Tonight’s scheduled Game 4 of the ALCS was postponed due to inclement weather, after 45,000+ fans packed Comerica Park in anticipation of their Tigers winning an American League pennant. It would have been their 11th.
Packing the park tonight were kids with their faces painted like Tigers, paraplegics in wheelchairs, Santa Clauses, multiple tiger-suits, jackets with inscriptions: ’68, ’84, even ’35 World Series, girls with orange and blue eyeliner, die-hards with 80’s Majestic jackets, backpacks, hats. Even a few ancient old women, ready to score the game, pleased with the warm weather, wondering where Ernie Harwell was.
Also packing the house: suburbanites who spend no more time in Detroit than they have to, which usually includes a bar within two blocks of the ballpark, the ballpark, and a bar within two blocks of the ballpark.
Detroit is famous for its baseball team, and notorious for the fact that most of the people sitting in the park are suburban Michiganders. It’s only during the playoffs when downtown Detroit sees the traffic most cities see everyday. Rarely is the corner of Elizabeth and Woodward crowded with parked Hummers, Chevy Suburbans and Ford minivans.
For many of these fans, there is no tomorrow. Work calls. Kids have school. Appointments are scheduled. Comerica Park doesn’t have the luxury of fans who can show up at the drop of a hat. Many of them won’t be there tomorrow.
When the PA announcer said in painstakingly sluggish repose, “Game four of the American League Championship series is postponed and will be played tomorrow at 4:07 PM”, beers were tossed, thrown, ‘whipped’ if you will at the ground. Expletives rang throughout the ballpark. Arguments broke out between couples. Despair overtook the faces of many. The white towels stopped turning in the wind.
After waiting for more than two hours, Tigers fans were informed there would be no game, even though not a single drop of rain had fallen. It’s likely, the game would have been in the 6th inning by the time MLB called the game.
MLB called the game. As Major League Baseball often does, they milked every penny out of the situation. Tonight’s situation was ripe for the picking — keep them in the park, buying programs, hot dogs, hats, shirts, beers etc. In the case of Detroit, more money pouring into the ballpark isn’t a bad thing. The opening of Comerica Park in 2000 was a godsend for the downtown area.
Might as well keep fans downtown before they drunkenly drive 10-50 miles back to the suburbs, eh? There’s an argument against it, but there’s an argument for it. Perhaps MLB had the better interests of Detroit in play when they decided to not speak a word to their fans about the impending rain. It was impending all day.
Rumor throughout the ballpark was that many security and staff knew the game wouldn’t be played.
Yet the beers were bought, the towels were waved when the PA announcer said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to go live on national television. Wave those towels and show the country your excitement for tonight’s game!”
That was the only chance fans had to wave those towels. And, for some, it was the last chance for them to see Alex Rodriguez hit a ball hard. For the record, he wasn’t in the lineup. I’m referring to batting practice.