I was lucky to join 40,000 of my closest friends at Comerica Park the night the Detroit Tigers defeated the Texas Rangers in game 3 of the ALCS. That night Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the bottom of the third inning and hit into the final out. What followed was an embarrassing display by some of the “fans” in the crowd: they booed Cabby. They booed the man that got so hot in the final two months of the regular season that he won the AL batting title. Oh, and lead the Tigers to their first division title since 1987 on the way. As the boos simmered my cousin Jeff and I turned to each other with the same puzzled look plastered to our faces. We could not believe there were people booing Cabby… In fairness, it wasn’t the entire crowd, but it was enough – say 30%ish – to make it unmistakably obvious. I would love to blame the Tea Party, but for once I don’t think it was their fault.
I am aware of Cabrera’s off-field transgressions. I am aware that his English ain’t the best, which makes his personality less accessible to the average fan. I am aware that he is so good that a level of expectation has been set that anything shy of perfection – in some way – is a disappointment.
But, what I know more than anything, is that with no Miguel Cabrera the Tigers would be a second-class team. End of story.
Here are Cabrera’s stats for the postseason (through game 5 of the ALCS), and where he ranks amongst his fellow Tigers:
Hits: 9 (2nd)
AVG: .290 (5th)
OBP: .488 (1st)
RBI: 8 (1st)
HR: 2 (tied for 2nd)
Runs: 5 (2nd)
Here are Cabrera’s stats for the postseason when I use the MLB’s “runners in scoring position filter” (and where he ranks amongst the Tigers):
Hits: 3 (2nd)
AVG: .600 (1st)
OBP: .800 (1st)
RBI: 4 (tied for 1st)
HR: 0 (tied for 3rd, only 2 players have a HR with RISP)
Runs: 3 (3rd)
There is an interesting point to make about his stats with runners in scoring position – he’s only had 5 at bats… Good for 9th fewest on the team. On five occasions the opposing team has simply walked him. With RSP Cabrera has safely reached base eight of the ten times he stepped to the plate. That is incredible. And yet, he was booed – AT HOME – less than 72 hours ago.
As I drove to an Ethiopian restaurant in Southfield earlier this afternoon, I listened to a local radio show on WDFN. The hosts were entertaining callers that said how it wasn’t the big bats (Cabrera and Martinez) who were carrying the Tigers, but those of secondary players like Raburn, Kelly, Young, and so on.
I know the unexpected heroes have played a huge part in the Tiegers postseason run – I get it… So why am I so upset?
Because for as good as Cabrera is, he still does not get the credit he deserves in this city. First of all, he is walked constantly. Opposing pitchers and managers are terrified of him. He’s simply that F’ing good. In some strange way he’s punished – with negative fan perception – for reaching base safely. With runners in scoring position he has been walked half of the time. The other half of the time he has been the Tigers most productive offensive player.
One more time for emphasis: Miguel “F’ing” Cabrera was booed by fans at Comerica Park three days ago.
Cabrera is in the all-time upper-echelon of offensive players in MLB history. He really is that good. In what seemed like an “off” year this season, he managed to hit 30 dingers, 108 RBIs and win the batting title. Can we please start giving this man the respect he deserves?
Here’s a blow-by-blow of the opening game of the ALCS. I was watching the game with Alan, a friend from way back. It’s 1:07 a.m. here and I don’t feel like proofreading… And yes, I know I got the idea for a “running diary” from Bill Simmons, but I’m sure he isn’t doing one for tonight’s game -so I think he’ll be ok with it.
8:13 p.m. EST – A bit late getting home from a bike ride. The Tigers have a man on first with one out in the top of the first inning. Cabrera at the plate, which means he’s batting in the 3-hole tonight. Cabrera singles – men on first and second… Victor Martinez draws a walk.
8:15 – Magglio comes to the plate with the bases juiced. I was going to expound on how big of a moment this is, and how much I like Maggs, but he already hit into a double play. No runs scored. Not impressed.
8:18 – Verlander on the mound tonight, advantage Tigers.
8:23 – Text from my cousin Jeff: “Not that I was looking (but I was), but I don’t think Verlander wears a cup.”
8:24 – Avila guns down Kinsler who was trying to steal second. The hit-and-run was on, but no contact was made by the batter… Kinsler didn’t have a chance.
8:25 – Jackson with an error in center field. Bad omen.
8:37 – Verlander walked two, but got out of the first inning without giving up a run. Avila swings at the first pitch of the second inning and sends one deep, deep, deep, and… caught on the warning track in left field. Avila did not hit well in the ALDS. It would have been nice to see him get going early in this game.
