Big League Stew - MLB

Back in 2005, on my first visit to Comerica Park, I saw only one piece of graffiti on the bathroom wall.

This is what it said:

"Tyrus Raymond Cobb. 1909 AL Triple Crown. 1911 AL MVP .420, 1936 HOF"

I figured right there that Detroit — or at least the city's vandals — enjoyed their baseball.

Comerica Park doesn't get brought up in a lot of great ballpark discussions and I think there's an argument to be made that it's the most underrated stadium out there. The seats are good, the prices are affordable and, unlike when it first opened, there's a generally competitive product out on the field. (Yeah, this year has been a bit of a downer, but it's nothing like 2003 and there's still plenty of season left, OK?)

The main thing that Comerica has working against it is Detroit's tarnished reputation, which you soon find is pretty much a non-factor. While many might still live in the comfort and safety of the city's suburbs and there may be an overabundance of homeless people in the area,  there's a good time to be had among the many shops, bars and restaurants that have sprung up around Comerica and Ford Field. Get past the stereotypes and you'll find a great place to watch good baseball with some good fans.

(Non-sequitir of the series: As for the homeless people, a lot are just good guys down on their luck. A few years back, before a Bears-Lions game in December, we had a few guys shovel a place for us to party, run to the store to get us a few supplies and take our coals to the dumpster while we went into the game. In return we gave them a few bucks, a few beers and shared our pregame spread. Not a bad way to make a few friends.)

For an insider's look at visiting Comerica, follow the jump. To submit tips on your home ballpark, e-mail 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com. This week's schedule concludes with AT&T Park on Friday.

Facts and figures (More at Ballparks.com)

Address: 2100 Woodward Ave Detroit, MI 48201

Built: 2000

Capacity:  40,950

Cost: $300 million

Dimensions: Left field: 345 feet; left-center: 395 feet, 370 feet; center field: 420 feet; right-center: 365 feet; right field: 330 feet; foul territory: small.

Biggest moment: Magglio Ordonez hit a walkoff home run in Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS to send the Tigers to the World Series. (Video here)

Fun fact: When the Tigers hit a homer, the two cats atop the scoreboard roar and shoot water.

Resources

•  Buy tickets ($5-$65) • Seating chartStadium Info  •  VisitDetroit.com

How to get there

"There's really only one way to get there, and that's by car. Nobody should be fooled by the cheap siren song of the People Mover. You can take the People Mover to somewhere vaguely near to the park and walk from there, but it's not like the People Mover goes anywhere outside of a tiny area within downtown Detroit itself, so I don't really count it as viable public transit." — Samara Pearlstein, Roar of the Tigers

"Parking is a drag. A few blocks west of the stadium you can park for free among the the new condos being built. Otherwise, be prepared to part with some serious cash ($10-$20) if you want to park reasonably close to the stadium." — Douglas Steward 

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"Park at the Methodist church across from the Fox Theater. The guy who works that lot is hilarious." — Adam Hamlin

"If you want to get some Detroit along with your ballgame, while avoiding parking and traffic hassles, park at the Greektown Casino.  You'll have to go into the casino to get your parking validated, but hey, maybe you can play a few hands or slots along the way." — Ian Casselberry, Bless You Boys  

"What a lot of people get wrong about Detroit is the walkability of the city, especially on game days. You do NOT have to park right on top of the field (although if you want to, the Ford Field parking garage is the best deal I've seen — monitored, cheap, right next to the park and weirdly uncrowded the few times I've parked there) ... Out-of-towners especially get all "OH GOD! DETROIT! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!" but to be quite frank I have never had a problem downtown, especially before and after games, when there are a lot of people in the immediate area ... Not everyone you see in Detroit wants to shoot you and steal your polo shirt." — S.P.

Before and after the game

"You have to take a photo with the giant tiger statue by the front gate.  I think it's a Constitutional law or something." — S.P.

"Cheli's Chili is a three-story bar located directly across the street from the park. The food is OK, but the beer is cold and the atmosphere is lively and there's a chance that Chris Chelios could be tending bar. The Elwood is nestled between Comerica and Ford Field in the shadow of the scoreboard and offers dinner and outdoor seating and a nice selection of sandwiches and bar food. The Park Bar is located a few blocks away and offers a distinctive round bar and a bevy of Detroit microbrews and old favorites like Stroh's. Plus, their chicken shawarma is cheap and filling." — Bill Ferris, The Detroit Tiger Weblog

"Have a great pre-game (or post-game) meal at Pegasus (Opa!) or Pizzapapalis and then take the People Mover, which gives you a nice airborne view of downtown and the Detroit River. Get off at the Grand Circus exit, and Comerica Park is a couple of minutes away." — I.C.

