As the postseason awards get handed out and as Yankees fans revel in what 1.4 billion dollars can do for you, those of us cheering for also-ran teams have to sit back and hope for better luck next year. Yep, next year could be the year when Verlander wins his Cy Young, Miguel Cabrera finally walks off with the MVP award and Jimmy Leyland and the Tigers win the Series. It’s not impossible.
But even if this is just a pipe dream, it’s still better than watching the Lions continue to redefine terrible, one loss at a time. We used to have the Pistons but they’re just ordinary anymore. And I suppose there are the Red Wings but I am not nor have I ever been Canadian so that just doesn’t do it for me.
The thing is that the Tigers have all the pieces. They’re just missing that elusive something, that killer instinct that could put them over the top. You don’t put that many Venezuelans on a team and not expect some sort of revolution. Expectations are about all we have these days, though.
This whole process is kind of like that old song about playing right field. You daydream about the ideal situation and everything coming together but then something wakes you up and you face the truth, the terror of a baseball hurtling your way. For me, that something is one of my favorite Twitter streams, Sh!tMyDadSays. And if you scroll down to the tweet on October 8th, you’ll see what I mean. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
Hope springs eternal, though. And in case you’ve forgotten the song, the kid ultimately ends up making the catch out in right field. Who knows? Maybe next year the Tigers will get the good news that Justin’s dad thinks they deserve. But I’m betting on god taking another dump in the parking lot.
The pessimist in me always begins to worry when people write good things about the teams I support. So, when I read Gordon Edes’ Yahoo! Sports column earlier today, I immediately threw some salt over my shoulder, made a blood sacrifice and purchased gypsy tears to guard against the evil eye. It’s nice to get some recognition and he did hit some of the right notes, pointing out the seeming flaws in the Tigers’ system and why they shouldn’t necessarily be in first. But then he turns around and jinxes them by also pointing out what they’re doing well. It’s just not right.
I’ve mentioned it many times before but Detroit has so little going for it that the last thing we Michiganders need is to get our hearts broken once again. We could laugh about the Lions. But the Pistons? The Red Wings? If the Tigers go into the All-Star break in first place and then slowly bleed it away over the remainder of the season, it’s going to be killer.
How killer, you ask? Well, considering that Tigers fans are already jumping off buildings near the stadium despite the team being hot, it ain’t going to be pretty when the collapse comes along. However, if there is one thing we do well, it’s that we die hard. Did you happen to notice that line in the story about how the person fell three stories and was still texting? Yeah, that’s how we roll. Unfortunately, there’s still no coming back being frozen solid at the bottom of an elevator shaft, though.
The Red Wings are the one sure thing in the city of Detroit. Well, that along with fiscal irresponsibility and a paralyzing lack of innovation. But, on the positive side, there’s always the Red Wings. Or there was until last night. It’s almost ironic that on a night when the Tigers beat the Pirates in Pittsburgh, the Penguins returned the favor in Detroit.
However, when you think about it, is there a better allegory for the current state of American industry than two formerly proud standard bearers of American pride and ingenuity battering each other in matches that barely anyone is paying attention to? Pittsburgh, the steel town that gave up that title long ago against Detroit, the home of the now bankrupt GM and Chrysler, slugging it out to the bitter end, an end that for all intents and purposes came about years ago.
To be honest, it’s probably a little surprising that these two urban wastelands even still have viable franchises. I suppose Pittsburgh has had some success in redefining itself but Detroit just seems to keep slipping further and further into a self-made morass of slip-shod decisions and shattered dreams.
Ultimately, these series are nothing more than the last gasp hurrah of two crippled giants. The Tigers still have a prayer and, with the demise of the Red Wings and Michigan State earlier this year, bear the standard for the entire city. Pittsburgh will always have the perennially contending Steelers and for this year at least, Sidney Crosby has brought them Lord Stanley’s Cup. But, it’s about time that we paid a little more attention to the man behind the curtain and realized that the time has passed for both cities.
No, the irony here is not the delicious irony of Gary Larson or the tragic irony of a passenger who was supposed to be on the Air France flight that crashed on its way from Brazil. These two impotent, rust-belt behemoths trading slaps is more of a pathetic irony. But I’ll still be cheering for the Tigers all weekend long!
–Thanks to Steve for the Air France link
Last year I made the mistake of placing my faith in the savior apparent of the Detroit Tigers, a man I lovingly referred to as my big, black baby Jesus. He rewarded my faith by issuing more free passes than a scalper outside a Washington Nationals game. But after some time in the minors and a stint on the DL for an “anxiety disorder,” Dontrelle Willis finally made it back to the big leagues last night. And didn’t do a whole lot to allay our fears.
