Everyone went all out for Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary on Friday. But if there was any justice in the world there would have been two grand old parks celebrating their centennials. Because Tiger Stadium would have turned 100 that day too.
Yes, I realize that I am nearly 15 years too late to cry about this, but I still cry. Tiger Stadium was where I discovered baseball, dammit, and where I fell in love with it. And I realize that my case is unique in that, because of a connected relative, I always had decent seats and didn’t have to deal with obstructed views and overhangs. I’m also totally aware of how the time and place in which Tiger Stadium fell into disrepair made it impossible that it would ever get a Fenway-style rehab done. The ship sailed, I realize. It sailed long ago. And everyone tells me that Comerica Park is nice (I’m going there for the first time this summer).
Still, I’m a little agitated to know that, as Fenway stood festooned with banners and flags and bore witness to legends of the past walking on that field on Friday afternoon, the place where Tiger Stadium used to be stood empty and mostly neglected and, one day, will be nearly forgotten.
Chris Jaffe wrote a nice piece about Tiger Stadium this morning over at The Hardball Times. Give it a read and then pour one out for the great old place that used to stand at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.
In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: