Saturday morning at 4 am, our brain fires off a half-lucid thought: go to game 4 of the ALCS. this has been a great year for the Tigers. hmmm. Wonder if any tickets are on the net.
On the computer three minutes later: tickets everywhere. Ebay. Stubhub. Ticketpimp."Pick up tickets at the Thunderbird motel two hours before game start" Thunderbird motel, eh? Er, no thanks.
Hmmm. There's a pair on the Tigers website ticket exchange for thirty bucks over face value. Lower tier, first base line, twenty rows up. Hmmmm. Go back to bed and think about it and come back in a couple of hours.
Back on the computer three minutes later: buy those tickets. The Tigers have made it this far only twice in our life: in '68, when we were a zygote, and in '84, when we were still picking our nose in front of people.
One minute later, our printer was spitting out the tickets.
Twelve hours later, we were at Comerica Park to watch the Tigers play the Oakland A's.
After twenty years of no playoff action and twelve straight losing seasons, long-suffering fans were anxious to wrap up the AL pennant race and have the Tigers play in the World Series. Detroit is, arguably, the best sports town in the country. Other than the Lions, the pro teams all have rich championship histories. Despite having the worst economy in the country and pending layoffs and a collapsing housing market, southeast Michigan is delirious right now. Karl Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses. In Detroit, it's professional sports.
A local news crew yelled at us to move while they were interviewing Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. We pretended to be dim-witted and stood in place.
Beautiful fall day, cool and crisp and perfect for a ball game. Play ball!
Back in early May, while at a Harrah's casino in Nevada, we bullshitted about baseball with a couple of guys at the sports bet counter. We asked what the payoff would be if we bet the Tigers would win the 2006 World Series. The team was off to a good start, but the season had just begun. After twelve years straight of cellar dwelling, the odds of the Tigers winning the World Series was something like 200 to 1. Now they're favored to win. We joked and laughed with the bookies about putting $100 on the team. Now we're crying we didn't.
For much of the game, we wondered if the Tigers were going to pull off the W. Oakland had a 3-0 lead for the first several innings, until the Detroit tied the score at 3-3 in the sixth. Opportunities to take the lead in the seventh and eighth innings went unheeded. At the bottom of the ninth, with two men on base and two outs, just as we began to brace for extra innings and a possible loss, Magglio Ordonez rocketed a dinger over the left field wall. It was a moment of baseball greatness we'll never forget.
While Ordonez ran the bases, the crowd went crazy. The decibel level must have been somewhere between a jet engine and a Who concert, circa 1976. The cheering continued for the next half-hour and didn't end until after the team was awarded the pennant.
As the fans left the stadium and emptied into the streets, we were unsure what to expect; Detroit celebrations can spiral quickly into chaos and mayhem and overturned burning cop cars. Not this time, not at all. Instead, everywhere we looked we saw nothing but love: fans hugged each other and the bums in the streets. Traffic cops high-fived fans as they walked by. Detroit isn't the kind of town where strangers openly embrace and cops dish out high fives, but it was on October 14, 2006.
Here's what Comerica Park looked and sounded like as Ordonez smacked a heaven sent three-run homer into the record books: