Monday, November 5, 2012

Why I'm Voting for President Obama

I'm voting for President Obama because...
Instead of losing 700,000+ jobs per month as we were at the end of the previous Administration, we have had 38 consecutive months of private sector job growth.
General Motors is alive.
Osama Bin Laden isn't.
Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Insurance companies have to spend 80% of every dollar they take in in premiums on actual health care.
Insurance companies cannot impose a lifetime limit on coverage.
My daughter can stay on our health care plan until she is 26.
Student loan rates are down because the government has (rightfully) taken the program over again, removing the profit motive, reducing rates, stopping the gouging of the young people.
Our house lost 40% of its value the last time we had a Republican in office.
The war in Iraq is over.
The war in Afghanistan is about to be over.
I've read the Ryan Budget.  It's horrifying.
Mr. Romney called the Ryan Budget "marvelous" and said he would sign it, "happily."
I am against the privatization of Social Security.
I am against turning Medicare into a voucher system.
Mr. Ryan's self-confessed political inspiration Ayn Rand is a total psychopath.
Mr. Romney won't release his tax returns.  I conclude the only reason for him to so refuse is because there is something in there that he knows would end his chances to become President were that something to become public.
Mr. Romney believes it is fair for him to pay a tax rate of less than 15% because he makes his money on capital gains, while my family pays over 30% because our income results from actual work.
Mr. Romney lies.  Repeatedly and even when his lies (such as Jeep moving production from Toledo to China but there are many, many others) are obvious and demonstrable.
Mr. Romney likes firing people:

Mr. Romney's top adviser on the judiciary is Robert Bork.  (Really? Robert Bork?)

This is just what I've got off the top of my head.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Urban Meyer is a Big, Fat Liar

I spent almost an hour a few weeks ago reading a LONG article in Sports Illustrated about how Urban Meyer's family assented to letting him return to coaching college football only after he signed a pledge to them promising he would change his ways: that he would be more mellow; that he would possess (and display) a more developed sense of perspective and priority.  I was happy for him.  The article quoted him as saying that his behavior at Florida was such that it both adversely affected his health and damaged his family.  So I thought, "good on him".  And I mentally wished him he best.  And I in so doing I was duped.  Anybody who saw Urbie on the Spartan Stadium sideline Saturday now knows that the entire SI article about The New Urban Meyer, every word of it, was utter bullshit.  There he was, completely out-of-control, (making fucking Woody Hayes seem mellow for Christ's sake), going 20 yards out onto the field to argue a penalty and only by some miracle NOT being flagged for a fifteen-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  I'll tell you what, I was sure he was going to assault himself a zebra right then and there.  Not that there is anything in particular wrong with that.  That's just how coaches, by and large, are.  Just don't go telling a national publication and by extension me, how you are a changed man, 'kay?  And now we learn that Meyer sent Michigan State an incomplete game film the week before the game, a tape edited so the Spartan coaching staff wouldn't be able to see the shifts and formation changes the Buckeyes were making prior to snapping the ball.  It wasn't a huge deal, it was just a crappy, unsportsmanlike, unprofessional bush league thing to do.  So, now we know the truth about Urban Meyer.  He's the same jagoff asshole he's always been.  So fuck him.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let's Watch the Spartans and the Eagles!

Tim Staudt, one of the best sportscasters in America but a guy you probably have never heard of if you don't live in the Lansing area (he's been on the air here since I was an MSU student and I was an MSU student a long, long time ago) coined a phrase in advance of last week's Massachusetts at Michigan game.  With UM favored by fifty-something, he called it not a football game, but rather a "football demonstration."

That's what we have here this afternoon with MSU giving 33 against an Eastern Michigan team which has never, ever defeated a Big Ten opponent (0-30), and which is 0-8 all-time against the Spartans.

The nub of it is this: no matter what they do here at Spartan Stadium this afternoon, MSU can't win.  If they blow 'em out by 50 everybody will say, "Big deal, it's Eastern.  They've given up 37 at Ball State, 31 to Illinois State (not Illinois, Illinois State), and 54 to Purdue.  That's 122 points in 3 games!"  If State doesn't win by 50, it will feel like a loss.

What happened last week in that 20-3 loss to Notre Dame on a Saturday night which began with MSU ranked 10th in the nation; with both expectations and the Goodyear Blimp sky high; with a National TV audience tuned in?  The explanation is, as is so often the case, oh-so simple: MSU got beat at the point of attack on both sides of the ball.  Notre Dame--rushing four against the Spartans five for most of the night--kept the pressure on MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell while holding Le'Veon Bell to 77 yards on 19 carries.  (Although it seemed odd to most of us that in a game in which MSU was down only 11 for most of the second half, they gave the ball to Bell only four (4!) times after halftime.)  The defensive line allowed ND to rush for more than twice as many yards as MSU (122-50) and rarely got pressure on Irish quarterback Everett Golson.  Additionally, Spartan receivers dropped way too many balls and the harried Maxwell made a few poor decisions.

The result is a humbled Spartan team falling to #20 with plenty to work on here this afternoon.

The more interesting game, and the more interesting question is how will Notre Dame do against Michigan tonight in South Bend (7:30 Eastern on NBC).  Michigan has beaten ND three straight, scoring the winning touchdown in the final thirty seconds in each of those games, including last year's Game for the Ages when ND scored the go-ahead TD with :30 left on the clock, only to see UM win it with a TD with :02 left.  It was one of the best college games ever played.  Here's a nice stat.  We mentioned the Wolverines have won those 3 in a row against the Irish.  The last time Michigan beat Notre Dame four in a row was in 1908.

We'll probably get home from East Lansing in time for the second half.

The Spartan Band takes the field at we're about fifteen away from kickoff.  We'll keep you posted....

(Oh, Central just hit a walk-off field goal after recovering an on-side kick and they beat Iowa 32-31.  The Press Box erupted.  Fans here in East Lansing know exactly how this feels since that is exactly what the Chips did right here in this Stadium, what, three years ago?)

State gets the ball to start the game and converts a third and one before going and three and out on the next set of down and punting.  On 3rd and ten, Maxwell made a poor decision and tucked it under way to early.  Eastern was only rushing three, and Maxwell had time to look for an open man but he didn't take it.  The Eagles pick up a first and they move into MSU territory the first time they have the ball today.

The Eagles for for it on 4th and one at the MSU 36 but are denied, so, after a TV timeout (the game is on the Big Ten Network which sort of counts as TV) the Spartans will commence their second possession of the afternoon.  It was, by the way, 58 degrees at kickoff under mostly cloudy skies and the wind was blowing out of the northwest at either 8 or 13 miles per hour, depending on which source one chooses to believe.  Right now, wind does not appear to be a factor down on the field.

