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Trip to Detroit - 6 Sept 2010

This last weekend, I figured out that the Tigers game on Monday was in the middle of the day, that Max Scherzer would be pitching (big plus), that Manny would be playing (also a plus, but more out of sheer morbid curiosity than anything else), and that I had no reason for getting off my rear and finally getting to a game. I've been meaning to do this for awhile now, and this is the first time where the schedule worked out nicely.

Here are the resulting pictures and something of a writeup from that adventure. Be warned, though, if you're here because you like airplanes, you'll have to sit through some baseball pictures, and the reverse is true, as well. If you like both baseball and airplanes, well, then: I guess you are in the right place.

Sunday, I talked to Eric Atkins, a friend who is generally up for madcap adventures involving sporting events and small planes, to see if he'd be up for a visit to the Motor City. (Eric also takes better pictures on his iPhone camera than I can take on a a big DSLR, and his website is worth a look.) In any case, Eric was enthusiastic, and I started figuring out what was needed for this airplane trip while Eric tracked down tickets and a rental car. Not surprisingly, I didn't have a Detroit sectional, but that was easy enough to fix. Eric had an interesting time trying to find a rental car agency that was willing to pick us up at a tiny little regional airport instead of at Detroit Metropolitan, but eventually we both prevailed in our battle with the logistics.

As you can see from the map on the left, or the larger map here, this is something of a haul - north Alabama to Michigan. Eric and I are both Southerners, and not used to seeing Canada out of the window of a plane unless the planning has started more than a day in advance. Still, the weather looked like it would be generally fine, although the reports had raised the potential of a fairly windy day up in Detroit - which ended up not really materializing. Other than that, it looked like pretty clear skies, so off we went.

We ended up meeting at DCU at 6:00 AM on Monday, and taking off for Grosse Ile Airport (really? That's the name? That's a terrible name!) as soon as we could get everything ready. Early start time, but Detroit's time zone is an hour ahead ouf us, and the theory was that if we were early, we'd be able to miss the worst of the wind in Detroit, and maybe see some batting practice, or take the extra time to explore Comerica.

Sitting on the ramp before sunrise, ready to go.
Downtown Nashville from 7,500 feet. There is some fog in the background.
The GPS says we're making pretty good time.
Pretty typical farmland in Kentucky.
Pretty sure this is a power plant that's burning coal, based on the large pile of coal to the right of it.
Cincinnati airport in the foreground and the city in the background.
This was the only bad weather that we saw all day, and it wasn't that bad. A minute or so of light rain and a few bumps, and that was it.
Lake Erie. We're almost there.
The Detroit skyline - we're in the process of landing at Grosse Ile, now.
Safely on the ground. Now we're just waiting for the rental car.

Great trip up there - had some tailwinds, so the flight time ended up being 3.2 hours, which is not really that bad at all, so - with the time change - we landed at 10:30 on the dot, which is when Avis was supposed to drop off the car. Well . . . Avis tried to deliver our rental car to the Detroit Metropolitan airport, where a plane this size has no business landing. Eventually, with some prodding from Eric, they figured out what they had done wrong and a somewhat abashed Avis employee arrived with a car, which he dropped off. He then proceeded to try to leave without handing either one of us the key, and only a quick sprint across the parking lot prevented a truly bizarre situation from developing.

This delay ate a depressingly large amount of time, and we didn't actually leave the airport until about noon, so no watching batting practice for us. At this point we were just hoping to make it to the game before it started - a short ride downtown - only about a 30 minute ride, Grosse Ile is perfect for this sort of thing - and we were there, walking through crowds of people and listening to the "Eat 'em up, Tigers," guy ask people for change.

