Culbreath: The power went outWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The power went out at Comerica Park.
It was Game 3 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS), in the middle of the third inning. The massive scoreboard out in left field had begun blaring some loud, annoying promo video about postseason baseball (as if the people who were attending the game weren’t aware that this was a thing), but what caught my eye was on one of the wrap-around LED signs, there was a slight glitch. Like, every 3 seconds, the image in one particular area would change to something else. Now, I’d seen LED signs do this all the time. The billboards around town, the signs attached to restaurants and car dealerships. I sometimes see them and wonder if I could get a discount if their sign is glitched. If I were an opposing restaurant or car dealer, I think I’d do that.
But back to Comerica Park.
Justin Verlander was throwing quite well at the time. He needed only eight pitches in the first inning, but struggled in the second. To make up for it, he struck out the next three batters in a row: Stephen Drew, Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury, all go down on strikes, two swinging, one looking.
It was then that the power went out at Comerica Park.
It was brief. A flicker. Nothing like what happened at the Super Bowl. The massive screen in left field went dead, the LED signs around the stadium flickered and the TVs in the press box died for a brief moment. These things tried to power back up, only to fail again. The game operations crew, very quick on their feet, begin to pump music through the sound system while they try to reestablish themselves. Eventually, everything came back up. The massive screen in left field, the wrap-around signs, and even the TVs. Everything, that is, except for the lights.
See, even though it was 4:40 in the afternoon, it was a gray day in Detroit Rock City, and the lights were on all day. Except for now, when the power went out at Comerica Park. The people who know these kinds of things told the broadcast teams that it would take 15 minutes for the lights to come back on. All the while, the crowd sat aimlessly, wondering what exactly was happening. It was as if the entire fanbase was awkwardly shifting between its weight between its left and right foot, wondering when the uncomfortable lull would end.
Eventually, the lights returned to full power, free to shine its light on the grassy field (even though it wasn’t particularly needed at the time). But that awkward, uncomfortable lull never seemed to end. At least, not on the field.
Because the power went out at Comerica Park.
You see, the Detroit Tigers are built with a lot of big players. Players that don’t play small ball. They hit long. Miguel Cabrera. Prince Fielder. Torii Hunter. Even Jhonny “Suspended for 50 Games” Peralta, a guy who’s so strangely quiet, yet menacing, that the Boston Red Sox feel like they can complain about his participation in the ALCS (all the while, ignoring Game 2 hero David Ortiz and his past allegations).
But this October, the Tigers have struggled. The divisional series against the Oakland A’s went the full five games after the D fell behind two games to one, which included a 1-0 loss in Game 2. A score that would be copied that very night in Game 3 of the Championship Series. One run to nothing. You couldn’t have asked more from Justin Verlander: the former Cy Young winner struck out 10 batters and carried a no-hitter into the fith. His lone sin: a solo home run by Mike Napoli in the seventh.
You see, the power went out in Comerica Park.
Miguel Cabrera was 0 for 4. Prince Fielder was 1 for 4. Peralta was 1 for 4, but hit into a double play in the ninth that killed any sort of chance at a comeback.
Just like the lights at the ballpark, the bats would come back eventually. Game 4 was more like what we expect to see out of the Tigers, though Jim Leyland had to shake up the lineup like an Etch-a-Sketch to make it happen. Miguel Cabrera with two RBIs on a 2-for-4 night. Austin Jackson also had a 2-for-4 night with 2 ribbies, though one of them was on a bases-loaded walk in the 5-run 2nd inning. But there are a few glaring examples this postseason, much like their was all season long for the Tigers, that highlight their one true weakness.
Sometimes, the power goes out.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director at 1370-WSPD.