Monday, August 14, 2006

Time to panic in Motown?

This is what everyone has been waiting for and dreading at the same time.

Today, Detroiters alike will walk into work and have to face “that guy.” That guy who will look you straight in the eye at the water jug and say “I told you so,” only a day after the Tigers suffered their first sweep of the 2006 season to the Chicago White Sox in atypical fashion.

You’re blood pressure will rise, hands clenching with a force that would crush Ozzie Guillen’s glasses, and you’ll prepare to berate him.

Then, suddenly, you’re at a loss of words. Just like that.

He’s gone, sporting a smirk upon his exit, and all that’s left to absorb your anger is the water jug.


Now for the daunting task of explaining to the boss how you’ve engaged in a boxing match with the jug . . .

To think you’d ever be this angry over the Tigers.

But it’s no time to panic, right? The White Sox have only beat the Tigers 9 out of 12 games, roughed up their rookie ace three times, cast a spell over their defensive prowess, and are now within striking distance of first place.

First place?

Weren’t they wrote off when the Tigers won 2 of 3 in mid-July at Comerica Park, when the Tigers stretched their lead to a season-high 10 games, when the Minnesota Twins passed them in the standings?

If they weren’t, they were as close to it as the Tigers were to all but sewing the division up last weekend.

In Chicago, we saw a battered ace, squabbled grounders, bad throws, and an enraged superstar.

What we didn’t see was the Tigers of the previous 114 games, the Tigers that hit, pitched, and fielded well. The Tigers that knew they were going to win on their trip to the ballpark.

Ivan Rodriguez’ ejection in the eighth inning symbolized the whole series in one word: frustrating.

It was the last straw in a horrible weekend at U.S. Cellular Field.

The last straw for the Tigers, who believe they are better than the White Sox, who are sick of being overlooked, and who know they underachieved on a national stage.

Frustrating because they just can’t put it together against their experienced, World Series-tested nemesis, who play against the Tigers with the toying swagger of an older brother beating his younger brother.

It’s as if the White Sox looked at the Tigers before this series and said, “The one-handed dunk was nice, but watch this,” before reeling off a Vince Carter-like 360, leaving the Tigers to ponder what they can do next time to win.

The Tigers now travel to Boston and will try to put a halt to this 5 game losing streak, the season’s longest. History is suggesting this losing streak will continue, as the Tigers have fared 1-12 in Fenway Park the past 3 seasons.

But isn’t history what this team has been defying all season? From the amazing turnaround to the magical moments, something unusual is going on here. This team will weather the storm. Jim Leyland will make sure of that.

Leyland insists each series is equal in importance, but there has been a buzz surrounding every Tigers-White Sox series since June. The sweep was shell-shocking.

Now let’s see if the Tigers have panicked or not.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A day on the Tigers bandwagon

“Scooch over,” I hear. “I have no room,” someone says. “My leg is asleep!” another man screams.

I’m huddled in the back corner of a semi truck, amongst hundreds of people crammed like sardines, and the number is growing with no end in sight.

The temperature must be reaching 100 degrees, and with the heat comes the pungent smell of humanity that lingers.

On jumps the guy from down the street, the pizza delivery boy, and three brunette bombshells in their mid-twenties.

Flocks of men make room in an attempt to seat the young ladies, but they walk straight past to a spot underneath a Brandon Inge poster.

I can feel the speed picking up as I close my eyes and wonder to myself where we’re headed.

Shortly after I open my eyes, my question is answered with the sight of a grandmother and her grandson waving a flag that reads “OCTOBER OR BUST.”

Dogs are barking, cats meowing, and parrots singing.

Next to me, a conversation is brewing. “Did you hear what Ron Allen said last night?” I overhear from a man with a distinct country accent.

“Who’s Ron Allen?” I reply.

“The Tigers broadcaster, duh,” he confidently states. He then goes on to inform everyone around that Ron Allen won a World Series with the 1987 Tigers.


We’ve hit something. Everyone jumps. There are shrieks in the distance, but mostly just agitated looks of how comfortable it is sitting on wood planks.

Whispers circulate around until one man finally declares, “We’ve just ran over the Indians!”

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner climbs in, and is visibly upset because nobody recognizes him.

Behind him is Tony the Tiger, famous for gracing Frosted Flakes boxes worldwide. A mother and father emblazoned with Tigers gear from head to toe urge their kids to give Paws a hug.

Kiddie corner from me, a group of college kids formed a circle. They’re burning time looking through a Tigers program. With a hint of authority in his voice, one states “Marcus Th-AY-mes and Brent Cleveland are going to become stars one day.”

The group nods, and a kid with a Carrot Top-like afro says, “Dude, we’re going to Cleveland?”


Heads turn to see what the noise is.

“It’s just the Royals,” says a librarian that just came aboard, holding a stack of books that includes Baseball For Dummies.

Everyone sighs and turns their attention to an argument that’s heated up.

“We got Pudge in a trade with Texas!” says one.

“No, it was Florida! We traded him for Bobby Higginson!” replies the other.

“Didn’t he come from New York?” interrupts a young blonde haired girl. She is wearing an all-white Tigers cap with the tag attached.

As she turns around, everyone gasps. It’s Paris Hilton.

“Why do you still have the tag on?” I ask.

“Because, like, once the Tigers start losing again, I’ll, like, take it back or something and buy, like, another hat,” she says, leaving nothing to the imagination of what’s going on inside her head.

Echoes of “Who’s Your Tiger?” can be heard from every section. After numerous Curtis Grandersons and Justin Verlanders, a guy with a dusty Tigers cap says, “Chris Shelton! Because he’s leading the league in home runs!”

Conversation turns to Comerica Park.

“It’s such a nice stadium,” a lady chirps.

Another man agrees. “I never even went to a game at that other stadium, but I’ve been to 32 games this year,” he says.

“What was the name of it, anyways?”

I finally lower my head into my hands and shake my head.

Just another day on the Tigers bandwagon.