It Was The Worst of Times

Next month I will turn 45 years old which means I didn’t really become fully aware of the Detroit sports teams until the late 70s. Yes, I fondly recall Mark “The Bird” Fidrych mowing down opposing hitters while having conversations with the baseball, but I was four years old. For all I knew, ALL pitchers had running dialogues with inanimate objects.

For example, Bob Lanier played with the Pistons until 1980 but I have no memory of ever seeing him play in Detroit. And while I remember Super Bowl XIV between the Rams and Steelers, I don’t think I really started paying close attention until the 1980 “Another One Bites The Dust” Lions. So that’s my frame of reference when making the following declaration:

The state of Detroit’s four professional sports teams has NEVER been worse since I’ve been a fully functional lunatic fan of the Wings, Tigers, Pistons and Lions. This current era is as depressing as anything I have witnessed and shit only seems to get worse on a daily basis.

I mean, when a statement can be made with a straight face that the Lions (and their one playoff victory in 60 years) are the best-run franchise and the city’s only hope for any postseason success in the near future …. well ….. you know we are pretty fucked.

Whenever I proclaim on Twitter that this era is the darkest in recent memory I get folks older than me mentioning the late 70s, but by the time I was cognizant of the Big Four, the Tigers were already at the beginning of a renaissance with a stacked farm system that included Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson and Jack Morris.

That young core almost made the playoffs during the 1981 strike-riddled split-season (if you are younger than me, look that anomaly up) and were well on their way to their World Series championship three years later. Not only is no Detroit team remotely close to winning the city’s first title in nine years, none even has a bright future like that late 70’s/early 80’s Tigers team.

Hell, the best odds you can find on a Detroit team winning a championship belong to the Lions. And they are 66 to 1. Not exactly chalk. The Red Wings are 100 to 1 to win the ’18 Cup, the Pistons are 300 to 1 to capture Larry O’Brien Trophy and I don’t think you could get Art Schlichter or Dan Mahowny to take action on the Tigers winning this year’s World Series.

And as disheartening as surface appearances are regarding the Big Four, opening up the hood and commencing serious diagnostic testing is even more of a recipe for suicidal thoughts.

Let’s start with the Tigers, who are currently in a purgatory we haven’t seen around these parts since Karen Davidson assumed control of the Pistons after Bill Davidson died. Does anyone have any idea what the plan is with this franchise? ESPN and Fangraphs contributor Dan Szymborski sure as hell doesn’t …….

And that’s exactly the point. Are the Tigers rebuilding? Are they just attempting to cut salary so the team is more desirable to a potential new owner? There seems to be no plan of attack from Chris Ilitch, who apparently has given Al Avila confusing marching orders. Remember last fall when Avila announced that everyone was available via trade and Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Justin Verlander were all notified something could happen… and then NOTHING did?

What the fuck was THAT all about? At the point when sales reps were attempting to convince fans to purchase season tickets, the GM was incoherently saying the following to the eunuchs in the media:

“I can’t call it a rebuild because we haven’t really broken anything down. I’m not comfortable with the word ‘rebuild.’ I don’t think that’s the right term. I’ve read ‘retool,’ but I don’t know if that’s the right term. I don’t know if there’s a term for what I want to do here. I really don’t. If you guys can come up with a slogan, let me know, and we’ll go with it.

In describing the process, you can probably name it however you want to name it. It’s, ‘Hey, we want to get younger, we want to get leaner, we want to run the organization without having to go over the means of the organization.’

It’s not going to be easy, but it has to be done.”

Yep, NOTHING happened other than a salary dump of a trade in which Cameron Maybin was dealt for a non-prospect reliever (Victor Alcantara) who was so lousy at AAA this year that he got demoted to Erie™ (Steven Moya).

After all of that doom-and-gloom preparation from the front office — the equivalent of lubing up your wife’s asshole for some backdoor action — NOTHING went down. The organization received all of the downside of depressing the fanbase (and ticket sales) without the benefit of starting the rebuild or retool or whatever the fuck Avila wants to nickname it.

Then the team returned to camp after the last minute pardon from the warden and things got even more depressing. Cabrera got injured at the World Baseball Championship representing a country he can’t EVEN return to for fear of being kidnapped. Too bad the tournament weren’t in Venezuela because maybe Miggy would have skipped it and not wrecked his back.

To make matters worse, it took too long for Mimbo Manager Brad Ausmus to realize that:

A) Blown-Save Rod was toast.

B) Victor “Corpse Mart” Martinez was finished and shouldn’t have been batting clean-up.

C) Alex Avila was the team’s most dangerous weapon in early May.

Then came the trade deadline — another massive failure. Only two years removed from acquiring Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa for Yoenis Cespedes, Avila spun a similar pending free-agent corner outfielder in J.D. Martinez for three infielders from one of the worst farm systems in baseball. And NONE of them were among Keith Law’s top ten prospects in the Diamondbacks’ organization.

A confluence of factors led to this anemic return (the new CBA; contenders not needing an outfielder; Avila’s panic to make the trade 13 days before the deadline thinking he’d be left holding the bag) but those factors aren’t exactly reassuring to Tigers fans looking for ANYTHING to grasp onto as a sign of HOPE.

Of course, the sell-off was also half-assed as Avila couldn’t get anything for Ian Kinsler or Jose Iglesias (now a luxury after trading for 74 shortstops at the deadline) and it would appear Ilitch wouldn’t sign-off on a Verlander deal unless the other team absorbed his entire contract.

