Miguel Cabrera struck out in the 10th inning in Game 4 of the World Series and just like that, it was Winter. The boys of Summer, the team built to win it all; the Detroit Tigers were swept with no silver lining to be found.
Michigan sports fans will have it especially rough this year.
We fans of the Detroit Lions, Red Wings, Tigers and Pistons have always been able to rely on the Red Wings each Winter as a source for top-notch sports entertainment each year. After the Tigers season has ended and the Lions are mathematically eliminated halfway through the season and the Pistons...are the Pistons, we'd have an excellent hockey team to capture our attention.
The effects of the NHL lockout will now be felt in full force. A great Tigers team is a major attention draw but as that buzz fades away Detroit fans will have to turn elsewhere.
The Red Wings?
Well, the lockout is showing no signs of ending anytime soon. Next up on the chopping block, and all but a certainty, is the cancellation of the Winter Classic. This impending announcement is about the most depressing thing to happen to Detroit since the near-collapse of the auto industry.
The Winter Classic was to be among the largest events in hockey history. It would have broken the world record for the highest attendance ever to see a hockey game as 110,000 fans flooded the University of Michigan football stadium. It would have created a league-wide buzz as two Original Six teams, the Detroit Red WIngs and Toronto Maple Leafs, and all their history were set to play from Detroit to Ann Arbor. The TV ratings would have been impressive, it would have lasting momentum and it would have been talked about for years to come.
Perhaps more importantly, it would have created a sizable boost to the Detroit and Ann Arbor economies. The main attraction was to be played in Ann Arbor with the alumni game and other festivities happening in the Motor City. Area businesses would more than enjoy the added revenue.
That will all be gone in a two sentence statement that could come as soon as Thursday, but no later than mid-November. Why so early? Because the NHL had TV deals with NBC and HBO and they can't wait around forever while the NHL decides if it's going to have a season or not. A four-part reality series detailing the Red Wings and Maple Leafs behind the scenes was set to be filmed and aired leading up to the Classic. Very cool right? Very not likely happening now.
It could be the death knell for the NHL.
So, with no Red Wings to fall back on, where will Detroit sports fans turn?
The Detroit Lions?
Lions fans are Lions fans. Those of us that have stuck by the Lions through decades of futility, 0-16 and worse, aren't ever going to drop them. But they've already punched us in the gut this season. Even with the last seconds dramatic win over Seattle, the team is 3-4 and in last place in the NFC North. Their odds of making the postseason remain slim. The preseason buzz surrounding the team has died down.
Calvin Johnson has one touchdown catch through seven games, and it didn't come from Matthew Stafford. This is perhaps the most bizarre statistic in the NFL. A 5,000 yard quarterback and a 1,600 yard, 16 touchdown receiver don't have a single touchdown pass to each other in 2012?
What is there to get excited about? When we watch the Lions, all there is to do is hope they don't screw it up, and maybe score some points before the fourth quarter, (I mean really, that act has long-past gotten stale.)
The Detroit Pistons haven't been relevant in years. They're mired in a slump of mediocrity, making the playoffs every other year as the No. 7 or 8 seed and getting beaten handily in the first round of the playoffs.
There are some signs of hope with this team though. Their new coach Lawrence Frank has had one full season with the team and after a 4-20 start, got the team to play .500 ball the rest of the way.
There is a core of good young talent in Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight and 2012 first-round draft pick Andre Drummond.
It remains to be seen however, if general manager Joe Dumars still has the magic touch when it comes to building a team from the ground up.
As of today, that is a big if. The fans apparently feel the same. The Pistons attendance figures the last few seasons show just how apathetic the fanbase is.
So what is there to get excited about?
It's going to be a long Winter.