By Jeff Moss
May 30, 2011
So last Sunday I was sitting at home watching the series finale between the Detroit Tigers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
For the first eight innings I was in full support of my hometown team as one of my favorite current Tigers (Rick Porello) was hurling the single greatest start of his young career.
And then, as the spittle on Jeff Riger’s forehead and microcassette recorder can attest, Jim Leyland decided to remove Porcello after 84 pitches.
In the split-second it took Cancer Stick to pull Porcello, I went from the biggest Tigers fan in the world to rooting on the Pirates like I was the blow job king of Michigan State (Sic – Sal Governale.) I did everything but blast Sister Sledge’s “We are Family” in my house and switch to my Kent Tekulve spectacles.
I truly wanted the Tigers to lose that game. I wanted Leyland’s decision to blow up in his nicotine stained face. I wanted the Tigers to get embarrassingly swept by an inferior National League team.
I temporarily desired all of this because I cannot fully enjoy my favorite baseball team until that bastard manager of theirs is axed. But more importantly, I believe they will be a better organization with Leyland gone.
Which leads us to the point of this column. When is it okay to root against your hometown team? Furthermore, is it ever appropriate to hope that your favorite squad gets an “L”?
It seems this topic gets brought up every few years when situations like the Tigers 119 loss season or Lions 0 and 16 year occur. But I am not even talking about those extreme anomalies.
I am referring to a Malcolm X, “By All Means Necessary” approach that I have abided by as a sports fan for years.
To me, the only thing that matters is the end game of winning a championship and if hoping my team loses so they fire their inept coach or GM or get a better draft pick, well, that is a means to an end.
For the purpose of this article, I have gone back through the last five decades and figured out the percentage of time I was actually rooting for one of the Detroit sports teams to LOSE. Here it is:
The Detroit Lions (57.8%)
Yes, in my lifetime I have actually rooted for the Lions to lose more than win. I rooted against them so they’d get rid of Monte Clark and replace Russ Thomas with a real football man.
I rooted against them so William Clay Ford, Sr. would fire Darryl Rogers, Wayne Fontes, Bobby Ross, Matt Millen, Steve Mariucci and Rod Marinelli.
I rooted against them so they would embarrass the Ford Family with the first 0 and 16 season in NFL history in the hope that Junior would finally take over the reigns of the organization and run it like an actual company and not a personal country club.
But mostly I have rooted against them when it was clear that they would not make the playoffs (usually around Columbus Day) so they would get a high selection in the NFL Draft.
One day someone will have to explain to me what the difference between finishing 4-12 and 5-11 is other than idiotically costing yourself collateral in April.
You can basically attribute the entire 42.2% of the time that I have wanted the Lions to win to games in September and Barry Sanders.
The Detroit Tigers (14.3%)
It is very hard for me to root for the Tigers to lose as I live and die with them as much as any team in town.
But there have been extenuating circumstances where I have wanted them to fail.
The last few years of the Randy Smith era when fans were absolutely begging Mike Ilitch for a change at the top would be one good example.
Another would be the 2003 season when this website actually had a mock funeral for Paws (casket and all) outside of Comerica Park during the 119-loss campaign.
(I’ll never forget the Comerica Park security guard coming up to us outside the stadium and telling me that we would be allowed to wear our t-shirts mocking Ilitch’s record as owner of the Tigers, but there was no way in hell they were going to let us bring the casket with a life-size Paws stuffed animal inside through the gates.)
This number would actually be higher if MLB draft selection meant as much as the NFL’s.
The Detroit Pistons (10.9%)
It is really hard to root against a team so they will fire their head coach when they, like, fire their head coach every two seasons anyway. Kind of wasted energy.
I only resort to rooting against the Pistons when it means more lottery balls in the hopper for the entry draft.
Not that it ever has really helped as evidenced by the team’s meaningless winning streak at the end of the 2009-10 season that fucked up any chance of the Pistons getting John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins.
The Detroit Red Wings (.8%)
By far the lowest number of all the Detroit sports teams mainly because they ALWAYS make the playoffs.
