Detroit Tigers: Four Tigers Named All-Rookie Second Team

Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize
Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The driving force of what made the 2021 season so refreshing was the explosion of a young rookie core. Furthermore, it came from a balanced group of pitchers and position players, giving the Detroit Tigers potentially a look at a well-rounded and talented future. As a result of their breakout seasons, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Akil Baddoo, and Eric Haase were selected to MLB Pipeline’s 2021 All-Rookie Second Team.

Casey Mize

Mize, the former number one overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, should be no surprise to Tigers fans, as his blue-chip status was confirmed in his first full season in the bigs, holding opposing hitters to a .234 average in 150 innings pitched.

He also notched 118 strikeouts, including punching out seven in five innings against the Yankees on May 28th. Next season Mize will be off his rookie innings limit and contend to surpass 200 k’s in a season.

Tarik Skubal

Left-handed strikeout artist Tarik Skubal joined Mize from the 2018 draft class to provide effectiveness the Tigers have not seen from the left side since Dontrelle Willis and the only good five innings he ever pitched in Detroit. Skubal, also on an innings limit, racked up 164 strikeouts in 149.1 innings pitched. His mid 90’s fastball and sharp breaking ball were dominant all season, including an eleven punchout performance in only five innings against the White Sox on June 5th.

Next season with the training wheels off, expect to see the young Mize and Skubal make a massive leap forward in their continued development.

Akil Baddoo

The next player receiving all-rookie acknowledgment was arguably the most exciting player on the Detroit Tigers, Akil Baddoo. Baddoo, a rule 5 draft steal from the Twins, captured the attention of Tigers fans in his very first major league plate appearance when he homered to left field on the very first pitch he saw.

The five-tool outfielder continued his electric momentum the entire season, providing a spark with his bat, legs, and defense. In only 124 games, Baddoo clubbed 13 home runs with seven triples, second-best in all of baseball. He also swiped 18 bags, providing another asset that has been unfamiliar in Detroit.

Detroit’s outfield is projected (by me) to be the strength of both the Tigers’ defense and offense, and Baddoo is a major reason why.

Eric Haase

Rounding out the Tigers All-Rookie squad is hometown hero and catcher Eric Haase. An injured Jake Rogers provided the opportunity for the 28-year-old Dearborn native to finally showcase his major league power. Haase had been with the Cleveland Indians big league club since 2018 but had never appeared in more than ten games. Ninety-eight games with the Tigers, however, and the catcher slugged 22 home runs, including a game-tying grand slam against the Twins on July 27th.

The catcher position has been a revolving door for the Tigers for the past several seasons. Detroit has refrained from a long-term commitment to anyone not named Alex Avila. Jake Rogers’ health — and his mustache — will remain a concern for the foreseeable future, but the Tigers are in a great position otherwise with Eric Haase behind the plate.

MLB Pipeline aside, the argument could be made for several of these rookies to receive Rookie of the Year votes. Had the Tigers been a contender, they certainly would have. However, without the contributions of this core, fans would have been counting down the days to Lions training camp in June.

Al, you have assembled a great unit of young and talented players. Break out the checkbook and don’t be stingy.

Detroit Tigers: Reminiscing About the 2021 Season

Detroit Tigers

A season that featured their highest win total since 2016, the 2021 Detroit Tigers gave fans the biggest peak into a potentially very bright future in recent memory. Rookie phenoms, historic milestones, and a flair for the late inning dramatic became the bedrock of this season.

Heading into the offseason, Tigers fans are clamoring for Al Avila to open the checkbook and bring in the blue chip free agents that will turn the Tigers into official contenders.

But first, let’s reminisce…

Who Belongs On the Heavy Metal Mount Rushmore?

What is THE Heavy Metal Mount Rushmore?

I know it’s fall, which means Mount Rushmore season is ova. We have football to watch, no need to pass the time with intriguing Mount Rushmore topics. But this one in particular was very frustrating to me.

You only get four choices, yet without even thinking, I’m sure we could come up with a list of 15+ bands that you can’t discuss the history of heavy metal without mentioning.

There is no proper answer, this is a subjective topic, and unfortunately, there will be plenty of bands that are considered the titans of metal, omitted. When I first tried to come up with a mount Rushmore, I took about five minutes and tried to set some sort of parameters. I ended up considering a band’s global impact and overall influence.

It led to this:

1) Black Sabbath
2) Cannibal Corpse
3) Slayer
4) Venom

Sabbath is an easy choice, and in my irrelevant opinion, the only must-have on this list. Heavy Metal began with Black Sabbath on Friday the 13th, 1970. One of the few things metalheads have generally agreed upon.

