The annual baseball awards week was another good one for the Detroit Tigers. For the third straight year the team figured prominently in the awards, which were announced throughout last week.
Of course, you know by now that Max Scherzer cruised to his first Cy Young Award, and Miguel Cabrera won his second straight Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first back-to-back AL MVP since Frank Thomas in 1993 and 1994. With Justin Verlander in 2011 and Miggy the past two seasons, the Tigers become the first AL team to have three straight most valuable players since the New York Yankees did it in the early 1960′s.
For much of its storied history, the Tigers’ franchise did not have much success in postseason awards. Since 2011, the franchise has won five of the major awards (two Cy Youngs and three MVPs). Prior to this run, however, Detroit had nine MVPs (first awarded in 1931) and just three Cy Young winners (first awarded in 1956), and none in either category since 1984.
Yet with all this postseason hardware, I have found it a tad bittersweet. Certainly it’s wonderful to see a Tiger walking home with these great, and deserving honors (I am old enough to remember being angry that Alan Trammell was passed over for Toronto’s George Bell for the 1987 MVP), but one thing is still missing from the figurative mantle at Comerica Park: the World Series trophy.
Don’t get me wrong, I am usually one of the more “blue skies” fans, the one who is thankful that the team is in the postseason each and every year. I can remember not too long ago meaningful baseball being over around the day taxes are due, April 15. So while I love the run the Tigers have been on, and the great show they’ve given us with pennants, divisional titles, no-hitters, a Triple Crown, MVPs, Cy Youngs, it’s natural to yearn for that final step.
The Tigers have some great players on their team, the likes most Detroit fans have not witnessed in at least a generation. Cabrera all but punched his ticket for Cooperstown by winning a second straight MVP. Verlander had a bit of a pedestrian (for him) regular season in 2013 but made up for it in the playoffs. If he stays on his current path of greatness, he will likely be Hall-of-Fame bound as well.
My fear is that if the Tigers don’t win it all in the next year or two, this team, despite its greatness, will become a footnote in history. While personally I’d be disappointed no championships were achieved, I’d still look back fondly at this era of Tiger baseball. Others, however, may not be so kind.
They could be relegated to the sports Mt. Rushmore of great teams that couldn’t earn that final moment of glory like the Buffalo Bills, the Cleveland Indians of the 1990′s, and others. Even the Atlanta Braves, who won it all in 1995, seem to have an invisible asterisk next to them because they won just once while making the postseason every year for more than a decade.
So what’s your take, Tigers’ fans? Was last week’s award bittersweet for you too or was it just plain sweet?