Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Phil Coke has emerged as a key figure during the team’s playoff run this season, and one of the byproducts has been the public getting to know his cool personality. Take for instance the video above.
Deadspin shared this brilliant clip with us on Friday, and it’s from an interview Coke did with MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” with Kevin Millar and Chris Rose last week. In the clip, Coke talks about the time slugger Miguel Cabrera asked him if they had ever faced each other as opponents.
Coke spent two seasons with the Yankees (2008-2009), and he has been with the Tigers since then. The two faced each other once, and it came in 2008 during Coke’s rookie season and Cabrera’s first year with the Tigers following his trade from Florida.
Coke told the story while imitating Cabrera perfectly, nailing the All-Star’s confidence and accent. He also delivered the ultimate punchline.
“I don’t remember horsecrap pitchers.”
So awesome. And if you’re wondering why Coke remembers the at-bat so well, it’s because that was his first career appearance. Coke faced four Tigers batters and gave up a hit while striking out two in a scoreless inning, punching out Miggy to end his first career inning. Cabrera went 1-for-5 with a home run off Edwar Ramirez that game. Here’s the boxscore in case you were curious.
The Tigers had a great opportunity to close out the A’s on Wednesday and become the first team to punch their ticket to the ALCS, but they couldn’t get the job done late in the game. Detroit took a 3-1 lead into the ninth before outfielders Seth Smith and Coco Crisp combined for three RBI to lead Oakland to a thrilling walk-off win.
It was the type of loss that makes a team dread having to talk to the media, but as professionals they have a responsibility. Miguel Cabrera apparently decided he wasn’t going to fulfill his, which irritated pitcher Octavio Dotel since the Triple Crown winner is supposed to be a clubhouse leader. From Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:
Third baseman Miguel Cabrera entered the scene, he playfully slapped a pair of male reporters on their rear ends and smirked. It appeared the Triple Crown winner was already over the loss and ready for Thursday’s finale. But the mood in the clubhouse took a serious turn and tension surfaced when veteran Octavio Dotel told Cabrera to address the media because it was his job as the leader of the team
Cabrera turned down all interview requests and sat at one of the tables in his dress clothes with his arms crossed. Dotel, still in uniform, sat at the other table and shook his head.
Players have different ways of dealing with losses, but Dotel has a point. If Jose Valverde has to speak to the media after blowing his biggest save opportunity of the year and having pitchers from other teams mock him on Twitter, Cabrera should be able to say a few words. In any event, it’s safe to expect exactly zero carry-over from the situation when the Tigers take the field for the series finale on Thursday night.
Justin Verlander was one of the biggest Miguel Cabrera supporters this season as Miggy accomplished one of the rarest feats in baseball. Cabrera captured the coveted Triple Crown on Wednesday, becoming the first player in 45 years to lead the league in batting average, home runs and RBI. After the game, Verlander presented Cabrera with an engraved watch to congratulate him.
“It says, ‘Congratulations Miguel Cabrera, 2012 AL Triple Crown,’ on the back of it,” Verlander explained according to the Detroit Free Press. “I had the idea, and I asked a couple of guys whether it should be a team thing or from me personally. Prince (Fielder) said, ‘It might be special just from you.'”
Before we go any further, I have to ask — aren’t baseball players superstitious? It would have taken some unfortunate coincidences for Cabrera to not win the Triple Crown heading into Wednesday’s game, but I’m surprised Verlander had a watch engraved crowning him the Triple Crown winner before it actually happened. The again, this is the same guy who said it would be “a joke” if Miggy doesn’t win the AL MVP, so you know he is confident in his teammate’s abilities.
“We’ve been playing together for years now, and it’s kind of a special moment between two guys who are friends and teammates,” Verlander said. “I think we (Cabrera’s teammates) are all kind of in shock. It was an honor to be able to watch this entire season. I think some of us had to tell him how big of a deal it was. He’s the best player on the planet.”
Some would argue that Verlander is the best pitcher on the planet. And you know what the two best buddies would enjoy celebrating more than a Triple Crown or an AL MVP? Hint: it rhymes with curled theories.
