Part XI: Comerica Park
(AKA: Tigers, Tigers Everywhere)
This portion of my trip seemed so long ago, but I loved it. I will keep this post super short because I do need to catch up on my blog entries and get to the next portion of my solo travels. Mike and I made the long drive to Detroit, but the experience I had was a fantastic one that I won’t soon forget. Also, with a pair of free field level tickets thanks to my credit card’s great perks, we had a great view of a high-octane offense.
Ballpark 25: Comerica Park, elevation 570 feet
The game: Blue Jays @ Tigers on July 5, 2015
We arrived early and got in line to enter the park before nearly everyone else. The reason? It was Photo Day at the park! This is a great opportunity for fans to stand on the field and take pictures with current players. There were a few Tigers players that ended up coming out for this one, including David Price! However, he never came over to where I was standing. I met a few utility players, but my favorite player who I met… again… was Andrew Romine. I say again because I met him twice before, both while he was playing in the California League for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. I met him after a home game at the Epicenter, and in San Bernardino. I’m sure he didn’t remember, but when I mentioned Cal League, he was pleasantly surprised.
After taking pictures with players, I decided to duck out of my spot early and take pictures around the outfield warning track and the outfield grass. Yes, I took full advantage of this time and tried to get a photo of me jumping the short fence to rob a home run. Sadly, that picture never came out… but it was still a joyous time! I got pictures from several parts of the outfield wall, and just took in the fact that I was on the field an hour before the game started. How lucky am I?
The fans: There were so many great Tigers fans around this stadium, but the one I had planned on meeting was Marcus from the Blue Jays game previously. We had kept in contact after Toronto because he mentioned that was attending this same game! I got to meet his family, including his young daughter who currently roots for the Blue Jays, but wore some Tigers gear, as well! Hey, at least she is growing up with baseball, and that’s a huge plus in my book. If I ever have a daughter, you’d better believe I’m raising her to be a baseball fan… and a hockey fan! I also left Marcus with a gift of an All-Star bag from my game in Cincinnati. Once again, thanks to Marcus for meeting up with me and for (hopefully) keeping up with my travels.
The area I met him at was where one of the rides was located. Yes, there are two rides WITHIN the stadium gates. One of them I will get to later… indeed. The carousel is where we met, and this old-style ride was impressive. In fact, the carousel was the epitome of Tigers baseball. The paintings on the facade had tigers or the script “D” on each panel. The carriages were all tigers! The canopy also had tiger striped print on it. To top it off, the baseball on top of the carousel was a Tigers baseball. The folks at Comerica Park really want kids to love tigers!
The food: Also located in the area where the carousel resides is a giant food court with a plethora of choices. I opted for two of the famous Poutine Dogs that is slathered in gravy with cheese curds and fries on top. Each dog was $7, but they were incredibly tasty. It almost felt like I was back in Canada, all of a sudden. Folks, this is the must-have food item at Comerica Park. Sadly, Mike got fries that were freshly removed from the fryer, and they nearly burned his fingers. Ouch!
The game: This was a very important game for both teams fighting for their playoff lives. The Detroit Tigers had lost Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander was pitching trying to bounce back from a terrible previous outing. Immediately in the first inning, Verlander gave up an RBI single off Josh Donaldson to give the Jays an early 1-0 lead. The score would remain that way for a while. With how poorly Justin Verlander was pitching, I was surprised this potent Toronto offense wasn’t producing more runs. On the other side, Marco Estrada was dealing once again keeping the Tigers to only a few singles.
Finally, the wheels fell off for Verlander as he gave up six earned runs in the top of the 5th inning. These were not soft hits, either! Both Justin Smoak and Jose Bautista (Joey Bats) hit home runs in that inning, and Bautista’s home run was exceptionally powerful. Toronto simply has too strong of an offense, and it was on full display here.
At least I did get to see the home team hit a couple home runs! Whenever that happens, the fountains above the batter’s eye in center field would go on and create a neat water effect seen through most of the stadium. This was different for me because quite a few teams shoot off fireworks for every home run for the home team. I actually liked the water fountains on this one!
Even with that, the Blue Jays came right back in the top of the 7th inning with two more runs to extend their lead. When it got to stretch time, the Blue Jays were up by a wide margin, 9-3, and most of the crowd had left. Because there was a lighter crowd now, Mike and I decided to head down to the better seats (read: second row of our already incredible field level seats). From there, we just took in the amazingly close view of Comerica Park. I also needed to have my glove ready because those seats are amazingly close to the action. Without much foul ground, a pop fly could easily get into our seats. Furthermore, a line drive foul ball could easily nail us without a glove handy. To this ballpark’s credit, the seats do feel that close to the action from most levels.
The Blue Jays would go on to win the game yet again behind a very powerful offense led by “Joey Bats.” Indeed, this was a critical game for both teams… but this was more important for the Blue Jays who are trying to clinch their first playoff appearance in 22 years. For the Tigers, they clearly struggle without their big bat, Miguel Cabrera. Soon after the final pitch, I made my way one row down, and with the gate open, I took a picture with me touching the ballpark dirt. Again, this was a terrific experience, but I wasn’t done yet!
I made my way to the outfield terrace area and decided to ride the baseball ferris wheel. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a ferris wheel within the park gates where the carriages are shaped like baseballs. For only two dollars, a park visitor can ride the ferris wheel and get a unique perspective of the ballpark. Honestly, this ride had some zip to it! Not only did the ride move at a decent pace, but the carriages swayed and moved during ride action.
After that, I had some fun with the large tiger statue on the front entrance. Yes, this city loves their team, and the ballpark reflects the Tigers love. Honestly, this park was so fun for me that I would go back if I had the chance. Once again, big thank you to Mike for driving me around and coming with me on my ballpark tour. Thanks for reading, and see you at the ballpark!