Chilling for 2 Hours
At 8am we planted ourselves in line with about 50 people in front of us for Tigerfest. Early Entry meant we could get in at 10am instead of 11am for the "normies." Despite it being 7 degrees and breezy, we were only 20 feet or so closer to the door than we were last year. The group in front of us brought a wagon with a propane heater (see pic below) that got a lot of attention. They made a lot of friends that day. Once the doors opened though the people in front of us tripled as those in front of us were just placeholders for entire families waiting in nearby cars. My brother and I earned it. I dressed just warm enough knowing how hot it would be in many of the lines inside. I could have dressed in my ice fishing garb but that meant carrying that around all day. My backpack full of scribble-worthy goods was already heavy enough.
*WARNING* "Colorful" vocabulary may find it's way into this post beyond this point.
For those who don't know; Early Entry tickets are like gold for Tiger fans. Only season ticket holders are offered them so you can imagine with the team we spit onto the field those are few and far between. This year I was able to score one for free, though I gave the gentleman $20 to ensure it was a legit deal and I would meet him in line for it. The day before the event I found 4 tickets and 4 early entry tickets for sale on Craigslist under two different posts. One post I asked if they would sell one early entry for $40 and then they could sell the other stuff they had still and make more money. They declined. The other post was even closer to my house and I offered $50 and a Miguel Cabrera auto'd 8x10 that I have had forever that I was never fond of for all 4 tickets and 4 early entry tickets. They took that deal! I then sold the three early entry tickets remaining for $25 a piece and gave away the regular tickets for free and ultimately broke even all together. It felt great to be able to tell the first craigslist seller I found what they were offering for half price.
Since early entry is only for the large and in charge, it is generally thought only the best signers will be there. They set up two lines for separate signers and you have to pick a line to hit first and hope to get into the second before time runs out or the gen-pop get let in. Last year if you recall I ended up with Daniel Norris and my brother got Michael Fulmer. Fulmer; yes an early entry worthy signer. Norris; eff you Tigers. Anyway, this year was close to the same and is making me wonder if it is worth jumping through hoops for early entry. This year my brother and I decided to not split up then one of us wouldn't be jealous of the other. Miguel Cabrera was announced to be coming to the event and this year didn't cancel that we knew of so we had fingers crossed Miggy would be an early entry signer.
Early Entry Line SESSION #1: Jim Leyland
I love Jim Leyland. I have had an 8X10 of a picture I took back in 2006 of Jim, JV, and Magglio shagging fly balls before a game that I have needed Leyland's scribble on for a long time. I had JV sign it at Tigerfest in 2007 and hadn't added any ink to it since. I was so thrilled to add on to what might be the highlight of my entire collection for me!
|This is a bad scan, it looks better in person!|
Another shitty part of Tigerfest is the handlers for the players. Apparently it is faster for me to hand the precious item I want signed to a 15 year old girl to crinkle and smear around before getting signed. It pisses me off every time!
Early Entry Line SESSION #1 (round 2): Jordan Zimmermann
Jordan Zimmermann is a personal favorite because he just seems like a cool guy. He ice fishes for god's sake. We were able to make it into the other early entry line for Zimm. He has some decent accolades and is 100X better than Daniel Norris, but I still think early entry should be one of your HOFers and your biggest star. A former manager and your #3 starter for your season ticket holders doesn't exactly scream "buy a ticket package." Anyway, I got Zimm last year on a 5X7 and this time around snagged him on this Allen and Ginter RC. It looks sweet! It is always a tough decision on whether to have a RC signed or a Tiger uni card.
Line 3 SESSION #2: Matt Boyd (Now the lines start)
By this time the "normies" or gen-pop people have started charging their way into the stadium. The early entry lines were about 30 minutes of a wait. This next line took an hour; still shorter than most years. We had to choose between line C or D. We heard whispers that Matt Boyd was in C and Joe Jimenez was in D. Always take a starter over a reliever! Matt Boyd was super nice. He warned me that the sharpie might not work well on the magazine I wanted signed before he did it. I said "it's not crazy glossy or anything, it should work." I should have listened.
The auto obviously turned out horrible. I still like the piece anyway. Everything goes right into the PC so whatever; you live, you learn. Boyd is a great dude. By this time it was clear the event was going to be an unorganized shit show as usual. Boyd had like 50 people left in line to sign for while Jimenez was done. The same thing had happened with Leyland and Zimmermann but only got worse as the day went on. Mostly due to idiots wanting to get an auto and take pictures even though there is a separate place to take pics with players.
Line 4 SESSION #3: Pizza Pizza
You know you're getting screwed when the box they use for a single piece of pizza and a whole pizza are the same box. I paid $13 for my bro and I to share a "whole" pizza. Even though it is Little Caesars and you would assume for $13 you would get a hot and ready and even then its a shitty deal, we received a square pizza maybe 12"X12" cut into 4. FOR $13. Come on Tigers, Jesus Christ. One single piece was $6 and was almost 9" X 9". Ballpark food prices always suck but the Tigers really milk you for all you got and give you nothing in return. We missed session 3 due to waiting for our tiny microwave pizza and taking a leak.
Line 5 SESSION #4: Oops, Jordan Zimmermann
When anyone asks about Tigerfest my first and most important tip to them is to stay in one line and keep getting in it. Jumping lines can result in doubling up on signers. We had the grand idea that the line might be shorter the further from the entrance we got. We were so wrong. The next line we went to was cramped and some idiot from the Tigers just kept screaming "tighten up the line!" I was already inside the guy in front of me with someone's breathe melting the back of my hat. It sucked. We were treated worse than cattle and worse yet; there was no signer. For 35 minutes the Tigers or there staff fucked up and didn't have a signer at our spot. We were stuck with no exit in sight with triple the fire marshall's suggested population in that small space being nearly penetrated from the unshowered drunk behind us. Finally, Jordan Zimmermann showed up. DON'T CHANGE LINES. This time I had him sign a ball for me and he did an awesome job. It is one of the sharpest signed balls I have.
