Sports around Memorial Day ain’t what they used to be in Detroit.
This Memorial Weekend we’ve been treated to a ‘marquee’ series of the Detroit Tigers vs. the Minnesota Twins — a couple of teams that began the series a combined 18 games under .500. If you’re a die-hard Detroit fan…that’s all you get this year. While it appears that the Twins might be the elixir that cures the Tigers hitting woes by ending their pesky one-month ping-pong match with wins and losses, as Detroit Fans, we’re a far cry from where we were four years ago. 2008 was a year to fire up the grille, grab a few of your favorite beers and not leave the couch all weekend.
The 2012 Tigers — while no doubt a disappointment thus far — were nowhere near the disappointment of the 2008 version. In 2008 the Tigers added Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to a squad that was 2 years removed from the World Series. They entered the season as World Series favorites and ended it in last place. Around Memorial Day we were sensing trouble, but like this years’ version, I’m guessing most of us thought that they still had plenty of time to get it turned around. We still had hope for the Tigers, but despite their expectations they weren’t on main stage Memorial Weekend 2008 like they are now. They were a side show. The Pistons and especially the Red Wings made that Memorial weekend special for Detroit fans.
The Pistons were at the tail end of a successful franchise run as they battled the rival Boston Celtics for one last shot at a Championship in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was one final hurrah for Piston fans before they broke the band up — a time we all knew was coming. The underdog Pistons rallied to tie the series at 2 games on a Memorial Day blowout at the Palace. They ultimately saw a failed comeback in Game 5 and a late collapse in Game 6 destroy their title hopes and shake up the franchise. Rasheed Wallace would depart for greener pastures after one more season and Chauncey Billups would be traded early the next year for Allen Iverson — in one of the most hated moves in Detroit sports history.
The Red Wings, however, didn’t disappoint anyone in 2008. They were locked in a heated Stanley Cup Final that saw them take the first two games. Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals took place the same day as the Pistons blowout of the Celtics — Memorial Day 2008. The Wings shut-out the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on that day—their second consecutive shut-out—then they split the next four games to take the series — and Cup — 4 games to 2. Adding additional luster for Detroit fans was the Wings denying NHL poster boy — and world class whiner and diver — Sydney Crosby of his name on the Stanley Cup.
Ultimately, Crosby would get his revenge the next season, the Pistons would return to the doldrums of the teal and horsehead era, the Tigers wouldn’t make the playoffs for another three years and the Detroit Lions were a mere months away from the worst season in NFL history. However, for that incredible extended weekend, all was right in the world for Detroit sports fans.