City of Detroit, Tigers in midst of a 'tough time'
Originally Published: November 27, 2008By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
Thanksgiving always has been a Detroit kind of day. But here's an idea:Instead of turning our turkey-bulged eyeballs toward Daunte Culpepper and Paris Lenon of the Lions, how about we shift our gaze a few hundred yards to the west? That's where the local baseball team plays. Not on Thanksgiving, of course. For some reason, the Tigers always seem to be idle on Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving still is a day for those Detroit Tigers to give thanks, for many reasons: 1. At least they're not the Lions. 2. At least they won 74 baseball games this year. Which might be 74 more games than the football team wins. 3. At least they're guaranteed not to lose on Thanksgiving. So they definitely can be thankful for all that. But that, unfortunately, is where the guarantees end for these Tigers. Two years ago, they still were enveloped in the glow of a special World Series journey. And life was good. Just a year ago next week, the Tigers stampeded into the winter meetings and pulled off their stunning Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis blockbuster. And life felt even better. They looked like such a powerhouse that "we should have just taken the trophy, engraved it and given it to them right there," one National League executive deadpanned this week. But as another Thanksgiving dawns over Detroit, life doesn't feel so beautiful anymore -- for the Detroit Tigers or the economically battered city they play in. "To me, I don't think they're close [to being ready to win again]," said one scout who saw the Tigers play a lot this past season. "Too many things would have to happen. And I don't think they have the ability to put all the pieces back together to make those things happen." Is it possible the Tigers are really that down and out? After all, they're still a team loaded with immensely talented players: Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Placido Polanco, Justin Verlander. Just to name a half-dozen. They're still a team whose payroll is expected to top $130 million -- more than the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks will spend put together. And the Tigers are still a team guided by some of the sharpest, most creative front-office minds in the business, led by a general manager, Dave Dombrowski, who has sculpted two World Series teams in the past dozen seasons after inheriting rubble worse than this group. So clearly, this outfit is far from hopeless. Which is why you won't hear its GM conceding that his team can't bounce back. All the way back.
The 0-7, 0-7 club
Cities whose MLB and NFL teams started 0-7 or worse in the same year in the past 50 years:
|* And counting|
Then and now
Tigers' Opening Day lineups -- 2008 vs. expected in 2009:
|1B||Carlos Guillen||Miguel Cabrera|
|2B||Placido Polanco||Placido Polanco|
|3B||Miguel Cabrera||Brandon Inge|
|LF||Jacque Jones||Carlos Guillen|
|CF||Brandon Inge*||Curtis Granderson|
|RF||Magglio Ordonez||Magglio Ordonez|
|SP||Justin Verlander||Justin Verlander|
|* Began the season as the center fielder because of an injury to Curtis Granderson.|