Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My 30 Years Watching the Detroit Tigers


As I have mentioned previously, the 2014 season will be my 30th as a Tigers fan. That makes me feel incredibly old typing that. GET OFF MY LAWN.

/starts to finally understand Jerry Green’s babbling

Anyway, before we move forward with what’s ahead this season, I want to reflect on the previous 29 years of Tigers baseball. So do me a favor and join me on this walk down memory lane. There were laughs, tears, anger, elation, and LOTS of beers consumed. I may have cursed once or twice along the way.

As the old saying goes, you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. Holy crap, I’m using old sayings. I’m gonna get Alzheimer’s soon, aren’t I?

If I may be further overly dramatic for a second, as a Tigers fan I feel like I’ve been to hell and back following this stupid team. I’m sure many of you have, too.

This is my journey up to this point.

1985 Tigers

84-77 (finished 3rd of 7 teams in AL East)

Best Hitter: Kirk Gibson, .287/.364/.518, 29 HR, 97 RBI, 140 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Jack Morris, 16-11, 3.33 ERA, 13 CG, 4 SHO, 122 ERA+
Favorite Player: Gibson. My first baseball hero.

Least Favorite Player: Aurelio Lopez. Young Rogo repeatedly was told how great Lopez was in ’84 by the announcers. Meanwhile, in ’85, he got shelled. Young Rogo was confused and annoyed. Little has changed in 30 years.

Forgotten Tiger Legend: Scotti Madison, utility player, who went 0 for 11 in 6 games.

Season Notes: Yes, I missed the magic season by one year. But in ’85, 8 year old me was introduced to the Tigers by my grandmother and I fell in love with them. I thought Kirk Gibson was the coolest person alive. 38 year old Darrell Evans hit 40 home runs to lead the AL, becoming the oldest player in history to do so. And I had a new interest in life other than my He-Man action figures.

1986 Tigers

87-75 (finished 3rd of 7 teams in AL East)

Best Hitter: Gibson, .268/.371/.492, 28 HR, 86 RBI, 133 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Morris, 21-8, 3.27 ERA, 15 CG, 6 SHO, 127 ERA+

Favorite Player: Gibson

Least Favorite Player: Dave LaPoint. Awful in 67+ innings pitched. Angry Young Rogo would yell at Sparky on the TV whenever he was put into a game.

Forgotten Tiger Legend: Madison again. This time, he went 0 for 7 in 2 games. No wonder I have zero memory of the guy.

Season Notes: This was my first season of Little League and I volunteered to play catcher since no one else wanted to. So while Gibby was my hero, I studied Lance Parrish’s every move and tried to be like him. In ’86, the entire Tigers infield (Parrish, Evans, Whitaker, Trammell, Coles) each hit at least 20 home runs.

1987 Tigers

98-64 (finished 1st of 7 teams in AL East)

**Lost ALCS 4-1 to Twins**

Best Hitter: Alan Trammell, .343/.402/.551, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 155 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Doyle Alexander, 9-0, 1.53 ERA, 3 CG, 3 SHO, 279 ERA+
Favorite Player: Trammell. 10 year old Rogo dumps Gibson for Trammell. Sorry, Kirk. It wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t you…it was me. And Tram being effing fantastic.

Least Favorite Player: Scott Lusader. At my first ever Mud Hens game, my father asked me which guy on the field I thought would be a star one day. I picked Travis Fryman. He picked Lusader. So I rooted against Lusader because I was petty even back then.

Forgotten Tiger Legend: Morris Madden, relief pitcher, with a 16.20 ERA in 2 appearances.

Season Notes: This was the season that hooked me for life. A fun game to watch and play became an obsession. I’ll never forget the last week of the season fighting the Blue Jays for the pennant while the Tiger Stadium crowd chanted “MVP, MVP!” for Tram in every plate appearance. Gives me chills to this day. You NEVER forget your first time, so to speak. Anyway, they’d go on to blow it against the Twins in the ALCS and Tram got jobbed in the MVP voting to George Bell. But as I said, I was now hooked.

