Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A High Voltage Metaphor-Filled Effort from Lynn Henning

I don’t envy Lynn Henning. Trying to come up with a different Tigers article on a near-daily basis is, no doubt, not an easy task. Especially when you’re in the GM’s back pocket and aren’t allowed to criticize him in any way. It has to become mundane after a while. I mean, that’s why I stick to my usual poop jokes and stupidity at this blog. Being in the legit media must be awful. I’d eventually start hating baseball like TJ Simers does if I had Lynn's job.

And that’s why I can forgive this piece Henning did on Al Alburquerque for the News. I mean, the entire article could have been written in the following sentence: “Alburquerque came into the season as an unknown and has been very good despite his occasional wildness.” That’s it. But he stretches it out over an entire column. And, quite frankly, I needed something to make fun of today, thus you get this.

Before I get into it, though, I should warn you. Like Lynn’s article, this probably won’t be my best work. Having a drink to celebrate one of my co-worker’s birthday last night turned into a pint of Boddingtons, six jumbo margaritas, a shot of Rumplemintz, and a double Bacardi and Coke over 4 1/2 hours. (No, I didn’t drive.) Thus, I feel like I was hit by a train today and my writing will probably reflect it. I keep forgetting I'm not 21 anymore.

Then again, it’s not like you’re all used to reading Hemingway at DNR anyway…

Al Alburquerque is one of those mystery men who occasionally finds his way onto a Detroit pro sports team.

Wrong. I believe the bigger mystery man is Don Kelly and why he is even on a Detroit pro sports team. And starting. And batting higher than ninth.

They arrive as a slice of transactional trivia. Once in a while, they evolve into a star with mystique as mighty as their obvious skill.

Huh? This is more confusing than batting Kelly leadoff. Sorry. I have to make fun of DK at least twice per blog entry. It’s the only rule here. And now we can proceed.

Alburquerque, who got the victory in Tuesday's wild, 8-7 victory over the Twins at Comerica Park, has plenty of each.

True. He is skilled in the way he can make hitters swing and miss at his crazy breaking stuff. As for the mystique, it’s a little known fact that AlAl is Batman by night.

Also, Dombrowski is Two Face. Leyland is the Penguin. Scherzer is The Joker. And Kelly is The Riddler. As in “What sucks, blows, has an OPS+ of 83, and still plays almost every day?”

/evil giggle

Oh, that’s three Kelly jokes now. Bonus material!

The skill part is evident. He can throw a fastball consistently at 96-98 mph.

Uh oh. Is Lynn developing a new crush? Is he finally getting over Joel Zumaya?

And then there's his slider. You might as well swing at a sound wave. It's that elusive.

Huh? A sound wave? That’s random.

Do you mean Soundwave?

How the Tigers got Alburquerque is both a statement about his past problems and a compliment to Dave Dombrowski's scouts.

Hold the phone…DD has scouts? Then how do you explain every draft pick he’s ever made other than Justin Verlander?

Alburquerque, who is all of 24, signed eight years ago with the Chicago Cubs.

I can’t imagine signing with a baseball team at the age of 16. When I was that age, I worked in a crappy restaurant and masturbated three times a day. 18 years later…aw, hell.

/hangs self in closet

He spent seven seasons there, fought a losing battle with the strike zone, and signed ahead of the 2010 seasons with Colorado, where his control crisis continued.

“Control Crisis” sounds like a bad 90’s movie that would probably star Jean-Claude Van Damme and Kurt Russell. With Linda Hamilton as the love interest.  Perhaps a cameo by Pat Morita.

The Tigers signed him during the past offseason as a minor-league free agent. Now you know why you heard nothing of Alburquerque until spring training.

True. The Detroit News failed us again. Way to point out not doing your job.

Nothing much was expected.

Just like the rest of the bullpen arms not named Valverde or Benoit.

But what became evident the first day Alburquerque unpackaged himself in the Tigertown bullpen was that he had a high-voltage arm, gifted even by big-league standards.

