This past June, I drove my nine-year-old son Eli and my two nephews Josh and Jordan from Toronto to Detroit to take in two of three games between our beloved Toronto Blue Jays and their archrivals, the Detroit Tigers.
The trip couldn’t have been more perfect – great weather, a three-game sweep by the Jays, and, oh yeah, in the finale Eli caught a ball fouled off by his hero, Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista.
It was the closest I have ever come to a Field of Dreams moment.
When we left Comerica Park, the Tigers’ homefield, in the seventh inning to avoid the crowds, the Jays sat six games in front of the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League’s East division.
On the way out, we wore our Blue Jays pride as inconspicuously as possible, in order to avoid possible confrontation with Tigers fans angry at losing to the Jays.
We waited until we were safe in the privacy of my car before breaking into laughter. At that point, we proceeded to ridicule the Tigers, their fans, and, I’m ashamed to say, even the city of Detroit.
Now, I sit with my son, watching the Tigers play in the baseball playoffs, while Blue Jays fans across Canada ask, “What happened?” and grumble about another lost season.
Now, Eli and I hope – pray? – that the Tigers win for no other reason than my own guilt, and, of course, because the team’s manager, Brad Ausmus, and starting second baseman, Ian Kinsler, are both Jewish.
Of course, Jewish players are nothing new in the Motor City – remember a Tiger by the name of Hank Greenberg?
Let’s face it, many of us who were never quite “good enough” at sports when we were younger – those of us who weren’t picked by the team captains until there were no other options left – live vicariously through professional ballplayers. They have accomplished what we couldn’t even imagine. They are living the dream.
They even get to choose whether or not to play on Yom Kippur.
They make me – dare I say all of us – proud to be Jews.
So, I’m now a Tiger fan, even if my Jays are still No. 1 So, go Tigers, go. C’mon Brad. Let’s get a hit, Ian.
And I hope that you, the fans, and the citizens of the beautiful city of Detroit will forgive me. After all, it is that time of the year.