Well folks, it’s that time again. Time for another edition of Sexy Action Sports Saturday with your old pal, IHM.
Channeling my inner Johnny Monkey for this post!
To start things out tonight, how about a little man-love for Justin Verlander? Damn he was filthy last night. Granted, it WAS the Pirates’ offense, who haven’t been hitting much better than the Tigers this season so far, but he still came two outs (and one range-limited short stop) away from throwing his third career no-hitter. Some asshole named Harrison blooped one past Peralta (one that 75% of Major League short stops would get to) for the Bucos first and only hit of the night. Still, at the end of the night, complete game shut-out, one-hit, two walks, 12 K’s for Verlander, who improved to 5-1 on the season, lowered his ERA to 2.14, and yet again stopped a Tigers’ losing skid.
But aside from Friday night’s electric performance, this team is a fucking wreck. The team I said before the season started should “have the division wrapped up by August” stands at 19-20… still just three games behind Cleveland for the AL Central lead, but only because they play in what is possibly the weakest overall division in baseball. Hell, if they’re in the AL East or West, they’re at least five games back. There are some signs of the Tigers turning things around, though. Andy Dirks has been a bright spot in the lineup, hitting .360 since he got a spot in the lineup early this month, but 0-22 stretches for both Miggy and Prince have limited what this team has been able to do offensively. The bullpen is a fucking mess… and Scherzer and Porcello have been erratic at best this year. From the looks of it, this team needs to make a move or two before I can consider them any kind of threat to do anything in the postseason… either getting somebody for the pen, another starter, or even a second baseman that can hit his weight at some point before the deadline.
If nothing else, I can always respect Jim Leyland’s honesty. He understands why people are critical of a 19-20 team with a 100+ million dollar payroll, "When you have the expectations that we have, and you perform the way we have up to this point, you expect severe criticism, and if you don't, you're not very smart," Leyland said. If it were legal to smoke in ANY fucking building in this state… he would have most likely said it with a Marlboro hanging out of his mouth. I really have to say, though, if this team doesn’t turn things around, I have a hard time justifying keeping Leyland and Dombrowski at the helm of this team. I know Illitch is loyal… sometimes to a fault… but when you shell out that kind of money for a winner, you have to expect results.
Happy trails to former Cub/Indian/one other team I can’t think of pitcher Kerry Wood, who in an odd situation announced his retirement today but made himself available to pitch in this weekend’s interleague cross-town matchup with the White Sox. Wood, who tied a MLB record with 20 strikeouts in one game during his rookie season, has struggled with injuries at every turn throughout his career… and never quite delivered on all the promise he showed. Still, he got into this afternoon’s game, pitching 1/3 of an inning, and notching one last strikeout. Wood retires as one of only three pitchers in Big League history to average 10+ strikeouts per nine innings pitched (minimum 1,000 innings).
I have to be honest… the more I hear about this playoff for college football, the more it makes me want to fucking puke. As it stands, it’s the same fucking story as it is right now, only with two more of the big boys getting a shot at the championship, and still with the major conferences calling all the shots. Yeah, now the Big 12 and SEC are getting together to pit their champions against one-another for a New Year’s Day bowl… But if the Big 12 or SEC champions were selected for the four-team playoff (which is more of an inevitability than a possibility), two different teams from the respective conferences would be given the bowl game instead. Meanwhile, the Big Ten continues its’ love-affair with the Rose Bowl, refusing an on-campus home playoff game over the ability to play the Pac-12 champs in Pasadena.
Honestly, I am getting to the point where any respect I once had for the Big Ten is gone. The way this system is set up currently, this is a golden opportunity to gain some sort of advantage over an opponent from ANY other conference, aside from possibly the Big East (but what are the odds a Big East school actually gets a playoff spot?), if you earn a chance to host a playoff game? Any Pac-12 team you face has an essential home-field advantage in Pasadena. Hell, even SEC and Big 12 schools have a shorter trip. Why are you shooting yourself in the foot, robbing your universities of revenue from ticket sales, local businesses revenue from people coming in to watch another home game, and more importantly, taking a much-needed advantage away from your schools, who, quite frankly, haven’t won anything that MATTERED since 2003? So you can keep a spot in a bowl game that means next to NOTHING now with a playoff in place to determine a true national champion? Look, I’m all for tradition in most cases… but this is a situation where you need to buck tradition a bit and take any kind of advantage the NCAA is going to afford you.
Let’s face it, the Big Ten is really screwing its self over here… and only so it can continue its’ century-old love affair with the Rose Bowl. The longer you wait, the deeper you get buried by the SEC and Big 12 in the championship picture, and the lower you sink in terms of how relevant your conference really is in college football. I mean, what kind of advantage is it for a school like Ohio State, Michigan, or Wisconson to host a January playoff game against a Big 12/Pac 12/SEC school? Play your style of ball in your backyard, on your terms, and you might actually have a legit shot at WINNING a bowl game against somebody that matters. Let’s face it, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney isn’t doing any of his schools any favors here. As for your “history and tradition”, every year, people forget more and more of that… and eventually, if you don’t wake the fuck up, you’re going to be nothing more than an irrelevant memory. Every school you are supposedly here serving is going to suffer because of it.
Well, the NBA has done it… they’ve sucked me back in a bit. As of right now, the OKC Thunder are up 2-0 on the Lakers out West, and the Pacers are shocking the Miami Heat with a 2-1 series advantage with game four in Indiana Saturday night. As much as I’ve grown to despise this league and everything it is becoming… there is nothing I love more than to watch LeDouche, his little pal D-Wade (who is quickly becoming just as big a douche as King Douche himself), and Kobe all on the brink of being wiped out in the second round of the playoffs. How’s that MVP award going for ya, LeBron… too bad you won’t have a Larry O’Brien trophy to add to your trophycase this summer.
That’s all I’ve got for this week, folks. Thanks as always for reading and for any comments you leave on the way out. And be sure to stop by next week for my in-depth WNBA preview… I’ve already given the heads-up to Sully, Frag, Beeze and Felber to get this place ready for all the extra traffic. Yeah… always end it on a strong joke.