Growing up as a Detroit Tigers fan was never dull. As a toddler, my grandad would take me to games at the old Tigers Stadium. The late ’90s saw the Tigers hit rock bottom. The team lost game after game, while the stadium was a crumbling mess ridden with asbestos: (thanks, Grandad!) irrespective of that, as a three-year-old boy, I got hooked on Tigers baseball.
At that age, it doesn’t matter about wins and losses; it’s about fun. Then as I got older and my fandom grew, wins and losses became the only thing that mattered. I struck gold as Jim Leyland, and that glorious mustache turned the Tigers into perennial contenders. Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Pudge Rodriguez were some of the superstars on show as Detroit won two American League pennants. Sadly, like all good things, that era came to an end. Since 2016, Detroit has not posted a winning season. Apathy set in while the team tanked to turbocharge a rebuild. Games became moribund experiences; it was like spending dinner with a Twins fan. Most fans thought 2021 would be the same; however, new manager AJ Hinch’s squad is tearing up the script.
Detroit Tigers Baseball Can’t Be Dull
In a city where the winter is bitterly cold, spring and summer can’t come soon enough. The warm weather, the days out to Belle Isle and Tigers baseball, accompany all Detroiters for five months of the year. The Olde English D is a symbol for Tigertown. It is the universal sign for Detroit, and the Tigers are a way of life. Therefore, the team must compete in every game. We don’t expect wins every day; however, we want the team to embody the Motor City grit. In five of the last six seasons, the Detroit Tigers went below .500. The team surrendered to become the American League whipping boys.
Coming into the 2021 season, most Tigers fans didn’t have high expectations; even with a new manager in AJ Hinch, the Tigers faithful expected to finish bottom of the division. They still might; nonetheless, a 6-6 start that includes a road sweep of the Astros is a promising start. The Tigers play hard in every game, battling with a spirit against teams that are better than them on paper. This ragtag group of journeymen, youngsters, and a future Hall of Famer are putting smiles back on faces. If opposing teams are going to beat Detroit, they’ll need to knock them out. That is the Detroit way. We’re not New York or St. Louis; Detroiters don’t expect championships, fighting for the badge on your heart is expected.
A Former Number One Pick, The Veterans and One Bad Man
In 2018, the Detroit Tigers selected Auburn pitcher Casey Mize with the first overall pick. After spending time in the minors, Mize made his big-league debut last year. He started this season as the Tigers’ ace, and after two starts, the youngster is developing quickly. In the Astros series, Mize pitched a seven-inning gem for his first win in MLB. He is the man tasked with anchoring the Tigers’ rotation for years to come.
On the opposite end of the scale, the experience of MLB stalwarts Renato Nunez, Wilson Ramos, Nomar Mazara, and Robbie (Don’t Call me Rex!) Grossman is proving very positive. These players came to Detroit knowing they aren’t the future, yet they’re still playing significant roles for the manager. That suggests there is a positive mindset within the Tigers clubhouse. That will only provide positive results in the future.
Finally, we need to talk about rookie sensation Akil Baddoo. The outfielder impressed in Spring Training that they got forced to promote him to the active roster. Currently, Baddoo is batting at .370, with four homers and 11 RBI’s. The Rule Five draft pick is shocking everyone in Detroit. The 22-year-old is playing fearless baseball, which is exhilarating the Detroit Tigers fans. Motown can’t get enough of Baddoo; there is a new bad man in Detroit.
Wait, There’s More Excitement for Fans!
The biggest thing exciting the Tigers faithful is the state of the farm system. There are three Tigers in the top 25 prospect list per MLB. That is a brilliant foundation to build a winning team. Last year’s first pick Spencer Torkelson is one of the most talented prospects in recent history, while young pitchers Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning are making their way. After years of mundane play, plus a ton of losing, the Tigers are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The current team is fighting at every at-bat; furthermore, the pipeline is full of exciting prospects who could make their mark very soon.
Finally, The Tigers Are Emerging From Their Hibernation
After six long years, the Detroit Tigers are slowly starting to prowl. It will take time; it won’t happen overnight. Patience must get exercised, but the signs are there. The right manager is in place, the young talent is coming through, and lastly, the Detroit never-say-die attitude is returning. The fun is back in Detroit Tigers baseball. Go Get ‘Em Tigers! Next for Detroit is a weekend series against Oakland at the Coliseum.
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