But the remaining three all have the same image: dark, violent, evil, which leads to redundancy. It also ignores an enormous catalog of important music. So while I still think the parameters are okay, I’m going to try to broaden the scope.

For the sake of brevity, we will try to accurately identify the main subgenres of metal.

  • Thrash Metal
  • Death Metal
  • New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM)
  • Nu Metal (Just relax)
  • Traditional Heavy Metal

These five subgenres are typically associated with a distinct period in time, but in this exercise, we will also include genres that they spawned. For example, Black Metal, Doom Metal, Extreme Metal, and the like all hang out at the same bar as Death Metal.

For those that wish to “well actually” about bands that fit a few of the five listed, I don’t care. You ruin every party you attend.

So now the mission becomes finding three other bands in addition to Sabbath with the proper influence and global reach in something besides death and thrash.

Slayer

In my previous article Revisiting A Classic: Show No Mercy, I explained how Slayer’s evil thrash debut became the inspiration for death metal. Terry Butler of Obituary is even on record stating “Show No Mercy was the blueprint for the beginning of death metal”

Adding Slayer to the Mount Rushmore of Heavy Metal covers an influence that reaches both the thrash and death metal communities, more so than the evil influences of Venom or Mercyful Fate. By selecting Slayer, I’m omitting absolute juggernauts like Death, Cannibal Corpse, Megadeth, and Metallica.

Judas Priest

Rob Halford’s iconic falsetto wail and leather regalia spearheaded the NWOBHM movement in the 1970s, carrying their music—and sound—to incredible global success. They get the nod over Iron Maiden, but honestly, it’s a horse apiece. They both featured iconic singers, with similar styles, as well as a defining image.

The NWOBHM was a direct influence on Metallica and Megadeth, Dave Mustaine stated he answered Lars Ulrich’s ad in the paper for a guitar player strictly due to the band’s Lars had listed as influences.

Judas Priest is the poster child to our parent’s favorite bands, as well as being a part of the bedrock of the European metal scene, makes them a worthy selection. The addition of Priest means bands like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, and Diamond Head unfortunately do not make the cut.

And finally…

Slipknot

Everybody, just relax.

It’s now 2021. To continue the story of metal, we must acknowledge bands like Slipknot, Lamb of God, Korn, and Sepultura have reached a level of influence that most of the metal founding fathers have. I’m not here to argue that Slipknot or Korn is on the same level of influence as Sabbath or Slayer.

I AM here to argue that bands like Slaughter To Prevail, Spiritbox, and Tetrarch all exist in large part because of Iowa.

The modern metal scene has evolved into a sound with a vast number of influences and sounds. Much like the nine-piece unit that has incorporated elements of hardcore, hip hop, thrash, and death metal over their illustrious career.

Our resident heavy metal heart surgeon Bill Gioia had recently asked if Slipknot should be considered nu-metal. If not nu-metal, then what?

The resulting discourse concluded that while they may not distinctly and solely fit with a specific genre (still nu-metal), the music is objectively metal.

Slipknot rounding out my Mount Rushmore means no previously stated Pantera, Lamb of God, or Sepultura, our other favorite bands we couldn’t decide exactly what they were, besides awesome.

With my updated and calculated Heavy Metal Mount Rushmore complete, I would like to officially apologize to the absolute legends that have been omitted. This rendition probably sucks too. There is no correct answer.

Revisiting A Classic: Rust In Peace

“Humanity Still Producing New Art As Though Megadeth’s ‘Rust In Peace’ Doesn’t Already Exist”

-The Onion

Pretty Much.

Over 30 years later, the fourth installment in Megadeth’s catalog remains as iconic as ever. Its praise has been sung from every corner of metal as elitists and gatekeepers join hand in hand with casuals and dad rockers in shared admiration.  

This is old news.

Every superlative has already been said, and rightfully so. 

In and of itself, Rust In Peace is a phenomenal album, and in some respects, marked the peak of Megadeth. It’s regarded by many as Dave Mustaine’s finest work as a songwriter and was also our introduction to unknown guitar hero Marty Friedman. 

Once again, old news.

The album’s legacy is already cemented, strictly based on musical standards alone. But the process leading up to September 24th, 1990 was an absolute catastrophe. Drugs, infighting, and a career-threatening injury had all but dismantled the band. The greatest and most polished lineup in the history of Megadeth was decaying before the introduction.

That’s the story.

In 1988, Megadeth had to cancel their remaining shows for the Monsters Of Rock festival (replaced by Testament) due to bassist David Ellefson’s severe heroin withdrawals. However, he wasn’t the only one. Upon their arrival back in the United States, Ellefson and frontman Dave Mustaine both checked into rehab.

