We were in the car, miles from Oakland’s O.co Coliseum, when the Detroit Tigers scored. Until that point, all our conversations had been about the winery we visited – and Kwame Kilpatrick, or the great meal we had – and Kwame Kilpatrick, or how fantastic the spa was we visited – and Kwame Kilpatrick.
If I had learned anything over eight years, it was that the Kilpatrick scandal was global and inescapable — no matter where I went or what I did.
Five years ago in Amsterdam, some friends and I stopped for coffee at a little bistro around the corner from Dam Square. The proprietor asked where we were from, and our answer of Detroit elicited question after question about “Your mayor!”
Five years later, we were rushing to Napa Valley for a fun day. But what we were really doing was waiting to find out whether Kilpatrick, whose fall from grace had been meticulously documented, was really going to go to prison for 28 years.
We talked sports and wine and current events and food and music and men, but in between subjects, we kept returning to Kilpatrick and his family and Detroit.
When the verdict finally came, there was a moment of silence. It wasn’t out of honor or mourning or respect. It was just there.
Like we were all talked out.
And then suddenly, we were at it again. We were talking about what would come next: the sentencing of Kilpatrick’s best friend, Bobby Ferguson, the continuing investigations into county corruption and possible illegalities surrounding the city pension fund.
But then the Tigers scored again. And we got to the coliseum, and suddenly, we had had enough of crime. Standing in a sea of green and yellow, we stood and quietly celebrated our team.
We kept our coats closed over our Tiger shirts. We’re no fools. But the fans knew we were there, kept watching when it was over, no one said anything. No one shouted any denigrating remarks about Detroit.
It was as if the crowd knew what we knew. We needed that victory We needed a good thing. We needed some good news on a day when things were so heartbreaking back in Detroit.