Posted on: May 8, 2009 12:30 pm
I'm sick and tired of hearing about it. The excuses. The explanations. The debate about the Hall of Fame. I hate hearing every day, it seems, about PEDs, steroids, and HGH by athletes across the board in both amateur and professional sports. But, this issue is here to stay. As more digging and reporting is made, we all need to prepare for once-hallowed names being bandied about as part of the "Steroid Generation" of athletes.
The current fiasco about Manny Ramirez centers on the substance he used "for health issues". Apparently, this is widely taken for testosterone production, especially in recovering from sterioid use. Alright, so the guy got caught. The question most are trying to answer is, Why? Why does a talented, gifted athlete have a need to get to the next level, when he or she is on the top already?
Immortality. They don't ever want to come down off the top tier of the ladder. As age creeps up, sometimes the physical stamina and skills slow or even have the bottom drop out. That is scary for someone always regarded at the top of his selected profession. That, to me, is a factor in the decision to do or take whatever is available at the time to keep the edge for one more game, one more series, one more season. Maybe that's why Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire could be impelled to sacrifice what they accomplished in the past for one more glorious run.
Being naive. Some athletes reportedly don't want to know what their athletic trainers and advocates are recommending as part of their regimen. Do you blame them? Having the question posed, 'Did you knowingly take a performance enhancing substance', who in their right mind would want to say yes. Well, I suppose they could lie about it. Ask Roger Clemens how that route ends up for you.
Inferiority complex. Some have been belittled from youth on up that they would never be good enough. Never good enough in the eyes of their parents, their coach, their team, their sport, or their country. That is a lot of pressure. Some just can't handle that, so feel inclined to speed up their skill and power level artificially. What if they are already regarded at an elite level in their sport? It doesn't matter if you always have the need to be better, faster, stronger and more capable than where you currently are. There is always that inner drive to go one more mile, get a little faster, be a little better.
It doesn't matter to me what the reports or the soundbites during interviews reveal for the reason, the thought-process or the excuses given for using these substances. Cutting to the chase, the individuals have issues. Deep, personal issues that drive them to do this. Until that is addressed effectively for each person involved, this will continue to be the norm in sports. That's how I see it, anyway.
Posted on: May 8, 2009 11:38 am
The Tigers have made some significant roster movements in the past 24 hours. They are hoping to find renewed strength in all of the weaknesses with their pitching rotation. Right now, it seems that their latest baffling dilemma is their woeful lack of hitting. That will be addressed in a later blog. First off, let's examine the current developments regarding some pitchers that I have rated as a minus thus far this season.
Manager Jim Leyland commented Thursday this week on the current status of left handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis. He stated:
"Zach is a tremendous swingman - a very valuable Major League pitcher", the manager quipped.
Zach Miner is willing to do whatever it takes to contribute in a positive way to the club's success, regardless of his current role. A class act. On the year, he has pitched 20 total innings, with a record of 2-1. He needs to cut down the number of pitches thrown, averaging 18.1 per inning. He has recorded 13 strikeouts compared to 11 walks, with an ERA of 4.50.
On A Positive Note
Manager Jim Leyland is just not lacking for interesting sound bites. This one caught my ear, for sure. He suggested that right-handed pitcher Jeremy Bonderman could soon be given a rehab assignment. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since March 30, recovering from thoracic outlet compression syndrome surgery.
Posted on: May 7, 2009 3:02 pm
Welcome to the first posting as a CBS-designated blogger for the Detroit Tigers. These will cover all things related to the boys of summer that don the olde English "D" on their uniforms. History of the team, milestones, tidbits and factoids to help you win a trivia contest, personal anectodotes and memories of games played, and of course the state and trends of the current version of the team calling Comerica Park in Detroit their home field.
It comes as no shock that Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander were all, at best, rehabilitation projects in progress, with no certainty as to how much they would individually contribute to the success of the pitching staff. Bonderman was a hopeful during Spring Training. Given the severity of the shoulder surgery he underwent, the time needed to just get him on the mound with the parent club and compete at a minimual level was, and remains, a huge unknown. His conditioning and rehabbing will continue on at the snail's pace thus far manifest this year. Early in the year, with no certain timetable for him to return to Comerica Park. Rating for the year, a minus for the team.