1988 Tigers

88-74 (finished 2nd of 7 teams in AL East)

Best Hitter: Trammell, .311/.373/.464, 15 HR, 69 RBI, 138 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Mike Henneman, 9-6, 1.87 ERA, 22 SV, 91.1 IP, 205 ERA+

Favorite Player: Trammell

Least Favorite Player: Paul Gibson. Ugh, I hated that dude.

Forgotten Tiger Legend: Billy Beane, outfielder, who went 1 for 6 in 6 games. He would do slightly better for himself later on when he morphed into Brad Pitt and became the A’s General Manager. Also on the ’88 team? Another guy named Bill Bean. He sucked, too.

Season Notes: Detroit won 88 games despite having only the #5 starter Jeff Robinson with an ERA+ over 97 and Trammell leading the team in RBI with only 69. Yet the Tigers lost the division by ONE GAME to the Red Sox. So disappointing to a youngster…but it was about to get worse.

1989 Tigers

59-103 (finished 7th of 7 teams in AL East)

Best Hitter: Lou Whitaker, .251/.361/.462, 28 HR, 85 RBI, 133 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Frank Tanana, 10-14, 3.58 ERA, 6 CG, 1 SHO, 108 ERA+

Favorite Player: Trammell

Least Favorite Player: Paul Gibson

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Utility player Jeff Datz went 2 for 10 in 7 games.

Season Notes: My first last place season as a fan. It was such an awful feeling. To be so good in ’87 to so bad in ’89 was unfathomable to Young Master Rogo. But that’s what happens when you count on Gary Ward to be your team’s cleanup hitter. Doyle Alexander lost 18 games just two years after being the big pitching hero down the stretch in the ’87 season.

1990 Tigers

79-83 (finished 3rd of 7 teams in AL East)

Best Hitter: Cecil Fielder, .277/.377/.592, 51 HR, 132 RBI, 167 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Henneman, 8-6, 3.05 ERA, 22 SV, 94.1 IP, 131 ERA+

Favorite Player: Trammell

Least Favorite Player: Still ugly-ass Paul Gibson, though he actually wasn't bad in '90.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Relief pitcher Matt Kinzer had a 16.20 ERA in 1 appearance.

Season Notes: This was the year of Cecil Fielder becoming the toast of Tigertown. He arrived from Japan to become the first Tiger to hit 50 homers since Hank Greenberg in 1938. This was a huge deal before everyone was on steroids and clowns like Brady Anderson were hitting 50. The team wasn’t very good, but Cecil made it one of the most memorable of my lifetime. I still have a newspaper saved somewhere from when he hit 50. That’s how big of a deal it seemed at the time.

1991 Tigers

84-78 (finished 2nd of 7 teams in AL East)

Best Hitter: Too close to call. Fielder, Whitaker, and Mickey Tettleton all had great years.

Best Pitcher: Bill Gullickson, 20-9, 3.90 ERA, 4 CG, 108 ERA+

Favorite Player: Trammell

Least Favorite Player: Paul Gibson was back to sucking again in '91. He was around FOREVER.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Relief pitcher Jeff Kaiser (Soze?) went 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in 10 games. And then POOF, he was gone.

Season Notes: Tettleton and the most AMAZING batting stance ever joined the Tigers this year. I would immediately copy it and get yelled at repeatedly by my baseball coach for it. That dick. This started the run in Detroit of huge power hitters and terrible pitching. The combo of Fielder/Tettleton/Deer/Incaviglia was fun to watch. But you can’t win without pitching. It’s a miracle Gullickson somehow won 20 with his 3.90 ERA, 10.2 H/9, and tiny 3.6 K/9.

1992 Tigers

75-87 (finished 6th of 7 teams in AL East)

Best Hitter: Another very close race. Whitaker, Tettleton, and Rob Deer all edge out Fielder. Deer actually led the team in OPS+ that year at 145.

Best Pitcher: Jeff Kiely, 4-2, 2.13 ERA, 55 IP, 187 ERA+. Nine different pitchers started at least 11 games in '92. All sucked. Only Kiely and Mike Munoz were effective out of the bullpen.

Favorite Player: Trammell, though it was obvious the end was coming near.

