All my life, I’ve followed the Tigers. Even though they were terrible for most of my life, I have fond memories of the Tigers from my childhood. I’d watch them on TV whenever I could; I’d imitate the batting stances of familiar players; I’d listen on AM radio whenever I visited my grandparents. As a kid, I never made a conscious decision to be a Tigers fan. I was from Michigan, and the Tigers were the home team, and that was that. I’ve followed them ever since.
For the first 25 years of my life I was surrounded by people who cared about (or at least knew about) the Detroit Tigers. Being a fan was required almost no effort on my part, and talking about the latest game, trade, or rumor was just as easy. All of that changed a few years ago.
I became a displaced fan in August, 2011. In the infinite cornfield of central Illinois, one does not simply switch on the television and watch the Tigers. Hell, it’s not even clear in that particular geography who the home team is: the area’s allegiance is divided amongst the Cardinals, Cubs, and White Sox. There were two things, though, that were clear. First, if I was going to be a casual baseball fan, I was going to have to either watch teams I hated (Cardinals, White Sox) or a team that sucked* (Cubs). Second, keeping up on the Tigers in any sort of active way was going to take effort.
*Until this season, obviously.
The last few months of the 2011 season were tough. I mostly listened to games on the radio, with the occasional trip to Buffalo Wild Wings sprinkled in for a nationally televised game. Still, I felt disconnected from the team I had always kept tabs on so easily. The season ended as Detroit fell to the Rangers in the ALDS that year, and I distinctly remember listening sadly with my then-five-year-old son and trying to console him.
“It was a good year. They had a good season. Next year they can try again,” I told him. But next year seemed so far away.
Making matters worse was the fact that the goddamn Cardinals went on to win the World Series in 2011, and I got my first real taste of just how fucking irritating Cardinals fans are. What an entitled bunch. Every year it seems they expect that the Cardinals will make a push for the World Series. They expect to win. That is the Cardinal way. I hope that everything that’s bad in the world happens to them and nobody else but them. If you’re a Cardinals fan and you’re reading this, may decades of losing seasons befall your team, and may a hailstorm fuck up your red Chevy Silverado beyond repair.
Going into the 2012 season, I had a plan: I ponied up for an MLB.tv subscription (and it even worked sometimes!) so I could watch the Tigers at home. But watching the Tigers wasn’t the only thing that was missing from my life away from the Mitten. I needed to talk about the Tigers. Sure, I had my wife (who loves baseball season so much, you guys) and my young son, but neither of them has the conversational endurance necessary to talk about the Tigers with me. I needed the be able to talk about last night’s game at work or strike up a conversation with some rando on the bar stool next to me, and I didn’t have that. Long-distance relationships are hard.
This blog was created to fill the void that was created when I left Michigan for Illinois. Here, I’ve been able to spout of my opinions, reactions, theories, memories, and random bullshit to anyone who cared to read. No blog can ever be a substitute for the real thing, but with a computer, a Twitter account, and the help of some friends, I’ve been able to turn this little thing into a place that felt like home. Musings of a Displaced Tigers Fan did exactly what I hoped it would do for me over the last few years, and, it’s been a lot of fun.
But hey, gettaloada this shit.
I’M BACK IN MICHIGAN, YOU GUYS.
As of a few months ago, I am no longer a Displaced Tigers Fan. I am a Tigers Fan Who Lives in Michigan Again. Being back in the Great Lakes State has been pretty decent so far. Little things I used to take for granted, like walking into literally any store and finding Tigers merchandise for sale, suddenly seemed like gifts from the baseball gods. I fought the urge more than once to drop buckets of cash on needless Tigers apparel and knick-knacks. WHAT IF I NEVER SEE A MOUSEPAD LIKE THIS AGAIN?! I would ask myself, before remembering that I no longer live in a God-forsaken prairieland and also that there is almost no item in the world more useless than a mousepad.
It’s cool to live in a state where I know that other people around me value the same things that I do, namely, the Tigers. It’s cool to walk into my local Buffalo Wild Wings and know that the game would be on the big screen. It’s cool to have the Tigers’ Single-A squad only a short drive from home. But as great as all that has been, I can’t say it’s been all puppies and rainbows since I moved back to Michigan.
For one thing, it seems to me that when it’s too easy to be a Tigers fan, everyone is a Tigers fan. And when everyone is a Tigers fan, what you end up with is a lot of people who only half-way know what they’re talking about. (Editor’s Note: Some may consider me to be part of this half-way-knowing group, and are entitled to that opinion, but can also go suck an egg). There are lots of entitled fans, lots of mLive-commenter types, lots of DOOM and FIAR
LEYLAND AUSMUS and IT’S ABOUT TIME WE GOT RID OF DUMBROWSKI. I have very little tolerance for that. One thing Illinois offered me that Michigan does not was the ability to maintain some safe distance between myself and those folks–or at least as much distance as the internet will allow. In Illinois, I was thrilled if I ran into another Tigers fan. In Michigan… well, I’m gonna have to talk to you for a few minutes before I decide if I’m thrilled about it or not. Maybe that makes me a dick, but I think it makes me selective. And also probably a dick.
Another thing that was hard about my life for the last few months of the season was that it was actually more difficult to watch the Tigers at home than it was in Illinois. I was still riding out the last part of my MLB.tv subscription, and my streaming device of choice is the X-Box. I do not have cable. Since MLB.tv is a little bitch, and only streams out-of-market games, I didn’t get to watch much Detroit baseball from the comfort of my very-much-drawn-all-over-by-a-toddler sofa. This is the epitome of a first world problem, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I hope to alleviate this problem next season. Also, to my wife: honey, if you’re reading this, can we please get cable next season? Love youuuuuu.
All told, though, it’s good to be back. I’m excited about the offseason and anxious to see what sort of moves Al Avila will make in the coming months, and I’m excited to be able to talk to people around me about those moves almost immediately. I’m excited at the prospect of being able to make a drive over to CoPa for a matinee. I’m excited to sit in the lawn at lots and lots of Whitecaps games. If there’s one word that sums up how I feel about being in Michigan for all of the 2016 season, it would be “excited.”
We’ll be around here on the blog on and off throughout the offseason, so don’t forget to stop by and see what we’re up to.