Dontrelle Willis and his mystery of a diagnosis leaves him in triple-A Toledo, pitching for the Mud Hens. His last couple of outings have been solid. He is still throwing a lot of pitches, so that is a concern. We all know the huge leap it can be for a borderliine major league starting pitcher from AAA to the major league competition. For many who excel and even dominate the minor league hitters, they just cannot sustain any success once facing the lineups that the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins will field against the Tigers during the course of the long regular season. That is seemingly where the Tigers are with Willis. It seems like a long-shot from those that cover the Mud Hens, that Willis may actually be done with pitching at the Major League level. We will see how the season plays out. Another minus for contributing to the Tigers this year.
Nate Robertson, even with his fat contract that now looks like a boat anchor for the Tigers, is continuing the track record of pitching that he established last year. You know the reputation. He has a four-run lead, gets a batter out, and then gives up a series of walks, hits and homeruns to blow the lead, leaving the Tigers trying to catch the other team late in the game. Frustrating as all get out, he is consistent, for whatever that is worth. This year he has a 1-0 record. Not bad, seemingly from first glance. He has pitched 10 innings this season, with an ERA of 6.3. He has fanned seven, and walked six. His pitch count is of concern, averaging just under 17 pitches per inning pitched, with a WHIP of 1.60. Not a rebound year for him yet. Not a minus, but not a plus rating either. At best, a neutral "this is exactly what we thought would happen" contribution from Nate.
Posted on: May 1, 2009 1:48 pm
How do you feel about the New York Yankees? How do you really feel? It seems that for most baseball fans (the abbreviated form of the word "fanatics") it is on one of only two sides of the issue. They either love 'em, or really loathe just the mention of 'em. That makes me think of the collegiate world of basketball and the Duke Blue Devils. Love or hate. Very few, if any, fans of the game are on that narrow strip of middle ground, somewhere between the two.
As seen on the CBS boards, most loyal posters, myself incuded, hide our real identities behind a manufactured screen name. Anonymity brings it's benefits. For one, you can rant and rave, scream and shout, and express how you really feel about the other team and it's players. Why not? That shelter behind a name other than your birth name, and keeping all other contact information private, makes it real easy to let it all out.......within the guidelines of the boards, of course. As for the players earning a salary on our favorite teams, providing soundbites revealing deep-seated feelings about "the other guys" can be relayed worldwide within minutes. Not only that, those words find their way posted to "those guys' " lockers, providing some fuel and fodder the next time you square off with them on the opposite side of the diamond. They may end up eating those words, being shoved down their throat by "those guys" the next time around.
Listening to post-game interviews rarely gives me much more than the feeling that the sentiments are well-guarded, the comments scripted, and the "company line" being followed. Either that, or the editorial "no comment" followed quickly by a tangent leading to some ambiguous meanderings about the field conditions or the bus ride over to the ballpark. Managers probably cringe when something is said by his player that can be taken either out of context and sounding ridiculously hateful, or used as motivation for the opposing club. That's why I really liked what came out of a couple of interviews with Detroit Tiger's relief pitcher Joel Zumaya.
While completing his rehab assignment with the triple-A Toledo Mudhens last week, he was quoted as saying "I'm ready to face those Yankees." Alright. Some fiestiness and self-assuredness coming from a pitcher that was lock-down effective and fearless for a 95% chance at closing out a game regularly when? In 2006? However, it sounds like his confidence level and bravado, which really never have taken a large dip throughout the past two tumultuous seasons, is now being caught up to by some solid performances and consistency once again. We'll see as he makes regular appearances for the Tigers. This past Wednesday night he was called on in relief during two innings of the game where the Yankees tore into young starter Rick Porcello for six runs in the fourth inning of a once tight game. In those two innings, Zoom-Zoom Zumaya gave up one solitary hit to the visitors from NYC, and his fastball touched "100" on the radar gun. Lock-down, shut-down pitching, no more runs scored. In a loss by the home team.
"I think (Leyland) wanted me to show the Yankees I still have a little gas", stated Zumaya.
"The ball was coming pretty good out of my hand. You know, I can't stand the Yankees, man. I'm going to go right after them. But that's just part of this game. I like to go after guys."
Posted on: April 30, 2009 2:18 pm
For any rookie playing in his first full season at the Major League level, there are several learning curves. When that rookie is a 20-year old pitcher two years out of high school, with a single season of professional ball at the class-A level under his belt, the pitching mound becomes a classroom for each appearance in the big leagues. Such has been exactly the case for right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello of the Detroit Tigers.