Maxwell is driving me nuts.  After Bell ran for 22 and 15 yards on consecutive carries, Maxwell threw underneath and incomplete to Aaron Burbridge. Even had the ball been caught, Burbidge--the freshman from Farmington Hills Harrison (I called Harrison's 27-20 loss to Southfield last night, a game Harrison led 17-0 at the half after holding the Bluejays to 2 yards of offense in the first half)--would never had made the line to make.  We saw the same thing numerous times last Saturday night, Maxwell failing to throw to a receiver who had made it to the first down marker on a third down passing attempt.  He has to improve in that regard.  Oh, and then Dan Conroy missed from 39 (his 3rd FG miss this season) and it remains scoreless here with now under 5 to play in the first.

Bell, 62y in 8 rushes, gains 16 on first down but Maxwell misses badly on a pair of third-and-12 throws and that is that.  The Spartans punt again.  Still no score.  Not a sellout here today, by the way. It appears a lot of the students have elected to spend the afternoon in their dorm rooms.

Did we mention Purdue scored 54 on these guys last week?  MSU fails to score in the first quarter here today, gaining 84 yards of total offense, 76 of those by Bell on ten carries.  After One: EMU 0, MSU 0.

Bell gets to 100 yards on his 13th carry with a little over 12 minutes left in the second but the drive stalls so Conroy comes on to hit a 35y field goal with 10:06 left in the first half.  Points are on the board at long last and MSU leads EMU 3-0.

Uh, Michigan State, giving 33, is trailing Eastern Michigan at halftime here 7-3.  Picking up where they left off against Notre Dame when they were 1/8 in second half third-down conversions, MSU goes 1/8 on third down in the first half today.  Maxwell is 9/19 for 31 yards.  The only bright spot--and I mean the only bright spot, is Le'Veon Bell: 117y on 17 rushes.  An MSU fumble gave the Eagles the ball at the Spartan 23 and Eastern got a TD toss on the first snap after the turn.  HALFTIME: EASTERN MICHIGAN 7, MICHIGAN STATE 3.

Bell carries on each of the first 5 plays run by MSU in the second half, so he has more touches in the second half today (5) than he did in the entire second half last Saturday night (4). Maxwell thrown underneath again on third down so MSU comes up short and Conroys hits a 45y FG with 9:25 left in 3rd.  MSU pulls to within one, trails 7-6.

Here's the good news.  I don't think EMU can move the ball on MSU.  The Eagles have 84y of offense and only 4 first downs.  So, if the Spartans donn't turn it over again, they should be able to come back and win this thing.

EMU turns it over at their 41 and MSU gains a grand total of 3y, punts.  Frustrating.

Maxwell finally hits a couple downfield--finding TE Dion Sims for 16 and then 17 on consecutive plays.  Holding (naturally) stalls the drive and Conroy's 3rd field goal of the day is a 35-yarder that gives MSU a 9-7 lead with 1:11 left in the third.

Touchdown, MSU.  Been a while.  Maxwell hits Sims (4 2nd-half catches) with a ten-yard scoring strike as MSU goes 89 in 12 to move ahead 16-7.  7:19 left, so it looks like they will get out of here with a win.  I have to leave for the post-game interviews in a couple of minutes which is a shame because I've been watching the A's-Yankees game out of the corner of my eye and what a show in the Bronx.  Oakland hit three homes and scored 4 in the top of the 13th for a 9-5 lead, NY has just scored 4 to tie in their half of the 13th.

Back from the interviews and I think Mark Dantonio was, well, upset.  We'd ask and he'd answer, "Yes, next question."  I'm pretty sure you'll see it in SportsCenter.  MSU scored late while we were down on the field and they win 23-7.  They will, most certainly, have to play better one week from today here to beat Ohio State.  The Tigers beat the Twins 8-0, Chicago is at LA at nine.  We'll be at Comerica tomorrow, we'll talk to you then.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Let's Watch the Spartans and the Irish!

Michigan State is in trouble here at Spartan Stadium.  Their defense, which had not surrendered a touchdown in the first two games, has given up two in the first twenty minutes and the Spartans are down 14-0 with a little over 9 minutes left in the second quarter.  State's offense isn't exactly lighting it up.  That MSU has had 9 third down snaps already (converting 5) is telling.  State is having some trouble moving the ball.   Their long game is a 19-yard pass.

I think the thing to do is to remember not last years game against the Irish (a 31-13 ND win in South Bend), but rather last year's Wisconsin game here where MSU trailed 14-0 as they do tonight.

State down 14-3 at the half.  Their long drive so far is 49 yards.  They have been out-gained 189-121 in spite of having run 6 more plays than the Irish.  They are 4 of 9 on third downs and have had ten third down snaps tonight, but one doesn't count as a play as ND was called for a penalty.  Andrew Maxwell is 10/18 for 74, Notre Dame's Everett Golson is 7/19 for 126 and a TD.  MSU gets the ball to start the second half...

MSU finally got a little drive going as they moved from own 11 to near midfield but a holding call and a dropped third down pass put an end to that.  MSU now 4/12 on 3rd down, and they are still down 14-3 to the Irish as we move under 6 to play in third.

MSU makes first big mistake in this game--a roughing the kicker call gives ND a 1st down and keeps drive alive under 4 to go in 3rd.

Total y about even & ND has no drive longer than 51y-but have scored on both their 51y drives. MSU long drive 49y. In 4th now 14-3 ND

If ND weren't 1/10 in 3rd down coveresions, I'll tell you what, this game would probably be over.  3rd down #14 coming up for MSU now and they fail and are 4-14 after a complete pass is short of the line to make.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Let's Watch the Lions and the Rams, Shall We?

As I settle in for the afternoons activity here at Ford Field, here's what's on my mind prior to the Lions season opener:  HOW CAN THE TIGERS BE A .448 TEAM ON THE ROAD AND A .606 TEAM AT HOME?  HOW?  I'm going to read the Game Notes now and maybe take a Xanex and will report back soon on football-related matters.

So, just the past Monday I happened to be outside Gaylord Family Stadium, home of the Oklahoma Sooners, and I saw Sam Bradford's statue.  I didn't even know he had a statue.  But he does.  So too do former Lions Billy Sims and Steve Owens.  So there is that.  Truth be told, I don't know what to make of any of this, except that here in person this afternoon I'll see Bradford in real life as he QB's the St. Louis Rams.

Stafford smartly drives Lions down field on first drive of 2012, 77 in 13, 6 Firsts.  He's 7/9 on the drive for 53.  Only problem is that on first and goal from the 3....he throws a pick and the Lions get no points on a drive that took 6:06.

Pretty clear that St. Louis can't stop Detroit as Lions--on their second posses--drive into the Red Zone again.  Trailing 3-0, but that is about to change...

Sorry, no updates for a while there.  The Lions should be killing these guys (they've outgained 'em 231-91) but they aren't.  3 Matthew Stafford intercepts have led to all the points the Rams have scored here as they somehow lead the Lions 13-10 as the second half begins.  St. Louis simply can't stop the Lions.  The problem in the first half was that the Lions were stopping themselves.  Stafford threw two Red Zone picks and the other was returned for a TD.  On to the second half...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let's Watch the Tigers and the Yankees (Again)!