Least Favorite Player: Scott Aldred. 6.78 ERA in 13 games started. Brutal to watch. I hated that his name was “Scott”.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Kiely. I have no memory of him, despite his great season. He would only appear in 8 MLB games after this season.

Season Notes: Such a bad pitching staff that the mashers couldn’t score enough to be competitive. Gullickson was the ace despite striking out only 64 batters in 221.1 innings. Cecil led the AL in RBI for the third straight season, the first player to do so since Babe Ruth. This is also notable as the season where Mike Ilitch bought the team. I can only assume that he wasn’t actually notified of this fact until 2004 or so.

1993 Tigers

86-77 (finished 3rd of 7 teams in AL East)

Best Hitter: Travis Fryman, .300/.379/.486, 22 HR, 97 RBI, 133 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Henneman, 5-3, 2.64 ERA, 24 SV, 71.2 IP, 164 ERA+

Favorite Player: Trammell

Least Favorite Player: Milt Cuyler. Kid was fast but couldn't hit for shit. The first Quintin Berry type that I remember.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Kiely. Went 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA to end his career.

Season Notes: False hope was what I remember of ‘93. The Tigers were in first place into late June. Tony Phillips and Tettleton played all over the diamond and were great. Whitaker, Trammell, and Gibson were approaching the end of the line, but still producing. Fielder and Fryman were very good. But again, the pitching was dogshit and the team finished 10 games out of first.

1994 Tigers

53-62 (finished 5th of 5 teams in AL Central)

**strike shortened season**

Best Hitter: Kirk Gibson (at age 37), .276/.358/.548, 23 HR, 72 RBI

Best Pitcher: David Wells, 5-7, 3.96 ERA, 5 CG, 1 SHO, 123 ERA+

Favorite Player: Trammell

Least Favorite Player: Chris Gomez. Tram was just about finished and Gomez was the guy that was being groomed to replace him with Fryman being moved to third. So I hated poor Chris for reasons that were not his fault. Still, fuck him. Trammell was God to me.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Something named Phil Stidham had a nice 24.92 ERA in 5 appearances.

Season Notes: This was the first year of the new AL Central, which had me thinking the team had a better chance at winning the division, since there were fewer teams. Not so much. The Tigers hitters struck out more than anyone else. And the Tigers pitchers struck out fewer than any other staff. It was depressing. The MLB strike was probably a good thing if you were watching Tigers baseball at the time.

1995 Tigers

60-84 (finished 4th of 5 teams in AL Central)

**strike shortened season**

Best Hitter: Whitaker, .293/.372/.518, 14HR, 44 RBI, 129 OPS+ (Sorry, Cecil.)

Best Pitcher: Wells, 10-3, 3.04 ERA, 3 CG, 159 ERA+

Favorite Player: Trammell

Least Favorite Player: Gomez

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Utility player Derrick White hit .188 in 48 plate appearances. I remember none of them.

Season Note: 24 year old Bobby Higginson arrived. I graduated high school. Nothing more to see here. Also, this was Sparky Anderson’s final season as the Tigers manager.

1996 Tigers

53-109 (finished 5th of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Bobby Higginson, .320/.404/.577, 26 HR, 81 RBI, 145 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Joey Eischen, 1-1, 3.24 ERA, 25 IP, 159 ERA+ (DREADFUL staff in ’96.)
Favorite Player: Higginson. Move over, Tram. A new hero is born.

Least Favorite Player: Felipe Lira. Worst “ace” ever.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Relief pitcher Jeff McCurry had a 24.30 ERA in 2 games. Nice effort.

Season Notes: How does a team with Trammell, Fielder, Fryman, Higginson, Tony Clark, Ruben Sierra, and Damion Easley in the lineup lose 109 games? Well, the pitching staff allowed 1,103 runs, the most in AL history. Only the 1930 Phillies allowed more in a season. Omar Olivares led the staff with 7 wins. Sadly, with this team is how the great Alan Trammell went out.

1997 Tigers

79-83 (finished 3rd of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Higginson, .299/.379/.520, 27 HR, 101 RBI, 133 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Justin Thompson, 15-11, 3.01 ERA, 4 CG, 152 ERA+

Favorite Player: Higginson

Least Favorite Player: Lira

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Catcher Marcus Jensen hit .182 in 8 games.

