Last night, the star-studded Detroit Tigers fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 11-6, relinquishing their stranglehold on first place in the AL Central to the Kansas City Royals. It should be noted that the Tigers have the fourth-highest payroll in MLB, whereas the Royals rank 18th, per ESPN.
Yes, it is only Aug. 12, and the Tigers are still only a half game out of first. However, given the talent that this team has and considering the money that owner Mike Ilitch has poured into it, I think it is fair to be a little bit disappointed in where the Tigers sit right now.
I write this from the perspective of a fourth-generation Tigers fan who has heard tales of the 1968 and 1984 championship teams for as long as he can remember and would like to see the Tigers win a World Series title for himself. Through thick and thin, I have been following the team my entire life.
In 2003, I watched the Tigers lose 119 games, setting a new American League record. Heading into the 2004 campaign, I fondly recall seeing the resurrection of the team begin, with the signings of Fernando Vina, Rondell White and most famously Ivan “Pudge“ Rodriguez. Later came Magglio Ordonez and Kenny Rogers, paving the way for an unforgettable ride to the World Series in 2006.
Since the Tigers fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 World Series, I have watched them lose a heartbreaking Game 163 to the Minnesota Twins in 2009, fall to the Texas Rangers in the 2011 ALCS, lose another World Series to the San Francisco Giants in 2012 and then suffer yet another postseason defeat at the hands of the Boston Red Sox last fall in the 2013 ALCS. I keep coming back, though. Like so many other fans, I will always continue to throw my support behind this ball club no matter what.
Everywhere I seem to go in Michigan, I hear people talking Tigers baseball. There are literally no words to describe how loyal and dedicated Tigers fans are to their team. It is no secret that now 85-year-old Ilitch and Tigers fans want nothing more than to win a World Series, which is something the city of Detroit has not seen in three decades.
The Tigers have truly been blessed with passionate fans who desperately want to see their team win, which is why so many were disappointed and hurt by former Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder‘s comments last October when the Red Sox knocked them out of the playoffs. Joe Nathan‘s comments after the Tigers’ loss to the Toronto Blue Jays last Saturday fell along the same lines. That being said, there are plenty of Tigers who have expressed their admiration for the fans and spoken of their own desire to bring a championship to the Motor City.
Actions speak louder than words, though. When a team has been playing like the Tigers have lately, it is reasonable to wonder what is going on. Many have also argued that the Tigers have been lacking a natural leader in the clubhouse, and I have even had a few conversations with some who have begun to wonder if the Tigers really do want to win it all as badly as the fans do. For as much support as the fans give them, one would surely hope that they want to win just as badly, if not more.
For the record, I do believe the Tigers want to win, it just seems like sometimes they don’t always do the best job of showing it.
It probably wouldn’t hurt to start seeing just a little bit more energy, enthusiasm and leadership coming out of the Tigers’ dugout. Many feel that 2014 could be the best chance the Tigers have to win it all for quite a while, and they wouldn’t mind seeing the players show that they are doing everything they can to make that happen. It would be a breath of fresh air to see the Tigers start displaying the type of passion that the fans do.