By Dan Leach/ Follow Dan @dtmleach
Tuesday on a steamy night in the Bronx, The Detroit Tigers hope what will be the final piece to their World Series puzzle, David Price, made his first start in the Olde English D. Price — easily one of MLB’s best over the past 5 years and the 2012 Cy Young winner — comes to the D with high expectations and lofty goals. It is just one of 162 regular season baseball games in 2014, but as the prize of free agency, Price has millions of Tigers fans at his back already cheering him on.
HONORABLE MENTION- DOMINEK HASEK October 4th, 2001, at San Jose; The Wings win in OT 4-3, which led to a Stanley Cup in his first season in the D. JOEY HARRINGTON-September 8th 2002, at Miami; While Joey ballgame’s career with the Lions was absolutely forgettable, the overall #3 pick in the 2002 draft came in with absurd fanfare. RASHEED WALLACE- February 20th, 2004, vs Minnesota at The Palace of Auburn Hills; This start led to an NBA title in his first season in Detroit.
5 – MIGUEL CABRERA – March 31, 2008, vs. the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day at Comerica Park. Cabrera came over in what may end up being one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history when he was traded from the Florida Marlins for Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz (yeah, I was thinking the same thing- ‘Who the hell is that?’), Burke Badenhop, Cameron Maybin and Mike Rabelo. The Marlins also sent Dontrelle “what you talking about ” Willis in the absurd deal, as well. Miller has had some decent success as of late and Maybin has been serviceable at times, but the rest of those players might as well work at the store Hot Topic at the mall. Cabrera didn’t waste any time introducing himself to the Tigers faithful. In his third at bat, he smoked a solo dinger off Royals Pitcher Gil Meche, the first of many amazing moments.
4 – DAVID PRICE – Aug. 5, 2009, vs. the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium; I put Price just a tiny bit above Cabrera because while the Tigers had been to a World Series in 2006, they had not been longtime contenders like they are in 2014. Price, one of the top pitchers in MLB, and arguably the second best lefty, could be the final piece the Tigers need to win their first World Series since 1984. There’s not much more you could have asked for from Price in his Tigers debut as he went 8 2/3 with 10 strike outs and no walks, leaving the game tied at 3 in the ninth.
3 – BRENDAN SHANAHAN – October 11, 1996, vs. Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena; While Shanny’s debut brought the Wings faithful into a froth it was two days earlier that will go down in Detroit history as a day that changed the face of a franchise. Just two games into the season, Brendan Shanahan was traded from the Hartford Whalers along with Brian Glynn for Keith Primeau. All Shanny did was help lead the Wings to three Stanley Cup titles on his way to a Hall of Fame career when he was inducted in 2013. Now if we can just get Shanny out of Toronto and back to the D …
2 – MATTHEW STAFFORD – Sept. 13, 2009, vs. New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome; Matthew Stafford was drafted first overall in April 2009 out of Georgia and immediately was heralded as the Lions’ savior. Let’s be honest, this wasn’t a franchise that really could point back to a rich tradition of good QBs, unless you were alive in the 50s and saw Bobby Layne play. Stafford showed from the start that he had the tools to give the Lions their best signal caller in generations. His 2009 season was cut short in week 11 of the 2009 season at Ford Field against the Browns when he separated his shoulder, but not before he made one of the gutsiest drives in recent NFL history. He helped the Lions win the game and showed the kind of moxie Lions fans had been starved for from their quarterback for years.
1 – BARRY SANDERS – Sept. 10, 1989, at the Pontiac Silverdome; It came in a loss to the then Phoenix Cardinals, but Lions fans, starved for success for decades, knew they were about to witness something special when #20 ran onto the field for the first time in a regular season game. Barry had a mildly, by #20’s standard’s, inauspicious start of 71 yards on nine carries and a TD — but showed on his first carry that went for 18 yards — just how special he was going to be. He left the game way before his time, but this day was the start of a career that went down as one of the greatest for any position in NFL history.
Who is your No 1?
My prediction for the next most anticipated Detroit sports debut … is 2014-15 season Red Wings Forward Anthony Mantha