(as a heads-up, all of the pictures can be clicked on for much bigger versions.)
Six thirty Friday morning. Wake up, get packed, get dressed. Showered last night, so I don’t shower in the morning. This becomes a problem later.
Seven Friday morning. Get in the car, drive to the airport. We park the truck and meet a rather talkative bus driver who makes fun of the couple sitting opposite us. To be fair, the guy was kind of a dork.
“Mothers. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em, costs too much to shoot ’em,” says the driver. Good one, man.
Eight thirty Friday morning. Get through security, get on the plane. We’re in the middle of the pack for boarding—this is a Southwest flight, so there’s no assigned seating. My little brother, Eli, has never flown before, so he’s a little rusty, and a little excited.
We take off, with the mandatory “ooh look out the windows” and the empty swallowing and the complementary bags with like four peanuts in them. We’re seated next to a nice middle-aged man who seemed genuinely excited that we’re going to a Tigers game—he’s off to visit his family in New York.
Ten Friday morning. We land in Midway for a fairly short layover. Time for some lunch. Giant slices of pizza, Chicago-style, hit the spot. Also, we find out the hard way that playing Tetris on a tablet is much much less precise than playing with actual buttons. I don’t recommend it.
Eleven Friday morning. Get on the next plane, this time Detroit-bound. It’s less than an hour flight, which is very nice. Eli and I take our seats one spot behind the parents and lucky me! a nice-looking girl sits down next to me.
Being the master of conversation I am, I ask how she’s doing, she gives me a one-word response (“Fine”), and then she sits on her phone until the bell sounds and then she curls up in her seat and falls asleep. Welp.
In all seriousness, though, it’s a quick and easy flight, and the clouds let up once we’re over Detroit, so we can actually see something from the air. It’s quite a sight.
One Friday afternoon. We’ve changed time zones, hello, East Coast! and we’ve landed in Detroit. Some walking, some busing, some more walking and we’re at the rental car place, where we pick some up kind of Chrysler and follow instructions to the hotel in Detroit proper.
Here’s where I start losing track of specific times, but we find the hotel after the heavy three o’clock traffic rush (seriously, what the fuck is this?) and get ourselves situated before heading out again.
Our target is Slows, a barbecue joint that’s very well known around Detroit: Adam Richman of Man Vs. Food actually stopped here once. I get The Yardbird, a chicken-and-mushroom-and-bacon-and-mustardy sauce masterpiece. And I have some of Eli’s macaroni and cheese, which despite sounding silly is actually some of the best mac I’ve ever macked on.
After supper, it’s a straight shot to Comerica Park, home of the Tigers. It’s withing spitting distance of Ford Field, the home of the Lions, which is only a little jarring. If Joe Louis Arena was down the road you’d have the trifecta, but with the Red Wings game going on at the same time that might be a little much. (More on that later.)
The park itself is beautiful. There are giant tigers everywhere. Plenty have baseballs in their mouth. Others are just ferocious. The scoreboard is huge and has a giant LED Tigers logo that lights up in flames whenever a big play is made. Past the outfield, there’s the skyscrapers of downtown Detroit. It’s really a fantastic place.
three tigers, two lights, one scoreboard
Six thirty Friday night. We’re there. I’m cold as butts. I neglected to bring sleeves. We stop in to the Tigers merchandise store, where everything is overpriced and the points don’t matter. The best deals are actually in the youth section, where the extra-large clothes fit me perfectly and are a fraction of the price. Got a cool long-sleeved T-shirt (with no help from the assistants) and stayed moderately warm through the game.
Seven Friday night. Game time. I won’t give you a play-by-play, because you either care and already know it, or don’t care. That and I’d probably get it wrong. The basic rundown: After giving up an early run or two, the Tigers rebound in dramatic fashion, with plenty of big hits and big plays, and shut the Indians down 10 to 4. Everyone’s happy, except maybe the lone Indian fan behind us.
Ten Friday night. We get out of the stadium and make it back to the car, turn on the radio and hear that the Red Wings are up by one, then two! goals over the Ducks. This is great news! The Red Wings are tying the series!
Then the Ducks score twice in less than a minute to bring the game back to a 3-3 tie. Shit. Shit shit shit. We make it back to the hotel room and flip on the TV to find overtime started.
One minute and two seconds into overtime, the Red Wings score on a wicked outside shot. Game’s over. We’re going back to Anaheim on Sunday for the last game…of the quarterfinals. No one ever said this was easy. Everyone heads to bed. It’s been a long day.
Eight thirty Saturday morning. I suppose I should get out of bed. Wander over to the hotel breakfast, which is perhaps the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. A muffin, some scrambled eggs, some potatoes, a bowl of cereal, and a cup of juice later, I head back to the room, where we’re starting to plan our day.
