Joining us for a debut post on BF&N, welcome Jed Oliver…
Finally, the Detroit Tigers have shedded some of those expensive contracts & begun to rebuild. They will be young and exciting, they will be a fun team to watch. Right?
This is what I have been trying to convince myself of since the last out the 2017 season, but as the new season approaches and spring training begins, my optimism is beginning to disappear. Don’t get me wrong, I have always known the 2018 Tigers we’re going to be a bad baseball team, terrible actually – but the harsh reality is finally setting in, there is nothing left – we are the Phillies without a ring.
We spent a decade at the top of the game & had rosters that most fan bases can only dream of assembling (sans the bullpens). We got to enjoy superstars in the peaks of their careers and every single season Tigers fans could approach the upcoming campaign with the expectation that they would be watching playoff baseball in October.
That’s gone now. The days of Justin Verlander looking like he could throw a no hitter in every start are gone. The days where 6/9 hitters in the lineup were good for 20+ HR a gone. The days of Mike Ilitch signing Prince Fielder to a monster contract just because Victor Martinez got injured are gone. The days of having one of the best rotations baseball has ever seen & getting swept out of the playoffs by fucking Delmon Young & the Orioles are gone now. And although they remain, the days of Miguel Cabrera & Victor Martinez making opposing pitcher look like little leaguers also look like they are coming to an end.
Of course, we have a few interesting players worth keeping an eye on in 2018. Will Micheal Fulmer continue to grow into one of the games best pitchers? Will Miguel Cabrera stay healthy & produce? What will a full season from Jeimer Candelario look like? And can Nick Castellanos play right field without looking like a beer league softball player?
Those storylines aside, I guess the biggest issue for me in 2018 is going to be; are we going to be bad enough? It’s a well documented fact that recent World Series winners like the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs acquired most of their cores through being terrible baseball teams & making the most of their top draft picks. The Tigers issue is that if everybody remains healthy and has a good year, with the poor division they are in, they could realistically finish around the .500 mark, missing both the playoffs and the highly coveted top picks.
The rotation of Fulmer, Zimmermann, Friers, Norris & Boyd could actually be half decent and hitters like Nick Castellanos, Miguel Cabrera & Victor Martinez are still dangerous in the batters box despite the lack of a supporting cast. However, if we are to ever return to the heights us Tigers fans have grown used to over the years, we are going to have to finish near the bottom of the pile in order to restock our pretty awful farm system, which even after trading away Verlander, Upton, Kinsler, Wilson, Avila & JD Martinez – is still rather pedestrian.
This leaves me in a difficult position going into the 2018 campaign – why exactly am I watching?
I’ve always watched the Detroit Tigers wanting them to win each and every ball game, but in 2018 and beyond, it’s in our best interest to lose them. Our top prospects are all too far away from the big leagues to make any real impact in 2018 & our lineup looks like Miggy & Castellanos have been sent down for a rehab assignment – don’t even get the started on the bullpen.
Am I really going to turn on my television and sit and root for the Tigers to lose? Am I going to sit there and cheer for them to win, knowing it’s probably directly hurting our future? I want young guys like Norris, Boyd, Candelario & Lugo to perform well, but every 79-85 season is another top draft pick missed out on, after all.
Some people reading this probably sat through the 119 loss season in 2003 and will be thinking I’m crazy for worrying about following a team that still contains Miguel Cabrera & Michael Fulmer – and of course there will still be some great moments this season. But for me, and I suppose a whole generation of younger Tiger fans, we have never had to follow a bad baseball team.
I’m not sure what to expect. Will I be turning off after 5/6 innings every night? Will I suddenly make rage videos in my car and spit on my windshield and then think I am famous after they get 80 views? Will I stop watching all together & bandwagon another team for the year?
Who knows. I think I’m secretly hoping we lose 120 & the next Mike Trout is waiting in next years draft and then we go on to win 20 straight AL Central titles as he cements himself as one of the games all time greats, but somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be that simple.