Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tigers New Manager Will Have Pressure Beyond Belief

There isn't that much pressure on the next manager of the Tigers. All he has to do is win the World Series in his first season.

There'll be no honeymoon. No get-to-know-you period. They'll give a hearty cheer when the new skipper is introduced on Opening Day at Comerica Park, then the second guessing will begin on talk radio and on Twitter that night.

There'll be head scratching and open questioning of President/GM/CEO Dave Dombrowski's lucidity in hiring the new guy---sometime in mid-April, I reckon.

And here's the real laugher: the new manager will be compared, unfavorably, to Jim Leyland---by those very people who wanted to run Leyland out of town.

Then the new man will have to fend off the improving Cleveland Indians, win the division, tiptoe through the mine field that is the American League playoffs and win the World Series. That's all.

Yet there is no shortage of takers for this job. Maybe half these guys have no real idea of what they're getting themselves into.

You thought 2012 was "World Series or bust"? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Just because the Tigers will have a new manager doesn't mean the fans' insistence on the team's first world championship since 1984 will abate. Next season will mark the 30th anniversary of that '84 club, as if the pining about that magical year needs any more encouragement.

Lloyd McClendon, the Tigers hitting coach, had his interview for the managing job already. Experienced job seekers will tell you that it's best to be either the first or last person interviewed for a position. So Lloyd might have something going for him in that regard.

I won't pump for any particular individual here. I will say that I'm not sold on promoting from within. The Red Wings tried that with Dave Lewis, who followed Scotty Bowman after winning the Stanley Cup in 2002. That didn't go so well, mainly because---and GM Kenny Holland admitted this to me in 2006---the Red Wings needed a new voice entirely, and Lewis didn't provide that.

That's not to say that McClendon can't be successful as Tigers manager. But with three straight post-season flame outs, it says here that an outside person might be needed.

Here's the rub: as good of a job as the Tigers managerial position is, it will come with intense pressure to win now. The roster may look significantly different as soon as in 2015.

As the speculation persists as to who Dombrowski will hire, and as the list of supposed candidates grows, it's easier for me to tell you who won't get the job.

Scratch the following off your list.

Don Mattingly. Kirk Gibson. Tony LaRussa. Ron Gardenhire. Mike Scioscia. Joe Maddon. Eric Wedge. Manny Acta.

The reasons are as follows, for each man respectively.

Sticking with Dodgers. Sticking with Diamondbacks. Staying retired. Won't leave Twins without pitching coach Rick Anderson. Contract too complicated to get out of in Los Angeles. Tampa won't let him leave. Health issues. Too risky.


Now, as to who might get the job?

Keep these guys in the mix for now.

McClendon. Dusty Baker. Brad Ausmus. Jim Tracy. Ozzie Guillen. Tony Pena.

The reasons are as follows, for each man respectively.

Already interviewed. Past success. Mike Matheny redux. Dark horse but brilliant mind. Crazy enough to work. Experience, can relate to the plethora of Latin-American Tigers.

Dombrowski, it's been reported, will likely wait no longer than the first 10 days of November before choosing his new manager. This gives us about two weeks or so to see the focus shift to the finalists, as news of interviews comes to light.

Regardless, this is a great job for the right person. But the right person must know that if the 2014 season isn't capped with a parade down Woodward Avenue, there will be hell to pay.

When Leyland said yes to Dombrowski eight falls ago, the Marlboro Man wasn't exactly following a tough act---and God bless Alan Trammell. 

Dombrowski's impending hire will step into a pressure cooker that will have as its only saving grace that it isn't located in New York.

There won't be much smiling next year after Opening Day, which will serve as a polite welcoming for the new skipper. After the first pitch, let the second guessing begin.

This is going to take a special type of individual.

Somebody better be careful of what they wish for.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

History Will Judge Leyland Favorably in Detroit, and It Should

The year still looms there, like the cheese that stands alone.


It used to be 1968. That was the year that all Tigers fans would reference, sometimes happily, sometimes wistfully, sometimes pessimistically.

It seemed like we waited eons after the Tigers' 1968 World Series triumph for that feeling to come again. But it was only 16 years, which in retrospect is nothing, really.

And there was plenty of winning between '68 and '84 to keep fans from losing too much faith.

