WARNING: This post contains rampant baseball nostalgia!
When I was growing up, my parents had an album (yes, album) called "The Year of the Tiger 1968." Many a Saturday, as we did our chores, that disc provided the soundtrack for our scrubbing and dusting and polishing. The record traced the Tigers' pennant-winning season and contained highlights and interviews and lots of exciting play-by-play excerpts. Scarily, I can recite full sections of that album, which starts like this:
"And the windup, and the pitch. He swings--a line shot, base hit, left field! The Tigers win it! Here comes Kaline to score..." (I could really go on and on for awhile, but I'm sure you can live without it.) I loved the parts when Ernie Harwell and Ray Lane would get really excited about a Gates Brown homer or a Denny McClain pitching gem. The season even included a triple play, for heaven's sake!
My point? We Opels really can't help loving our Tigers. It's in our blood. As an adolescent, I didn't have posters of the typical teen idols on the wall. Instead, my room was covered with newspaper and magazine clippings featuring 1976 Rookie of the Year Mark Fidrych. I didn't have a crush on him as such--I just thought he was so full of life, and man, could he pitch. (When he died suddenly earlier this year, I was quite shocked and saddened.) I even drew pictures of him and other favorite Tiger players, and on my 18th birthday I actually was allowed in the Tiger clubhouse to meet him and his teammates.
In 1984, the Tigers were wire-to-wire champions. They started out 35-5. Unheard of! I was living in L.A. and driving home when Kirk Gibson slammed his second homer in game 5 to finish off the San Diego Padres. Yep, my horn was a' honkin' for all those Californians to hear!
I actually had tickets to that 2006 ALCS game when Magglio Ordonez sent the Tigers to the World Series with a walkoff home run to beat the Yankees, but I had to sell them so I could attend the Scrapbooker of the Year festivites in Las Vegas. I actually sold them to a Yankee fan (who paid me handsomely for them) who took his sons to witness that awesome Tiger moment.
Between the glory seasons were many "rebuilding" years, and our family has always stuck by the Tigers. Dad writes the score on the calendar every day and calculates which days of the week are most successful. My parents don't miss a game on TV, and if the Tigers win, they actually have a victory dance they've choreographed. Sometimes, if the game isn't being broadcast nationally, I sit in my car and listen to them on my satellite radio.
So yeah. We can't help it. We're addicted to our team. Do we get frustrated? Oh yeah. But the beauty of it all is that there's always tomorrow, next time, next year. And maybe this WILL be the year! They've been looking strong, and I have a good feeling!
Go Get Em', Tigers! Rawr! (Click the link for an AWESOME song!)