On Mike Maroth and Taking a Look at the Man in the Mirror

If you haven’t heard by now, ex-Tiger pitcher Mike Maroth has announced his retirement. Maroth is infamous, of course, for being the first pitcher to lose 20 or more games since 1980, when he did so with the awful 2003 Tigers team.

I spent time today thinking about writing something about Mike and how much I appreciated and liked the guy. (No matter what I could come up with, it wouldn’t be as good as Ian CasseIberry’s great piece on him for SB Nation Detroit. Please check it out.)

I thought about what a nice guy he always came off as to the press and fans. He was always there signing autographs and answering questions with a smile on his face. I thought about the awesome one-hitter he threw in 2004 against the stupid Yankees, one of the top-five favorite baseball games I’ve ever seen. And I thought about how much I appreciated him taking the ball every fifth day in ’03 with that woeful team behind him and how he had no fear in losing 20 games and becoming a joke to the ignorant fans and sportswriters that didn’t watch him every day. (Unlike Jeremy Bonderman, who the team shut down after his 19th loss, not wanting to damage his fragile, young mind. Never mind the fact that Bondo cannot likely count to 20.)

Yeah, I was going to write something nice about him, like I did Matt Anderson last week. But then it dawned on me. Mike Maroth wasn’t very good. Neither was Anderson. Neither were Timo Perez, Josh Anderson, Marcus Thames, Jason Smith, Justin Thompson, Paul Bako, and countless others I consider past favorites of mine. Hell, my favorite player of all time is Bobby Higginson. And he was average-to-terrible for much of his career.

Take a peek at Maroth’s career numbers. They’re horrible. Why do I have such fond memories of him and these other guys? And how can I sing their praises when I continue to, in nearly every post, poke fun at guys like Brandon Inge, Clete Thomas, Will Rhymes, Nate Robertson, and Don Kelly for being bad at baseball ? How can I continue to make fun of their supporters, too?

Look at my arguments for Mike. He was a great guy. Please, I dare you, find a nicer person in baseball than Mr. Brandon Inge. The guy can’t hit a curveball, but I’m pretty sure he’s qualified for sainthood at this point. Rhymes is, pardon the idiot sportswriter cliché, like a kid out there. You can see the excitement in his eyes and he plays the game and interacts with fans. Clete, Nate, and Kelly are all reportedly great guys and wonderful teammates, too.

Mike had his moments on the field. Over a long enough time, everyone has their moments on the diamond. Inge is a whiz in the field and hits the occasional big homer. Rhymes hit over .300 as a rookie. Clete was hitting 3rd for us at one point. (shudders) Nate got the name “bulldog” for a reason that I’m assuming didn’t involve peanut butter and his owner’s crotch. Kelly can play anywhere on the field and help out with the occasional knock.

Maroth was a gamer. Again, everyone else I tend to poke fun of on here can be described that way, too. These guys try their damndest and I continue to mock them. Why is this? Have I been wrong all this time? Damn.

Should I apologize to these players and the fans that idolize them and wear their jerseys?

Should I maybe quit being a wiseass for ten minutes and think about the sacrifices they’ve made to get this far in the game?

Maybe…just maybe, I should think back to the time when I would just support any guy that happened to be wearing a sweet “D” on their chest, like I did Maroth, Anderson, and the others. Just be a rah-rah fan and stop being this monster I’ve become since starting this blog that was based off a joke after a Nate-blowup.

Should I?

The answer is simple.

F-ck and no. Are you kidding me? I’m a fan. Fans do not follow simple logic. There are Tiger fans out there that ignored what an incredible player that Miguel Cabrera is and wanted him released/traded after his alcohol moment. There are people that gave up on Magglio Ordonez the second he started having problems at the plate in 2009. There are those that worship Brandon Inge and those that want to see him shot. Fans are fans, even the mutant trolls that post at mLive and the freep. From the loudmouth prick that won’t shut up behind you at the game to the single mom bringing her kids to their first ballgame, everyone is different and everyone has their favorites. They don’t need to make sense.

Me? I’m kind of a prick. I love the Detroit Tigers and I love to make fun of them, too. I make jokes about Brandon Inge being a dork and not being able to hit worth a damn. But when the little prick hits a homer or makes a run-saving, diving grab, there’s no one cheering louder than me. Does that make me a bad person or fan? Maybe. But f-ck it. I’m having fun. And that’s what baseball is all about.

So yeah, THANK YOU Mike Maroth. You deserved better in your career and I hope that you find happiness in your retirement. You were the poster boy for that horrific 2003 team and became a symbol of futility. That’s how most will remember you. But to me, you were a true badass that put the team ahead of yourself and always gave it your best, even if it wasn't very good. And as a fan, that is really all I can ask out of a any player. I’m proud that Mike Maroth was a Detroit Tiger.

As for Don Kelly, I still hope he falls into a tar pit. Worthless sh-t.