The Detroit Tigers Aren't Just Bad. They Are Tragic.
I'm so tired of this. I had high expectations. Many of us did. And I know I have egg on my face at this point. I was the one who bought in. I was the one who believed. And look at where it's gotten us. I'll peel back the curtain here for a second and say that I hate that my bread and butter at this point has become me shitting on the Detroit Tigers. This is my team. These are my guys. And yet time and time again, they've let us down. Every night is the same when you're a Tigers fan. No matter how ugly the loss is (and trust me, we've had some ugly ones this season), the conversation always devolves into a discussion about an incompetent GM and an apathetic owner. It's the baseball equivalent of Groundhog Day. Even I find myself bored with the same conversation every night. I'd move the world at this point if it meant I could talk about a .500 ballclub. But that won't be the case in 2022. It won't be the case in 2023 and probably won't be the case for a long time.
It's time we sadly accept the facts. The Detroit Tigers are entering rebuild 2.0, which will be handled by the same regime that fucked up rebuild number one. This bullpen, the unit that has done its job well this season (thank you, Chris Fetter), is about to be blown up and traded at the deadline. Given Al Avila's inane ability to trade top-tier talent for a bag of Orville Redenbacher popcorn, I have zero hope these trades will go well for the Tigers. Why should I put my faith in a man who traded Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, Shane Greene, Ian Kinsler, and Justin Upton for a grand total of ZERO players who are currently on the Tigers' active roster? At some point in the next calendar year, pieces like Tarik Skubal and Alex Lange will probably be shipped off to teams that matter to make way for more prospects that will probably never pan out.
I know this is a cynical blog. But I don't understand how you can't be negative at this point. It's the same story every year. Tigers make trades. Tigers lose trades. Tigers draft prospects, and then they fail to develop them. Spencer Torkelson has a sub .600 OPS in AAA. Casey Mize is injured. Spencer Turnbull is injured. Riley Greene has a negative WAR. Akil Baddoo is having one of the worst seasons I've ever seen. And I can say "I'm not giving up on them" until the end of time, but at a certain point, am I wrong to expect SOMETHING to go right? Am I wrong to hope for one Adley Rutschman or Julio Rodriguez to come through the system and inspire us with hope the way those guys have with their respective organizations? This isn't 2019 anymore. Detroit sports are getting better. Steve Yzerman is regarded as one of the best GMs in hockey. Troy Weaver has me more excited about the Pistons than I've been in years. Even the Lions have piqued my curiosity, considering what Brad Holmes has done. All of those teams began their rebuilds well after the Tigers did.
The Detroit Tigers are entering the phantom zone as an organization right now. They aren't just bad. They are boring. They are becoming irrelevant. As much as I praise the bullpen and acknowledge the job the pitching coach has done, that is not enough to save this sinking ship. If you were born in 2000, you'd have gone through high school and college without seeing a Detroit Tigers team that ever mattered. Those formative years mean something. I know this because I was the teen who snuck downstairs to watch the final innings of Tigers playoff games and woke up after 5 hours of sleep with a smile on my face knowing my team was headed back to the ALCS. I'll always be crazy enough to put up with the nonsense. It's what I get paid to do. But an entire generation of Detroit sports fans will grow up without knowing what it feels like to root for a baseball team that matters. That isn't just a disappointment. It's a downright tragedy.
Do you know what the best part of my night is now? It's when I turn on my laptop and watch the Mets, Astros, Braves, or Yankees. That's what brings me joy nowadays. Watching the best teams work night in and night out at capacity ballparks is a reminder of what used to be in Detroit. We like to act as if the 2006-2014 Detroit Tigers era was such a massive failure, and while they didn't win a World Series despite often having the most talented team in baseball, you're lying to yourself if you say that those teams weren't at least exciting. Only one team wins the World Series every year, but the hopefulness of knowing that your team is in it to win is infectious. The Orioles are getting better. The Mariners have gotten better. The Blue Jays have improved. Then you have the Detroit Tigers, the bastard stepchild of Major League Baseball. They are the toy that no one wants to play with. Players come to Detroit and get worse, then they leave Detroit and get better. Three years ago, you could sell hope to the fanbase, but those core pieces that the organization raved about are either injured or underachieving. And the sad truth is that two months from now, I'll probably be writing this same blog again. It'll just be worded differently.
There are only so many ways to say that your team is awful. But I'm done holding anything back. The product is absolutely pathetic. I'm not going to question the effort of the players or the coaching staff. In general, I fully support how this team has gone about their business as a unit. The effort and preparation are apparent. But from a management and ownership perspective, they are everything a professional sports team shouldn't be. They are lazy, incompetent, bumbling, and apathetic. They lack self-awareness and consistently finish at the bottom of the standings every year. And yet, despite our frustrations and ranting, we haven't left. This is still a fan base that stays up until 1 AM to watch west coast games. They still show up at Comerica Park. We're still here rooting for an organization that's made suckers out of all of us. It's time for a change. Sadly, I feel like change isn't coming. When it comes to the Detroit Tigers, failure is the new norm, and that's a goddamn shame.