Back-to-back singles by Peralta and Santiago. Tigers have something going.
8:41 – Men on first and second with Inge at the plate… big swing by Inge for strike three. Two outs with Jackson up. He needs to make up for the error.
8:44 – Jackson makes contact with a ball that was likely going to hit the dirt… an easy throw to first for the out, and we’re headed to the bottom of the 2nd. It looks like Jackson is never going to learn to be patient at the plate. He’s going to continue to strikeout and not draw walks. He shouldn’t be a leadoff hitter. This will need to be addressed going forward. Speed is inconsequential when you aren’t on base.
8:56 – Technical difficulties. Watching this the old fashioned way using an antennae. Reception for FOX is always crappy. We tweaked the antennae, and now it is working. It is also 2-0 Texas. Verlander is not happy with the umpire’s strike zone right now. Hopefully he can settle in.
9:05 – I’m just now reading that Delmon Young was left off of the ALCS roster because of a strained oblique. That’s disappointing news.
9:08 – Raburn leads off the third with a walk. Cabrera follows by striking out. Martinez hits into a double play. Going to the bottom of the third, Texas still up by 2 runs…
9:16 – Verlander is not getting the calls. He’s going to win the Cy Young, but can’t get the corners? The fix is in. Nolan Ryan is behind this. I know it.
9:17 – The on-field announcer, Ken Rosenthal, is wearing a bow tie to advertise some concern about scoliosis. Alan comments that scoliosis is a fun word to say. I counter with ‘assburgers syndrome’. We are both probably going to hell.
9:19 – I like the Pepsi commercial where Rollie Fingers takes his mustache off and gives it to the delivery driver. That is quite a mustache.
9:29pm – Phil Jackson’s Audi commercial depresses me. I love Phil. I’ve read his books. Why the Audi commercials? He doesn’t need the money… he just wants the money. That’s not Zen. That’s not the Phil Jackson I’ve come to love. This is Walmart’s fault, I know it.
9:30 – Solo home run by Nelson Cruz to start the bottom of the 4th. It is now 3-0 Texas. Rangers’ pitcher C.J. Wilson has “settled in,” according to Joe Buck. I’m starting to worry. I’m going to blame the umpire, the state of Texas and George Bush for this.
9:34 – I finally remembered to take a look at Verlander’s crotch. Jeff might be right about the lack of a cup. Verlander has some big cajones… making it even more dangerous. The 4th inning is done and the Tigers are down naught to three.
9:42 – Here comes the tarp. I’m pretty sure this is the first time it has ever rained in Texas… or it rains all the time, I don’t know, and I don’t care. The ground crew is amazing at spreading the tarp. Alan and I both agree that a) they must train like marines for this, and b) it would be a fun job.
9:45 – It’s the top of the 5th. FOX just showed a weather report and it looks like we are in for a long delay.
9:59 – The tarp is coming off. Rupert Murdoch does in fact control the weather.
10:07 – “Oh wow, look at Nolan Ryan. He’s huge,” says Alan.
10:14 – Tarp is still off the infield, but the game hasn’t started. Rangers’ pitching coach says the game should be starting soon…
10:20 – C.J. Wilson is back on the mound. FOX just showed Porcello going to the bullpen. Looks like Verlander could be done for the day. I’m not sure about this… I’m going into second-guess-Leyland mode…
10:23 – After a 41-minute delay… the first pitch is delivered, and Inge grounds out to 3rd base… that’s the opposite of ‘worth-the-wait’. It’s a good thing Inge is locked up through 2024…
10:26 – Jackson hits a hard shot to the gap in right-center for a double. The Tigers are on the board… Rangers lead down to two runs (3-1).
10:27 – Joe Buck and Terry Francona posit that Verlander is warming up “underneath”… I’m not sure what he is pitching under, but looks like he should be coming back in to start the bottom of the 5th.
10:30 – Raburn walked, and Cabrera is at the plate. Men on first and second… Wilson walks Cabrera and “this is where the Victor Martinez factor comes in,” says Francona… Martinez hit .500 with the bases loaded this season…
10:33 – Wild pitch by Wilson… Santiago scores from third… Tigers down by one run (2-3)… it’s the top of the 5th if I haven’t mentioned that already.
10:35 – Martinez hits a weak ground ball to the pitcher, two outs. With first base open Wilson intentionally walks Magglio… “And here comes the rain,” says Joe Buck. “And they’re gonna bring the tarp back onto the field.”
10:37 – The camera is on Verlander in the dugout… “I’m good,” he told Leyland. He wants to pitch. You have to love his passion.
