For love of the game and Detroit

Mike Ilitch doesn't give a hoot what anybody thinks of his decision to reward Miguel Cabrera with the richest contract in baseball history.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera’s whopping contract extension with the Detroit Tigers isn’t a baseball story. It’s a love story — one that took root several decades ago, when Tigers owner Mike Ilitch was a kid growing up on the streets of Detroit.

It was during that time that he developed a love for his city and for baseball. And when you’re in love, your "irrational" actions might not make much sense to anybody but you.

That’s why Ilitch doesn’t give a hoot what anybody thinks of his decision to reward Cabrera with the richest contract in baseball history.

No crime in paying for the best

Before his career is over, Cabrera will go down as one of the game’s all-time best and the greatest Tiger of the modern era. His name will be forever linked to Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline and his teammate Justin Verlander.

When Ilitch became aware that Cabrera was available from the Florida Marlins, Ilitch told his general manager, Dave Dombrowski, to go out and get him — even if it meant picking up Dontrell Willis’s bad contract.

Ilitch wanted Miggy, and his performance in a Tigers uniform has been unprecedented. He’s been a beast on the field, and off the field, he’s grown into a solid teammate.

Although Ilitch admires Cabrera’s talent as a player and an individual, Miggy is only a component in this love connection.

This love story is between Ilitch and Detroit.

Since he’s become a pro sports owner, Ilitch has done everything in his power to procure talent and lock up superstars for the long term. He rewards his players because he wants them to be part of Detroit.

How long will Cabrera continue to be baseball’s best player? When will Father Time begin to take a toll on the slugger’s body? Will Miggy’s contract eventually become the albatross around the Tigers’ neck?

Nobody has the definitive answers to these questions, and to Mike Ilitch, it doesn’t matter.

What’s real is that Cabrera is still in the prime of his career, and whatever illustrious feats await him will happen in a Tigers uniform. It will all be for Detroit.

That’s what matters most to Ilitch. That’s what love is all about.

Sit back and enjoy, Detroit. It feels good to be loved.