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A Game 163 Story

Alexi Casilla, man.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The last game of the 2009 regular season was exhausting. Outside of Game 5 of the 2002 ALDS, it was the only game I’d put up against Game 7 of the 1991 World Series in terms of nerve-shredding, stomach-knotting tension.

And when I’m tense, I pace. I putter. I look for things to do to take my mind off the matter at hand. My wife is convinced that I would shingle the roof by myself if the Vikings were in the Super Bowl.

So anyway, Game 163 was a nightmare. Magglio Ordonez put the Tigers up 3-0, then the Twins came all the way back to take the lead (Kubes! Orlando goddamn Cabrera!), then blew the lead. And all of this was before extra innings.

I had run out of things to do by the 10th inning. The dishes were done. The laundry was folded and put away. I ran to Target or Cub to get milk and bread or some shit while listening to classical music. Did I vacuum? I probably vacuumed. The kids were done with their homework. I had not built extra innings into my stress relief protocol.

After Jesse Crain gave up a run in the top of the 10th, I just assumed the Twins were done. It was going to suck losing two consecutive Game 163s, but that was how it was going to be. I also remembered that Tuesday night was garbage night, so I actually had something to do rather than watch the final three outs of the 2009 season and the Metrodome itself.

I grabbed the garbage, brought it out to the back alley, lingered there to heave world-weary sighs, and then I heard an ungodly racket from the house. I walked back to the door, and my daughter Celia, 10, who was more of a basketball fan than anything else, bellowed: “DAD THEY HIT A TRIPLE AND YOU MISSED IT!”

Michael Cuddyer had indeed hit a triple, and would soon score to tie the game. The rest (Casilla getting picked off; Inge’s jersey; Bobby Keppel; Carlos Gomez almost achieving flight after crossing home) is history.

The Metrodome is part of that history, its footprint replaced by a gigantic, bird-smashing cathedral that’s already falling apart. The 10-year-old who correctly let me know how dumb my Minnesota sports fatalism was (for at least one night) is now 18. We’re taking her to college on Sunday. She has assured me she’ll be available to talk me down if a local sports franchise drives me to distraction.

Game 163 was miserable and perfect. The Metrodome was a multipurpose dump with seats that pointed the wrong way and a roof that would fall down when it snowed. I think I miss it almost as much as I’m going to miss Celia.

Over to you, Harry Chapin.