Season Notes: Six players for Detroit had at least 18 homers. So they were still fun to watch bat. But other than Thompson, the team was still a nightmare on the mound. By this point, I had little memory of what a good pitching staff was like to see in the D.

1998 Tigers

65-97 (finished 5th of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Tony Clark, .291/.358/.522, 34 HR, 103 RBI, 126 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Doug Brocail, 5-2, 2.73 ERA, 62.2 IP, 173 ERA+

Favorite Player: Higginson

Least Favorite Player: Frank Castillo…another putrid starter of the 90’s for Detroit. He had a 6.83 ERA in 116 innings pitched. Some of you keep asking me why I’m still so pissed about trading Fister for magic beans? Because I remember sacks of shit like Frank Castillo and appreciate good starting pitching.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Will Brunson didn’t allow a run in 3 relief innings.

Season Notes: I caught my first foul ball ever in ’98 off the bat of immortal Tigers catcher Paul Bako. That was it for excitement that season. In fact, on June 9th of 1998, the years of awful baseball finally came rushing out of me during a game against the Astros. In the 9th inning of a tied game, Todd Jones gave up a soul-crushing home run to Craig Biggio and drunken 21 year old Rogo went berzerk. I went all Randy Quaid from Major League 2 and unleashed a barrage of profanities that embarrass me thinking about it now. I actually climbed up onto the left field wall screaming like a psychopath before being pulled down by a friend that was nice enough to not want to see me arrested. So yeah, it was another rough year. Three of the five top starters for Detroit had ERAs over 5.00.

1999 Tigers

69-92 (finished 3rd of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Clark, .280/.361/.507, 31 HR, 99 RBI, 120 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Brocail, 4-4, 2.52 ERA, 82 IP, 194 ERA+ (Dougie B was quite underrated as the lone decent arm on these pitching staff abortions of the late 90’s.)

Favorite Player: Higginson

Least Favorite Player: Willie Blair. Dude was throwing batting practice out there. Blair gave up 29 HR in 134 innings and had a 6.85 ERA. It was torture.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: (Whatchoo Talkin’ Bout) Willis Roberts allowed 4 runs in 1.1 innings.

Season Notes: Another bad year, but this was the final season at legendary Tiger Stadium. In the last game, Detroit beat KC 8-2. Ernie Harwell gave the ballpark a fitting farewell with his parting words: "It's been 88 moving years at Michigan and Trumbull. The tradition built here shall endure along with the permanence of the Old English D. But tonight we must say goodbye. Farewell, old friend Tiger Stadium. We will remember."

2000 Tigers

79-83 (finished 3rd of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Higginson, .300/.377/.538, 30 HR, 102 RBI, 135 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Todd Jones, 2-4, 3.52 ERA, 42 SV, 64 IP, 134 ERA+

Favorite Player: Higginson

Least Favorite Player: Dave Mlicki…another awful starter that haunts my dreams.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Outfielder Rod Lindsey went 1 for 3 in 11 games off the bench. He would never play in MLB again.

Season Notes: The first season at Comerica Park was supposed to be a new beginning. The team pulled off the blockbuster trade for Rangers slugger Juan Gonzalez which didn’t end up turning out well. The Tigers won the first game in the new park over Seattle, 5-2. Brian Moehler was the winning pitcher, just as he was at the final game at Tiger Stadium. But despite Higginson having the finest season of his career and a pitching staff that on paper was improving, the team was still quite mediocre and finished 16 games out of first. Bobby became the 19th man in baseball history to hit .300, score over 100 runs, hit 30 homers, hit 44 doubles, have over 100 RBI, and steal 15 bases in one season.

2001 Tigers

66-96 (finished 4th of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Higginson/Clark pretty much tie.

Best Pitcher: Steve Sparks was the top starter, while Danny Patterson was the best reliever. One of them.

Favorite Player: Higginson

Least Favorite Player: Brandon Inge. “Surely this horrible catcher won’t be around long”, I thought. (Spoiler: I was wrong. So very, very wrong.)

