The room held its collective breath as Austin Jackson sprinted toward deep center, chasing down a long fly that looked, for all the world, like it would drop behind him, sending the tying runs home for Chicago. When the ball settled into his glove, a cheer went up in the bar like Detroit had just won the seventh game of the World Series; beer and popcorn seemed to be flying everywhere.
"Oh man, was that fantastic or what?" said Hank.
"My heart can start beating again," said Rebecca.
Uncle Billy brushed popcorn off the table in front of him. "It's just one series ... in case you haven't noticed, it's only September 2 ... there is still a lot of baseball to played."
I shook my head. "Uncle, you sure know how to take the fun out of a moment."
Billy looked around at the beaming faces and back slapping going on around the table. "What? I'm just trying to be realistic."
"I know ... but that was a big series ... we're tied for first place."
"For a day ... they'll lose to Cleveland tomorrow and we'll be back in second."
Hank poured beer into Billy's half-full glass. "Bill, you couldn't find joy in a moment if you won the Lotto."
"Sure I can ... I've just been a Tiger fan for too long ... I know they'll stumble sooner or later."
Mary brushed popcorn off Eb's chest. "Maybe they will, but can't we enjoy this victory?"
"I'm enjoying it," said Billy.
"You couldn't tell, Uncle," I said.
"Look, I'm as happy as anyone that they just swept Chicago for a share of first place ... I just happen to know this script ... they'll keep us hoping until the end, and then rip our hearts out and stomp on them."
"Hey, they won the division last year and went to the playoffs," said Eb.
Billy sneered. "Right ... and what happened? They lost the pennant to the Rangers."
"So what?" said Eb. "We got to see 'em play in October."
"That's right," I added, "all you can ask is for meaningful games in September and a chance to play into October."
Billy stood up and threw a ten dollar bill on the table. "That ought to cover my share of the tab ... I'm leaving you dreamers to your fantasies."
"Where are you going, Uncle?"
"I'm taking Alma to the Casino."