"Greektown is cool. There are a bunch of restaurants and a SERIOUSLY good Greek bakery (Astoria, I think). I remember hitting up the bakery after a day game once, and it is true:  even something as sweet as a Tigers win can still be improved by delicious baklava." — S.P.

"If you want the true Detroit cuisine experience you should hit up a Coney Island-Plaka's in Greektown, or Lafayette or American. Note: Do not actually hit up a Coney Island if you are some sort of epicurean. They are, however, cheap, and very Detroit (read: wildly unhealthy)." — S.P.

"Hockeytown Cafe is a must, but buy your Wings gear BEFORE you get there. It's expensive. Or just go for a walk. So much negative stuff is said about Detroit based on opinions of people who have never been there. Take a stroll. It's not bad." — A.H.

"There are, of course, bars. Nemo's is out by Tiger Stadium, so you have to either bus or drive between there and Comerica.  Also out by Tiger Stadium is Slow's Bar Bq, which is a restaurant, and is BLOODY AMAZING, although it can get crowded on gamedays.  The Old Shillelagh is within easy walking distance of the park and is pretty good." — S.P. 

"Nemo's is great — if you are up for a bus ride." — D.S.

"Right by the ballpark are the Fox Theatre and the Opera House, um, if you're, I dunno, my grandmother. But my grandmother is more hip than most people, so don't let that stop you." — S.P.

"Make sure to check out the giant granite Tiger at the main gate and then be greeted by a statue of beloved Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who called games for young and old alike. He's a Michigan treasure." — Jeff Arnold, Ann Arbor

What to eat

"Go with either the chicken fajita or the mucho nacho. Both are only available by the Carousel and both are a decent value. In fact, the Mucho Nacho is almost too mucho for one muchacho. Another option is a trip to the Beer Hall where you can enjoy A/C on the hot days and heat on the cold days along with a pulled pork sandwich or burger." — B.F.

"I am not a fan of many of the concession items. Hot dogs are marginal at best. Pizza is Little Caesars (don't ask!). Service at kiosks is slow and confused. Order a burger in the Beer Hall, or head up to Montgomery Inn for some barbeque. Most of the time I eat outside the park and just have a beer or a coke while at the game." — D.S.

Where to sit

"If it's a night game, avoid the left field pavilion. You'll be blind from looking into the sun until the third inning." — B.F.

"If it's early or late in the year when the temperature is a good bet to be low, pick something along the third base line where you get more sun. Unless you don't like sun, or it's going to be mind meltingly hot then pick the first base line. My choice for value/view/comfort is the right field upper box seats. If you're coming down with kids, I recommend the upper deck. The lower deck has a very shallow rise making it tough for the little ones to see over the grown-ups." — B.F.

"I've had fun sitting up in the top deck, a row or two from the absolute last row in the stadium, but you really are WAY up there." — S.P. 

"Don't sit in the upper deck! The game is just a rumor from there. Many people purchase SRO; there are some great places to just stand and watch the game." — D.S. 

"Standing room only in right center. You get an awesome view of the game (with no heads in front of you) and you're right near the concessions and a smoking area (if you so desire) that is right on top of the front gate looking down Woodward Ave." — A.H. 

"As far as the best bang for the buck, just buy the absolute cheapest seat you can find and sit on the deck in right field." — Jason Silverthorne 

Misc.

"Being from Michigan, the Detroit skyline is one of the things that makes me proud to call this state "home." Depending on where you are, you get a great view of it." — A.H.

"Take some time to absorb some Tigers history. Kiosks throughout the concourse display Tigers artifacts throughout the years. Cap it off with a trip to the statues in left field. The statues are terrific and it's not a bad place to catch an inning or two if you can finagle some space on the wall." — B.F.

"I love showing up when the gates open to watch BP.  You can get right behind the dugout, so you're close to the players (although you usually see the opposing team, not the home team), and it doesn't matter a bit what your ticket says." — S.P.

"I'm a photographer, so I love the snot outta Comerica for having so much stuff to photograph. You can get crazygood shots just wandering around the ballpark, inside and out. In fact everyone, even non-photogs, should leave time to make at least one complete circuit of the ballpark — see the Ferris wheel and carousel with its ridiculous tigers, all the historical stuff they've got up around the main concourses, the statues in the outfield, walk under the fountain, the whole tiger-striped bit." — S.P. 

"Check out the secret face in the base of the Ty Cobb statue.  Or is that supposed to be actually secret? O noez, I've given you the magick Comerica code!" — S.P. 

Have an insider's tip for Comerica Park that you didn't see listed here? E-mail it with your name and home town to 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com for possible inclusion in the post.

Big League Stew's Big Ballpark Review will run all summer and will feature all 30 MLB ballparks. We welcome reviews for any ballpark. To do so, visit this post for submission guidelines.

COMING FRIDAY: San Francisco's AT&T Park   NEXT WEEK: Fenway Park, Camden Yards, Miller Park

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