Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Numerical Voids At Comerica Park

By Scott Morganroth

As I watched the Detroit Tigers lose 2-1 to the New York Yankees Sunday on TBS and noticed the amount of retired numbers the Bronx Bombers had, it made me think that with the Tigers and Pistons, there is a huge void in these franchises traditions at Comerica Park and the Palace of Auburn Hills.
I don't know what the criteria is for the Tigers to have a number retired, but I'm disappointed that Alan Trammell's No. 3 and Lou Whitaker's No.1 are not with the rest of the great players that proudly wore the old English D. Even though Gary Sheffield asked Trammell if he would mind wearing the number and Alan politely had no problem with it, this should never have occurred.
Nowadays, how many players play their entire careers with one organization with free agency and major trades for contenders in the heat of a pennant race? How weird would it be if Al Kaline, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr, Don Mattingly, Tony Gwynn, Derek Jeter along with many others ever played for teams than their original employers?
It's hard to fathom all of the talk surrounding Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher Roy Halladay playing South of the Border when he's been a mainstay in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Yet, the headlines are centered around the hurler's next destination and the impact that he could take his next team to a World Series Championship.
But back to the Tigers. If the criteria is to retire a number once the player is in the Hall of Fame, then Willie Horton's No. 23 shouldn't be on the wall. Today's Tigers fans will remember Kirk Gibson's 1984 World Series homer that led the Motor City Kitties to a championship against the San Diego Padres. By no means am I disrespecting Horton because he was a major contributor on the 1968 World Series team and is a Detroiter, though Gibson is also a local product.
Trammell and Whitaker were one of the best double play combinations in baseball history and today's fans should see that 81 times a year plus the postseason. What's the delay? Lets get these numbers with the rest of the Tigers legends!
I don't care about Trammell's record as a Tigers manager because he had lousy players.
Trammell is the modern day version of Rodney Dangerfield because he hasn't been given much respect in the eyes of the Hall of Fame voters.
Perhaps if there is one good thing about the steroid era is all of these guilty users will take longer to get inducted into the Hall of Fame and there will be room for Trammell in Cooperstown, NY. Even though the low-keyed Whitaker is a long shot to get to Cooperstown, he should get consideration.
Despite the recent shake-up of the Detroit Pistons, there is room in the rafters for a few retired numbers from the 2004 championship team.
I highly doubt that Ben Wallace's No. 3 will get retired because of his take the money and run approach to play for division rival the Chicago Bulls.
But Chauncey Billups No. 1, Richard Hamilton's No. 32 and Tayshaun Prince's No. 22 would be the right numbers to honor. After the disastrous Allen Iverson trade to Denver, Detroiters know that Billups was the glue that kept the Pistons together and led them to a championship, another finals appearance plus six conference finals.
Joe Dumars will probably never hear the end of this mistake but to Dumars credit, he signed Billups as a free agent when many other teams including the Nuggets gave up on him. Hamilton still has a chance to work with some of the Pistons newer free agents as the team retools.
Meanwhile, Prince, is still with the organization which drafted him and barring any trades could finish his career with one team. Prince's No. 22 was also worn by John Salley of the Bad Boys era so it would be fitting that this number is connected to all three of the teams championships.
My advice to the Tigers and Pistons front offices, lets set a few days aside in the future to honor players that have enhanced your team's traditions and give them the proper respect they rightfully deserve. It will also be another way to connect the past generations to the current and future generations.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

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