Here we go! The next “Play Ball!” and the 114th season of Detroit Tigers baseball will commence. The last 29 have gone by without a World Series championship, and yet we find ourselves in something of a Golden Age: Only 3 losing seasons over the past 10 (and only 1 over the past 8), 2 World Series appearances in that span of time, and ownership of the AL Central from 2011 to the present day, not to mention 3 consecutive ALCS appearances. Despite a new manager (and a rookie manager at that) at the helm, a new approach (particularly on the offensive side), and a fair amount of turnover in personnel, it is safe to say that most of us will be disappointed if the Tigers don’t at least advance to the ALCS come October. Pessimist and optimist alike. The reason is spelled s-t-a-r-t-i-n-g r-o-t-a-t-i-o-n.
This season’s quest begins at home against the Kansas City Royals. That’s got to mean Shields vs. Verlander, and it does. Tigers-Royals made for a challenging and interesting rivalry last season. Detroit has become a bit more like KC, perhaps, while the Royals have countered by snagging Omar Infante, the only Tiger who could hit the Royals in 2013.
The last time the Tigers faced the Royals on Opening Day, Zach Greinke outpitched an ineffective Justin Verlander, but the hapless KC bullpen collapsed and the Tigers exploded for 6 runs in the 7th inning on their way to the 8-4 victory. Joel Zumaya picked up the win for his 1+ inning of work.