They have Opening Days in 30 big league ballparks every year but seeing as how we do it in Detroit, that’s like comparing 29 high school productions of “Cats” to the real thing on Broadway.
There’s Opening Day in Detroit and then there’s a facsimile everywhere else.
It’s the closest thing to an official holiday you’ll find minus the governor’s signature of approval.
It might not be quite like it was during the days of old Tiger Stadium, but we’re so far ahead of the other burgs, it doesn’t change our supreme status.
Opening Day is our baseball Mardi Gras. There’s dancing in the streets, musicians jamming, people in costume, painted faces and young men and women acting with questionable judgment.
There are people from all over the state and surrounding states, converging on the Woodward corridor, zig-zagging from pub to pub, stopping to say hi to the tailgaters, lifting a plastic cup with something amber in it to friends and strangers alike.
There are more coolers downtown on Opening Day than at any seaside beach in the middle of summer.
The word “drink” is spelled with an Old English D. So is “Detroit.” Or, simply, “The D,” as we are taking to call ourselves.
It’s the one day where you’re excused if you’re not a baseball fan, because EVERYONE is a baseball fan on Opening Day, so the point is moot. The overweight men in their Tigers jerseys pass the time with 12 ounces of something in their hand and giving a breathless take on why Brandon Inge is still the third baseman and fretting about the range of shortstop Jhonny Peralta and speaking in superlatives about Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.
Opening Day is a toddler with a Tigers bib and your great-granddad with a Tigers visor. Or vice-versa.
It’s “Sorry, boss, I won’t be in today” and the joke is, the boss never got the message because he/she is trolling around the ballpark, too.
Opening Day is the one baseball date of the year where people trudge downtown without a ticket to the game and with no intention of brokering one with a scalper. It’s also the one date where those with tickets might never get out of the watering hole to actually present it at the turnstile.
It’s booing the governor and the mayor and nowadays, sadly, it’s also looking to the sky and winking at Ernie Harwell and Sparky Anderson.
They don’t do Opening Day in the other big league towns like we do it in Detroit. Whether it’s gray and drab, like today, or with bright and sunny skies, it doesn’t matter—Sonny Eliot says it’s beautiful outside.
The only place you’ll see more RVs parked outside than you’ll see on Opening Day is at MIS in Brooklyn.
Opening Day is red, white and blue bunting on the facades and roaring if the first pitch is a strike, gasping if it isn’t and loving those creamy white home unis the Tigers wear in Detroit—still high baseball fashion and still classy.
Opening Day in Detroit is Sunday afternoons in Green Bay, spring break in Daytona and the Oktoberfest, rolled into one. And isn’t it fitting that this year we play it the same weekend as the Masters? Because not even that hallowed event can touch Opening Day, and the Masters is a whole weekend.
We’re serious about our Opening Days in Detroit. Calendars all over are circled as soon as the schedule is released by MLB. This year it’s on a Friday, which is like leaving the kids in a candy store for the weekend and telling them to lock up when they leave.
Opening Day in Detroit. It’s like no other. Or rather, no other is like Opening Day in Detroit. That’s better.