Justin Verlander was crowned AL MVP today. If you’re a baseball fan, this isn’t too much of a surprise- JV was stellar this year, going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts. He won the AL pitching triple crown and even threw his second no-hitter May 7 (I was there- amazing). He helped the Tigers clinch the AL Central, and lead his Tigers into the playoffs.
In true current athlete fashion, JV tweeted the news first- “Other than 06 World Series, never been prouder to represent Detroit – city of resilience and pride. #DetroitPride,” and, “Thank you to everyone — teammates, fans, baseball writers). #DetroitPride (trend it – let’s have some fun with this).”
I was going to start this blog by going into an argument over whether pitchers should be MVP at all. Their identity is questioned because they only pitch 21% of the games in a season. Can a pitcher still have an MVP-worthy citizenship on a team? Does his standing and earning propel him up to that level? However, after reading JV’s tweet, I got thinking about JV’s citizenship and identity not as an MVP- but instead as a Detroiter. He embraces it, and that is why he is such a Detroit citizen.
I was delighted to see #DetroitPride was trending worldwide today. As a city that is no stranger to being mocked nationally, it feels good to get a little respect for a city that is dear to me. My parents were born and raised in Detroit, and my dad still works in the city. I grew up in the outskirts of Detroit and frequent it often. But guess what? Verlander is from Virginia.
He was born and raised there, and was an amazing player at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Justin was drafted by Detroit in 2004. Soon after, he was a leading pitcher for Detroit, baseball team coming out of a funk, but what was Detroit to him before? Another mediocre city, probably. Yet here he is, promoting pride in the city he now calls his own.
Verlander’s citizenship now belongs to Detroit. He has embraced it, he is beloved by the city, and stands for hope here. His contract is extended into 2015, so he will probably be here for a while.
But what would Shklar think? In her eyes, would JV be a citizen of Detroit now? Is embracing one’s citizenship a large factor as well? JV certainly earns his money here, to the tune of 16 million dollars a year. He has standing not only in the state, but also around the nation. Other players on opposing teams are consistently quoted giving major props to JV.
The city definitely does not exclude him. But it brings to mind other Detroit players that never quite are included by the city, or they themselves don’t want to be included. Johnny Damon, for example, played one solid year with the Tigers. The city loved him, but his wife infamously said she didn’t want to be in Detroit. She just did not embrace it. I also think of another excluded player like Allen Iverson, who also earned here for one year. He had standing on his own coming into the Pistons, but did not embrace being a Detroit citizen. Soon enough, he was getting booed.
Verlander was a Virginian who is now a Detroiter, too. He’s a citizen here, not only because he earns and has standing here, but because he has embraced his Detroit citizenship. #DetroitPride