This year did not go as planned for the Detroit Tigers. Jordan Zimmermann and others missed significant time with injuries. Anibal Sanchez and Justin Upton did not perform up to expectations. The team did not win the World Series, and owner Mike Ilitch is still searching for his coveted World Series title.
There were many bright spots, though. Justin Verlander nearly won his second career Cy Young. Michael Fulmer emerged as a dominant starter and won the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Other stars like Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler continued to wow us on a near-nightly basis.
The Tigers have given us a lot to be thankful for, both in 2016 and over a number of years. That gratitude may only last until the Lions defense gives up another long touchdown this afternoon, but it’s important to remember that life as a Tigers fan is still pretty great.
This week’s question: Why are you thankful to be a Tigers fan?
Jeff: I’m thankful to be a Tigers fan because of the memories and stories I have with my grandpa and dad. My grandpa would tell me how he used to see Babe Ruth play when he was a little boy and my dad told me how great of a player Al Kaline was when he was growing up. Someday, I’ll be telling my future kids how great Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander are. I became a fan in the early 2000s when the Tigers were garbage, but that didn’t matter because of the good memories I have watching games with my grandpa and dad. The fact that the Tigers have been competitive over the last decade or so has been icing on the cake. I’m also thankful that I’m able to combine my writing talent with the Tigers and communicate my thoughts and analysis on the Tigers over the internet on places like Bless You Boys (and people are actually interested in reading them).
Kyle: I am thankful to be a Tigers fan because there is never a boring day. Over the course of my short lifetime we have seen a team go from complete disaster to legitimate contender and could be witnessing another change in the cycle again. Fans may not realize how fortunate we are to experience the excitement of huge trades, even though they are sometimes painful. The Tigers have a front office that is willing to make moves and keep things constantly going. Even watching a game on a weekday night is a treat with these team, full of studs, scrubs, and whatever you want to call the late innings with a lead. We are extremely lucky to be Tigers fans and the journey is unlike anything else.
Cameron: I'm thankful to be a Tigers fan because throughout my adolescence and into my 20s, I've been able to witness some incredible individual seasons and performances. Though they haven't won a World Series in my lifetime, watching the magic of 2006 reinforced my love for baseball. Ten years later, the greatness of Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander is still awe-inspiring. While there hasn't been a single moment as incredible as Magglio Ordonez's walk-off homer in the ALCS, Cabrera and Verlander have collectively picked up the slack in the "incredible moments" department. Many teams don't have a single player that can make your jaw drop. The Tigers have two. There are many players I've loved in my lifetime: Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, and, of course, Don Kelly, just to name a few. But no two players on the Tigers have been so consistently incredible. As I've grown up an become more cynical, sometimes it's easy to forget what it's like to be a kid without any cares. Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander both have the ability to do somethings so amazing that I feel like a kid again.
Ashley: For me, the Tigers are more than just a group of players. Baseball is probably the closest thing I have to a religion in my life, in that a baseball diamond is the one place on earth I'm totally calm, relaxed, and happy. When I found the Tigers — not an easy feat, given that I live in the middle of the Canadian prairie — something just clicked. I fell in love with the game, with the players of that season, with the ritual and the nicknames and the rules. I never expected to love baseball so much, and I certainly never expected to love a team from Detroit. Since then players have come and gone, and huge trades have happened. I've followed the team across the country, seeing them play in several different states. I've made my way to Detroit for Game 4 of the World Series and froze my ass off with 40,000 other disappointed people.
Being a Tigers fan means being a part of something bigger than myself. I can celebrate the wins and losses of a team, I can share my passion with total strangers (sorry, random guy in New Orleans, but you know you wanted to high five me). Beyond that, one day I can tell my kids I saw Miguel Cabrera clinch the Triple Crown in Kansas City. Or that I saw Max Scherzer pitch in his first Cy Young season. I will cry every time I see the Magglio Ordonez home run, and just as much every time I see Armando Galarraga's perfect game squandered. The Tigers have given me a family, comprised of people I may never have met otherwise. They've given me a passion that extends well beyond the summer months. Without the Tigers, I don't know that I'd love baseball the way I do today. Loving baseball has become so much a part of who I am it's hard to imagine my life without it. That love existed before some of these players were on the team and it will still exist no matter what trades are made.