The Tigers tonight, in game two of their series against the Yankees here at Comerica Park, look to tie their record for longest win streak in this stadium at ten. In addition to their nine-game home streak, the Tigers have won 15 of their last 16 at home, a run which began on the 4th of July.

It was a perfect night for baseball last night, and we were treated to a game which was pretty much perfect. Not in the 27-up, 27-down sense, but in terms of watching one of the all-time greats at his all-time best.

Justin Verlander tied his career high with 14 strikeouts, and were it not for his own error, very likely would have shut the Bombers out. As it was, he set a Detroit record for most strikeouts in a game against New York. It was the kind of a night that you expect you will remember for a long time.

While the Tigers have been hot of late (they've now won 5 in a row--their season long win streak is 6) New York, in spite of being tied for the best record in the league at 63-45 (.583), have struggled over the course of the last three weeks, going 6-11 (.353) in their last 17.

Here are some knock-your-eyes out numbers: during Detroit current 5-game win streak, Prince Fielder is hitting .588(!) (10x17) with 3 homers and 8 RBI. Miguel Cabrera has also hit 3 homers in the last 5 games, driving in 7 and hitting .364 (8x22). Both the Tigers superstars homered last night with Cabrera hitting the shrubbery in dead center, a blast measured at 454 feet.

The batting cage has been wheeled away, the lines drawn, and the infield is being wetted down. It won't be long now and we'll check in with you as developments warrant on this warm Tuesday night in Detroit.

First pitch came at 7:07 and it was 87-degrees (was 80 at game time last night).  Both teams went down in order in the first and both pitchers, Rick Porcello for Detroit and Phil Hughes for New York, threw a mere 13 pitches.  On to the second.

There were three singles in the second, two by New York and one by Detroit's Brennan Boesch, but no runner made it as far as second base.  The two Yankees hits were sandwiched around a 4-6-3 double play ball off the bat of Eric Chavez, while Boesh's one-out hit was followed by Delmon Young's groundout and Jhonny Peralta's fly to right.  

Through three it is as even as can be: each team has two singles, neither team has put a runner in scoring position, and Rick Porcello has thrown 42 pitches; Phil Hughes 43.

2-0, New York.  With a man on and two out in the 4th, (Mark Texiera had singled after Robinson Cano grounded into New York's second 6-4-3 double play of the night) Eric Chavez got around late on a Porcello fastball but got the meat of the bat on it and hit a curving liner to left that just did sneak over the wall for his 11th homer of the year.  It didn't make it by much.  Chavez himself wasn't sure he'd homered, stopping at second and awaiting further instructions before completing his trip around the bases.  

2-2 after 4.  The Tigers come right back as Cabrera (we told you above how hot he's been during Detroit's 5-game win streak) made it 4 homers in his last 6 games and 29 for the season with a line drive blast over the left field wall on Hughes' 3rd pitch of the 4th.  Boesch singled, and with two outs Peralta's liner down the third base line was fair by about a foot and Boesch came all the way around to score on the double--the 65th two-out run scored by the Tigers since the All Star break.  The Tigers made Hughes throw 42 pitches in the inning--including a dozen to Boesch alone.  He had thrown 43 pitches in the game prior to the 4th.  Porcello gets the Yanks in order in the 5th on only 9 pitches, so we are halfway through and we are all tied up here in Detroit.

Detroit gets to Hughes for two more in the 5th and at 102 pitches, two runs in and a man on second with one out in the 5th, his night is done.  Boone Logan comes in from the NY pen.  Cabrera has the big hit in the inning, doubling home both Andy Dirks and Austin Jackson with a drive that landed on the warning track near the left field foul pole and one-hooped the wall.  It was fortunate that it didn't one-hop over the wall as Jackson would have been forced to stop at third.  As it was, he scored without a throw.  Cabrera has now driven in ten runs in the last 6 games.  

With his RBI double in the 5th, Cabrera is hitting .400 (10x25) in his last six games.  Logan puts out the fire, as it were, and we go to the sixth with the Tigers on top, 4-2.

5-3, Detroit now, as we go to the bottom of the 7th. Andy Dirks doubled in Alex Avila with two outs in the bottom of the 6th but was thrown out trying to make it a triple to give the Tigers a 5-2 lead before doubles by Nick Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki in the top of the 7th made it 5-3 and ended Porcello's night.  He gave up 3 runs on 8 hits in 6 and two-thirds.  The only hit that really hurt him was the Chavez homer that just did sneak over the wall.  Porcello did not issue a single walk.  Brayan Villarreal has replaced him, and got the final out of the 7th with Suzuki on second.

A nice outing by Octavio Dotel--8 pitches and he retires New York in order in the 8th.  Still 5-3 Tigers as we go to the bottom of the 8th, and we (likely) await Jose Valverde in the 9th.  He is warming as we speak.

A big two-out single by Dirks restores Detroit's three-run lead.  Valverde in, Detroit up 6-3 as the 9th begins.

The Tigers  win 6-5.  Valverde made it exciting, to say the least, allowing a two-run double with two outs before getting Curtis Granderson to pop up and end it with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second.  It's  a seasons-best 6-game win streak for the Tigers now and they'll try and keep it going right here against the Yankees tomorrow night.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Let's Watch the Tigers and the Yankees!

Greetings from Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan where come now the New York Yankees, the Bronk Bombers, the Pinstripers, the 28-time Worlds Champions. They are in town to begin a four-gamer here against the Tigers.  The Game Notes tell us that the New Yorkers, tied with Texas for the best record in the American League at 63-44, have the best road record in the American League (29-22, .569), but a cursory review of their game-by-game results (the only kind of review I ever undertake) shows they've lost five of their last seven away.  The Detroits, meanwhile, have won 8 in a row at home and (geez!) 14 of their last 15.

That win steak was, of course, over: dead and buried here yesterday with Detroit hitting and Cleveland ahead 8-5 with two out and nobody on in the 10th inning.  And then the Tigers won it.  In a 24-pitch span, the Tigers went walk, walk, RBI double, two-RBI single, and two-run homer.  A five run rally from a dead stop and one of the most improbable finishes I've ever seen.  After the game I asked the guy who hit the game-winning blast, one Miguel Cabrera, if, with two out and nobody on and his team down three, he was thinking it was about time to go home and he said, "No, were you?"  "Uh, kinda," I replied.  To be fair, the odds were in my favor on the thinking about going home thing.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time Detroit won a game in which they trailed by three runs in extra innings was 1935.   You know what else happened to the Tigers in 1935?  That's right, they were World Champions.

I've been coming to these things--these Tigers games, that is--since 1963.  I don't know if yesterday's was the best I ever saw, but for sure it was Top 5.

Verlander, 11-7 and loser of his last two, is the Detroit starter tonight.  Ivan Nova, with 10 wins one of four Yanks with double-digit wins, starts for NY.  We'll begin in a little more than half an hour and we'll check back with you then...

We got underway a little late, 7:10, and it took Verlander about three minutes to finish NY off in the first: 1-2-3 on 9 pitches.