The '68 club was the core of the 1972 team that won the AL East on the next-to-last day of the season. That group got old and fizzled, leading to the lean years of 1974-75.

Mark Fidrych was more than enough of a distraction in 1976 to keep you from remembering that the Tigers were winning just 74 games.

There was another 74-win season in 1977, but we were still blinded by the idea of Fidrych, who kept trying to come back from a shoulder injury.

In 1978, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker made their full-time debuts, and the Tigers began a stretch of .500+ baseball that would run through 1988.

And in there was 1984.

You don't have to say much beyond the year.

And here we are, some 29 years later, and 1984 is the cheese that stands alone.

There was 1987, when the Tigers rocketed past the Toronto Blue Jays in a frantic final week of baseball that will never be forgotten in these parts. But that Tigers team was spent and fell to the Minnesota Twins in five games in the ALCS.

There was a close call in 1988, but the Tigers couldn't quite catch the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

Then came 1989's bottoming out---a 103-loss season, which saw manager Sparky Anderson take a leave of absence due to exhaustion.

That 1989 season started an ugly stretch of baseball in Detroit---one that continued unabated for 16 years.

Mike Ilitch bought the team in 1992 and after a series of miscues in the front office and in the dugout following Sparky's departure after the 1995 season, Ilitch hired a young executive named Dave Dombrowski to get the team's act together. It was November, 2001.

Dombrowski, hired in as the team's president and CEO, fired GM Randy Smith and manager Phil Garner one week into the 2002 season---after Dombrowski had been on the job for five months.

The Tigers bottomed out once more, to the tune of 119 losses in 2003. Dombrowski knew that was coming. He also knew that the team would be so wretched on the field, the dugout may as well have some flair.

Hence the hiring of Alan Trammell as manager for 2003.

Trammell was the sacrificial lamb---the rookie manager who couldn't possibly have any success with the joke of a roster that he had been provided. Casey Stengel managed the 1962 Mets, you know. Funny how stupid Casey was when he didn't have Mantle, Maris, Berra and Ford on his roster.

Trammell had Munson, Halter, Young and Witt.

Tram put in his three years, and was dispatched when Dombrowski's roster re-tooling began to take shape.


That year was even more prominent when Trammell managed the Tigers, because he had Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish on his coaching staff. It was maybe the only time in big league history when the coaches, even at their ages, were better players than the guys on the 25-man roster.

Tram got the ziggy after 2005, with a clubhouse in disarray and the taste of an 8-24 finish to the year lingering in everyone's mouths.

Jim Leyland sat at the podium, just announced as the Tigers new manager in October 2005, and made a confession.

"I don't know too many players on the roster yet, to be honest with you."

Leyland had been out of the managing game for six years, after stepping down following one less-than-inspired year managing the Colorado Rockies in 1999.

But at the press conference announcing his hiring by the Tigers, with his friend Dombrowski smiling beside him---the pair won a world title in 1997 in Florida---Leyland declared his vim and vigor were back.

The Tigers were his home town team, to be truthful. Forget the Ohio and Pennsylvania roots. Leyland was a catcher in the low minors for the Tigers in the 1960s. He managed in the Tigers farm system in the 1970s. He was in Lakeland, FL every spring, brushing shoulders with Kaline, Freehan, Cash and Northrup as Leyland was busy managing a bunch of guys named Morris, Parrish, Whitaker and Trammell.

The Tigers were his team, in his heart.

Leyland was a Pirate for a while, as we all know. He won some divisions in Pittsburgh---three straight in fact, from 1990-92. The World Series eluded him.

Then it was on to Florida, and an unlikely and unexpected World Series victory in 1997.

The Marlins had a fire sale that began almost right after the parade, and Leyland suffered through a 108-loss season in 1998.

Then it was that year in Colorado, which Leyland is least proud of among all his years managing. He felt he stole a paycheck from the Rockies. He has admitted that he should never have taken the job---it was too soon after the Marlins debacle and his juices weren't flowing right.

But he was rested and raring to go when Dombrowski called him and asked him to take over the Tigers.

