The Tigers finally have a World Series opponent, Phil Coke's interesting work history, Tigers pitchers practice batting, Jim Leyland love and hate. These stories and more (plus poetry) in today's Morning Prowl.
Giants blow past Cardinals in Game 7 of NLCS to advance to World Series: D.J. Short, Hardball Talk
Too bad game 7 had to end in a torrential downpour. It was the Baseball Gods sobbing over the elimination of the Cardinals. The Giants are now 6-0 in elimination games. The streak ends in the World Series.
Game 7 of the NLCS wasn’t much of a contest, as the Giants topped the Cardinals 9-0 at AT&T Park in San Francisco this evening to win the National League pennant and advance to the World Series against the Tigers.
The Giants are the seventh team to rally from a 3-1 deficit since the LCS expanded from five games to seven in 1985. Bruce Bochy’s squad have grown accustomed to playing with their backs against the wall this postseason, also rallying back from a 2-0 series deficit to beat the Reds during the NLDS.
Detroit Tigers links:
Mop-up Duty: Grantland, Jonah Keri
The Tigers' defacto closer is getting his very well deserved 15 minutes. The more I learn about Phil Coke, the more I like him. It helps he's the living stereotype of the eccentric, slightly off kilter left handed reliever.
But as his prospects improved, money grew even tighter. The Yankees had a rule against players taking in-season jobs, preferring that they focus on baseball during the spring and summer. One day a team employee walked through the parking lot of the hotel where the coaches were staying for the season, on his way to drop some trash in the Dumpster. He stopped when he spotted someone he recognized. It was one of his pitchers rehabbing from some elbow issues and doing whatever he could to pay the bills as he tried to get back into shape to pitch at high-A Tampa. He was working as a janitor, wearing a jumpsuit with the hotel's name on it. It was Phil Coke.
Scherzer, Anibal, Coke pitch in second scrimmage: Jason Beck, DetroitTigers.com
Speaking of Coke...
Phil Coke, who finished out the last three games of the American League Championship Series to sweep the Yankees, also got in an inning, as well as some comic relief. Even in a simulated game, he did his mad dash in from the bullpen. Then, after getting three quick outs, he asked for the ball back so he could get some more pitches for another out.
After another groundout, Coke tried it again, only to be turned down in his request for a five-out inning.
Tigers pitchers focus on bunting during today's practice: Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press
If you were wondering when an article on the Tigers pitchers batting would surface, wonder no more.
The Detroit Tigers started their workout at Comerica Park today with bunts.
A lot of them.
Beginning with Rick Porcello, the Tigers’ pitchers practiced bunting off a pitching machine before taking batting practice today, preparing to step in the batter’s box Wednesday night.
Pre-World Series Thoughts: Watching Pitchers Bat is Dumb: Matt Snyder, Motor City Bengals
Word. God damn word.
Here’s my thought process during the second inning of Game Five of the NLCS:
"Wow, the Cardinals have runners on second and third with only one out. If they knock these runs in, this series could be over."
"Wait, the Giants are intentionally walking Pete Kozma to load the bases in the SECOND INNING? Oh, right, Lance Lynn is on deck. He had what… oh THREE HITS all season?"
"… and yep. He grounded into a double play. Go figure. The guy with the .060 batting average couldn’t drive in the runs".
WS PREVIEW COLUMN: So, I lost my place. Are we still doing the 'Fire Leyland' thing? Out of Left Field, Matthew B. Mowery - The Oakland Press
Mowery is a very active presence on Twitter and has had to deal with the ridiculous "FIRE LEYLAND!" brigade on fhe social media front lines, so he knows of what he writes.
Hmm. Well, he can be fired before the World Series, right? I mean, there’s still time. He’s single-handedly running a World Series-caliber team into the ground (or so I’ve been told). He can’t possibly be allowed to manage IN the World Series. I mean, that would be hypocritical.
Jim Leyland costumes are all the rage in Detroit: Kevin Kaduk, Big League Stew
Despite his current popularity, if the Tigers lose game 1 of the World Series, there will be sports talk radio callers who will call for Leyland's firing. You know it, I know it. It's what the Leyland haters do, lie in wait, ready to dial as soon as Leyland does something they believe is wrong. It's what they live for, apparently.
As the Tigers wait for their World Series date, it's interesting to see the complete reversal of Leyland's public opinion polls. After all, it wasn't that long ago that we saw Leyland managing an underachieving team in danger of missing the postseason as he landed on negative signs that had to be confiscated by his best position player.
Tiger Stadium lives on, nurtures old memories: The Detroit News, Neal Rubin
This is just the first of what should be a metric crap ton of commentary about the old Tiger Stadium grounds in Corktown as the media prepares for the arrival of the World Series in Detroit.
With baseball on so many minds, and with one of the ballpark gates swung open on the Michigan Avenue side, the field has been something of a destination over the past few weeks. Hours earlier, in the rain, a young man stood with an older man at shortstop and pantomimed the long throw to first.
Will Tigers fans ever love Delmon Young? Dan Holmes, Detroit Athletic Co.
No. Next question.
It’s always been HOW Young does things that frustrates many Tiger fans. Young has an almost obsessive compulsion with swinging at the first pitch. Nothing irritates Tiger Nation more. Never mind the fact that DY hit .362 with 10 extra-base hits in 97 first-pitch swings in 2012, they prefer to remind you of the six times he grounded into a double play on the first pitch. Young has a gut that draws derision from some Tigers fans who like to poke fun at the way he runs down the line. Brandon Inge bounced on the field like a top and had ears that made him look like he was a 7-year old in little league, but Tigers fans loved him. Not so for DY, who is a much better hitter than Inge ever was.