Even in 1989-90, the last time they had a high draft pick and selected Keith Primeau, you couldn’t root against them. That year they were still in the hunt with the North Stars for the last playoff spot in the Norris Division until the last week of the season.
The .8 percent represents two things:
1) The pre-Jacques Demers era and especially the 1985-6 season where they only had 40 points and garnered the first pick in the draft.
2) Any game that Sergei Fedorov came back to Detroit in an opposing uniform.
Now, I am guessing that some of you believe that it is never appropriate to root against your favorite team.
In the past couple of years I have read in the Detroit Media that you aren’t really a fan if you EVER want your hometown team to lose.
Well, nobody in the world is going to tell me I am not a fan of the teams I listed above. And it surely won’t be someone who fucking sits in a press box for a living and claims to have no allegiance at all to any particular organization.
Don’t fucking tell me that I am not a fan because I see the bigger picture in all of this.
Don’t fucking tell me that I am not a fan when I lose sleep over these teams.
Don’t fucking tell me that I am not a fan when I changed my WEDDING DATE and flight plans to Vegas so I wouldn’t miss a Red Wings-Penguins Stanley Cup game.
Don’t fucking tell me that I am not a fan when I installed three televisions in my family room just so I would never miss a game of a Detroit sports team.
Don’t fucking tell me that I am not a fan when I bought a Slingbox player so I could always watch the Wings, Tigers, Pistons or Lions on my iPad no matter where I was in the world.
No, a person who isn’t a REAL FAN is a lemming who doesn’t have a goddamn brain in their head and just blindly supports their team no matter what the circumstances.
Are you telling me that last year in Game 162 of a wasted Tigers season that I should have been hoping and praying for a victory?
A win that was sure to cost us a first-round pick in the MLB Draft as opposed to a second-rounder if the Tigers were to be active in the free-agent market?
Anyone who read this article and wanted a Tigers win isn’t a real fan and might be a borderline retard:
(Shit, the fact that I even KNEW the ramifications of that game is proof I am a better fan than 99.9% of the public.)
So because of that MEANINGLESS victory last October in Game 162, the Tigers do not have a first round pick in the upcoming draft. A draft that is considered top heavy with talent!
And according to some of these media jackasses, I am not a TRUE fan because I rooted for the Tigers to lose.
In my opinion, anyone who WANTED them to win should be punched in the nuts.
The same thing goes for the Lions 2010 finale. The Week 17 victory against Minnesota cost them the 6th pick in the NFL Draft.
If the rumors were true that the Lions were interested in trading up with Arizona at #5 and they wanted to select Patrick Peterson, do you think they would have a little more ammo if they had the #6 selection as opposed to #13?
Don’t tell me I am not a fan when I am actually rooting for something tangible (a higher draft pick) as opposed to the supposed feel-good carryover of a meaningless four-game winning streak.
6-10 or 5-11? Who gives a flying fuck?
Which leads us all back to my current predicament. I am so disillusioned with Dombrowski and Leyland that it is hard for me to root for the Tigers to win.
For years now, Ilitch has allowed Dombrowski to spend more money than all of his American League Central counterparts.
And what do we have to show for it? A lousy minor league system and a lineup on any given day that might include Don Kelly, Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge.
The guy has wasted high draft picks on relief pitchers for years and yet we still are forced to trade positional prospects like Scott Sizemore for a lefty reliever who to this point has been a first round bust (David Purcey.)
And don’t even get me started on Emaciated Adolf.
If you want a rehash of my feelings on him click this link http://detroitsportsrag.com/mossisms052411.php or read Greg Eno’s quality piece about the asshole here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/712676-detroit-tigers-manager-jim-leylands-superiority-complex-is-baffling.
But I still can’t pull the trigger. Even I can’t root against a team that has a legitimate chance to win their division.
As lousy as this Tigers team has been and as flawed as it might be, on Sunday they split a doubleheader with the Red Sox. AND GAINED A HALF GAME ON THE REST OF THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL!
At this point I am in a great position. When the Tigers win I am happy and when they lose it might mean that we are one day closer to a new regime.
But if they fall out of the race and I start hoping for the L’s to pile up so we guarantee ourselves a new GM and manager, it won’t make be a bad fan.
No, it will just make me a smart one.