Having bidden farewell to the Lakehouse, we were on schedule for the highlight of my holiday - a trip to the baseball! I can see some of your eyes rolling as I write but bear with me; Baseball is a way of getting inside the modern day sports culture of the United States, so it's a must see experience. I had purely sporting interests in this though as I have followed baseball ever since the World Series was televised on Channel 4 back in the mid-1980's.
The highlight of the 1988 World Series was the games that really captured the essence of baseball for me - the Dodgers -v- "A's". This was the game that showed the great sporting ethos loved by the English - the underdog can win. So it was in this series and included a "Grand Slam" which is when all the bases are loaded and the last batter hits a home run and all four count! A great sporting spectacle. This series was like Manchester United -v- Exeter City and Exeter win. However, I digress. The game we were going to see was the Tigers -v- the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Having driven down through the I-94, we managed to park quite close to Comerica Park, a new development near Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.
I was immediately impressed by the size of the place and how open it was. As we entered, there were concession stands selling hot dogs and other hot food all around, along with the Club Shop! Just like being at Edgbaston. Our seats were in the in-field so we had a good view of the pitcher and home plate, along with the opposition dugout. I have to say that unlike the usual rowdy behaviour of Test match crowds in England, the crowd was very civilised and model behaviour was all around. 1 -0 to the Americans here chaps, though how they would cope with County Cricket is quite another debating matter. It's interesting to ponder that such similar games produces such different crowd reactions in different countries. I suppose this represents the different cultures. Same language, different meanings.
I quickly found out that a lot of American culture has come from the ball park, much as our English culture is embodied in cricket. From the outset, you are bombarded with unrestricted commercialism and at no point can you get a break from it. The home Public Address Systems is also very loud and very biased, the Devil Ray players just getting a quiet intriduction whereas the home players get the full treatment - "Batting at number fours is Linde Infante!!!!". Oh dear, its just like being down the Molineux. This was the last home game of the season as well for the Tigers and the team were presented with the usual "player of the Season" awards etc. just like any other end of season game across the world.
However, the Ray's were obviously made of sterner stuff as by the 4th inning, they were 6 - 1 up! A good couple of "homers" and "doubles" thrown in as well. Did it shut up the home announcer - er, no. There was obviously a end of season feeling as although the Tigers made a fist of it after this poor start, the Tigers went down 7 - 4. Pity as the day before they had hammered the Rays 6 - 2. However, as my first baseball game, I was defenitely hooked. As the game drew quietly to a close the crowd drifted away to look forward to the gridiron season and Ice Hockey - what a chilling thought on such a warm autumn day.
After the game had finished, we took the people mover round the city and had a gander over to Windsor, Canada. Strange feeling this as the last time I had been in North America, I was in Canada looking at the US. Then we collected Nick's Oldsmobile and drove past some of the deprived area's of downtown Detroit. It was quite depressing to see such run down derelict and abandoned buildings and such poverty. If the richest nation in the world can't look after its own people, what chance have the African's got?
Having drove past 8-mile road and back through Birmingham, MI, we ended up back at the house and in the evening, Cindy fed us with some delicious chicken and we settled sone to watch a couple of good movies including "The Magnificent Seven". I bet the Devil Rays were reflecting on a "Magnificent Seven" as well having "lamped" the Tigers earlier today. Well played chaps!
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