The term “Opening Day” doesn’t mean much (or often anything) to most cities in this country. Even among metropolises with major league baseball teams, only hotbeds like St. Louis, Boston, and Chicago rival Detroit in terms of fervor and pageantry when it comes to the first day of home baseball.
Truly a local holiday in every sense of the word, it really must be experienced to be appreciated. In fact almost all of the enjoyment and revelry of the day can be had without actually going to the game.
Thousands of fans, partygoers, and hooligans from all over southeast Michigan will descend upon downtown Detroit that day, many for a rare appearance in the city that bears their teams name.
As a former suburbanite, with a history of experiences and observations from this glorious holiday, I’m hoping you’ll take heed and find enlightenment in this field guide of the do’s and don’ts of Opening Day.
Do Not —
Trash the streets
Look, it’s inevitably going to happen, but you don’t have to be the one contributing to it. Just because baseball season has started and you’ve had a few tall boys of Bud Light doesn’t mean Woodward Avenue magically becomes a giant garbage receptacle.
“Woo!” At Strangers
This really applies in any social situation, save for a Ric Flair Convention (which I hope is a real thing) but Opening Day seems to really bring out these wanton outbursts directed at groups of people or in many cases members of the opposite sex. Whatever your inclination or motivation, it’s just wrong and you look like a jackass. Save it for the pedal pubs.
Cut in Line at the Restrooms
The cardinal sin of any sporting event or concert, this action may result in verbal and in physical altercations and there will be no sympathy bestowed on you for the consequences of your offense. Using the restroom is a nightmare on Opening Day and we’re all just trying to satisfy our most basic needs, your situation is not more dire than others and likely resulted from poor planning on your part. Get a head start on your bladder by not waiting until the last minute to dash to the bathroom.
More of a warning than a rule, if you haven’t been downtown recently you should know parking enforcement is not messing around. Tickets are $45 for even the most minor offense and they will find you. We’ve also got this crazy QLINE rail thing we’re testing up and down Woodward now and I kid you not when I say tickets for parking in the potential path are $650 and a tow. DO NOT PARK ON THE TRACKS.
Smuggle in Booze
Listen, I know the drinks are crazy expensive, $8 for a can of beer is highway robbery but by entering one of the lively establishments on Opening Day you have essentially agreed to these terms. Don’t be the amateur sneaking a couple pints of Fireball into their cargo shorts, and don’t be the human embarrassment still wearing cargo shorts for that matter. If you can’t afford to drink at a bar, don’t go out, but don’t turn the place into a frat party or tailgate either. You’ll likely be caught, thrown out, and your friends will have every right to abandoning you for the remainder of the day.
Get there early
Official start time for the ballgame may be 1:10 p.m. that day but if you try showing up at that time you’re decidedly late and will be walking into a s***show that’s been brewing for five hours at that point. 9 a.m. is a suggested time to get yourself downtown and anything after 10 a.m. and it’s starting to get late. In addition, arriving early allows you to beat the cover charge at many places, which can start climbing into the $10-$20 range as the day goes on.
Follow the Game
After a few drinks it can be easy to forget why we’ve all gathered in downtown Detroit wearing orange and blue but it’s important to respect the reason you’ve decided to leave your responsibilities at home and booze the day away. No matter where you’re at the game should be on, make sure to take note of important points in the game and listen for the uproarious outbursts that follow every Tiger run. At a minimum, you’ll want to save embarrassment by knowing if the Tigers won or lost their first home contest.
Stick Around After
Besides the obvious fact that you may well be moderately to severely sauced by the end of the game, I would highly recommend hanging out downtown for while afterward. I guarantee you’ll stumble upon a new bar or restaurant that’s opened up recently and even if not, Greektown is always a good bet to wander your way to as the bars on Monroe come alive with after-parties that last well into the night.
This may be a given for some but I sincerely hope that Opening Day or even just another Tigers game is not your only excuse to return. Especially with that fickle Michigan weather finally beginning to turn toward spring there are countless places to visit, shop, eat, drink, and explore. If you need suggestions, keep up with Devon’s Detroit, there will be no shortage of them in the coming months.
It’s going to be a long day, don’t be the person who needs to go take a car nap before the game even starts. Eat a big breakfast, don’t accept or propose any shots until after noon, and make sure to keep moving and not stand in any place or stay at any location too long. Much like the 162 game baseball season, this is a marathon not sprint. So channel your inner Ausmus, Leyland, or Sparky and call a good game for yourself that day.
Remember People Live Here
Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in your home city. If you wouldn’t want someone urinating on your front door, don’t do it here. If you’d call the cops if someone passed out on your front lawn, don’t do it here. You get the drift. Show us respect and love, and Detroit will show you the best time of your life.