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Heath Murray went 1-7 with a 6.54 ERA and somehow logged 63.1 innings. Thankfully, I have blocked him from my memory. I owe you one, alcohol.

Season Notes: Still shitty. This is why I still cling to my memories of Bobby Higginson. The years that he was a solid player were pretty much the only bright spot on the diamond for this franchise at that point. Without Higginson, I may have stopped watching baseball altogether and done something productive with my life. Phew…thanks, Bobby!

2002 Tigers

55-106 (finished 5th of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Tossup between Higginson and Randall Simon. Dark days, my friends.

Best Pitcher: Juan Acevedo, 1-5, 2.65 ERA, 28 SV, 74.2 IP, 161 ERA+

Favorite Player: Higginson

Least Favorite Player: Inge

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Relief pitchers Jason Beverlin, Terry Pearson, Kris Keller, Erik Sabel, and Jason Jimenez are all unfamiliar to me. All had ERAs north of 9.00.

Season Notes: From 2002-2004, I was drinking way too much. While writing this, I’m beginning to see part of the reason. A highlight of 2002 was the team setting a record with the White Sox on July 2 by combining for 12 home runs in the game, a MLB record. Oddly enough, 2 of the White Sox homers came off the bat of future Tiger legend Magglio Ordonez. Actually, there was one cooler thing that happened. Randy Smith’s reign of terror was finally ended after he was fired after the Tigers’ 0-6 start. One final fun note on 2002: Rookie Andy Van Hekken pitched a complete game shutout against the Indians for his first and only MLB win. He would never see the majors again after 2002, yet was still pitching in AAA as recently as 2011.

2003 Tigers

43-119 (finished 5th of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Dmitri Young, .297/.372/.537, 29 HR, 85 RBI, 144 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Jamie Walker, 4-3, 3.32 ERA, 3 SV, 65 IP, 130 ERA+

Favorite Player: Higginson

Least Favorite Player: (TIE) Inge and Eric Munson.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Brian Schmack went 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings.

Season Notes: The lowest point in my fandom as far as a season goes. (There’s a game coming up in a bit that actually managed to hurt more.) As you know, this squad lost more games than any AL team in history and was only one loss short of the all-time MLB record. Poor Mike Maroth became the first pitcher to lose 20 games since 1980. And Alan Trammell was brought on to manage this bunch that no manager in history would have been able to squeeze 50 wins out of. I wouldn’t wish this season on any fanbase. Well, except for Red Sox fans. Tell me that wouldn’t be fucking AMAZING.

2004 Tigers

72-90 (finished 4th of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Carlos Guillen or Ivan Rodriguez…flip a coin.

Best Pitcher: Walker, 3-4, 3.20 ERA, 1 SV, 64.2 IP, 140 ERA+

Favorite Player: Higginson

Least Favorite Player: (TIE) Inge and Munson

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Legendary Lino Urdaneta made his only ever Tiger appearance by allowing 6 runs on 5 hits without ever recording an out. He wouldn’t see MLB action again until 3 years later when he would pitch an inning for the Mets.

Season Notes: Pudge arrived and the turnaround began. We didn’t know how soon it would be, but there was finally some hope in Detroit. We needed it after the ’03 mess. The highlight of ’04 for me was going to TigerFest at Joe Louis Arena about a week before Rodriguez signed. The bandwagon hadn’t started yet so it wasn’t the packed mess that TigerFest is today. I got to chat with several players including a hilarious conversation with Jamie Walker that I’ll never forget and I met a nice, young minor leaguer named Don Kelly. DON’T TELL HIM WE ONCE MET. And when talking about ’04, I have to mention the complete game, 1-hit shutout that Mike Maroth pitched against the loaded New York Yankees. It remains one of my favorite games I’ve ever seen and no one deserved it more than Mike did after his nightmare 2003.

2005 Tigers

71-91 (finished 4th of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: An argument could be made for Guillen, Chris Shelton, Placido Polanco, or Rondell White. So I’ll say Magglio Ordonez because I’m a biased prick.

