Thirteen years. That’s how long Justin Verlander had been with the Tigers. In this era of constantly shifting lineups, it seems unreal to think that we had a pitcher stick with us for over a decade. ‘Ace’ is a term that can be applied one year and gone the next, but if he wasn’t always our ace in these latest years, Verlander was at least still an anchor of sorts. Through all the drama and the frustrations and the big wins and near misses, the no-hitters and the playoff games, the scorching fastball (and the fastballs that later weren’t quite so scorching), he was a constant.
Verlander was 21 when he was drafted by the Tigers. Now he’s 34. He grew up with this team (with all the milestones and bumps in the road that implies), and we have a generation of Tigers fans who grew up with him.
I’m not saying anything revolutionary here, and I’m not saying anything you haven’t already read or heard in a million other places. This week Justin Verlander was traded to the Houston Astros for prospects Franklin Perez, Jake Rogers, and Daz Cameron.
This is not a great year for the Tigers. (Understatement.) The team was kind of already there, but with this trade the Tigers have firmly parked their butts in the unpleasantly dank and pee-scented subway station that is rebuilding (if rebuilding was a place). The Astros, after an abysmal stretch in the early 2010s, are now gearing up for a legitimate playoff push. Black is white, dogs are cats, the world is a strange place.
Nobody– neither the Tigers nor Verlander– is helped by his continued presence, and the continued presence of his contract, in Detroit. This should be just one more step in the Tigers’ plans to get that gross rebuilding subway’s doors closed so it can pull out of the station. And I think a lot of us are sort of numbed by this season anyway.
But thirteen years is a long time. Justin Verlander’s tenure on the Tigers was old enough to be Bar Mitzvahed. It was an adult member of the baseball community. We can agree that it is time to hand him over to a team that can maybe get him that ring, but we can still be sad about it. I think a lot of us will be. I know I am. (RIP my last remaining current-team-accurate Tigers jersey.)
Anyway, this is a bunch of words to say what the cartoon really says on its own. Good luck in Houston, JV. We may know it’s time, but Detroit will still miss you.