Every time I think I’ve got this baseball stuff down, they go and change it on me. Take Friday, the Tigers’ home opener — a 10-3 win over Milwaukee. I was sure there were no surprises left. I was sure I had seen it all. I was sure I had the answer for every Opening Day question. And now I am not so sure. For example:
1. On Opening Day, are you supposed to:
A) Boo the owner?
B) Boo the governor?
C) Boo Bernie Smilovitz?
The answer is (D) All of the above. Tom Monaghan received a healthy chorus of boos Friday. Maybe the pizza was cold. Gov. James Blanchard was also booed roundly, then proceeded to throw the first pitch into the dirt. Must be the rotator cuff links. As for Bernie Smilovitz? I have no idea why they booed him. Maybe they thought he was one of the other two. 2. How long does it take to learn everything you need to know about Detroit?
A) Six months.
B) A year.
C) A lifetime.
The answer is (D) Six hours. Ask Chris Brown. The Tigers’ new third baseman landed at Metro Airport Friday around 3 a.m. He got up at 9 a.m., having never been to Tiger Stadium before, and drove himself in. “Didn’t need a map,” he said. “You just take that Drake thing to that 10 thing to that Southfield thing to that 696 thing, right?”
Uh. Yeah. I guess. 3. How many beach balls must land on the field during Opening Day?
The answer is (D) One. From the bleachers. It came with a note attached to it. “Please send hot chocolate. We are freezing to death.” 4. What happens when the outfielder catches a sacrifice fly, tries to throw out the runner at home, misses badly, and the run scores?
A) He is deeply sorry.
B) His name is Kirk Gibson.
C) He is sent to Toledo.
The answer is (D) The run doesn’t count. Didn’t you see what happened in the third inning Friday? Milwaukee’s Jim Gantner tripled. Billy Spiers hit a sacrifice fly to centerfielder Ken Williams. Gantner tagged up. Williams threw home. The throw was way off. Gantner scored. Milwaukee 2, Tigers 0. But wait a minute. Turns out Gantner left third too soon. The Tigers appealed. The ump agreed. The run came off the scoreboard. Oops. Milwaukee 1, Tigers 0. Said Gantner afterward, “I didn’t plan on leaving that soon.” Sure. That’s what Robin Givens said. 5. What is 8-2-1-5?
A) The winning lottery number.
B) Sparky’s car phone.
C) The new Van Halen album.
The answer is (D) How you score the play described in question No. 4. 6. Who is Charles Crim?
A) Mort’s brother.
B) Guillermo Hernandez’s brother.
C) A soon-to-be minor leaguer.
The answer is (D) The Tigers’ new favorite pitcher. Not only did Milwaukee’s Crim give up two hits, two walks, three runs and a wild pitch in less than an inning Friday, but he also fielded a Dave Bergman dribbler, whirled on the mound and threw to the second baseman. He only missed him by 15 feet. Geez. Blanchard can throw better than that. 7. How deep is the friendship between Lou Whitaker and Chet Lemon?
A) As deep as the ocean.
B) As deep as the sea.
C) As deep as the valley.
The answer is (D) Deep enough to never let a baseball come between it. Perhaps that explains why, in the seventh inning, on a fly ball from Rob Deer, Lou chased it, Chet chased it, Lou chased it, Chet chased it. And it dropped between both of them. 8. Who had the best post-game quote?
A) Jack Morris, who said, “Well, at least we can’t lose them all now.”
B) Jack Morris, who waved at the unusually large crowd of reporters and said, “Thanks for coming! See you all next year on Opening Day!”
C) Ken Williams, the offensive hero of the game, who said, “I gotta go. I’m supposed to meet the real estate lady to find a place to live.”
The answer is (D) Chet Lemon, who was visibly upset at a scoring call in the seventh inning in which his single was initially charged as an error to the shortstop. “How could the scorer even think of making that an error and not a hit?” Lemon said, frowning. “I mean, we’re at home!” 9. The Tigers’ biggest worry for the rest of the season is:
A) Their hitting.
B) Their fielding.
C) Gov. Blanchard will ask to pitch again.
The answer is (D) Chris Brown won’t find his way back home. Personally, I don’t think that Southfield thing hits that 696 thing. He could be gone a real
Mitch Albom’s sports talk show, “The Sunday Sports Albom,” airs Sunday from 9-11 p.m. on WLLZ-FM (98.7). This week’s guests: Terry Mills, Jerry Vainisi, Millie Schembechler, Arthur Ashe.