“DEE-TROIT SUCKS!!! DEE-TROIT SUCKS!!! DEE-TROIT SUCKS!!!””
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that meathead-ed refrain cascading across the various Chicago stadiums I’ve been to since moving here 18 years ago. But I’m sure that hatred was born well before that. Everybody outside of Michigan despised the infamous Bad Boy Pistons beating up on their beloved Michael Jordan in the late ’80s. And that hatred probably transferred to the Red Wings with their Russian 5 establishing a dynasty that carried through the late ’90s and well into the 2000s.
Or maybe that vitriol is just a ham-fisted reaction to the stacks of ‘ruin porn’ depicting the worst effects of the economic downturn that the media creepily seems to get off on to turn Detroit into a national punchline. Sure, the city has obviously seen better times, but my guess is that most of the tools shouting ‘DETROIT SUCKS’ have never been there and are simply ignoring the same blight that permeates every major city in America. It’s easy to laugh and point the finger at others in order to distract yourself from the issues in your own backyard.
Regardless of whatever slight you want to dish out, it’s okay. We’ve taken plenty of jabs before and we’re still standing. But I’ve found the jeers particularly stupid when applied to the Tigers. Their utter dominance of the AL Central for the better part of the past decade demands nothing but respect. Since 2006, Detroit is 121 games over .500, having won the last four division titles while compiling 25 playoff wins that have culminated in six series victories and two American League pennants.
On the other side of the debate, as I’m always happily reminded by my associate in Assholishness is, despite that record and the multiple MVPs and Cy Youngs that have filled the roster, they haven’t taken the final step and won the World Series. And their window of opportunity seems to be closing rapidly. Losing Max Scherzer to free agency coupled with injuries to aging stars with massive contracts like Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez have done little to help combat that notion.
Just as the city is beginning to pull itself out of a nightmarish crisis brought on by the auto industry’s betrayal and political corruption, the Tigers appear to be facing their own state of emergency and baseball pundits have quickly written them off, descending upon them like a pack of hyenas picking apart a corpse. But if there’s a parallel to be drawn between Detroit and its baseball team, it’s to never count either out.
Dave Dombrowski’s resumé has withstood the test of time. Adding Yoenis Cespedes (a.k.a. “the Cuban Centipede” — my new favorite nickname in baseball) for his big bat and highlight-reel throwing arm will strengthen an already elite middle of the lineup and shore up the outfield. And you’re making a big mistake by writing off Justin Verlander who is now fully healed from abdominal surgery that limited his effectiveness last season. Plus somehow everyone’s forgotten David Price and Anibal Sanchez round out a top of the rotation that rivals any in the game.
But go ahead and doubt Detroit… that’s just the way we like it.