It’s rare that we see our heroes crumble into dust and then reemerge as a better version of themselves. Al Gore and Andre Agassi are good examples of how that works out at it’s best but, unfortunately, the Dontrelle Willis route is much more common. Something happens, something disappears and suddenly the person is a shell of their former self. It’s like the final episode of Seinfeld. We recognize it as being Seinfeld but its essential Seinfeldness wasn’t there.
That’s why I especially appreciate it, though, when heroes of my childhood reemerge in a better if not stronger form. Sergei Fedorov leads the Red Wings for years and then plays his heart out for the Washington Capitals. Kirk Gibson lays it on the line for the ’84 Tigers and then comes back and provides the spark for the ’88 Dodgers as well. But if I have to choose only one hero who has come back better, stronger and faster, well, I think this video will explain:
Willie Tanner: a poor man’s Eraserhead.
I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I mean, it’s all we’ve been talking about for the past few weeks and it kind of feels like a dagger in the heart every time it comes up. No, I’m not talking about the Tigers’ chances for success this season. And I’m not referring to Jeff’s notorious difficulty in the dating world. No, I’m talking about the former anti-Barry, Alex Rodriguez.
How is it possible that he just doesn’t get it? What is he paying Boras for? Shouldn’t that guy be out there making sure he doesn’t do stupid ^ss sh!t like this?
But no, once again A-Rod is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Yeah, he still has that sweet swing as Jeff mentioned yesterday. However, it appears he also still retains that incredible tone-deafness that got him into this current predicament. Really, man? After everything that’s happened you’re still going to head out for a night of needles in the butt with the same guy that supposedly got you into this mess? As Simon and Garfunkel put it so eloquently, “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?”
Maybe he thought that everyone was so caught up in watching our president try to pull us out of our current financial mess that he figured no one would notice. Maybe he decided that the nation was so focused on the Republicans’ inane game of “I know you are but what am I?” that we’d all let this slide. Or maybe he just thinks that with the current state of things we’re all going to be dead soon so what does it matter anyway.
I don’t know. But, what I can say is that for all my dislike of the Yankees, this whole saga just makes me sad. Luckily I still have the Pistons and the Red Wings to keep me sane. What? Really? 8 games in a row? Well, I guess 1 out of 2 ain’t bad.
Here is but a sampling of the goings on around the league:
Alex Rodriguez Homers in Spring Training Opener
Immediately after he hit that bomb, all controversy of A-Rod’s MVP PED use and the subsequent tarnishing and questioning of his character disappeared like the hopes and dreams of Pirates fans. Well, maybe not, but one can fantasize, right?
Ryan Dempster Has Yet to Say Something Stupid
Last year during spring training, Dempster guaranteed Cub fans a World Series title. His foot-in-mouth silence at the start of this season practically guarantees another stellar regular season record, followed by a quick division series exit to the tune of 101 years. Which leads me to the fact that…
Cub Fans Still Hungover from 2008, 2007, 2003, etc.
A simple stroll through Wrigleyville these days will yield much more than the average Barleycorn date-rape and trust-fund-baby all-night-party — both of which have long been synonymous with the neighborhood. Nowadays you can still see the aftershocks of that disappointing NLDS performance against the Dodgers in the face of this guy and this guy and these guys.
Khalil Greene On Pace to Replace Ozzie Smith as Shortstop Icon
Don’t look now, but after one spring training game, off-season blockbuster acquisition Khalil Greene is on pace to hit .333 this year — which is way better than his .212 average of 2008! While John Mozeliak sits back and strokes his pompous ego, we Joe Six-Pack fans are left daydreaming of that fifth-place NL Central finish.
Yankees Lend a Helping Hand: Willing to Pay Off the Country’s $1.75 Trillion Deficit
Okay, this is a lie; but the Yankees unwillingness to cooperate just proves how anti-American the organization really is.
“But as long as the nation is obsessed with historic milestones, is no
one going to remark on what a great country it is where a mentally
retarded woman can become speaker of the house?”
Ann, sweetie-pie, remember: we had a mentally retarded man with a fancy-rich last name as president for 8 years. Let us have our speaker and please stop talking.
Indians Fans and Cub Fans Breathe Collective Sigh of Relief
Joe Borowski, possibly the all-time scariest closer for all the wrong reasons, officially announced his retirement. There are parties in the street. Check ’em out.
Tigers Fans Better Off Watching Hockey
After my esteemed colleague and Tigers apologist Allen Krause wrote his annual lament on the sad state of his team, one clever commenter riffed:
“When the tigers crush your soul as they inevitably will, just remember to look on the brightside, we still have the Red Wings.”
Enough said. Thanks, D.K.
No One Cares About Blagojevich Anymore
Or Roland Burris… or Dick Durbin strong-arming Burris to get out of town… or the poor economy… or world hunger… or the climactic dictatorship of one Hugo Chavez… dude, who cares? There’s baseball to watch!