Elsewhere in baseball:
High-Speed Video Clips from the 2012 NLCS: The Physics of Baseball, Alan M. Nathan - University of Illinois
Word of warning - This page takes time to load completely and will bring a slow PC to it's knees. But the wait is worth it.
This page contains clips of high-speed video from the 2012 NLCS. Fox Sports is using a 5000 frames/sec camera. The super-slo-mo nature of the images often reveals some interesting physics that is invisible to the naked eye. Take a look at some of the interesting clips I have found along with my physics explanation of what is going on.
Three Stats And You're Out: Sports on Earth, Will Leitch
A nice take down of broadcasters who believe sabermetrics is baseball's red-headed stepchild. More correctly, the red-headed stepchild of a red-headed stepchild.
It went something like: "So … [audible snort] … there’s all these people with their … [choked-off inhale, as if he had entered the Cardinals clubhouse bathroom right after Lance Lynn had left it] … mathematics, trying to understand … [grasping of the microphone as if it is the neck of Bill James] … the game. It’s … it’s just …" I don’t have the exact quote right, mostly because it was hard to hear Smoltz through the blood vessels bursting and his teeth grinding. As the immortal Twitter account @oldhossradbourn succinctly summarized, "‘Sabermetrics? What’s next? Marrying an animal?’ - J. Smoltz."
Padres bring in walls at Petco Park: Baseball Nation, Al Yellon
Lynn Henning nods his head in agreement as he looks at Comerica's right field power alley..
Overall, the Padres hit 121 home runs in 2012 and ranked 14th in the National League; they hit 74 homers on the road and 47 at home. These changes will help San Diego hitters.
Padres pitchers, on the other hand, might have a different opinion...
Dick Bosman Talks Strasburg, Innings Limit, and More: Seamheads, Ted Leavengood
Interesting take from Bosman, a former MLB pitcher and current member of the Rays front office, who started his career during the pitching dominated 60's. Bosman talks pitcher development and pitch counts, Stephen Strasburg and how the Rays have handled their young staff.
He asserted that the maximum pitch count for a developing pitcher would be 110 to 115 pitches in a ballgame, "every once in a while probably at the AAA level," so that they are ready to pitch at the major league level if called upon by the parent organization. Speaking about pitch counts and the number of innings, Bosman said, "we’re pretty strict about that and we’ve shut guys down toward the end of the year," said Bosman. " We’ve done that with guys like Shields, Matt Moore and various other guys when the inning totals get a little high. Sometimes you come under a little scrutiny when you do that."
One more thing:
In closing, I'm adding this poem I received from a long time Tigers fan and Bless You Boys reader. This is what "Bob L in Arizona" had to say:
I have been Tiger fan since I can remember. As a twelve year old in '67, I was crushed when the Tigers were knocked out of the race on the last weekend of the season and Boston won the pennant. But the next year was the best, I still remember the teacher rolling the old black and white into the classroom and letting us watch the games in 68. Moved to Arizona in '81 and watched as the Tigers won it again in '84, but it has been a tough way to go since then. I think this is our year.
With my apologies to Clement Clarke Moore I have made a few changes to his poem to fit this special event coming up.
Just Nights Before The Series
Twas just nights before the series, when all the through the state
The thought was to beat the Yanks, the team we love to hate.
The rotation was set, by Leyland with care
In hopes that the starters would go on a tear
The fans were nestled all snug in their beds
While dreams of a championship danced in their heads
With the wife in her Tiger jersey, and me in my cap
We were dreaming of homers and hits in the gap
When down at Comerica there arose such a clatter
We were off to the ballpark to see what was the matter
Heading down Woodward, we drove quite fast
And arrived just in time, to see ghosts of the past
The moon had cast shadows inside the great park
But we knew whose they were, even in the dark
Then what to our wondering eyes did we see
A guy named Sparky, and some greats from the "D"
When the old Tiger manager gave us a look
We knew it was him, the great Captain Hook
With him were the greatest, to have played the game
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
Hey Cobb, hey Crawford, yo Greenberg and Kell
And with them came Gehringer, Newhouser and Harwell
Into the batter’s box, let’s all hit around
That’s when we saw him, it was the Bird on the mound
Then all at once they were gone in a flash
No more Cochrane, Schoolboy Rowe, or Stormin Norman Cash
We thought of Al Kaline, Horton, Tram and Sweet Lou
Of Freehan and Lolich and the whole "68" crew
The last words they spoke before we awoke from this dream
Was "Go get em young fellas, you’re a championship team.
You’re led by Leyland, Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch
You’ll get the pennant, then it’s on to the Series first pitch."
The O’s and A’s both had a great year
But now they were gone, with only the Yanks to fear
So it was off to New York, on to the east coast
Another pennant for the Yankees, the media would boast
Miggy’s eyes were twinkling and Prince was quite merry
We had just beat the A’s with Garcia and Berry
Yes they had CC, ARod, Cano, and Derek Jeter
But we had the Big Boys and Justin’s heater
The Yankees were trashed, swept away in four
They whined and they cried, as they were shown the door
Too much from our starters and a man called Coke Zero
Too much from Peralta and Young, the ALCS hero
He might look chubby or plump in the batting cage
But he’s off to the Series, baseball’s biggest stage
With a gleam in his eye and a crown on his head
He’s the best hitter on Earth, Tiger fans have nothing to dread
No they’re not Lances, Blackjacks, Willys, or Kirks
But Ramon, Worth and Kelly will be ready, along with Max and Dirks
Benoit and Valverde, they’re not thought of too highly
But also in the pen is Ricky P, Dotel, Al Al, and a kid named Smyly
It’ll be Fister, Sanchez and Omar against the NL champs soon
Avila, Laird, and Jackson will be raking under a harvest moon
Then it’s back to Motown to finish the fight
We’ll take it in five and bid the senior circuit good night.