12:30 yestreday: wifey calls from work and ask how long it'd take to drive to Cleveland (cuz the Tigers were playing there at 7:05). Just up from my nap and quite grumpy, I replied 'i dunno...6 hours or so'. She's like noooooo so I googled it and viola! 3 hours. She's like 'I wonder if we could get tickets' so Statboy to the rescue and ticketmaster.com was quite easy to manuver and by 1:15 I was the proud owner of tickets for seats 1 and 2 of Row T at Progressive Field in section 148 (the bleachers under the huge scoreboard).
We hop in the burnt orange Chevy Alveoli rental with my Handel's Messiah cd and a cooler full of diet Mountain Dew and headed south. Made great time getting down there, found a parking spot right across the street from the park and sought out the coldest ten dollar beverage we could get.
One of the great things we experienced at this away game is the number of people we saw with Detroit gear on. The first group of Tigers fans I saw I'm lake Heyyyyyyy and wanted to slap high fives (and tens) with every one of them but, I soon found out, we were almost not a minority. Tons of Verlander, Cabrera, Fielder, and Kaline jerseys in both the home white and the dull away gray (and even a few with something like INGE on the back?) were everywhere in sight and caused us to feel quite at home away from home.
The biggest difference down there I noticed: Detroit fans are pretty laid back, in general. I've been to Piston, Lion, Tiger, Wing, U-M football, Concordia College football, FSU hockey, Detroit Lutheran High West football and U-D Titan basketball games over many many years of being a sports fan in Detroit. When the Tigers win, for instance, there is the build-up in the last inning of course as the crowd roars approval (along with some expletives if it happens to be Philip Douglas Coke or Big Potato closing it out on the mound) for the home team. When the last strike or catch is made, there is a canned tiger roar, some pyrotechnics, and a round of applause which quickly crescendos and then fades as fans loosely and jovially exit to find their vehicles.
In Cleveland, however, fans are treated to local enterprises who distribute myriads of Indian t-shirts between every inning. So fans are on their feet with outstretched arms calling, wanting, pleading with their whole hearts 'THIS WAY!!!!!!!'. Then, right before the 9th inning starts, you can tell something big is about to happen because the begging cries begin to be overshadowed by a stadium-wide exclamation that approximated what I remember hearing when Rowdy Roddy Piper was introduced at Joe Louis Arena while the bagpipes blared in '91. Entire crowd on their feet, music louder and more obnoxious than the typical between-inning loud, and this hairy person comes running toward the mound from the bullpen...why, it's Chris Sanchez, the Closer!
Everyone on their feet, the guy wearing a Cabrera jersey (who, a couple of innings earlier was quite proudly bowing after Miggy launched one into the center field seats) was now getting pelted with Hard Rock Cafe rocks and the anticipation was almost unbearable. Every strike that inning and indeed every out (and rightly so) drew a louder roar. The final groundout caused an eruption the likes of which have not been heard since Krakatoa blew and unleashed her venom (and gas and very hot molten rock) into the Indian Ocean in 1883. And the volume decrease I was waiting for never came - it just stayed obnoxiously loud! The music (Cleveland Rocks, of course) left us feeling a bit more discouraged than did the loss in and of itself; the shouts of 'Detroit sucks!' as we left the park (which were so bravely uttered) made me long for Handel's Messiah and our burnt orange Chevy.
The scenic route mistake during our drive home notwithstanding, it was a great road-trip getaway with my sweetie.
God bless our Tigers and their fans all over Tiger Nation!
|Miguel Cabrera watches his ball after hitting a two-run home run off Joe Smith in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Indians in Cleveland|