Over the last couple games of the season, the only real threat to Miguel Cabrera winning the Triple Crown came in the home run category. Josh Hamilton was only one home run behind Cabrera, and Curtis Granderson nearly caught him. The Yankees slugger finished the season with 43 home runs — one behind Cabrera’s 44. Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner since 1967 when the season ended Wednesday night, but did he get a little help from Granderson along the way?
With the Yankees blowing out the Red Sox and on their way to clinching the AL East title, Granderson asked manager Joe Girardi if rookie Melky Mesa could pinch-hit for him in the seventh inning. He had already homered twice in the game.
“It’s funny, because (Wednesday afternoon) I had pre-taped a video to congratulate Miguel (on winning the Triple Crown),” Granderson said after the game according to Eye on Baseball.
When Granderson was removed from the game, C.C. Sabathia asked him about being one homer behind Cabrera. Sabathia and Granderson both insist Curtis legitimately was unaware of that and was simply trying to give a rookie an at-bat. When asked what would have happened if he did come to the plate, Granderson had the following to say.
“What would have happened?” he asked reporters. “How would it have been perceived? That would have been a weird moment for me.”
The important thing to note is that even if Cabrera and Granderson tied for the AL lead with 44 homers, Cabrera still would have won the Triple Crown. Granderson would have had to surpass his home run total to prevent him from accomplishing the feat, and it’s unlikely he would have gotten up again after the seventh let alone homered both times. If the Yankees center fielder did know, he will never say. But I wouldn’t blame him for stepping aside and making sure Cabrera was the clear-cut Triple Crown winner even if he did.
In years past, the MVP race has had a tendency to become clearer as the season draws to a close. That has not been the case in the American League this season. Although Jim Leyland would have told you otherwise, Angels rookie phenom Mike Trout looked like the clear-cut favorite for AL MVP back at the beginning of August. Miguel Cabrera was a close second, but over the past month it has turned into 1A and 1B.
With Cabrera closing in on the Triple Crown, Last year’s AL MVP Justin Verlander feels that it would be ridiculous to give the award to anyone other than his teammate.
“Bull (expletive),” Verlander said on Wednesday when informed that some analysts say they would pick Trout even if Miggy wins the Triple Crown. “That’s ridiculous. When was the last time there was a Triple Crown winner, ’67? OK.
“That would be a joke in my opinion. Come on. Even the fact he’s one home run away (from a Triple Crown) is just absolutely absurd. Just watch him. And watch him when we need him, down this home stretch. Oh my god. You want to talk about MVP. Compare their numbers the last two months of the season. Big difference.”
Cabrera leads the AL with a .333 batting average and 130 RBI. He is in second by one homer behind Josh Hamilton with 41. The last player to win the Triple Crown was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, so it is clearly one of the rarest feats in all of professional sports. If Trout were to win the award, it would be the result of voters keeping amazing defensive plays like this one and this one in mind in addition to his impressive batting stats.
As impressive as Trout has been, I tend to agree with Verlander that a player who wins the Triple Crown would have to be the league MVP. At the same time, the fact that someone is in line for the Triple Crown and hasn’t run away with the award is a reminder of just how phenomenal Trout has been.
The Detroit Tigers are one of several teams across professional baseball that have fallen well short of expectations this season. As a result, Jim Leyland is one of several managers with whom fans are frustrated. After adding Prince Fielder to an already solid roster, the Tigers were expected to cruise through the AL Central. Fortunately for them, they are only a game out of first because the rest of the division is mediocre. Fans like Justin Spiro still want Leyland gone.
According to Detroit Sports Rag, Spiro was sitting in the front row behind the visitor’s dugout (Detroit was on the road at Chicago) holding a “Fire Leyland” sign on Wednesday and for two games before that. As you can see from the video above, Cabrera took the sign from him when he was signing autographs for fans before the game and went about his business. He supposedly folded it up and put a crease in it but did eventually give it back to the fan. Spiro was ejected three times from US Cellular Field throughout the series, most likely for giving it to Leyland and the Tigers.
