Friday, July 08, 2005

Don't Worry, Bondy -- You're An All-Star In My Book

So Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman isn't an All-Star, is he? That's fouled up.

No matter -- Bondy is an All-Star as far as I'm concerned. He won't be on the field during pregame intros at Comerica Park next Tuesday, with the other so-called All-Stars, but he should be, and he will -- sooner or later, at someone else's park on some other July evening. I'd be willing to wager he won't have too many more vacations during the mid-season break after this one. The kid is tagged for greatness, I'm telling you.

The best damn non-All-Star pitcher in the game today?

I watched Bonderman, who is still only 22 for goodness sakes, mow down the red hot Cleveland Indians Wednesday night on ESPN for his 11th victory this season, and he had nasty stuff, as usual. He just takes the ball and goes after people -- I like that. I like it a lot. There is nothing but a bulldog mentality coming from this youngster, and you get the feeling he'd just as soon knock your mother down if that's what it took to gain an edge. Hell, he might even knock his own mother down.

Seriously, Bonderman is the best thing to stand on a pitching mound wearing a Tigers uniform since Jack Morris. And Morris' last good season in Detroit was over 15 years ago. It's almost frightening to think what Jeremy Bonderman can accomplish by the time he's 30. And that'll just be the first half of his career.

Bondy's overall ERA of 3.99 doesn't bowl you over, but there's been a couple of real stinkers that have artificially inflated it. Mostly he's been superb, and he has an excellent chance to win 20 games. Winning 20 games as a Tigers pitcher nowadays should qualify someone for Cooperstown, let alone a silly All-Star Game. He's the team's bona fide ace, the man called upon to stop losing streaks and sustain winning ones. A Bonderman start almost feels like a Tigers lock, doesn't it? Oh, how long it's been since we've been able to say that about a Tigers' pitcher.

My first reaction upon finding out Bonderman was left off the AL roster was, frankly, this: $#!&$#. But then I chilled and reminded myself that this may be his last snub for a while, maybe forever. He's that good, and will be even better. But being the game is in Detroit this year, it would have been special for him to make the All-Star squad. Oh well. Bonderman is the only pitcher in baseball with 11 wins and not an All-Star. See? He's already in a class by himself.

The only thing I can think of is that too many folks looked at Jeremy's ERA, which was over 4.00 before Wednesday's start. But this kid can't be measured by frivolous things like an earned run average. His greatness is almost impossible to quantify, because of his tender age, his potential, and his status as the first real homegrown pitching prospect the Tigers have produced since Hal Newhouser. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but not much. The accolades will come, and when they do, it will be like a runaway train -- there'll be no stopping them.

So Jeremy Bonderman isn't allowed in at this year's All-Star Game, and that's okay. It still kinda pisses me off, but this young man is just getting started. Eventually, 2005 will be the answer to a trivia question:

When was the last time Jeremy Bonderman failed to make the All-Star team?

Mark this one in your books, folks.

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