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The D in Despair

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Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina (11) looks on in the second period of their NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 (courtesy photo).

By Joshua Carlson

Whether it be the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings, or Pistons, being a fan of Detroit sports teams has not been pleasant as of late. Statistically, it has been the worst state to be a fan of professional sports in 2019. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking up in 2020.

A tweet circulated earlier this month from Ryan Field (@RyanFieldABC) that showed a stat researched by David Hogg reading, “The 226 losses suffered by the four Detroit teams in calendar year 2019 are not only the most in Detroit sports history, but also the most of any city or market in any calendar year in the history of North American professional sports.” That fact alone illustrates the pain and suffering endured by Detroit fans forced to watch loss after loss–but it doesn’t stop there.

Let’s start with baseball. In 2018, the World Series featured four former Tigers players (J.D. Martinez, David Price, Rick Porcello, and Ian Kinsler) from the 2014 Tigers team that did not manage to win a World series. Not to mention, those former Tigers were accompanied to the 2018 World Series by Dave Dombrowski, who was once the former Tigers General Manager. The 2019 World Series also featured three former Tigers Pitchers (Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez). These three were on the 2012 World Series team who were swept by the San Francisco Giants. There seems to be no light at the end of this tunnel for Tigers fans, as Al Aliva, the current GM for the Tigers, has been making one bad decision after another. Such as giving a 33-year-old Miguel Cabrera an 8 year 233 million dollar contract. Having a record of 47-114 seems to be the new norm in Detroit.

Moving on to football, the Lions are notoriously bad with their record in 2019 being 3-12-1, the last five years being 34-45, collectively. The Lions have had a talented quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Since coming into the league in 2009, Stafford has thrown for 41,025 yards and 256 touchdowns, but the Lions ownership has consistently failed to give him a team that can compete in the playoffs. The last playoff showing was in 2016 but the Lions being the Lions, they inevitably lost. Adding to the losing streak in the playoffs, the team has not won a playoff game since 1991. For fans of the Lions of all ages, this makes it has been painful for a long stretch, being over 10,000 days since there has been a win in the postseason, along with the team never winning a Super Bowl.

Now we find ourselves ready to talk basketball. The Pistons seem to sting the most out of Detroit’s four teams because they used to have a legendary organization at one time in history. This is the same club that was once known for the “bad boys,” winning a championship in 89’ and 90’ and employing players like Bill Laimbeer, Isiah Thomas, and Joe Dumars. In 2004, the Pistons boasted a  championship team with Chauncy Billups, Ben Wallace, and Richard “Rip” Hamilton leading the team. The woes unknowingly started a year before that in 2003, when the Pistons drafted arguably the biggest bust in NBA history–Darko Milicic in the first round with the second pick overall, passing up on future NBA greats like, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. Averaging a measly 1.6 points and only staying with the Pistons for two seasons after being drafted. This draft faux pas ruined a future that could have elongated the success of the team. In the last five years, it has not been clear whether the Pistons even know if they want to be good or if they want to tank a season for a good draft pick. Their future doesn’t look bright either, as they are currently shopping their star center Andre Drummond, who was their ninth pick in the 2012 draft. Derrick Rose is also now on the market as he is having a similar year to his 2011 MVP season, averaging 24.2 ppg and 8.8 assists per 36 mins. It looks like tanking for a pick seems inevitable for the unorganized organization.

 While the Red Wings have missed the playoffs the last three years, this is the only Detroit team that looks even slightly promising. They most recently had a record of making the NHL playoffs 25 consecutive years. While they have missed the last three and seemingly are going to miss in 2020 with a current record of 12-35. Hiring former Red Wings great Steve Yzerman as the new GM, he was formerly with the Tampa Bay Lightning who has had recent success. This gives promise and a glimmer of hope for Detroit hockey fans that their fate will not replicate the likes of the other three Detroit teams.

Being a fan of professional sports in the state of Michigan is undoubtedly disappointing. Being very painful every year, with nothing to look forward to, and no sports teams to genuinely root for knowing the disappointment will just creep back game after game. Call me crazy, but I, like many other hopeless sports fanatics in Michigan, will continue to tune in and hope that one day, one season, we will finally have the joy of experiencing another championship in Detroit.