Jacob: I love the Tigers. When I say that I love something, that is actually quite significant. There is very little in my life that I love. I don't have a ton of friends. My life is pretty drab. There is absolutely nothing that makes me happier than baseball. It is as simple as that. Baseball makes me happy. Analysis makes me happy, scouting makes me happy, #roomers make me happy. The interactions I get to have with the quality commenters and staff on this site make me happy. Most of all, the game itself makes me happy. The only moment of pure euphoria that I ever experienced was the moment that the Tigers won the 2012 ALCS. That is why I love baseball. That is why I love the Tigers.
frisbeepilot: I'm thankful to be a Tigers fan because it connects me to a history that goes back over 100 years. The foundation of Major League Baseball has always included the Olde English D, always on real grass, under (mostly) blue skies. And, Detroit is... well, it's a complicated place, but a proud place, and coming back in a variety of ways. I feel like sports can help play a vital role in that comeback, getting people into the city and showing them that, maybe, there's some pretty cool other stuff going on there too that's worth paying attention to.
Eye of the Tigers: I'm thankful to be a Tigers fan for many reasons. First, the Tigers are a welcome diversion to whatever annoying or frustrating things might be going on in my life. Second, if I weren't a Tigers fan, I would never have gotten to know all of the wonderful people here (both staff and commenters) and I am so grateful for that. Third, my writing has improved dramatically since I became staff, and that helps me with school. My confidence has improved dramatically as well, and that helps in every aspect of my life. As far as the Tigers themselves go, I am thankful that I have gotten to grow up watching Justin Verlander. I don't remember a Tigers team without him. Even in his seasons that weren't incredible, he was still ours. And he always will be, regardless of whether he gets traded or not.
John: My Tigers fandom started with my grandmother, and listening to Ernie Harwell call the games on the radio when I stayed with her on summer weekends as a child. It continued through my early childhood where it acted as an anchor for a kid who lost his father at the age of six and found himself the only boy in a house with his mother and two sisters. It allowed me to amass a collection of Frank Tanana cards that meant nothing to anyone other than myself. It kept me interested in a sport I would spend my summer days anxiously waiting to play, and my summer evenings earnestly pursuing. As I grew older it was an opportunity to sit on my front porch, alone with the Free Press every day checking the box scores to see how many home runs Cecil Fielder hit the previous night. It gave me a young favorite third baseman by the name of Travis Fryman to follow. It was something I drifted away from for a few years in the late 90s when other things became more important. It was a welcome return a few years later in the early 2000s when I watched the likes of Nate Cornejo and Mike Maroth pitch in a terrible rotation, but didn’t care because a day at the ballpark watching mediocre baseball was still better than just about anything else I could think of doing.
It was a glimmer of hope when Pudge came to Detroit. In 2006, it was a bonding experience I shared with a girl who is now my wife while we watched what had become “our” favorite team make an improbable run to the World Series. In more recent years, it has become an experience I share with my two-year-old daughter who, much to my delight, is fascinated with the game of baseball. The Tigers have been a part of the fabric of my life for more years than they haven’t. Being a Tigers fan, and a baseball fan in general, has afforded me the opportunity to enter into conversations with strangers I would otherwise never have any reason to talk to, or any common interests to discuss. I’ve watched Magglio Ordonez hit home runs that have filled me with joy and I’ve watched David Ortiz hit a home run that crushed my soul. I’m sure I would have survived just fine if the Tigers had never entered my life, but I’m not so certain I’d want to know exactly what that life would look like. For all of these things, I'm thankful.
Les: I'm thankful for Mario and Rod, with whom I've shared so many games that they feel more like friends than broadcasters. I'm just as thankful for Dan and Jim, for making the radio broadcasts essential in an age where television is everything. Likewise, it wouldn't be the same without the BYB community and gamethreads, with whom I can exult every Miggy-go-BOOM and commiserate each TOOTBLAN to equal depths. And it's easy to love the BYB community when it's backed by the tremendous writers, editors, and community moderators we're lucky to have here, who give their time for no other reason than to give Tigers fans a place to call home, wherever they might be.
Peter: I'm thankful for Tigers fans. I'm thankful that, win or lose, there are fans that care about and are passionate about this team. It’s one thing to have a good or bad team and to stew or celebrate it yourself. But if there's no one to share it with, it’s hard get into it and it doesn't mean as much. No matter who is playing, no matter what the outcome, I'm thankful that there are millions of crazy people just like me that can relate and talk with me about it.
Patrick: I am thankful that we have the opportunity to watch two of the best players in the game, in Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. I am happy that we've had contending teams for most of the past 10 years, even if we haven’t won the big one. And I'm thankful that our team doesn't wear teal uniforms.