Best Pitcher: Fernando Rodney or Kyle Farnsworth. Both were excellent out of the pen.
Favorite Player: Pudge. Magglio wouldn’t win my fickle heart for another year…

Least Favorite Player: Inge

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Mark Woodyard pitched 6 innings out of the pen for the only MLB innings of his career.

Season Notes: The team hit well, but the pitching staff still appeared lost. Trammell was fired as manager after the season and replaced by Jim Leyland. Poor Tram…he never had a chance without any talent. Little did we all know that it would come together the following season in a way that no one expected…

2006 Tigers

95-67 (finished 2nd of 5 teams in AL Central

**Won Wild Card. Lost World Series 4-1 to Cardinals**

Best Hitter: Guillen, .320/.400/.519, 19 HR, 85 RBI, 136 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Joel Zumaya, 6-3, 1.94 ERA, 1 SV, 83.1 IP, 233 ERA+
Favorite Player: Ordonez

Least Favorite Player: Jason Grilli…that shithead.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Colby Lewis pitched 3 innings in relief before suddenly reappearing in 2010 as a pretty good starter in Texas.

Season Notes: Since this is when I’m assuming many of you reading this became Tigers fans, this should be familiar. The Tigers reached the World Series only three years after the 2003 nightmare. It came out of nowhere and was the most amazing experience I’ve had as a baseball fan. Everything worked for once. Even Nate Robertson and Brandon Inge were productive. And I was in the third row down the third base line when Magglio took Huston Street deep to send the team to the Series. It remains the most exciting moment of my life and something I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget the crying old man sitting near me saying how he never thought he’d live to see the Tigers in the World Series again. Such a shame that they didn’t pull it off. FIRE LEYLAND!

2007 Tigers

88-74 (finished 2nd of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Ordonez, .363/.434/.595, 28 HR, 139 RBI, 166 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Justin Verlander, 18-6, 3.66 ERA, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 125 ERA+ (honorable mention to Bobby Seay)

Favorite Player: Ordonez

Least Favorite Player: Grilli

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Frankie De La Cruz pitched in 6 games in relief. Who am I to doubt baseball-reference.com?

Season Notes: Magglio continued to hit his way into the hearts of Detroit with the most amazing non-Cabrera season I’ve ever seen. Only A-Rod’s monster (drug-fueled) season in Texas kept Ordonez from the MVP in ’07. Also, Justin Verlander threw the first no-hitter of his career and the first ever no-no at Comerica Park on June 12th. They were a good team , but it was quite the letdown after 2006’s magic. The Indians were a force in ’07 leading the AL in winning 96 games and taking the Central by 8 games over Detroit. FIRE LEYLAND!

2008 Tigers

74-88 (finished 5th of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Tossup between Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera.

Best Pitcher: Armando Galarraga, 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 119 ERA+

Favorite Player: Ordonez

Least Favorite Player: (TIE) Robertson and Inge

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Francis Beltran pitched in 11 games that I have no memory of.

Season Notes: Miguel Cabrera’s first year in Detroit did not go as planned for the team and fans. Justin Verlander was dreadful, much like the rest of the pitching staff. Edgar Renteria was a letdown. Jacque Jones was a bust. Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson were expensive dumpster fires. Everything went wrong in ’08. FIRE LEYLAND. 2008 upset me so much that I started a little blog called DesigNate Robertson to vent that I thought would last around a week. Who knew? But the heartbreak would be unbearable in ’09…

2009 Tigers

86-77 (finished 2nd of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Cabrera, .324/.396/.547, 34 HR, 103 RBI, 144 OPS+ (Hat tip to Ryan Raburn’s 130 OPS+ in 113 games, despite morons telling you he was always terrible in Detroit.)

Best Pitcher: Verlander, 19-9, 3.45 ERA, 3 CG, 1 SHO, 131 ERA+

Favorite Player: Ordonez

Least Favorite Player: (TIE) Robertson and Inge

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Not forgotten, but I wish I could forget Alfredo Figaro. Leyland started him in a key game the final week of the season and he predictably got bombed. No idea what the old man was thinking…

Season Notes: Game 163. FUCK YOU, MINNESOTA! This is the worst I’ve ever felt as a Tigers fan. Even more so than 2003. Such a heartbreaker. I almost killed an obnoxious Twins fan after the game in the bar I watched the game at. I hope he somehow got AIDS since that night. FIRE EVERYONE!