When I was in jail for my DUI, on my first day a guy unpackaged himself in front of me. He was gifted, too, by jailhouse standards. Luckily my uncontrollable sobbing must have scared him off.

You wonder if they should calculate Alburquerque's numbers by way of monthly meter-readings.

Oh, Lynn. You’ve been reading Rick Reilly lately, haven’t you?

He generates serious electricity, as he did Tuesday night in striking out the first two of three Twins batters he confronted in the eighth inning. The final hitter he got on a weak pop-up to first.

Then he did the “Electric Slide”. Quite a sight, I’m told.

That's about as hard as most batters hit him.

He’s right, you know. “Wrong Turn” (at) Alburquerque has only allowed one extra base hit (a double) and eight hits overall against the 72 guys he’s faced. Great story, Lynn. Guy came from nowhere and is kicking ass. We're done here. Good thing there’s no further issues...

What's at issue is something else.

Ahh, shit.

His control.

Now people bitch about AlAl’s wildness. But that’s what helps him in my opinion. People have no idea where the ball’s going to go. It takes batters off their game and makes him look better on the mound. Not everyone needs to be Greg Maddux out there. In fact, the “Wild Thing” factor is part of what made Joel Zumaya so dominant when he broke out in Detroit in 2006. Al could be 2011's Zoom.

/Alburquerque’s arm explodes?

Not that way, I hope.

These are Alburquerque's minor-league numbers from six seasons:

Innings: 220.1
Strikeouts: 234
Walks: 94.

Not relevant to this season. Let’s let this play out. He seems to have put it all together. It happens. In fact, as I write this, he just walked a guy and k’d the next. Let him do his thing.

You see the reality that is Alburquerque. He strikes out slightly more than one batter per inning. But his walks approach one for every two innings.

You just described our entire bullpen's wildness. But AlAl doesn’t give up ten hits per inning like guys like Brad Thomas and Enrique Gonzalez.  That's why we can deal with more walks. Just don't bring his ass in with the bases loaded.

His numbers with the Tigers are pretty much consistent with that Jekyll and Hyde profile, which is amazing, given that after Tuesday's victory he is 3-1 with a 3.12 earned-run average.

He’s actually striking out 15.6 per 9 innings. If he’s gonna do that, he can walk one every inning if he wants.

Alburquerque has pitched 17.1 innings for the Tigers since they called him up in April. He has a whopping 30 strikeouts. And he has an equally immense 11 walks.

Hear that, kids? 30 = 11.

/fails math class

It's a double-edged sword,

A dull sword?

a very sharp sword,


that strides onto the mound when manager Jim Leyland summons him.

The idea of Jim Leyland summoning Alburquerque like he’s a mythical beast amuses me. Or maybe I’m still a little drunk...

Will get you get a strikeout?

"Get you get"? know I don't speak Spanish. 

Top-notch editors at The Detroit News, my friends.  Top-notch.

Will you see a walk?

Probabaly.  But "Will see you see a walk?" would be a better question.

And will his team and fans be able to breathe as Alburquerque runs up his share of three-ball counts, with a whiff or a walk often hanging in the balance of that next pitch?

And will you continue to drag out this pointless column with more questions and filler?

Leyland smiled when the game and Alburquerque's contribution were mentioned.

In six years, I think I’ve seen Leyland smile once. It was the most frightened I've ever been in a non-prison setting.

"We battled hard tonight," said Leyland, who was talking generally, but also specifically about his eighth-inning pitcher, Alburquerque.

By saying “we”, Jim was talking generally and specifically about AlAl. Gotcha.


The Tigers would love to think they have a successor to Joel Zumaya

Ahh. Here it comes.  Knew he couldn't resist.

on the blow-'em-away scale of relief pitchers who don't get batters out as much as they annihilate them.

