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Justin Verlander Eats Taco Bell the Night Before Every Start (Video)

Last season, Justin Verlander brought us one of the most dominant seasons we’ve seen from a pitcher in recent history.  Verlander would have liked a better result in the playoffs, but he mowed through the entire league during the regular season and placed himself in the MVP discussion.  In an era where pitchers rarely are able to pitch deep enough into games to win 20 games in a season, you might wonder how Verlander did it.  In an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show Wednesday night, the Tigers ace revealed one of his secrets: Taco Bell.  Check out this video that It’s Always Sunny in Detroit passed along:

Conan read my mind with the diarrhea comment.  I can’t remember a time when I’ve eaten Taco Bell and haven’t had to risk getting a speeding ticket to make it home without a crisis situation occurring in my car, let alone playing a baseball game the following day.  That being said, Verlander is not the first MLB starter to have a fast food addiction.  Remember Tim Lincecum’s insane In-N-Out Burger order?  Maybe the rest of us need to give saturated fat and calories more of a chance.

Jose Bautista Is the AL MVP Right Now, Not Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander has won his last eight straight starts for the Tigers. He’s 20-5 and has a good shot at winning the most games by an American League pitcher since Bob Welch posted 27 victories in 1990. He has thrown a no-hitter and has shut out his opponent on six occasions this season. He leads the Majors in innings pitched, WHIP, strikeouts, and batting average against. Because of his success, pundits have begun talking about him as an MVP candidate this season. That even sparked a debate about whether pitchers should be eligible for MVP. While pitchers should be eligible for MVP, Jose Bautista still deserves the award at this point.

The Blue Jays right fielder has fallen off somewhat since his torrid first two months of the season, but he’s still raking more than any other hitter in baseball. Bautista leads MLB in home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. His current OPS is the highest in the American League since Jim Thome’s 1.122 mark in 2002. Yes, Bautista is posting the best numbers by an American League hitter in nearly 10 years. His level of offensive production cannot be overlooked just because he’s on a .500 club while Verlander pitches for a division leader.

Verlander has been the best pitcher in baseball this season and he’s the favorite to win the AL Cy Young. Jered Weaver is also in the mix, but Verlander definitely has the inside track. If Verlander continues to dominate over his next handful of starts he will remain in MVP contention, but Bautista would have to drop off significantly to be surpassed in the MVP race. He’s just been too good this season.

Erick Aybar Bunted During Justin Verlander’s No-Hitter … So What

Baseball’s unwritten rules are about as important as RBIs and pitcher wins. They’re outdated and only hold limited significance. Those who value them cling to them with a kung-fu grip, failing to realize how arbitrary and sometimes pointless they are.

Justin Verlander apparently subscribes to them.

The Tigers pitcher was cruising yet again, going 7.2 innings of no-hit ball until Maicer Izturis broke it up with a line drive to left field. Four batters earlier, shortstop Erick Aybar got on base by dropping down a bunt Verlander threw into right field. Verlander was peeved that Aybar tried bunting to get aboard during his no-hitter. That violates one of the so-called “unwritten rules of the game.”

Jered Weaver, who was ejected for throwing at Alex Avila a batter after classless Carlos Guillen showed him up, summed up the Angels’ position perfectly. “We’re trying to score some runs off that guy and swinging obviously wasn’t doing it.”

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Justin Verlander Gives Don Kelly the ‘Hot Foot’, Sets Shoe on Fire (Video)

It takes a variety of pranks to make the baseball prank world go ’round.  There are those that are designed simply to screw with your psyche and those that are meant embarrass the heck out of you.  Then, there are those that are meant to force you to change your cell phone number.  And finally, there are some pranks that are just plain dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals.

As Big League Stew pointed out, Justin Verlander is apparently one of those professionals.  Verlander gave a new meaning to the term “flamethrower” on Sunday with his dugout prank during a game against the Twins. Check out the video of Justin Verlander’s hot foot prank on Don Kelly, courtesy of MLB.com:

Personally, I think I’d rather have a pie in the face.

Justin Verlander’s ‘Bringing it’ License Plate, Cocky Much?

They say the car you drive indicates who you are as a person. I say that statement has some truth but it isn’t always correct. One thing about a car that does tell you a lot about a person is their license plate. In the case of Justin Verlander, the Tigers found out his rookie year that he was a cocky mofo. The latest edition of Sporting News Magazine (with Kansas on the cover — we know how that turned out), features a lengthy conversation with Verlander and a sidebar written by Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman who is best friends with Verlander. Bonderman shared this classic story about Verlander:

“His first year with the Tigers, he showed up to spring training and the license plate on his car said “BRNGN IT” — oh, man, we rode him hard for it. He really got an earful from Kenny Rogers and a bunch of our other veterans. That’s one of those things that, as a rookie, you just don’t do.”

Imagine that, here comes some kid with a career record of 21-18 for Old Dominion and no wins to his name at the Major League level, showing up to camp letting everyone know he’s “Bringing it.” Five years, 65 wins, two All-Star games, and 746 strikeouts later, there’s no doubt that Verlander is bringing it. You also get the sense that Verlander’s very serious about his stated goal of making the Hall of Fame. As long as his arm doesn’t fall off you have to figure his chances are pretty fair. For another story about that, Verlander only needs to turn to his buddy Bonderman.

Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete without a picture of the infamous car. Based on some searching around the net, I believe this is it:

Classic!

Ned Yost Should Take Blame for No-No

I’m not one to take a leak on another man’s greatest accomplishment, but that’s exactly what I’ll be doing here. Justin Verlander’s good, actually really good. But he did not have to be no-hitter good on Tuesday night. The probability that he would have held the Brewers to no hits could’ve been lowered. And dare I say avoided. See, when I look at the boxscore for the game, something stands out to me almost as much as the actual no-hitter — the Brewers lineup. Take a look at it:

Sorry to say it, but Milwaukee can field a better lineup than that. Come on, Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino hitting one and two? Phil Garner’s 7th and 8th spot of Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus are laughing at that top of the lineup. Plus, Yost gave third baseman Ryan Braun the day off. Braun has been arguably Milwaukee’s best hitter since his callup a few weeks ago, making Tuesday night’s day off ill-timed. Additionally, Yost used Gabe Gross for the DH spot, leaving the great Kevin Mench on the bench, another poor choice if you ask me.

Hey, it may seem like I’m nit-picking here, but I really feel like this whole situation could’ve been avoided if Yost did a better job of choosing his lineup. Then again, if every important baseball decision were left up to me, then these poor men would be out of jobs. So I guess it’s kind of like my community service or something. In the end, I’ll say it was an impressive no-no for Verlander that could have been avoided.

Oh, what do you know? It’s Doug Melvin on the phone for a conversation. Sorry guys, don’t expect the morning paper and usual posts until later today, I have an interview to prepare for.