Having traversed much of the country, I can see why Opening Day in the Motor City is a euphoric experience. First of all, it signals the change from winter to spring which is always a time to celebrate in this cold weather state.But most importantly, the Detroit Tigers have a team that many expect to compete at a very high level, and maybe even win the American League Pennant.
Every spring hope runs eternal for all teams as the new Major League Baseball season commences. This is especially true for the Detroit Tigers as they lost in six games to the Texas Rangers in the AL pennant series.
As I walked around Comerica Park and conversed with the diverse population that was making its way into the game, it became very apparent that this 2012 version of the Tigers was a team that had many giddy. It didn’t hurt that the opening game featured Justin Verlander fresh off a dominant season that saw him take home both the Cy Young and MVP honors. He was absolutely fantastic last year, as he won 24 games with a 2.40 ERA and 250 total strikeouts. His stuff was absolutely electric on a good day, and it makes him a threat to spin a no-hitter every time out.
Boston tossed out Jon Lester, one of the top left-handed hurlers in baseball. He has also thrown a no-hitter and had won at least 15 games in four straight seasons.
They did not disappoint as both were magnificent in the Tigers season opening 3-2 win. Both squads are considered World Series contenders, so the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox series was a prequel to what might be.
Woodward Avenue, Grand Circus Park and Brush Street were abuzz with tailgaters and revelers. The smells of hot dogs, hamburgers and whatever permeated the Detroit Woodward corridor.
The Detroit Tigers’ Opening Day 2012 was almost perfect — and a record season-opener crowd of 45,027 at Comerica Park in Detroit would agree.
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander was simply dominant Opening Day against the visiting Boston Red Sox.
AL batting champion Miguel Cabrera showed all that the move to third base is a work in progress, but it appears he will do the darn thing as the season progress. The “Big Fella” is an intense competitor and that will go a long way in him getting the handle on a position change.
Also, the Tigers’ newly-acquired power-hitting first baseman Prince Fielder drew a standing ovation the first time he came to bat.
“I looked around and could not believe I was in Detroit,” he said in the post game interview. “I am very excited about being, in a sense, back home. I really like the possibilities of what this team can accomplish.”
Fielder, son of former Tigers star Cecil Fielder, kicked many naysayers to the curb, showing all that he has a glove and can field his position. He made a couple short hop scoops that preserved an out.
“To Prince’s credit,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “he has worked hard all spring training and I’m sure it will pay huge dividends for us.”
Fielder said the work was the least he could do for Cabrera, who was willing to make the move from first to third to accommodate him.
“With Miguel doing all the hard work he was doing, I felt I owed it not only to the team but to him,” Fielder said, “because I couldn’t be here without him being willing to move to third base. I thought I owed it to him to work just as hard as he is at third.”
Opening Day is over and the long grind that is baseball is under way. The 2012 version of the Detroit Tigers has the entire state lightheaded about the possibilities. If all goes right this could be a special season for Detroit’s Boys of Summer.