The fans of Detroit have been in a state of perpetual disappointment for decades. The Detroit Red Wings sacrificed key developmental years to keep “The Streak” alive. The Tigers attempted to stretch their last World Series window for almost a decade. The Lions were led by incompetent regime after incompetent regime. The Pistons expected Charlie Villanueva, Josh Smith, and a dozen failed draft picks to continue what ended after the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals.
Over the last ten years, Detroit sports were just good enough to be a late-lottery team with the occasional low-seed playoff spot. But, they were never bad enough to be at the top of the draft consistently. However, the past few years have changed Detroit. Each and every team is actually rebuilding. Rosters are being torn down. Prospects are being acquired and developed properly – who would’ve thought that? Culture is being brought back into franchises. It is truly incredible.
This feeling may be my inexperience with Detroit sports. I’m a college guy – too young to even remember the 0-16 season. But just engaging with older fans, I know something is different. Even when some teams won championships or saw prolonged success, there was always another team to complain about. Now, for the first time in the city’s history, it looks like all teams could really be amazing at the same time…
Troy Weaver took over the Pistons last year and quickly made it his mission to obliterate the roster. He tore through the draft with steals in Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. Weaver signed Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Josh Jackson, and many other solid players. During the season, Weaver continued to make moves towards a younger core. Now, the team’s oldest player is 24-year-old Josh Jackson. The rebuilding squad looks primed to get a top pick in the upcoming draft and will potentially be able to select standout Cade Cunningham
The Red Wings
Now, the Pistons LCA roomate: the Detroit Red Wings. Despite being only two years into the YzerPlan, much is looking up for the Wings. Steve Yzerman has a proven track record as a dynasty-building GM. While the Draft hasn’t fallen the team’s way yet, there is promise in their prospects. Yzerman’s first draft pick, Mo Seider, is considered one of the best German defensemen in recent history. Also, 2020 4th overall pick Lucas Raymond looks to be a force on a horrifying Wings power play and penalty kill when healthy and ready. If Jeff Blashill is fired after this season, it will be the icing on the cake. Everyone trusts Stevie Y. He won every cup in the last 3 decades with the team. He knows Detroit and their fans well. Yzerman – like host of The Hook Darren McCarty preaches – will bring back culture to Hockeytown once again.
First, I never thought I’d ever say this: I believe in what the Lions are doing right now. Brad Holmes has brought on a dynamic coaching staff. The squad of former players has undeniable grit, great play-callers, and chemistry like no other. Detroit traded Stafford and got a great pass-rusher in two fleece deals with the Rams. They are shedding all of the awful QuinnTricia Era players. Sure, the cap hit impacts the team right now. But we are not trying to be good instantly. This is a rebuild. Management isn’t going to wrap up disappointment in a Honolulu Blue package and call it a contender anymore. Detroit really wants to build through the draft and think of the future – rather than thinking of Eric Ebron or Jahlani Tavai.
The Tigers underwent a full fire-sale in the later half of the 2010s – see my Trades Revisited Series. This succession of trades combined with unbelievably bad records gave them a plethora of young talent. While the Tigers do not have a game-changing GM in Alex Avila, their prospects more than make up for it. Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning all look like stud pitchers. The powerful Spencer Torkelson will be Detroit’s #1 souvenir vendor alongside Willi Castro. The team has added some future trade pieces like Wilson Ramos that will likely be shipped at the deadline. The Detroit faithful can once again look forward to another high draft pick and future star this season.
In writing this, have I committed the cardinal sin of saying the quiet part out loud? Most likely. The prospects every team has could fizzle out. We could draft so many busts that the DIA would run out of room to display them. But, I have hope. For the first time in my life of being a fan, I have real hope. I’m not being told to have this feeling. Gone are the days of convincing myself bad contracts are good and bad coaches are the savior of the franchise. It will be a long road. But, Detroit sports will be back. It’s just a matter of time.