It’s go or go home time !

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Well Tiger fans, this is it. A whole summer full of baseball awesomeness is now down to possibly two games to get to the World Series. Getting to the World Series should have been a minimum requirement for this team so now it’s time to see if they can suck it up for two games in Chowderville and get to the promised land.

In many respects this series has been one of the most frustrating I have ever watched. This team has put together starting pitching performances of a historical nature and still find themselves down 3 to 2 and facing elimination. TO be honest, you have to really stink it up in other aspects of the game to lose games with starting pitching this good. From inexplicable managing decisions to horrendous base running and bullpen implosions the Tigers have found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I honestly think that right now they are a better team than Boston but the mistakes have cost too dearly. Speaking of mistakes let’s talk about a 350 pound one playing 1st base. I realize players go through slumps, its baseball and it happens but this is ridiculous. Prince Fielder has been about as useful in this Series as our U.S. House and Senate combined. I guess I would feel better about the slump if I thought Fielder gave half a shit about it. Continued Inge like at bats with no discernible change in approach is enough to make a fan throw the remote through the flat screen TV. That being said, it may be time for Old Smokestack to either move him down in the lineup or move him out completely. Lord knows you are not giving up anything defensively if he is out. Fielder is not solely to blame for the offensive troubles of the team but at 23 million a year he has to perform better.

Even though the Tigers have played less than stellar ball this series I still think they have a shot. I know, I know, not exactly a grand statement but like many others I feel very good with Scherzer and Verlander ready to pitch. Let’s face it, the Sox are not exactly clubbing the ball and there is no other pitchers I would want to try to get me two wins. It will be tough in Fenway but it if they can somehow erase the mistakes and get a few clutch hits it should be possible. OK fans, get ready for what I hope is a great weekend of baseball and Go Tigers !!!!

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Game 4 recap – The heart attack edition

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Ok folks if you are anything like me you are probably still recovering from the racing heartbeat and high blood pressure from last nights game. That little gem was exactly what makes playoff baseball so intense. Living and dying on every pitch and freaking out over your chain smoking, baffling and possibly senile managers decisions is what makes it fantastic.

First of all, since I am the bigger man I will say kudos to Old Smokestack for making the right decisions to get the win. It pains me to say it but most of his inexplicable decisions actually worked out. No, I wouldn’t have pitched Scherzer. Not because I don’t like Scherzer but having him to start Game 5 would be my preference. Would our bullpen have gotten us through the 7th or 8th? There is no way to know since they didn’t get the chance. Scherzer got it done and that’s that. For the record, getting out of that no out, bases load jam was one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time. A couple of things I do think the Marlboro Man did whiff on. Why take Peralta’s bat out of the lineup in the 7th for defense and for the love of all things holy why do you not intentionally walk Cocoa Krispies with a man on 2nd and 1st base open ? Oh well, I will never agree with everything Old Man River does but a win is a win is a win.

Alright, let’s discuss Mister Permanent 5 o’clock shadow Alex Avila. I am not gonna say he only gets to keep his job because his dad is the assistant GM but come on I haven’t seen worse nepotism since the other 5 Baldwin Brothers actually got to star in movies. I actually had a little back and forth text chat with a Detroit sports radio host today because I had ripped Avila for his pathetic at bats. The host said it was ok because Avila made some good stops behind the plate in the late innings. He insinuated Avila was the only catcher that would of got it done. I am sorry, but I am only willing to meet halfway on this. Avila did make the stops but there is no damn way to know if Pena would of or not. Stops or no stops his at bats have become more terrifying than the fashion choices of your average Wal-Mart customer. For instance, right after Peralta ties the game and there is still no outs Avila walks up and waves at three straight pitches. Hey Alex, Brandon Inge wants his swing back. This guy is next on my list of Mud Hens that needs to take that lovely drive down Southbound 75.

Please feel free to comment and share and also please follow on Twitter @Craiger 211. I appreciate the support and your feedback really helps. Go Tigers !

World Series or Bust !!

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I am going to make this quick and to the point.  The Detroit Tigers MUST win the World Series this year.  The Division Championships are nice, beating on the Yankees in the playoffs is stellar but it has been a long damn time since 1984.  Do we need a parade down Woodward this fall?  Heck yes we do.  

