Brother’s streak remains intact

All good things must come to an end – just not yet.

Going into last Sunday’s game at Comerica Park in Detroit, my twin brother Jay Marietti held an improbable streak that has spanned roughly 22 years – he had never attended a professional sporting event where the team he was rooting for had lost.

The streak includes 12 games, reaching back to 1993, and features National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association games, including an American League Championship Series victory by the Detroit Tigers and a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox in 2012.

“I do feel unusually lucky to have experienced such an unbelievable streak of wins,” he said. “I do know that it is likely that the day will come when I will have to taste the bitter pill of defeat. But for now, all I know is winning. The teams should start paying me to show up at games – apparently I have good ‘juju.'”

However, my brother knew that last weekend’s game was the dreaded No. 13 in the streak, and he hoped the streak would live another day. But the situation didn’t look good as the game progressed.

The White Sox took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning, and added two more runs in the sixth. The Tigers previously were 0-30 this season when trailing after seven innings, and they entered the bottom of the eighth inning down 4-0, unable to do much of anything against Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija.

“Honestly, I felt like a kid who had just witnessed his bike being stolen right in front of his eyes,” he said. “It was a foreign feeling to me. I had seen comeback victories before, but this looked pretty bleak, and it was getting into the late innings.”

However, a little help from Tigers’ designated hitter Victor Martinez restored hope in the eighth inning when he belted a line drive into the right-center field gap to send three runs home and tie the game 4-4 after James McCann had already scored earlier in the inning.

“It felt good (to tie it), but I knew we weren’t out of the woods yet,” he said. “I started to get nervous that we were going to go into extra innings.”

The Tigers held the White Sox scoreless in the top of the ninth before McCann saved the day by smashing a line-drive home run to left-center.

“When I heard the crack of the bat, I knew the streak was intact,” Jay said, “and it felt beautiful. Like a metaphor for so much that happens in life – sometimes things look really bad, but you have to keep the faith.”

McCann’s big hit was the second walkoff homer of his career and only the third roundtripper of any type.

“Those are the swings that 30, 40 years from now, I’ll be able to smile about,” McCann told reporter Scott Merkin of MLB.com. “I won’t remember the tough at-bats; I’ll remember those ones.”

Our uncle, Brian Polkinghorne, has commented on the streak, saying, “Someone really should get you some season tickets.”

I also held onto this same streak until Nov. 3, 2013, when we watched Jay’s Detroit Pistons defeat my Boston Celtics 87-77. He never said so, but I knew he was reveling in his victory.

“The act of watching sports has always been a strong bond between my family and friends, even if we don’t always agree on what team we want to win,” he said. “Some of my earliest memories are of my brother and me watching sports; I would say we were four or five years old when we became hooked.”

Justin Marietti is an Ishpeming native and wire editor/news reporter at The Mining Journal. He can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 245. His email address is jmarietti@miningjournal.net.