The World Series moves from San Francisco to Detroit on Saturday night.
And so we are done with cool and hip for a while. No more kayaks bobbing in McCovey Cove beyond the right-field wall at AT&T Park. No more panda heads looming hilariously behind the on-deck circle when Pablo Sandoval comes to the plate. No more Willie Mays riding on a golf cart like he’s Ted Williams or the Pope. No more flowers in the hair of granola-sprinkled fans. No more sweet smell of weed wafting from the crowd.
The series shifts to downtown Motown, where rust belt fans drink boilermakers and apologize too much.
Let me say here that I love both of these places. And I am rooting for the Tigers in Games 3, 4, and 5. Big time.
Everybody loves San Francisco. It’s easy. The place is awash in what the late, great George Frazier would call duende. San Francisco is European. It’s where white people and black people mingle and nobody makes a big deal of it. It’s where folks are polite at a four-way stop. You go. No, you go. We are all Tony Bennett. We all left our heart there.
Hardly anybody loves Detroit.
Detroit has real people who work hard for their money and cherish their jobs. Detroit loves hockey. Detroit loves to buy American. Detroiters like their boats and their beers. You do not ask to see the wine list in the bars around Comerica Park. Pabst Blue Ribbon, please. Tall boys.
I love the Tigers. Best uniforms in the sport. They have Al Kaline and Willie Horton sitting in the dugout before games. They have a 67-year-old manager who smokes Marlboro Reds in the dugout and wears cleats when he puts his feet up on his desk in his office.
Jim Leyland is from Perrysburg, Ohio. He reminds his players that they need to run out ground balls because a fan in the stands might be trying to feed a family of five and worrying about job security.
I talked to Leyland at length before Game 2 in San Francisco Thursday.
“You guys going to be OK?” I asked.
“We’re going to be OK either way,’’ said the manager. “We’re one of the last two teams playing.’’
Good stuff. And true. But the Tigers need to get started. They managed only two hits while getting shut out Thursday. Leyland’s third base coach, Gene Lamont, took a chance by sending wide load Prince Fielder home from first on a second-inning double by Delmon Young. The gamble failed.
Later in the night, when the Giants had the bases loaded and no outs, Leyland had his infield playing back, and the Giants scored a run on a 4-6-3 double-play grounder to break a scoreless tie.
I would have gone to the plate. Runs are too precious for the Tigers right now.
But Leyland is the boss and he is the best. And that is one reason I’d hate to see his team smoked out of this World Series so quickly.
The Tigers are down, 2-0. It is eerily similar to the 2006 World Series, when they were beaten in five games by the St. Louis Cardinals. Those Tigers were rested after sweeping the Athletics. Then they were thrashed.
Detroit needs this more than San Francisco. The Tigers have won only one World Series since Kaline, Horton, and friends upset the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968. Sparky Anderson’s Bless You Boys beat the Padres easily in the 1984 World Series and Greater Detroit bars still feature photos of Kirk Gibson celebrating against San Diego.
I wish I could go to London and ask Tom Brady whom he is rooting for. Brady grew up in Greater San Francisco. He was drafted as a catcher by the Montreal Expos. He loves baseball. And he loves the Giants. But he went to Michigan. He understands the Detroit mind. He knows how those people have suffered. He understands the angst of folks who rely on the Big Three car companies, people who root for the Lions.
The Tigers play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” at Comerica every night. You know the tune. Just a city boy. Born and raised in south Detroit.
There is no south Detroit. South Detroit is water. On the way to Canada.
A perfect metaphor. The rallying cry of the Tigers includes a statement that is factually incorrect.
There haven’t been many good times for Tigers baseball since 1984. In the 2006 World Series it was bitterly cold. And the Tigers froze.
They split two at home, lost three straight in St. Louis, and went away quietly.
Now they are back. They are a team of slow-pitch softball thumpers who have been silenced by the Giants thus far.
Their hungry, humble fans deserve better.