NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
It’s the best time of year, isn’t it? Pitchers and catchers for the Detroit Tigers are scheduled to arrive in Lakeland in two days. As always, there’s that particularly pleasant scent of optimism for the upcoming season in the air. It happens every year, whether the world believes in our team’s chances or not. But this year, we think we have a chance.
It’s not uncommon for us Tigers fans to think that anymore. If anything, we expect to contend for the World Series every year now. It took a long time to get to this point, but I for one am thankful that we are here. Maybe that’s not the best way to put it. I’m thankful for much more than just the opportunity to contend. Our team’s owner, Mike Ilitch, has given us plenty of things to be thankful for with this team, and here are some of my favorites.
Thank you, Mr. I, for giving us the chance to watch Miguel Cabrera every day. The 10 time all-star, the two-time MVP, the 2012 AL Triple Crown winner. That guy. Not many fans get to watch a player of that caliber play for the team that they adore, and for that, I’m thankful.
Thank you, Mr. I, for raising our team out of the depths of baseball history in 2003. Losing 113 games that year was hard to watch. So hard in fact, that we have nothing to compare it to, because no team had ever lost that many games in a season before. But after that season, when you opened your pocket-book to bring Ivan Rodriguez to the Motor City, it gave us optimism. When you brought Magglio Ordonez over the following season, we had actual reason to believe that our team may be on the up-and-up. Since then, free agents such as Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter, and Prince Fielder have been enticed to play for our team because of it’s commitment to winning. Since 2003, our team has made it to the playoffs five times, and played for a World Series twice. While the team hasn’t brought home the championship since 1984, we at least understand that the steps are constantly being made to keep our team in contention. For that, I’m thankful.
Thank you, Mr. I, for not being content with a losing culture. Your constant splashes in free agency and the trade market have shown us this. By bringing in guys like Jordan Zimmermann, Justin Upton, Francisco Rodriguez, and Cameron Maybin for the upcoming season, you’ve shown us that the last place finish that we endured last season will not be tolerated again. For that, I’m thankful.
Thank you, Mr. I, for showing us that home-grown talent can be just as exciting as making a splash in the free agency/trade market. We’ve had the privilege of seeing plenty of players rise through the system, and having a large impact on our team. Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Nick Castellanos, Joel Zumaya, and Brandon Inge, among others, are all examples of players who we saw in our teams minor league system before making an impact on the big club. There’s something about the way a player is built up before he gets to the majors that is thrilling for me, and when they finally arrive and deliver, it’s fun. For that, I’m thankful.
Finally, Mr. I, thank you for making baseball in the D exciting again. Maybe it’s just me, but I get excited about baseball, no matter what. But there’s something different about this kind of excitement. It’s real, and meaningful. It has real passion behind it. It feels good to know that when we spend our hard earned money to come out and watch a game at beautiful Comerica Park, that the effort to put a winning product on the field is really there. To know that we have an owner who wants the same thing we do. There’s not another owner in baseball that I’d rather have at the reigns of my favorite team. For that, I’m thankful.
Maybe it’s because I was born and raised in Michigan, where we don’t know anything but hard work and optimism. Where nothing ever comes easy. Where every bit of blood, sweat, and tears that we have go into everything we do. But I am proud to be a Tigers fan because of our teams roots, as well as what our future holds. And yes, for that, I’m thankful.