It may not have been quite the rush to Detroit as Brady Hoke's was to Ann Arbor when U-M Athletic Director Dave Brandon called Brady and asked him to "come home" to coach the Wolverines, but it didn't take long for Leyland to say yes to Dombrowski, either.

Leyland said yes so fast, he barely looked at the Tigers roster.


The cheese still stood alone, but Leyland's first year in Detroit seemed to have magic pixie dust sprinkled on it. The Tigers were 76-36 at one point, before stumbling to the finish with a 19-31 record over their final 50 games. Still, it was good enough to qualify for one of Bud Selig's wild card berths.

The 2006 Tigers made it to the World Series, where cold bats and their pitchers' inability to field their position resulted in a 4-1 series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.


That magical year of Trammell, Whitaker, Parrish, Morris et al continued to haunt the Tigers.

There was the last week of 2009, which was the 180-degree opposite of that of 1987. The Tigers blew a three-game divisional lead with four games to play, and had to settle for a one-game playoff in Minnesota. It was a marvelous game, but one that makes Tigers fans shudder, and always will.


In 2011, the Tigers cruised to a divisional title and lost to Nelson Cruz, er, the Texas Rangers, in the ALCS.


In 2012, the Tigers had to fend off a pesky Chicago White Sox team just to win the division, but made it to another World Series. Again, the bats and the base running went cold, and the San Francisco Giants swept the Tigers.

In 2013, the Tigers kept the Cleveland Indians at arm's length and made it to another LCS---their third straight. But, as Leyland said more than once at his retirement press conference on Monday, the Tigers "let one get away" against the Red Sox. And, he said, it hurt him deeply.

Jim Leyland had eight years as Tigers manager. In only one of them did the team fail to reach the .500 standard. Three times they won their division. Twice they won the American League pennant.

In the 17 years prior to Leyland's arrival, the Tigers had exactly one winning record. Four times in those 17 years, they lost more than 100 games.

It rankles some to say that Jim Leyland made baseball relevant again in Detroit. Because, after all, the goal isn't to be relevant---it's to win the whole shebang.

It also rankles them because the Tigers' success since Leyland was hired is largely due to the magic wand of Dombrowski, whose trades and free agent signings have given Leyland the tools any manager needs to be successful. Those tools all have one thing in common: talent.

Any knucklehead could have managed the Tigers with the rosters Leyland was given, and won as much as he did. Right?

We'll never know for sure, mainly because Leyland isn't a knucklehead. He's a grizzled baseball guy who has stood up to the likes of Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla, who has given confidence to the Don Kellys of the world and who has presided over a clubhouse that the players police themselves and which has had hardly any fracturing.

Leyland was like Chuck Daly that way. Leyland expected his players to be grown men and act as such. It has helped that the Tigers have made it a habit of employing players who are pretty darn good guys---men of character and dignity. Carlos Guillen comes to mind.

The team has also had lots of veterans in the clubhouse during Leyland's tenure, which doesn't hurt. It's why the manager has felt it best to keep out of the players' sanctuary, for the most part.

Leyland didn't always push the right buttons, but what manager does? He was slave to pitch counts. He wasn't particularly aggressive or creative. The move of Jhonny Peralta to left field, when it comes to Leyland, was almost off the charts. It was Mickey Stanley to shortstop-ish.

But the players adored him. And when players like the manager, they tend to play better. That's a fact.


It still stands alone. Leyland wasn't able to rip that year from the wall. It's 29 years and counting. That gap makes the 1968-84 wait seem like nothing.

Leyland, thanks to the emergence of the Internet and talk radio, was nitpicked and criticized more than any Tigers manager prior to him, combined.

But would we have nitpicked and criticized, if the team was dreadful?

Isiah Thomas, the great Pistons point guard, once said that fans don't boo nobodies.

Translated: only the irrelevant escape feeling the heat.

The very fact that Jim Leyland, in his eight years managing the Tigers, faced so much criticism, is actually a testament to the man.

Leyland started winning as soon as he got to Detroit, and except for 2008, he never really stopped.

We started caring about the Tigers again when he arrived, and we have never really stopped.

Like him or not, that much is irrefutable.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Burning Questions: ALCS Game 2

Did Jim Leyland yank Max Scherzer too early?

