Well I went to Opening Day, my 16th straight, courtesy of my father, and it was a lot of fun.
We left around the same time as usual, between 8:15 and 8:30, only when we arrived at the ballpark there was no parking to be found. This was mainly due to the M-1 light rail project closing off a few of the bigger lots north of the stadium on Woodward. But it was also due to the increasing party atmosphere that is starting to consume the event. There were a lot of tailgaters there and a lot of the parking lots closed for cars so they could be open for a party. I won’t pass judgment on the party atmosphere and lack of parking for people actually attending the game other than to say that it is strange. It felt like St. Patrick’s Day downtown. It has been becoming a bigger and bigger party for years now but I’m surprised that this year seemed to be the biggest yet. Bigger than 2007 or 2013, years after coming off World Series appearances. Bigger than 2008 when we first got Miggy and were darlings of the winter season. Bigger than any of the years that the Tigers were favorites for the division (like any of the last four or five seasons). This year, after they have their second controversial offseason in a row, when they are not the heavy favorites to win the division, when their best three players are all starting the season below 100%, this is the year the party is crazy.
I love that the team is good and the city cares, but all the extra attention from people who really don’t care about baseball bothers me. And I guess it bothers me more that the day is an excuse to get drunk instead of a celebration of the greatest sport coming home for the summer.
Not that ALL tailgaters don’t care. I assume most of them wish they were in the stadium for the game, so I don’t want to sound like that. It is just, interesting and odd to me. I am not sure I will ever get it.
So we parked downtown, close to where I used to work and hoofed it to the stadium. Not too bad, but different. Once we got to the park, we normally eat breakfast at Leo’s Coney Island in the stadium but they ripped that out and put in a bar that inexplicably wasn’t open for Opening Day. Big miss on their part. So we skipped breakfast and walked around a bit, got in line about 30 minutes before the gates opened and chatted. Right on time they opened the security gates and we walked through security only to wait an additional 20 minutes before they opened the gates to the stadium. I still can’t figure that one out.
Once we were inside we tooled around, bought some hats, ate a pizza, and chatted some more. It was a great time. We went up to our seats and waited for the game to commence and the weather to warm up. One happened, the other did not.
The game was extraordinarily played by the Tigers. Great pitching by both teams, great defense for the Tigers, and just enough offense on a cold day to avoid the dreaded save opportunity.
I had no issues with the game or how it was managed. I assumed Price wouldn’t even come back out for the ninth, so seeing him taken out with one out left didn’t bother me. Seeing Joe Nathan bothered me as it is clear that they will leave it up to Nathan to lose the closing job again this year; something I suspect will happen.