Ivan Nova is about as good in his half of the first.  It took him 10 pitches to retire the Tigers.  Andy Dirks, in the lineup starting in left instead of Quintin Berry, got a one-out single but Cabrera bounced into an around-the-horn double play and that was that.  No score as we go to the second.

After getting NY out on 9 pitches in the first, it took Verlander 11 pitches to get a called third in Raul Ibanez as part of another 1-2-3 inning.  Verlander threw 16 pitches in that second inning.  Six up and six down for the New Yorkers so far.

Prince Fielder's 19th homer of the night comes as he leads off the Detroit second.  It is his 3rd in the last five games and it was a fastball low and away and he still managed to pull it into the seats in right.  The homer comes on Nova's 13th pitch of the night.  He rebounds though to strike out the next three and it's on to the third here in Detroit. 

Eric Chavez ruins my perfect game by doubling on the first pitch of the NY third.  An out later, Russell Martin singled to put runners at the corners, but Verlander fanned Curtis Granderson for the second time and got Derek Jeter on a comebacker to end the inning.

Wow.  The Twins hung ten on the Indians in the second tonight, sending 13 to the plate and hitting three homers.  The Indians--losers of 9 in a row, come to bat in the bottom of the second trailing 10-0.  The Yankees get a leadoff single from Robinson Cano to open the 4th.  Of NY's three hits, two have come with two strikes.  Nova got the Tigers in order in the third, retiring the side on six pitches which is about as efficient as you can get.  Verlander, meanwhile, gets the next three hitters, finishing with a flourish, striking out Nick Swisher--his 5th strikeout of the evening.  Still 1-0, Detroit heading bottom 4.

Cabrera (29) just hit one out to dead center which is not a particularly easy thing to do here.  It was an awesome Big Fly and it's 2-0 Detroit.  Nova hit Fielder, up right after Cabrera, and has BEEN WARNED.  Off to the 5th...

We are tied 2-2 and it's all Verlander's fault.  With two out, he dropped Fielder's throw as he attempted to cover first on a grounder to the right side and, given the extra out, NY made him pay.  Singles by Jeter and Cano each drove in a run to tie it up.  Of NY's 6 hits tonight, four have come with two strikes.  So, the Tigers were out of the inning with a 2-0 lead and then they weren't.

And now they are again.  Leading, that is.  5 singles in a row (Young, Avila, Peralta, Infante, and Jackson) resulted in a three-run rally and the Tigers have their biggest lead of the night, 5-2 after five.  Young was thrown out attempting to steal second after his leadoff hit.  Who knows how big the inning might have been without that? Andy Dirks drove in the last run of the inning with a sacrifice fly after  RBI singles by Infante and Jackson.  Infante had four hits yesterday, including that two-run, two out game-tying single in the tenth, remember.  

Verlander gets the shutdown inning he was looking for after the Tigers got the lead.  He's thrown 94 pitches through six and has fanned 9.  The last of which was Ichiro Suzuki who was just helpless.  In the middle of the 5th, it remains 5-2, Detroit.

The Tigers get two more courtesy of four more singles in the 6th to lead 7-2.  When Peralta singled in Detroit's second run of the inning, it meant that 9 of Detroit's previous 12 hitters had singled.  Nova had to leave in the midst of all this and winds up charged with 7 earned runs on 11 hits (9 singles, 2 homers) in five and a third.  Going to the 7th it's now 7-2, Detroit.

Verlander works out of a two-on jam in the 7th, fanning Martin to end the inning and, perhaps, his night.  Verlander has thrown 111 pitches.  The strikeout of Martin is his 11th of the night.  Detroit is now 6 defensive outs away from victory, leading by 5.

Jim Leyland lets Verlander come out for the 8th and he makes the most of the opportunity: striking out the side and the place goes crazy as he goes to the dugout.  He finishes with 14 strikeouts to tie his career high and throws 132 pitches.  It was amazing to watch, I can tell you that.  Verlander had not defeated New York in his last 5 outings, but if the Tigers can hold a lead which stands right now at 7-2 with the Tigers coming to bat in the 8th that little streak will be over.  By the way, Tigers PR tells us the 14 strikeouts by Verlander tonight are the most by a Tiger in a game against New York since Jim Bunning also fanned 14 on June 20, 1958!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Where is Your NHL Draft Party?

It's tonight in Pittsburgh which brings back memories as I was at the NHL draft the last time it was there.  They held it at "The Igloo" which is what they called their old rink there in the same way we call ours "The Joe."  It may have been Mellon Arena when I was there or it may have still been named the Pittsburgh Civic Arena or it may have been named something else entirely.  Who knows? I can't remember. And, of course, tonight's draft will be held at the new arena in Pittsburgh and I don't know that name of that place off the top of my head, either.

But back to that last draft in Pittsburgh.  It was 1997 and the Wings were fresh off their first Stanley Cup in 42 years or whatever it was (it was, it was 42: 1955-1997 was the duration of the drought) and it was nice to see Scotty Bowman to congratulate him in person.  I'd been hosting the Wings pregame show on the radio for several seasons prior--I'd left just before the '96-'97 season to do play-by-play in Grand Rapids--and in that capacity it was my job to interview him an hour or so before faceoff every night so we'd gotten to know each other fairly well.  And, of course, the year I leave is the year they finally win and Scotty teased me about how my not having been there being the #1 reason they'd won.

At breakfast in the hotel the morning of the draft I was sitting with our coach in Grand Rapids, Dave Allison and who walks into the coffee shop but Bobby Orr.  I am stunned to learn that Allison and Orr, well, they know one another.  Like, on a first name basis.  So, Allison introduces me to him and like, wow, right?  Bobby Orr!  And he could not have been nicer.  What a gentleman and what a kick I got out of that.

There'd been a social affair the night before sponsored by the NHL at a restaurant right on the river--drinking was involved--and the GM of some team in the American League, Hershey, maybe it was, somehow got it in his head (probably because I was wearing a sports coat and tie) that I was the General Manger of our team instead of the broadcaster for our team which is what I was.  So he asks me if our team is in the market for a play-by-play guy because he's trying to help some guy out and I say, "Personally, I can't stand our guy.  But, the owners like him, so what can you do?"

Ah, memories.  We shall enjoy them...

As for the draft itself, I always say, "Who knows?"

It is tougher, in my view, to handicap the NHL draft than it is to forecast any other sports' draft. Who knows which 18-year-old kid is going to grow up to be an NHL-er? If anybody did, do you think Pavel Datsyuk would have been there in the Sixth Round for the Wings to take in '98? But he was. Detroit selected Jiri Fischer, Ryan Barnes, Tomek Valtonen, Jake McCracken, Brent Hobday, Calle Steen and the legendary Adam Deleeuw in the '98 draft BEFORE they took Datsyuk.  And to make it all even a bit more amazing, they had two picks in the Sixth that year and they used the second of them, not the first, the second pick they had in that round on Datsyuk!  Is there a backstory here or was it blind outhouse luck for Ken Holland and the Wings in '98?  