Ten Saturday morning. We head out and grab a doughnut at Tim Horton’s, something we don’t have in Nebraska. It’s pretty good. Tastes like a good doughnut. I can’t complain.
Here again I lose track of times. We go to the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit proper, which has a lot of cool new cars in a basement showroom, including the officially-unannounced Sierra 2014. Which is super sexy, so sayeth my dad. The guy showing us around a bit, Tom, is very nice and very knowledgeable—he’s been with the company for a good while and is proud of it.
the Renaissance is a bit more recent than you last thought
At some point we leave, in search of a good bite to eat. After quite a bit of driving around we wind up at a place called Hockeytown, just a stone’s throw from Comerica Park and a shuttle ride away from Joe Louis, says the sign out front. They have a massive amount of hockey memorabilia on the walls and in the basement, and the door handles are metal Red Wings logos. That’s class. I order a big Reuben and can’t even finish it. Too much for breakfast.
One thirty Saturday afternoon. Ish. We go walking downtown to find Joe Louis’ fist, which we discover is really more of his entire right arm. It’s stranded on an island in the middle of traffic but we manage to get a couple dorky shots of it.
this is actually my arm, do not be fooled
From there we head to the Hart Plaza, which has a nice view of the river and a few statues of its own, including one called Transcending that serves as a tribute to human labor. The best part is the circle of fantastic quotes just outside, including lines such as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “The arc of history bends toward justice,” the inspiration for the arcs.
There’s also this statue on the grounds of the Municipal Center called the “Spirit of Detroit,” an awing bronze statue.
We’re starting to run up on game time. We drive and get the same spot we had the day before, a moderately cheap spot moderately close to the stadium.
Four thirty Saturday afternoon. Gates open at five. Frick. We sit on the sidewalk, get accosted by a homeless guy, move toward the stadium doors, get accosted by the same guy making his rounds. Welp. He doesn’t have a blog, so who’s the winner here?
Five Saturday afternoon. Gates open. We make it on through the gates, check out the store briefly, and then—get this—get to go down onto the field! Apparently some of the coaches and players are doing “stations” to talk about some of the stuff they work with. It’s pretty crowded and the information is elementary, so we end up just taking a few pictures, including this one of me robbing some poor schmuck of a home run off the left field fence.
also check here for the bonus I-actually-have-a-ball-in-my-glove version
This ends up attracting the attention of some security guy, who isn’t very happy. Oh well!
Seven Saturday night. Game starts. Justin Verlander’s on the mound. Here’s where the brief game recap starts. Verlander doesn’t do well, gets down early and lets plenty of runs in early. The Tiger bats can’t keep up and the Indians take a sizeable lead. Both teams go through plenty of pitchers, and the Tigers even test out some pinch hitters and runners late in the game, but even a four-run rally in the seventh and a final run scored in the ninth can’t stop a 7-6 Cleveland victory.
Ten thirty Saturday night. It’s cold. It’s a little wet. We head back to the car, drive home, and hit the hay. It’s late. We lost. Good night.
Nine Sunday morning. Wake up and get some breakfast. Same deal as yesterday, lots of good food. We get back, Patty goes to a nearby church, there’s some lounging around, and we get checked out of the hotel.
For some reason we didn’t elect to get directions from a slightly more reliable source such as this laptop and instead elect to rely on my dad’s smartphone. Which never seems to work out right, either he can’t work it or it’s slow, because it’s a phone and not a computer. We don’t even ask the ladies at the front desk for any help. We just leave.
Noon Sunday. There is talk of going to the Henry Ford museum, but it’s a bit expensive and we don’t quite have enough time. There is talk of going to a Carhart store, but the place my dad had in mind apparently doesn’t exist on the Carhart website, which he’s having trouble navigating on a five-inch screen anyway. We find a place just across the street from Slows, where we ate yesterday, to have lunch. They’re very friendly and have burgers and hot dogs and sandwiches and milkshakes, and it’s all a good meal.
Two Sunday afternoon. We’ve made it to the airport. With a flight leaving at three fifty, there’s plenty of time for doing absolutely nothing. My favorite.
Eight Sunday night. Home sweet home. What a ride. What a fantastic time.
Some other notes from Detroit:
Six of the players on the Tigers starting roster have some stupid hip hop song as their entrance music when they come up to bat. Alex Avila has a rock and roll song, which is welcome. Victor Martinez has some kind of Spanish dance music, which is funny. And Prince Fielder has a choir singing “PRIIIIIIINCE,” which is fantastic.
Almost every bus in Detroit and plenty of the signs have a giant “INJURED? Call (some number) for lawyer Joumana Kayrouz.” What a gosh darn weird-ass name. And wow, her name is everywhere.
I’ll just leave this post with a building wall painted with a giant robot dragon tiger.
do not be afraid, it is only a drawing