Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mitch Albom is the Worst



I have a confession to make.

I didn’t plan on coming back to making doodie jokes about the Tigers until around Spring Training. The offseason, with the exception of a few random days (OMG TORII HUNTER!!!), is boring. There’s not a lot to talk about and it’s rough to come up with material. So I was going to wait.

Plus, the team got swept in the World Series. After Miguel Cabrera’s strikeout to end it, the last thing I wanted to do was think or write about baseball for a while.

But one man and his ridiculous column about why the Tigers lost the Series changed all that. His work annoyed me so much that I started making plans to return much earlier. And this site is the result.

His name is Mitch Albom and he is the worst. No, it’s not the embarrassing bit he wrote about the MVP debate that got him mocked by countless sites around the internet. But it’s almost as bad. I’ve held on to this one for a while to see if it still annoyed me as much weeks later as when I first read it. It does. Even more so.

You see, the Tigers lost because they didn’t jump around before games like Hunter Pence did. So sez Albom.

I sez he is a thoughtless hack.
 
Defeat makes for short farewells. As midnight passed in the Tigers' locker room, there were quick good-byes, strong handshakes and a whole lotta huggin' going on.

Lots of hugs. But short ones. Sadly, losing does not make for long, uncomfortable hugs.
Ha...I love that picture.

Noticeably, many players came by to hug Prince Fielder. They came to him, not the other way around. And while I don't want to make too much of this observation,

Then don’t.

it suggests a leadership role, no?

Yes, it’s quite shocking that an obscenely paid superstar ballplayer would be seen in a leadership role. This never happens except for always in every sport.

Which is interesting,

To no one.

considering how low-keyed Fielder was about the whole Detroit collapse, a mostly lifeless, four-game sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants.

Indeed. Prince Fielder should have thrown bats, screamed at Gerald Laird, and possibly have sacrificed Don Kelly to the Baseball Gods. This would have made guys like Jhonny Peralta suddenly remember how to hit.

"It is what it is," Fielder said, over and over. That is true. But it is not fiery.

Little known fact about Prince Fielder’s contract: After being embarrassed in the World Series, when answering annoying questions from smug pricks like Mitch Albom, the truth will not suffice. All answers must be delivered with FIRE.

Fielder is not a fiery guy. He dismissed pep talks as "Hoosiers" stuff, and concluded, "All you can do is go out there and keep swinging."

That’s advice that Delmon Young takes way too literally.

A few feet away, Miguel Cabrera was surrounded by reporters. He, too, spoke softly, while admitting that his hitting in the World Series was not good. "We never found our game," he said.

True. But not as true as if he would have yelled it, it seems.

Across the room, Justin Verlander was dressed to go home.

As opposed to being dressed in a clown suit?

He spoke calmly, professionally, like a guy wrapping a sales meeting with no deal closed.

What do you want from him, Mitch? Whining? Excuses? Finger pointing? In that case, you would have written about what a dick Verlander was. There is no making the American sportswriter happy in the year 2012.

"There's always gonna be that little bit of negativity at the end," he said. "But to get this far in and of itself is an amazing accomplishment."

Truth. What more can you ask after such a disappointing sweep?

Verlander, Cabrera and Fielder are the three biggest stars on the Tigers. Whoever picked Detroit in this series did it because of them. Yet you could argue they had the worst performances of anyone on the roster, given their expectations.

Well, that depends one one’s expectations. I expect most guys to bat their IQ, at least. However, this wasn’t true for the following.

Avila: 1 for 7
Berry: 0 for 8
Dirks: 1 for 9
Garcia: 0 for 5
Laird: 0 for 7
Peralta: 1 for 15

So yeah, you expect the superstars to perform. But they can’t do it alone. Only morons and sportswriters desperate for a story think otherwise.

• Verlander was the least effective of the starting pitchers, lasting a mere four innings in Game 1.

I agree. Unacceptable for him to revert to “All Star Game JV”.

• Cabrera, the Triple Crown winner, had one extra-base hit.

And two singles. And four walks. He got on base seven times in four games against some really talented, hot pitchers. Leave Miguel alone and get to the next scapegoat.

• Fielder was a ghost. He hit .071, had no RBIs, stranded nine runners and will be remembered for a failed slide at the plate that choked a potential early rally in Game 2.

He never should have been sent. Fielder sucked for the Series, but Gene Lamont’s to blame there. C’mon.

So why, you might ask, weren't they taking things a bit more ... emotionally?

Oh, fuck you. Did you want tears, Mitch? You cocksucker.

Down the hallway, the Giants were dancing, joking, slapping backs.

They won the World Series. They were happy. The Tigers lost it. They were sad. What in the name of Ty Cobb’s racist ghost do you want from them?

Funny thing is, besides the champagne, you couldn't tell the difference between their postgame celebration and their pregame ritual, where Hunter Pence riles them up like a Red Bull commercial.

