Dear Justin Verlander: Thank you, now go get your ring

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Sep 27, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) waves to the crowd after being relieved in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Justin Verlander,

I’m not really too sure there’s going to be enough words to express our deepest gratitude to you for what you have done and accomplished, but here goes nothing.

It’s been a true joy, pleasure, and honor to watch you pitch through your 12 full years as a big league pitcher. From your Rookie of the Year campaign in 2006, to what ends up being your final start as a Tiger on Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies, and everything in between, you have been an absolute professional godsend and professional to the Tigers franchise and the Motor City as a whole.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers
Sep 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) smiles from the dugout before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Game called for bad weather after 5 innings. Tigers win 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Now it’d be negligent of me to not recognize all of the countless other great players you have shared a clubhouse with over the years in Detroit. But you’ve been that one cornerstone pillar that we have relied on day in and day out for more than a decade. Every time you took the bump, home or road, we all know that there was a high likelihood of “Must-see JV” moments. And rarely, if ever, did you disappoint in that department.

For me personally, as a baseball fan and player growing up, you’ve been someone I’d watch every time you started. Hands down, you were the reason I and likely countless others growing up started to pitch in Little League and into high school. To say you reenergized a baseball culture in a baseball town like Detroit would be an understatement. No matter how good or bad the teams were going, we all tuned in to watch you pitch and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t fully understand and appreciate everything you have done. No doubt it has been a collective effort to make baseball relevant in the Motor City once more, but you were the captain steering that ship through each and every one of those years.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers
Sep 27, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, I didn’t have the luxury to watch every one of your near-400 career major league starts but damn it, I’d kick myself whenever I missed one. If I had a nickel for every start you made where you had your no-hit stuff working, I’d be a filthy rich man. You gave me and thousands of Tigers fans those butterflies of “Wow, he’s really going to do it again.”

It’s been frustrating that the great Tigers teams you anchored earlier this decade could not finish the deal and win a World Series for so many deserving players, as well as the late great Mr. Mike Ilitch. But to call this incredible run of Tigers baseball and even more incredible career by you, and what you’ve been able to accomplish in your time here, a “failure” would be flat out wrong and unfair.

Me personally, I’m not just a Detroit Tigers fan. I’m not just a baseball fan. I’m a Justin Verlander fan. And no matter the team cap you’re donning, or even when and if you oppose your old comrades on the bump one day, you’ll always have a strong fan base behind you who still love and respect you for everything you did for Tigers baseball and the city of Detroit.

Oct 2, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves in the fifth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

So where do we go from here? Well, it’s become evident that it is the end of an era in Tigers franchise history. It’s time to rebuild from the ground up and build another core of great players; time to find that next “Justin Verlander” to lead the way for years to come. Perhaps we already have that in youngster in Michael Fulmer. We can only imagine the knowledge and wisdom you have shared with him during his brief time in the show.

For you? It’s time for you to go get that World Series ring you so desperately covet. You got everything else. And we all know you’re on the fast track to being inducted into the Hall of Fame some day, the numbers and accolades speak for themselves. But if there’s a singular player in the sport that deserves a championship ring the most, it’s Justin Verlander. And you have our full support in that quest.

No doubt you’re going to a championship-caliber club in the Houston Astros. They have done a remarkable and diligent job tearing it all down, starting over, and building a core group of players that can contend for multiple titles. Hopefully, you are able to help carry them to the promised land. Maybe the best part about joining the Space City is getting to be around your long-time baseball idol, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

But no matter what, you will have our support through it all. For everything you have done here, both on and off the field, you a true first-class professional. It’s going to be damn near impossible looking into the Tigers’ dugout and not seeing No. 35 sit around, joking around with his Tiger teammates and rooting them on. Hard to find a bigger cheerleader than you were, that’s for sure!

But it’s been a hell of a ride, JV. It’s been hard as hell to even write this without having to pause and wipe some tears away here and there.

On behalf of everyone here at Detroit Sports Nation, the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and Tigers fans worldwide… thank you. You have our undying gratitude and support. No matter the uniform(s) you will wear from here on out, you’ll be a Tiger for life and firmly cemented in the Tigers’ Mount Rushmore.

We wish you the best of luck with your career from here on out and wish both you and Kate the very best of luck off the field as well.

Thank you, JV.

 

Best regards,

Alexander W Muller | Editor, Detroit Sports Nation

Die-hard Tigers and Justin Verlander fan