By: Kurt Snyder
“This is one of those times which you now and then find in sports, when a density of expectations hangs in the air and plucks an event out of the future.” – John Updike, American Novelist
I shared this quote as part of a Facebook post back in 2013. Even though it was written to paint the picture of the feeling an American Novelist had in describing Ted Williams’ home run in his final career at bat, it also served to describe perfectly the anticipation of a Miguel Cabrera ninth inning at bat.
Smack in the middle of a pennant race in August of 2013, the Tigers were tied with the visiting Royals in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was the perfect summer night. Packed ballpark. Fans filled with excitement. Miguel Cabrera leading off the ninth.
It was an incredible feeling as the crowd rose to their feet. Miggy was approaching home plate. And we knew. Everyone knew. It wasn’t a situation where we all hoped Miggy would end the game in dramatic fashion. We knew he would. And he did it, driving the ball just over the wall in right field. The crowd went nuts. It was magical.
These are the kinds of moments we have experienced and grown to expect from Miggy during his Hall of Fame career here in Detroit. But there is one thing I have never considered. That he could potentially leave and play for someone else. That he could potentially end his career in another uniform.
It doesn’t seem right does it? Miguel Cabrera is the face of the Detroit Tigers. And yes, he gets paid an incredible amount of money to be that face. To be a star. To provide moments like what is described above.
Cabrera has been Must-See-TV his whole career in Detroit. If you’re at the game, you make sure you are in your seat when he comes to the plate. If you are at home watching, you make sure you’re in the room. At least, that’s the way I feel.
My brothers and I talk a lot about a number of sports greats we feel we have been lucky to experience in our lifetime. Players we will describe to our grandkids as the greatest athletes of all time. Careers we witnessed. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and of course, Miguel Cabrera.
When Al Avila announced the Tigers’ intentions for this season and into the future, I never believed changes could include the departure of the face of the Tigers. But the reality of it all hit me hard in the face when Cabrera made it known that he would approve any trade which would be beneficial for all sides.
Wow, what a sobering thought.
You see, I am a sucker for feel good sports movies and moments. Field of Dreams sends chills up my spine every time I watch, even when I know what’s coming. That ‘thunderous’ home run in the movie, The Natural , gets me every time. Hoosiers, Rudy and Remember the Titans are others that bring a tear to my eye every time I see them.
But when real life drama on a baseball field presents itself right before your eyes, it doesn’t get any better for a real fan of the game. Kirk Gibson’s dramatic World Series home runs for the Tigers and the Dodgers. The Curt Schilling bloody sock game. The Red Sox improbable series win in the playoffs after trailing the Yankees 3 games to none. And of course, the Magglio Ordonez game winning home run in 2006 to send the Tigers to the World Series.
Miguel Cabrera has provided so many great moments for fans in Detroit. And as fiscally responsible as it would be to get out from under his immense contract and move on in hopes of a more sustainable future, it would be hard to take, but does make some sense.
But you have no idea how hard it was for me to simply write that. The pure thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. The thought of Miggy leaving puts me in a bad mood before it even happens; if it happens.
And I may indeed be stressing over something prematurely. This is something that may never happen. But it has gotten serious now. The Tigers have spoken to him about the possibility. He has given his blessing under the right circumstances, and you know what? Even the discussion is a real bummer for fans.
I expect many of our readers to respond to this blog justifying a trade that involves Cabrera. But I will never pretend to like it. I am an emotional fan who can’t bear to envision this giant of a man, a star destined for the Hall of Fame, one of the best hitters of all time, maybe the greatest Tiger of all time, someday wearing something other than the Old English D.
Do you want to feel emptiness inside as a Tiger fan? That will be the day.