Yes. If only Ramon Santiago would have led the Tigers in a pregame “firecracker, firecracker BOOM BOOM BOOM” cheer and Quintin Berry clapped a bit more, the Tigers would have AT LEAST taken the Series to six games.

And what fucking Red Bull commercials are you watching? Anyone that gets “riled up” by a Red Bull commercial needs to be punched in the groin.

Could that have had something to do with the outcome?

No. No. A thousand times no, you terrible piece of shit.

A word from the boss

The fire next time.

On Don Kelly’s shoe? Now that, I can get behind.

The Tigers tried hard to win this World Series, but, if you ask me,

NO ONE ASKED YOU.

they could use a little sand between their toes, some grit,
some agitation.

Look.

Have you ever played baseball? I have. Here’s the deal. When you are at the plate, you try to hit the ball. And you try to hit it hard. Sometimes, the pitcher overmatches you. In fact, even if you’re really good, the pitcher gets you out, 7 out of 10 times. But you try to hit the ball or get on base the best way you can. When you’re in the field, you try to catch the ball (unless you're Delmon Young). When you pitch, you try to get the batter out. Etc, etc, etc.

If you make the Major Leagues, you have to be pretty good. Even Brennan Boesch. And when you make the World Series, the ultimate goal for any baseball player that ever lived, you try your best. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you don’t. Baseball’s a funny game and a lot can go right or wrong in a small sample size of a best of seven series.

Some fucking sand between the toes has FUCKING NOTHING to do with the team losing. They got beat. The Giants hit better and pitched better. THAT IS ALL. Do you think if Miguel Cabrera would have said to Prince Fielder, “Hey, quit being shitty” that the outcome would have been different?

Good fucking gawd.

Manager Jim Leyland has said numerous times this year that he wished his team were a bit more vocal. He said it again over the telephone on Monday.

KATIE LEYLAND: Jim! Mitch Albom’s on the phone.

JIM LEYLAND: Motherfucker! I wish someone on the team would have spoken up and told that pile of shit to quit calling us!

"I don't think there was any question they were pumped up and ready to play," he said. "But ... a lot of our guys really don't talk a lot. Some of our guys are a little bashful and it's the case (with) some of our stars, to be honest with you. ...

"I don't think that has anything to do with their motivation. ... But that's kind of what I meant when I talked earlier in the season about (getting) a couple of dirtballs."

Leyland said it in June, after a typically bumpy Detroit stretch. He observed that his clubhouse was perhaps a bit too mellow.

"They are a bunch of great guys. ... But I wish they had a little meaner streak in them from 7 to 10," he told the media back then.

There’s a lot of  “…” in there. But yeah, I can see Leyland wanting to see a mean streak in his players. It can’t hurt. But a bunch of rah-rah nonsense is not the difference between winning and losing. Not at the MLB level. The team that leads the league in smiles, cheers, or even screaming does not guarantee a championship.

When asked what he meant by a dirtball, he responded, "They know how to win games. That type of guy can hit .240 and be just as important as the guy hitting .310 because he got the guy over on a consistent basis, he got the squeeze down, he broke up a double play, he tagged up from first on a long fly to left-center, those are the dirtbags I'm talking about."

This is stupid Ozzieball bullshit. I’ll take the .310 guy. You keep Danny Worth.

Sound like the Giants?

No.

Well, the Giants did hit .242 in the World Series. But I think the Tigers only hitting .159 as a team in the Series did more to cause them to lose than a bunch of scenarios that didn’t actually take place for the Giants over those four games.

I think it sounds like them over and over.

Well, you’re a fuckhead. These things happen.

The Tigers hit .159. The Giants pitchers were outstanding. The Tigers did not get out-Ecksteined, no matter how bad passé white sportswriters would like that to be true.

Who did the Tigers have doing that? Not Delmon Young, who, despite his hot bat in the postseason, seemed a paragon of self-interest. ("I'm either going back to San Francisco to play Game 6 or I'm going back to Beverly Hills," he said nonchalantly after the Game 3 loss.)

Anyone looking to Delmon Young as a leader, for inspiration, or for anything other than a good lawyer should be shot.

Not Jose Valverde, who had his fire extinguished like a torch in a hurricane.

Yeah, kick Papa Grande while he’s down. Fuck the relief pitcher that played for a third of an inning for not getting a guy over, laying down a sac bunt, breaking up a double play, or tagging up from first. This makes sense.

And picking on the most animated pitcher in baseball for not being rah-rah enough is like picking on Fielder for not being fat enough.

Now, don't misunderstand. Rah-rah doesn't win games by itself.
As Leyland pointed out, "Sometimes the cheerleader stuff plays well with people and sometimes it doesn't."

Holy steaming shit! It’s almost like it doesn’t matter at all! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Detroit's talent is good enough to log plenty of victories even if every player comes to work as a monk.

I don’t know what this means.

But when things aren't going so well -- as happened during the regular-season slumps and, of course, in the World Series -- would it not help to have some sort of internal combustion? The way Pence or Marco Scutaro or several of their crazy relievers seemed to ignite the Giants?

