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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Yes, I Drank the Kool-Aid
Trust me when I tell you that I hated baseball. I never watched an entire game. I didn't see any Little League games. I never went to my high school's baseball games. I didn't know anyone who played it, and I never watched it. To me, it was the sport that was always on TV and was just way too long. How long does it really take to hit a ball and run around the bases, and why were grown men getting paid lots of money to do this? If I saw baseball on TV, I changed the channel. I went to one game in Atlanta with my family. I had no idea what was going on on the field, nor did I really care. I did love shopping at the Galleria and seeing Elton John in the men's department. That's what I really remember about that trip.

When Jim and I married, I knew he'd played baseball in high school. Why his team even won the state championship, and he played an integral role in that win. I knew he was a Detroit Tigers fan because he told me the stories of watching and listening to the games with his grandmother when he was a boy in Michigan. It wasn't part of our life though, and then it started creeping in. We started going to the local Single A Minor League games, and it was fun. Jim went to a game or two a year in Detroit with a couple of friends. Then he organized an outing for about 25 people to attend the Tigers-Yankees game. The next year, we went for a long weekend and saw three games in three days,and the Tigers were back in his heart. A heart they broke last year when they lost far more than half of their games during the season.

This year his broken heart mended. What an amazing season the Tigers have been through. Without even realizing it, I learned their stories. We'd watch the games and Jim would explain things to me. I learned the vocabulary and started to pick my favorites. I'll admit that my way of picking is unorthodox. I picked my favorite player last year because when everyone else left the field after batting practice, he walked over to the fans sitting in left field and signed autographs for the kids. He stayed and stayed. I told Jim that I liked that. He wasn't having the best season then, but I liked the fact that he was out there making some kids happy when everyone else was back in the dugout getting ready for the game. That player was Craig Monroe.

The Tigers blew everyone's mind this season. They went from being the worst team in the league to having the best record and leading the division for most of their season. Jim went to Detroit last weekend and saw the last two games as they were swept by the Kansas City Royals and lost the division title. What a horrible way to end the season, but the season wasn't over. Though they'd lost the division title, they were still going to the playoffs.

A wonderful friend of ours surprised Jim by getting tickets for the home games for both the division series and the championship series. This is how Jim and I were able to be there Friday night when the Tigers completely shut down the Yankees. The electricity was in the air and you knew you were seeing something special that night.

The next day we were back at Comerica Park for game four. I have never seen Jim more excited about anything in his life. I even teased him that he wasn't that happy at our wedding. We got to the stadium about four hours early, but the time flew. We were finally able to get some pictures in front of the big tiger that guards the main entrance. It's usually mobbed. We then joined fans in the State Bar & Grill across the street to wait for the gates to open. Jim took over 100 pictures last night, but I'll share just a few.

This picture is of Craig Monroe's homerun in the 2nd inning. We already had one run on the board and this brought us to three. You could start feeling the electricity really charge up again when this happened. I'd say it was the start of something big.

The next picture is of the final play, a ground out to 2nd base.

This picture is literally seconds later as the team reacts to the third out in the ninth inning.

There are pictures all over the Internet of the celebration afterwards. I can't even describe it. Usually when a game ends, there's a massive rush to the exit doors. No one left. I looked around the stadium and it was just as full. The music was playing. Everyone was screaming and crying. I was crying. I can't even describe how happy I felt at that moment. I was just so happy for everyone on that team who had worked so hard and come so far. I was happy for my husband whose beloved Tigers had done the impossible. The champagne was spraying and 43,000+ people stood and cheered. Then the team ran around the edge of the field and acknowledged and thanked their fans. It was such a warm and wondrful moment. This last picture is again of Craig Monroe as he expresses his gratitude back to the fans. I wish I had pictures of Kenny Rogers spraying his champagne bottle before handing it to a fan to keep as a souvenir or when he poured a bottle over the police officer's head before embracing him or Joel Zumaya jumping on the dugout and celebrating with the fans seated there. I'm sure those pictures are out there. Find them and see what unbridled happiness looks like.

All this and it's not over yet, we still have tickets for games three and four (next Friday and Saturday) as the Tigers and the Oakland A's battle it out for the chance to go to the World Series. Who would have ever thought a year ago that the Detroit Tigers would be in contention for the World Series.

By the way, the Kool-Aid was mighty tasty.


Anonymous Pass the Torch said...

I'm not a baseball fan - I remember Wayne and I going to a Twins game years ago. It ended up being a no-hitter, which is apparently a really momentous event. To me? BORING.

But I know how your perspective changes when it's something that interests someone you love...

I can't tell you how many demolition derbies I've sat through in the past 15 years;)

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