The Tigers-Yankees matchup has been the worst of all worlds for fans of baseball. I love the Tigers because I’m from Michigan, but objectively there’s so much to dislike about these teams.
For starters, you have the Yankees. Enough said.
Then there’s Detroit, a popular pick to make the World Series in the wake of a strong season in 2011. The Motor City isn’t quite the rock-star environment of the Bronx, but the Tigers have their fair share of superstars. Justin Verlander won the Cy Young Award and the American League MVP last year. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown this year, which no one had touched since 1967. Oh, and the Tigers went out and gave Prince Fielder $214 million to add another big slugger to their lineup.
But despite the hype and potential, the Tigers felt overpaid, underachieving, and unathletic for most of the season.
The teams the Tigers and Yankees knocked out of the playoffs only make things worse. Baltimore and Oakland were the best stories of this season, small market teams that made exciting runs despite a huge shortage of talent on paper.
Let’s take a moment to compare the payrolls:
New York is easily no. 1 in the MLB at $198 million in 2012, while Detroit comes in fifth at $132 million. The Orioles almost chased down the Yanks to win the AL East with a payroll of only $81 million. Meanwhile, Oakland, which stole its division from the mighty Rangers with a rotation full of rookies and not one .300-hitting player this season, has $55 million.
The first three games of the ALCS haven’t done much to make things better. A couple of the most generous Yankees-haters will say, “You know, I can’t stand the team, but Derek Jeter is such a class act.” Too bad Jeter broke his ankle in Game 1.
In fact, things have been pretty much awful for the Yankees. Their studs can’t hit the ball. The fans are booing pretty much every player who comes up to bat at this point. Even when they make a play in the field, the umpire robs them and then throws out their manager. And even the Tigers have a glaring hole — a bottom-of-the-ninth, ‘we have no closer’ sized hole — for a team on the brink of the World Series.
Despite all the misery, here are a couple of things to get excited about as the playoffs continue:
Pitching — The Tigers starters have allowed a combined total of one run in the first three games of the series. This rotation is sick.
Quintin Berry — Berry is an oddity for the Tigers: young, fast, and a good defender. He was called up from the minors midseason to fill in for an injured Andy Dirks and quickly won a spot on the roster. He’s a developing star and a good showing now could give him a ton of confidence going into next year.
Jim Leyland — He’s probably saved his job by somehow transforming the Tigers from what they were all year to what they should have been all year, just in time.
Yankees — At least they’re hearing fewer boos from Detroit fans than from their own. If they’re lucky, the Yanks won’t have to play in New York again this year. Then again, A‑Rod might get fewer dates in Comerica Park than Yankees Stadium.
So get pumped for a little more playoff baseball. And let’s go Tigers!