My daughters are lying on the couch in our family room watching The Wizard of Oz. It's probably the perfect movie for my four and six year old to watch for Halloween. They are dressing up as princesses for trick or treating in costumes my wife might keep for Prom dress material ten years from now. Green witches and flying monkeys? Perfect.
But I did have other plans for TV watching tonight.
Tonight should have been game seven between my beloved Detroit Tigers and those pesky St. Louis Cardinals. I would have been watching the game right now, unless I had scraped up tickets to Comerica Park just across the River.
The skies are clear and the temperature is 48F at what would have been game time. A perfect night for a game seven.
Comerica Park is a special place for my wife, Darlene and I. It was the site - shortly after opening - replacing Tiger Stadium - of Dar and my earliest dates. This day they were playing the Blue Jays that day - beaten by two homers hit by Carlos Delgado - with a drunken fan screaming at him from twenty feet away "You stink Delgado!". The Tigers lost that game. They were not the same team they are today. The Tigers had not yet lost 119 games. That would come three seasons later.
This visit was special because we believe it inspired the conception of our eldest daughter Alannah later that night.
While I watched the game, keeping dutiful score on the card in the program, Darlene went shopping in the souvenir stands in the park. One of the items she bought - for a reason still unbeknownst to either of us - was a little pair baby booties with the magical olde English D.
Two months later, on Fathers Day, Darlene surprised me with a Fathers Day gift. It was those baby booties - olde English D and all. Shortly after we were married, I was changing jobs, and I moved back home to Windsor for the first time in 36 years.
The 2006 Tigers had a magical year. As we did every year since 2000, we spent every summer evening in the back yard listening to the play by play on the radio - pitch by pitch. And this year they were amazing. At one point they were 40 games above .500. Although they were swept by Kansas City to lose the AL Central division lead they held all year, they were inspired once again in New York and beat the Yankees in four games in the ALDS. They then swept the Oakland A's in four, clinching with a walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth by Maglio Ordonez.
But they only won one game in the World Series. Tarnished by media calling Kenny Rogers a cheater - spotting a dirt on his hand in the first inning and washed off during the Tigers at bat in the second. Kenny went on to pitch seven more shut-out innings with hands cleaner than my girls at dinner time.
Errors. Stupid errors by pitchers throwing balls away and letting runs score. That was the Tiger legacy of the 2006 World Series. But in Game 5, 2 outs, top of the ninth, two men on and down by two runs, Brandon Inge (my favorite 3rd baseman of all time - so much that I listed him as Alannah's favorite player on her T-ball picture players card) - only had to put the ball in play - past the infield. All he needed was to hit the ball down first base line into the corner - and two runs score and we tie it up. And we win it.
Rogers would then have pitched game 6 last night and won convincingly - pine tar or not. The debate today would have been over Robertson or Bonderman pitching game 7.
Instead Inge swung for strike three, and the Cards had won the World Series.
Wait - this is the best part of the movie - where Dorothy pours water over the Wicked of the West - my daughters shrieking as crumples to the floor.
"I'm melting, I'm melting"
And so did my Tigers in the 2006 World Series. There is always next year.
God bless you boys.