GNABRT Day 51 (retro) – Tiger by the tail

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GNABRT map - day 51Today’s delayed post of yesterday’s Great North American Baseball Road Trip game may actually be a wise decision, as you will see when you get to the miscellany section,  For now, read on…

Part of the drawback of the GNABRT is that I sometimes do no more than arrive in a city and leave the next day.  It means that many times I get no opportunity to visit the local sights or see some of the history of the city hosting a baseball team.

That was the case for game #20 in Detroit.  I arrived in mid-afternoon and left for the game a few hours later.  The game ended late and I will be taking off for Toronto a few hours from now.  I didn’t even stay in Detroit, sitting here in uncompressed Northville.

The reason for that city choice was a highlight, though, as I went to the game with someone I worked with during the final few years of my last job,

We’ve maintained friendly contact over the years since we both moved on to other things,  He is a generous, honest man who has an extensive and abiding love of baseball.  A loyal follower of the Minnesota Twins, he’s enjoying their long-overdue resurgence to prominence.

As with my last friend visit, he tried to pay for my ticket, which I couldn’t allow (based on strict GNABRT rules).  In a perplexing turn of events, we asked for tickets behind home plate in the upper level and received tickets down the left field line over the bullpen behind the foul pole.

That was something that’s never occurred to me before in 19 other games on the GNABRT (or, really, ever) and explains why I never double-checked the ticket before leaving the ticket window.  My first hint something was wrong was when someone posted a question about the tickets on Facebook!

My friend was immensely dissatisfied,  In fact, he had specifically stated to the girl behind the window that he did not want to sit over the bullpen.  He suggested we walk around the stadium and see how the crowd filled to see if we could choose better seats,

Brashly, he led me down into the section right behind home plate, 28 rows up.  These were season ticket holder seats but, amazingly, the whole row was empty.  By game’s end, more than half the row was still unfilled.  Strange, considering it was a clear night, a Friday and it was Country and Western night (the Tiger mascot had a cowboy hat on…sigh)!

The city:  Detroit, Michigan.   The French fur traders again.  Yeah, yeah, old story when it comes to this part of the U.S.  The city name comes from the Detroit River (le détroit du Lac Érie – or the strait of Lake Erie).  After the usual bouncing between European countries, the city came under American control in 1795.

Just 10 years later, before the city could even find its feet, a terrible fire destroyed nearly all the city (thinking about Chicago, you have to wonder how susceptible early towns were to fire as chief devastator as opposed to today).

The city began its rebuilding process that would one day lead it to become the largest city in Michigan.  Not without peculiarities, though, as in the War of 1812, when the then governor actually surrendered the town to the British.  He was convicted of cowardice and sentenced to death (hope they don’t have that penalty now), but was ultimately pardoned.  Since there is no British territory within the U.S., you can assume we managed to get the city back.

Detroit played a pivotal role in the Civil War, both for runaway slaves and for Union soldiers.  Their devotion and heroism was noted by many Union leaders including President Lincoln.  Interestingly, it also spawned a terrible race riot, as Irish and German Catholics rebelled against the draft.

The city’s prime location quickly made it a transportation hub and industry sprang up to match the economic opportunities created by that development.  When Henry Ford began to mass produce automobiles, the stage was set to launch Detroit into an era of industrial dominance.

While World War Two created a vast production boom for Detroit as it turned to building war weapons, it also began a period of tense race relations as thousands of families moved into the area to take advantage of the increased job opportunities.

That tension only increased in the post-war shrinking of Detroit, as the city tried to readjust to “normal” economic production levels.  As the population continued to shift and economic earning levels began to diverge sharply, race relations deteriorated further.  The city became an undesired model of inequity.

Modern Detroit has spent considerable effort and money to rebuild itself, with extravagant new buildings and ambitious civic plans.  The goal is noteworthy, though financially challenging and the changing city face continues to exhibit the same energetic (and sometimes chaotic) growth of its long history.

As expected of a city this size, Detroit sports teams for all four major sports:  Tigers (MLB), Lions (NFL), Pistons (NBA) and Red Wings (NHL).

The game:  Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles.  This was one of those stinker games.  The Orioles pitcher couldn’t get out of his own way, giving up two homers and seven runs in less than five innings.  The highlight of the game was probably the Tigers right fielder leaping to reach over the right field wall to steal a two-run homer from an Orioles hitter.  The game was still in question at that point and might have made a difference in the game.  As it was, the Tigers won going away, 7-3 and that makes the GNABRT 14-6 for the home team.

The tab:  Ticket,$31; Fruit punch, $4.25; Total – $35,25

Miscellany of Day 51:

– The blog post is extra-long today because I’m not sure what will happen over the next two days in Toronto.  The upcoming hotel is the first one on the GNABRT that charges for internet access.  I will not pay for that, so if there is no Starbucks or McDonald’s near the hotel (or similar hot spot), I may not be posting.

I will still type up a blog and just post a bunch at my next stop.  Incredibly, the hotel in Boston appears to be the same way (I need to do better research).  It’s incredible to me that there isn’t even a common area in the hotel offering free access.  Pitiful.

– My self-trimming haircut experiment is over.  After nearly shearing myself like a sheep, I’ve decided to just let the hair go.  With only three weeks left anyway, I doubt I will look too awful before I get home.  Clearly, a visit to my barber is among the first things on my list!

– I had to chuckle as I read the weather for Detroit.  The Weather Channel had a “heat advisory” for today because the temps would get up to the low 90’s.  Ha!  Cool day for South Florida.

– One common trait between almost all the hotels I’ve been in has been goofy toilets.  Wobbly seats, strange flushings, dripping noises, reversed handles and this one’s, a flush that doesn’t seem to even work (but eventually does).  Just another thing to appreciate when I return home.

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