10:40 – FOX weather man says he has good news because “some of the rain isn’t even hitting the ground.” Whatever that means, you can bet that Murdoch is behind it.
10:48 – Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Verlander is done for the night [sad face].
10:57 – Joe Torre – former Yankee manager and current MLB Vice President of Baseball Operations – says the radar shows a bunch of cells with some green behind it… that is a good thing, according to Torre. There might be more baseball tonight. Fingers crossed.
11:03 – They’ve gone back to the studio in Detroit… According to Alan they “should just show bloopers.” I could not agree more. Bring on the Benny Hill music!
11:19 – Still in a rain delay. The local news is on and it is depressing. I really hope we get some more baseball tonight.
Instead of saying that a branch fell on a woman’s car… they should say “Woman attacked by rogue tree.”
11:28 – The local FOX announcer, ‘Dan Something’, says the Tigers “no pun intended, may have weathered the storm,” and so we’ll see some more baseball tonight.
Why didn’t Dan intend the pun? “I’d take credit for that if I was him,” Alan says.
11:36 – When I said Verlander had some big cajones, I wasn’t being literal… I’m sure he does, but that’s not what I meant.
11:39 – Alan says there should be a toilet seat that shows your before and after weight.
11:42 – The Stand Up to Cancer commercials annoy me… Cancer should just go back to where it came from – France.
11:43 – Joe Buck says we have baseball again!
11:45 – The Rangers send Michael Gonzalez to the mound (C.J. Wilson is done for the night). The Tigers have the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the fifth, Avila is at the plate… and he grounds out to second. That was anticlimactic.
That’s what she said.
11:49 – Bottom of the fifth with Rick Porcello on the mound for the Tigers. Porcello had a good record in the regular season (14-9), but a bad ERA (4.75). He’s only 22 years old though. I hope he can get that ERA down next year… he seems to be capable of winning 17 games.
11:55 – Three up and three down for Porcello.
11:58 – Trivia question: What is the origin of using “cheese” to describe a fastball?
11:59 – Top of the sixth, two outs, nobody on, and Inge at the plate… Strikeout or groundout?
12:02 a.m. – Inge makes me look like an ass by walking.
12:05 – Jackson strikes out… headed to the bottom of the sixth with the Rangers still leading 3-2.
12:09 – Joe Buck lets the world know that Phil Coke is getting loose in the bullpen. I pray it doesn’t come to that. I’m sorry Phil, but I just don’t have any confidence in you.
12:15 – In Detroit we keep getting a local Chevy dealer commercial where the “star” – some guy in a fake Lions jersey – says he can’t legally say “Detroit Lions”. Why is that? That happens around the Super Bowl. Ads always say “the big game” instead of “Super Bowl”. Again, this is somehow the fault of the Nation of Texas – I’m sure of it.
12:18 – Cabrera is the second out of the 7th… Martinez strikes out for the third. Headed to the bottom of the 7th and the Rangers still lead 3-2…
12:21 – I’m done with this God Bless America stuff… Take Me Out to the Ball Game is what should be sung for the seventh inning stretch…
I thought this was America.
12:22 – Coke induces a pop fly for the first out. Did I mention how much I love him?
12:27 – Coke gives up a single and “is finished after a third of an inning,” says Buck. It feels like this game started 4.5 hours ago…
12:33 – Ryan Perry comes in to get the final two outs of the 7th… Time to get the bats going… Did I miss the answer to the “cheese” question?… I’m going to guess and say it was because there was a shortage of baseballs during WWII and they used cheese instead…
12:40 – Avila strikes out for the first out. With Peralta coming up to the plate the Rangers go to the bullpen. This is a game the Tigers could steal. Verlander did not have is best stuff, but it’s a 3-2 game in the top of the 8th. One swing of the bat would tie it up. C’mon Tigers.
12:46 – Peralta strikes out… we’re headed to the bottom of the 8th.
12:53 – Three up and three down… the Tigers’ last stance after this commercial break.
12:56 – Neftali Feliz is in to close the game out for the Rangers… Santiago bunts his way to first! Betimit is pinch hitting for Inge…
12:58 – Betimit strikes out…
1:00 – Jackson strikes out… Two outs, top of the 9th… Raburn (who’s having a nice night) strolls to the plate.
1:03 – And the mighty Raburn strikes out…
Well, it’s disappointing not to get the win when Verlander starts, but it wasn’t his fault. He wasn’t at his best, but the offense didn’t provide much help with two runs. Game two is tomorrow night at 7:45 p.m. EST.
~ Matthew Penridge
The article I posted was actually picked up by the Freep as a ‘reader column’: