Bleeding Blue: The Detroit Tigers Game
I love going to the Rogers Center (Skydome) to see a Jays game. I’m a fan of the Skydome, despite it being a dinosaur, and I love the atmosphere of the games, and I just love taking in the whole experience. So when the opportunity to see a Jays game in a different country, at an opposing team’s home field for the first time, I jumped at it. As many Jays games as I have been to (a number that just keeps growing), I’ve never been to a ballpark outside of Canada, so I knew this would be a whole new experience, and boy was I ever right.
For almost 21 years, the Jays and Tigers developed a rivalry that never was really able to reach fruition as in 1998, the Tigers moved to the AL Central and the Rays took Detroit’s spot in the AL East. The highlights of the rivalry were clearly in the 80s, so a lot of the former animosity is long forgotten, but given the right circumstance, I believe a Tigers/Jays rivalry could get really hot and would be a great thing for both teams. If the two could be a playoff race late in the season together, or even in an ALDS or ALCS series, it could get really interesting. The Tigers have a lot of fans in Southern Ontario (Windsor and Sarnia are the two biggest, and London was home to Detroit’s AA affiliate from 1989-1993) and Detroit is the closest team for Jays loyalists in Toronto to crowd Comerica Park, like many did on Wednesday night.
I made the trip across the border after work on a shuttle from Windsor to the gates of Comerica, and I was immediately struck by how striking Comerica Park is. At first glimpse, it looks and feels like a baseball park, and made me acutely aware of what Toronto is missing when it comes to a true baseball field. The concourse is littered with Detroit Tigers Baseball history and attractions for all ages. For kids, they have a ferris wheel and merry-go-round, for the teens, there is a robotic basketball competition and video game pit featuring MLB 2k12, and for adults there is baseball merchandise for sale, and beer for sale at every turn.
One clear advantage that Rogers Center can boast, is superior seating. For many fans in the outfield bleacher seats, they are still riding the pine at Comerica Park as long wooden benches complete the last half of the outfield seats, at least on the lower level. I was fortunate to have my own seat, seat 3, in row C, in section 104, which puts me about 15 feet behind the Jays and Tiger’s right fielders, so I spent a lot of night in the company of Moises Sierra, Jeff Baker, Anthony Gose, and Andy Dirks.
Between the third and fourth innings, I went up to the concession to tour the concourse and was exposed to some of the charm many visiting fans likely enjoy, as I was booed relentlessly not only in the outfield stands, but also on the concourse, and in lineups. Vendors, who likely out of habit and not spite, finished any transaction with “Go Tigers” which was then followed by a short laugh as they noticed I was wearing a Jays hat/jersey. As I returned to my seat for the start of the fifth inning, I was again greeted by a chorus of boos and “Jays suck” chants, and it was then I knew that I need to come to more of these games, and was really hoping the Jays would score soon.
I didn’t need to wait long as Rajai Davis was able to score an unearned run in the sixth, which at the time cut the Tigers lead back down to 1, and really silenced the section that had increasingly been taunting myself and Jays, but would explode again in the bottom of the sixth as Austin Jackson scored on a very close bang-bang play at home when he was out by a mile with a fantastic throw by Davis, but Jeff Mathis wasn’t able to hang onto the ball and it scouted away allowing what would be the game-winning run to win.
The Jays scored their final run in the bottom of the seventh when Hech hit a sac fly to score Torrealba, but left McCoy on base. As they say, the rest is history as the Jays ended the game with a questionable play when Vizquel was caught stealing at 2nd to end the game, a 3-2 win for the Detroit Tigers. The win puts the Tigers 2 games behind the White Sox for the AL Central division lead, and just 1 game behind for one of the AL Wild Card spots. More important, the Jays loss puts me at 0-1 in Jays games that I attend outside of Rogers Center, a stat I would very much like to improve upon in the future.
It was great to see so many Jays fans made the trek to Comerica Park, as despite this recent slump and the many disheartening injuries I feel that the Jays fan base is still growing and is staying loyal to the team. It’s a change from the way of the past, and a welcome one. The fans are supporting the team and are trying to send Alex Anthopoulos a message. The Jays fans are ready to get behind this team, if they are ready to field a winner. I think the groundwork is set, and I think it’s time that AA puts the next part of his master plan into effect and truly push Toronto back to the postseason once again.