Leyland may say some dumb things and do some things that make you scratch your head, but I’m not sure he deserves to be fired just yet. And I certainly don’t have a problem with Cabrera sticking up for his manager, especially the way in which he went about it.
Miguel Cabrera is having an outstanding season for the Tigers. It’s the type of season we have come to expect from the 29-year-old over his 13-year career. Cabrera has 29 homers to go along with 95 RBI. His batting average is an impressive .322 and his on-base percentage is a solid .384. There is still a lot of baseball left to be played, but Cabrera is a definite American League MVP contender. The only problem is a 21-year-old named Mike Trout could stand in his way.
As his manager, Jim Leyland is obviously pulling for Cabrera to win the award. However, the logic he used to support his third baseman during an interview with WXYT 97.1 Radio in Detroit on Thursday was puzzling.
“I mean this respectfully,” Leyland said according to ESPN.com. “I don’t mean this disrespectfully — I think what could be a little problem for Miggy is in my opinion Miggy is the MVP. Now we have time left, if the voting was today Miggy is the MVP. However, he could run into one of the wonder boy stories. You know, young kid, 20 years old. Everyone gets excited about that. Everybody loves that, has a nice ring to it.”
Brace yourself, Prince Fielder — Miguel Cabrera might want his old position back. They don’t call it “the hot corner” for no reason, and Cabrera was reminded of that during the Tigers spring training game against the Phillies on Monday. As you can see from the photo above that @WorldofIsaac shared with us, Cabrera ate a ground ball that took a nasty hop off the grass during the first inning. It appeared that the ball hit his sunglasses, which caused a nasty gash under Miguel’s right eye.
After the injury occurred, Tigers beat writer Chris Iott tweeted the following: “Miguel Cabrera is bleeding as much as I have seen a baseball player bleed. Cut near his eye. Game on ESPN.”
No matter how they order it, the Detroit Tigers will have one of the best 3-4 lineup combinations in baseball. They already had Miguel Cabrera batting fourth last season behind Magglio Ordonez. Mags won’t be back, but they are replacing him with Prince Fielder.
During an interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravech Thursday, Prince said he’d prefer to bat in front of Miggy. He likely prefers to bat third because the guy hitting in front has the protection and generally sees better pitches.
Unfortunately for Prince, it does not look like he’ll get his preference. Tigers manager Jim Leyland already has a batting lineup in mind:
1. Austin Jackson
2. Brennan Boesch
3. Miggy Cabrera
4. Prince Fielder
5. Delmon Young
6. Alex Avila
7. Jhonny Peralta
8. Andy Dirks, Clete Thomas, or Don Kelly
9. Ryan Rayburn
Outside of Cabrera and Prince, it’s not too intimidating, but they should have enough support to put up some good numbers. The thing that worries me about the rest of their lineup is that many of their guys had career seasons last year (Avila, Peralta, Boesch) and I’d be worried about a natural dropoff in production.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn’t predicting his team will reach the World Series this year, he’s just preparing for a best-case scenario. On Wednesday, Leyland had first baseman Miguel Cabreratake ground balls at third before the team’s game against Kansas City. The reasoning behind the move is pretty simple: Leyland wants to put his best offensive lineup on the field even when they lose the DH in a National League park.
Detroit’s regular lineup features Alex Avila at catcher, Cabrera at first, and Victor Martinez DHing. Those three players have been Detroit’s best hitters this year.
Unfortunately, during interleague play games they would routinely lose one of those hitters. Often times Avila would catch, and either Cabrera or Victor would play first or sit out. Martinez caught a few games to keep both his and Cabrera’s bats in the lineup. They even played Avila at third once to keep the offense stacked.
Moving Cabrera to third for a few games may seem strange, but it actually makes sense. You may recall that Miggy played third and left field when he was first called up by the Marlins in 2003. He even played two full seasons at the hot corner in ’05 and ’06, and the Tigers played him there for 14 games in 2008. He may seem content as an immobile first baseman these days, but once upon a time he was a butcher at third and in the outfield. Detroit fans should only wish to see a repeat of those days in the coming weeks.