Being from Michigan, any sign of Tigers baseball beginning is a welcomed one. It means that the warm summer air coupled with a packed Comerica Park is right around the corner. Before those nights though, the Detroit Tigers will head down to Lakeland, Florida for their 80th consecutive Spring Training in the Florida town.
The Tigers and Lakeland own the longest-lasting relationship between an MLB team and a host city. Lakeland has seen its share of Tigers greats in the past, including Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, Jack Morris, and Alan Trammell. The city has hosted the likes of current day greats such as Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, and Miguel Cabrera.
Spring Training has brought a sense of excitement and high expectations to the Motor City in the last decade. Some of the more memorable Spring Trainings include 2007, a year after the Tigers made their surprise run to the World Series, 2008 when many believed they had a team capable of scoring 1000 runs or more, and 2015, when on paper they had a team that was expected to contend for a World Series title with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes and a full season of David Price.
While none of those regular seasons followed the excitement of Spring Training, they never lessened our love for the Tigers.
Fast forward to 2016, and the same excitement is in the air. With a revamped bullpen, the addition of two high-end free agents in Jordan Zimmerman and Justin Upton, and a healthy roster, many fans are ready to get the 2016 campaign underway. What happens in 2016 remains to be seen, but all signs point towards a return to the postseason, and a battle for the American League Central Division crown.
But before we talk about the end of the season, we must get ready for the beginning of the season. The road to the World Series begins here at Spring Training 2016!