Expect Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene to be just that. A talented outfielder, we finally get to see.
When the Detroit Tigers play this afternoon against the Texas Rangers, it will be the debut of Riley Greene, the fifth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. He will be the 8th player to make his debut for Detroit this season. He was going to make the team on Opening Day but because of a broken foot, his first day wearing a Tigers uniform is today.
But you know that already. You know he was the second ranked overall ranked prospect by Baseball America. You know, along with first baseman Spencer Torkelson; they are positioned to be the most talented duo of positional player talent coming out of the Tigers system in over 40 years, give or take.
The facts stated above are common known facts about Riley Greene. The statistical information can be found on Baseball Reference or FanGraphs about his time in the four stops along the Detroit Tigers minor league system.
From his first two home runs in rookie ball that made the local news to being the local pitchmen for car warranties, Greene has embedded himself already in Metro Detroit as one of the faces of Detroit Tigers baseball. There is an aura already that exists that surrounds him.
The Detroit Tigers are at a loss for words
Unfortunately, he is coming into a situation that is one of the worst in team history. Friday night, Detroit was shut out for the 10th time this season and for the fifth time this month. The Tigers are 24-40 with one of the worst offenses in the league. There is no logical explanation. On paper, based on the moves they made this off-season, Detroit, by the data presented, should be better than the record above.
Detroit Tigers fans have been following along, going to the games, complaining on social media, calling in on the local radio station, venting their displeasure. It’s not even July 1st and Detroit’s chances to hit the post-season are <0.1%. It has been a long season.
Avoid the savior complex label
If not already, there are several Detroit fans who have tuned out and are waiting for the Detroit Lions training camp to start. If you have not seen the segments on any of the Woodward Sports shows, the evidence is there. The views are high whenever the discussion of football or some sort of pre-ranking list drops.
This isn’t a stunt by the Detroit Tigers to get fans to attend the games with the call up of Riley Greene. Some fans can argue it was overdue. But he was recovering from a broken foot. For all the attention he has been getting, would you rather him playing at 100%? I know I would and any fan who pays for a ticket at Comerica Park.
The “fire Al Avila” chants grow at a feverish pitch. Friday night, there was even anger directed at Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, with a small minority wanting a new name at the helm.
You as Detroit Tigers fans have every right to be mad. You have every right to be frustrated. There will be moments as the season continues that Detroit Tigers fans will continue with the various rants after games.
However, for myself, call it strange, call it what you will. I am going to sit and watch Riley Greene play a game. The mindset will be the same one which he will not be the savior of this team. While it is a different experience as a reporter to watch a game, there is a small part of me that continues to absorb the living history we are witnessing today as a fan.
The Negro League History runs deep in Detroit.
The 20th annual Negro League weekend kicked off on Friday night. Greene’s first appearance in a Detroit Tigers uniform will be in a Detroit Stars one. This is one of the biggest celebrations of the Negro Leagues in baseball. The significance of Negro League stats being added to the official records last season was long overdue.
I am not deaf or blind to the team’s struggles. Facts are facts. The team is pushing the day as “Riley Greene Day.” He will bat sixth in the order today. But for the next two days, it is important for fans to remember the significance of the flag being raised in centerfield for the 1920 Detroit Stars, a charter member of the Negro Leagues and every other version of the Detroit Stars that existed beforehand.
Baseball Hall of Famer José Méndez, one of the first Cuban-born stars in the pre-game Negro League era, played here. He played locally among semi pro teams across the region, including playing on the 1919 Detroit Stars roster. The Page Fence Giants, a team that was based out of Adrian, Michigan, was one of the biggest teams in the late 1890s, barnstorming through the area.
Essentially, what I am trying to say is, today is special for two reasons. One, Riley Greene starts his major league career with the Detroit Tigers and two, we continue to celebrate in one of the best traditions in major league baseball.
Yeah, I know, makes it hard to celebrate with all the chaos. Easier said than done, blah, blah, blah. But push down the rage for a few days, enjoy a cold drink, either at home or at the ballpark, and enjoy the moments that occur.