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Game 70: Tigers at Twins

The battle for 1st-thru-4th is still going on, friends...

Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers
Forearm bumping avoids transferring those disgusting palm germs.
Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Time: 7:10 Central

Weather: Calm and dry, 76° at first pitch, airborne smoke literary tribute now over

Opponent’s excellent SB site: Bless You Boys

TV: BSN (for now, future still hazy). Radio: Molitor’s still a “special assistant to baseball operations”

Here’s a burning question (not really): will Miguel Cabrera retire with a career batting average over .300? Because, if he does, he’d join Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players with 500 homers, 3000 hits, and a .300 BA. However, Cabrera hasn’t hit .300 since 2016, and sits at around .260 since.

The answer is “yes.” As of Wednesday, when I type this, Cabrera’s career numbers are 3111 hits in 10129 ABs, or .307. For him to fall under .300, he’d need to go 0-for-242 to finish the season. That’s not likely to happen. (Unless he gets traded to the Twins.)

Obviously, he’s on any “top players of the 21st century” list. From 2004-2016, he hit .323/.402/.566, averaging 33 dingers and 115 RBIs a season (and he started the 2004 season at age 21). Despite that dominance, Cabrera’s only championship was his rookie year with the Marlins in 2003. He wouldn’t reach the postseason again until 2011-2014, when Detroit got to the ALCS twice and World Series once without winning it all.

Detroit, you’ll remember, barely missed the playoffs in 2009, having a three-game lead over Minnesota with four games remaining. Cabrera went 1-15 in those four games, Detroit lost three of them, and Minnesota won the last, greatest regular-season game in Metrodome history. Cabrera later told teammates he had been hungover most of the season’s final weekend, and sought treatment for alcoholism that offseason.

Between those struggles, a messy lawsuit involving his mistress, and a reputation for being chilly towards the press, perhaps it’s no surprise that Cabrera isn’t getting the kind of “farewell tour” love that Albert Pujols received last season. (It also didn’t hurt that Pujols had an amazing, improbable resurgence year at age 42.) Some Tigers fans, as well, may be annoyed that Cabrera didn’t retire after last season, when he notched his 3000th hit and was given a congratulatory All-Star nod. He’s finishing out the final year of a 2014 extension that received widespread criticism at the time.

Still, the Tigers must still think Cabrera’s presence has some value to the team, or they could just pay him to stay home. He’s said he wants to stay involved with the organization after finishing as a player. The young Tigers seem to like having him around.

So, he’s not having the farewell tour Pujols did, or the one Mariano Rivera did (with presents!) Yes, his personal life is a bit messy. I don’t think he’s the first baseball player to have a mistress, though. (Sometimes ballplayers’ wives even write books about their husbands’ philandering.) And Cabrera’s not the first player to frustrate his teammates by showing up for games hungover. Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, and Nick Punto had a little incident about that...

He’s going out mostly quietly, maybe because he prefers it that way, maybe not. I don’t know. I know that anyone who says they have no regrets at the end is either dishonest or foolish, though... there’s no such thing as a perfect ending.

Today's Lineups

Zach McKinstry - RF Edouard Julien - 2B
Spencer Torkelson - 1B Carlos Correa - SS
Kerry Carpenter - DH Byron Buxton - DH
Javier Baez - SS Alex Kirilloff - RF
Nick Maton - 2B Donovan Solano - 1B
Andy Ibanez - LF Royce Lewis - 3B
Matt Vierling - CF Joey Gallo - LF
Eric Haase - C Christian Vazquez - C
Jonathan Schoop - 3B Michael Taylor - CF
Will Vest - RHP Joe Ryan - RHP

If you’re wondering what a “Will Vest” is, it’s an old-timey baseball term for “Bullpen Game.” Back in the 1880s, the term “bullpen” had not been invented yet. Most relief pitchers were only marginal baseball players, hanging around the team to court the young ladies who attended games. So they were often seen spending time in the grandstand, wearing a formal shirt and vest, chatting up some petticoats and parasols. A generic name for such a Player (in the modern sense of the word) was “Will Vest.” It was meant as a rather sneering putdown of relief pitchers, so I don’t know why we still use it today.