Poll: Who Should the Tigers Target in the Outfield?

The Tigers recently acquired the speedy Anthony Gose from the Toronto Blue Jays in a move that seems to have the purpose of solidifying the outfield from a defensive standpoint. The Tigers may be done making moves in the outfield… or they may not be.

Most experts predict that one of two things will happen next:

  • Gose will play CF, moving Rajai Davis to LF and Martinez to RF
  • The Tigers will try to acquire a LF bat, allowing Gose and Davis to split CF duties while moving J.D. Martinez to RF

What do you think the Tigers should do?

I’m up for discussion. Let’s talk.

The Time of the Season for Loathing

A week or so ago, a friend of mine wrote a wonderful post reflecting on the 2014 MLB season, the drama of the playoffs, and the beauty of baseball. It was a wonderfully written retrospective that captured not only the feeling of sadness that comes with the end of each season, but also the feeling of joy that comes from having experienced it and knowing that there will be another. You should really read it.

As you may have probably haven’t noticed, I’ve been pretty absent on the ol’ blog and Twitter since the season ended. Actually, I’ve been pretty absent since the Tigers were swept out of the postseason by the Orioles. It’s been a strange time, this last month. Here’s the deal.

I’ve been in a downward spiral of melancholy since the Tigers were eliminated from the postseason.

In Débora’s post, she quotes an essay by A. Bartlett Giamatti titled “The Green Fields of the Mind.” It’s a beautifully depressing essay, and it hits the nail on the head. At the end of the season, I feel the same way Giamatti feels, the same way Débora feels. Baseball breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised.

But Débora is a better person than I am. Because while she was able to move past the heartbreak toward a place where allegiances to particular teams fall away and the beauty, the poetry of baseball is unclouded, I was not. I’ve been stuck in a quagmire of all the sad feels, and I don’t know how to get out.

Realistically, I don’t think anyone had the Tigers pegged to win the World Series after, like, May. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t sad to watch your team bow out. That was the first emotion I felt: sadness at the end of another season without a World Series title.

Next came confusion. How could a team with so much talent be so… inconsistent? Truth be told, this was frustration masked as confusion. I knew why they were inconsistent. I just didn’t want to believe it. They were inconsistent because their bullpen was awful. They were inconsistent because their defense was porous. They were inconsistent because their hitters were streaky; because their star player was hurt all season; because their rookie manager managed like a rookie. There are a million reasons why the Tigers didn’t get it done this year, and those of us who have watched them know the reasons all too well.

After being confused/frustrated (confustrated? confustrated.) for a few days, it got really ugly. Fuck the Tigers, I thought. FUCK ‘EM. They deserved to lose, buncha assholes. Swept? By the Orioles? COME ON. It’s hard to win too many baseball games with your tails between your legs, isn’t it? I am not proud of this time. Forgive me.

But then I stopped caring. The spiral spiraled so spirally that it spiraled right into apathy. I did not care about the Tigers. I did not care about baseball. I did not watch even one single pitch of another playoff game after the Tigers were swept, World Series included.

I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t muster up enough fucks to watch a team the Tigers manhandled all season go on an incredible, unlikely run. I couldn’t procure enough shits to give about the team that swept the Tigers out of the World Series in 2012 going on to win another championship. You win, baseball. I give up. Seeya never. I couldn’t even bring myself to get excited about next season.

Slowly, the pain is fading away. The trade rumors, the free agent signings… they’re making it better. There is hope for a new season that will come as surely as the spring. But in the back of my mind is the lingering feeling, almost a certainty, that the Tigers will disappoint me again.

I don’t want to be this way. I want to snap out of it, to return to a feeling of optimism. I want to feel like THIS YEAR IS THE YEAR again. It’s just taking me a while, and Lord knows that the winter isn’t much for fostering a renewed sense of faith. It might not happen until the spring.

The only thing that can cure the sadness baseball brings is, well… baseball.

The Time of the Season for Loving

Today’s special contribution comes from my new friend, Débora. While Débora isn’t exactly a Tigers fan (I won’t tell you who her favorite teams are… it’s better you don’t know), she is a lover of all things baseball. Despite the fact that she is crazy busy as a PhD candidate, Débora took time away from writing her dissertation,“Beyond the Outfield: Baseball Fiction and Historical Fantasy, 1864-Present,” to contribute to Musings. I couldn’t be more excited she did. Enjoy.

