The Detroit Tigers came limping into the second half of the 2014 season, dropping the first three of a four game series with the Cleveland Indians. With that knowledge at the front of our minds, my dad, brother, and I set off for Comerica Park. My mission: to see a Miguel Cabrera home run, eat a poutine hot dog and, ultimately, watch the Tigers beat the hell out of the Indians and avoid the sweep.
We arrived just before noon on Sunday morning, having taken a chartered bus arranged through my mom’s workplace. This being my first trip to “the CoPa,” I was eager to see what the field looked like upon entry into the park. It didn’t disappoint. I’ve seen the place on television hundreds of times, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person. It reminded me of the first game I saw with my dad when the team played in old Tigers Stadium. The bright green grass, the lights and sounds, the smell of food in the air, even the hundreds of people that were already milling around. It hits you all at once and, as many baseball fans will tell you, it’s just something magical.
We walked around a bit, snapping a few pictures and seeing the sights a bit before making our way to our seats. Section 326, basically right behind home plate, but at the top of the ballpark. Way, way up there. My dad was ready to be disappointed, having looked at a seating chart online days before, but I was excited. It turns out I had every reason to be. I was thrilled with our vantage point. We were in a location that was shaded from a lot of the early afternoon sun, but could see the entire park. The Detroit skyline, too. The view was really quite majestic, and I was excited for the game to get underway.
The Tigers had Drew Smyly on the mound, a young southpaw who is fairly new to the starting rotation. He looked great. The Indians rarely seemed to get a good swing off against him, and Smyly actually had a no-hitter going into the 5th. Detroit, on the other hand, rocked the Indians pitcher early. Austin Jackson led off the first inning with a double, and was quickly brought home by Ian Kinsler. Kinsler advanced to 3rd on a Cabrera fly out, and was then singled in by JD Martinez. The fans were fired up! Just a couple innings later, the crowd went bananas again as veteran outfielder Torii Hunter cracked a two-run homer.
After the fourth inning, we went to grab some food and explore the park a bit, checking out many of the featured areas around the stadium. We hit up “Kaline’s Corner” and the Pepsi Porch, snooped around all over the outfield, and poked our heads in just about anywhere we could get to. I honestly don’t believe there’s a bad seat in the place. You have a good eye on the action everywhere you go.
Now, I mentioned one of my missions was to eat a poutine hot dog. You may be wondering what that is, and I don’t blame you. I didn’t even know what poutine was myself until a few years ago, much less hearing about poutine hot dogs. Well, it’s a new food item on the Comerica Park menu just this year. A hot dog, I’m sure you’re familiar with. Now, imagine that covered in poutine: french fries, cheese curds, and a hot brown gravy. Sounds disgusting, right? Well, let me tell you, it’s delicious. From all accounts, poutine is pretty much the official food of our friendly neighbors up north, Canada. They do a lot of things right up there. They take care of their citizens with health care, they don’t have guns everywhere and shoot each other to death so much, and dammit, they have poutine!
Admittedly, I was starving by the time I had this poutine hot dog in my hands, but I won’t let that cloud my judgment. I enjoyed the hell out of it. Even my brother, who ended up ordering the same dog directly after me, and had never heard of poutine before, loved it just as much. The first bite was as messy as you might expect. I could feel gravy all over my face, and my hands were covered in it. I’d liken that part of the experience to eating barbecue. And like BBQ, you use up a lot of napkins. One wipe of your face and hands and your once crisp and clean napkin is completely destroyed. I didn’t have a whole lot of them on hand, so I changed up my strategy a bit. I picked off the fries to eat individually in order to make the hot dog more manageable to hold. From there, I think it only lasted about 2 or 3 more Hulk-sized bites. I may have even slurped up a few of the leftover cheese curds in my tray. I make no apologies! A few big gulps of Pepsi and I felt like a damn million bucks. The Big Cat Food Court at Comerica Park was, at that moment, my happy place.
We headed back to finish up watching the game, which my beloved Detroit Tigers ultimately won 5-1, avoiding a sweep. After closer Joe Nathan got the final out, we headed back out to board our bus with the sound of a busker belting out tunes on a saxophone. Our driver, Dusty, of Blue Lake Tours, was waiting right where he dropped us off. I grabbed the same seat I took on the way up, all the way in the back, and watched the scenery pass by the whole way home.
While I didn’t get to see Cabrera homer, the rest of my mission was complete. Torii Hunter sent me home happy with his round tripper, the Tigers got the victory, and I got my poutine hot dog. My dad and brother each enjoyed themselves as well. It was a fantastic day at the ballpark.