Reporting Eric Thomas
By: Eric Thomas
Let’s face it; we’re all glad 2012 is over. “Sports-wise” in this area, the whole thing stunk. 2011 was almost too good to be true, and we got spoiled. Lions fans were plotting the next step. After 2011 many fans wrote their Lions’ name on the short list of good young teams with tremendous “upside.” Red Wings made to the second round and fought hard before they lost to the Sharks. The Tigers made it all the way to the ALCS out of nowhere, when most of the city was bracing for another late season collapse.
This year has been awful. Start with the Red Wings, for one brief moment the Wings looked like they were going to be tough in the playoffs. They set the record for home winning streaks, Jimmy Howard looked to be putting the finishing pieces on his game, and after his injury the team had depth in goal. Then they got bounced out of the first round in five games. Then there was another NHL lockout. Oh, and Nick Lidstrom retired.
Then the Tigers. They made it to the World Series, so some people seem to think they had a good year. In context, yes. If you checked in with game number 155 and enjoyed the ride through the post-season, you don’t understand. It was awful. I envy fans that didn’t watch every pitch of the season and endure the endless and frighteningly convicted conversations / screaming matches / fistfights over tertiary issues that “ALMOST” led to a loss.
Tigers season started with an offensive explosion from their two big guns, but then they collapsed into a series of losing streaks where the team looked lost. Fans got organized and blamed Brandon Inge, a common scapegoat, but this time he was shipped out of town. Inge got the last laugh, beating the Tigers twice with a grand slam when he got picked up by Oakland.
Then the Tigers season devolved into a series of finger pointing and screaming. If you had a Twitter account or a Facebook, I don’t know how you made it through. The petulant whining from the peanut gallery hit Scott Mitchell levels, while some left behind the whining and descended to reptilian levels. Ryan Raburn was ridiculed when someone close to him died.
By the time the Tigers got into the post-season, some fans had melted down to the point where they said things like “If the Tigers make the World Series, THEN we can talk about Jim Leyland coming back but until then… FIRE LEYLAND and it ended with getting swept in the World Series. Losing in the World Series is always a kick in the ribs but getting swept hurt more.
It’s nice that the team made it so far into the post-season, but to call it a good year would be fantasy. The Tiger’s season was met with constant anxiety and anger. Talking about the Tigers is like bringing up politics with your crazy Fox News obsessed uncle. It’s an exhausting conversation and you wish a meteor would crash into you so that this nightmare will end. Pitchers and catchers report soon, and I’m already getting PTSD tremors.
Michigan football was over before it began. Nick Saban put a boot on Hoke’s neck and Notre Dame turned out to be good. Spartan football was a joke. There was some mild, passing interest in B1G basketball, but both Michigan basketball teams didn’t do much in March.
Oh yeah, the Lions. They came crashing down to earth with all the subtlety of a dump truck speeding into a nitroglycerine plant. They won ten games last year, and FOUR this year. They were so bad that the special teams cost them games. That’s Hulk Hogan internet tape bad. For years, the strength of the team is now the glaring and pronounced Achilles Heel. Figures. The Lions aren’t nearly as good as they were last year and to be honest they aren’t quite as bad as they have been this year but the latter is only a small solace for the undeniable FOUR win season. We had faith in Mayhew and Schwarz going into the season, but the team they firmly own is falling apart.
There are signs that 2013 might be better. The Red Wings can’t get swept in the first round if there’s no season. Victor Martinez will be back. Maybe the Lions will actually address the defensive secondary and not get worse in the offseason. Maybe Michigan basketball will live up to their promise, maybe Izzo will give us one of the surprising seasons.
The close of one year is always thick with optimism of the next. We cross our fingers and whisper a prayer that this year will be better than the last. I hope so too. I can’t stomach another year like 2012.