Detroit Tigers: Why Isn’t Tigers-Blue Jays Rivalry Bigger?

Jun 6, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) makes a throw to first to complete a double play as Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) slides into second in the first inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) makes a throw to first to complete a double play as Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) slides into second in the first inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Detroit Tigers are inviting the Toronto Blue Jays into town for a three game series to close out their home stand. With Detroit being a boarder city, you would think this would be a rivalry.

The Detroit Tigers have one of the greatest fan bases in all of Major League Baseball. The Detroit faithful were there in the eighties when the team started out 35-5 on route to a World Series, but was also there when the Tigers lost an American League record 119 games in 2000’s.

Tigers fans are one of a kind, filling Comerica Park night in and night out, providing for one of the best Opening Days in baseball and flocking in from all regions. One of the regions that gives the Detroit Tigers some of the most support is Canada.

Windsor, Ontario is loaded with Tigers fans. I am a Canadian Tigers fan myself. There are so many Canadian Tigers fan the organization hosts a Canadian Tigers fan night.

The Tigers dominate the boarder city, and while you can still find some blue and white just south of the boarder (yes, Windsor is south of Detroit) the Tigers are the top affiliation.

Still, throughout this three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays many Canadian fans will make their way to Comerica Park and root for the Jays. With Blue Jays fans littering Detroit all week you would assume there is a rivalry here. So why is there not one?

Historically the Detroit-Toronto rivalry is strong. When the Toronto Maple Leafs come to Joe Louis Arena, Windsor shuts down like a small Texas town on a high school football Friday night. In baseball, this was once the same.

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In 1984 the Detroit Tigers had one of their best season in club history, winning the World Series. The Toronto Blue Jays finished 15 games back in the standings with the dominant Tigers, good enough for second place. The two teams were neck and neck during the eighties.

The Tigers finished the decade with a record of 839-727. The Blue Jays were not far behind with a record of 817-746 in the eighties. Then something changed. In 1998 the Detroit Tigers left the American League East Division and joined the newly formed American League Central. The Blue Jays and the Tigers would no longer compete in a divisional race and would see each other less often during the regular season. When the trips to Detroit became less frequent, the tension between the two teams dropped substantially.

Jun 6, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) watches as a ball hit by Detroit Tigers left fielder Justin Upton (not pictured) goes over the right field wall for a two run home run in the third inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) watches as a ball hit by Detroit Tigers left fielder Justin Upton (not pictured) goes over the right field wall for a two run home run in the third inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Even before the Tigers switched divisions the rivalry would start to fizzle. The Toronto Blue Jays were good in the nineties. This was purely performance based however. Winning back-to-back World Series championships is no small feat and the team from up north did just that in 1992 and 1993.

The Tigers would finish the nineties with a record of 649-852. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come for the Tigers who were even worse during parts of the early 2000’s. It is not easy to have a rivalry when the competition is so lopsided.

Still, being in the stands Monday night I can tell you there were a ton of Jays fans walking around. Many people I know will be attending this series dawning Jose Bautista jerseys and retro Blue Jays hats.

The tension in the stands Monday was palpable. With every run in Detroit’s 11-0 victory Tigers fans stood and heckled the surrounding Blue Jays fans. The Blue Jays fans, showing great Canadian hospitality, took the howls with pride. Maybe only people from Canada care about this rivalry?

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Only 232 miles (373 kilometres) separate these two cities. The teams are separated by only one game in the standings. For American Tigers fans, I do not see a reason why you would not want to send the Blue Jays fans back to Canada crying. For Canadian Tigers fans, this series is for bragging rights. It is a turf war to prove which team dominates Windsor-Essex county. Rivalry or not, this series should matter. Lets make this rivalry great again!