Against the Yankees last night, he faced 20 batters in 3.2 innings of work. Of his 75 pitches, he threw 43 for strikes. He needs to throw more first pitch strikes to batters, giving him an advantage. Interesting, though, is that Joba Chamberlain threw 50 strikes out of a total pitch count of 88. Percentage-wise, Porcello was better in throwing strikes last night. (.573 - .568)
More work to be done. More to learn, that's obvious. He has the tools, the demeanor, and the support to continue an upward march in his learning curve. As a rookie, he has drawn comparisons to a young Josh Beckett. Rick Porcello will continue to be viewed as a contributor to the Detroit Tigers' pitching staff, with a lot of their future depending on how quickly and steadily he continues to learn.
Posted on: April 29, 2009 5:21 pm
The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers made history in the game on April 28th. A gem of a pitchers' duel after six full innings of play. Phil Hughes made his debut start of the season for the Yankees, not yielding a run through his six innings pitched. He gave up two hits, issued two walks, and struck out six batters. He threw 58 strikes of 99 total pitches. Edwin Jackson, pitching for the Tigers, also pitched six scoreless innings. On a total of 117 pitches, 76 which were strikes, he struck out four, issued one walk and yielded four hits.
Posted on: April 28, 2009 10:57 am
It seems that the New York Yankees are no longer instilling a chilling fear into opposing teams. In years past, looking forward on the calendar and seeing the Yankees coming up on the schedule, opposing pitchers would tremble and maybe even resort to the "tortoise-shell" position...waiting to be shell-shocked by the big bats in the line up. Not so much any more.
Though very early in the 2009 season, the Yankees are in the middle of the pack, posting a 9-10 record, a .474 winning clip. That puts them 3rd in their division of 5 teams, behind the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. Of the 13 teams in the American League, 6 have better records than New York. They are all knotted up with the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers with the identical record of 9-10 thus far.
Just for comparison, take the Detroit Tigers head-to-head with the Yanks. Detroit won last night 4-2. This is the first of a total of six regular season matchups between the two. In 2008, these two teams faced each other in six regular season games. Detroit won the season series 4-2. In 2007, the Tigers and Yankees broke even during eight games, each taking four. In 2006 the Yankees had a winning record of 2-5 versus the Tigers for the regular season. New York took the first game in the post season, and got swept out of the playoffs as Detroit took the final three games.
Right now the Tigers are on top of the American League Central division of five teams at 11-8, a .579 winning percentage. That puts them with the fourth best record in the American League. Again, still early in the season. Yet, with all of their woes all last year, and so many question about their starting rotation and bullpen, the Tigers are ahead of expectations. That's good. Bring on the Yankees for the next two games. We're not afraid of them this year.
Posted on: April 27, 2009 3:45 pm
Today Mike Freeman has an article on CBS regarding the demise and end of a dynasty. The San Antonio Spurs. They have been solid for a long time. I wondered how they compare to my hometown favorites, the Detroit Pistons. Here is how these two teams stack up for the last ten years. Both teams' post season success seem to be ending in heap this season, with the Pistons already being broomed out of the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
For the Spurs, their record for the 1999-2000 regular season up through this year was a total of 820 games played, going 576-244. That is a healthy .702 winning percentage. Counting back from the current season, their win total for each of the ten years is 54, 56, 58, 63, 59, 57, 60, 58, 58 and 53. The last time they were under .500 for a regular season was in 1996-97 when their record was 20-62.
The Detroit Pistons record for the same period was a total of 820 games played, with a record of 497-323. That puts their winning percentage at .606. For each of the last ten seasons, going back starting with this year, their win totals have been 39, 59, 53, 64, 54, 54, 50, 50, 32 and 42. This season's total wins was below .500, with the previous time being under this mark was in 2000-01 with a total of 32 victories.
While most of the national writers and sports gurus consider this San Antonio Spurs team a dynasty, they do not consider the Detroit Pistons on the same elite plateau. Very good to elite, but not quite a dynasty. Both teams have lost the dominance they have had over other teams in recent seasons. It looks as though that the Pistons have more work to do in rebuilding a truly dominant team at this point of time. Is this the bottom for the Spurs and the Pistons, with next season an improvement for both, or more of the same in the terms of slipping downwards? It will be an interesting off season period for both teams.