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A Visit to Tiger Stadium

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I’m in Detroit. The reason: my girlfriend Allison writes for Bless You Boys and this weekend is their annual meetup at Comerica Park.  Despite living only three hours from Comerica Park, I have never been there.

For years my avoiding it was done out of protest.  I grew up going to Tiger Stadium. I realize that progress marches on and I realize my attachment to Tiger Stadium was and is somewhat irrational on some level, but I considered the corner of Michigan and Trumbull to be an almost holy place, and it galled me that it could be abandoned and then destroyed like it was.

But that’s over. Everyone tells me Comerica Park is a worthy successor, and tonight I will experience it for myself. And tomorrow and Sunday too. But before I do that, I had to make one last visit to Tiger Stadium. I did this morning:

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If Tiger Stadium doesn’t officially exist anymore, Ernie Harwell Park is a perfect name for what’s left.

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The old gate is still there, as well as some post-destruction fencing.  But there’s no lock on the gate — at least there wasn’t today — and we let ourselves in.

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A home plate, the mound, a rubber and the basepaths are there. People come and take care of the infield from time to time.

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Someone brought some benches in too for pickup games.

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Our friend Kat and her dad — also displaced Michiganders and Tigers fans — joined us. Her dad thought to bring a ball, glove and a bat so we could take some bp and toss the ball around some.  This is Allison rubbing up the ball with some Tiger Stadium dirt.

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The bat: an Al Kaline model, which Kat’s dad said was an actual game-used bat. It certainly looked it.  We asked him if he seriously wanted to use it to fart around with and he said “Sure. If it’s gonna break anywhere, why not here?”  Couldn’t argue with that.  I took some hacks. Every single one was a grounder to short. I just pretended that I was giving Alan Trammell infield practice.

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The glove I actually own and have had since I was a teenager is a Lance Parrish model catcher’s glove. I stupidly left it at home. Kat’s dad is a lefty, so I did my best catching him with his lefty glove. Mixed results.

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I pitched too. I look like Aurelio Lopez.  Probably need to get back on the treadmill.

It was fun. It was sad. It was necessary.  I guess I can let it go now and go to Comerica tonight with a clean conscience.

 

Curtis Granderson is close to making history

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Curtis Granderson #3 of the New York Mets connects on a three-run home run in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on September 22, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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With a fourth-inning solo home run off of Phillies starter Jake Thompson, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson reached the 30-homer plateau for the fourth time in his 13-year career. It’s a moment worth celebrating, only there’s one problem: he has just 56 RBI on the season.

There are many reasons for the low RBI total. 24 of Granderson’s 30 homers have come with the bases empty. He came into Sunday’s action hitting just .140 in 124 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and .197 with runners on base. He has hit leadoff for most of the season, meaning he’s had the Mets’ pitchers hitting “ahead” of him in the No. 9 slot as well as the Mets’ catchers typically hitting eighth. Mets catchers, collectively, have a .296 on-base percentage, the second-worst mark in the National League.

Since the end of August, Granderson has hit cleanup with Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes hitting in front of him. That change hasn’t been for naught, as he has 17 RBI in 21 games since.

Still, Granderson is on pace for the fewest RBI in a 30-homer season. Rob Deer and Felix Mantilla are tied for the record with 64 RBI. Deer (32 HR) accomplished the feat in 1992 with the Tigers and Mantilla (30 HR) in 1964 with the Red Sox. Only eight players have had 70 or fewer homers in a 30-homer season. Evan Gattis is currently sitting on 30 homers with 68 RBI.

MLB teams pay tribute to José Fernández’s memory

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Following the announcement of the 24-year-old’s death, Major League Baseball observed a moment of silence for José Fernández before each of today’s games. While this afternoon’s Marlins-Braves game was cancelled out of respect for the organization, Miami painted Fernández’s jersey number on the mound in honor of their former pitcher.

Other teams, like the Mets, Mariners, and Dodgers, chose to honor Fernández by hanging his No. 16 jersey in their dugout:

Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that David Ortiz‘s pregame retirement ceremony at Tropicana Field was canceled at the player’s request:

The Astros and Diamondbacks each displayed a personal tribute to Fernández, writing the number 16 on their caps and etching his number and initials in the bullpen:

Rest in peace, Fernández.