Usually it's the Pistons and Red Wings that control the popularity in the city of Detroit sports-wise. But, this year, things are a lot different. The Red Wings and Pistons both got knocked out of the playoffs before reaching the finals, and the only team we're left with for the summer is the Tigers. It has been a long, long time since Tigers fans have had anything to cheer about. At the start of the year the Tigers were predicted near the bottom of the AL Central. Things have gone completely in the opposite direction.
With the best record in baseball, the Tigers have surprised everyone thus far. The halfway point is almost here, and the former cellar dwellers have been able to keep the run alive and have waken up the spirits of what a baseball city feels like. Living about an hour from Detroit, I've experienced the different swings of popularity for the major sports. In the mid-90's I felt the semi-popularity of football thanks to Barry Sanders. From 1997-2002 hockey was all the talk as the Red Wings brought home 3 Stanley Cup titles. Then, for the last 3 or so years the Pistons have been Detroit's favorite team. The Pistons brought home 1 NBA title, and reached the finals a year later.
Never in my time near Detroit has the city been known as a big-time baseball town; that is, until now. In the 80's it most definitely was with the magical '84 season. For some the current season is somewhat similar to the record-setting year, minus the 35-5 start. Nobody expected the Tigers to be over .500 at this point, and they're decimating every team in baseball. Just this weekend they swept an Albert Pujols-powered Cardinals team. The week before the Tigers went into Wrigley Field and swept the Cubs. Against the National League the Tigers are a very impressive 10-2.
The Tigers are such a fun team to watch this year. A difference is that they never give up. 7 times they have entered the 8th inning tied or behind and have come out of the game with a victory. I think most of the success achieved can be attributed to manager Jim Leyland. He has an attitude that is like no other when it comes to being a good team. Winning is the only option. That brings me to my next point. There is a lot of similarities between Jim Leyland and new Lions coach Rod Marinelli; minus the experience. Marinelli has a great work ethic and won't take any crap from anyone.
So, here's to hoping the result of the Tigers transfers over somewhat to the Lions this year. Also, here's to the Tigers keeping up their great play from now to the end of the season and throughout the playoffs. And make sure you visit Bless You Boys for everything Tigers. Bless You Boys is in the SB Nation network just as Pride of Detroit, and is a great blog to read.