Ellefson lasted three days, Mustaine a little longer. But even while in rehab, they smuggled in heroin and continued to get high.

After their lackluster sobriety attempt, they began to rehearse and demo for what became Rust In Peace. During that time, David Ellefson struck up a kinship with Slash of Guns N’ Roses, who was already friendly with Mustaine. The kinship eventually led to the trio of Dave, Dave, n Slash: Heroin and Guitars.

In their friendly sessions of drugs and music, Mustaine asked Slash to join Megadeth. Guns N’ Roses already had two albums to their name, and Appetite for Destruction had captivated the entire country, yet Slash had considered the move, briefly.

Mustaine then shifted his interest in guitar phenom Dimebag Darrell (Then still known as Diamond Darrell) of Pantera. Had Mustaine allowed Dime’s brother Vinnie to join Megadeth on drums, it would have been a done deal. This was also pre-Cowboys From hell and Pantera was still the Van Halen-inspired hair metal unit.

What a butterfly effect that could have been.

By 1989, to say that the wheels of Megadeth were falling off would have been a gross understatement. The band was without a drummer and a second guitarist, Ellefson had just gone back into rehab, and Mustaine continued to spiral out of control.

The two Daves had moved into an apartment together, whereupon Ellefson’s return from rehab, spawned a debaucherous routine of heroin to fall asleep, then coke just to make it out of the door and off to rehearsal the next day (when they managed to wake up in time).

Chuck Behler was in just as bad shape and was essentially faded out of the band.

Enter Nick Menza.

Menza had served as the drum tech and roadie for the band for their last album. The drum tech replacing the current drummer was beginning to be a Megadeth staple, as Chuck was the drum tech for original percussionist Gar Samuelson.

The final piece of the Megadeth puzzle took form in the shape of a borderline homeless, malnourished, and—unknowingly at the time—deteriorating guitar phenom Marty Friedman.

Megadeth had already exhausted themselves auditioning numerous guitarists that ranged from flamboyant shredders playing on their own time, primadonnas that refused to learn the songs prior, and scorned musicians that claimed to have written Megadeth songs in their childhood.

Friedman showed up, no vehicle of his own, a cheap red Carvin guitar, and no amps or cabinets.

Mustaine had then set up Marty with two Marshall amplifiers. One for the rhythm and one for the lead, the most important aspect of the audition. Friedman excelled at the rhythm, though he wasn’t perfect, noted Mustaine, but he immediately won the job when it came time for the solo.

Upon Friedman’s entry to Megadeth, the band rented him an apartment, a Mercedes-Benz, and instructed him to change his orange and black hair. His life had changed in an instant.

Had Friedman not won the job that day, the struggling musician had another audition lined up with Madonna the following week. 

At this point, the members of Megadeth were in the midst of a fierce attempt at sobriety (to the point that they even quit smoking cigarettes). They were lean, mean, and clean. But once Marty joined the band, Dave Mustaine became so intimidated by Marty’s talent that it completely extinguished his confidence in his playing.

He quickly relapsed.

Marty wasn’t the well-rounded player that Dave was, Dave was still one of the greatest players in the world with his abilities at rhythm, lead, acoustic, and his prowess as a songwriter. But Marty’s proficiency at lead was so staggering that his lack of skill in other areas (despite there not being any true skill deficiency) did not matter.

Dave Mustaine began to show up to recording sessions completely loaded. He antagonized members and lusted for confrontation. Second opinions and suggestions aside from his own ignited arguments instantaneously. It became so emotionally taxing for the rest of the band that he went off to treatment again, but for the first time, under his desire.

However, Dave wasn’t the only one struggling with some form of physical detriment. Marty Friedman was suffering from a serious arm injury in silence. The nerves in his right arm were so damaged that a doctor had ordered him to quit playing guitar or risk complete and permanent loss of use in that arm.

Megadeth was recording the album of their career—one that eventually put the exclamation point on an entire genre—while their frontman was deteriorating in rehab, and their lead guitarist was deteriorating in silence.

In hopes to preserve his arm, Marty played as little as necessary. He would bypass warming up and try to nail the complex rhythm sections and solos in one take. When he wasn’t playing, he wore a sling, which he attempted to hide under a sweatshirt.

Eventually, he confessed his injury, but not the severity of it, to the rest of the band. Post-confession, he spent his downtime icing his arm.

Dave emerged from rehab a month later, completely energized. He returned to the studio, away from his guitar for a month, and recorded his solo for Holy Wars…The Punishment Due in one take.  

