These were our Tigers.


illustration (click for bigger) and photo by Samara Pearlstein

This team. This stupid, infuriating, logic-defying team, with its ability to be the absolute worst matched only by its ability to surprise us with its tenacity, its likability, its occasional and unpredictable impressive feats of baseball. This team that could contain Prince Fielder’s hugs and Alex Avila’s beard, Phil Coke’s skypoints and Justin Verlander’s magical velocity-increasing fastball, Max Scherzer’s bi-colored party goggles and AlAl’s inappropriate kisses. This was a team that had Miguel Cabrera through his ups on the field and his downs off of it. This was a team without a true leadoff hitter, without a true #2 hitter, with their intended DH out for the season, with a destabilized bullpen and shaky back end of the rotation, a team with an outfield in flux and sloppy disarray. This was a team that couldn’t hit– except when it really, really could– and this was a team that couldn’t pitch– except when it really, really could.

This was a team with the 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young award winner embodied in one player. This was a team with the 2012 AL MVP and Triple Crown winner embodied in one player. This was a team with an epic puppydog love between a talent-and-award-drenched veteran and the shiny new rookie who looked scarily like him.

This was a team that seemed to be doing its damnedest to miss the playoffs, and made them anyways on the backs of (in retrospect) a hilariously bad division. This was a team that suffered freezing cold and discouragingly wet weather at home as the playoffs progressed, and still played every game to a ballpark full of screaming fans, crazed on coney dogs and overpriced beers clutched in giant novelty Doug Fister Hulk Hands, surviving in the upperdeck wrapped in winter coats and blankets, rally towels and knit hats with fuzzy Tigers ears. I know; I was one of them, at the very end.

It was an amazing team and a disappointing team. It was an amazing season and a disappointing season. We were driven crazy, we lost sleep, and every time we thought we’d gotten an out they found a way to drag us back in. It was the big team that should becoming the little team that shouldn’t becoming the team that almost, almost, almost did.

Let’s do it again next year.

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14 responses to “These were our Tigers.

  1. Not to mention having Ryan Raburn as the starting second baseman for a disturbingly long time.

    There was no way they should have been close to winning anything, and they just about did it anyway. I think I might love this flawed, crazy, infuriating team most of all. <3

  2. I am ready for the 2013 championship season!

  3. The D in Leyland’s cigarette smoke was just perfection….as was the whole thing, of course.

  4. I now have a new computer background! Great post.

  5. It was the best of times… it was the worst of times… (Dickens was talking about the 2012 ALCS and World Series when he wrote that, wasn’t he?)

    I don’t know what else to say. This cartoon makes me want to hug it. From Phil Coke pointing, to Max’s goggles.

    And then I sigh and think about how long it is until Opening Day.

    • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

  6. Benoits face finally healed! Whos is the guy over Dirks and Peralta, and who are the two guys between Rhino and Anibal?

    • I think it’s Raburn above Castle Dirks and Dotel and Donny Baseball under Rhino. Great illustration. Especially spot on that the only guys we’re fuzzy on are the most milk toast of the bunch.

  7. The 2013 team will be my daughter’s (due the week pitchers and carchers report) first Tigers team and I wouldnt want it any other way!

  8. Thanks for a great post, Sam…..Looking forward to a new season — but I will miss playoff hero Don Kelly. Oh well, I got over losing Polanco so this too will pass….Have a wonderful holiday season.

  9. Oh how i’ll miss Delmon Youngs moustache and the big potato. Now we have Spiderman though and I’m excited to see what Bruce Rondon will look like.

  10. Well drawn and well said. Bitter and sweet. Thank you, as always.

  11. Let’s face it, this team, so infuriating, but so much fun to talk about! It is still hard to figure in the end, did they overacheive? Or underperform? Could they actually have somehow done both? I think so. Bring on 2013.

    Sam, thanks for keeping the fire burning.

  12. Took me a while to figure out Avisail… kept thinking, who would be manhandling Miguel’s crowns? Then I saw the heart. All was well.

    So good, as always, of course.

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