And at last…
The MLB Network Is Seriously Affecting My Loyalty to American Idol
I apologize to all my supporters, for it is true: in my living room, the MLB Network has temporarily taken the place of American Idol. Two weeks have gone by and I haven’t watched a single A.I. episode. I know, I know. This situation is difficult to accept for all. But believe me when I say it hurts me more than it hurts you. For some reason, Barry Larkin’s nonsensical ramblings and Al Leiter’s delusions of grandeur are just way more entertaining than Ryan Seacrest’s hair and Simon Cowell’s cliche Britishness.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Nothing says “It’s almost time for baseball” more than the Superbowl. On the one hand, the end of the NFL season means the next couple weeks are devoid of anything sportingly worthwhile. Basketball is fine but I don’t really care until the NCAA tournament rolls around. And hockey? Well, if the Red Wings are playing and there’s nothing else to do, maybe I’ll check it out. But the other side of this is knowing that in two short weeks (or maybe two long weeks) pitchers and catchers report.
So, what can we do to fill the time between now and then? How do we kill 14 days without losing it and accidentally killing something more? Here at RSBS, we’re compiling an ever-expanding list of things to do to pass the time until the baseball season finally begins.
Sight-Seeing Vacation in Detroit
What isn’t to love about the city that could have served as the backdrop for the movie “The Crow?” However, beyond seeing what is left of old Tiger Stadium and visiting Greektown, there are also new and exciting tourist destinations. For instance, the body frozen in ice. Or how about Ford field, site of 8 of the Lions’ 16 losses this past season? Hurry, though. It’s all going to thaw soon and then you’re in real trouble.
Finding the Most Famous Email Address in Washington
Apparently only a select few have access to the President via email. Where’s that transparency you told us about, Mr. President? If I can’t forward you emails from my Grandma about Barack Obama being a secret Muslim, then what…….oh, right. Yeah, I guess I wouldn’t want those emails either.
Helping Jeff Feel Sorry for Himself
Nevermind. It looks like he already has that one under control.
So, there you go. Already we have four ideas for you and there’s no telling how the list will grow. Happy Superbowl and just so you know, I will be cheering for Arizona. What can I say? When you’re a Lions fan, you just get used to cheering for the underdog.
After barely surviving the sucker punch that was 2008, 2009 appears to be treating the Michigan diaspora a little better. For instance, this past week we learned that Curtis Granderson will be representing the USA in the World Baseball Classic. Now, I’m not saying that Granderson is the best center fielder out there but he has developed into a talent to be watched over the past couple seasons and it’s nice to see him get a little more recognition for that. It was also nice to see the Red Wings take down the red-hot Blackhawks on the ice at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day.
However, there was another red-hot piece of news that truly warmed my heart as an American and current denizen of our nation’s capitol. Although it was never really in doubt, President-elect Obama reconfirmed yesterday that that we truly share the same values. Now, I’ve mentioned the DC institution and National’s ballpark mainstay, Ben’s Chili Bowl, before but it bears repeating that this place is beyond amazing. And when I watched footage yesterday of Mr. Obama’s visit to Ben’s, I realized that here this man is in touch with the nation’s stomach in a way we haven’t seen since Clinton’s first term. I mean, here is a guy who appreciates the chili-cheese half-smoke and unabashedly supports a single baseball team. Could anything be more American?
Now, I know that the months ahead are going to be difficult for Obama and his team. In fact, one might even compare it to the torment that is the line at Ben’s around 2 in the morning on a weekend. But, if the past week is any indication, maybe we are seeing change we can believe in. I just hope that CG and the Tigers offer me a little of the same.
Christmas is a time for giving. And that’s why I want to thank Jane Heller over at Confessions of a She-Fan for giving me one of the greatest gifts ever. It doesn’t seem like much, just a little article from the NY Times but it provided the one thing we can’t live without: Hope. Now, I still don’t think that Mr. Trammell is going to make it into the Hall but if the Times says he belongs there, who am I to argue? I mean, I can’t think of a single thing they’ve been wrong about. Well, maybe just one thing but really, it’s so minor as to be insignificant.
But, maybe if Jane and the Times can give me hope here, someone can come forward and give me hope in a couple other places. For instance, since we all know that the night is darkest right before the dawn, does that mean that the Lions are about to turn the corner? At the very least, Millen is finally gone. And is it possible that the Tigers will be competitive in the AL Central this year despite their complete failure to make any significant moves so far this offseason? At least Farnsworth is gone.
I don’t know, though. It’s hard to base your hopes for the future on subtraction instead of addition. But as a native Michigander, I can only go with what I know. I mean, this is a state that has single-handedly destroyed its signature industry (granted, with a lot of help from the industry itself) and now sports an impressively gaudy 9.6% unemployment rate. The Lions, industrial contraction and negative job creation? Well, at least we still have the Red Wings.