Thursday, April 10, 2008

It’s About Time

Thank God that's over.

I have just come in from the garage. That's where my radio is. The radio I listen to the ball games on.

I tried using the stereo in the family room. But everyone else is watching TV or playing music on the computer. So my little portable stereo sits in the garage until the weather warms up enough to spend my evenings on the back deck. That's where the ball game sounds best. On the back deck – preferably with the sizzle of the BBQ in the back ground and the splash of kids in the pool.

But it's only the second week of April.

Tonight I spent the night in the garage, listening to the second Detroit Tiger game of three against the Boston Red Sox – at Boston. At old Fenway park. Green Monster and all.

It's a formidable venue to play in. And the Red Sox – defending World Series champs – are a formidable foe in the best of circumstances.

But these weren't the best of circumstances.

The Tigers lost their first seven games of the year.

Yes, the same Detroit Tigers that were picked by countless authorities to win their division, win the American League, and by Sports Illustrated to win the World Series this year. They even put them on the cover. Don't you think that Sports Illustrated would know that when they make a prediction and put it on their cover, they put a curse of immeasurable proportions on the team or person they predict on?

I'm positive that's what happened.

Ok, I don't believe in magic. And I don't really believe in curses.

But I am superstitious.

Some of the games that we lost were ugly. Huge scores by the opposition. Silence from the bats of our all-star lineup. Errors by gold glove winners. And pitching that would serve better in men's softball beer leagues. Sunday against Chicago, the White Sox were actually laughing at us from the visiting dugout.

And you know what? We deserved to get laughed at.

The whole city of Detroit was in a panic. I was no exception.

But those with saner heads kept saying "be patient".

"Because it's only the second week of April".

Patience was nowhere to be found. Other pundits were pulling out historical statistics:

"No team has ever won the World Series after losing the first four games".

"No team has ever made the playoffs after losing the first seven games."

But the optimists were saying "It's a long season of 162 games. It doesn't matter where in that period you slump".

But our patience had been exhausted. And we thought these boys would never win.

Until tonight.

Finally, in the eighth game of the season, the team that will win the 2008 World Series finally won their first game. A 7 - 2 victory. At Fenway. Against the Red Sox.

Atta-boys.

And they did it in really great fashion. Strong pitching from Jeremy Bonderman, a guy the city was ready to give up on. He pitched hard for six innings only giving up two runs.

Good defensive play highlighted by five double plays.

Great at bats, highlighted by a two run homer by Marcus Thames fourth and a solo shot by Carlos Guillen in the ninth just to make sure.

Pudge finally got his 2,500 career hit.

The bullpen, the Achilles heel of the Tigers, stepped up and held the Red Sox scoreless through the final 3 innings. But it was a scary bottom of the ninth as Tiger's closer Todd Jones walked the bases loaded after being one strike away from ending the game. Had Youkilis gotten on base, the tying run would have come to the plate. Manny Ramirez no less.

But Jones got Youkilis to pop up to shallow right. And the game was over.

You could feel the air pressure rise as this entire region breathed a very deep sigh of relief. I think my ears popped.

So there are now 154 games left to be played. And the rest of the season will be full of national media statements reminding us that no team has ever made the playoffs, let alone winning the World Series, after losing their first seven games. And I am certain that Sports illustrated cover will also be mentioned again and again.

And I will spend the summer, on the back deck, listening to the national media pundits belittle our chances on my portable stereo.

And I will simply muse to myself "It was only the second week of baseball!"

Thank God that's over. It's about time.

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