A week ago today I finished my FINAL law exam of the spring. During the last twenty minutes or so of the exam I was getting so excited thinking about the premise of being done with school for the summer that I was getting butterflies in my stomach. No more staying up for 24 hours cramming and then sleeping for the whole day, no more despondent phone calls to my family an hour before the exam after working myself into a frenzy over the fear that I might fail, no more class period. By the time I got home from my exam, I was literally shaking, I didnt know whether to scream, cry tears of joy, jump up onto the table and dance, or lay down and die. Unfortunately I came closer to the latter than anything else as for the past week I've been sick (think Strep Throat with more blood......no, really its as fun as it sounds), and all those butterflies I felt in my stomach was really the beginning of a virus coursing its way through my body. Sorry for the long introduction but I felt I owed it to my two regular readers who are not related to me and didnt know I was sick, and to Chris Truby who I imagine is Google-ing his name, killing time before he has to go open the Verizon Wireless kiosk at the Omaha Best Buy, waiting/hoping the Royals call because he's got to be better than D'Angelo Jiminez, and IF they call him it won't use up his prepaid minutes.
Anyways this is not going to be a Chris Truby hate post, because God knows there are many sites already devoted to that subject, almost all of which are better than mine. No, the brunt of this post is my fear that the Tigers will be overtaken by fairweather fans, if their winning ways continue, and fans who have been rained on for 13 years, experienced heart ache, the wunderkind Randy Smith era, and a FREAKIN' 119 LOSS SEASON, will be left peering in through the wrought iron fence in right field, disheveled, with an unkempt red beard, grasping at people who come within an arms length, hoping to pull them close in as threatening a manner as possible and whispering in their ear "Tell me who George Lombard is?", before security leads me....I mean them, away for the third time this week.
I first got the idea for this post about fairweather fans when I was at a sports bar recently and noticed that the Tigers game was on the main television instead of the usual HeadLine news with the sound turned off. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoying the game when the guy sitting next to me turned to me and said, "Chris Shelton is really doing good for a first year player." I sat for a moment and then replied it was actually his third season and the guy slowly turned back towards me with a screw face on and slowly tilted his head to the left, as if I had just told him that the world was indeed flat. I felt all kinds of rage sweep over my body as I recognized this guy as the same type of person who probably drug out his teal Grant Hill jersey when the Pistons were in the Finals a couple of years ago, and asked when we drafted Chauncey Billups. Luckily for him and me Killer Queen came on over the jukebox and Freddy Mercury made me feel well........pleasant, like he always does, but I digress.
I've always been a hopelessly optimistic/delusional Tigers fan and my sister still reminds me of the time I fervently argued that the Tigers acquiring Mitch Meluskey, Roger Cedeno, and Chris Holt would be enough to put them over the top in the Central division (they went 56-106 instead.....close, only 39 games back), and this season was no different as I predicted the Tigers would win 88 games and finish second in the Central. So far they have exceeded my own expectations and have the best record in baseball, (I cant believe I just typed that, I'm waiting for the earth to open up and swallow me whole). They havent been this good since 1993, when I was nine years old, wearing a Mt. Crushmore T-shirt with Fielder, Tettleton, Fryman, and the recently traded Rob Deer on it, and thinking I was the coolest fifth grader in the world because I got Ten by Pearly Jam for my Birthday. Had I known that it would be the last winning season and good Pearl Jam album until I was a grad student I would have cherished both a little more. However I remained a devout Tigers fan. I was there when Lou Whitaker showed up at the players meeting during the strike in a limo and white suit, complaining about being underpaid. I sat through the Buddy Bell, Larry Parrish, Phil Garner, and Luis Pujols eras. I was deceived into believing that Greg Gohr, Felipe Lira, Kimera Bartee and Cade Gaspar were "prospects". I watched the worst pitching staff of all time in the 1996 Tigers where Omar Olivares was our "Ace". I've ate enough Little Caesers Pizzas at Comerica to have heart problems as a 22 year old. I skipped my Prom to go to a Tigers game because it was Bobby Higginson bobble head night, (who said I couldn't get a date, huh, I'll fight you, what you've never been beat up by a guy who was crying before or something'?) I even went to 10 games during their 119 loss season, driving three hours round trip to watch Sir Gene Kingsale kick around balls in the outfield, watch a balding Kevin Witt be our power threat, watch Steve Avery's "comeback", and have Shane Halter and Dean Palmer call me and my friend T.J. "pussies" because we were jeering the team during warmups. I've seen crowds so sparse that people would routinely run across the field during late season games, just for some kind of excitement, I've been harassed by homeless guys carrying high heel shoes in a plastic bag after being one of only a hundred people or so with enough patience to stick around until the end of an extra inning loss. I and people of my ilk who have weathered the suckiness of this franchise deserve to be there when the Tigers finally get back on top and if I......I mean we, get shut out this fall I would recommend staying away from the fence in right, especially if you're wearing an ill fitting Cecil Fielder jersey that hasnt been worn in ten years, and saying things like, "this pitcher's pretty decent, what's his name again? Maroth. He's new right?"