Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Joey's World Tour: Motor City Beartran

Metsies and tigers and bears, oh my!  (Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

What's shaking, everyone?  This is your friendly neighborhood Studious Metsimus roving reporter and culinary expert, Joey Beartran.  In this installment of my world baseball tour, I'm going to talk about Comerica Park and the city of Detroit.  Here's my tip to you.

Don't go to Detroit.  Like, ever.

Seriously, if you want to visit the city and the surrounding areas that gave us Motown, Axel Foley and the dude who starred in "Magnum P.I.", just play some Stevie Wonder records while you watch "Beverly Hills Cop".  There's a reason why Tom Selleck took himself and his Detroit Tigers cap to Hawaii.  It's because he didn't want to be in Detroit.  He was the smart one.  I wasn't.

You see, every year I like to visit an American League park since the Mets don't visit too many of them over the course of a season.  I had already been to eight of the 15 A.L. stadiums prior to this year and needed to cross Comerica Park off my list.  So I hopped on a plane and embarked on my journey.  The flight was short, just a few minutes over an hour.  Alas, I wish my stay in the Motor City had been as short.

After the 20+ mile cab ride from the airport to downtown Detroit (the airport is in a city called Romulus - it's not actually in Detroit), I was a little hungry, so I decided to feast on a coney.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a hot dog with chili, shredded cheese and onions.  Well, at least that's what it's supposed to be, as I had several of these delicacies last year in Cincinnati, the coney capital of the country.  In Detroit, the hot dog just had a glop of chili, a few pieces of onions, no cheese and a generous helping of mustard.  Just like Indiana Jones hates snakes, I hate mustard.  And that should have been a warning to me that Detroit was not going be my favorite world tour destination.

The Cincinnati coney (left) is a work of art.  The Detroit version?  It's a work of fart.  (EL/SM)

I attended two games at Comerica Park with my crew.  The first game featured a classic pitching matchup, as Noah Syndergaard faced Justin Verlander.  The second game was whatever the opposite of "classic pitching matchup" is, as Logan Verrett squared off against southpaw Matt Boyd.  Both games featured what's become a sad routine for the Mets, as they dropped a pair of one-run decisions to the Tigers.  The first game saw the Mets score a meaningless run in the ninth, while the second contest had a very meaningful run cut down at the plate in the final frame.

Second verse, same as the first.

At least I was able to walk around the park during the games to keep me from viewing the carnage.  And I saw some interesting features at Comerica Park that I hadn't seen at other ballparks.

Since the builders of the ballpark knew that no one really wanted to be in Detroit, they constructed a Ferris Wheel and a carousel inside the stadium.  The Ferris Wheel has a dozen baseball-shaped cars while the carousel has a streak of tigers to ride.  (See, you learned something today.  I'll bet you didn't know that a group of tigers was called a streak.)  I didn't get on either ride because I was too busy wondering why SNY roving reporter Steve Gelbs passed me by without saying hello.

O where, o where has Steve Gelbs gone?  O where, o where can he be?  (EL/SM)

But all was not lost, as my Studious Metsimus colleague sent Steve a tweet the following day and got an honest response (see below).

As a roving reporter myself, I should have known that Steve would be busy.  Plus, he had his mind on other things, like riding the tiger carousel while feasting on ice cream.  Looks like I'm not the only roving reporter/culinary expert around.

I forgive you, Steve.  Just keep doing what you do best, even if it doesn't involve a carousel or Ferris Wheel.

In case you were wondering, it was fairly easy for Steve to get ice cream near the carousel, as the ride is located in the center of an area called the Big Cat Court.

The food court with the Big name features everything from Greek fare to Mexican street tacos to something called elephant ears.  No, seriously.  They have elephant ears.  And apparently, they're edible.

Dogs and elephants?  I think I'll stick to gyros and tacos, or maybe some of Steve Gelbs' ice cream.  (EL/SM)

It's clear that Tigers fans really love their food.  Perhaps the only thing they love more is their tigers.  No, not "Tigers" with a capital "T", but lower-case tigers, as in the ones that adorn the outside of Comerica Park.

There are tiger statues, tiger tiles, tiger gargoyle thingies.  If there is an open space on the outside of the stadium, there is probably a tiger on it.  Here, see for yourself.

You don't look so big to me!  You're all roar and no bite!  (EL/SM)

Finally, Comerica Park has statues.  Lots and lots of statues.  There are also kiosk-like areas with displays devoted to various decades of Detroit Tigers baseball.

My photographer gravitated towards the 1980s and 1990s displays since that was the era of baseball he grew up with.  While he was doing that, I checked out the statues behind the center field wall, featuring players such as Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline and Willie Horton.  There is also a statue dedicated to the late broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who called Tigers games for over four decades until his retirement following the 2002 campaign, or one year before Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy hung up his microphone.

All photos of inanimate objects by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus

So let's recap what happened during my 48-hour jaunt to Detroit.  My cab ride from the airport to downtown Detroit took longer than my flight from New York to the D.  My coney was a faux coney.  Steve Gelbs didn't notice a fellow roving reporter/culinary expert because he was having too much fun on the job.  I saw tigers (and elephant ears) in my sleep as well as on the stadium.  And of course, the Mets lost both games I attended by the smallest of margins.

Some things I didn't already tell you that added to my misery included my photographer getting attacked by his bed in our hotel room (there was a jagged edge that wasn't visible that he backed into, causing his leg to bleed as if it were Matt Harvey's nose).  For a city known as the Motor City, there was road construction and detours everywhere, pretty much preventing people from motoring around.  And most importantly, there were no convenience stores anywhere, which presented quite an inconvenience for post-game snack seekers such as myself.

Thomas Magnum was right when he left Detroit to become a private investigator in Hawaii.  And I would have been right had I gone to another American League park instead of one that required me to stay in Detroit.  But at least Comerica Park is off my list of ballparks that I needed to visit as part of my world tour.  And I'm so glad I never have to go there again.

Until next time, when I visit a stadium in a city that won't be Detroit, this is Joey Beartran wishing you a pleasant evening and wishing the Mets can finally produce a winning streak longer than one game.  This month-long slump they're in is almost as bad as going to the Motor City.  Almost.

See you soon!

My sister, Iggy, and I are glad we don't have to go back to Detroit, even if the tiger behind us has other ideas.  (EL/SM)

For previous installments of Joey's World Tour, please click on the links below, where you will be entertained by Joey's wit, photos and love of ballpark cuisine:

World Tour Stop #1: Baltimore
World Tour Stop #2: Washington, DC
World Tour Stop #3: Pittsburgh
World Tour Stop #4: Texas
World Tour Stop #5: Los Angeles
World Tour Stop #6: San Diego
World Tour Stop #7: Toronto
World Tour Stop #8: Chicago (NL)
World Tour Stop #9: Milwaukee
World Tour Stop #10: Seattle
World Tour Stop #11: Cleveland
World Tour Stop #12: Brooklyn (Ebbets Field site) and Manhattan (Polo Grounds site)
World Tour Stop #13: Baltimore (again) and Pittsburgh (part deux)
World Tour Stop #14: Cincinnati
World Tour Stop #15: Colorado
World Tour Stop #16: Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame)


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