***This also appears on the other site I write for www.seamheads.com***
I have had almost 3 weeks to process the content of this post. I hesitated writing it on this format as it doesn’t really pertain to baseball. But being that Detroit is Baseball and Tigers baseball is what I love, I decided this may be the perfect format.
For years, I have sang the praises of Detroit. When my out of town friends put Detroit down I corrected them adamantly. Detroit to me was a city on the come back trail. Detroit had potential. Detroit had history. Detroit had grit and determination. Mass media articles and TV shows about the slow death of Detroit angered me to the point of screams. Friends and family not in the area didn’t get it. I was sick of them getting second hand, trumped up media news that was only partially factual. Detroit had love and passion and I had love and passion for Detroit. I was Detroit’s own personal cheerleader singing her praises from the outskirts of the city limits. Suburbanite friends and coworkers constantly stressing about me going downtown to ball games alone – day or night. ”Something is going to happen to you and then you will regret it” and variations of that phrase were heard regularly from my friends and family. I had no worries though, Detroit was my city and I knew how to handle it.
Unfortunately, my love fest for Detroit has ended, and it ended abruptly. Having grown up listening to Ernie Harwell, attending his final game speech last September at Comerica Park and saying my goodbyes at his internment earlier this month, it was only fitting that I attend the Ernie celebration game on Monday May 10th. How could I not – complete the cycle of mourning and watch the Tigers play the Yankees at home in the only series that the evil empire would be here all year. It was a no brainer. Or as my mother told me via text as I looked for justification to buy a $30 ticket - “I don’t know why your asking me, you know your going to go.” She was right, I was going to go (she’s always right…).
I was so excited when I parked my Jeep along my usual stretch of busy Woodward Ave about 3 blocks from the park. I had parked at these metered spaces hundreds of times before (I’m not paying $20 to park in a vacant lot so the so-called “attendant” can watch his friends help themselves to the contents of my Jeep). I grabbed my baseball bag, locked up and bounded off to the park. It was a beautiful clear spring night. The flag dedication ceremony was touching, the video tribute was amazing and the Tigers managed to beat the yankees that night and I saw it all from my favorite seats in the house. Yes, I had 9 innings staring at my favorite right fielder of all time – Mr. Magglio Ordonez . Things couldn’t have been more perfect. It was one of those nights you were happy to be where you were and you would never forget it.
Unfortunately I would never forget it for another reason. As I walked back down Woodward Ave. to retrieve my Jeep only to realize at 11:30 at night that it was no longer where I left it. Yes – someone stole a 13 yr old Jeep Cherokee from a parking meeter on a busy stretch of main road in downtown Detroit during a Baseball game. Police reports were filed, phone calls were made, insurance claims and paperwork filed, affidavits processed and once again I was rescued from a police station at 1am by the best friends a person can have.
This experience has been a nightmare. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. Being single and having no significant other, it makes the process all the harder. Borrowing cars from friends, taking time off of work, filling out paperwork, then more paper work, remembering all the non Jeep items that were also taken (like my favorite baseball hat), insurance companies jacking you around with paperwork, saying one thing, then another, than yet another - the waiting is the hardest part… 30 days till settlement and I don’t even know what I can afford to look at so there is no use in looking just yet. I loved my Jeep like a child – I had a deep personal attachment to my Jeep. In my world its just me, the cat and the Jeep – and part of me wishes they would have taken the cat instead of the Jeep!
In the days that followed, I ran the gamete of emotions. I was sad, then frustrated, then stressed, then depressed and finally I settled on anger and that is where I have stayed. I am so furious that someone would do that to me. I am confused as to why they had to take my Jeep. I am so sad that something of such importance is gone from my life. But above all – I am pissed off. I am pissed at myself because for the first time in my mind - my friends and family were right. All those years that I dismissed their opinions and worries about Detroit finally came back to bite me. They were right and I was wrong. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you have believed in something as wholeheartedly as I believed in the re-birth of Detroit.
So I have taken off my rose colored glasses and I have done some deep soul searching and reflecting over the last 3 weeks or so. And as a recovering Detroit cheerleader – let me be the first to tell you straight from the bandwagon exit – yes it is that bad. Detroit has become a cesspool of crime, theft, decay and desperation. I used to look around and see beautiful old architecture with endless potential for repair and beautification. I saw empty store fronts and thought to myself “wouldn’t my flower shop go great in that store front?”. I saw the small things that were starting to turn down town into the type of down town you wanted to hang out in. New restaurants, bars, shopping, stadiums and theaters. Boy was I jaded. Now, I don’t really care – tear the crumbling crap down. One of the headlines this week on the local paper was that “violent crime was down 2% but murder is up 11%.” Cops are being shot by suspects, cops are “accidentally” shooting suspects being sought for other murders. Drive by shooting are as common on the nightly news as the weather and traffic update. Students are failing standardized tests at record rates (like the worst in the nation). The family structure has gone straight out the window (why is your 14 yr old daughter working at a strip club? Don’t you know where your 14 yr old daughter is at midnight on a Tuesday?!). Don’t even get me started on the corruption of city leaders and payouts and scandals. That’s another blog post for another day.
I think the hardest part for me to accept is that something that I look forward to so much for half the year is now taken from me. I enjoy going to the ball game more than some people enjoy going to the beach or the pool. It is a part of who I am and what I do. A little 4 hour vacation from my life. The ballpark for me was always a place of rest and relaxation. It was like home – no place I would rather be. It was a tradition and a reflection of my future. I have many children (none are mine thank the good Lord) in my life that I have been dying to take to their first Tigers game. Now, I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen any time soon. Maybe we will make their first game the Mud Hens or the White Caps or the Oakland County Cruisers instead. Someone didn’t just steal my Jeep. They stole my way of life, they stole my security and a true source happiness from me. No insurance policy can replace that.
Unless there is a dramatic and rapid turn around for the entire city of Detroit, I’m going to cancel my future plans of not only owning a house and property in the city, but a business as well. It’s too risky. For now, I’m going to just sit here in the comfort of my couch and watch Tigers games on TV. When I do get around to buying a new used Jeep in the next few weeks, I am not going to risk parking it anywhere near the city of Detroit for a long, long time. For someone who attends on average of 25-30 home baseball games at Comerica Park per year – that’s a lot of revenue lost for not only the team but for the city of Detroit itself. Its really hard to fill a stadium that holds 42,000 people if those people are afraid to park their cars to attend the game not knowing what they will return to when its over. If any of the Brass of the Tigers organization is reading – that’s something to think about for the future of your franchise and it’s fans.
So long Detroit – I didn’t want it to end this way but you have left me no other options…