A fitting night for the Detroit Tigers to beat the Bo Sox in dramatic fashion – 3-2 in 13 innings. On 7/7/07, the game-winning hit came courtesy of #7, Pudge Rodriguez, off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Comerica Park sold 44,193 tickets to the game – standing room only and a near record for the 7-year-old stadium. Sellouts have become the norm in the Motor City, where just four seasons ago the Tigers flirted with record futility.
Now reigning American League champs, the team closes in on the All Star break in a first-place tie with Cleveland, despite having a decimated bullpen. Detroit’s manager captured the city’s love affair with the game, echoing statements I used to make regularly back when the team wandered in the wilderness of bad management and mediocre to sub-par talent (do you believe me now?):
“I know that this is one of the best baseball cities in the nation, there’s no doubt about that,” [Jim] Leyland said.
The crowds are great for Leyland; he admitted he gets goosebumps anytime a capacity crowd gives the team a standing ovation in the ninth inning, but he is most proud of the fact that the Tigers have appeared to lay a foundation that will make them a successful franchise for the long term.
Following last night’s 9-2 thumping of Boston, Detroit News sports columnists Bob Wojnowski and Lynn Henning penned words that are beautiful to read for this displaced Michigander:
Baseball dominates in Detroit, and you should take a moment to ponder that, before you resume fretting about the bullpen. The Red Wings and Pistons struggled to sell out playoff games. The Lions struggle to recall what a playoff game is. The Tigers sell out regular-season games with regularity.
People are attracted to a winner, naturally. But this goes a little deeper. The Tigers are winning with a healthy combination of stars and youth and even some style. They’re still somewhat new, but this is what separates them from their Detroit sports brethren: The Tigers have the potential to be dominant in every area.
OK, we’ll temper the superlatives. But if you watched lean, lanky lefty [22-year-old phenom Andrew] Miller stymie the Bosox on three hits, and you watched Boston starter Julian Tavarez get so flustered, he was warned after hitting Gary Sheffield with a pitch, you know the Tigers can rattle anyone. [emphasis mine]
What’s more, five Detroit players headed to the All-Star Game to represent the American League? My friends, I was 8 years old the last time that happened. And I’m a little ways past “spring chicken”hood now.
It’s so much fun to be a Detroit Tigers fan again. A dozen (or more) long years of faithful anticipation are now being rewarded. May it be a dozen (or more) seasons of competitive success (a World Series title or two along the way would be sweet) for the Olde English D.
Sure, there are more important things in life than baseball. But not as many as you may think.