October 03, 2011
DETROIT — Monday morning might have belonged to the discussion on whether or not the city of Detroit should rename itself "Megatronopolis" in honor of Calvin Johnson.
But make no mistake: Monday night is going to belong to the Detroit Tigers.
After making the short trip over on Stew Force One, I am coming at you live from Detroit Rock City, which is excited about Monday night's ALDS Game 3 between the Tigers and New York Yankees. Actually, I can't say for certain that anyone is excited because I haven't seen anyone yet. I took a cab straight to the hotel, the cabdriver seemed surprised when I told him there was a baseball game Monday night and most of the people in the lobby were wearing lanyards from an auto industry convention instead of Justin Verlander(notes) jerseys.
However, I think I can make a reasonable assumption that the 40,000-plus people who will materialize in downtown Detroit later Monday night are pretty jacked to see Verlander and C.C. Sabathia(notes) make a second run at their mega-matchup. Though criminally underrated among the 29 other locales, Detroit is a great baseball city and it knows exactly what's at stake. Sunday's big win at Yankee Stadium set up a scenario in which its Cy Young-in-waiting can pitch the Tigers to within a game of the ALCS. If he does that, the Tigers will be in position to clinch a series against A.J. Burnett(notes) in Game 4 without ever returning to N.Y.
Not a bad spot for Detroit to be in.
As hard as it may be to believe, this is Detroit's first home playoff game since Oct. 22, 2006, when Kenny Rogers beat the Cardinals' Jeff Weaver(notes) in Game 2 of the World Series. That was the Tigers' only win in that Fall Classic and it led them into a schizophrenic four-year period. You name it, the Tigers did it — World Series hangover in '07, last-place crash in '08, giant September collapse in '09 and the very picture of mediocrity in '10.
But Monday night it all comes back full circle as the Comerica Park will light up a beautiful stadium campus that almost always gets lost when people talk about the city's shortcomings. Verlander and Sabathia will duel, the Yankees will get booed and the prowling tiger statues will overlook it all. Postseason baseball has returned to Detroit.