As owners went, Mike Ilitch of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings was a bit reclusive. Such are the ways of billionaires at times.
He certainly wasn't "out there" like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavs, or Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavs, among others. Even the cheese baron, Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots was spotted here and there.
[Idle thought. Given his artery clogging empire, Kraft should have owned the Green Bay Packers. How perfect would that have been?]
Yet once in a while, Mike Ilitch would emerge from his ivory tower to make an appearance.
[Idle thought II. Supposedly, the fans own the Packers. They can buy in, but never sell. Kind of like a Hotel California scenario. Check in but never leave. Scary. Yet that begs the question -- who and how decides who the front office personnel is in Cheeserland?]
But since Ilitch's death earlier this year, his son Chris, ostensibly the controlling partner of both the Wings and Tigers, seems to have become almost CIA spookish. As in, we kind of know he's out there somewhere, but it's all top-secret hush-hush classified information.
Dad wasn't afraid to spend lavishly in pursuit of championships. Indeed, the Wings would transform from also-rans in the NHL to winning 4 Stanley Cups under his ownership. He shelled out whatever it took to procure great players.
Likewise with the Tigers. Their payroll has consistently been in the upper echelons of Major League Baseball for several years. Alas, they would win two American League pennants, but could never get over the hump in the World Series. It wasn't for lack of ownership dough.
But now that Ilitch the elder has passed on to the great (if a bit greasy) pizza pie in the sky, it appears the days of free spending are over.
This seems strange, given the massive amounts of money television contributes to professional sports franchises for the broadcast rights. Some have claimed teams don't need to sell a single seat at a single game, and will STILL turn a hefty profit from ad and paraphernalia sales. Call yours truly skeptical regarding that claim, especially given the preposterous player salaries the free agent market and labor/management negotiations have created in the last couple decades. But I dunno. Let's just say serious bucks are changing hands somewhere, and the average fan is footing the bill one way or the other. Those $10 watered-down draft beers and $8 soggy hot dogs aren't by accident.
Nevertheless, it would be nice if Chris Ilitch showed his face once in a while and actually uttered a few words to the public.
Hey, his daddy left him a billionaire heir. The least he can do is mingle with the hoi-polloi on occasion.
Though it might go against his blue-blood heritage, it's really not that daunting a task.
But hey. It's Detroit. Most everybody's only sense of taste is in their mouths anyway, the afore-mentioned greasy pizza notwithstanding.