Line 6 SESSION #4: WTF Tigers! Almost Greiner, Niko, Ross
We decided to hit a different line again just so we weren't trapped in a claustrophobic nightmare. This time we thought we had lucked into a 3 signer table as Grayson Greiner, Tyson Ross, and Niko Goodrum were sat down! We were 5 people away from hitting a triple when they brought in about a dozen handicapped fans. It is another part of Tigerfest that hasn't been figured out how to handle correctly. I do think handicapped fans should not miss out on any part of the event. I think the Tigers should do something better than have them jump the 200 person line after we have been waiting over an hour. All the blame goes on the Tigers. Anyway, as we are 5 people, and now 12 more away from my first 3 person table since T'Fest 2006 a couple handlers show up and realized they fucked up again and took Greiner and Ross away! They were supposed to be somewhere else. So not only were 200 fans in another line pissed they had no signer for 30 minutes again, 200 of us had to see the first 50 plus the 12 handicap line cutters get 3 signers and then we get just Niko Goodrum. A better organized event with employees who do their jobs correctly would piss off a lot less fans. But, its the same every year.
We got Niko's beautiful full name auto. Me on my Independence Day card and my brother who had dragged two bats along this whole time and had yet to see one actual batter who could sign them had his chance to get a bat signed.
I hope the day never comes that Niko changes his awesome signature to something shorter and faster. This card is perfect. Niko was super funny. The guy behind me was asked by the handler if he wanted to sweet spot signed and he said no. Niko looked up at me wide eyed and said "You don't want me on your sweet spot?!" I laughed so hard. I said "you'd be on my sweet spot all day but I handed you a card not a ball."
Line 7 SESSION #5: Buck Farmer and Spencer Turnbull
We stayed in that line for the next session and got Buck Farmer and Spencer Turnbull. We got Farmer last year and I have gotten Turnbull through TTM but its always nice to get a double signing table no matter who it is. I really enjoyed watching Turnbull make his debut last year. Even gave me chills a few times. So exciting when they get that first chance.
Line 8 SESSION #5: It Happened: Triple Signer Table!
We were able to get through fast enough to hit session 5 in another line. This time we had two firsts: 3 signers at one table and one was a Tiger alumni. The signers just kept coming to the table. Tiger Alum and all around great guy Andy Dirks, new pick up Reed Garrett, and young middle infielder Willi Castro made up our 8th table visited. There must have been at least 10,000 less people this year since lines were moving so fast and you could walk around. Typically, there is barely room to move anywhere in the stadium.
|I mistakenly had him sign a card I already have signed from him. So if anyone has a Dirks card signed they want to trade for this one let me know.|
Line 8 SESSION #6: The Dud
I hate to call any auto session a dud but this one was unknown Jose Fernandez and relief pitcher Daniel Stumpf who we saw last year. Not super pumped for this one but always good to get more signatures. Stumpf is on the ball above with Willi Castro, Fernandez is on the back of the same ball in the pic below. I have them use sharpies on these cheap Tiger logo balls because pen doesn't work on them.
Line 9 SESSION #7: I Want Candy!
Leading up to the last signer for the final session I was saying how the last signer we get historically is always the weakest. In walks Jeimer Candelario! So awesome. I hope he really matures and becomes a superstar with the Tigers. My brother was super pumped to get him on his other bat and I got him on a ball I snagged during BP. Definitely the best final signer we have ever gotten.
We got through the line pretty quick and had to decide whether to run to another tent and hope there was enough tickets left for JaCoby Jones and Mikie Mahtook or get back in this line which looked like the usher had just enough tickets for us to get Candelario again. You don't leave fish to find fish so we jumped back in line for Candy knowing the chances were better because we could see the stack of tickets in the guy's hand.
Line 10 SESSION #7: I Want More Candy!
It was unbelievable being able to double up on sessions let alone get through 10 lines! Even back in the mid 2000's when I would walk away with 12-15 autos after the event because it was run better I was never able to double up on sessions. A mix of it being frigid and the outlook on this year's squad being even colder I think made a lot of people stay home. I was one of the last in line for Jeimer's signature this time so I got a quick version but it still looks sweet on the gold card.
My brother had his best Tigerfest ever for sure. We had a ton of fun. The funny thing is; almost all the people I either gave free tickets to or sold early entry to got Miguel Cabrera's signature somehow. Lucky bastards.
The outlook on the Tigers is bleak. I enjoy seeing prospects rise, short lines at events and cheap secondhand tickets but it gets scary when you step back and really see the big picture. $ makes the world go round and the Tigers aren't using it wisely right now. Especially when the GM comes out and says they are going cheap until 2021. I know that knocked a lot of fans off the bandwagon. Between the prices they demand for parking-ticket-food, the weak roster, and the change in TV commentators; this is going to be a rough year. I'll hang in there and enjoy what I can. I always do.
Here's a peak at some of the event:
|I haven't seen the field dressed in white very often. I tried to blow it up so you can see the temp climbed to 11 degrees by 11 am.|
|A peak at the binder I take and my cheat sheet to know what I brought.|
|The two most annoying things at this event: douchebag selfie takers making the line take forever and this ignorant handler in the hoodie who thinks she is making things faster but IS NOT!|
|The line at 8am. Two hours until open. Seven degrees Fahrenheit. This line tripled when they unlocked the doors.|