Root For the Home Team? Not Always

There's nothing quite like attending a Major League Baseball game. The sights, the sounds, the smells, it's a one of a kind fan experience.

Sure, NBA basketball is my first love, and the ultimate fan experience for me would be sitting courtside at an NBA playoff game. Unfortunately, I don't have $2,500 of disposable income at the moment (or $5,000 if I wanted to bring a friend), so that's not really an option. And while cheap seats at a basketball game still provide a much different experience than watching the game on TV, it doesn't compare to being at a baseball game.

For about $10 bucks you can walk up to just about any stadium on game day, buy an upper reserve ticket, and just hang out at the ball park and stand and watch the game from virtually anywhere in the stadium, as long as you don't block the aisle way. I've been to 20+ Detroit Tigers games over the past couple seasons, I couldn't tell you where my seats were for any of them.

And what tops attending a baseball game? Attending a baseball game during a pennant race.

It's one thing to go to a game early in the season and enjoy the experience for what it is, but it's a completely different thing to be front and center for a big division rivalry game with playoff implications in August or September. There's something special about being part of a crowd of 30,000 plus people all buzzing over every at bat, trying to will the home team to a common goal: a trip to the postseason.

I've been a Tigers fan all my life. This time of year, when every game starts to take on extra significance as the AL Central tightens up, if I'm not watching the game, you better believe I'm refreshing the scores on my phone. I was in a wedding last week where all of the groomsmen cheered silently during the prayer before dinner because Carlos Guillen hit a "you-couldn't-have-timed-that-any-worse" walk-off base hit that updated on the iPhone we were watching somewhere between "Dear Lord" and "Amen."

You gotta love a good pennant race. There's almost nothing that could come between me and my beloved Tigers this time of year.

Almost nothing.

You see, the one thing I want to do before I die is see a no-hitter in person. I don't care if it is a Tiger or an opposing pitcher that throws it, witnessing a no-hitter in person would be like hitting the sports lottery.

That begs the question: would you rather go to a game during a pennant race and see your favorite team win or see the opposing pitcher throw a no-hitter?

For me, it's a no brainer. I love the Tigers, but nothing beats being in the building when history is being made.

The way I see it, even if the Tigers have a great season, they are still going to lose at least 70 games. In the grand scheme of things, a loss now is no different than a loss in April. The baseball season is a marathon; a loss here and there is inevitable. If I happen to be at one of those losses, even if it comes down the stretch, it might as well be a memorable one.

Consider this: there have been over 360,000 Major League Baseball games played in the over 130-year history of the league and there have only been 263 no-hitters. That translates to roughly one out of every 1,369 games played. That means there is a .0007% chance that if you go to a game you will witness a no-hitter.

Of the 263 no-hitters, only 18 of them have been perfect games. More men have orbited the moon than have thrown perfect games.

A no-hitter is unlike any achievement in sports. Everything builds to a certain point, and there is a finality to it. Any other great individual achievement in sports is open-ended. Kobe Bryant starts to get in his zone and the sky is the limit. It becomes, "What's he going to finish with? 50? 60?" Adrian Peterson starts shedding tacklers left and right and the question is, "Will he get 200 yards?"

In both cases, you never know until the clock runs out. Even then, in the back of your mind there's always the possibility that they could have done even better.

It's not like that with a no-hitter. You either record 27 outs without allowing a hit or you don't. There's no fine line to cross or gray area. There's no, "but he could have been even better". It's either history or it's not, and the tension builds exponentially with every out recorded. I could only imagine the level of anticipation that comes with watching live as a pitcher faces a batter having gone 8 2/3 innings without allowing a hit.

The thrill of witnessing something like that in person, even if it's the opposing starting pitcher doing it, far exceeds the joy that comes from watching a good, old fashioned 7-3 Tigers win on a hot and muggy August night.

As a fan of the Tigers, of course I want to see them do well. But above all else I'm a sports fans, and as a sports fan, I would like nothing more than to witness a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

Even if it indirectly results in watching the Twins or White Sox play in the postseason.

Check back at Sports Central every Monday for Scott Shepherd's weekly column. You can also follow him on Twitter at

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