Boy, is that a "hindsight is 20/20" question if MMM ever heard one! The Tigers had a four-run lead. Max was well over 100 pitches and, according to Leyland, Max was "spent." If the Tigers bullpen can't get six outs before the other team scores five runs, then why have them?

MMM is sympathetic to those who complain about today's pitch count mentality, but with a four-run lead and six outs to go, going to the pen was the right move, no matter how it turned out.

Looks like Austin Jackson is picking up where he left off in the ALDS, eh?

Yes, and that's not good. MMM was hoping that, like other players in the past, a new series would mean a fresh slate. But A-Jax looks just as lost now as he was last week. He's a terribly streaky hitter, and this particular valley couldn't have come at a worse time.

Don't let Torii Hunter off the hook, either. MMM is amazed that the Tigers have come this far with getting nothing from their top two hitters in the batting order.

As for Jackson, cries have returned that he's not a true lead-off hitter. Hard to argue with that, really. MMM has expressed concern in the past about Jackson and where he's hitting in the lineup. Then Austin will go on a hitting jag and that quiets the complainers for a while. He's a very enigmatic hitter, and part of the reason he's such a hot topic is because he bats first.

Right now, it seems like the count is 0-2 before Jackson even steps into the batter's box.

How much does this loss affect the Tigers, going forward? 

There's an adage: momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher. So true, especially in the playoffs. Yes, the Tigers let Game 2 get away. Yes, a 2-0 series lead, heading to Detroit, would be delightful. But that's old news. The biggest game in the playoffs is always the next one. The Tigers are playoff-tested; they've played 31 postseason games in the past three years. And in there have been some gut-wrenching losses. Every time, the Tigers have bounced back. MMM likes the chances with Justin Verlander on the mound in Game 3.

Are the Red Sox this year's "team of destiny"?

MMM has indicated that before, and after Game 2 it's hard to change that theory. But Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez made the Red Sox' fearsome offense look so harmless in the first two games. Yet here Boston is, with a split. So yeah, they seem to have the pixie dust sprinkled on them now.

How about Jhonny Peralta, eh?

Incredible, and good for him. Peralta is no Melky Cabrera, despite those who will try to draw that similarity. Cabrera was deceitful and a jerk about his PED involvement. Jhonny was humble and apologetic.

MMM thinks it's great that JP has turned into the Tigers' hitting star so far in the playoffs. This is why he was included on the playoff roster. MMM never understood the idea of leaving Peralta off. The man served his time. Last MMM checked, this was America. You do your time, you move on. End of story.

Thoughts on Phil Coke being added to the roster for the ALCS?

Not really. MMM would be shocked if Coke is brought in during a high pressure situation. Drew Smyly is still the top lefty against lefty hitters. That won't change. Coke was added because he has good numbers against some of the Boston hitters, that's all.

Still going with the Red Sox in six?

Yes, even though the Tigers starting pitching is lined up really well for the rest of this series. The Red Sox have found a way, through 162 games and the first six games of the playoffs, to get it done. Game 2 just reinforced that notion.

Which hitter for Boston do you fear the most right now?

Dustin Pedroia. That little stinker. He's the kind of guy who gives Tigers pitchers fits. MMM is expecting Pedroia to unleash a series of big hits in this series.

Not David Ortiz?

Nah. He had his big hit. The free-swinging power guys don't scare me as much as the little pluggers who look like Pigpen in the Peanuts comic strip; their uniforms are dirty, it seems, before the game begins.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Burning Questions: ALDS (Tigers-A's)

Welcome back to Burning Questions with Monday Morning Manager (MMM)! They are presented today as the ALDS as a whole, but going forward they will appear after every post-season Tigers game.

So what sticks out in your mind after another thrilling five-game ALDS between the Tigers and the A's?
That MMM is sure glad Justin Verlander plays for the Tigers. Max Scherzer, too. Contrary to the eight runs scored in Game 4 and the just-what-the-doctor-ordered homer by Miguel Cabrera in Game 5, it was clutch pitching that carried the Tigers. Scherzer got a win as a starter and in relief, and Verlander twirled 15 scoreless frames. Joaquin Benoit did his thing, albeit shakily at times. Pitching was the cream that rose to the top for the Tigers in this series.

