Security Analysis by Graham and Dodd. What I did find instead was Moneyball, which was also written by Michael Lewis.

And after just finishing it, I found it a great read. I lean more on the side of the Sabermetric crowd, so I buy into the Billy Beane philosophy. I thought the chapter on Bill James was particularly interesting. There was even a brief mention of the Jeff Weaver deal. He was right about Ted Lilly, who’s pitching in the All Star game for the Blue Jays. Instead of writing a full blown review, I’m going to defer to Aaron Gleeman, who was nice enough to provide me with some links to some excellent columns he wrote on this very subject:


Moneyball

The Boys of Moneyball
The Boys of Moneyball, Again

For the first time in a while, the Tigers have two members playing in the All Star Game. And for the first time since 1988, they actually had a player voted in. I’m looking forward to seeing both Carlos Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez play in the All Star Game this year. This will also be the first All Star Game I get to spend with my four week old son, which is exciting by itself.

And the Tigers start a three game series with the Twins tonight. They’ll be riding their two blowout wins over the best team in baseball right now, the Yankees, so it should be interesting. Will it be the Tigers who manhandled the D-Backs, or the Tigers who blew three straight games to the Rockies? If the Tigers can sweep, they’ll be guaranteed to be only five games back in the AL Central, and that’s if the White Sox sweep their series with the Angels. Three out of four would be very nice as well. But it’s a big series for them.

Hopefully they get off to a good start tonight against the 41 year old Terry Mulholland. Mike Maroth is coming off of a couple of bad outings, so hopefully he can bounce back. Mulholland hasn’t pitched well this year, so this could be their best opportunity.



Tigers Lose Heading Into All Star Break

July 8, 1984 Rangers 9, Tigers 7 (57-27)

Doug Bair got his only start of the season, and basically got pummelled. Jack Morris was picked to pitch in the All Star Game, so Sparky had to let him have the day off on this Sunday game. Bair only lasted 2 2/3, and by the end of the third inning, the Tigers found themselves down seven to nothing. An inning later, and it was eight to two.

The Tigers made an attempt to come back, scoring four in the sixth and one in the seventh, but it just wasn’t enough. Chet Lemon went two for three with three RBIs, and Howard Johnson hit his eighth homer of the year, and drove in three.

Since starting 35-5, the Tiger’s went into the break still exactly 30 games above .500. So for an extended stretch, they were basically playing .500 ball. They still held a seven game lead, but it still didn’t seem like enough.



Rozema, Willie, Shut Down Rangers

July 7, 1984 Tigers 5, Rangers 2 (57-26)

This was a nice win. At this stage of the season, Dave Rozema was basically a fifth starter/long reliever. In this slot, you wouldn’t expect too much from him, but he threw a fine game, going six innings and giving up only one earned run. Willie Hernandez pitched the final three innings, giving up only one hit and striking out five, to earn his sixteenth save of the season.

Lance Parrish hit his sixteenth homer and scored twice. Rupert Jones went three for four, scoring once and driving in a run.



Who Knows Anymore

Like Hemingway and Fittzgerald I do my best work with some alcohol in me so let me say I hate the Yankees (and the Twins). I hate the Yankees (and the Twins). This doesn’t just stem from this little Tigers series in the Bronx where the saintly Yankees have been bullied by Ugueth Urbina and Esteban Yan. Every AL Central series has played out similarly to the current series at that dump they flock to in the Bronx…I think it’s called Yankee Stadium.

Nothing the 200 million dollar wonderboys have done this year really sticks out against their much more impoverished AL Central counterparts. Earlier in the year the Yankes eeked out a couple wins from the White Sox bullpen as the two teams split a 4 game series in the Bronx. The Yanks then took 2 of 3 at Comiskey in a less than stellar series in April, hampered by rain. In May the Yanks swept the Royals (who have contacted me to be their fourth starter) in a three game series in the ghetto (aka The Bronx).

Minnesota has not taken on the Yankess, Chicago has proven to be more than competitive against the Yankess, as have the Tigers, so this begs the question…why do the Yankees, their fans and the national media take for granted that the Yankess will again be in the World Series this season?

To say the Yankess have some problems with starting pitching is to say that the Lions had some quarterback problems in the 90′s. Tom Gordon’s arm is already starting to fall off because Joe Torre puts him out there every game, and much-rumored acquisition Jamie Moyer just got lit up by Toronto.

In the Tigers pursuit for the division, do not lose site of the fact that the American League is not a one horse race. We saw it tonight as New York’s #2 starter was hit around by Detroit. September in Detroit this year looks to mean more than Michigan/Notre Dame and the Lions season getting underway, and could we really ask for more after last year??



What a Difference a Day (weekend) Makes

I visited Comerica Park on Tuesday, June 30th to watch the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. The game was well attended coming off from the high of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Roar of ’84 and the buzz the current team was generating from it’s two successive nights ending in walk-off home runs. Those games restored some hope and excitement for local baseball fans at a time when the general sport’s public attention begins to shift towards baseball. That evening was another exciting display of offensive prowess and it’s walk-off ending in extra innings contributed even more to the local excitement. My counterpart and I listened to the Team 1270 on our ride back to Lansing and the post-game callers had elaborate visions of grandeur as to how this baseball club maybe able to make a run in the division and compete for the postseason playoffs. I have to admit to letting myself get a little caught up in the frenzy as well.

Three disappointing losses in Colorado to the lowly Rockies in heartbreaking fashion and cold-hearted whupping administered by the Yankees, one has to wonder if when we recollect upon this season if that three walk-off Hr weekend will be it’s nexus and the eventual turning point. The Rockies games exposed the Tiger bullpen for the fraud that it is and also showed that as good as the bats are in the lineup they may not be able to win slugfests when the pitching staff is ineffective. So if the Tigers are about to become “Sellers” as opposed to “Buyers” in the impending trade deadline market here are some things I would like to see happen:
1) I would hope the Tigers will at least top last seasons win totals before shipping off any players that may desirable to other organizations to assist them in their postseason runs.
2) I want to see what the dominant (at Erie at least) Wil Ledezma can do if he returns to the big leagues and has a few starts.
3) I hope they can establish a bullpen stopper who is capable of taking up some of Ugueth Urbina’s slack when he is eventually moved.
4) I hope they continue to see better performances from Carlos Pena and Eric Munson and see similar levels of performance from Brandon Inge and Omar Infante. The future of the Tigers is held in their development and continued improvement.

I don’t want have the tone of this article give the appearance of waving a white flag but the fact being that this team has exceeded our imaginations and yet hovers at it’s best just under .500 one can’t reasonably expect that it will rise above at this point. Factoring the lack of depth within the organization for future development, the pressures on Dave Dombrowski to improve upon it’s lack of big league talent will prevent him from mortgaging the future to acquire players for any sort of stretch run. I hope that Double-D is as succesful in his moves as some of the others he has made have been.



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