Sunday's finale to the Man Trip was both the best and the worth wrapped up into one day. It was by far the most exciting game that we saw on the tour and probably the best stadium. However, it was our worst day of travelling. We started the morning, leaving our hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan for the game in Detroit. That was the easy part! After the game, we left for home via the Port Huron-Sarnia border crossing. I arrived at home at about 2 a.m. after travelling about 1100 kilometres. Ron and Wayne had another 70 kms to cover before their journey would end. Why, such a crazy schedule to end the trip? Wayne had to work today. (Thanks Wayne!) I wonder how productive he was?
I had previously visited Comerica Park in 2004 and knew what to expect. It's awesome! It has done the best job of marrying the retro-style (that is all the rage) with the modern necessities while catering to families. The main concourse is completely open to the field, so you can watch while at the concessions, there are plenty of good places to stand and watch the game (more on that below), and stuff for the kids when they get bored. There is a Ferris Wheel and Merry-go-Round inside the park, along with the other kid-friendly fare (batting cage, pitching booth, etc.)
There is no doubt that Comerica is home to the Tigers. The main gate features several statues of lounging Tigers and two 80-foot tall baseball bats. There are also Tiger heads with baseballs in their mouths on the walls of the Tiger Store. The entrance to the Tiger Den Lounge features a tiger's face etched into two metal doors. There is basically a team museum on the main concourse, the highlight of which is six large displays, each dedicated to a decade in the team's history. There are also massive stainless steel statues in the outfield of six of the team's immortal players.
The game we attended just so happened to a be a sellout and the final game of the most heavily attended series in the stadium's history. There are only three main gates to enter the park (not exactly a great plan), so we walked all the way around the stadium to the Beer Hall, a tavern with an outside entrance and went in that way, avoiding the 30-minute lineup.
It was hot and sunny and I finally got to use the sunscreen that I carted around from stadium to stadium. Our seats were in an outfield box down the right-field line. There wasn't enough of an incline to give you a great view of the game. I had to constantly adjust to improve my view based on what other fans were doing. To top that off, we were seated in front of the most annoying Tiger fan in the world. I really wanted to turn around and tell him to, "Shut the &*%$ up!", while using my Samuel L. Jackson voice. He had something to say every two pitches. "Why didn't hit swing at that, it was right in the heart!"; "I can't believe he didn't run on that play, he would have been there easy!"; "He's throwing darts today!"; "Come on! You can't let a pitch like that by.", etc., etc., etc.
I lasted four innings before I had to leave. I couldn't take him any more. The bottom of the third was excruciating to listen to as the Tigers scored seven runs, sent 12 batters to the plate, had three walks, and six hits - including homers by Delmon Young ("That was a game-changing swing") and Victor Martinez ("It's good to see him get his power swing going!"). Then the team's pitcher, Rick Porcello, proceeded to return the favour ("Oh, man! He's giving it all back!"). Cleveland scored five runs on six hits, including a homer by Carlos Santana ("What was he thinking, he served that one up.")
After that barrage of verbal idiocies and the fact that I was melting in the heat, we decided to get out of the sun. I never returned to the seat, thank god! I found a nice spot in the shade in center field near the water fountain and the Al Kaline statue (It helps to be tall). I also discovered that when it's windy the water fountain, which shoots out "liquid fireworks" when the Tigers score, is not a good place to walk behind unless you have an umbrella. A few unsuspecting passer-bys got drenched.
This section is intended for Ryan. Do not read it if you are easily offended. While standing in this section, I was next to some "scrumpies" Taylor. There were four available women. At least three of them outweighed me (just the way you like them Ryan), the fourth was obviously donating her food to the other three, because she was thin as a rail. To top things off, they were splitting the biggest daquari I had ever seen (another of Taylor's prerequisites).
You can read from here if you skipped the paragraph above. With the two big innings, Sunday's game was by far the longest one of our tour. There were plenty of unusual events that we didn't see in the other nine games. We saw a manager (Jim Leyland) get tossed, plenty of pitching changes, both benches were warned early, a player (Travis Hafner) broke down trying to stetch a single into a double, a pick-off at first, and the most tense and unsual ending ever. With Detroit nursing an 8-7 lead, the team's closer Jose Valverde put two runners on (a walk and hit-batsman). The runners were sacrificed to second and third, cueing the excitement. Detroit fans were pretty much resigned to the fact that the game was about to be tied. I was looking forward to our first extra inning game. Then pinch-hitter Matt LaPorta hit a fly ball to center field. Austin Jackson caught the ball and came up throwing, gunning down Kosuke Fukudome at the plate. The stadium erupted! A walk-off double-play, I had seen one of those since my glory days in Little League when I pulled off the same feat.
We hit the road shortly after the game, making our way to the border crossing near Sarnia. It took only 25 minutes, half of the time it took for us to cross in Buffalo. It was an uneventful seven-hour trip, except that I scared the crap out of Ron. He was snoozing in the back when I hit the warning grooves on the side of the highway. No I didn't nod off, I was straining to see who was singing the song on the satellite radio. Sorry Ron! We made it home safely after I handed the steering wheel back outside Belleville. So ened our journey, but not the blog, not yet. Look for a summary entry tomorrow.