I made the trek down to Detroit Tuesday morning, bright and early, with my father. I needed a ride to the Motor City and he - pardon the pun - stepped up to the plate. It was, in a way, fitting that The Baseball Road Trip Of A Lifetime began with my Dad and I taking in the matinee between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park; I'm glad it worked out that way.
You see, and I wrote about this last Father's Day at Sports And The City, my father is the furthest thing from a baseball fan. The game is meaningless, and likely trivial, to him. Having moved to Toronto in 1985, from India via Kuwait, at 32 with a wife and two young boys, he didn't bother striking up a relationship with the Blue Jays, or Maple Leafs. (He's a smarter man than I.) A workaholic, he had other, more important things to do, such as provide for his family. But those two young boys of his, they loved baseball. And while my father and I didn't play catch in the yard or watch games on television together, he and my mother made sure to take us, my older brother and I, to as many Blue Jays games as possible, because there wasn't much we enjoyed more than an afternoon, or an evening, at the ball park.
My parents spent a lot of time and a lot of money on a game they couldn't care less about, and it's something I appreciate greatly to this day. One of the reasons I'm so enamored with baseball today is because I know, especially in Toronto, that it's something a family of four can do together without breaking the bank. The Toronto Blue Jays are and likely will forever remain the most affordable entertainment in town.
Thanks for the ride, the tickets, the food, and the beer, Dad.
She's a beauty. And you can't say that about a lot of places in downtown Detroit. I'm certainly not used to watching baseball outdoors in April, and at game time it was a cool and wet 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Our seats, scalped for $20 a piece, were five rows from right field on the first base side, and were graciously wiped down by an usher. If yesterday was any indication, the rowdy folks sit nearby, in the outfield seats just behind Magglio Ordonez. Three rather inebriated fellows were giving it to Royals right fielder David DeJesus all afternoon. During a pitching change in the 8th inning, the three of them were dancing to the in-stadium tunes and "making it rain," as the kids say, something I found rather ironic, you know, being in Detroit and all.
The concession stands situation at Comerica Park is top-notch. Beer and hot dog stands litter the concourse; they're everywhere. Even though only 18,000 and change showed up Tuesday afternoon, I can't imagine ever waiting too long in line for a drink or some food. The Rogers Centre could learn a thing or two from Comerica Park. And, in what I'm quite certain will be a trend on this trip, the beer's cheaper in Detroit than it is in Toronto: $7 a pint. The hot dogs and sausages, with roasted green peppers and onions, which I'd definitely recommend, are better, too.
There's something for everyone at Comerica: rides for the kids, open air picnic areas, the Fly Ball Ferris Wheel, and a ton of Detroit Tigers history. "Walk of Fame" displays are all around the main concourse, and, behind the wall in left cente field, you'll find huge stainless steel statues of some of the greatest Tigers of all time, including Hank Greenberg, Ty Cobb, and Al Kaline.
I learned something yesterday: if I compare every minute detail at every ball park to the experience in Toronto on #TBRTOAL, I might never attend another game at the Rogers Centre. So I'm going to do my best and quit doing that.
Making the Kansas City Royals look good is no easy task, but Dontrelle Willis found a way to do it. The Royals hit him hard, scattering nine hits, including two home runs, in Willis' five innings on the mound. The D-Train, along with his 1.91 WHIP and .348 opponents batting average, remains a shadow of his former Florida Marlins self.
It took a while, six and a half innings, but the Royals did eventually morph back into, well, the Royals. Up by five runs, Kansas City allowed Detroit to strike for six runs in their half of the seventh inning. The rattled Royals didn't have a prayer, which was great news for both my father and I. By the middle of the eighth frame our 6:30 AM wake up call, five hour drive, and two afternoon beers had caught up to us. We were both in dire need of a nap, and, while we didn't say it, I'm sure both of us were praying the game wouldn't go to extra innings.
It's one thing to read and hear about the harsh economic times that have hit Detroit. It's another to experience them firsthand. The surrounding area by our downtown hotel, the Westin Cadillac, was full of boarded up stores and office buildings. I was there for less than 24 hours, but from what I saw the streets were mostly deserted, morning, noon and night. Here's hoping the Detroit Red Wings enjoy a fruitful NHL playoffs, and that the Tigers do well in 2010. Detroit could use a parade, or two.