There’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned rivalry and it’s time the Detroit Tigers and Blue Jays dust off the boxing gloves and duke it out for a revival tour.
The Toronto Blue Jays are headed to Comerica Park this weekend and I’m ready for some fireworks against the Detroit Tigers.
Not only did veteran slugger and 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera hit his 500th home run on the road at the Rogers Centre, but the Tigers also locked in a stunning series win with a two-game victory out of the three-game series.
Fans were also blessed with free baseball with the games boiling over into extra innings.
The Blue Jays are undoubtedly looking for redemption.
The history between Detroit and Toronto is rife with competition, and if you’re from either city, you have likely been a part of the rivalry at some point. Looking at the National Hockey League, you’ve got two of the Original Six teams – Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs – with some of the most electric, thrilling and downright bloodthirsty gameplay.
That’s when I got to thinking: why did the Jays and Tigers rivalry seemingly fade?
I was raised in a divided house: my mom is a Blue Jays fan and my dad, having grown up in Michigan, is naturally a Tigers supporter. I consider myself lucky to be brought up around two incredible fanbases, and even though I was born and raised in Toronto, my allegiance with the Tigers runs deep.
Driving through Ontario, you’ll see a blend of Tigers and Jays caps. Anytime you’re in the stands for a Tigers and Jays series, no matter at Comerica Park or the Rogers Centre, you still hear the rumblings of a tense competitive atmosphere between the two teams, with fans from either side of the border filling up the seats.
Even listening to the Jays broadcast with Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez in the booth, there’s still talk of how remarkable the rivalry used to be.
It still can be.
Rewind to the 1980s.
The Detroit Tigers and Blue Jays were two of the most challenging teams to beat and two of the greatest in baseball, often battling in pennant races. If we’re talking about baseball royalty, both teams were just that with George Bell, Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Key, Alan Trammell, Willie Hernandez, Lou Whitaker and Kirk Gibson bolstering the rosters.
The Jays and Tigers series in 1987 is one of the most riveting to read about and solidified the rivalry that truly exists between the two teams.
Like the current Tigers, the ’87 team was set up to be swept by the Jays and trailed by 3.5 games in the division, but Gibby had other plans and turned the series into a Tigers win clinching the division.
It all sounds too familiar and feels like history is repeating itself.
Although both teams are now in separate divisions, the Jays are often designated as one of the better, younger teams in MLB. Here’s the kicker: the Tigers are the underdogs, suffering through a lengthy rebuild, but have the third best record in the American League since the All-Star break.
There are a few moments in Tigers history that stand out and amplify the rivalry, even more, all of which happened on Toronto’s home turf.
Justin Verlander No-Hitter
I was fortunate enough to witness this game in person on May 7, 2011, at the Rogers Centre. The Tigers lead the Blue Jays 9-0, with Verlander throwing 100 mph missiles deep into the ninth inning, where he struck out Rajai Davis securing his second career no-hitter.
Nicholas Castellanos Grand Slam
On Sept. 8, 2017, Castellanos scorched a grand slam off of Marcus Stroman which was only the beginning of the fireworks that game. I can remember sitting in the same row as a few other Tigers fans, as the game kept bouncing back and forth between the two teams, every fan eagerly anticipating what would happen next. It ended in the best way possible – a triple play handled by Jeimer Candelario, Ian Kinsler and Efren Navarro, with the Tigers coming out victorious.
Derek Hill Highlight Reel
Aug. 22, 2021, was already a day that will go down in history with Cabrera’s 500th home run of his playing career. I mentioned it earlier, and it will forever be one of the best baseball moments in MLB. But another early moment in that game stood out to me when Derek Hill fleeced Kevin Smith from an RBI in the second inning. This game went into extras, but the Tigers battled their way to a series win.
I could write pages upon pages of moments in Tigers and Jays history that show how historically captivating both franchises are.
Once more of the young stars in the Tigers minors make their way up to the big leagues, the Jays and Tigers rivalry could be reignited and both teams could once again be the two greatest in baseball.
But why wait to revive it?
The Tigers play host to the Jays on Friday, starting with Matt Manning on the bump.
If the series will be anything like the last one, we can anticipate some more highlight reel-worthy moments.