Our Trip to Motown - More Baseball

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Saturday, June 18, 2005

If you have you're heart set on visiting a bizarre urban adventureland, we Torontonians have one almost at their doorstep. Just a short three and a half hour drive takes you to the city of Detroit. There you'll find a Twilight Zone, scary city, without rival. Cruising downtown Detroit at 10:00 a.m. reminds you of the movie Vanilla Sky - the part where Tom Cruise jumps in his car to go to work, and then realizes there's no one else around. In Detroit there are no people on the streets - no cars on the roads. I wanted to get out of the car and walk down the middle of Main Street just like Cruise did and scream profanity - just because I could. I would have gone unheard. Office buildings and houses sit boarded up and empty. Is this the "freedom" that we are entitled to in a democratic society, I wondered. The cities of war-torn Laos and Cambodia, even Burma are more vibrant than Detroit. And damned if it doesn't have the most beautiful old hi-rise architecture, which was built by the auto manufacturers whose high priced help now live in mansions on the shores of the Detroit River just north of town.
Ellen and I sat down on stools at our un-air-conditioned hotel lobby bar. The only other customer was a man named Charlie who was sipping scotch on ice as he rested his right arm on a holstered revolver. Charlie was the security guard at the hotel. To add to the oddness of the place, at night, at least on this particular Saturday night, young vampirish looking white kids called Goths roam about doing God knows what. No wonder you're allowed to carry a gun with you in the U.S.A.

About a kilometre away from the downtown core at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull sits the abandoned old ballpark, Tiger Stadium - closed after the 1999 season in favour of the new Comerica Park in the city centre. We drove around old Tiger Stadium several times. I had a tear in my eye - paying silent homage to yet another fallen green cathedral. The eight or ten watering-holes that served this great ballpark are mostly boarded up and empty now.

The new park, Comerica is what it needs to be. A facility that can house a multitude of private boxes - paid for by corporations with a need to shelter some of its hard earned cash from the tax man. Outside the stadium there's one restaurant/bar to serve the thousands of fans. Ownership prefers to keep the sale of food and beverage within the walls of the new ballpark.

Tiger management has developed an innovative way of dealing with obesity. They've built an entire section with X X L cushioned chairs with reinforced wooden legs. Between each chair there's a little table where the extra large fan can place all of his or her food items. Comerica Park offers a beautiful view of the city over the outfield fence. The aged hi-rise cityscape is worth the price of admission alone. Unfortunately, when the sun goes down the buildings vanish. They're not lighted, probably or maybe because they're vacant too.

Ellen has developed such a keen interest in my obsession that we've established a rating system for ballparks that we've visited together. From first to worst:

  Ellen:  San Francisco, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Diego, New York (NL), Oakland

  Jack:   Pittsburgh, Detroit, San Francisco, San Diego, Cincinnati, New York (NL), Oakland 


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