.139 ----- Brandon Inge's batting average since the All-Star break
The Tigers third sacker stormed out of the gates this year, making some fans think this was the year his average would finally wind up on the right side of .250. Think again. Inge is in a woeful slump since his maiden trip to the midsummer classic. In these 12 ballgames, Inge is 5 for 36 (all singles) with no RBI's, and a whopping 15 punchouts to boot. It aint pretty to watch, either. Inge is swinging at everything, seemingly unable to lay off the "Kit Keller Special," which is anything in the mid-90's arriving at the plate somewhere in the vicinity of the batter's shoulder blades. I know the man is a little dinged up, but who's not at this point in the year? And if the injury is worse than we are led to believe, then it's probably time to take a short trip to the DL, heal up, and come back strong. The amount of positions that the Tigers can look to for offensive production are dwindling. Catcher, shortstop, the corner outfield spots...if you now add 3rd base to the mix, you're looking at half the lineup becoming virtual automatic outs. And you wonder why Miguel Cabrera gets so few pitches to hit in RBI situations? The major league season is a true grind, and for the most part, guys tend to find their way back to their usual numbers before everything is said and done. Inge uncharacteristically hovered around the .270-.280 range for a while, but now he's fallen to a .254 clip, inching ever closer to that depressing career mark of .238. Can't help but wonder if Dean Palmer is still alive...and if so, what kind of shape is he in??
5 ----- Home Runs by my brother Sam in the last two softball weekends
You might think this is no big deal. But keep in mind that he hit approximately zero in the 7-8 weeks prior. All of a sudden, he's routinely smashing bombs over the 300-foot sign with room to spare. Hard to figure. Things got even weirder a few days ago when I was looking around for something in the trunk of his car, only to come across a couple of empty bottles with the words "Juice" and "Lil Extra" scribbled over the labels. I'd never seen this kind of beverage at the supermarket, but when I went to ask Sam about it, he slammed the trunk shut and told me, "Those just came with the car." I'm not making any assumptions or accusations, but let's just say it's probably a good thing that there is no drug-testing yet for softball players. Little bro might have some serious 'splainin to do...
4.5 ----- Maximum number of minutes I am able to watch Everybody Loves Raymond before I realize, "Hey, this isn't funny," and "Yeah, I pretty much hate Raymond."
Is it just me? Am I missing something here? Because I have never been able to tolerate this show for more than a few minutes at a time, let alone an entire half hour. I think that when the show came out, people took the title to heart and assumed that since Everybody else loved Raymond, that they should too. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate the show. I don't have any huge problem with it. It's just that I've never found it to be funny. I used to try and convince myself that Ray Romano was a comic genius, to see what everybody else was seeing, but I just couldn't do it. Honestly, have you ever heard anyone utter the words, "Man, that Ray Romano is hilarious!! Absolutely hilarious!"?? I don't think so. I'm not sure anyone has been as highly regarded in the comedy world for as long a period of time as Ray Romano without ever actually making people laugh. I'll admit that Ray's brother on the show, Brad Garrett, is always fun to watch, but then why isn't the show centered around him?? That is something I could get on board with. Patricia Heaton always got serious Emmy consideration for playing Ray's wife, but I always thought that she would have been more at home occupying a spot in the "Téa Leoni Hall-of-Fame for Annoying Female Actresses." And the supposed comic star of the show, Doris Roberts (Ray's mom), always struck me as the poor man's version of George Costanza's mother from Seinfeld. (Sidenote: Roberts' best role came in her unforgettable turn as the Mother Pig in Faerie Tale Theatre's version of The 3 Little Pigs. This is not debatable.)
I'm not trying to criticize those who enjoyed the show and made it so popular that it is now syndicated and playing in re-runs 25 times a day. I'm just wondering what you're all laughing at.
69 ----- Years since the Tigers last had a position player win the American League MVP Award
It's not to say that the Tigers haven't had their fair share of outstanding position players over the last seven decades. Al Kaline and George Kell had Hall-of-Fame careers wearing the Olde English D. Alan Trammell was the picture of consistency throughout his 20-year career. Cecil Fielder won three straight RBI titles. Speedster Brian Hunter once managed to swipe 74 bases in a season without once hitting the ball out of the infield. But despite all that, it has been a very, very, long time since a Tiger position player took home the league's most prestigious award, the Most Valuable Player. Hank Greenberg bashed 41 homers and knocked in 150 runs during his magical summer of 1940, but since then, it's been only hurlers taking home the hardware for the hometown club. Hal Newhouser nabbed a pair, Denny McClain dominated the vote in '68, and Willie Hernandez shocked everybody by winning it in '84. But that's it. No American League team (besides the Rays, who have only been around for 11 years) has gone longer without one of its everyday players being named MVP. Heck, the Yankees have had 10 different position players win the award over this same period of time.
The Tigers drought hasn't come without its fair share of close calls, though. Many felt that Trammell was robbed of the trophy in '87 when he had a career year, hitting for both power and average (28 HR, .343 BA) in leading the Tigers to the playoffs. He was edged out by Toronto's powerful left fielder George Bell, who similarly had a career campaign, walloping 47 long balls and batting over .300. But unlike Tram, Georgie did not take his team to the postseason.
Fielder also came within a hair of nabbing the MVP two different times. Big Daddy was the baseball story in 1990 when he was chasing the 50 home run mark. At that time, fiddy bombs was still considered to be a remarkable achievement. (Note: the luster for a 50-HR season officially wore off when the chronically mediocre Greg Vaughn joined the club in 1998.) Most people thought that when Fielder finished with 51 homers (nobody else even hit 40), the award would be his. But alas, Rickey Henderson swooped in with his 65 stolen bags and zillion runs scored and ripped the title away from Cecil. I still think the baseball record books should credit Henderson with sixty-six thefts for that 1990 season; 65 stolen bases, one stolen award. The big fella played the role of bridesmaid again the following year, finishing 2nd to Cal Ripken, Jr. Fielder led the circuit in homers and ribbies for the second straight year, but it wasn't enough to take down Jr., despite his Orioles finishing a horrid 67 and 95.
Just a couple years back, Magglio Ordóñez caught fire for virtually an entire season and won the batting title with a sparkling .363 mark. Unfortunately, that performance got lost in the shuffle when Alex Rodriguez had perhaps his most dominant season, tallying a superhuman total of 156 RBI's and robbing another Tiger position player of the elusive MVP. Could this be the year the streak finally ends? Miguel Cabrera is really the only candidate, and that's not looking very promising. His power numbers don't compare with bashers like Morneau and Teixeira, Ichiro looks to be running away with the batting crown, and let's face it, his team aint exactly settin' the world on fire. Nope, it does not appear that this little streak is ready to die just yet. Guess some records are not meant to be broken...
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