Sometimes it’s the show, sometimes it’s the tent. What I choose to remember this morning about the 2011 Tigers campaign is the way it pulled the state under its flaps, how we all crunched together and swayed in rhythm as one big baseball community, really, from midsummer on.
How people across the state would ask, “Is Verlander going tonight?” and make different plans if he was. How morning coffee would be spiced with laughter over Jose Valverde’s latest pitching mound shake. Inge — yes or no? Avila — amazing? Hey, this Fister guy is pretty good, huh? These were daily conversations from Alpena to Ypsilanti. One victory against a division foe in early September turned to two, three, four, six, eight, nine, a dozen straight — a run that turned even the most cautious fan into a true believer. The Tigers finished the regular campaign with a sure Cy Young winner (Verlander) and an American League batting champ (Miguel Cabrera) on their roster, and an argument for either to be MVP.
And then, the postseason.