I haven’t seen our Mets play in a regular season game since 1999, which was Opening Day in Miami.
I’m not proud of that seven-year hiatus. But the team doesn’t come to Michigan often and my attempts to get to places where they do hang out — Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis or Cincinnati — have been foiled for one reason or another.
So I’ve been counting the years until the Mets’ inter-league schedule to rotated to the American League Central, and for that rotation to include a stop in Detroit.
Of course, I thought I’d be seeing our team in Detroit when my folks surprised me with a glorious early Christmas present — a ticket to World Series Game One — last October. But we know what happened. (Grumble grumble Heilman grumble grumble Molina SWING CARLOS! AAAARRRRRGHHHHH)
I’ll be at Comerica Park bright and early Sunday morning boldly proclaiming Mets fandom. I do not fear the wrath of Tigers fans. They are a humbled lot.
I was there last time the Mets were in town, too, and things did not end well.
On the plus side, the June 30, 1997 game was in Tiger Stadium, a worthy setting for such an event. That was the first year of inter-league play and it was so strange to see the Mets in that stadium.
Remember, 1997 was the Mets’ first winning season since 1990. The Tigers have stunk since I arrived in the state that year, and continued to do so until last season. I expected our boys to slide into town, launch some bombs into the short right field porch and head out of "The D" with at least two victories and probably three. Of course, these were the Butch Huskey-Carlos Baerga-era Mets and I should have known better.
My son — a day shy of his fifth birthday — and I got to the yard early, but that goes without saying. It was a tradition of sorts to yell "Cookie!" at then-coach Cookie Rojas, and we were in the front row watching batting practice when Rojas walked by on the field. In purely a reflex reaction, I yelled "Coooookkkkiiiieeeee."
I expected a wave, but Rojas started walking right for us and offered to sign something. I pulled a ball out of my backpack and we had a nice short chat.
And that was the high point of the night.
The Tigers scored two in the bottom of the first on a Bobby Higginson homer. He’d have two more by the end of the game.
Mark Clark surrendered eight runs in 5.1 innings. Someone named Joe Crawford — whom I have no recollection of whatsoever — gave up four more in 1.2 innings and Takashi Kashiwada finished the night by allowing two more.
That’s 14 runs if you’re counting. Only one would have been enough, since we didn’t score any.
So I left the ballpark a little more quietly than I entered. But I did buy a cool cap commemorating the series.
Shockingly, the Tigers won the other two games that weekend, and I took some serious ribbing at work. And I dished out some serious ribbing in 2004 when the Tigers came to Shea and we swept their striped butts.
Just shy of 10 years later, I’m heading back to see the Tigers and the Mets, this time with my daughter, who has become my score-keeping baseball buddy.
I was able to see two spring training games this year, but Sunday will be my first chance to see Reyes, Wright, Delgado and Beltran in a game that counts!
Naturally, there will be a full report Sunday night.
More lessons on the mighty river.
Kayak Version 2.0 is a wonderful thing, and twice now I’ve been able to take it out on the Grand River.
Last night I was headed up river and saw a sheriff’s deputy on a Wave Runner headed the other way.
It’s a wide river, and he slowed down as he passed and waved. I assumed he slowed s0 he wouldn’t create a wake that might topple me.
About an hour later I was heading back to the launch area noticed that he was loading the Wave Runner on his trailer.
I remembered being chastised by Connecticut Sister in this space a couple weeks ago for not having a life vest. She said it was the law, and I had an inkling that she might be right, especially since she quoted the law and provided a link and everything.
But I dismissed this advice, especially since I haven’t seen anyone else wearing one.
I saw the deputy and the trailer and thought, "Wouldn’t it be funny if he gave me grief for not having the life vest." Not funny as in "ha-ha," but funny as in "It would suck to have to admit she was right."
I decided not to take the chance and float down river a little, then work my way back to the launch.
I returned a little bit later, and while the Wave Runner was up on the trailer, the cruiser was still there.
It was getting late and thought it was silly to worry, so I paddled up to the launch and not-so-gracefully extracted myself and started walking back to the car.
The deputy, who was doing some paperwork, started making small talk.
"You have a nice ride?" he asked.
"You went in the right direction. I was really choppy down the other way," he said.
"Yeah, the wind seemed to be picking up. But it was nice going up river. Have a good night."
Then it happened.
"Hey, you’ve got a jacket, right?" he asked. And he asked this in a way that made me believe that the only correct answer was "Yes."
I’ve watched NYPD Blue. I know the only thing to do at this point is lawyer up. Running probably wouldn’t have worked, especially since I was carrying a kayak and wearing water shoes.
I had a right to remain silent. I tried to remain calm. Then I lied.
"Yes," I replied. "Yes, I do." Jon Lovitz was more convincing.
"OK, because I noticed that you weren’t wearing it when I passed you."
"Oh yeah!" which is non-committal, avoiding a second lie, yet not confessing.
"OK, have a good night."
I took this to mean, "I know you’re lying, since you’re not wearing this vest and there’s barely enough room in the kayak to store a water bottle much less a life vest. So consider this a friendly warning and get your soggy butt to Dunham’s tomorrow and get yourself properly equipped. If I catch you on the river without at life vest again, you’re headed to the hotel with the striped sunshine. And listen to your sister."
Needless to say, I am now properly vested.