Every Corner reader in creation has been writing me, demanding to know, “How was the Tiger game this afternoon?” (The Detroit Tigers played the Oakland A’s in Detroit.) Acceding to popular demand, I’ll tell you.
Let it not be said that Comerica Park isn’t doing its part in the overamplification of American life. I wrote about this subject for the magazine a few months ago. To see the piece, “Down with Eleven,” go here.
In the hour before the game, there are no warm-ups on the field. No batting practice or anything. Just a sonic assault through the loudspeakers. Literally — not in the Joe Biden sense, but literally — it is impossible to talk to the person sitting next to you.
I believe that organizations such as baseball teams are highly sensitive to public taste, to the pulse of the market. That must mean that this is the way people want it, right? They’re not complaining, right? (Except for me and 200 of my closest curmudgeonly friends.)
The days when a ballpark’s music came from an organ — they seem as distant as Troy.
Before the game, there were several instances in which troops were honored. For example, a soldier just back from Afghanistan walked the “game ball” to the mound.
Listen, I’m as pro-military as anybody this side of George S. Patton. But I found the troop-related stuff maudlin. Also a touch condescending.
Still, better maudlin overkill, and a little condescension, than the spitting and jeers that greeted our returnees from Vietnam. (The spitting and jeers that greeted some of them, I should say. Most Americans, I’m sure, behaved decently.)
So, we (the Tigers) have a mascot, Paws (get it?) — the most pathetic mascot in the history of mascots. The Detroit Tiger is supposed to be fearsome. The mascot is comical, like Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. Makes me almost ashamed.
They don’t blare music between pitches. But they blare it between batters, just in case you were thinking of talking to your friends, or thinking.
And when a batter fouls a pitch off? They take that as license to blare. You are not allowed a couple seconds’ respite.
Didn’t we torment Noriega this way until he gave himself up?
The hype, the whipping up, the noise — it’s non-stop. Say a runner scores an unimportant run on a simple groundball single. Rockets go off as if Maris just hit his 61st home run or something. There is no sense of proportion.
Vendors are always in the way — blocking your view — as they tramp up and down the stairs, remorselessly.
Okay, I’m done griping. (Longtime readers may recall my favorite bumper sticker, which I spotted many years ago in the parking lot of a Virginia Cracker Barrel: Kwicherbitchin.) One of the best names in American sports, or in America at large, belongs to an Oakland outfielder: Coco Crisp. Sounds like a breakfast cereal.
He has to be the most notable Crisp since Quentin. (Those are two markedly different personalities.)
Tiger Stadium — or rather, Comerica — is dotted with Cabrera jerseys. Fans of all ages, and both sexes (are there still two, basically?), are wearing the jersey of Miguel Cabrera, one of the best hitters of this or any other age.
By the way, his number is 24, which belonged to probably my favorite Tiger of the 1970s, Mickey Stanley.
Cabrera loves to talk to people on the field — at first base, at home plate, wherever. He is incessantly bantering, jabbering. I think this helps his game, keeps him loose.
The same could be said for Lee Trevino, the golf great, who seldom stopped talking. Sometimes he talked during his backswing (though not on the downswing or at impact).
At various points outside Comerica Park, there are three flags: the American, the Canadian, and the Michigan. (The park is a stone’s throw from the Canadian border.) The American flag is in the middle, and tallest; the other two, shorter, are flanking it.
Nice that we include Canada, I guess. But isn’t it a little insulting to put someone else’s national flag lower? As though Canada had tied with Michigan for the silver medal in the Olympics?
(I remind you that Stephen Harper is the leader of the West — unless it’s a Middle Eastern leader, Bibi.)
Again, forgive my griping and curmudgeonliness. The overamplification of American life is nearly ruinous, true. But a day at the ballpark is still one of the great things about our national life — especially if your team wins, as mine did today.