Tigers: Chris Ilitch will never escape his father’s shadow

Chris Ilitch, Marian Ilitch, Detroit Tigers. (Detroit Free Press)
Chris Ilitch, Marian Ilitch, Detroit Tigers. (Detroit Free Press) /

Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings owner Chris Ilitch comes across as cheap when compared to his late big spender father, Mike Ilitch.

Detroit Tigers owner Chris Ilitch was one of four MLB owners who voted against raising the competitive balance tax during the recent round of negotiations, a far cry from his late father Mike Ilitch’s willingness to spend big in an attempt to field a competitive team.

Mike Ilitch was best known for founding Little Caesars, as well as the longtime owner of the Tigers and the NHL‘s Detroit Red Wings. While it took years for the Tigers to finally be a winner under Ilitch’s watch, they won the AL Pennant in 2006 and remained competitive in the AL Central up until has passing five years ago. As for the Red Wings, there were an elite team for three decades.

While the late Ilitch was never afraid to spend money to try to win games, his son is coming across as a cheapskate since taking over Ilitch Holdings’ finances in 2017.

Detroit Tigers: Chris Ilitch is struggling live up to his father’s rich sports legacy

Though it is incredibly hard to win in professional sports, it is next to impossible to win with any consistency when an owner treats a team like little more than a financial holding. When ownership of a team gets passed down to a younger family member, this does tend to happen. You cannot fake passion or make someone be a fan of something as much as their late relative once was.

Thus, it is no coincidence that the Tigers and the Red Wings have not qualified for the postseason since Mr. I passed. The Tigers have gone back into AL Central irrelevancy in the last five years. As for the Red Wings, they are in the midst of their worst run since the late 1970s to early 1980s. Ilitch bought the Red Wings in 1982. They won four Stanley Cups under his watch as the owner.

Ultimately, this is just sad. Detroit is a passionate sports town and most of its teams are terrible. The Detroit Lions have been dysfunctional for generations. While the Detroit Pistons have won three NBA Finals, they were so horrendous a year ago, they won the NBA Draft Lottery to select Cade Cunningham out of Oklahoma State. The Tigers and the Red Wings are going nowhere fast.

There are teams that are actively trying to win games and they are not the Tigers or Red Wings.

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