We forgot how good they are.
The disappointment that comes with giving away a division championship on the last day — nay, the waning minutes — of the season spans the entire winter. I moped around the house for days to refrains of “it’s just a game,” provided by a well-meaning and thoroughly annoyed wife.
It is just a game, but it’s also the backdrop to my entire life — and numerous generations before it. For me, there are millions of memories sealed in the Cubs-like futility of the 1990s and early-2000s, the exhilaration of a World Series appearance and the frustrating 2007 and ’08 campaigns.
So, when those jerks yielded to the Twins in the umpteenth inning of 163rd game of the season last October, I was peeved. And so were you.
The Granderson trade and Polanco farewell only intensified the deflated feeling that we were contenders no more and a new era of mediocrity was on the horizon.
And then the season started with a W.
Maggs. Zumaya. Even Inge. The gang’s all here!
Disappointed with the unfortunate finale to 2009, we forgot how good this team is.
We’ve had plenty of whiffs of 2006 only a couple weeks into the season. Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore have filled in admirably. Johnny Damon, though off to a slow start, seems a great fit in the clubhouse. Even Dontrelle Willis has had a decent outing.
Behind that 6-2 start, though, are a handful of wins by the skin of our teeth. Our ace has not ticked off one in the win column and halfway into a brutal 11-game stretch of West Coast foes, the Tigers sit at an unimpressive 7-7.
Jeremy Bonderman’s start tonight in Anaheim will help us determine just what kind of club we are looking at — the one that struggles to maybe sorta kinda get into the playoffs or the championship-caliber squad that charges forward and keeps stride with its hot division rivals straight through to October.
Bondo’s return to decency on the diamond is another big signal all the pieces are falling into place. He’s a much bigger question mark than Verlander, but just as important to making every part of this team click into place.
Breaking even in Cali and storming through Texas, where the team has had great success in recent years, will help restore a little faith in the faithful. And show the rest of the AL Central we are a better-than-third-place finisher.
Old favorites showing up to play, new guys pulling their own and smart additions of personalities like Jose Valverde have all the ingredients of a great year ahead.
We’ve had lots of excitement these first couple weeks. Which players and moments so far do you think point to a successful Tigers season ahead?
About the Author
Written by Shane Liebler
Detroit native, Syracuse enthusiast, St. Bonaventure graduate, former reporter, higher editor @ SUNY Oswego.