As the baseball season comes to a close, I’m filled with melancholy, as I am after every year. After the World Series wraps up, I always reread A. Bartlett Giamatti’s beautiful essay, “The Green Fields of the Mind,” and find it resonates deep within me:

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

Yes, this is how I feel. Baseball offers a continual evocation of the changing of the seasons, the methodical passing of time, a gentle reminder of mortality. But it’s also comforting in its constancy; it’s a daily companion over the long, languid summer days. It feels like eternal youth. And, as the days get shorter and winter approaches, I like to meditate on that for a while.

More than that, though, the end of the season—particularly if it showcases a compelling World Series, like it has this year—reminds me of why I’m a baseball fan. These days, there’s a lot of handwringing over baseball’s fate in the US: young people find it boring, the games are too long, the World Series’ ratings are low, football is the new national pastime. This all may be true, but I love the game more with each passing year.

This year, particularly, I found myself thinking a lot about why I love baseball. I had the time and opportunity to do this, partially, because my team missed the playoffs. While I wasn’t happy about it, I found it freed me to focus on the game’s beauty, not just wins and losses. In the words of one sports critic, I found myself thinking about “why sports [in my case mainly baseball] irresistibly captures the attention and imagination…It is a fascination in the true sense of the word—a phenomenon that manages to paralyze the eyes, something that endlessly attracts.” That’s what I’ve been consumed with lately: just how beautiful and enjoyable baseball is.

With no real allegiance during the postseason, I could just sit back and take in the games with no anxiety; I could focus on what was aesthetically pleasing. By the time the World Series rolled around, I found myself rooting for the Royals. Like others around the country, I liked that they were underdogs with a long-suffering fan base waiting for some relief. Added to that, I appreciated their style of play. The bunting, good base-running, athletic defense: a throwback to a time I didn’t experience firsthand but have seen in old highlight reels and read about in books and newspapers. Whether it was watching Lorenzo Cain tracking down a ball to make a spectacular diving catch or Jarrod Dyson dancing off of a base, the Royals were just fun to watch. And, of course, the Giants were entertaining in their own right: Pablo Sandoval continuing his blistering postseason offensive output, Joe Panik emerging as a young talent to watch, Madison Bumgarner etching his name in the record books with a dominant pitching performance.

I fell in love with baseball for reasons like this, because of players like these. And I’ll take some time to drink it in before getting into the hot stove or worrying about next season. Baseball may break my heart, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take and I’ll always come back for more.

Your ALDS Game 2 Preview

If the Tigers hope to move on to yet another ALCS, they’ll have to overcome the AL East champs to do it. Here’s what to watch for today.

Game 1 Recap: Tigers Lose, 12-3

Holy hell. That was no way to start a series, was it? The Tigers got absolutely annihilated last night by the Orioles. Max Scherzer was, ehhhh, so-so at best. He tallied six strikeouts over 7 and 1/3 innings, but also surrendered five earned runs — three of which came by way of the long-ball. In case you didn’t already know, Nelson Cruz is a certified Tiger killer. Baltimore scored 8 runs in the 8th to turn a close game into a blowout. Detroit’s offense could only muster three runs, all on solo homers, even though they worked Baltimore starter Chris Tillman for 105 pitches through 5 innings. Also worth noting is the fact that Rajai Davis looked absolutely terrible. I’ll be surprised if we see him at all again this series.

Justin Verlander vs. Baltimore Hitters 

JV is usually at his best when it matters most. If ever there was an important start this season, today would be the day. The good news is that Verlander has dominated Orioles hitters in his career. Here are his numbers, provided by ESPN.

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Justin is 1-1 on the year against Baltimore with a 4.50 ERA and 7 strikeouts.

Detroit Hitters vs. Wei-Yin Chen

The Orioles will send a lefty to the mound in Chen, whom the Tigers have not seen at all this season. In fact, most of Detroit’s players have never seen Chen at all. See for yourself.

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On the season, the Tigers own a .285/.336/.429 slash line against left-handed starters with 46 homers. All we can hope is that the Tigers can leave Baltimore with a split. Otherwise, they’ll be in a real tough spot when they head back to Detroit.

*****

Make sure to check back here each day the Tigers play throughout the postseason for a preview of what’s to come.

Go Tigers!