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.