Flying Tigers: Closing Time?

Detroit sought The Answer once before, late in his life, but he brought only questions. Now, Joe Nathan is supposed to be Detroit’s answer to the clown show that was 2013 Jose Valverde. Through one third of the season, though, Joe is looking a lot like Jose.

Before Detroit canned him for the last time, Papa Grande pitched 19.1 innings for the 2013 Tigers. To date, Nathan has pitched 20.2 innings for the 2014 Tigers. Their numbers are eerily similar:

josenathan

(Click to enlarge. Numbers from BaseballReference.)

Last year, the team cut Valverde loose in the middle of the season, handing the closer job to the very capable former eighth-inning man, Joaquin Benoit. Could something similar happen this season? Joba Chamberlain has firmly grasped the eighth-inning reins at this point, and he could shift into the closer, perhaps once Joel Hanrahan is ready for big-league action. If Brad Ausmus doesn’t at least start to experiment with his approach to the ninth inning, though, Anibal Sanchez, who has lost two gems in one week due in large part to Nathan’s mistakes, may take matters into his own hands.

[Cross-posted at Bless You Boys. -Ed.]

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Previously
Flying Tigers: Closing the Book on 2013 – 6/2
Flying Tigers: Victor Martinez, Professional Hitter
 – 5/7
Flying Tigers: Actually Mad Max
 – 4/29
Flying Tigers: Waiting for Takeoff – 4/28

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A note on the occasion of Allen Iverson’s impending retirement

As reported yesterday afternoon by SLAM Magazine, Allen Iverson is planning to announce his retirement from the NBA “in the coming days.” Iverson, who played for Philadelphia, Denver, Detroit, and Memphis, has not played in the NBA since 2010, and he has not played anywhere professionally since 2011, when he was playing in Turkey.

Chronicling Iverson’s on-court greatness is best left to the many others who are far more qualified to do that. Instead, I’ll recall the most memorable off-court moment from The Answer’s career: his May 7, 2002 press conference. If you’re not tracking, direct your attention to this video. (Here’s the full transcript for the textually inclined.)

In a post-Chuck-Sheen-meltdown world in which web memes are very much a valuable currency, it’s easy to underestimate how severely that segment would break the internet today. In a society that is, by orders of magnitude, more plugged in today than it was in 2002, it’s difficult to appreciate the viralty of that moment. You basically had to have played in the NBA and been tasked with guarding Iverson to be the sort of person who, when asked in 2013, “when I say ‘Allen Iverson,’ what do you think of?”, would not blurt out, “practice!” By being that person, Gary Payton nevertheless revealed more about the origins of Iverson’s press conference moment than heretofore was known: