I've always lived in the country. Growing up I loved watching baseball on TV. I always wanted to see a real MLB game, but there was a problem, I lived in the country. The nearest baseball teams were the Diamondbacks in Phoenix and the Colorado Rockies, a mere 7 hour trip each way to both cities for a game. My parents weren't taking me to a game. We moved and eventually I got to see the Oakland A's play at RingCentral Coliseum. And that's about it for my experience watching pro baseball in person.
Well it happened that since we moved to Michigan, someone would have tickets to give us. In this case they were rain checked tickets from back in April. Now I had a ticket to a MLB game and a drive of less than two hours to get there. However, this was to be a double-header day. So by paying as well for a ticket to the second game, I would get to see two MLB games in a day. And so, on August 6th Jim French and I left mid morning for the afternoon game in Detroit.
Walking to the ballpark from where we found parking for merely $10, we passed the Fox Theater. Just a few days prior the Democratic debates were being held there. Speaking of parking, there was no cheap parking nearby. The best deal we could find was quite a few blocks away. Much further and you risk your car getting jacked. Despite the dark history of Detroit when it comes to safety, it's clear that in just the last few years the city has been experiencing a rebirth. I never questioned my safety, I never saw what I had seen a few years earlier that made me fear for my safety then. This is a place to visit now, it didn't used to be so, and that's wonderful.
We got to the park right before the gates opened. We beat the crowds. You can see how great the park looks from the outside. Police were laid back and very helpful with traffic control.
When we got to the gate I was required to surrender my bag for inspection and go through a metal detector. The guy inspecting my bag asked what lens I had on my camera. I had a couple, a Canon 24mm, a 50, and my 55-250.
We settled into our cheap seats and watched the Tigers lose for a few innings. These were some of the worst seats in the ballpark I think, right on the third base foul line. We couldn't see much of the action, or the jumbo-tron that everyone else was watching which was directly to our backs. If you wanted to catch a foul ball though, this might be one of the best places to do it. With not much of a game going on and not much of a view, it was time to explore this really nice looking ballpark.
I found this really nice shot looking at the GM Renaissance Center. It reminds me of a giant Amazon Alexa with the blue lights that go around the top. This random man really added to the shot I think.
During the lull in the game I was able to make it to the ticket booth and spend a whopping $44 on a ticket to the night game. The orange tickets sure do look cooler than the cheap ones. They have a neat hologram. I've had to edit out a few things such as the last digits of the credit card I used to pay.
A mid afternoon thunderstorm rolled in and got us wet, but it didn't affect the game. While inside the stadium after the first game I climbed up to the top of the stadium to take this panorama.
We had to leave the stadium between games as did everybody else. This wasn't really a bad thing since there was a ton of nasty trash all over. Peanut shells were the least of it. Tons of people left food in their seats and all over the ground. I don't know how the cleaning staff managed it, but when we entered for the second game the park was pristine again.
So Jim and I headed out to walk around the outside of the park until the gates opened again, and then some bad stuff happened.
My camera was profiled for being black.
Yes, you read that right. I had been inside the park for the first game with the exact same gear. I was the third person at the gate for the second game, having spent $40 on a ticket I wasn't going to be there late. I get to the checkpoint with a metal detector where bags are searched, and I had a horrible experience. The person searching my bag asks me why I have so many lenses as he digs through my camera bag, getting a fingerprint right on one of the lenses. He then grabs my camera and removes it from the bag and asks how big the lens is. "About 4 inches." was not the correct response. "How big is your lens?" the guy barks again. "I don't know what you mean, it goes to F-22" I reply. This guy was really getting angry now and barks "How many em ems the lens?" That's right, he literally didn't know what a millimeter was, he called it an "em". The lens in question is a Canon 55-250 lens. The man then flips the camera all around until he finds what he is looking for on the lens and points to the side where it says "250" and barks triumphantly. "It's two fifty em ems, that's illegal, it can't go in. You can only have 70 em ems" I ask what I can do and the man just told me to take it back to the car.
