By James Nahikian
“If you build it, he will come.” And so they did. Detroit Tigers General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, had to have envisioned something like this afternoon when he put together his 2012 Detroit Tigers. The ballclub defeated the Boston Red Sox earlier today by a score of 3-2. Mainly in part by Justin Verlander’s 8 strong innings of two hit ball, and a walk-off single by CF, Austin Jackson (The first walk-off hit of his career). Comerica Park was sold out as it packed in 45,027 anxious fans. It was the largest Opening Day crowd in the ballpark’s 12 year existence. Although closer Jose Valverde blew his first save in 51 outings, fans must have been very encouraged to see the first hit and RBI by their newcomer, Prince Fielder. Add in a clutch RBI double by Alex Avila and a series of hits by Jhonny Peralta, and you have the first win of the much anticipated 2012 season.
The atmosphere in the Motor City was nothing less than electric today. It was simply the place to be. I noticed fans tailgating well before 10AM (For a 1:05PM game), and the party continued well on after the game’s conclusion. Radio broadcasts could be seen all over the place outside the ballpark, and thousands of fans crowded the gates 2 and a half hours before gametime in hopes of receiving the Justin Verlander DVD (Given to the first 20K fans). I even spotted from my seat, hundreds of fans who were outside the left field gates, climbing up the poles in hopes of catching a glimpse of the action. Although it is common for a stadium to receive high attendance on Opening Day, the feeling about this game just felt different to me. And I think the rest of the fans at the game would agree with that. There is something about Comerica Park and this year’s team that is special. Maybe its the World Series expectations, maybe its the stacked lineup. Perhaps it’s the brand new, state of the art scoreboard. Whatever it is, Comerica Park is going to be a buzz all summer long.
Saturday’s match against Boston (The second game of the season), is expected to be another highly attended game. Historically, the second game of the season is one of the slowest days in baseball. And with good reason. The excitement of Opening Day has faded, fans paid a lot of money for those tickets, and most fans missed a day of work in order to see the game. All the more reason to relax for game number two, but not this year. Not for this team. On Saturday, most ballparks will be half full. Meanwhile, Comerica Park will be hosting their second block party of the season.
This summer will be a fun one for the Detroit Tigers and their fans. The team has all the promise in the world, and the ballpark seems to have a new feel to it. I encourage everyone to see it for themselves. If you don’t, the next guy probably will.
James Nahikian blogs about the industry of sports. And specializes in articles about the Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball and Bowling Green State University Athletics. Email him at email@example.com And follow him on twitter @KingNahikian or facebook where you can find links to his articles and updates about future posts.