This is the golden era of Detroit Tiger baseball

The Tigers celebrate winning the 2012 American League pennant.

The Detroit Tigers celebrate winning the 2012 American League pennant.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, … ”

So begins one of the greatest pieces of literature ever penned – A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. Perhaps it’s fitting that Ol’ Charlie wrote that masterpiece in 1859, just about the time that “base ball” players were beginning to get paid to play the game. I think that famous opening line is pertinent to the environment of our Detroit Tigers. Win or lose, best of times, worst of times, the air around this franchise is sweet and breathable, it envelopes Tiger Nation, it’s created a fever that this city and state never want to be cured of.

Tiger fans are watching ballgames at record levels (in the city the ratings outdraw every other program frequently). Sellout crowds are filing into Comerica Park, merchandise is being gobbled up, and Tiger talk dominates the water cooler and social media. It’s the best of times for Tiger fans.

It truly is the Golden Era of Tiger Baseball. But even when the team stumbles a bit, there are critics lurking, and unlike any other time in the history of our Tigs, the debate is more passionate than ever. People are talking about this team, fans are immersed in the Detroit Baseball Club. Rabid fans are more rabid than ever (just do a search for fan blogs), casual fans are less casual than any other time – your Mom knows that Phil Coke is a bum, your buddy who barely pays attention to sports can tell you that Miguel Cabrera is a very dangerous man at the plate. The seriousness at which fans take the Tigers is at an all-time high.

That’s one of the reasons that there’s never been a better time to be a Tiger fan, never been a period like this. The gigantic characters and superstars on this club are another reason.

There’s Cabrera of course, the man-child with incredible physical talents. This guy has a REAL CHANCE to win a second straight triple crown. Just read that sentence again and let it sink in. It’s historic and quite honestly, I have seen a lot of baseball, but I never would have believed it if I wasn’t seeing it with my own eyes.

Then we have the five-headed, ten-armed starting rotation, the best the Bengals have ever had: an MVP who also won a Cy Young Award and has thrown two no-hitters; a man with two different colored eyes who throws as wicked a dipping fastball as we’ve seen in Motown, and is 19-1 and on his way to a Cy Young of his own; the hard-throwing righty who has fanned 17 batters in a game and tossed a no-hitter earlier in his career and has a chance to lead the league in ERA; the tall gunslinger who set a record by striking out 10 straight batters last season and who usually gets forgotten even though he’s been clutch in the postseason; and the #5 starter who would be much more appreciated on a less star-studded staff, but who at 24 years of age is still a few years from his prime.

Austin Jackson would be a megastar on most other teams, but he gets swallowed up here in the shadow of Cabrera and the aces, as well as the gregarious All-Star veteran Torii Hunter, who has a smile this city hasn’t seen since the impish point guard Isiah. Prince Fielder has returned to Detroit, where he first turned heads as a pudgy pre-teen who could hit the ball into the outfield at Tiger Stadium. DH Victor Martinez is a shadowy figure who doesn’t get the pub he deserves, especially for a guy with a .300 career batting average.

Mix in the curmudgeon in the manager’s chair, the wizard general manager, and the owner who acts Steinbrennian with his dough but with a kind heart, and you have a club that’s hard to ignore. They’re on their way to a third straight postseason, something that hasn’t happened since before the steel was forged for the Titanic. 

Why is this team more loved and important than other teams in franchise history? What about the 1934-35 Tigs, or the ’68 and ’84 champions, you say?

Of course those teams will never be forgotten, but it’s the nature of sports today that makes the current team more followed, more debated, more exciting. Good or bad, best of times, worst of times, the Tigs are watched, tweeted about, and cheered or jeered. In ’35, ’45, ’68, and ’84, our boys were loved and lauded, but this current bunch is thrilling fans year after year after year. Starting in 2006, when Jim Leyland guided the team to the World Series in his first season in the Detroit dugout, the team has supplied drama annually. Whether it’s been no-nos, postseason heroics, near perfect games, individual accolades, love/hate relationships (Inge and Papa Grande, etc.), or greatness like Miggy and JV, this team is better than a Hollywood script.

Sure, the Tigers haven’t won the whole shooting match yet. Twice they’ve been spanked in the Fall Classic, but in today’s game with multi-layers of playoffs, it’s often a matter of who’s playing the best at the time, not which team is the best overall. That doesn’t absolve the Leyland/JV/Miggy Era Tigers from their failure to win a Series, but this run isn’t over yet. Years from now, even if this incarnation of the team doesn’t win a Series, you’ll still be telling your grandkids about Cabrera, Verlander, Mad Max, and the rest.

The Golden Era of Tiger Baseball is here, make sure you pause to enjoy it.