So now we’ll enter another offseason of uncertainty and speculation about payroll concerns with the only sliver of hope being the Ilitch Family selling the franchise to an owner willing to continue to push the luxury tax threshold.

In the meantime, we can concern ourselves with the possibility that Fulmer might need elbow surgery or the fact that Cabrera STILL has $190 million left on his contract. THIRTY-ONE MILLION a year through AT LEAST 2023 for a guy who currently has the 20th (!!!!) highest OPS for all qualifying first basemen.

And you had better hope that this abomination of a season is due to a lingering back problem and not Miggy falling off the wagon. I doubt his fans will be as forgiving of Cabrera now if he decides to get drunk with an opposing team at a swanky Birmingham, hotel bar and then allegedly scratches his wife’s face in a domestic incident the same night.

Because after 12 years of blue-ball teasing of a World Series title, the Tigers officially have entered the pantheon of massive failures alongside the likes of the 1990s Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Indians.

And if all of THAT wasn’t disheartening enough, gun to my head I’d say the Tigers have the best chance of the four local teams to win the next championship. Think about how pathetic that is for a second.

Who is your alternative? The Pistons??? An organization that hasn’t won a postseason game since George W. Bush was President? A team that is rumored to be PAYING 97.1 to air their games and who had to piggyback on the Red Wings to play in Little Caesars Arena because nobody cared to watch them play in their own arena?

The organization that rightfully did the math and figured it would be wiser to let Kentavious Caldwell-Pope walk for nothing because he wasn’t worth what his agent was demanding and instead traded for Avery Bradley — who will most likely walk away from the team next offseason? How exciting!!!

The team that seemingly couldn’t give away either of their highest paid players (Andre Drummond or Reggie Jackson) if they tried?

It is almost impossible to get excited about the Pistons when their centerpiece is a mental midget who refuses to take the team’s advice to improve. If you want to know what a knucklehead this moron is, just read this quote from earlier this offseason regarding surgery he had to correct a deviated septum in his left nostril:

Yes, this dipshit has had breathing problems since ENTERING THE LEAGUE yet he disregarded physician and team management instructions to undergo the surgery. Because he is hardheaded. Ya think?

And don’t even get me started on the worst free-throw shooter in the HISTORY of the NBA’s refusal to take the front-office’s advice and work with Rick Barry on the underhand approach.

And yet, the biggest indictment of this oversized child might not even be his horrific work at the charity stripe OR his refusing doctor’s advice on a medical procedure that would prevent him from getting fatigued.

No. It’s Drummond’s painfully obvious aversion to giving maximum effort. Just read these recent Tweets from Detroit News beat writer Rod Beard regarding Drummond’s lackadaisical attitude.

A beat writer who follows the team around the country and watches almost every minute of every game just matter-of-factly stated that he believes Drummond played hard in fewer than HALF of the Pistons games last season!!!!!!

Spurts? For a dude making $23 million a year. This is the face of your organization and you wonder why you’ve gotta shell out money for ANYONE to take your radio broadcasts.

All of this angst and I’ve yet to broach the subject of the Red Wings, probably the most aggravating squad in the city. Wings fans have a Sophie’s Choice this coming year.

Do you root for the team to do well on the ice, all but guaranteeing that incompetent GM Ken Holland gets an extension in the final year of his contract? Or do you hope the Wings totally implode, forcing Ilitch to kick his ineffectual manager upstairs?

I’ll be cheering on the latter even though it’s no sure thing that another season near the cellar will cause Ilitch to do a god-damn thing. Not to mention, even if Trust Fund Son forces Holland to an emeritus role, it will still be Holland selecting his successor.

Where are the razor blades? Are you supposed to cut up and down or side to side? I always forget.

Because if Holland’s selection of his heir apparent is anything like his recent draft picks or free-agent signings, we might as well end it all now.

It’s going to be absolutely hilarious this winter when neither of the Red Wings’ most recent first round draft choices make Canada’s World Junior team and if the recent WJ Showcase in Plymouth is any indication, there is no chance either Dennis Cholowski or Michael Rasmussen will be selected.

Do you know how big a bust Cholowski would have to be to not make his national team for the WJC as a nearly 20-year-old former first round pick? It would almost be unprecedented … but that’s the path we are currently on. Jakob Chychrun is recovering from KNEE SURGERY and I bet he’d have been more impressive at USA Arena last week.

The Wings are basically the Tigers’ doppelgänger (bloated payroll, terrible contracts that can’t be moved) with the only difference being the Tigers actually have a more promising farm system than their fellow Ilitch Holdings squad. Let that sink in for a second.

Which leaves us with the Lions.

A franchise so inept that I stopped rooting for them a couple of years ago after they called the cops on me for posting this Photoshop.

An organization that has so abused its fanbase that even a Super Bowl championship wouldn’t make amends for the past seven decades of abuse.

Yep, this city’s shining hope is a team that hasn’t won a division championship since 1993 and has gone 9,711 days since its last playoff victory.

That’s your best hope.

A team coached by a comatose buffoon.

I am guessing that after running this article, I’ll be joining Michelle Carter in a cell.

Don’t do it.

1-800-273-8255

(You can follow Moss on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. You can discuss this article on Facebook by clicking here. You can also go fuck yourself if you’d like. Totally up to you.)

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