They need some sort of luck tonight, one supposes.  Detroit, which has not had a First Round pick in two of the last three drafts, doesn't have one again tonight.  They won't be on the clock until the 19th pick of Round Two, #49 overall.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Daily Gaggle: June 7, 2012

When I asked Jim Leyland if there were positions other than center field that Quintin Berry can play--the kid's made an impression since coming up from Toledo hasn't he?--Leyland asked me where I would put him.  In left instead of Andy Dirks? In right instead of Brennan Boesch?  Keep him in center instead of Austin Jackson?

I hate when he does that.  Leyland has won 1,613 Big League games.  I haven't won any.  How would I know?  I was just asking the question.

Anyway, you can hear that exchange as well as the full comments made by the manager this morning prior to today's series finale against the Indians on the audio player below.

Today's gaggle is of about 18 minutes duration and Leyland in that time covers a wide variety of topics.  Of note, catcher Gerald Laird will take BP and will run in the outfield prior to tomorrow night's game in Cincinnati and if he says he is good to go, he will start.  Leyland continued to voice optimism about his club, noting that there are a lot of guys on the roster with what he called "pretty good bios" and he expects they will soon begin to do what their track records say they will do.

So, on to today's game against the Indians.  Derek Lowe starts for Cleveland. No pitcher in the American League has more wins that Lowe (7).  Casey Crosby makes his second Big League start here this afternoon for Detroit.  After lasting only three and a third against the Yankees last Friday night, he comes in with an ERA of 16.20.  But, you know what they say: the games are played between the white lines, not on paper, specifically in this case the paper upon which are written today's Game Notes.

One other item.  The Tigers have created a bit of symmetry here.  In winning only 16 of their last 44 (16-28, .364), they have gone from being six games over .500 to being six game under .500.  And if you are looking for that third "six" to make it the truly evil 6-6-6, well, six is the number of games that the Tigers are out of first place...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Leyland: Still A Lot to Like About the Tigers

Here's the audio from Jim Leyland's pre-game presser as we await tonight's game between the Tigers and the Indians here at Comerica Park.

Leyland's team is six off the lead in the AL Central and comes in four games under .500.  Detroit is three-and-a-half back of the second-place Indians in the division race.

It's almost surprising Leyland wasn't more upset than he appeared to be during this afternoon's media session.  I asked him what he likes about his team right now, and you can hear that question and the manager's answer somewhere near the mid to latter portions of the audio which is of about nine minutes duration...

22-year old Drew Smyly starts for the Tigers tonight while Ubaldo Jimenez (0-4, 9.54 lifetime here at Comerica Park) goes for the Tribe.  We'll be here to keep you posted on the evening's activities...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Road Trip

Here's a look at Laura's Summer Tour with The Toledo Glassmen...

View Larger Map

Click "View Larger Map" link above to see the whole thing.  And here are the dates and locations. Tjhe distances and travel time in small font is the distance from here at home, the distance and time on the right in larger font is from one location to the next.  "G-West" is the home base for the Glassmen.

2012 Toledo Glassmen Schedule
A. Start at G-West, Wausean, OH
B.  Wed, June 20 - Battle Creek, (106mi/1:47) From G-West: 100mi/1:46
C. Fri, June 22 - Madison, WI 
(439mi/7:24)      From Battle Creek: 317mi/5:49
D. Sat, June 23 - Woodbury, MN 
(662mi/11:33) From Madison: 254mi/4:35
E. Sun, June 24 - Sioux Falls, SD 
(840mi/14:14) From Woodbury: 275mi/4:27
F.Thu, June 28 - Merrillville, IN 
(243mi/4:09)   From Sioux Falls: 626mi/10:11
G. Fri, June 29 - Muncie, IN 
(240mi/4:17)         From Merriville: 188mi/3:17
H. Sat, June 30 - Michigan City, IN
(211mi/3:39) From Muncie: 166mi/3:29
I. Sun, July 1 - Muscatine, IA
(422mi/7:44)        From Michigan City: 234mi/4:20
J. Fri, July 6 - Whitewater, WI (371mi/6:45)      From Muscatine: 206mi/3:32
K. Sat, July 7 - Kalamazoo, MI 
(128mi/2:20)     From Whitewater: 248mi/4:39
L. Wed, July 11 - Bowling Green
(90mi/1:34) From K’zoo: 168mi/2:48 From G-West: 50mi/0:54
M. Fri, July 13 - La Crosse, WI (550mi/9:41)     From BGSU: 535mi/9:17 From G-West: 489mi/8:37
N. Sat, July 14 – Minneapolis (676mi/11:54)       From La Crosse: 162mi/2:50
O. Tue, July 17 - Bentonville, AR 
(867mi/14:48) From Minneapolis: 643mi/10:31
P. Wed, July 18 - Broken Arrow,
OK (926/15:38) From Bentonville: 121mi/2:06
Q. Thu, July 19 - Round Rock, TX 
(1,292mi.22:27) From Broken Arrow: 438mi/7:31
R. Sat, July 21 - San Antonio, TX 
(1,476mi/24:00) From Round Rock: 99mi/1:43
S. Tue, July 24 - Dallas, TX 
(1,200mi/19:31)          From San Antonio: 277mi/4:42
T. Wed, July 25 - Edmond, OK 
(1,028mi/17:12)                 From Dallas: 220mi/3:43
U. Thu, July 26 - Little Rock, AR 
(886mi/14:30)             From Edmund: 351mi/5:28
V. Sat, July 28 - Atlanta, GA 
(728mi/12:07)       From Little Rock: 518mi/8:46
W. Tue, July 31 - Warrenton, VA 
(508mi/9:22)             From Atlanta: 577mi/10:03
X. Wed, August 1 - Erie, PA 
(280mi/4:41)         From Warrenton: 356mi/6:35
Y. Thu, August 2 - Rome, NY 
(463mi/8:19)        From Erie: 274mi/5:02
Sat, August 4 - Allentown, PA 
(559/9:42)          From Rome: 229mi/4:14
Sun, August 5 - Pittsburgh, PA 
(291mi/5:04)      From Allentown: 282mi/5:00
Wed, Aug 8 Indianapolis, IN (319mi/5:13)         From Pittsburgh: 361mi/6:14
                                                                      Pittsburgh to G-West: 261mi/4:24 
G-West to Indianapolis: 204mi/3:47

Monday, May 21, 2012

This Guy Better Hope God Has Mercy

Here's a pastor calling for all of God's children who are homosexual to die.  Really.  A man of God and he wants them to die.  God, have mercy...
I know that my God does not approve this message, and I thank Him for that.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Full Slate on Friday Night

I saw an intereting note about our old friend Brandon Inge this afternoon at (I'll include the linky so you don't think I'm stealing!)
As you know, Brandon hit a Grand Slam last night. It was his second Granny of the week and this, as it turns out, puts him on the cusp of Big League history:

Inge now has 21 calendar days left to become the 10th player in history hit three slams in one month. The most recent player to do this was Carlos Beltran in July 2006. The others with three in a single month: Rudy York (May 1938), Jim Northrup (June '68), Larry Parrish (July '82), Eric Davis (May '87), Mike Blowers (Aug. '95), Mike Piazza (April '98), Shane Spencer (Sept. '98) and Devon White (May 2001).
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions

Rick Porcello to the hill tonight in another late one. We'll be there for it, and we'll keep you posted on the early action as well.