Did Jim Leyland wait too long to get Jhonny Peralta's bat in the lineup?
Yes, but MMM sort of understands. The first two games were played in Oakland and Leyland clearly wasn't warm and fuzzy about playing JP in left field, especially in an unfamiliar ballpark. You saw how Yoenis Cespedes' triple in Game 1 ate up Andy Dirks.

But as the series moved on, and the Tigers in desperate need of an offensive spark, Leyland almost had to use Peralta. Besides, why give him a crash course in playing left field, get him as many at-bats as possible in Miami to close the season and place him on the playoff roster, if you're not going to play him?

It was also right to play Peralta at SS in Game 5, as Jose Iglesias has been channeling Eddie Brinkman as of late. The Tigers' needs were definitely more on the offensive side of the ledger heading into that decisive game.

Did Cabrera's home run in Game 5 put some fears to rest about his physical capabilities?
Yes and no. It showed that he can still pull a ball that's inside, when he doesn't need his legs as much. But as far as MMM is concerned, Miggy still hasn't shown that he still has that eye-opening power to the opposite field. There are still concerns, and there should be.

Where does Verlander's performance in Game 5 rank, both in Tigers history and his own history?
Don't forget Game 2, when he went seven scoreless and fanned 11 but got nothing to show for it. As far as Game 5, it was just another example of why JV is a true "money" pitcher. He's the Jack Morris of his day, sans the surliness with the media. It ranks right up there in team history, though MMM still places Mickey Lolich's gutsy Game 7 in the 1968 WS ahead of Thursday's effort, because it came on two days' rest and it was truly for all the marbles.

Suddenly everyone forgets about what Scherzer did!
Not necessarily. Max gets series MVP from yours truly. He got the Tigers off on the right foot in Game 1, and even though the mess was his own creation, Mad Max pitched out of a bases loaded, nobody out situation in relief in Game 4, which clearly might have saved the Tigers season. But with Verlander on his game, it might be time to just declare that the Tigers have a 1 and a 1A when it comes to pitching aces.

What's wrong with Austin Jackson?
A-Jax has always been a streaky hitter, and this is obviously one of those bad streaks. When Jackson struggles, he doesn't even make contact, as what is happening now. MMM is worried that Jackson is swinging right through low-90s fastballs that have no movement. But Jackson can come out of it just as mysteriously as he sank into it.

MMM remembers Nelson Cruz and what he did to the Tigers in the 2011 ALCS. But in the ALDS against Tampa, Cruz was brutal. So it really can turn around quickly. Also, Placido Polanco was the MVP of the 2006 ALCS, but didn't even get a hit in the five-game WS that followed. Baseball is funny that way.

So what about the Red Sox in the ALCS?
Not feeling too good about it, mainly because under Jim Leyland, the Tigers have been ugly in Boston. They haven't won a series there since 2006. Yes, this is the post-season and yes the Tigers have world class pitching, but the Red Sox are a scoring machine and they chewed up and spat out a pretty good trio of Rays starters in the ALDS.

Sadly, MMM sees Red Sox in six games.

Nah, just a realist.

That's what all pessimists say.
OK, smarty pants, what should MMM be optimistic about?

The Tigers pitching and the signs that the offense may be perking up.
The Red Sox are on a roll and their pitchers aren't too shabby, either---especially the bullpen. But MMM hears what you're saying. If the Tigers can somehow manage a split in Games 1 and 2, then maybe MMM would re-think things. But as it stands now, the Red Sox look to be the team of destiny.