Sigh.

GERALD LAIRD: Boy, I suck. Hey, look at Peralta! He’s making a funny face!

/hits three home runs

"Truth be told," Leyland said, "Pence didn't have a great series or playoffs. But at the same time, he seemed to be a guy who said something and got them pumped up."

Yes, the head cheerleader is the reason they won. It would almost make more sense at this point to blame fucking Paws for the Tigers getting swept. Stupid mascot wasn’t entertaining enough.

DFA PAWS!

How the stars align

Now, OK. You can't be what you can't be.

For example, Mitch Albom can’t be relevant, entertaining, or good at writing about sports.

Fielder is a mega-talent, but part of what makes him shine is his easygoing approach to the game. He is not suddenly going to pick up a bayonet and scream, "Follow me, men!"

I just pictured an angry Prince Fielder charging me with a bayonet. I may never sleep again. Damn you, Albom.

"Did the (losing) just snowball in this series?" he was asked Sunday night.

"It is what it is, you know?" he said, with a smile and a shrug. "We don't get to put a GPS on it."

Cabrera, meanwhile, seems too boyish to be the leader of the clubhouse.

Yes, he’s too boyish to lead the team in screaming and jumping around.

He's a great audience, a great joker, teammates enjoy him and are in awe of his talent.

But he's not a fire-starter. 
He wouldn’t made a good Giants fan, then.

"I was not able to do my job," he said glumly Sunday night. "Nothing happened. They pitched great. They worked both sides of the plate, off-speed, catch you off balance. I think that was the key. ...

"We feel bad, we feel sorry, because we couldn't get it done in the last series. ... You don't want to feel this, to feel like everything you did in the season is like, four games, it goes down like you don't do nothing."

There you go. Realistic. To the point. Miguel Cabrera. It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. Guys that don’t bullshit and tell the truth…those are the guys I want to be my leader. Not some bumblefuck like Hunter Pence.

As for Verlander? Well. He's a thoroughbred, certainly, an intense competitor when he is on the mound. But it's hard for a starting pitcher to be a catalyst for a team. You can only do so much from the dugout four out of five games.

Yet a few sentences ago, you were fawning over the Giants having “crazy relievers” igniting the team.

"There's definitely a burning fire to win it now, to win it all," he said Sunday, standing by his locker. "And the only thing to put that out is to win one. If anything, '06 and this year just stoke it all the more. It's a raging fire now."

The Tigers could use that fire -- and not just when Verlander is on the mound. Perhaps the return of Victor Martinez will help.

His .300 bat and actual plate discipline in the #5 hole might help a bit, too.

He is considered that kind of presence. Perhaps Dave Dombrowski will acquire someone in the off-season, a complementary player who brings that certain life force into the dugout.

Like Torii Hunter? Don’t tell Drew Sharp that.

Or perhaps they simply will get better timing next year and have no long layoffs between playoff rounds. It could be that simple.

Bingo. You finally got it, sport. But that wouldn’t have made for an exhausting, irritating column, would it?

The fact is, the Tigers had a heck of a season that ended four victories too soon. There were handshakes and hugs and quick farewells, and by the time you read this, the players will be as scattered as the rain on the autumn winds.

Are you like me? Do you imagine Albom writing that sentence, smiling, ripping a fart, and then sniffing it for a good two, three minutes?

Maybe it’s just me.

The fire next time. Maybe it's a little agitation that stirs the pot. Or maybe it's the three biggest stars playing like the three biggest stars. The fact is, emotion mattered in this postseason. The Tigers needed every game to oust a feisty Oakland team, yet they steamrolled a moribund Yankees group (which lost its mojo when Derek Jeter went down). And then, after a too-long absence, they were pummeled by a jumping, laughing, do-the-little-things band of Giants.

Or maybe they hit fucking .159/.243/.246 over the four game series.

Tangibles matter. But intangibles get you over the top. The Tigers, a terrific assemblage of talent, left quietly Sunday night. A bit more noise might do them good.

I wish I was a better writer even more than I wish Mitch Abom was a better writer. Because if I were, I could properly express to you all how much I think he is the worst Detroit sportswriter alive. The fact that people not only like him, but also believe what is written here, makes me sad beyond words.

The fact that people agree with him and think the Tigers would have won the World Series if they “cared more” or “got more fired up” is insulting to the team and to the intelligence of normal human beings.

The simple fact is that the Giants beat the Tigers because they hit and pitched better over a four game series. It has nothing to do with FIRE or INTANGIBLES. To look deeper than that is silly, an insult to the Giants' players, and just plain fantasy. You might as well blame Sports Illustrated for cursing the team by putting Miguel Cabrera on the cover.

But on behalf of the seven people that find me entertaining, Mitch, thanks for pissing me off and motivating me to return to writing about the Tigers again. You brought back my FIRE.

Dick. Now I've gotta figure out something else to write about for the next three months...

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