I have some time I figure to take a look at what the Tigers have surrendered and what the Tigers are getting. Will look not just at the numbers, but at the finances and other potential ramifications. That is done better with a clear head. But first….first there is the grieving.
In 2002 the Tigers drafted a kid out of Chicago in the 3rd round. A hard worker this guy was. He didn’t have the one stand out tool, but he managed to do everything pretty well. For that reason he was always overlooked a little bit on various prospect lists.
After working his way through the Tigers system, improving at every stop he got a September call-up. Due to a variety of roster machinations and injuries he got a chance to show his stuff in 2005. I was there when he got that first 2005 start and I remember sitting with my buddy Russ who was asking about the new guy. I explained he could hit pretty good and he could run pretty good and he was a solid defender. After watching him stroke a triple Russ turned to me and said, “I’ll say he can run pretty good.”
In 2006 Curtis Granderson was the Tigers starting centerfielder on Opening Day in Kansas City. I remember interviews where he talked about his feeling when he was out there for the National Anthem and how he felt he had really made it at that point.
He became a key part of the magical 2006 team that made baseball relevant again in Detroit. For many of you reading this you wouldn’t even be on this site were it not for his contributions. He had a big series against he Yankees in the playoffs, but I mostly remember him for hitting a game-tying homer in the 9th inning against the Reds that year. As the season wore on though he became a regular target for quotes on Fox Sports coverage because he was so well spoken, humble, and affable.
When Tigers fan Brian Bluhm was killed in the Virginia Tech tragic shootings, Granderson who was informed that Bluhm was a big fan of his, made him his his number 1 fan on Myspace. What kind of high profiile athlete does that?
Of course 2007 saw the breakout season. The incredible quad 20 with the gold glove caliber defense in centerfield, including a dramatic wall catch that robbed Wily Mo Pena of a home run and secured a sweep of the Red Sox heading into the All Star break. A star was certainly born and further cemented when he joined TBS coverage for the Post Season and became a true ambassador for the sport of baseball.
The Tigers, the city of Detroit, and the state of Michigan had a favorite son. A guy who’s off the field heroics were at the same All Star level that his on field heroics were. And yet it was a guy who was incredibly accessible, even taking the time to answer a few questions for this humble blogger. People adored Granderson, and rightly so.
There was the work ethic and the personality, and the fact he could actually play the game as well. The city of Detroit for all its struggles has been blessed with a series of stars to be proud of. After Al Kaline, and Alan Trammell, and Steve Yzerman, and Nicklas Lidstrom, and, Joe Dumars. Guys who spent their whole career representing the city of Detroit. Granderson was going to be the next one. The one to carry the torch. Granderson was from Chicago but he became one of ours. It wasn’t any one thing, not the Grand Kids Foundation or the way he took a walk off away from Grady Sizemore or the way he conducted himself in interviews. It was all of those things in one special package.
For those who are upset about the trade, I can’t blame you. There is a baseball reason for what went down. But right now it’s okay to grieve. Granderson was a remarkable player and a source of pride for everyone who flipped on that English D cap in the morning. This is the kind of trade that rips the soul out of a fan. The good news is that for those who have their Granderson jersey and called Granderson THEIR Tiger you don’t need to keep that jersey in the closet. It’s an instant classic.