Bert Blyleven after his Hall of Fame induction in 2011.

For a five-year span, the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers had a pretty fierce rivalry in the AL Central. Since 2010, however, the two teams have gone in different directions, with the Twins plummeting to last-place finishes while the Tigers continue to contend for the postseason.

But Twins TV analyst Bert Blyleven is doing his part to keep the rivalry between Minneapolis and Detroit alive. The Tigers and Twins were set for a getaway matinee Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park, but rain forced a nearly four-hour delay. That made beat writers and broadcasters understandably cranky, which may have been what compelled the Hall of Fame pitcher to make a crack about downtown Detroit on Twitter.

Here’s the thing: The tweets in question have since been deleted. We’ll get to that later. But this remark (screen-capped or transcribed by several outlets) is what caused an uproar among Detroit supporters and Tigers fans.

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The photo that originally accompanied the tweet showed the low clouds Blyleven mentioned hanging over the Detroit skyline visible from behind home plate at Comerica Park, looking out toward center field. As you might imagine, Detroiters didn’t take too kindly to Blyleven’s swipe and both #TigersTwitter and #DetroitTwitter retaliated. In response to the backlash, and surely miffed at the venom spewed at him, Blyleven defiantly doubled down on his views toward Detroit.

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As a metro Detroit native, I acknowledge that we’re defensive — maybe sometimes too defensive — about the national perception of the city. We’re also not blind or delusional. Downtown Detroit is not downtown Chicago or Manhattan. But what really irritates us is lazy, rehashed insults about the shape Detroit is in. I can’t say if Blyleven has ever ventured outside Comerica Park when the Twins visit Detroit, but if he walked around the surrounding area within at least a five-block radius, he’d see one of the nicest, thriving parts of the city. Do some research, Bert.

Eventually, the Twins and Tigers got Thursday’s ballgame in, with Detroit winning 7-1 and completing a three-game sweep. But people were still sore about Blyleven’s remarks, especially as they circulated throughout the Twittersphere and internet as the game progressed. Even Michigan governor Rick Snyder felt the need to chime in.

By the end of the game, the Twins and Fox Sports North, the channel which employs Blyleven as a color analyst, made it clear that they weren’t happy with the remarks either. Consequently, Blyleven deleted the inflammatory tweets, apologized on air during the FSN broadcast and also posted an apology on Twitter.

Given the mention of the Ilitch family which owns the Tigers, I thought that maybe Blyleven was offered one of Little Caesars’ new bacon-wrapped deep dish pizzas to provide incentive for an apology. What was actually more of a surprise to me is that Blyleven didn’t just continue to own his comments and leave Detroit in full heel mode, reveling in his new role as Tigers fans’ Public Enemy No. 1.

But as it turns out, the apology likely wasn’t offered out of remorse. Alienating fans and putting your employers in a bad light is not a good look for anyone. Yes, Blyleven was making a joke and perhaps Detroiters were being just a bit too sensitive about it. Actually, everyone involved in this kerfuffle got too defensive. But Blyleven is a representative of the Twins and their broadcast partner, and was surely reminded of that by the team and its TV network.

The Twins return to Comerica Park May 12-14 for a three-game series. We’ll see how Blyleven is received and if the color analyst is on his best behavior upon his return. Maybe some enterprising citizens or fellow media will offer to take him on an educational tour of downtown Detroit.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.