By: Jeff Riger
In Detroit, baseball fans were consumed with the trade that brought the Tigers Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers. However a bigger deal happened on Monday, a transaction that I still find hard to compute; Ichiro was traded to the Yankees. When I first heard, I thought it was pure speculation, but then to see Suzuki batting 8th and getting a standing ovation by Mariner fans in Seattle, wearing Yankee pinstripes, I had no choice but to accept it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not even an Ichiro fan, just a guy that really marveled at watching him play over the years. Who wouldn’t?
In his 12 years, I believe he is already a Hall of Famer. In Ichiro’s first ten seasons he eclipsed 200 hits plus he led the league in 7 of those seasons. He won the Rookie of the Year, the MVP, 10 gold gloves and has been a top 25 MVP candidate for each of those ten seasons as well. The guy is a baseball stud and now he has been traded to New York, just seems so weird. But even more weird is seeing Ichiro in a Yankees uniform.
But Ichiro is not the only!
Earlier in the year Peyton Manning was released by the Colts, a place where he won a championship and became one of the most prolific quarterbacks ever to play the game. He is now a Bronco and like Ichiro, it is so weird seeing him don the Denver orange.
So I got to thinking…
What Detroit athletes have left town only to sport another uniform; but you could never get used to it?
Below I have decided to list my top 5.
5. Lance Parrish-
“Big Wheel” played with the Tigers for 10 seasons where he quickly became a Detroit favorite. Parrish made every Detroit youngster want to play catcher including myself. Who can forget that patented bright orange and black catcher’s glove that was available for sale at any local sports store?
Well on March 13th, 1987 Parrish signed with the Philadelphia Phillies after hitting the free agent market and his time in Detroit was officially over, well that is until he came back to be a coach for the team under Manager Alan Trammel. I remember the first time I saw ‘Big Wheel” in a Phillies uniform and thinking “this just ain’t right!”
4. Chauncey Billups
I know “Mr. Big Shot” didn’t start his career with the Pistons but I believe that a lot of Pistons fans believe he should have ended it wearing the Red, White and Blue. Billups was obviously intregal to Detroit winning a title and going to 6 Eastern Conference Finals. Of course Billups was later traded to the Nuggets for Allen Iverson and even though the move actually made sense at the time, there were many people that were unhappy to see #1 go. Considering the only thing that AI did well here was help the local casinos and skip practice on Thanksgiving, the deal in everybody’s mind soured almost immediately.
Sure the run was over and a deal needed to be made to help set up the team for the future with Iverson’s expiring contract but seeing Billups that first time in a Denver uniform was heartbreaking for the area. And, who could forget the standing ovation that the fans gave Billups when he came back to the Palace for the first time? Goosebumps everywhere!
3. Chris Spielman
Yes, I know he’s a Buckeye, but that did not stop him from becoming one of the most revered Lions ever to play at the Silver Dome.
Spielman was a psychopath on the football field and I mean that in a good way. He played with a torn peck, and he even used to walk around in circles between plays envisioning very bad things to get himself more fired up. The guy was the meaning of how football players are supposed to be. Of course the fact that he was a great linebacker helped make all of the above even more impressive. He even appeared in Wrestlemania on Lawrence Taylors team back in 1995.
I know people loved Barry Sanders in that era and for good reason but everybody respected Spielman and never would want to think about Lions football without #54 roaming the field. Well in 1996 it happened. Spielman left Detroit and signed with the Bills as a free agent. I was outraged, livid and vowed Lions football would never be the same. I think I was right about that last part.
Seeing Speilman for the first time in a Bills uniform made me ill. I think I should leave it at that.
2. Sergei Fedorov
It was the 2003 offseason and I had just started working at “The Ticket” although it was an AM station and it was called “AM 1270 The Sports Station” at the time. I was screening phone calls for a number of hosts and we all got word that Fedorov decided to take his talents to Anaheim. The phone lines were jammed for a solid 10 hours with the same reaction from every caller; how dare him!
Well he did, he bolted to play with the Ducks for a number of reasons and he was never the same player again. From the Ducks to the Capitals to even the Blue Jackets, Sergei had played his best hockey in Detroit and fans never forgot it.
Now you might think the fact that Sergei essentially ruined his own career and helped Detroit win 3 cups would be reason enough for fans to eventually forgive? That of course was not the case as Hockey Town would routinely boo Fedorov unmercifully when he came to the Joe with one of his various other teams. You got to wonder if it will be the same way if Sergei decides to play in the Alumni game at Comerica Park before this year’s Winter Classic.
Sorry I just had to. Now you can talk amongst yourselves as to how much you all hate me.
So who did I miss?