78-84: The final record of the Detroit Tigers’ 2023 regular season. That’s good enough for second place behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central division, but in any other division, they would be in one of the bottom two spots of the standings.
Take it how you want to, but it shows that Detroit is in the worst division in all of baseball.
Regardless, Comerica Park was still filled with over 40,000 fans to witness the end of the 21-year career of Miguel Cabrera. Although Cabrera didn’t have a great outing at the plate, fans continued to salute one of the greatest players to ever put on cleats.
With a pregame ceremony and tributing throughout the game, nobody was really focused on the team. Detroit knew it was the last time ever they’d see the Venezuelan kid play.
Cabrera was switched to first base in the eighth inning, a familiar position in which he played for so many years during his tenure in Detroit. After getting a ground ball that resulted in the first out, he was pulled out of the game.
Despite not being on the field in the future, it was recently announced that Cabrera will stay with the organization as a special assistant to the president of baseball operations. This includes working with some big names, including Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, Willie Horton and former manager Jim Leyland.
It’s clear that the Tigers can do more now that they’re not spending millions on him. But when I watched the final game live, something dawned on me.
The last game of the year was actually the first time this season that I physically sat down to watch a baseball game. Whether it’s because of the hype and media attention surrounding the other big teams in Detroit, baseball feels different right now for me.
I remember staying up every night when I was a kid to watch the Tigers game on television with Mario Impemba and Rod Allen behind the mics. I remember walking by the “Eat ‘em Up Tigers Guy” before walking through the main gates with my parents and seeing the stadium fill night-in and night-out on T.V. just because people loved the Tigers. In a sense, I miss how much passion there was for baseball.
I knew every player that was here during my childhood. I used to mimic the way guys like Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and Aníbal Sánchez pitched. I memorized how guys like Cabrera, Omar Infante, Johnny Peralta and Prince Fielder stood in the batter’s box. I was invested in the game of baseball, especially within the Tigers franchise.
As an adult, I’ve only been to a few games at Comerica Park. All I’ve seen are people invested in their phones during the seventh-inning stretch and players failing to make routine plays that would cost Detroit games.
I love the “America’s pastime” reputation baseball has. While I understand why the league adopted the pitch clock, it changes the feeling of watching a baseball game for me.
I miss the “good ol’ days” when baseball was exciting to go and see because you knew the potential of your team. It’s exhausting to cheer for something that is taking years upon years to get the wheels turning.
I think this was the case for a lot of fans in general, at least the idea of being heavily invested in a championship-caliber organization.
Cabrera was the last from the “good ol’ days,” even though it’s been about a decade since they were competing at that level. His retirement marks the closure of those times.
With him being left off the roster next season, it allows Detroit to fully move on to the next wave of talent that can perhaps lead them to the competitive energy the city needs; players like Spencer Torkelson and Eduardo Rodriguez.
It’s hard to enjoy the game of baseball at the professional level when your team hasn’t been near the playoffs for years. The game already seems to be struggling compared to other leagues like the NFL and NBA. It doesn’t help that the Tigers can’t ever seem to make real progress while having a player like Cabrera, someone they are paying millions of dollars.
This is the organization’s opportunity to reignite the culture the city – and I – were once proud to be a part of.
I love Miguel Cabrera, but I also love winning a division. I want to watch my team have a winning season and, of course, win a championship every now and then. But above all else, I love Tigers baseball. I want to experience the team’s relevancy in a city that’s in the process of a comeback for the Lions, Pistons and Red Wings.
Detroit is waiting, and so am I.