You’ve got to hand it to Detroit. It's a city that loses in spectacular fashion.
Looking for a victim of the last recession? Look no further than Detroit, whose population is half of what it was 40 years ago, whose key industry needed billions in federal bailout dollars, and whose unemployment rate is a staggering 19.6 per cent.
Worst football team in NFL history? That would be the Detroit Lions, the only team to ever go 0-16 in a season back in 2008.
And just when there’s a glimmer of optimism from their Major League team, the Detroit Tigers lay an epic egg in suffering a 4-0 series sweep at the hands at the San Francisco Giants in this year’s World Series.
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. The Tigers crushed the New York Yankees in four straight in the ALCS to advance to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2006. They had the first triple-crown winner in 45 years in Miguel Cabrera. They had the game’s best pitcher in Justin Verlander. They spent $214 million to get Prince Fielder. They had legendary manager Jim Leyland in their dugout.
But it wasn’t enough. When ace Justin Verlander couldn’t get out of the fourth inning of the first game against the San Francisco Giants, the rest of the team quietly folded up the tent and went home. The team’s powerful offense was blanked for 20 straight innings in dropping Games 2 and 3 and came up short in Game 4.
The Tigers just couldn’t get an out when they needed it, couldn’t get a base hit when it mattered. They weren’t beaten – they lost. And they lost with aplomb.
In four games against the Giants, the American League’s third-best offense hacked a paltry .159 batting average with a .243 on-base percentage. They managed only six runs in the entire series, three home runs and scored in only four of 37 innings. They managed just three runs in two games in their home park.
They stunk. And if it sounds like déjà vu for Tigers fans, it should. The Tigers were almost as inept in losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 World Series, Leland’s first as manager of the Tigers. The Cards hammered Detroit 22-11 over five easy games, holding the Tigers to a .199 batting average.
Should credit go to the Giants? Not so much. Cabrera, a shoe-in for American League MVP, went just 3-for-13 in the series. Fielder was 1-for-14. The Tigers’ batters made the Giants’ pitching — average at best over the course of the regular season — look like the 1998 Atlanta Braves’ starting rotation.
Verlander, as guaranteed a "W" as there is in baseball, never got a chance to face the Giants again in Game 5 after stinking it up in the opener.
No, this was all about Detroit failing to deliver.
And it’s a shame. San Francisco has enough — they won the World Series just two years ago, they’ve got Silicon Valley and the Golden Gate Bridge. They’ve got spring 12 months of the year.
Detroit’s got lineups at the soup kitchen, Joe Louis’s fist and Kid Rock. They’ve got Going out of Business sales every weekend. And thanks to the Tigers, they’ve got another winter without a winner.
But that’s just normal for Detroit.