Gary and Lynne Smith - from Wellesley, MA - photo from Detroit Free Press
(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Detroit is hurting. We are filled with angst. Scared the Boston Red Sox have all the momentum in this American League Championship Series. And worried about the Tigers' bullpen after blowing a four-run lead and a chance to take a 2-0 series lead Sunday night.
Instead, the series is tied, 1-1. And now Lynne Smith is in town. Red Sox Nation has arrived.
She walked through Detroit Metro Airport on Monday morning, wearing the most ugly, outlandish, gaudy outfit you have ever seen.
She wore a Red Sox coat and Red Sox hat and a pair of Red Sox glasses and Red Sox nail polish and Red Sox earrings and it was all wrapped up in a large, flowing Red Sox shawl.
It was enough to make you want to vomit.
She was holding a hat that is a replica of Fenway Park. Seriously. Complete with the Citgo sign.
And she was carrying a bag filled with Red Sox jewelry and a Red Sox jeans jacket and a pair of Red Sox boots that she plans to wear today at Comerica Park when the Tigers play the Red Sox in Game 3 in this best-of-seven series.
"These boots are gonna kick the Tigers' butts!" she said.
Brace yourselves, Detroit: Here comes Red Sox Nation.
Dave Beaty, a diehard Tigers fan, looked at her and grimaced. He stood silently because he was on the job, working as a limo driver, waiting for his next client.
"I'm worried, but I'm not afraid," said Beaty, 38, who lives in Clinton Township. "I know the Tigers will win it. The next three games, we will win."
But his stomach churned, looking at Smith's outfit, as she retrieved her suitcase from the luggage carousel. Just seeing the Red Sox emblem reminded Beaty of David Ortiz hitting a grand slam in Game 2.
Ortiz did more than stun the Tigers.
He ripped the hearts out of countless Tigers fans.
We love our Tigers. We hurt when Miguel Cabrera hurts.
Way to pound the ball in Game 2, Miggy!
We pump our fists when Victor Martinez gets on base.
We still believe, Victor! Even if winning this series now seems so daunting.
We hope for Austin Jackson to turn it around.
Keep it simple, Austin. See the ball, hit the ball!
We might disagree with manager Jim Leyland - like most of the time - but he's our manager. He is one of us. A Midwestern guy with an old-school, throwback mustache and a blue-collar attitude. We love when his voice cracks and his eyes get all misty after big Tigers wins. And we've grown to accept him for who he is.
Jim, my man, don't go to your bullpen. Like, never again. Let Justin Verlander pitch the entire game today. That's our only chance. I don't care if he has to throw 150 pitches. Do not, under any circumstance, let him come out of the game.
And now this lady has the audacity to walk into the D, through our airport, the morning after Ortiz hit that grand slam, and she is wearing this ridiculous outfit?
"Fear the beard!" she screamed, as a group of people stared her down.
Really? You are going to go there?
Do you really need to throw salt in the wound?
Thankfully, Tigers fans are a classy lot and didn't retaliate.
Other than shooting her a few icy stares.
"Fear the beard!" she said louder.
Now, here comes the wild part.
The part that will make your head hurt.
Smith, 69, was born and raised in Detroit. She went to Oak Park High School and married one of her classmates, Gary Smith, a guy who grew up in a house of Tigers fans. He used to listen to Tigers games on the radio or watch them on TV with his brothers, Larry and Ron, who are still loyal Tigers fans.
Lynne and Gary Smith remained Tigers fans until they moved to the Boston area 44 years ago.
And now, they are both traitors!
Modern-day Benedict Arnolds.
"Somehow, the Tigers fandom got lost and we became huge Red Sox fans," she said.
Fandom is fascinating.
Were you born a Tigers fan? Is it all just geography?
Are you a bandwagon jumper?
That's OK. Everybody is welcome on this ride.
On the Tigers' side. Not the Red Sox' side, of course.
But all of this does raise an interesting question: Why do people get so wrapped up in sports teams?
Why do they dress up and spend all that money and pour so much emotional energy into a game?
"It's fun," she said.
The Smiths got hooked on the Red Sox because of Fenway Park.
Because it's so similar to Tiger Stadium.
They became Red Sox season-ticket holders and they have traveled around the country, watching the Red Sox play in more than 20 ballparks. They were at Game 1 in Fenway Park. And they will be at all three games at Comerica Park, sitting with childhood friends from Oak Park.
"We'll drive in the same car, which will be interesting," she said.
Because, right now, Detroit is hurting.
We need the Tigers to bounce back. We need this team to keep winning. When the Tigers win, the entire area feels different. This team ties us together.
And the Tigers can still do it. They just need to win three more games. And they certainly have the starting pitching to do it, but this Red Sox team is talented. The Red Sox have all the momentum and they have great pitching and a gritty offense and they have something the Tigers would love. They have a strong bullpen.
Seriously, Jim. Let Verlander pitch the entire game.
Detroit Free Press