2010 Tigers

81-81 (finished 3rd of 5 teams in AL Central)

Best Hitter: Cabrera, .328/.420/.622, 38 HR, 126 RBI, 178 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Verlander, 18-9, 3.37 ERA, 4 CG, 124 ERA+

Favorite Player: Ordonez

Least Favorite Player: Inge, Will Rhymes, Brad Thomas, Don Kelly…take your pick.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Figaro was back for some reason and went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 8 games.

Season Notes: This was a .500 season that saw the death of the legendary icon, Ernie Harwell. It was also the year of Armando Galarraga’s “imperfect” game, a game umpire Jim Joyce has yet to live down. Verlander and Max Scherzer were solid, but the rest of the rotation consisting of Armando, Jeremy Bonderman, and Rick Porcello were all mostly shit. This is the last “down” year we’ve had to endure as Tigers fans.

2011 Tigers

95-67 (finished 1st of 5 teams in AL Central)

**Lost ALCS 4-2 to Rangers**

Best Hitter: Cabrera, .344/.448/.586, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 179 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Verlander, 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 4 CG, 2 SHO, 172 ERA+

Favorite Player: Ordonez, despite being hurt and about to retire.

Least Favorite Player: (TIE) Inge, Thomas, Rhymes, and Kelly

Forgotten Tiger Hero: Enrique Gonzalez pitched in 8 games with a 10.00 ERA. I forgot about him until just now. I hope I immediately forget about him again.

Season Notes: Finally, the team won their first AL Central title and their first division championship since 1987. Verlander became a legend in Detroit winning the MVP and Cy Young awards while also tossing his second career no-hitter. Don Kelly pitched on June 29th, possibly the only time I’ve been amused by Don Kelly being on the Tigers team (when not being set on fire). This is also the season that made me hate Nelson Cruz. If you don’t know why, you weren’t watching the 2011 Playoffs.

2012 Tigers

88-74 (finished 1st of 5 teams in AL Central)

**Lost World Series 4-0 to Giants**

Best Hitter: Cabrera, .330/.393/.606, 44 HR, 139 RBI, 164 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Verlander, 17-8, 2.64 ERA, 6 CG, 1 SHO, 161 ERA+
Favorite Player: Cabrera

Least Favorite Player: Kelly. Finally wins this award outright.

Forgotten Tiger Hero: MATT YOUNG! Oh my…he was short and terrible.

Season Notes: For the second time in my fandom, the Tigers made the World Series. And for the second time, I was in attendance at the ALCS clinch game. It was awesome, but not as amazing as 2006. And again, the team would lose to an inferior team in the Series. FIRE LEYLAND! Oh yeah, Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown and the MVP. No biggie.

2013 Tigers

93-69 (finished 1st of 5 teams in AL Central)

**Lost ALCS 4-2 to Red Sox**

Best Hitter: Cabrera, .348/.442/.636, 44 HR, 137 RBI, 187 OPS+

Best Pitcher: Max Scherzer, 21-3, 2.90 ERA, 145 ERA+ (Honorable mention to Anibal Sanchez.)

Favorite Player: Cabrera

Least Favorite Player: Kelly

Forgotten Tiger Hero: I wish I could forget the 7 games Brayan Villarreal pitched in. He walked 8, gave up 8 hits, and allowed 10 runs, all in 4.1 innings. He’s Boston’s problem now.

Season Notes: This is still fresh in our minds and still hurts. Holy hell, I hate Boston fans. Oh yeah…FIRE LEYLA…oh he retired? FIRE PRETTY BOY AUSMUS!

2014 Tigers

To Be Decided…

Well, there you have it. We now enter my 30th season of Tigers baseball. Of the 29 I’ve been a fan, the team has finished last 7 times, including the embarrassing nightmare that was 2003. They’ve had a losing record in 16/29 (55%) of them. Also, zero championships.

I’ve been patient, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s time. Win one for the Rogo.

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