17 replies on “This is the golden era of Detroit Tiger baseball

  • Wendy

    I’ve been a Detroit Tigers fan all my life and remember coming home from Elementary school to watch the Tigers win the World Series in 1968. Now watching the Tigers as an adult, I’m just as thrilled with this team as I was in 1968, probably more so. I can’t wait to see this season play out. I’m hoping for the ultimate win, the World Series.

  • Sheldon Stone

    I do think this team will eventually win a World Series, but if they don’t, it will be interesting to see how they ‘re remembered.

  • Al

    Since 2006 with the arrival of Leyland, this is a golden era of Tiger baseball. Two World Series in six years is pretty special. Of course, we were spoiled when they won World Series when getting there in ’68 and ’84, but this run has included plenty of playoff ball. Now they just have to win it all.

  • Scott Anderson

    Great editorial, I agree about the popularity, I know I make a point of getting out to watch games, not an easy thing when you live in football crazy Green Bay! Even die-hard Brewers fans are joining me in watching the Tiger, I do however, agree with Otto that they need a series title to be remembered as a ‘golden age’ team.

  • Gary Steinke

    This has been a winning team 7 of the last 8 seasons, and if that’s not GOLDEN, then I don’t know what is. Dan, this just might be the best piece I’ve read from you. Keep it up. I work afternoons and catch all the weekday games (been doing it since 06)the Tigers play. This year I have to leave a half hour sooner then I would in past seasons, just to get a parking spot. When you bring in 38,000 plus to a weekday afternoon game that says something about your team and your fans. I agree with you that the Tigers don’t have to win the WS (it’ll be great if they do, I mean WHEN they do) for this to be a “golden era” in Tiger baseball. I’ve been going to games since 1967, and this has been the best era in Tiger baseball in my lifetime. If you don’t love what this Tiger team is doing, and has been doing, then you’re not a Tiger fan. GO TIGERS!!!

  • Cliff Parker

    This is one of the most excellent articles that I have read from you Dan. This is the true age of the Golden Era of the Detroit Tigers; however, I have faith that this is the year that the Detroit Tigers will win the 2013 World Series, because that 12 game win streak that the Tigers had along with the output they have been getting from their power players on the rouster, the Detroit Tigers are going to have the best record in the American League and get to the 2013 World Series. Also, the great classic years of Detroit Tigers baseball last seen the Tigers surge in 1934 when they played that World Series; unfortunately they lost that contest, but the Detroit Tigers came roaring back the next year and won in all in 1935. The current Detroit Tigers now have that exact same momentum as the Detroit Tigers did in 1934 and 1935, because the Detroit Tigers went to the 2012 World Series and learned from the end result of that series and now they are poised to go back to the 2013 World Series and win it all just like the 1935 Detroit Tigers did; just check all of the team’s stats on because of the fact that the Detroit Tigers are leading in the best categories for stats in the MLB. Sure the Tigers will have some losses this year, but I have faith that the Tigers will have a lot more wins to make up for those losses and learn from their mistakes and get that 2013 World Series Trophy brought back to the CoPa where it belongs. GO TIGERS!!!!! ONCE AGAIN DAN IS THE MAN; KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK AS ALLWAYS!!!!!!!

  • Dan Holmes

    Scott – thanks very much, and I agree that a ring is all their missing.

    Gary – I appreciate you being such a loyal reader.

    Cliff – I’d love to be able to go back to the 1930s and see the “G-Men” era.

  • Daryl

    The thing that really stands out for me is how with this team it doesn’t have too be Miggy,Prince,Torii,or VMart every night. The production they’re seeing out of 7-9 on a nightly basis along with their ability too score runs with 2 outs are what have me BELIEVING that this is the yr.

  • J.D.

    Another enjoyable article, Dan. This group of Tigers could indeed set a franchise “record” for remaining competitive over the longest period of time. For me though, nothing will ever top the 68 team for winning the first world series in my lifetime. Also it is my understanding that 12 year old Prince Fielder actually hit a ball in the right field upper deck at Tiger Stadium.

  • Rick

    Good job Dan but i believe your to easy on Leyland. I believe he is the single biggest reason for the Tiger’s failures. His constant over managing and abrasive style has wore might thin. Did any of you see how dis respectful he was to Shannon Hogan from Fox sports after a recent game? He’s an ass and feels he doesn’t have to answer to anyone or to any question he doesn’t want to. Perhaps when he blows it AGAIN this year Mr. Illitch will finally pull the plug n his mediocre ru as manager. Too have the talent, pitching and line-ups he;s been blessed with and not win even one title is amazing! Please don’t tell me about breaks or bad luck good manger’s like player’s find ways to over come that! As always I enjoy reading your pieces Dan continued success! Your a pro’s pro!

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