The week of August 16 was as exciting a stretch of days as fans of the Detroit Tigers have had in a couple years. After sleepwalking through an aimless rebuilding process with lows as low as those of Houston’s famous tank job but without the Astros’ supercharged turnaround to competitive status, concern was growing that the organization might be starting to feel a little too comfortable in the increasingly populated sub-mediocre wilderness. Yet, to fans’ surprise and pleasure, General Manager Al Avila treated everyone to a one-two-three punch of debuts, allowing everyone an up-close look of the future of Detroit baseball. On Monday, Isaac Paredes, whom the Tigers received from the Chicago Cubs along with Jeimer Candelario in the trade for Alex Avila and Justin Wilson, started at third base following Candelario’s move to first after the injury to C.J. Cron. On Tuesday, left-handed pitcher Tarik Skubal, the Tigers’ ninth-round pick out of Seattle University in the 2018 draft, got the start. And on Wednesday, right-handed pitcher Casey Mize, the first overall pick in that same 2018 draft, had his turn. Continue reading →
AD has been writing about his new favorite team lately in the popular column Upton Abbey. Since I can’t allow him to praise the Barves unchecked, I will now write a semi-regular-ish column on their division rivals, the Washington Nationals. So now you get three columns on teams you (probably) don’t care about. But you should read all of them so you can get some culture and have something to talk about with your co-workers at the ol’ water cooler.
This past weekend saw a series between the scorching hot Bravos and the hot-but-not-scorching-hot Washington Nationals. The series did not go so well for Washington, as they got swept and only looked competitive in the first game. I attended the Saturday game with noted blog subject Bad Jeremy, who is almost as big of a Braves fan as AD. The game was a 3-1 Braves victory that saw the Nats do very little in the way of making offense and the Braves do slightly more. Evan Gattis carried the Braves, hitting a two run homer that caused Bad Jeremy to get out of his seat and flex at all the Nats fans in the surrounding area.
The highlight of the game was, as always, the Presidents’ Race. George Washington jumped out to a big lead early on with Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson trailing behind. Newcomer William Howard Taft was nowhere to be found, and everyone in attendance wondered where he was. The answer to that question was soon revealed, as Taft emerged from the right field bullpen to join with Teddy in beating up George Washington. Apparently there was some beef between Presidents 26 and 27 and President 1. Who knew? Jefferson and Lincoln continued past, neck and neck, until Jefferson went into his kick and won what was one of the more exciting Presidents’ Races in recent memory.
Despite being swept by the Barves, the Nats have looked good early on and seem like they are more than capable of making it to their second postseason in franchise history this year. They have some great young arms in Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzales, not to mention the bats of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. This weekend’s series could very well be a preview of the 2013 NLCS (where the winner will go on to get swept by the Seattle Mariners in the World Series). Stay tuned for more of A Song of Bryce and Fire, and also for a Mariners column with the working title of King in the North(west). Baseball, huh? How about it?
It’s tough to find genuine outrage in sports for at least a few reasons, including things like the general absurdity of the NCAA, the silly off-field behavior of athletes, and the fact that the labor market for sportswriters, who have to drum up content on a frequent and regular basis, may be the only one with a supply more flooded than the legal profession, but last year I admittedly hammered the Washington Nationals in a podcast for their colossally stupid decision to bench their best pitcher for the remainder of the season and playoffs in September on the basis of some arm-preservation notion. Rehashing that issue will only inflame my ulcer, so I’m going to skip it.
But now Washington has decided that it’s “World Series or bust“?? Why now? That is some Nattitude of a degree heretofore unseen. Why wasn’t last year World Series or bust? What has happened to Strasburg’s arm in the offseason that it now is ok to work him until his shoulder explodes, all in the pursuit of a championship, that did not exist last season?
As I said last fall, there’s no guarantee that a team will even make the playoffs in a given year. There are too many variables in baseball’s long season. Washington was hot and had maybe the best batch of young stars, but they decided to call off the dogs and play for a championship next year. This isn’t the Colts resting their starters in Week 17 or a golfer laying up for a safer wedge approach; it’s like the Colts forfeiting their first playoff game or the golfer just packing it in and saying, “See you at the next tournament.” There was a World Series to be won in 2012, and there is a new and distinct one to be won in 2013. If you’re willing to go “World Series or bust” in 2013 with the same players you had in 2012, why wouldn’t you go all out then, too?
Hello ALDLANDers! Lots to talk about today, including Felix Hernandez’s historic performance for the Seattle Mariners, which saw him notch the 23rd* perfect game in major league history. Also on the table are discussion of pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, and the antics in the Red Sox clubhouse, not to mention our recap of the Olympics. So join AD and me for a half hour of discussion and good times.