This team has spent the money and made the moves to make this happen.  These are not the cute and cuddly Royals with their tiny salaries.  The PIzza Man has spent and spent big so the goals have to be set accordingly.  The addition of Torrii Hunter filled a huge hole.  Having Vmart back is tremendous.  Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante have been here all year and we now have one of the best young shortstops in the league.  The bottom line is no more excuses and no reason to not bring this thing home.

The way I see it is there is only one concern and that is the health of Miggy Cabrera.  He needs to be back at a more functional level than we saw at the end but frankly I will take 80% of #24 over most players in the league.  The starting pitching is stacked and the lineup with a Roided up Peralta in left along with the glove and speed of Iglesias at shortstop should be solid.  I don’t see any gaping holes in the order unless Dirks gets to much playing time and Alex Avila reverts back to being his normal Mud Hen self.

In summary, I am very optimistic with the chances for the Tigers.  The talent is there, the experience is there and everyone should be rested and ready.  As long as Tom Brookens doesn’t cost a couple of runs a game by trying to score Prince or Vmart from 1st on single we should be ok.  Is it bad that I miss Gene Lamont ?????  At least he was fat and blind for an excuse, whats Brookens excuse, he can’t see over his cheesy mustache ???  Sorry, I digress.  Anyway, this is it.  I will not be happy with any outcome that does not involve a World Series trophy,  Time to get this done and Bless You Boys !!

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Tigers debacle

I probably should refrain posting anything after todays game until I calm down but what the hell, this may be for the best. It is not often that I find myself almost speechless but Old Smokestack and the Tigers made me hit that spot today.

First things first, the lineup. If I was Justin Verlander I would sucker punch that senile old manager at the first opportunity. For the last 3 years JV has been the victim of the proverbial Leyland “Sunday lineup” in which every Tom, Dick and Mud Hen is in the lineup when Verlander hits the mound. A simple, “Hey Skip, more than 2 runs of run support with a lineup that is not normally in Ohio would be kinda cool” obviously does not work with Smokestack. Verlander has not been at his best so far this year but today he was awesome and he was a better man than I because if I saw that lineup card this morning I would of immediately had the worst case of turf toe or tendinitis to keep me from pitching for that mess.

Small ball. Make it stop. You know who sac bunts? Losers. You have a lineup with no speed and guys that cannot handle the bat other than to hit the ball hard. Stop the nonsense. Sac bunting in the middle of the game and wasting outs is just stupid. If you don’t trust whoever is at the plate to put the ball in play with guys on base and 0 or 1 outs then cut them or send them down. Sacrifice bunting is for the 9th inning or extra innings when 1 run may win the game not as a tool to kill potentially big innings the way Smokestack is working. It sucks, it’s dumb, and this lineup and is not capable of doing it.

Valverde. What needs to be said? This is the most predictable implosion since Hangover 3. He was brutal at the end of the year last year and when he is bad you can see it coming from roughly 326 miles away. Even when he has survived a 9th inning it has been the kind of roller coaster ride that would make Cedar Point and Todd Jones blush. As much as I would like to solely blame Leyland for this a lot of guilt falls to Mr. Dave Dombrowski for not even remotely addressing the bullpen in the offseason. Throwing all of your cards on the table with an unproven minor leaguer (Rondon) is how we ended up with Papa Small Latte anyway. It needs to be fixed.

Thanks for reading guys. Please share and comment and of course follow on Twitter @Craiger211

Jake Long does the right thing

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Ok folks, this blog is going to be a little different than the normal ranting that you will see out of me. Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing in a charity golf outing in Lapeer to raise funds for the Lapeer East football program. Many of the fathers from my sons baseball team are close to the program so we put some groups together and went out for a day of golf and fun. It was typical of every charity scramble on a Saturday morning in Michigan. Early morning cocktails, strategic wagering and good old fashioned nonsense. For the most part if you can’t have fun at one of these events you are probably just a pretty miserable person.

