Three years later the Tigers were in the World Series. It was a remarkable turnaround for an organization whose owner was desperate to win.
The Tigers highest paid player in 2003 was Bobby Higginson who earned just under $12 million. The 2012 Tigers have three players (Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder) who will earn a minimum of $20 million this season.
Mike Ilitch has made the financial commitment to keep the Tigers competitive. With six games remaining in 2012, the Tigers have a two game lead in the division. The Magic Number is five as the ballclub aims for its second straight division crown and post-season appearance.
With 2003 as a backdrop, this season should provide fans with a sense of appreciation. Yet, in the eyes of many, this year has been a disappointment. High payrolls breed high expectations, and Tigers fans expected this team to run away and hide.
It hasn't quite worked out that way, but the Tigers are on the brink of joining four other American League teams for the chance to play of a World Series title.
Astros fans would kill for a chance to change places with you.
This may not be the perfect team, but it's a club that has battled through injuries and underachievement. For that, we should enjoy the process. 2006 taught us that you just need to get in. Last year's Cardinals team proved that as well.
Don't worry about what this team isn't, but rather enjoy what it is.