Saturday, October 05, 2013

Tigers-A's Playoff Rivalry Began With a Bat Toss

The eyes are wild, the face tight and taut. He is caught in pre-fling, rage washed over his mug. He is prepared to throw the bat, and it looks as if in that moment, he wants the lumber to behead its intended target.
Bert Campaneris is shown in the photograph, snapped from the first base side of the diamond, standing in the batter’s box, a baseball bat in his right hand, grasping the handle, barrel down. The photo shows him in the split second before he whipped the bat toward Tigers pitcher Lerrin LaGrow.
With that moment of indiscretion by Campaneris, the first salvo in the playoff wars between the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers was fired.
It came in Game 2 of the 1972 American League Championship Series, in Oakland. The A’s had won Game 1 and were ahead, 5-0, in the seventh inning when Campaneris took leave of his senses.
Some bean ball shenanigans were being played in Game 2. In the A’s fifth inning, Tigers reliever Fred Scherman knocked A’s slugger Reggie Jackson down twice in the same at-bat.
Campaneris was fleet of foot, and there are stories that say Tigers manager Billy Martin ordered the rookie LaGrow—who had just 39 big league innings on his resume—to throw at Campaneris’ legs. Knowing Billy, the speculation is probably true.
LaGrow’s pitch did indeed nail Campaneris in the ankle area. Without hesitation, as if acting reflexively, Campaneris planted his feet and flung his bat toward LaGrow, who ducked to avoid being decapitated.
A donnybrook ensued, and Campaneris was suspended for the remainder of the series.
The series went the maximum (at the time) five games, the A’s prevailing with a nail-biting 2-1 win in Game 5 at Tiger Stadium—aided by a highly questionable call at first base that went against Detroit.
Thirty-four years later, Magglio Ordonez stood in the batter’s box at Comerica Park, a bat in his hand, but he chose to use it in the conventional manner.
It was Game 4 of the ALCS in 2006, the Tigers leading the A’s, 3-0. The game was tied, 3-3, in the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs. Two runners were on base, and Ordonez stepped in against Oakland’s usually reliable closer, Huston Street.
With one swing, Ordonez evoked memories of Kirk Gibson against Goose Gossage in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series, sending a Street fastball deep into the night, far over the left field wall, sending the Tigers to the Fall Classic.
No Tigers fan worth his or her salt will ever forget the sight of Placido Polanco jumping up and down like a little boy as he rounded third base, once Magglio’s home run cleared the fence.
The second salvo in the A’s-Tigers playoff wars was fired, more than three decades after the first.
It’s another raucous night at the Oakland Coliseum. Game 5—the deciding game—of the 2012 American League Divisional Series is being played, Tigers vs. A’s yet again.
Oakland and its scrappy bunch, which made the walk-off win part of its strategy in 2012, had roared back on its home field and erased a 2-0 Tigers series lead, forcing the Game 5. Game 4 was won in typical A’s fashion—in the last at-bat, with the crowd beside itself. The A’s scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth off wobbly closer Jose Valverde to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Slugged but not out, the Tigers turned to Justin Verlander, whose charge was simple in definition but difficult in its execution: to shut the A’s down and quiet the feverish Oakland crazies.
Verlander, pitching as if possessed, mowed the A’s down. He pitched all nine innings, allowing just four hits. He walked one and struck out 11. The Tigers won the game, 6-0, and the series, 3-2.
The third salvo was fired.
The Tiger and A’s are separated by thousands of miles, geographically, but historically, the two teams are almost joined at the hip.
It began with the irascible Ty Cobb.
Cobb, after 22 years as a Tigers player and manager, took his services to Philadelphia, to play for the A’s, in 1927. Cobb in an A’s uniform was like Bobby Orr wearing Blackhawk colors.
Mickey Cochrane, old Black Mike himself, was traded by the A’s to the Tigers after the 1933 season. Cochrane managed the Tigers for parts of five seasons.
The Tigers traded for Hall of Fame third baseman George Kell, getting him from the A’s in 1946 for Barney McCosky.
In less than 20 years—from the Cobb defection to the Kell trade—the Tigers and A’s had swapped baseball legends and moved mountains three times, each a stunning move that, had they occurred today, would have sent Twitter and the Internet in general, aflutter.
All was quiet on the A’s-Tigers front for some 26 years, after the Kell trade, until Bert Campaneris treated a baseball bat like a hand grenade.
They’re going at it again, the A’s and the Tigers. They are duking it out in the ALDS. The Tigers, behind new ace Max Scherzer, are up 1-0, thanks to Scherzer’s domination.
Verlander, the old ace, is pitching Game 2. It reminds one of the Dodgers’ 1-2 punch of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in the mid-1960s.
Did Scherzer fire the fourth playoff salvo, A’s-Tigers style, with his brilliance in Game 1? Or is there something else coming that will define the fourth post-season series between these two old AL rivals?

I wonder if Bert Campaneris had any idea what his bat toss would spawn.