The coolest part of a day of golf and fun was the participation of former overall #1 NFL draft pick, U of M star and Lapeer alumnus Jake Long. As far as our area goes you are not going to find a much bigger star. The even better part ? You could not have asked to have a more generous, humble, and overall fun dude to have around. I am writing this because so many big time athletes get a deserved bad rap for their behavior and here is one that deserves miles of credit. Not only did he come out and golf with friends, have some beers and participate like everyone else he made sure to do even more. The door prizes consisted of very cool Nike Golf swag that he donated as well as some autographed footballs from his new teammates with the St. Louis Rams. After dinner he spent time with any person who wanted a picture or autographs or just a chance to talk some football. It was awesome to see a local guy come home and seem like he cared about the folks that helped him get where he is today. Hopefully there are a lot more Jake Longs out there and way less PacMan Jones and Terrell Owens.

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Tigers baseball and Leylands lunacy.

Ok folks I have been gone for awhile but the recent play of the Tigers and the nonsensical managing by Jim Leyland call for at least a brief rant.

1) This past weekend against the Orioles was Jim Leyland taking his horrible in game decisions to a whole new level. Bunting Alex Avila with two men on in the 7th with no outs and 2-1 lead may be the height of idiocy. First of all, Avila doesnt bunt. Secondly he runs like he has a piano on his back. And what was the point? Even if it had worked and he somehow moved the runners you sacrificed an out and had Ramon freaking Santiago coming to the plate. Brilliant !! Small ball is a joke. You lay down a bunt when you have a leadoff guy on in the 9th or 10th and you want a chance to score one run for the win. Not in the 7th evening with two men on and a pitcher on the ropes. If you don’t trust Avila to swing the bat then let him go. Send him to Toledo. I don’t really care just dont bunt !!!

2) The Don Kelly love affair. It is ridiculous that this guy is even on the roster let alone seeing significant playing time. I realize the Jackson injury and Hunter being gone for a couple days changed things but this clown is seeing way to much action. Using him as a pinch hitter in the late innnings? If I was the manager and had to look down the bench for a pinch hitter and my choice included Don Kelly I would probably quit. He is horrible. Period.

3)The bullpen. This is a huge issue. This oine doesnt fall entirely on Old Smokey but the organization needs to figure out a solution for the rest of the year. Closer by committee is awful but closer by Valverde may be worse. He is a ticking time bomb right now and one more bad outing away from being the hot mess he was last fall. Figure it out guys because the bullpen as currently staffed is not going to win a World Series.

Alright guys, thanks for reading and remember you can follow on Twitter @Craiger211

Happy Valverde Day !

Well Tiger fans we have ourselves a new holiday, Valverde Day !! I know, I know, you are tired of these “Hallmark” holidays but trust me this one is different. I know many of you are still recovering from St. Patty’s Day, Opening Day and already planning your Cinco De Mayo festivities but we are going to have to sneak this one in there ! The good thing with Valverde day is you won’t get drunk. Here is the thing, you are going to take an enormous swig of your cocktail and then spit it right out! Instant sobriety. I feel for the local bar owners a little bit because this is going to be a heck of a mess to clean up.

Speaking of messes I know many of you are thinking, Valverde? Didn’t we get rid of that guy ? Wasn’t 9 runs in 3 innings of post season work enough to bid farewell ? On the surface you would certainly think so. I mean a mediocre regular season topped off by a total postseason meltdown would normally mean don’t let the door hit you on the way out, right? Oh contraire. Folks, we are fans of the Detroit Tigers where inexplicable things happen on a daily basis. Think about it, this is the same organization that has tried to convince you that Brandon Inge, Brennan Boesch, Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago are actually real major leaguers. They had a third base coach who was too fat to move and halfway blind? Why should this be a shock?

In conclusion baseball fans this is just another chapter in what can only be described as a very strange story. I honestly hope Papa Grande can throw because Lord knows they need the help. One last suggestion for Valverde Day. Buy cheap booze. You are just going to be spitting it all out anyway ! You are welcome.

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Masters Sunday

It’s about Magnolia Lane. It’s about a Wednesday Par 3 contest and ceremonial starters on a Thursday morning. It is a golf course of such spectacular beauty that even seeing it on television can leave you speechless. It is former champions returning each and every year and golf fans everywhere rejoicing with the coming of a new season. I used to think the most important thing about Masters week was who slipped on the green jacket Sunday evening but now I can see so much more.

