One game down, three to go in what might be the biggest series of the season so far. The Tigers are playing the Red Sox, which pulls loyalties and sentiments in different directions for at least one blogger out there. Many of you are familar with Ms. Samara Pearlstein (whom I have nicknamed "Samela," often to her dislike) from Roar of the Tigers, and you probably know that she's a Massachusetts product and thus has the Red Sox in her blood, which is expressed over at Blue Cats and Red Sox. So who better to talk to than someone who knows both teams so well?
First, let's talk Red Sox:
(1) What's the feeling in Boston about how poorly the rest of the AL East has been playing? Toronto looks out of it with their injuries now, but are you confident the Red Sox will stay ahead of the Yankees, and maybe the Orioles?
The feeling is generally of the "YAY THANK CATS WE AREN'T IN THE CENTRAL HA HA SUCKERZ" variety. Anyone who's been a Sox fan for a while is used to toiling along with a pretty good division, or at the very least with the Yankees, so the current state of affairs is something of a relief.
I feel confident that the Orioles will collapse at some point. The Yankees' future success will depend very heavily on how their pitchers come back from injury. I reckon if the Sox stay consistently healthy (DO YOU HEAR ME JOSH BECKETT) they'll stay up on the Yankees. If the Sox start getting hurt and the Yankees start getting their dudes back... which they will... and if Clemens' fat ass is still capable of heaving its blubbery mass onto the mound... then we worry.
But we always worry about the Yankees, it's what we do.
(2) Mike Lowell actually posted good numbers last season, so his current production shouldn't be a surprise. But when did 2007 Mike Lowell call 2003 Mike Lowell and ask for his power back? And do you think he can keep this up?
Mike Lowell had that one bad year, in '05. He's actually been pretty consistently good aside from that one year. His power was up in '03, but not ridiculously above what it was in '04 either. He's never gonna be ARod when it comes to power, but that abysmal '05 seems to make people think he's been worse than he really was. His current production isn't terribly surprising, is what I'm sayin'.
(3) Current finger skin issues aside, what's been the biggest difference between last season and this one with Josh Beckett? Is it that he's mixing in other pitches, instead of constantly trying to mow down hitters with his fastball?
Yeah, I don't know why Beckett is relying less on his fastball. It's almost as though all that lecturing Curt did had some actual effect... I honestly think a lot of his current start is luck, and also the division. Beckett's a hot-head, and having the Yankees with their teeth currently in a semi-pulled state seems to have calmed him down. Less stress in the early season = better Beckett. Late in the season you WANT him stressed out, but not right now.
(4) If there's any one area that the Red Sox need to upgrade between now and July, what do you think that is?
Bullpen. I'm already having terrified images of Okajima and Papelbon in agony from overuse come August.
If not the bullpen, catcher. Not defensively, but Jason Varitek needs to put his hitting shoes on, before someone staples them to his ass in rage. We aren't going to "upgrade" to a new catcher, but Jason Varitek needs to upgrade his approach to all balls up in the zone.
(5) Samela, this is a safe place - one in which you can be honest. So tell us, honestly, do Boston fans secretly think Curt Schilling is an ass, too?
Some of them do. Then again, a lot of Bostonians think EVERYONE is an asshole, up to and including their own mothers. Curt's endeared himself heavily to the internet contigent tho' by being a longtime poster on the largest of Red Sox messageboards. I mean seriously, who the fuck expects to be chattin' on a messageboard and suddenly one of your starting pitchers is making the game threads himself? Wacky.
Personally speaking, I love his pitching, and love when he's outspoken about pitching and baseball. I HATE it when he gets outspoken about religion or politics. 'Cause honestly, I want to root for him as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. I don't want to root for Curt Schilling the Catholic Republican Breeder of Many Terrifyingly Aryan-looking Children. And when he starts flappin' his jaw about THOSE things, it's awfully hard to ignore them and root for Curt Schilling the ballplayer.
And I can't let Samela go without discussing the Tigers a little bit:
(1) What's been the most surprising aspect of this year's Tigers team so far?
Chad Durbin. Duh. Inge's slow start and Bondo's struggles have also surprised me, but Durbin's the pleasant surprise. He was supposed to be cannon fodder. Any single good start would've just been gravy on the meaty team pie; multiple good starts is a veritable Thanksgiving table of edible riches.
(2) Right now, it almost looks like the Tigers don't need to improve anything, but do you think they'll have to upgrade at first base or in the bullpen via trade at some point?
Eh. If they can get something cheap. I would expect a trade to shore up the 'pen before anything to shore up first base, if only because we do have a bunch of guys we can stick at first. Maybe with more playing time there The River Thames will get defensively comfortable. Maybe The Mayor will turn back time and rejuvenate his knees. S'all good at 1B in my mind.
(3) Here's a question that I've put a lot of thought into, and I'm sure you'll find it original: When the Tigers play the Red Sox, which team do you root for and why?
I can guarantee you haven't put as much time or thought into this as I have. I have a whole SYSTEM.
If I'm AT the game, I root for the away team, because I figure the home team has plenty of moral support already. In Fenway, I wear my Tigers hat. In Comerica, I wear my Sox hat.
If I'm watching ON TV, I root for whoever needs the win more in the standings, UNLESS the pitching matchup is something I'm particularly invested in, i.e. if I really, really love one of the pitchers going, I root for that team for that game. If not, it's just who has less of a lead in their division.
Should that be equal, I try to work out which pitcher I like better. It's a tricky situation, though, because it's liable to change later in the game if a reliever I really love (or hate) comes in and alters my rooting interest.
I'm not sane during or immediately after these series. Less sane than I normally am, anyhow.
(4) Are you at all worried that you'll run out of pimp outfits for Chad Durbin or does that fall under the category of "nice problem to have"?
That would be a very nice problem to have. I'm not worried, though. If he keeps mowin' 'em down, I'll just start doing heavier Photoshop work on the pimp outfits to change 'em up, or just use the same pimp outfit but give him new hos. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.
Thanks to Samela for entertaining my inquiries. I suppose she and I should be blood rivals, given that we write for different sports blog networks. All I'll say is that the city of Ann Arbor probably wasn't big enough for two Detroit Tigers bloggers, so one of us had to go back home to Massachusetts. What's that? Classes are done at Michigan, and she has a summer internship? Well, that's the story she's using.
Please check out Blue Cats and Red Sox and Roar of the Tigers, if you get a chance. Sam will almost certainly create an image that'll make you giggle - sometimes uncontrollably. Laughter's healthy for you, you know.