On Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced the retirement of four veteran umpires. Included in that group is Jim Joyce, a name Detroit Tigers fans will remember for eternity. Joyce’s blown call in the ninth inning cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game. The aftermath was quite positive, and Galarraga’s unique performance is arguably more famous because of it.
That said, it really, really sucked. Personally, it felt like a low point in my Tigers fandom. Playoff losses sting, and one or two of you will bristle at the simple mention of the words “Game 163.” But Galarraga’s 28-out perfect game was crushing in a way few other sports moments can be. The typical shift from euphoria to confusion, then sadness and anger was condensed into just a few minutes.
Joyce’s retirement reminded me of that moment, so I thought we could all share in my repeated misery.
This week’s question: What is your saddest moment as a Tigers fan?
Peter: For me, it was the 2013 ALCS. Not only did the Tigers get gut punched by David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning of Game 2, but there’s more for me. My Uncle Russ, a lifelong Red Sox fan, was in hospice right as the Red Sox won the World Series, and that year will forever be tied to his passing. Miss you, Russ.
Patrick: My saddest moment as a Tigers fan happened in Game 4 of the 2012 World Series. I flew back to Detroit in hopes of celebrating a big victory and watched the Tigers get swept by the San Francisco Giants in four games. The last game went 10 innings, and Phil Coke gave up a couple of hits and the game-winning base hit to right-handed hitters (why, Jimmy?). I went the previous day also, and saw Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey receive their MVP awards at home plate before the game. Cabrera also received a special Triple Crown award, which was really special. I froze my arse off watching baseball with actual snowflakes flying around in the air. Huge buzzkill.
frisbeepilot: This might seem a little petty, but my saddest Tigers-related memory is sort of a repeated one: the snubbing of Lou Whitaker and (especially) Alan Trammell at the Hall of Fame vote. I know the Hall's voters are old windbags who wouldn't know their keister from a hole in the ground, but that double-play combination was a pair of my heroes growing up. Every time I go through their stats, I feel like they really do belong there.
Ashley: For me, the saddest moment was Game 4 of the 2012 World Series. I bought myself an insanely overpriced ticket online and flew in from Manitoba. I was sick to the point of wanting to cry, I had pulled out my back on the way to the airport. I was in miserable shape. It was freezing out too, like down to your bones cold. I went into that game so full of hope, in spite of how sick I was, that they would pull through and win it. Slowly, my hope was chipped away as I started to understand the Tigers were about to be swept. I don't regret going, but that was absolutely the worst trip if my life, and ended with such crushing disappointment. Total heartbreak.
Kyle: The saddest moment for me as a Tigers fan was the loss in the 2013 ALCS. Game 2 will forever be haunting our memories, and the series as a whole was just extremely frustrating. After a rough 2011 ALCS and a pathetic 2012 World Series, the 2013 ALCS defeat left myself and many other fans wondering just how many more chances the Tigers would have at a ring. Considering that they have not won a playoff game since, I would say that our sadness following that series was right on point.
Brandon: I considered going with the childhood trauma of Jack Morris leaving for Minnesota, but as much as that stung, it's not the truth. It was the 2013 ALCS. I had no doubt all season that the Tigers were the best team in either league. After Anibal's wild performance in Game 1, I really let my guard down. I was sure they were going to take the series, and go to the World Series on a mission to redeem their 2012 appearance. Not to say I took it for granted, but I've never had more faith in a team than that one. Losing that one hurt a lot.
Ron: The 2014 postseason had to be the saddest memory for me as a Tigers fan since it was so unexpected. With a rotation that included the last three AL Cy Young winners in Justin Verlander, David Price and Max Scherzer, along with Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez, combined to form what on paper was one of the best rotations in baseball in decades. The bullpen contributed a great deal to the Tigers losing the series. However the offense shouldn’t get a pass either, since two of the three games were lost by a single run. Watching the most stacked Tigers team I have seen go up against Baltimore and get swept was absolutely crushing.
However. 2014 was a good lesson. It reminded me how much the postseason is based upon chance and circumstance. We are also learning of the fallout from building a team like we did in 2014, with all the large contracts and trades. It has really cost the Tigers in these last two seasons, with a lack of depth and financial limitations. If watching the Tigers and even teams like the Dodgers has taught me anything it’s that you cannot buy a championship.
Jacob: My saddest memory as a Tigers fan came at the trade deadline in 2015. While I understand that the trades that went down all ended up distinctly in the Tigers’ favor, I loved the players that were sent away and was too casual a fan to realize how strategic a move it was to sell. David Price was one of my favorite players — in fact, as I type this, I'm wearing my Price shirsey — and I am in love with Yoenis Cespedes' arm. More than that, though, I was very bummed at the realization that the Tigers were bad. That is a feeling that I had never experienced before [Ed.: Must be nice.], and it's one I hope to not experience again for a long, long time.