Now I have a problem, our car is several miles away, the gates open only 30 minutes before the game. I can't walk that far back and forth to the car without missing most of the game. So I protest saying that I'm press. "Where's your press pass and why are you hear not at the press entrance?" Fair enough, while it is true that I'm press(everyone is) I was not issued press credentials for this private event on private property. I then asked if I could just promise not to use it. I'm really in a bind here. No dice! I finally try to use reason and logic by showing him my previous pictures off my camera where I was in the park earlier with the same lens. He doesn't care, instead he said, "Well you may have snuck it in earlier and someone will be getting fired but you can't get in now." When I then point behind him to a sign with the list of prohibited items and ask him where it says I can only have a 70mm lens, he just turned around and walked off, ignoring me and leaving me stranded.
So in a panic I turn to walk back to the car by myself...in Detroit.....with an expensive camera around my neck.. Then as I was walking outside the stadium towards the car I start walking past the next entrance. I have a moment of brilliance. I swap lenses on my camera to a 24mm prime, then walk up to the line to get into that gate. When I get to the gate the guy looks at my camera and asks the size of the lens. I show him that it is a 24mm, and he says, "It's less than 70, I don't even know what that means." I'm not kidding, I then walk past the bag searching security theater to the gate itself and get my ticket scanned and I was through the gate. Bam! No more feeling about to cry in frustration. I turn around at the gate to watch the other people getting searched and see several women having their point-and-shoot cameras out. No asking about "em ems" for them. Which is ironic because I asked one of those ladies to show me her camera, and right on the front of her Kodak camera is the focal length of the lens, and it says 28-140mm equivalent.
"Uh oh." I realized. Many of the thousands of cameras that were being brought into the park were little point-and-shoot cameras with lenses that were or equivalent to 80mm. My camera was different because it was black and scary, and that's ridiculous.
And if you were wondering what $44 gets you at a Tigers game, it's this view right here. I couldn't see second base because of the foul pole. The seats were bad. But wasn't bad was the color of the sky and the atmosphere. It was great! Watching the sunset light up the clouds as the stadium lights took over lighting the field was what I would call the essence of watching a baseball game.
We got to watch a pregnant man yell and scream at the White Socks' right fielder John Jay. Jay was getting mocked by a bunch of people, it was fun to listen to.
This is what 250mm looks like from our seats. I wasn't seeing much of the game.
And then it rained again.
All at once we noticed that people on the other side of the stadium were running away from the field screaming. For a moment I thought there was a bomb or something, they were panicked. But slowly we got to see what they were running from. You could see a wall of rain slowly marching across the field. It was very cool to watch. We were watching on the jumbo-tron as it rained heavily on the field yet it was dry where we were. We actually walked casually under the upper deck before it started raining. We never got wet. It proceeded to rain buckets.
So now there's a rain delay.
So what if it started raining cats and dogs, do you think we stopped having fun? Heck No! We went and explored things in the stadium again.
We stood and watched as the guy we see on TV during Tigers' games did an interview and talked live on the air. It was amazing how much smaller the set looked in person.
We met the wildlife. "Cowboy" (Left) and "Chief" (Right) were very happy to talk and wanted their picture taken. Chief was a large Chippewa man that was getting pretty drunk and wanted to talk my ear off.
Someone else was doing their own photography of the water streaming into the stadium. That's great to see, and they made for an interesting shot themselves.
The whole time we were having fun hanging around waiting for an hour until the rain delay ended, people were streaming out of the stadium. Angry people, frustrated people, people that were getting soaked on the trek to their cars. Once those people were almost done streaming out, the rain stopped, and the now much emptier park was getting ready for baseball again.
So now there are hardly any people sitting behind home plate. Why not go up there and grab a better seat? And we did.
So now we're right behind home plate. I know people do this all the time but I have no experience doing this. I keep thinking that at any moment we're going to get arrested or something. Hardly anyone comes back to their seats and we are left in an area mostly vacant behind home plate.
Now we're able to watch almost half the game with a view like this. Laughing at a White socks fan that is angrily screaming and heckling with profanity laden commentary. The Tigers are ahead and trying to hold their lead so now this game is getting very interesting.
And the tigers win the game.
It's almost midnight by the time the game finally ends. The Tigers won, and most of the crowd didn't get to see it. Meanwhile we got to watch them win from seats I doubt I'll ever be able to afford. Sometimes life is good I guess.