Here we are at the close of another year. While compiling a Detroit sports top 10 moments of 2022, there are no major championships to include, and three of our teams are either in or showing signs of life having just come out of rebuilds. But, regardless of the peril that has been Detroit sports over the last few years, there were moments of excitement and reminders of why we enjoy these teams so dang much.
Any good list of Top 10s has to begin with honorable mentions. Those moments during the year that were good for our organizations, but couldn't quite make the list.
This may be a personal celebration, but regardless, the dismissal of Al Avila from the Detroit Tigers organization has to be an honorable mention as a top moment for the year. For the previous seven years, he ran the Detroit Tigers, basically into the ground. Prior to his promotion, replacing Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers had come off one of their most successful runs, but during his tenure only averaged 63 wins per season. None of his moves worked out, he was constantly beaten in trades, and it was time for him to go.
Pistons draft class
Troy Weaver put on an absolute Master Class in the 2022 NBA Draft. On draft night, Weaver wheeled and dealed his way into landing Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, significantly upgrading the talent of a roster needing improvement. However, the excitement of the draft soon wore off when the Pistons struggled out of the gate and are looking at another lottery pick in the upcoming draft
Since Opening Day is a Detroit-based holiday, there's good reason to include this awesome start to what would become a non-awesome season. But for the first day of the season, this moment was not hindered by what would soon be known of this team. Hope still reigned, especially when the major acquisition of the offseason came through clutch. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Eric Haase hit a solo home run, newly acquired Austin Meadows tripled, and Javy Baez ended the game for a Tigers walk-off winner. The high of this day wouldn't last, but it sure was a great start.
Back-to-back CHAMPS! The Ferris State University football team downed the Colorado School of Mines (not Mimes!) 41-14 for its second straight Division II championship. With the only blemish on their record was a loss to Grand Valley State, the Bulldogs then ripped off nine straight wins to end the season. On the season, the Bulldogs averaged 217 yards on the ground, 210 through the air, and on defense only allowed 14 points per game. Maybe they'll make the list next year too after a three-peat.
Riley Greene‘s highly-anticipated MLB debut was delayed by a foot fracture in Spring Training. While he recovered, the Tigers' offense wallowed in sub-mediocrity. In his debut on June 18th, the rookie centerfielder collected two hits in five at-bats, a game the Tigers won 14-7. He provided plenty of highlights in the field, but one with the bat on July 2nd takes the cake. Victor Reyes tied the game in the at-bat previous to Greene's, then Greene unleashed a BOMB to dead center field for his first MLB homer and a victory for the Tigers.
I can't remember a time when the anticipation for a single player to take the field was so high. Obviously, Detroit Lions fans were giddy when Jameson Williams, the 12th overall pick from Alabama, took the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He didn't play much that day but in his second game against the Minnesota Vikings, JaMo caught his first career NFL pass, for a 46-yard touchdown! It was pure vindication for those who were ecstatic about the drafting of Williams, and the purest picture of the type of impact he can have on the field.
The Detroit Red Wings may be the biggest surprise in this town in 2022. Though still with some work to do, new coach Derek Lolande has the team playing quite well. Of course, it's all part of the Yzer-plan, after a massive offseason acquiring talent that helped the Wings get off to a dazzling start. It's not all showing up in the win column, but for a young team in a tough division, the fact they have gone to overtime in 1/3 of their games is a sign of their ability to compete. Currently, through 34 games, they are 15-12-7 and sit fourth in the Atlantic Division, good for 10th in the Eastern Conference, two spots out of a playoff berth. It's unlikely they make the postseason, but the progress made this year is definitely the next step in the Yzer-plan.
Hail! Hail! To Michigan the leaders and best! It's a sweet refrain and is even sweeter when you're signing it after a hard-fought, dominating performance against that team from Ohio. After last season's demolition of the Buckeyes in the Big House, and the first undefeated start since 2006, the showdown had massive implications. The winner of “The Game” would sit #2 in the country, automatically making the College Football Playoff, and the loser would need help to get in. Michigan struggled through the first few series but eventually took control, asserting its dominance and leaving Ohio State reeling. They walked out of the Horseshoe with a three-score victory, and turned the rivalry on its head, proving 2021 wasn't a fluke.
“With the second pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Aidan Hutchinson, University of Michigan.” It was a no-brainer. The hometown kid, who played for his dad's alma mater in his home state, is drafted by his hometown team. And, there was no better selection. All Hutchinson has done is lead all rookies in sacks, become a force to be reckoned with, and prove why he was the second overall pick. And, it all started in the second game of the year when he recorded three sacks against the Washington Commanders setting the tone for the rest of the season. He's one of the main reasons the Lions show up a little later on this list.
Nothing says vindication like an undefeated season, owning your rival for the second-straight year, and securing back-to-back Big Ten Championships. Well, that’s exactly what Michigan Football did this season, punching their ticket to Scottsdale and the College Football Playoff. To be fair, the real Big Ten Championship was played in Columbus the week prior because of the pure awfulness of the Big Ten West, but nonetheless, the game still had to be played and won. It was and they did. Back-to-back domination in the Big Ten Championship game, two results that were rarely in doubt. Michigan Football is on the map and ready for TCU in the College Football Semi-Final.
The anticipation for the Detroit Lions season was through the roof, especially after their time on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Dan Campbell was doing his thing with the sound bites, the players were getting featured, and the blood was boiling in eagerness for the season to kick off. Well, it kicked off and through the first seven games the Lions were 1-6, SOL was alive and well, and people were mentioning firing Campbell. Then, a team who was all but buried rose like the Undertaker on Monday Night Raw. They ripped off six wins in seven games to level their record and put themselves into playoff contention. All they need to do is win their final two games and they’ll have set themselves up, with pretty good odds, to make the playoffs in their second year of a rebuild.
Miguel Cabrera, what other spot could he be on this list than #1? No where, that’s the answer. He gave us one of the best moments a baseball fan can see, amid a season of utter disappointment. It’s no secret that Miggy isn’t the player he once was, but for the fans of Detroit baseball, he gave them the opportunity to see one of our all-time greats accomplish a feat that isn’t accomplished every day. We’ve been lucky to watch Miguel in our uniform for 14 years and wish him all the best in his endeavors after his playing days are done. Thanks for the memories, Miggy.