Oct 16, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Delmon Young (21) at bat during game three of the 2012 ALCS against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, I will miss Delmon Young (and the others like him)

Thanks to the luxury of a pretty set roster, Tiger fans have been left caring about players no longer on the team. The signings of Delmon Young and Ryan Raburn would’ve received considerably less attention had the Tigers been desperately trying to fill a gaping hole in the lineup.

But since we have nothing better to debate with Spring Training just around the corner, we’re once again sucked in to talking about two of the most frustrating footnotes in Detroit Tigers history.

And I think that’s why in some sick and twisted way, I’m going to miss them. And Don Kelly. And Jose Valverde. And Gerald laird. (Although in the case of Laird, I think he’s the perfect backup catcher and I legitimately wanted to keep him, but that’s neither here nor there).

This motely crew of Bad News Bears-esque players helped make the last couple of seasons memorable as a Tiger fan. Yes, just as memorable as the run to the World Series and the pennant race and the Triple Crown/MVP debate. These imperfections on an otherwise perfect (or close to perfect) team added some flavor to the Tiger fan experience.

That’s not to say we’ll miss them as players. They were awful. They added nothing of value. Unless you count reminding us how good legitimate baseball players like Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder are as valuable. Then yes. They were VERY valuable. They were constant reminders of an era long ago when the Tigers fielded eight Ryan Raburns and a Delmon Young on the mound

(Yes, Young isn’t a pitcher, but when you think about how awful the Tigers were in the late 90s and early 00s, could he have done much worse?)

Ultimately they were just funny. They provided levity in otherwise tense moments. Reading fan reactions on Twitter and blogs almost made me forget about how stressed I was about the actual pennant race. Sure, they caused stress. But at times they were so comical they relieved it, too.

I don’t want any of these guys back on the team. I’m glad they’ve left and I’m glad I can experience their ineptitude from afar (although, let’s be honest: Raburn will end up killing the Tigers in Cleveland. Let’s just accept that).

But I’m going to miss them. And I think when we’re in the dog days of summer and the Tigers lose a tightly-contested baseball game during a tense pennant race, we’re all going to miss them a little bit, too.

Hating on Johnny Peralta or Andy Dirks or Omar Infante just won’t be the same.

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Tags: Delmon Young Detroit Tigers Don Kelly Gerald Laird Jose Valverde Ryan Raburn

  • Matt Pelc

    Perhaps these “fringe” players, such as Raburn, Young, Inge, Laird, etc. reminds us of how far the Tigers have come in a decade. 10 years ago Damian Easley was a big star of the Tigers, Bobby Higginson was the face of the franchise (I think in some box I still have his rookie card mounted on a plaque where he is holding his name up in front on him on a sheet of paper–I just KNEW he’s be the next great Tiger–just like I KNEW Joey Harrington would be the franchise quarterback the Lions had been waiting two generations for).

    My point is while these players were flawed and caught the ire of the fans, they might have been the best player or players on the team in the past. Ones Randy Smith would be telling us would be the nucleus for a winning club in the future.

    • H. Jose Bosch

      Great point. Also, DAMIAN EASLEY. God, that’s a name I haven’t heard in years.

      • Matt Pelc

        How about his DP partner, Devi Cruz! That’s probably another name that hasn’t been uttered in years. I remember Frank Beckmann calling games on UPN-50 (BTW, Beckmann was by far the worst Tigers announcer in my lifetime–even worse than Rizz and Rathbun, but that’s a story for another day), calling it “Cruz Control” on a double play. Man, those were some dark days.

        • chrisHannum

          You have a sad excuse for a team when your starting SS is a guy that you flipped a rule-5 pickup for. But… now that the juice days are mostly over, a .683 OPS with a plus glove doesn’t sound that bad for a shortstop.

    • http://twitter.com/jkru julie k h

      Dude. It’s Damion with an “o”. I happen to have a Damion Easley rookie card, the 1996 Damion Easley Addition Away Team All Star baseball cap, and the yahoo handle cruz2easley2clark (although it’s likely long been deactivated), my favorite double play combination of the mid-to-late 90s. Indeed, the Randy Smith era created a benchmark for the future.