The Ilitch family appreciates passing on a good deal to its customers – at least when it comes to pizza. Though we regularly take shots at the quality of Little Caesars Pizza, it’s fair to say the $5 Hot-N-Ready is a pretty good value.
Which leads to me to this: For the past few years the Ilitches have been pawning off their Hot-N-Ready, minor league Detroit Tigers baseball team and charging fans London Chop House prices.
If I were to go to the London Chop House and pay $78 for their 14-ounce Australian Wagyu New York Strip steak, I’d be pretty darn unhappy if the waiter plopped down a Hot-N-Ready pizza on my table. This is not what I paid for, I'd complain.
Simply put: the Tigers are charging far too much for a Hot-N-Ready team that plays for an organization that shows no signs it wants to be competitive for now. I watched the game on TV the other night and no matter, even when the Tigers pulled ahead at Kauffman Stadium, they found a way to lose to another terrible team, the Kansas City Royals. Detroit isn’t the only team rebuilding in the majors. But it is the only team with the worst record in the majors.
So how is it that the Tigers continue to charge major league prices to watch a team of minor league caliber. Individual tickets for an upcoming game against the Yankees at Comerica Park range from $17 each for standing room only to $103 near home plate. That's a lot, even for a good team. That's outrageous for a terrible one.
You’d be hard pressed these days to recite the names of all the players in the starting lineup, or for that matter, even half. Beyond Miguel Cabrera and Matthew Boyd, you’d be hard pressed to name three or four other players.
Fans understand the rebuild. But this is the third season in a row of terrible baseball. In 2017, the team went 64-98 and ended up 38 games out of first place. The following year, they again went 64-98 and ended up 27 games out. This year, things are even worse. The Tigers have lost more than 90 games and you can bet they’ll lose more than 100 -- probably closer to 115 -- by season's end. That's a lot of losses.
And in the past few years, we’ve seen some of the best players in baseball, like Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez, leave the Tigers and continue on the path of stardom.
Just how much has the team deteriorated? Tigers' slugger Nick Castellanos, traded in mid-season, recently told USA Today: “When I got traded to the Cubs it was like I was called up to the big leagues. I’m waking up excited to compete every day playing for something."
In other words, in recent years, it has sucked to be a Tiger. And ditto for the fans.
Regrettably, there’s no sign that the Tigers will be much better next year or the year after.
The question is: When will fans decide they're no longer willing to pay for a Waygu steak only to get a Hot-N-Ready? Better yet, when will the Ilitches lower ticket prices to match the product?