The Detroit Tigers continue to be the hottest team in baseball.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Phil Coke is the ultimate Detroit Tigers hype-man.
The bullpen phone rings and the call is in.
The ginger reliever hurries to the mound, attempting what appears oddly similar to a tryout for the 100-meter dash.
Whenever someone mentions Phil Coke, that’s the first recollection that comes to mind.
But this solitary moment from the first series back after the 2021 All-Star break will surely be just as memorable:
Do you hear that?
Turn up the volume and let it sink in.
The crowd says it all.
According to ESPN, 31,624 fans were in attendance for the doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins on July 17, with what felt like a highly awaited resurgence of dominance from the Tigers.
The Tigers swept the Twins that series and have recorded seven wins, plus another sweep against the Texas Rangers since the regular season resumed.
I’ll declare this next thought while throwing salt over my shoulder, knocking on wood, and any other Eastern European superstition my grandmother taught me.
Life has returned to Comerica Park and the spirit of Detroit is back.
I often find myself thinking back to the early 2000s and the last decade of Tigers baseball.
If you’ve been a “Tigers Twitter” original, you’re probably more than aware of the countless memes and late-night conversations surrounding the team.
Does anyone else remember the dumpster fire, the particularly plump photo of a Tiger after losses, and the constant threat of fire sales?
Just the thought of José Valverde — or better yet “Papa Grande” — being called to the mound makes me want to pull a Jim Leyland, light up a cigarette, and sneak a sip of bourbon from a Dixie cup.
Not to pour more salt on your wounds, but the 2014 Tigers had a particularly stacked rotation of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, David Price, and Rick Porcello and still somehow managed to drop the ALDS series to the Baltimore Orioles in a year they likely should have won the World Series.
Back in 2003, the Tigers lost an overwhelming 119 games which leads me to one assumption.
We’ve held onto the “worst team in baseball” designation and have received the equivalent of “participation” ribbons for far too long.
Could this finally be the turning point with Al Avila and the Detroit Tigers?
Let’s take a look at the last few draft years.
Since 2014, the Tigers have selected players we’ve seen grow in the club like Derek Hill, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Casey Mize, Riley Greene, Tarik Skubal, and Spencer Torkelson.
While the 2021 draft focused heavily on pitching, it’s obvious that the Tigers have a handful of big bats and a core starting rotation with serious potential. Some have already been impressed with Major League debuts.
I know what you’re thinking.
The more we see players like Mize, Skubal, and Manning pitching, the more comparable the rotation becomes to the 2014 Tigers.
This time, it’s different.
The focus now is solidifying a core rotation, combined with the Tigers star batters like Akil Baddoo, Jeimer Candelario, and obviously, Miguel Cabrera, who is undoubtedly in the best shape of his life.
Add Greene and Torkelson to that lineup and you’ve got a team that’ll fill more seats at the ballpark and an unmatched level of talent on the field.
According to Baseball-Reference, the Tigers averaged just over 3 million attendees in 2013 and only 1.5 million in 2019.
With a significant decline in fans attending games, it felt like the passion and competitive edge within the Tigers clubhouse was non-existent.
This time, it feels like the mentality has shifted and fans are starting to take notice.
I know one thing is for sure: Tigers fans have been teased with top draft picks and were encouraged to trust the rebuild process for what seems like a lifetime.
After years of being deemed the worst team in baseball, and the Tigers’ lengthy and infamous rebuild process, is it finally paying off?
Until there’s definitive proof, I’ll keep that Phil Coke video on loop.