The vocals, one take.

Holy Wars became a mainstay on the Mount Rushmore of Megadeth. A song that was spawned after Dave unintentionally ignited a religiously fueled crowd in Northern Ireland, Holy Wars has been the closing song for their live shows for the last 20+ years

Hangar 18, on the other hand, has been the leadoff song ever since Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul suggested it be. The song they replaced? Holy Wars! Before Megadeth, and even before Metallica, Dave’s first band Panic was playing this song in their setlist under the title “N2RHQ”. Dave saw the text on the tail fin of a plane and was inspired to write a song about a mysterious space military base.

The Rust In Peace rendition, however, featured a Shaq and Kobe-like performance by Dave and Marty, dueling back and forth with solo after solo. The song has since been featured in video games such as Guitar Hero, and a 16-bit inspired version was on the Doom II: Hell on Earth Soundtrack.

Tremendous.

To support the album, Megadeth would embark on a massive co-headlining tour with fellow Big Four member Slayer. Thrash comrade Testament and hardcore punk outfit Suicidal Tendencies would join in support. This stacked lineup was eventually dubbed the Clash of the Titans Tour.

To build a report with the new band members and organize their setlist, Megadeth had a small five venue circuit around Southern California. It was here where the beast finally began to come to life.

Once again, they were lean, mean, and clean.

Megadeth carried their momentum into the Clash Of Titans tour, which became a massive success. But it did not go off without a few headlines: Mustaine and Suicidal Tendencies frontman Mike Muir developed a feud that brewed until Mustaine approached Muir looking to settle it in a fight when they returned home.  

They immediately became friends.

Then, later on, Dave had walked right into a lighting truss, drawing blood. The press speculated that Chuck Billy of Testament had hit Dave.

The initial success of Rust In Peace rewarded Megadeth with their first gold record as well as their first Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. In the story of Megadeth, this was the peak. The band found a chemistry that Mustaine later stated they would never capture again.

Mustaine is the only remaining member from Rust In Peace, yet its legacy remains untouchable over 30 years later.

Admiration Pours In For Miggy’s 500th Home Run

One day, the word ‘soon’ will be replaced by ‘finally’”

-some corny tweet I ripped off.

500.

Agruably the most anticipated moment of the season finally arrived, and it did not disappoint.

In the sixth inning of the rubber match in Toronto, Miguel Cabrera sent Steven Matz’s 84 mph changeup—a pitch which was almost in the left-hand hitter batter’s box—out to right-center for his game-tying milestone. 

Even after 19 seasons, he’s still punishing the pitcher’s pitch.

Miggy’s accomplishment was celebrated across the league, even the visiting fans of Toronto gave their American League rival a standing ovation. However this is not unfamiliar. In 2012, Miguel Cabrera locked up the triple crown at division rival Kansas City’s ball park, to which the crowd offered their overwhelming admiration for the Tigers slugger.

Following his home run, hall of famers, future hall of famers, and former teammates alike had shared their video congratulations and admiration. One of which, former teammate and pending free agent Justin Verlander, ended his video with a most likely normal, but hopefully cryptic “See you soon!”

The Obvious

Cabrera is now the 28th player to join the 500 home run club.  He joins legends such as Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., and Jimmie Foxx.

He becomes the first player to do so since David Ortiz in 2015.  He’s also the first Venezuelan-born player—where he was already the all-time hit leader for his nation—and the sixth foreign player to notch 500.

More importantly, Cabrera is the first Tiger to reach 500 career home runs(Gary Sheffield only played two seasons in Detroit and reached number 500 with the Mets). 

What’s Next?

45 hits separate Cabrera from 3,000.  Reaching this coveted milestone will make him the 33rd player in history.  But it would also make him only the seventh player with both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.  The others? Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Raphael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodruigez, and Eddie Murray.


Elite.

A Prediction

Cabrera can resume normal baseball activity.  His natural approach can return, and he can show up to the ballpark just being Miguel Cabrera. Taking the simple base hit to drive in the run, setting up the pitcher, and checking his own swing with the first base umpire. He cooled off between 499 and 500, look for him to heat back up again. 

There are 36 games remaining in the season, but with 45 hits to go, 3,000 is unlikely to be achieved this year.  The most hits he’s recorded in a month this season were 28 back in June.

The focus will now return to Tigers baseball, something Miggy is probably very thankful for. Detroit remains six games under .500, and three games out of second place in the division. This season has already been a massive leap in the Tigers development. With this incredible milestone checked off the list, the Tigers can position themselves for a strong finish, making it very enticing for potential blue chip free agents.

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