When Dontrelle Willis came to Detroit, it seemed like a great fit. A former ace would be filling out the back end of a fantastic rotation and, along with Miggy, the Tiger pride would cruise to postseason success.
D-Train’s flare for the dramatic would make him an instant fan favorite in Detroit, where we historically value unusual mound theatrics.
Dontrelle came with some bumps and bruises, but Tiger fans had confidence in his resurgence and the season. Willis just didn’t have confidence in himself.
The promise of 2008 quickly disappeared with D-Train’s patented leg kick and electric smile. He went down in his first start and never truly resurfaced — it was symbolic of that season.
We wanted it to work. The players wanted it to work. Dontrelle wanted it to work.
There were the glimmers of his former greatness in between rehabs, but always the threat of a letdown.
In one of his last starts May 21 against the Dodgers, Willis dominated the first 12 batters he faced and allowed only one hit. The next 13 feasted on his inconsitencies, grabbing four runs on six hits, three walks and an HBP.
At that point, my hopes for D-Train were dashed and I pondered his fate.
I don’t know who the hell Billy Buckner is, but I do feel like a great weight has been lifted from the organization. The real value is in the relief.
No more fiddling with the rotation. No more injuries. No more anxiety disorder — for Dontrelle or the fans.
It’s over and we just got stronger.
I wish the Dontrelle the best in his endless recovery, of course. Just glad we don’t have to keep waiting on the D-Train.
About the Author
Written by Shane Liebler
Detroit native, Syracuse enthusiast, St. Bonaventure graduate, former reporter, higher editor @ SUNY Oswego.