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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Friday, June 7, 2013

'Handshake of Doom' flap is just ... silly

DETROIT — There are silly things, and silly things.

One silly thing is the labeling of Jim Leyland’s congratulatory handclasp as “The Handshake of Doom.”

You know, when he stands at the bottom of the dugout steps, hand extended, waiting for a starting pitcher he’s about to pull.

It’s a way to pass the time.

Goof around. Be silly. Have fun.

It’s also silly to try to walk down the other steps of dugout to avoid said handshake.

That’s what Justin Verlander did, after just a seven-pitch inning in Friday’s start left him with a manageable 108 pitches through seven innings. [CLICK HERE FOR A GIF]

“Leyland always stands right there at the bottom of those stairs and he sent me back out for the seventh, I only threw like four or five pitches, so I tried to circumvent the system and not get the customary handshake when you’re done,” said Verlander after the game, smiling broadly as he had been at the time, when he was intentionally acting silly. “So I tried to go the other way and sneak around him but he was too quick for me. He caught me at the bottom of those stairs anyway.”

Smirk-worthy stuff, at best.

Admittedly silly.

No big deal.

Comical, in a way.

“No, I don’t think that was comical at all,” Leyland said tersely in his postgame news conference. “You might think that was comical, but I don’t think that was comical at all.”

Come again?

You think it wasn’t comical?

“Oh, I’m not getting into that. I made my statement about that. Let’s move on. I don’t talk about silly stuff,” he grumped. “Let’s talk about baseball.”


How about your closer giving up hits to three of the six batters he faced in a non-save ninth, including a pair of home runs, allowing the the potential tying run to come to the plate, in what had been a 7-4 game.

“Well, they were two split-fingers, and they just golfed them. That happens. But the key to that was that he didn’t walk anybody,” Leyland said. “I’m happy with that.”


Alrighty then. Walking away.

Justin, did you know your skipper was peeved?

“If he wants to be mad, he can be mad. I wanted to stay in the game. I had a quick inning and I wasn’t trying to play a joke on him. I just wanted to stay in the game,” Verlander said with a shrug. “He always stands there and sticks out his hand so I figured maybe if I snuck around him he’d let me go back out there.”

His catcher understood both sides.

“He (Verlander) is a trouper. You have to kill him to get the baseball out of his hands,” Brayan Pena said. “He want to go back out there for the eighth. But the skipper was smart enough to say, ‘Enough is enough, and let’s just trust our guys from the bullpen.’ ... It was just one of those where he was kind of begging for the skipper to send him back there. But the skipper is smart enough to know.”


It would be silly for a starting pitcher to push it too much. As much as Verlander would love to throw 150 pitches a night, I think there’s some part in the back of his brain that acknowledges he can’t, and that it would be silly to try.

It’s also silly to think that the biggest thing wrong with the Tigers’ performance on Friday night was Verlander’s attempted game of ‘you can’t catch me.’

I can buy that it was a diversionary tactic. I can buy that it rubbed wrong a skipper who had his mind on other things.

If he seriously was THAT mad about something like that ... well, that’s just silly.


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