Yup. Zoom threw grenades at home plate instead of baseballs. He annihilated the bastards. That was his secret. Amazing that he never got caught. Even more amazing that he never killed anyone…except his arm.

From the standpoint of pure stuff, Alburquerque is that pitcher. But can he stay ahead of hitters? Can he command his fastball and then put batters away with that blur of a slider he flings?

Let it go, Lynn. Zoom’s never coming back. The broad in Titanic let DiCaprio’s dead body go at the end. You can do the same with Joel.

Alburquerque is young enough, with enough raw pitching fury, where the Tigers can dream.

I had a dream last night that spiders were crawling all over me. Tequila is evil.

They got him for a song.

Too bad that song wasn’t “April in the D”.

They have potentially one of the more dynamic bullpen arms in baseball.

/puts shitload of unneeded pressure on Alburquerque

If, and only if, he can stay somewhere within the vicinity of a strike zone.

He’s K-ing 16 guys per 9 innings. You have to throw strikes to do that. You seem to be overlooking that. Leave the kid alone.  He's kicking ass.

Alburquerque was scarce following Tuesday night's game. But in late April, after he left everyone wide-eyed with a pitching stint that left Indians batters all but vaporized,

Everyone except Fu-Te Ni.  Get it?  Wide-eyed?  Harf.  Three bad Kelly jokes and a racist Ni joke.  You people should be paying me to read this nonsense.

he explained that he was getting soothing support from two bullpen graybeards, Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit.

Valverde and Benoit are both 33. Graybeards, indeed.

It's not as if Valverde and Benoit are infallible.

No shit. I’ve seen Benoit’s ERA of 5.00 and Valverde’s ability to turn into Fernando Rodney in non-save situations.

But they speak Alburquerque's language, both in terms of the Spanish with which Alburquerque is most comfortable, and in the context of their jobs.

Unlike that dingo-raping prick Brad Thomas. His goofy Australian accent and inability to know how to pitch are nothing but bad for young Al’s transition to the big leagues.

You never know. Some pitchers develop control deeper into their careers. If that has happened with a man named Alburquerque, the Tigers just stole a chunk of Consumers Energy.

Electricity, folks. Get it?

Well, that was a waste of time. Excuse me now, as I must resume my dry heaving and cursing myself.

Oh, game just ended.  We've beaten the Twins nine straight times.  Anyone else out there EVER think we'd be able to say that?


Laura said...

WRONG, Rogo. Even hungover, you are still hilarious. I wish that could be said for all of us.

David Tokarz said...

Carlos Marmol had a 3.9 BB/9 and a 9.2 K/9 rate in the minors. Al^2 had a 4.3% BB/9 rate and a 10 K/9 rate. Their K/BB ratios were within .03 points (and my stats class taught me that is a statistically insignificant difference).

So why is control a big enough issue for Al^2 that he deserves a condescending article like this? Wonder if Marmol has idiot writers publishing dreck about him in Chicago?

David Tokarz said...

"Dombrowski is Two Face. Leyland is the Penguin. Scherzer is The Joker. And Kelly is The Riddler."

Who is Scarecrow? Is it Ryan Raburn's glove?

Michael Wilson said...

It's a double-edged sword,

A dull sword?

a very sharp sword,


for some reason this may be one of the funnier things I have read here.

ggt said...

As long as DD doesn't let AlAl grow a goofy goatee and start moving burning furniture, I guess we'll see a lot of Henning's editorial clucking.  (Sorry - no hangover to blame for the name+chicken joke.  Please continue dry-heaving.)

h2opolopunk said...

<3 the Transformers reference!

h2opolopunk said...

... also the Anchorman reference. You kick ass dude.

Raburn's 2nd Base Coach said...

Oh, on the topic of Zumaya, you can tell he's on his way out of Detroit. Looking at MLBTR the other day, they released his little brother. I'm guessing Joel was the only guy tethering him to the organization. When the team stops employing your relatives, your F*cked.

Flydog said...

That's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time.  Good work dude!