It was a light schedule yesterday, but there was still a lot going on. In addition to the Orioles becoming the first American League team EVER to hit 3 consecutive homers to start a game (think about how many games have been played in the American Leauge. Baltiomore alone has played 17,342) you also had Stepen Strasburg of the Nationals striking out 13. That's not an unimpressive number, but what makes it eyepopping is that he did it in 6 innings of work. He had to come out because of the Pitch Count (103) when he was on pace to strike out 19 and a half. The record is 20.
Who knows what we will see tonight!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Another Thursday Night in the Show...

A bit of a light night.  Only 5 games going on right now in MLB (am watching them all) and no hockey.  When was the last time there was no hockey?  April 7, I'm guessing.  Highlight of nite so far: Boston trails Cleveland 7-1 in 3rd and Josh Beckett is gone after giving up 7 earned runs on 7 hits with 2 walks in two-and-a-third.  His ERA is now 5.97.  Perhaps he should take up golf!  Earlier today, 1st 3 Orioles batters in game 1 v Texas homered and O's held on for 6-5 win. Scherzer goes for Tigers tonight in 10:05 start in Oakland v Brandon Inge's A's.

Would you like to see the play of the year in baseball so far?  I thought you would...

Pretty cool, eh?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quite A Night On MLB.TV

We've got a full slate of 15 games tonight around The Bigs and thanks to MLB.TV I've been able to see parts of almost all of them.  I've yet to check in in Oakland, Milwaukee or Houston, but I've been everywhere else.  And what I have seen...

First, of course, would be the 4-homer night by Josh Hamilton in Baltimore as he becomes only the 14th player since 1900 to hit four in a game, and only the 6th American Leaguer to do it.  This makes it a feat more rare than a Perfect Game, as there have been 21 of those.  I saw them all thanks to a feature in the media player which lets me know when those players I've selected for special attention (tonight they were Hamilton, Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols and Bryce Harper) are about to come to bat.  You get and on-screen alert and you switch to the game they are playing in.  So, I was able to see that bit of history tonight by Hamilton as it unfolded, which was pretty cool.

I saw Chris Sale, in his first appearance as the new closer for the White Sox, fail.  He came on in the 8th with two on, none out and Chicago ahead 3-0 in Cleveland.  By the time he retired the side, the Indians had tied the score, although the White Sox did go on to win in 10, 5-3, which means the Tigers will be two back of Cleveland if they can beat the Mariners tonight and of course you have to figure that would be quite a feat in its own right as the Tigers have lost all four games they've played against the M's this season.

One note about the 14-14 Tigers.  They are actually doing better through 28 games this season than they did last year when they were 12-16 at the same point, and were a startling 7.5 games out of first place which was then as now, held by the Indians.

I saw David Robertson, in the first save situation for the Yankees since Mariano Rivera hurt his knee last week,  succeed in dramatic fashion.  Tampa Bay loaded the bases against him in the 9th but he struck out Carlos Pena on a 2-2 pitch to end the game and earn his first save.

6 games are done now (Washington at Pittsburgh deserves honorable mention as the Nats got a 2-run homer in the top of the 9th to take a 4-3 lead only to lose when the Bucs scored a pair in the bottom of the 9th) and 9 are in progress.

The night goes on...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Things I Know That I Shouldn't

Ever hear of Nap Lajoie?  In his time, he was one of the most famous ballplayers in America.  But his time was 100 years ago when he starred for the Cleveland Indians.  Here's the thing.  Tonight, Travis Hafner was hit by a pitch which is no big deal, I mean at least not yet.  The pitcher who threw it hasn't, at least yet, confessed (bragged) that he hit Hafner on purpose the way Cole Hammels bragged (confessed) that he deliberatly hit Bryce Harper last night, earning himself a 5-game suspension and creating a minor sensation in the Majors.  What was notable about Hafner's run-in with a baseball was that he tied the Indians's all-time record for getting in the way of a pitched ball at 79 with the aforementioned Lajoie.  Which isn't even the story I'm trying to tell.  It's just that when I saw the name "Lajoie," I realized that not only did I know who he was which, just guessing here, I am thinking not many people do, but I also knew that when it came to product endorsements, he was what we would call today an early adopter.  Lajoie modeled in ads for Red Devil tobacco.  You'd see his picture with the words, "Lajoie chews Red Devil.  Ask him if he don't." 

The thing is, how the heck do I know that?  I mean, I know it's true, I saw a picture of the ad and that's how I know it's true, but why would a thing like that stick in my head?  The book I saw the picture in I read when I was, like, 12.  Sometimes I wonder about myself.

Here's my favorite stat today, and it too is something I should not know.  But, I did the math and so now I do. 

Did you know that Phil Humber of the White Sox has allowed 20 runs (earned) on 21 his in 13.1 innings since he threw his perfect game in Seattle two weeks ago Saturday?  It's true, he has.  I He got pulled after two-and-a-third today in Cleveland and wound up charged for all 8 the Indians scored 8-6 win oved the White Sox.  Since his Perfect Game, his ERA is 13.53.

Speaking of those two, they are playing one of those hated day-night doubleheaders.  Game One was delayed for about half an hour at the outset by rain, and Game Two was delayed for almost an hour-and-a-half by rain with Cleveland leading 2-1 in the 8th, two on and one out. 

Dan Wheeler was announced as the pitcher for the Indians just before they brought out the tarp, but Wheeler was not the Indians pitcher when the game resumed.  So Wheeler was technically in the game, but never actually in the game.  According to the rules, he is in the box score, but will not be credited with an appearance.  Odd.  And I should not know this.

Anyway, the wait was worth it as the Sox tied the game in the 8th when play resumed. But know the Indians have retaken the lead in their half of the inning.

Adam Dunn made the last out of the to of the 8th.  And here's an interesting thing about him, which I should not know.  Everybody is talking aobut his great comeback this year what with the 9 homers (2 against Detroit over the weekend) and all of that, but did you know he is hitting .100 (3x30) against lefties?  It's true.  That gamer he hit off Valverde Saturday, that 500-foot bomb, was his 3rd hit of the year off a left hander.  Did you see where that thing landed?  It bounced into the concourse beyond the seats in right after landing in the last row.  I thought to myself, "That's where I sat for the playoffs last fall."

The Indians are rallying in their half of the 8th, the Royals are trying to come back against the Red Sox, the Tigers are in the bottom of the third, and there is still no score in Phoenix which isn't a baseball game at all, but rather a Stanely Cup playoff game.  (And did you see how the Rangers game ended? The Blueshirts tied it at 19:53 of the third and won it in overtime, wow!)  So, I better get back to work.  I'll share more things I shouldn't know later...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

We're All Sooners Now

My daughter has made it official: she will attend, beginning in August, the University of Oklahoma at Norman.

