The Detroit Tigers 2022 campaign kicks off Friday, and this lifelong Tigers fan couldn’t be more excited!
Christmas Eve and Opening Day. Maybe New Year’s Day for some. The WWE Royal Rumble for me. No other day like it. A day filled with wonderment and hope and that unique feeling of anything is possible. The air smells fresher. Food tastes better. Fellow baseball fans give a nod to each other when they see an MLB ball cap in the wild, no matter the team. It’s a holiday!
While the excitement has been there for myself and Tigers’ fans alike over the last five or so years, it hasn’t been like this in a while. This implies an organization that spent a lot of money in the offseason for the likes of Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez for a chance to compete. This implies an organization that didn’t attempt to manipulate the service time of star prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene after monster springs from each. Greene got hurt, but he was well on his way to making the opening day roster in Motown. This implies a full season from star pitching phenoms Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning. The feeling in the air is palpable.
The way the lineup looks come opening day will be the best lineup the Tigers have thrown on the field since they ended their playoff runs of many moons ago. The late spring acquisition of former Rays outfielder Austin Meadows signifies the Tigers aren’t resting on their current roster and are willing to roll the dice and make changes as the seasons goes.
The organization looks reinvigorated right now. Kudos to Al Avila on a pretty great offseason. While the team isn’t perfect, they are on their way to being playoff contenders, if they are not fully there yet. The bullpen still needs a couple pieces, and hopefully someone steps up in the innings to come.
Opening Day from Afar
The only thing I won’t feel is the Opening Day in Detroit feeling. I am a New Jersey resident who lives in the midst of Mets and Yankees fans. I hope to one day attend opening day in Detroit proper. In the spirit of great baseball and wonderful opening day vibes, please allow me to share the story of the one time I did make it up to Detroit to catch a Tigers game in person.
The date was September 9, 1997, and I was 8 years old. I was already a Tigers fan because I found their 90’s road cap to be the absolute coolest. You know the one, the tiger coming down through the old English D. Totally rocks. My dad had a one-day business trip to Detroit, and took me along to see the Tigers play around his meeting.
We got to old Tiger Stadium and it was even more magical than 8 year old me could’ve imagined. A very sweet older couple saw us looking around for the ticket booth, and asked us a question that made one of the best days in my life even better. Their friends couldn’t come last minute, and they asked us if we wanted their extra tickets. My dad graciously accepted and we went to find our location. Unexpectedly, it was right next to the Tigers dugout!
I was not ten feet away from some of my favorite 90’s Tigers, including my all-time favorite player, Travis Fryman. Fryman even smiled at me during the National Anthem!
Scott Sanders threw a one-hit shutout and Brian L. Hunter made a diving catch in centerfield in the 4-0 victory over the Texas Rangers.
It truly is one of the fondest memories of my life, and that was thanks to my dad, the city of Detroit, and the great game of baseball.
So when I say I’m one of many fans excited for Opening Day, it’s not just because it’s the first day of the season and all teams are on an even playing field in terms of chasing a championship. It’s also because this is the first day of the summer where baseball can help create new memories. Anything truly is possible this season, and this is the first day of possibilities.
Cheers to new Tigers, new memories, and a new season of baseball. Let’s go Tigers!