Front gate of Comerica.
These would have totally scared the macaroni out of me if I had seen them when I was a little kid.
Tiger gargoyle? I guess so.
Will Rhymes tried to bunt AJax over to third after Jackson's leadoff double. Worked pretty well, as the runner moved up and Will made it to first.
Damon's RBI is coming up shortly, here.
Kind of neat to see these two standing next to each other, but I'm sure Tigers fans have strong opinions about who's the better hitter.
Even the seats have Tigers on them. Neato. However, why the Tigers have the same choking-up batting stance that Kevin Youkilis does is somewhat beyond me.
View from our seats.
The rare Don Kelly HR. This was great to see, Kelly had a great game.
Impromptu self-portrait. That's me in the ridiculous Celtic Tigers hat. That's Eric next to me, rocking the Alabama hat and drinking a pop, as apparently ya'll call it in this area of the country.
Various views of Comerica. This is a beautiful stadium.

Ty Cobb, still terrorizing opposing infielders.
The field is still recovering from a concert a few days before we were there, I think, hence the weird color in deep center field.
Max strikes out Manny in the top of the 7th. Manny striking out was - as to be expected - a huge hit with the crowd.
Coke and Perry warming up in the bullpen.
That's the end of Max's day, and the beginning of the wheels coming off of the bullpen.
The Big Potato doing his thing, whatever it is, now.

A few runs came in, we went to extras, and, alas, the Detroit bullpen is not what it was earlier in the season. You know the story, I'm sure. Taking pictures of the White Sox high-fiving each other on the field was deemed not necessary for what are probably obvious reasons.

Time to head back to the airport and get home.

Meanwhile, a few items to contemplate, and unsolicited opinions on the state of the Tigers, as it currently exists:

  • Will Rhymes is fun to watch, and I love the amount of effort he puts into each play. Please, DD, keep him.
  • Don Kelly's outfield defense is pretty good, for as much as he gets put all over the place. He had a handful of very nice plays in left field, and I think we all feel better with him out there then we do when someone else cough cough Raburn is out there. Although to be fair to Raburn, this situation is sometimes reversed when the Tigs are on offense. (Sometimes.)
  • Max Scherzer is awesome, and watching him strike out Manny (twice!) was worth the price of admission. When he has the bite on is breaking balls that he does, sometimes, everyone is left flailing at pitches in the dirt, and it's truly fun to watch, in the "Haha, it sucks to be anyone but Max Scherzer" sense of the word fun. Max got a nice standing ovation when Leyland pulled him, and that was great to see. Incidentally, so did Edwin Jackson, which was also nice to see - nice to see an ex-Tiger doing so well, I just wish it wasn't against us. In any case, I'm just going to go out on a limb and guess that not too much of that applause was for Ozzie and his ugly sweatshirt.
  • I think that at some point, Verlander and Scherzer are going to both be awesome at the same time, and then the 1-2 pitchers for the Tigers will be the best top half of the rotation of any team in 2011. Or 2012. Or whatever. Is this realistic? I'm not sure, because I've had a few beers, as I'm typing this, but it's still a good wish, and not out of the realm of possibility, so I'm going to stick to it.
  • Isn't it weird that baseball is the only sport that when you're on offense, the other team controls the ball? Okay, let's not get all philosophical. Finally,
  • If Ozzie is running for mayor, isn't it safe to assume that he's unqualified to rid the city of undesirable elements, given that as White Sox manager, he has still kept A.J. around? Hey, I'm just sayin'.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programming:

We headed back to the airport, gassed up the airplane, and watched a Cessna 172 take off, and then took off ourselves. The airport was deserted at this point, but the FBO was still unlocked. Time to head home.

These were the only sort of clouds we saw on the way back. Turned into a beautiful day.
Getting dusky and very pretty out there.
Sunset from 5,500 feet.

After this it was dark enough that I put the camera away. Ended up having some headwinds on the way home, and so the trip took one leg of nearly 4 hours, which is about as long as I want to be cooped up in an RV without having the chance to walk around or go to the bathroom.

Dark by the time we landed - touched down at about 8:40 PM, and headed home for a well-deserved beer and good night's sleep.

Total time on the plane, today: 7.1 hours.
Final score: Tigers 4, White Sox 5.