One can argue that a professional sports team should always mirror the city it represents. How else do you get the citizens to identify with the roster? To get behind—and root for the squad bearing the cities namesake on their chest. Detroit,Michigan founded in 1701, was once the pride and joy of United States. The premier American city from late 19th century to mid-20th century, The Motor City faced major decline, after the loss of blue-collar jobs, and became the face of how not to manage a city. The Teams here in Western Michigan have had similar journeys—albeit not as dramatic. from World champions, to lovable losers, to laughing stocks, to fighting back and becoming respectable organizations. Much like the city these teams represent, things are looking up, more than ever, I assure you there’s hope. Things are changing, oh yes they are changing. Some small steps toward progress, and some bigger steps toward optimism. I’ll provide you this plate of positivity, and a tall glass of hope. Detroit is on the way up, back to prominence.
Heading In The Right Direction
On July 18, 2013 the city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, becoming the largest Metropolitan city in American history to do so. At one time Detroit had at least 70,000 abandoned buildings, 31,000 empty houses, and 90,000 vacant lots, and had become notorious for its urban blight. As of today July 21, 2016 The Motor City is ascending, making great strides on a great comeback trail. With 10,000 blighted homes demolished, a revitalized downtown, and Dan Gilbert is trying to single-handedly stand the city on it’s own two feet—or at least downtown. Gilbert has purchased 60 properties, spanning 14 million square feet for $2.2 Billion. His companies remain the largest employers in The D, with 14,237 employees. There are more bars, eateries, and retail stores including, Nike are setting up shop downtown. Just like a team would do, Detroit is building from the inside out. As for the professional squads representing this place:
- The Detroit Tigers are similar to the citizens of this great city. Yes they went through a lot of losing in the past, endured some tough times, but they kept pushing. Detroiters have endured things you only seen on the movies, and many are still alive to tell their stories. The Tigers endured more losing seasons then the organization would like to remember, but they are in a position to control their destiny. Currently 51-48, good for second place in the A.L. Central, and now 6 games back behind division leading Cleveland Indians. In the last 10 years the Tigers have made it to the World Series twice, coming up short both times. In the last decade, Detroit has had 7 winning seasons. Before the Tigers turned things around they had 12 losing seasons in a row, including the horrible 2003 season when their record was 43-119.
- The Detroit Pistons are comparable to Downtown. Promising, most definitely on the rise, young and up-and coming. Hoarding young talent, in “win now” mode, and last season they made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. After locking up All-Star Andre Drummond, with a contract extension keeping the big man in The D at least until 2021, the Eastern Conference is definitely on notice. The way this roster is constructed, the Pistons should go deeper into the playoffs starting this upcoming season. They were swept in the first round by the eventual NBA champs, but it was valuable experience for this young squad. Maybe I’m more excited for this upcoming season then I should be in the middle of July, but this is one of the teams I have on my “break out season” radar.
- The Detroit Lions are comparable to the East and West side of Detroit. Still in need of a lot of TLC and hope, yet people are hopeful for “what could be.” The Lions have been historically inconsistent even in the Barry Sanders years. Yet, as with most fans east of California, Detroiters have lived and died with this team. As a die hard, if you invest your emotion into a team, and invest your hard earned dollar, you eventually want a winner. The Lions as an organization have given the great fans in Michigan mostly losing seasons, with glimpses of winning— every couple of years. Now the Lions find themselves—much like the city they represent, rebuilding. For the second time in franchise history Detroit loses a once-in-a-generation talent (Calvin Johnson) to early retirement, and the Lions have to figure out how to fill a gaping void. Maybe this team may not be as bad as some think, but maybe they will be. The defense is underrated overall, but with the release of middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, there’s one more hole to fill. The offense may be the biggest question mark of all, with the departure of a hall of fame wide receiver, questions at the running back position, and the question of which Matthew Stafford will fans get this season. The receiving corp should resemble that of Seattle’s, with no real stand-out, but pretty good pass catchers overall. I don’t expect a 4-12 season, but 8-8 or 9-7 is a real possibility—back to hopeful thinking.
2016 is promising for the city of Detroit, the people have feelings of optimism toward what could be now more than ever before. It’s still going to take some years to convince those outside of the Motor City, but if you’re from The D, chances are you don’t give a shit about how people are feeling about the city or your teams. Why? None of you came to help, most of you laughed, talked bad—and pointed fingers, and kicked the dog while it was down. Now the comeback is on, techies,and investors are coming in, trying to make it the new “cool place”, the new “it” spot. But, there is no room for bandwagoners, it’s real life not sports, and even in regards to sports it’s bigger than your coattail grabbing life. You have to go through storms to enjoy sunshine
Writer for TheCouchSports.com, LiveFromWoodward.com, & PTA. Editor, and Co-Host of The Couch Sports Podcast, and a Certified Beardsman.