I can hardly be called a sentimental or nostalgic fella but this week of the year may be the exception. I mean it is just another weekend of professional golf isn’t it ? The fact that it is a Major championship makes it professionally important to the players. For the rest of us it is important because it brings back such tremendous memories. I still remember vividly Jack Nicklaus winning in spectacular fashion at age 46 in 1986. Fred Couples was my favorite player as a youngster and his win in 1992 is still something I will never forget. Tiger Woods bursting on the scene in 1997 and Greg Normans unbelievable collapse in losing to Nick Faldo on an unforgettable Sunday. These things will be forever etched in the memories of golf fans everywhere.

Today is a day when friends will gather, families will convene in the living room and the whole sports world will focus on that pristine piece of real estate in Georgia. Although it is one of the most private clubs in the world in a way Augusta has become America’s course. Because the tournament returns each and every year we feel like we know the course like it is our own. Say “Amen Corner” in a crowded room and pretty soon you will have a Masters discussion going. Golf has a U.S. Open tournament every year but the Masters is truly Americas first golf love.

I will be convening with my same old crew of Masters Sunday fans and enjoying a couple of cold beverages along the way. Hopefully we are treated to another historic Sunday in Augusta. Have a great day today sports fans and enjoy one of the best days of the year. Please share or comment and of course follow on twitter @Craiger211

Wednesday rant

First things first. As I am sure most of you know I am an enormous fan of University of Michigan athletics. So, I feel compelled to add a couple of words about Monday Night. Most importantly that was a hell of a basketball game. Both teams were truly a blast to watch. The only thing that took away from the quality of the game were the absolute buffoons wearing the referee gear. This is not sour grapes, the calls were crap on both sides although I would argue the most egregious calls went against UM and at the worst possible time. The question I have is how did these idiots get voted the best of the best and allowed to work a National Title game ? I am rarely stunned by the utter stupidity of the NCAA but this is shocking even by their low standards. Anyway, it was a tremendous run and I found myself not quite as upset as I thought I would be at the end of the game. I don’t know if maybe I am finally maturing or if the fact that I did not have the highest expectations at the start of the tournament made the loss a little easier to digest.

One more little college hoops nugget and this is for both Spartans and Wolverines. I really want to understand the fans and pundits who seem to think that players like Burke, McGary, Payne, Harris etc. leaving for the NBS is a mistake. I am telling you right now if those guys are guaranteed top 20 picks in the draft then they should get the hell to the Association now. They are looking at GUARANTEED 3 year contracts worth at a minimum 5 million dollars. Now, I don’t know what these fine scholars are actually studying at their universities (cough, sports management, cough Kinesiology) but whatever it is doesn’t pay like that. Do I think they are all NBA ready right now ? Nope. Am I the one cutting the multi – million dollar check ? Nope. So my opinion should be about as useful as a Jose Valverde fastball. And please spare me the moral outrage over whether they get their education or not. These are not normal students. Frankly, if basketball doesn’t pan out they should have more than enough cash to finish school if they choose. Look at this way if your little Joey or Jenny were superior at their field in college and someone offered them 8 or 10 million to leave college and pursue their chosen career what would you tell them ? That’s what I thought.

Alright guys thanks for stopping by and please feel free to comment and share. I hope to have some stuff on the Masters during the tourney as well as a look at the pathetic Tigers. Follow on Twitter @Craiger211

Opening Day Eve !!!

An updated version for this morning since it is the big day. A little Tiger humor for you guys.

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imagesCAJ6LAJD Well here in Michigan it is Thursday April 4th and we are on the verge of one of the best days of the year, Tiger Opening Day. I have to admit that I have enjoyed numerous Opening Days over the years so I thought I would share a little wisdom with the Newbies and the Veterans alike. So here are a few basic tips.

I totally understand that many of my friends that are going are not hardcore fans and are merely going for a day of fun, people watching and ginormous alcohol consumption. Hey, I am not judging, I am here to help. A quick way to get noticed as a rookie involves something as simple as knowing the score. At no point is it ok to say, “The Tigers are losing 1-3 in the 4th.” Listen, if you are a hot enough chick it might fly but it’s…

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