Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You Are Wrong

ESPN The Magazine has published an open letter to Detroit sports fans telling us to brace for the worst. Here's the text of it:

To: Citizens of Detroit

From: ESPNTheMag.Com

Dear D-Towners,

Enjoy this Cup. It may be a rocky road for a while.

The Tigers are currently 24-35, losers of three straight and 3-7 in their last ten. Leyland's patented rant—now copied by the likes of John McLaren—may have worked in 2006 (they started slow, then made the Series) but it's not working now. Despite a lineup that should terrify Greg Maddux in his prime, the team is essentially treading water.

The Pistons? Joe Dumars says "everyone is on the table." They might hire a long-term assistant as their head man when Avery Johnson is available (hey, so's Isiah!). Rasheed, arguably the most talented player on the team-first Pistons, is likely the first to go in a fire sale. The East may be weak, but 11 months out, we can't see the Pistons making seven straight Conference Finals.

Then there's the Lions.

College football's not much better. Over in Ann Arbor (you guys root for them, right?) Rich Rodriguez is a decent hire, but it won't pan out for a bit. He loses Pryor, an O-Lineman transfers to Ohio State (AH!!!!) and he's got more allegations swirling around him than Lindsay Lohan does suitors of both genders. Even if you root for Michigan State, well, can you really name any stars on Michigan State? Javon Ringer? His name is cooler than anything, really. (Jehuu Caulcrick? Same deal. Although theoretically it doesn't matter, since he's on the Jets.) Basically, if you're a Big 10 fan rooting for anyone except OSU, you're doomed. Beanie Wells? The guy is a machine. Now, if they make a national title game again, that's a whole 'nother story…

The Shock? They're pretty good (6-1 right now) and we love Laimbeer , but c'mon, can you really bet against Candace, Lisa and Hollywood for this season? She's the WNBA's savior!

City rankings? St. Louis replaced you guys as the most dangerous city in America in a few surveys but your mayor's involved in a sex scandal. Similar thing happened to our Governor over here in New York and his HS alma mater still hasn't recovered.

The point's simple: Detroit's won The Sporting News "Best Sports City" a couple of times; it's in contention for "TitleTown" this summer via ESPN platforms. It may win—historically, it's quite deserving and heck, it is the current home of the Stanley Cup. (Did Kwame Kilpatrick just get to bed? We think so.) However, if you're a Detroit fan, savor the present; the future just doesn't seem to hold much promise.

Hoping we're wrong,



Dear ESPNTheMag.Com:

You are wrong. You're wrong not only in your conclusions, but your underlying assumptions as well. From top to bottom, you are w-r-o-n-g.

I'm not going to go through the merits of each team or athletic program. There's just no use in that. Every franchise has its ups and downs and overanalyzing each one isn't going to lead to any fruitful discussion in this context. The fact of the matter is that Detroit is voted the best sports town not because it's great to be a Detroit fan when they're winning, but because of the dedication we show when our teams aren't doing so well.

Consider this:
  • When the Tigers were at their very worst in 2003, the area could have lost hope and remained bitter towards our boys of summer. Instead, we stayed the course and had a magical season in 2006 that seared memories into the minds and hearts of every fan.
  • When the Red Wings went without a Stanley Cup for 42 years, the fans of Detroit could have called the team a waste and abandoned them in the dust. Instead, we remained true and built Hockeytown into what it is today.
  • When the Pistons transitioned from the Bad Boys into the late 1990s mess we came to know in teal, we could have turned in our t-shirts and jerseys and moved on to another gig. Instead, we supported a total rebuilding of the franchise led by Joe Dumars into what it is today.
  • When every single year the Lions disappoint us we could stop caring and move on, we chose to support a new stadium, downtown no less, and still remained hopeful each year.
So here's the thing, when it comes to great sports towns, it's not the ups that make the grade, it's the downs. And if there is anything to be learned from this it is that Detroit takes its down time in stride and learns to rebuild from the ground up. We believe in those who invest in the fan base by being loyal to the area and to the franchises. But most importantly, we do not give up hope that next season will be better than the last.

That, ESPNTheMag.com, is what you call a true sports town. And whether you call Detroit TigerTown, HockeyTown, HoopsTown or just the D, it has always been and will always be one of the best towns to play in.


Samantha Grace
Loyal Detroit Sports Fan, 1981-present


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