She had hoped to go to Michigan State and we had hoped she'd go to Michigan State as it is only an hour away, but OU offered her a much better deal than did MSU and about that I must confess I am a bit bitter.  Here is exactly the kind of kid you want to keep in your state and we have to send her to Oklahoma because they have basically told her that she can attend for free.  If she went to State, she'd come out on the other end around 40 large in debt. Alabama also made her a great offer (I mean like, free, too) and I was hoping she'd go there because it's "only" a 12-hour drive from here to there while OU is more like 16-17 hours by car, but she visited the Oklahoma campus a month or so ago and she just loved it there.

And there is this.  You know the little covered wagon that comes out onto the field whenever the Sooners score a touchdown?  The "Sooner Schooner?"  It is pulled by two ponies named, of course, "Boomer" and "Sooner."  It is in her deal with the University of Oklahoma that as a National Merit Scholar she can go to the stable and pet them any time she wants to.  I am convinced that because of this, because of the ponies, that the University of Alabama, in spite of having the nicest campus I've ever seen (we went down for a visit, she and I, a couple of weeks ago) never had a chance.

While I am delighted because I know she will be happy at Oklahoma and will get a first-rate education and it not only makes fiscal sense it is in a very real sense a gift from God, this is at the same time the toughest thing I've ever had to go through.  Our daughter is leaving.  Our time together is measured now in days. She departs May 22 to go on a national tour this summer with a marching band and is due on the OU campus the day after that tour ends in August to try out for "The Pride of Oklahoma," which is what they call their marching band over there.  So, as I say, she leaves on May 22 and then she'll be gone.  How did this happen? She was just born!  And, what am I going to do now?

Norman, Oklahoma is 1,050 miles away.  I think of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters"...

Sail on Silver Girl, 
Sail on by. 
Your time has come to shine, 
All of your dreams are on their way. 

See how they shine!
And, if you need a friend,
I'm sailing right behind 
Like a bridge over troubled water, 
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water 
I will ease your mind.

And then I cry.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Leyland Smiling About Smyly

The headline of this article is untrue.  Jim Leyland rarely smiles.  Not even when the subject is a 22-year old second year pro who by all rights should be pitching where every other second year pro pitches, which is to say, "A" ball.  Instead, the 22-year-old to whom we here refer, Drew Smyly, is impressing here in Detroit at the Major League level.

He's impressing me, at least.  Smyly held the Texas Rangers, only the best-hitting team in the American League, to a single run here the day before yesterday and he should have gotten the win but the Tigers gifted the Rangers the game-tying run in the 8th which meant Smyly was no longer the pitcher of record and he took a no decision and the Tigs wound up losing in 11 and that is why they enter player here tonight TIED for the AL Central lead with the Chicago White Sox who are really pitching well these days what with that guy Phil Humber tossing the perfect game Saturday (against the same Mariners who are town here tonight) and with Jake Peavy throwing a 107-pitch complete game shutout last night in Oakland and so on.  At any rate, after the off-day Monday, Smyly's impressive outing was one of the main topics of discussion at The Gaggle today.  (The Gaggle™, you may or may not know, is the daily gathering of the media in the office of Tigers Manager Jim Leyland).

I could tell you about it, but let's try something new, shall we?  How would you like to listen to Mr. Leyland yourself?  That would be great, wouldn't it?  I've been working on my (not-so) mad blogging skills, so let's see if this works.  The next thing you see should be an little media player, containing ACTUAL GAGGLE AUDIO!   And, when you hear the question being asked in the middle, that would be me.  Anyway, here's Jim Leyland on Drew Smyly...

(I was going to write more afterwards,  but it was so much of a hassle just getting the audio posted that I need a break...)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Slacker

I attended my first gaggle of the 2012 baseball season today.  The Gaggle as you may or may not know, is the group presser that Tigers Manager Jim Leyland holds in his office three-and-a-half hours before every game.  It's a pain getting to the ballpark that early, but if you are serious about covering the ballclub, you have to know what the manager is thinking and saying, and to know that, you have to be at The Gaggle.

I've been admittedly remiss in this regard.  The Red Wings had been keeping me busy (not a problem anymore, right?) and I've been travelling the country visiting college campuses with my daughter.  I missed the entire series against Tampa Bay last week for example because we were in Tuscaloosa seeing what the University of Alabama had to offer.

On top of it all, I was a few minutes late to today's gaggle, and I can thank God for that.  Not in the sense of the "thank God" you say when that three-footer you have for par drops, but "thank God" in the sense of, "Thanks, God, for having church run so long this morning that I was a little late in getting to Comerica Park.

I tried to sneak in, but it's a tough sneak when you have to get a tape recorder on the manager's desk when he's sitting right there with his feet resting upon that desk.  Sure enough, as soon as I got my recorder in position, Mr. Leyland (that's what I call him, Mr. Leyland) looks up and says, "Where the heck have you been?"  I was not prepared for this.  In spite of the fact that I am a Gaggle regular--or was last year at least when I hardly missed a one--not once ever has Mr. Leyland referred to me by name. I thought, although I ask plenty of questions, that I had sort of blended into the woodwork as far as he was concerned.  I sort of mumbled something about how I'd been busy with the Wings and my daughter and went back to trying to blend into the woodwork.  Leyland said, "I just want to know I missed you," which I know in my heart is not, strictly speaking, at all true, and I said, "I missed you, too."  Which I had.  I enjoy the give and take at The Gaggle.

Since I was there and all, I had to ask Mr. Leyland why Justin Verlander pitched the night half of yesterday's Day/Night two-game-on-the-same-day deal we had going on here at the stadium since his ERA during the day is about half-a-run lower than it is for night games.  (I can't call it a doubleheader because so to do would violate the Rules of Baseball which plainly state that a doubleheader is two games on the same day played in immediate succession of one another.)  It turns out that Leyland, who first had to say, "It worked out, didn't it?" which it had, of course, had asked Verlander who told him, "Whatever you want Skip." (That's what he calls him, "Skip".)  Leyland then asked Tigers Pitching Coach Jeff Jones who he wanted to pitch which game, and Jones said he preferred to have Verlander go at night.  Leyland declined to elaborate and say why Jones felf that way.  So, I didn't get the answer I wanted, the one which would have satisfied my statistical curiosity, but at least we got some background on what went into the decision and we got to hear from Leyland, and not for the first time, an outstanding example of "what makes [Verlander] such a good teammate."

We're about ready to start the game here.  I'll be busy.  I'm doing updates starting at 2 o'clock eastern from the ballpark.  If you want to turn in, here's where

I hope I don't suck, but it can't be ruled out.  It is live radio, after all.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Motor City Fans Bid Wings Adieu

On the morning of February 21, the Detroit Red Wings sat atop the National Hockey League standings with 84 points.  Today, two months to the day later, they stand not at all, the first team eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

How did they fall so hard, so far and so fast?  

There were nights last season, several of them in fact, when from my seat in the Press Box they looked so good, so dominant that it was actually hard to believe that they team they were playing against was a fellow member club in the NHL.

