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World Series report: A standing room viewpoint

A first hand report of my experience attending game three of the World Series.

Gregor Blanco scores on a bloop single to put the Giants up 2- 0 in game 3 of the World Series
Gregor Blanco scores on a bloop single to put the Giants up 2- 0 in game 3 of the World Series
Ezra Shaw

I’ve been to see the Tigers in the World Series, live. I’ve been to Tiger games in a dozen stadiums from coast to coast. I’ve been to at least one game every time the Tigers played a series in Los Angeles, Anaheim, or San Diego since 1984, without exception. I’ve twice come back to Detroit to see the Tigers play the Yankees in the League Division Series

I remember my dad getting to go to game 5 of the World Series in 1968, coming home with an autograph of Pee Wee Reese. The Tigers winning the World Series that year was what made myself, and so many people in Michigan, Tiger fans for life.

1984 was the year that I moved from Michigan to Orange County, California. I attended several Tiger games before moving that year, and all three games in Anaheim. I hadn’t settled into a full time job that October. Nevertheless, I was all set to go to game six in San Diego, but it never happened as the Tigers won the series in five games.

In 2006, I had flown back to see the Tigers in the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, and I got to feel the euphoria of eliminating the Yankees in four games. Flying back again so soon was not practical, I thought. Just as well, given the results.

In 2011, I again came back to Detroit for the division series, and saw the Tigers play the Yankees twice before finishing them off in New York. . I’ve had tickets for the LCS in 2006 and 2011, and I had Tickets for the World Series in 2011, but it never came to pass.

This year, I held out. I passed up the chance to go to the LDS and the LCS, even though I could have made the flight up to Oakland relatively inexpensively. Tickets were still a few hundred dollars, and I’d have to take time off work, which means closing the office. But this year, it was World Series or bust! When the Tigers swept the Yankees, it was a done deal.

People talk about their "bucket list". When I look into my bucket right now, I see only one thing. I want to be there when the Tigers win the World Series. I’m sure I could come up with more, but right now, that’s it. The Tigers are in the World Series, and I’m gonna be there, dammit!

Knowing the dates for the three potential home games, I booked a flight to Detroit for $ 438 round trip, arriving the Friday before game three and leaving the day after game five. Hopefully, the weather would cooperate and not mess up the schedule. I only miss 2.5 days of work. I’ve got to make this happen.

I went online when tickets went on sale at Living in California, this meant logging on at , (). I got three different browsers searching for tickets. One each for home games 1, 2, and 3. Two of them never got out of the virtual waiting room, and one managed to get to the page where you can order tickets. I kept entering the scrambled code, which was often completely undecipherable, but never got two tickets at "best available" seats, which told me that they didn’t have a pair of seats together, anywhere, at any price.

Reports from pretty much everyone I spoke to or virtually conversed with said the same thing. No luck. Yet, tickets were immediately available online for three or four times face value, or more. A $ 75 standing room ticket was going for $ 365 to $ 400 or more. There were over 9,000 of them available, almost all in the hands of ticket agencies. I figured the prices would come down as the games drew nearer, but they didn’t really come down until game day. The club has to do something about the hoarding, but that’s another story. Searching for standing room was equally futile.

As I had already purchased air fare, and was determined to be there when the Tigers were in the World Series, my brother and I decided to just pony up and get tickets for the first game. $ 350 each, for standing room. They were going for $ 400 around that time, so we saved a bit. We agreed that standing near the infield would be better than sitting in the nose bleeds in the third deck in the outfield. So, we were in.

Game day arrives, and the excitement was at fever pitch. Having standing room tickets means you have to get to the park early to stake out your standing space. We parked near Greektown, actually in a free spot on the street, and walked the five blocks down Brush street toward the stadium. The parking lots along the way were charging $ 40 per car, and one lot was charging $ 50. In summer, these spaces are $ 10 or $ 20. So we saved that much anyway.

We could see that the lines at the gate were still pretty short. The gates were due to open at and it was now , so we stopped into Elwood’s across the street from the park for a beverage. $ 5 cover charge, which they don’t charge in the summer, and after one drink, we were on our way to stand in line at the gates to Comerica park.

There is an entrance on Montcalm at the side of the stadium where only a few people were standing. I confirmed through the gate with the usher that we could enter there with our standing room tickets, and the wait commenced. Fortunately, they opened up the gates at and we rushed in and down to the aisle behind the field level seats. This entrance is right at home plate, so we didn’t have far to go for premium standing room.

We found a space right behind section 133, which is the first section near home plate where standing is allowed. SCORE! Our spots were between home and third base, about even with the mound looking straight ahead. Just 35 rows and an aisle between us and the field. We couldn’t possibly have gotten a better spot!

Having to stand was not really an issue for us. Most of the crowd passing by in the aisle actually adds to the experience, and conversations are had with other baseball fans, all die hards at this game. Vendors bring beverages and food items within seconds of when you need something. Paws walked by with his entourage a few times, high fiving along the way.

I stood next to a very nice couple who knew everything about the Tigers and then some. The lady had season tickets right in front of where we were standing, and had been to every Tiger game all season. The conversation was a real pleasure.

Standing room is not without it’s challenges. There are a few chairs for handicapped fans immediately behind each section, but only one handicapped person was sitting there. Some of the others would stand up from time to time, especially when the crowd rose to their collective feet to cheer, and the view could be momentarily spotty, so we’d have to step forward or sideways.

From time to time, passers by would stop to take a photo because the vantage point was great for pictures, or ignorant people would just stop to watch, and we’d have to shoo them on their way. Once, I went to the restroom in about the third inning, and a couple actually thought they could horn their way into my spot, which was being guarded by my brother and the neighboring standers. Never mind that we had our spaces staked out for 2 hours. The exchange was not pleasant, but they moved on with help from the usher.

The atmosphere at the start of the game was electric. Al Kaline threw out the first pitch. Hank Aaron presented the Hank Aaron awards to Buster Posey and Miguel Cabrera, and the crowd went nuts. Then, an unexpected surprise- Frank Robinson, who had won a triple crown in 1966, presented a "triple" crown to Cabrera. The crowd was chanting MVP, and towels were waving in a frenzy.

I won’t go into too much detail about what happened on the field, since Big Al has provided the most thorough analysis available anywhere. Suffice it to say that the mood of the crowd slowly but surely became more subdued as the game progressed. Having seen so many comebacks in baseball, and being down only two runs, I never gave up hope.

The Giants let some air out of the balloons early, scoring a pair of runs on a leadoff walk, a triple by a mediocre hitter, and a bloop two out single. This as the Tigers squandered one chance after another, after another. We’d seen this script so many times during the season, always followed by a post game presser where Jim Leyland or the analysts say "you just gotta tip your hat" to the opponents. Sorry, but I’m all tipped out. Our team had their chances and didn’t have the patience to execute.

I realize that we’re up against it now. No team has ever come back from being down three games to none in a World Series. In fact, 20 of the 23 teams that have been in this position have been swept. But we’re still alive, we’ve got tickets, seats in Section 218 this time, and we’re going back to see if Max Scherzer can hand the baton to Verlander for another game. As long as the Tigers are in the World Series, I’ll be there.