Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Justin Verlander threw the 6th no-hitter in Detroit Tigers history tonight, walking only four batters and striking out 12 in a 4-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Baseball is a sport full of superstition; lots of guys refuse to step on the baselines; in a close game, guys never talk to the closer; and in no hitter/perfect game situations, nobody sits within 20 feet of the pitcher in the dugout.

The superstition extends from the playing field, too. Broadcasters, if they're smart, don't mention it until it's over. For fans, openly discussing it is considered taboo. Personally I normally don't buy into superstitions like that...but tonight was different. On an intolerably hot and humid night like tonight, I found myself glued (literally) to the leather upholstry of my couch, fearful that any shift in position could upset the sports gods and ruin everything.

So there I sat, agitated by the heat, agitated by the leather clinging to my skin, knowing that I was in for some pain when I did eventually move. I assumed that position at the start of the 7th inning, and there were some scares along the way. Magglio made a great sliding catch with 1 out in the 7th. With one out in the 8th, noname Gabe Gross hit a sharp liner up the middle, and Gold Glover (no, I'm not lying) Neifi Perez snagged it, and from the ground, flipped it to Polanco at 2nd to get Bill Hall out (who had walked one batter previously); Polanco then fired to Casey at first, getting Gross by a step to end the 8th. My heart jackhammered in my chest, and, with a little sleight of hand, I pumped my fist.

3 outs to go.

For the 9th, I couldn't resist; I shifted positions. I ripped myself from the couch and sat forward, fidgeting my hands nervously. The 9th inning wasn't even fair. Verlander struck out Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino with unhittable breaking balls. It ended with a flyout to Maggs, and I jumped up in celebration.

Funny how just two years ago, the Tigers were still a laughingstock. Now, the defending AL Champions have the best offense in baseball....and their pitching ain't too shabby either.

As a Detroit/Michigan sports fan, I've seen some pretty magical moments: Stevie Y finally hoisting the Cup in 1997; Vladdie being brought out onto the ice when the Wings repeated a year later; Woodson willing Michigan to a National Title in the 1998 Rose Bowl; the Pistons escaping Miami with the Eastern Conference Championship after Game 7 in 2005; Magglio's walkoff homerun that swept Oakland and won the pennant last year.

Tonight probably doesn't match those moments...but it's got its own special spot in Detroit lore now.

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