Better Late Than Never: Curtis Granderson, Detroit Will Miss You
By reading off that list alone, you can venture to guess that the past several years—with the exception of a Red Wings Stanley Cup two years ago—ave not been the best to be a fan of those teams.
I'm 21, but I can still remember Chris Osgood wrapping the puck around the boards only to get scored on and get the Red Wings ousted in the first round of the playoffs. The Red Wings getting swept by the Devils in 1995. The Avalanche-Red Wings rivalry at the beginning always favoring Colorado. The ups and downs of this rivalry always got to my family and I.
Don't get me wrong, the Red Wings success from 1997 to the present has been a tremendous bright spot.
Seeing the greatest captain in all of sports, Steve Yzerman, bring his team and city a Stanley Cup. Only to bring two more back in 1998 and 2002. Seeing Vladimir Konstantinov robbed of the final 7-10 years of his career. I still remember your name Richard Gnida, and I still hope you get what's coming to you.
Watching Barry Sanders rush for 2,051 yards only to be totally dumbfounded as he stepped away from the game at which he was still so dominant.
The Lions of the new millennium weren't good at all. Johnnie Morton was an offensive focal point. Charlie Batch? I had a Charlie Batch jersey. Oh God, let's not relive that.
Oh, and last year the Lions lost every game in a single season for the infamous 0-16 mark. Yes, it actually happened. We sat through an entire year of Rod Marinelli. Electric shock treatment would've been kinder.
The University of Michigan football team winning a share of a National Championship in 1997. Charles Woodson winning the Heisman that same year.
Since then, Michigan hasn't returned to that level of prominence. Between losing a game early every year where they had been ranked in the top ten in the pre-season, or watching Ohio State hand them their asses more often than not, it stung. Watching the 2005 Michigan-Ohio State game, where Sean Crable took a late hit penalty on Troy Smith late in the game on a third down play that was not going to move the chains. WHY? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? I was 17 and screaming at the television at the top of my lungs. I left the room and did not return for minutes.
The Pistons and their teal jerseys? Why? Why?!?!?!
The Pistons going to work and winning an NBA title? YES! It was so great to see a team of guys who played so amazing together. As opposed to the Lakers team of amazing players. It was truly an underdog story, and it was so great to watch it unfold.
The Tigers losing too many games to count in the mid-'90s up until about four or five years ago. Shane Halter playing every position in a single nine-inning game. Having a pitcher lose, NOT WIN, 20 games in a season. It was depressing.
However, the Tigers made a magical playoff run and thanks to a walk-off home run coming off the bat of Magglio Ordonez, whose swing is almost as pretty as his hair, lifted a weight off Tigers fans' shoulders that'd be there since the late 1980s.
I've been lucky. I live in a city and state where I get to root for great teams like these. However, it becomes a story of give and take. The let downs are seemingly unbearable, but the good times make the bad fade away, you feel almost invincible. My parents didn't speak for two days after the Red Wings lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2001—especially since they swept L.A. the year before! Poetic justice, I guess.
You may be cynical, and bad mouth the team from time to time. But it isn't out of hate, it's out of disappointment. You want to see your teams succeed. Sometimes life gets you down and sports are one of the few things that can cheer a person up. I know this probably all sounds incredibly cheesy and sentimental, but I don't care, it's the truth (for me, at least).
This brings me to the point of writing this article: Curtis Granderson. He got his first experience with the Tigers in 2004, playing a mere nine games, and played in 47 the following year. He became the Tigers starting center fielder in 2006, showing glimpses of his incredible talent instantly. He had pop in his bat and showed he was an above-average hitter at times. He made highlight-reel catch after highlight-reel catch. He always seemed like a genuinely happy player. He was always a dominant force in the field, and he had shown even more power this past year with Detroit.
Growing up, watching the monopolistic entity that is the New York Yankees, you're taught and you learn to hate them, if you aren't from New York. They make moves and snatch up the best players every year.
But the more I grew up and learned about Major League Baseball, its lack of a salary cap, and other things, I realized how genius it was to do what the Yankees did. They are willing to spend the money to win the World Series. If other teams don't like it, that's tough. The Yankees don't care, and it paid off in 2008. A Rod got a ring, Tex got a ring, C.C. and A.J. both got rings. Jeter has a few, so do Posado and Mariano. What I'm trying to say is, you can't knock a franchise for doing what they feel is necessary to win a title.
Edwin Jackson is gone now also, and will surely be doing his thing in Arizona. Throwing smoke and striking batters out, it'll be rough without him. I don't really want to think about Cabrera leaving either, if that happens, it'll be a fire sale just like the 1997 Marlins. What's the difference between the two, you ask? The '97 Marlins just happened to WIN THE WORLD SERIES!
The New York Yankees just won a World Series and got even better. How is this fair? It really isn't, but what can you do? Nothing. You have to sit by and watch someone you grew to love as a player for your team move on and play for the team a lot of people grow up and dream to play for: the New York Yankees. George Costanza loved it there, so I'm sure you will too.
No hard feelings Curtis, it's a shame you have to leave, but your time here has been great. We'll miss you in center field, that's for damn sure. Good luck in New York, we'll be looking out for you back home.
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