But since we've left California, we've seen Coors Field (Rockies), Busch Stadium (Cardinals. We've all been to the old one, and Jeff has been to the new -- that's what happens when you let a Cards fan be godmother to your children), Great American Ballpark (Reds), and now Comerica (Detroit Tigers).
Last month, we went to see the Dodgers play the Tigers (and see them lower themselves to utilizing the abomination called the designated hitter). We went with my parents, who live in Michigan in the Summer. And I must say, I was very impressed. It's not easy to impress someone who is used to one of the most beautiful parks in baseball. Comerica was beautiful, and the fans were great. Some places can't really pump themselves up without cutting down the other team. The Dodgers don't do that...and neither did the Tigers.
(aside) The only time I have heard an opposing team booed at Dodger Stadium didn't have to do with the opposing team...those in the left field seats can't seem to resist chanting "Barry sucks" whenever Bonds came to town. It had nothing to do with his being a Giant. It had to do with his being Barry. But Dodger fans knew it way earlier than the rest of baseball -- it is an ontological thing. (Though I am sure that if Vin went down and graced left field, all who indulged in the ridicule would've hung their heads in shame, condemned by the class that exudes from his pores. No "talking to" would've been necessary) (I don't feel too guilty. The Giants are probably among the worst offenders of beatin' on the opposing team to make themselves feel better about themselves...though they are worse with the Dodgers than any other. Its a good rivalry).
It was an interesting experience being in a park for a team that had a mascot that actually connotes power. When you think about it, most baseball teams don't have really powerful mascots -- Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Orioles, Blue Jays, Marlins, Angels, Phillies (just to name a few) -- not generally images that can leave you shaking in your shoes, if there really is even an image to think of.
The Tigers use tigers very well, and they don't go hokey, and they easily could. The statues of Tigers that were up above the gates, staring down on us were artistic, gorgeous, and very intimidating. There were heads of tigers (carved in stone, of course, not real) mounted all over the buildings, each gingerly holding a baseball in its mouth, gently holding it in place with its fangs. The scoreboard was awesome, also with two tigers flanking it, looking like they were pacing anxiously, getting ready for the kill). The carousel in the eating commons was composed entirely of tigers, rather than the menagerie of animals that we are used to. The announcer would roll his R's in a subtle growl when he would announce players coming up to bat (though it was subtle enough that it took a few innings to realize he was doing it). I really love how they embraced their "Tiger-ness." But no Tony the Tiger, nothing outright goofy.
The ballpark was small, but it was beautiful . While the Tigers do not have their own parking, there were plenty of lots close by, and plenty of workers willing to herd us in and guide us into a spot. I'd always balked at parks that "went commercial" with rides, bars, stores, and regular restaurants. But the commons area where there were restaurants and bars were nice. They also abstained from the goofy between inning promotions every inning. They had giveaways, but they weren't huge productions or terribly corny (you can have some fun). The Tigers did it all well, and didn't make it seem like an amusement park with a baseball game going on to the side. And I must say, the frozen daquiris (adult Icees) really hit the spot for me!!! (and my mom, too). I'm all for something like "Daquiri's" in Dodger Stadium. (Mr. McCourt...get on that!)
The park itself was flanked by two very old churches. I am sure there was some legal protection there that allowed them to stay in place (registered historical sites, I am sure). The Methodist Church took full advantage of it. They sold premium parking, sold peanuts, had a Tigers memorabilia store, and a chili bar. The church that flanked the other side seemed more quiet.
The game was good...but we lost, of course. The guys behind us were bantering with us the whole game...though as their alcohol flowed, the bantering was a little less coherent (and the sound system was balanced enough so we could hear them....a flaw that is increasingly common).
It was an awesome day. I wish I could say the baseball was as good. There were a few good plays, but it was one of those days where each team was proving who could lose it better, not who was more skilled. But when you have 162 games every year
and when your team is in a pitiful hitting slump , there are going to be games like that. (Unfortunately, it is always when we manage to see our Dodgers on the road.) We were in it for a while though.
It was still good to cheer on my boys in blue though. I miss them.