Thursday, August 12, 2010

Let's play 2...

Before moving on to another (inevitable) baseball-related post, allow me, in reference to the previous DIA post, and with a wink and a nod in the general direction of the movie “High Fidelity”, to pose the following question: What are YOUR Top 5 favorite places in the Whole Wide World?

For me, Rivera Court is on that short list, and as I was standing there (again, and on this day) in the midst of its sun-streaked brilliance, I realized it’s HIGH on that short list. Yo, Sistine Chapel, take a hike…

Tiger Stadium used to be on that list. I visited the corner of Michigan & Trumbull last fall as the dust was still settling on the demolition site…this before my understanding of touching the past by “sharing space” had matured. I nearly got sucked in to some kind of emotional Black Hole.



So, on to Comerica Park (where folks like to be in the picture, and come AT you for the privilege), a place I’ve been trying to figure out for the better part of a decade. ASIDE: I’m fanatic (some might say psychotic) about where and how to view a ballgame. There are a lot of variables, some subtle, some obvious, some out of your control. But I engage in all kinds of pseudo-science, and I can tell you, unequivocally, that the best place to watch an Astros game at Minute Maid Park is in the low rows of Section 413! (I’d be willing to listen to an argument for Section 411, however.)

But Comerica Park has been a bit of a mystery. Watching the sky darken around the Old Skool Detroit skyline is pleasing (if somewhat melancholy-inducing). I’ve seen maybe a dozen games there over the last 10 years, all of them from the upper deck and between 1st and 3rd, and despite a whiff of the Motown Vibe, there has always been something missing (besides my distant youthful innocence).

This time, we figured it out. MUSIC REFERENCE #2: As Rockin’ Bobby Seger suggests, “[you] got to ramble!” With the Tigers down 4-zip to the White Sox in a game that would underscore their irrelevance to this year’s MLB late-in-the-season proceedings, and with the crowd up on their feet for the 7th inning stretch, Sheila and I began a meandering descent toward the exit. Our journey around the outfield wall revealed a stadium that allows for community. They let you bring in food. There are picnic tables. There are large spaces to gather with decent views of the field. Rain threatened, but did not materialize, and despite the score, the crowd thankfully basked in the warm breeze of a perfect southeastern Michigan summer night.

Exhibit 1 – Lots of railings for leaning INTO the game …



Exhibit 2 – The cheap seats attract a sense of history…



I told this young man that I had been at the first Fidrych “curtain call” game on June 28, 1976. He said, “You mean the Monday Night Baseball game against the Yankees?” (That is correct.) “My Dad talks about that game all the time!” Old Guy Alert! (Ouch.) Incidentally, if you are not familiar with the greatest Shooting Star story in the History of The Game, please Google Mark Fidrych, or start with this link. It was a summer of Detroit baseball delirium...far better than a championship season.

I found I prefer Al Kaline’s plaque at Comerica to the one at the Hall of Fame (see earlier post). "Equal skill" indeed...



By the time we got near the gate, the Tigers had put the tying at the plate with 2 out in the bottom of the 8th. A pitching change and a welcoming usher allowed us to find a couple of seats just on the fair side of the foul pole in left field. Hope filled the air, like an ether, in the middle of a city that outsiders say has none. Anyway, we FELT it. As it turned out, pinch hitter Jeff Frazier swung through a 2-2 heater, and that was that.

But we were satisfied that we had watched this one well, and headed toward our car through a gauntlet of guys in wheelchairs with cups at the end of outstretched arms.

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