During the near record-breaking 2003 Tigers season, I was fascinated how a team with such tradition and history could simply be so bad (any questions I was left with were answered by the 0-16 Lions).
I wondered what it would be like to live in a city with a winning baseball team. A whole season of meaningful games? Simply mind blowing.
Six years, dozens of rosters changes, and one world series appearance later, the Tigers are in contention for their first Central Division Title. Let us not forget the Randy Smith era and the multiple 100-loss seasons when we complain about the division lead slipping away or the anaemic offense.
Four short years ago, the city of Detroit would have killed for a winning baseball team. Year in and year out, the Tigers would be essentially out of playoff contention before the Red Wings were out of the playoffs.
By Independence Day, the Tigers had often become an afterthought as most local fans counted down the days until Michigan and Michigan State started fall practice.
Today, as I write, the Tigers magic number to clinch the central is 10. Read that again: they have a magic number...and its (slowly) getting smaller. Will they win? Maybe, and after that, it's all gravy.
This team has serious flaws. Curtis Granderson can't hit lefties. Marcus Thames can't hit. Several position players have had batting averages tens of points lower than their career averages. There is no starting pitching depth, especially if Edwin Jackson keeps tipping pitches.
Should they make the playoffs, they will draw the Yankees. But it doesn't matter who they get to play...they will have made the playoffs, in the hardest professional league in which to make the playoffs.
Baseball also has the shortest playoff, meaning that a rotation of Verlander, Jackson, Procello and Robertson (?) can beat any team, in any stadium.
Wait until after the season to criticise the team for its lack of offense and pitching inconsistency. Right now, the Tigers are in the thick of a pennant race.
It's September baseball in a city that has been deprived of it for so long. The games are exciting, and it's an opportunity to make an investment in the Tigers. Cherish it. It doesn't happen often.