During my usual Tuesday grocery shopping trip, I was combing through some produce when I caught a glimpse of a sign:
I'm no high-roller. Cristal? More like Crystal Light. Moet? Was that a goalie for the Habs in the early 90's? Veuve Clicquot? Wasn't that the band that did "The Freshmen?" Did I just look up the spelling of that last one on Wikipedia? You bet.
Anyway, I had a sad feeling. Maybe if things had gone better, I would have been shopping in that aisle.
After missing the Tigers win the 2006 AL pennant, I found out several of my friends from the sports department at the student radio station had gathered to spray champagne on each other outside Moore Hall. A few of them posted pictures to Facebook of various toasts when the 2012 pennant was clinched.
Me? I poured a Lift Bridge Brown, put my Tigers hat next to it and took a picture with my phone. But for the World Series? I was going to purchase the best budget bubbly I could find.
You see, this wasn't going to be just any celebration. On Jan. 26, 1997, June 7, 1997, June 15, 2004, I saw the Packers, Red Wings and Pistons win championship trophies with my own eyes for the first time.
Yes, I was alive on Oct. 14, 1984, but at one day short of nine months old, it doesn't count.
This is what was at stake in the 2012 World Series: Completeness. Satisfaction. Sporting nirvana.
At least they didn't get my hopes up.
Game 1: There is a certain horror associated with watching the best pitcher you have ever rooted for give up three home runs to a fat man with a nickname from an OK cartoon movie.
Remember the lead to the Houghton-Chassell district volleyball match from earlier this week? The one about soft-tossing lefties? I had it in my head before the match was over. Why? Because my nightmares will be filled with guys like Barry Zito for the entire winter.
Halloween came early.
Game 2: For the first time in his life, Prince Fielder was too fast. If he's two steps slower, Buster Posey has time to catch the ball and take a position. Posey, who already broke an ankle in a home-plate collision, would have been left with two options: Either run in terror or stand his ground and have Fielder knock him back to Candlestick Park. Regardless, the Tigers have the lead. But Posey had just enough time for a swipe tag and, well, Prince has a pretty big target area in the posterior region. Baseball really is a game of inches.
Besides, they still would have lost 2-1.
Game 3: Whether it was the Triple Crown winner popping up with the bases loaded or an in-game interview of a Taco Bell executive, really, at about this point, it started feeling like a big insult, followed by a swift kick to the rear. At least when Curtis Granderson slipped and fell in Game 5 in 2006, he was the only one to fall on his face.
Game 4: I watched this game alone and comfortably numb, so much so, in fact, that I barely batted an eyelash no matter how many times Joe Buck talked about how wind-aided Miguel Cabrera's home run was. And when the blade fell, just like I knew it would, I just turned off the TV and sat in silence for a while.
Of course, Game 7 would have been tonight. The Tigers, of course, miserably failed to get there, but in doing so, offered a certain courtesy.
As it was, I think just about everyone can write off the last four games of the 2012 Detroit Tigers season as some sort of colossal accident. Even Red Sox Nation wouldn't have been able to wrench some sort of spiritual metaphysical meaning from it. It was just a whuppin'.
I know it worked for me. The pain, if you can call it that, I'll derive from the 2012 World Series is not over how it slipped through their fingers but how foolishly close I thought I was to completing the circle mentioned above.
Yeah, 2012? I even thought about buying champagne! Can you believe that? Driving home from the grocery store, I looked at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and a thought came to mind: Hey, at least they didn't lose in seven. Then, I would've had to throw a perfectly good bottle of champagne into the Portage Canal.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.