The Tigers are still in first place. They have the best hitter in baseball. Detroit also arguably has the best starting rotation in the game. They’ve won their division the last couple years and are the favorites to do so again this season. They’ve had two World Series appearances in the past decade. Etc.
I’ve sat through the down years of the late 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s. I’ve seen many of my favorite players get injured, get older, and retire. I rooted for them throughout the nightmare that was 2003. I survived Game 163 without murdering anyone. (Barely.) I didn’t kill any hookers when they melted down against Texas or Boston in recent ALCS matchups. Etc.
And in my thirtieth year as a fan, I’m finding myself not into Detroit Tigers baseball anymore. Well, at least not like I used to be. Not even close. And no, it’s not the recent skid by the team. I’m not THAT fan. I wasn’t enjoying baseball like I’m used to when they came out of the gate winning to start the season, either. No, it started before that.
I’ve been trying to figure out why over the past few weeks. And what I’ve come up with is a combination of many factors. Here are the big three.
1. The Doug Fister Trade
I hated it when it happened. I hated it when the Ministry of Propaganda tried justifying it. I hated it when Robbie Ray pitched well against Houston and Doug started the year hurt in Washington. And I still hate it now.
This feeling of “meh” toward Tigers baseball started with the trade, the best I can tell. The trade was so stupid, it borders on treason by Tigers management. Fister had become my favorite of the Tigers starters, for whatever reason. I’ve covered it all before and I’m sure you’re all sick of reading the many reasons the trade was dumb. But this was the starting point.
2. I don’t like the players.
Check that. I love Miguel Cabrera as much as a heterosexual 37 year old white guy can love a 30 year old Hispanic multi-millionaire athlete without it becoming TOO creepy. I also am quite fond of Victor Martinez. But other than those guys, I’ve seen myself become quite jaded with the rest of the club.
Justin Verlander is still a great pitcher. But he’s not JV anymore. And he’s become a prick in real life, from what I’ve heard from several people. He’s a couple years away from becoming Billy Chapel.
I used to love Max Scherzer, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that he’s going to be a Yankee, Dodger, Angel, Red Sox, or Cardinal in 2015. I just can’t get invested in him anymore.
Austin Jackson, Rick Porcello, and Alex Avila will never be as good as I’ve thought they can be. This is my own fault for high expectations, but it’s just how it is. Austin is regressing on both offense and defense. Porcello still makes stupid mistakes. And I’m convinced that Leyland ran Avila into the ground a couple years ago and he’ll never be the same.
Torii Hunter and Ian Kinsler can be dynamic guys to watch, but I fear I’m getting a concussion from all the facepalms watching them make mental error after mental error.
Don Kelly still sucks and he’s found yet another manager that overvalues him. I was excited about Brad Ausmus, but his repeated hitting of DK in the 5 and 6 holes have made my confidence in him drop like the panties of an 18 year old in Porcello’s hotel room.
Joe Nathan is an undercover Twin and I’ve hated him for a decade. Fister was traded (in part) to clear salary space to sign him. That just annoys me further. Meanwhile, Joaquin Benoit is kicking ass in San Diego. If he doesn’t make one bad pitch to David Ortiz, is he still a Tiger and Nathan (with his unmoving 92 mph heater) somewhere else?
The rest of the guys? Meh. Whatever. How can a team have one of the highest payrolls in the game and not have a bullpen, bench, shortstop, or left fielder worth a shit? Well, the 2014 Tigers are showing you how. The problems that were obvious before Spring Training began are even more obvious now.
And I’m convinced that Nick Castellanos has the IQ of a dead frog.
3. The internet has slowly drained my love of the game.
Everyone has a HOT TAKE. You can’t go on Twitter without what I call “hipster fans” telling everyone how they should think and that every popular opinion is wrong, no matter what it is. Bill Simonson continues to be employed. Stat nerds and traditional fans are constantly at each others’ throats. And so on. It’s fucking depressing.
Am I the only one? Are there others out there finding themselves as jaded with the product as me? Do I have mono? I’m becoming an old white guy…isn’t my love of the game supposed to GROW? I SAT THROUGH 2003, GODDAMMIT! WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?
Who knows. But it all started with the Fister trade. Odd that trading a team’s #4 starter could make a fan of three decades begin to lose interest, no?
When I’m too apathetic about the team to even make fun of it anymore, something is wrong. I’ve already missed more games on TV this year than I did the past couple years combined. This is the latest I’ve gone into a season without attending a game in over a decade and I don’t even miss the ballpark. I hope this all changes soon. Life feels weird without obsessing over Tigers baseball.
As always, friends, thanks for reading and listening to me whine. We’ll see how this turns out in the end.