Detroit kicks off a new decade of sports with only one way to go, up. That’s not saying much. It’s just not possible for them to do much worse
Times have Changed
The 2010s was the first decade since the 70’s that a Detroit team failed to win a championship. The Tigers and Pistons took home titles in the ’80s. The Red Wings dominated the 90’s with two Stanley Cups. They would take home two more in the 2000s with the Pistons taking a title in 2004.
At the start of the last decade, most of Detroit sports were in a great spot. The Lions would make the playoffs three times by 2016. The Red Wings were two years removed from a Stanley cup. The Tigers would win four straight division titles from 2011-2014, and claim a World Series berth in 2012. By the time 2019 rolled to a close, however, these things would all feel like distant memories.
In 1935 both the Lions and Tigers took home Championships. The Wings followed suit by winning the Stanley Cup in the 35-36 season. Detroit became known as the City of Champions, but the moniker has since faded. The past successes only seem to add to the disappointment of Detroit sports. Currently, the Pistons hold the best winning percentage among the City’s teams, at a dismal .354. In 2019, Professional teams in The Motor City tallied a collective 226 losses. The most by a single U.S. city, in any single year.
The Tigers and Lions both Finished last in their divisions, with the Tigers locking down the worst record in all of baseball. The Red Wings sit at the bottom of the NHL standings posting a 12-35-4 record just over halfway through the season. They too look to be a lock for dead last in their respective sport. To add insult to injury, the Wings own the worst goal differential in the NHL, at -90. That’s 54 goals worse than the next lowest team. Only the Pistons sit above last place, yet they’re three and a half games out of a playoff spot. Even if they were to get in, winning a playoff series is almost impossible.
What’s the Future Hold?
It’s difficult to say what direction sports in Detroit are headed in. The Lions are in a constant stagnated state and have been for 60 years. Both the Lions and Pistons are stuck in a limbo of not wanting to rebuild, but not close to being competitive. Ownership for both teams refuses to see just how far from a title they truly are. The pistons have an aging Blake Griffin, who has been injury-prone. His play is admirable but it won’t carry the team, and he is now out for the remainder of the year. The Lions have a battered Matthew Stafford. Likely the greatest QB to ever play for the team, Stafford, too, has been susceptible to injury. It’s hard for them to commit to a total rebuild as it means you effectively lose a franchise Quarterback
Both the Tigers and Red Wings are in similar phases of a rebuild. The Tigers loaded with pitching prospects. They have two top 10 right-handed prospects in Casey Mize and Matt Manning, and a top 10 lefty with Tarik Skubal. They are lacking in the power section with High School draftee Riley Greene being the top bat in the system. The future has an overcast of doubt however with GM Al Avila. Skepticism arose when it came out that Avila passed up on offers to trade a young Michael Fulmer for either Alex Bregman or Javier Baez.
Save us, Stevie
Perhaps the best hope for the City’s next title, the Red Wings look as dead as ever, for now. Former Captain Steve Yzerman returned to be the GM for the Winged Wheel. Yzerman won GM of the year in 2015 with Tampa Bay and was up for consideration nearly every year following. Detroit’s roster is comprised of overpaid and aging veterans, hometown kids who got more than they were worth under Ken Holland, and Young talent in need of better coaching. Last season Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou became the first Wings to score 30 goals in a season since Marian Hossa in 2009. Anthony Mantha, whose season was cut short by injury, managed to net 25. The Red Wings also look to get production Filip Zadina, defensemen Moritz Seider, and a collection of other young draft picks in the near future.
The road ahead is a long one, and right now there isn’t exactly light at the end of the tunnel. as Detroit takes on a new decade that fans can only hope it’s sooner rather than later, that a team figures it out. Winning has a funny way of happening. Sometimes, things just click, and the unlikeliest of teams pull off something great. That’s all the city can hope for at the moment. The only hope, that someone can end the disappointment of Detroit Sports.
Top Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images