There were years, many of them in fact, when the Detroit Tigers probably didn’t even deserve the one representative that Major League Baseball mandated they get in the All-Star game. So maybe this is just the way the Baseball Gods repay the Tigers for all the free gifts they’ve handed out in the past.
Starting in 1995 and running through 2003, the Tigers sent one lone all-star to the Midsummer Classic each year. Remarkably, in those nine seasons, the Tigers had nine different all-stars, never sending the same man twice.
The names are less than legendary. Even though a few of these guys would become all-stars multiple times, only Travis Fryman would do so as a Tiger, going four times with Detroit and once later with Cleveland. The rest of the list, starting with David Wells in 1995, included Fryman (’96), Justin Thompson (’97), Damion Easley (’98), Brad Ausmus (’99), Todd Jones (’00), Tony Clark (’01), Robert Fick (’02), and Dmitri Young (’03).
To be fair, in each instance, with the possible exception of Fick, the player that did represent Detroit was having a good-to-very-good year. In fact, Young’s 2003 season was outstanding, especially when you consider that he was really the only major league caliber hitter in the Tigers lineup.
Still, this year feels a bit like payback to me. After years of taking what they didn’t necessarily deserve, the Tigers are paying back their debt by not getting as much representation as they should have. (more after the jump)
Sure, there is a case to be made for every player selected for the All-Star game this year. Some are more compelling than others, but there is a case nonetheless.
This year’s Tigers All-Star class includes just two names, both of whom have been to the game in the past, but neither had done so with Detroit. Closer Jose Valverde has been perhaps the most dominant closer in the league thus far, he’s there. As is Miguel Cabrera, who despite having put up more homers and RBI than any American League player since joining the Tigers prior to the 2008 season, will make his first AL All-Star team this year. He went four times as a member of the Marlins.
Call me greedy, but I wanted more than just those two.
As I sat and watched the selection show on TBS yesterday, I kept waiting and waiting for the next Tigers to be unveiled. It never happened. Surely, I thought, we’ll get a chance to vote another one in via the Final Vote, just as we did a year ago with Brandon Inge.
My only fear was that there would be two Tigers on that final list, then they would likely split the Detroit vote and watch as someone else made the team. No worries there I guess, as no Tiger even appeared with the final five.
The Tigers are tied for first this morning, but this wasn’t a team picked by many to be better than third. They still might very well be that team, but the season so far has provided a lot of happy surprises.
Yet over the past 32 days, there have been no fewer than three instances where the wind has been knocked out of our sails as fans. There was the Armando Galarraga game, when even a one-hit shutout felt like a loss, the Joel Zumaya injury, when the Tigers again won the game, but may have lost the biggest key to their bullpen’s success, and now this.
Sure, there remains a possibility that one or more of these guys will still get to go to the game. Injuries happen all the time and players pull out of All-Star duties. It remains to be seen whether or not Verlander or Magglio, or Boesch will get the call should a need arise. But given that none of those players even made it to the final vote, makes me think it’s not going to happen.
Miguel Cabrera and Jose Valverde are certainly deserving of selection, and I’m thrilled to see two Tigers in Anaheim, but the fact that no less than three more could have been selected, yet none were, is upsetting.
Once again, it feels like Detroit is being beaten down by the Baseball Gods, even as two Tigers will go to the game.