By Emily Waldon
Welcome to Detroit, Michigan, not only famous for automobiles, but also for its reputation as the mecca of soul, thanks to the likes of Gladys Knight. Take a stroll down East Montcalm Street and you will find it impossible to ignore the passion for the game of baseball that is embodied by the locals. These are residents who have been clinging to the hope of bringing celebration back to a hurting city.
Step back to 2003, where the names of Craig Monroe and Eric Munson rang through the tunnels of thee-year-old Comerica Park.
Another opportunity had come for Tigers loyalists to cross their fingers and say, “This could be our year.” With the legendary Alan Trammel at the helm, the season would unfortunately carry on a developed tradition all too familiar, as the disheveled organization reached the end of a dismal campaign of 43-119, a variable landslide from 1984, which not only produced 104 wins, but also brought a World Series title to the city.
Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski did his best to appease an exhausted group of fans.
“We’re trying to build an organization here that will be successful, and it’s a painful process”, he stated.
The oncoming journey would prove to be just that.
Move ahead to October 14, 2006. Game four of the American League Championship Series was underway and a wildcard roster had left the doubting onlookers speechless as they stood tied with the Oakland A’s going into the bottom of the 9th inning. With a swing heard round the world, Magglio Ordonez sent an electric shock through Tigers fans everywhere, as the second pitch he faced sailed out over the left field wall. There was suddenly hope again. For the first time in 22 years, the ragtag boys from Motown were headed back to the World Series.
The years following produced a second trip in 2012, but the elusive title has managed to stay just short of their grasp. The ending of Jim Leyland’s tenure as manager in Detroit at close of the 2013 season once again forced Dombrowski and his support staff back to the table to reprioritize.
Under the watchful eye of new manager, Brad Ausmus, the additions this season have proven encouraging. We have watched second baseman Ian Kinsler solidify his role as a weapon, as well as an obvious boost to moral contributed by the return of a healthy Victor Martinez holding down the role of Designated Hitter.
This year’s roster has produced a refreshing boost in run support for a pitching staff that boasts two Cy Young award winners including the infamous set of blue and brown eyes of Max Scherzer, banking on repeating his impressive 21 wins from last season. Even Justin Verlander has expanded his resume by producing the first two hits of his career.
While remaining vigilant of “The Southsiders” of The Windy City, an improved performance combined with fresh new faces is giving the fiercely devoted residents of Tigertown a chance to dream again.
Emily Waldon was raised in Howard City and currently resides in Wyoming, Mich. A lifelong sports enthusiast, she also enjoys photography, traveling and bringing a fresh outlook to the world of athletics, both collegiate and professional. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.