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A Visit to Tiger Stadium


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:


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



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.


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



Someone brought some benches in too for pickup games.



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.



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.



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.



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.


The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.