That seems so long ago now.  

Since that day only two months ago when the Wings were first overall—a date which perhaps not so incidentally coincides with the day Pavel Datsyuk underwent knee surgery—Detroit, including playoffs, went 8-16-3 (.352).  Up until that point, the Wings had been 41-17-2 (.700).

Datsuk missed 11 games after getting his knee scoped.  He would score, including the post-season when he had one, only 4 goals the rest of the way.
Not that he was alone, exactly. 

In the series against the Nashville Predators the Red Wings scored 9 goals in 5 games.  Their leading scorers, Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, each had 3 points.  Three.  Five others had 2 points, which means that of the other 12 Wings who appeared in the series, none had more than a single (stinking) point.  And six of them had no points at all. (7 if you count Darren Helm, but you shouldn’t since he was injured in Game 1.)  Niklas Lidstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Dan Cleary, Justin Abdelkader were among those who failed to get their name on Detroit’s playoff scoresheet.  

No Red Wing not named Juri Hudler scored in the final two games of the Nashville series.  That’s how bad it was.

I’ll say this much.  It wasn’t from lack of trying.  Detroit outshot Nashville 160-116 in the series.  The problem was that Predators goalie Pekke Rinne stopped 94.4% of those Detroit shots.  At the other end, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard stopped 88.8% of the shots he faced. (His regular season save percentage had been 92%.)

But, you know how sports are.  Trying don’t much matter.  Winning does and only that. 

Fortunately, the solution for Detroit is simple: all the Wings’ players have to do —guys like Holmstom and Zetterberg and Franzen and Lidstrom—is to get younger and bigger.  If they work on that in the off-season, getting younger and bigger, they’ll be just fine.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Let's Watch Sports in Detroit Today!

Good afternoon and greetings from the Joe Louis Arena where this afternoon the hockey season ends two days after the baseball season began and it is from where the baseball season begain Thursday, Comerica Park, that we will head after the hockey game for game two of the series between the Tigers and Red Sox.  In any event, we speak, of course, of the end of the regular season as no matter what happens today here, the Wings will be in the playoffs when they begin next week.  The question is, against which team will Detroit match up in Round and where will it start?  The Wings, with just this one game here against Chicago to go, could meet anyone of 4 teams in the opening round, and could start the playoffs here in Detroit or in either Nashville, Phoenix, Los Angeles or San Jose.  So how's that for options?  If the Wings win today and Nashville loses tonight in Colorado, Detroit will finish ahead of the Preds by one point and will be the home team in a first round matchup against Nashville. If the Wings lose today either in regulation or otherwise, Chicago will finish 5th and the Wings will be the road team against the Pacific Division winner, be it the Coyotes, Kings or Sharks.

There are hundreds of fans here this afternoon wearing Quebec Nordiques jerseys.  Pat Verbeek says they have been showing up around the league lately because they want a team.  They announced a couple of weeks ago that they'll be building a new, (presumably) NHL-sized arena there with groundbreaking later this summer and now the Quebecers are going around the league in search of a team to put in it.  (They can't have this one.  Perhaps they could try Columbus.)  I, for one, will miss Le Colisee in Quebec City, the home to the Nordiques when they played in the National League (I once saw a Wings game there) and to the Rafales when they played in the IHL.  I did a dozen or so games from there when I was the announcer for Grand Rapids.  One one trip, we brought the wives, stayed at a famous and great hotel, Le Chateau Frontenac overlooking a the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the local papers were calling our team "The Honeymooners".  We beat Quebec both games on the trip and everybody had plenty of, well, you know.  Best. Road. Trip. Ever.   Great town for romance, Quebec City and I know having actually honeymooned there.

While I was having my sex (day) dream, Chicago's Victor Stalberg 5-holed Jimmy Howard on a rebound and his 4th of the season at 10:14 has given Chicago a 1-0 lead and has moved the Wings that much closer to road ice disadvantage in the playoffs.  Marion Hossa, stilled booed here every time he touches the puck, is off for hooking (will everything today have a sexual connotation?) and we will see if the Wings can tie it up.  First Period: Detroit 0, Chicago 1.

The period ends with no further scoring and with each team having had 9 shots.

I was speaking a moment ago about all those Quebec jerseys here today.  You should have seen the Big A in Anaheim last night.  Albert Pujols was making his Angels debut and I'll bet there were 5,000 fans wearing his jersey.  Pujols lined into a double play in his first AB with LA and went 0-3.

And do you know which team signed a big ticket free agent first baseman and moved the guy who had been playing first across the diamond to third?  That's right. The Los Angeles Angels did.  Mike Trumbo, the rookie who hit 29 homers last year playing first base for LA, got himself moved over to third when the Angels signed Pujols (sound familiar?) and he made two errors last night, which means that he got himself completely outplayed by Miguel Cabrera--the other slugger in the AL who lost his job at first when his team signed a new guy to play that position.  The thing is, I'll be Trumbo didn't get a call from his manager asking if it was okay with him they way Cabrera got a call from Jim Leyland asking if he minded.

Also in LA last night, Kendrys Morales returned to the lineup, his first game in almost two years since he broke his ankle in the most stupid play off all time.  Morales hit a game-ending homer a couple of days before Memorial Day in 2010 and in the home plate celebration that ensued, he broke his left ankle so badly that two surgeries were required and it's a bit of a medical miracle that he's still playing at all.

The Wings head down the tunnel and onto the ice for the second period....

We are halfway through and it is still 1-0, Chicago.  That is all... Second Period: Detroit 0, Chicago 1.

2-0,.Chicago as Andrew Shaw buries his 12th at 17:20, seconds after Wings goalie Jimmy Howard made one of his best saves of the season, and seconds after a Detroit penalty had expired.  Patrick Sharp and Hossa get the assists and the Wings--who have scored 7 goals in the 5 games and two periods they've played since scoring 7 in a romp over the Blue Jackets here a week ago Monday--are in trouble deep.  End of Two Periods: Detroit 0, Chicago 2.

If the Wings cannot come back (still trail CHI 0-2 in 3rd) and if Phoenix wins tonight in MIN (8pm EDT), Detroit will play the Coyotes in the first round with games one and two in PHX next week.  If, on the other hand, PHX loses tonight, Wings would likely get the winner of tonight's LA at San Jose game, although there are some scenarios regarding overtime/shootout wins and losses in both the PHX and Sharks games which would result in the first round foe still being the Coyotes.  Still 15 mins to go here, tho..

Johan Franzen (29) sneaks one through the pads of Corey Crawford and as we approach the final ten mins, Detroit's back in it, trailing 2-1.

If Wings lose in reg (down to a min left) will have finished season 7-12-3 in final 22 games and will be the #6 seed in West.  HOLD ON--DATSYUK TIES IT WITH 46.4 LEFT ON AMAZING BACKHAND, BACK-TO-THE-PLAY BETWEEN THE FEET CROSS-CREASE PASS BY HOLMSTROM. AND WE ARE HEADED TO OVERTIME HERE IN DETROIT!  END REG: DETROIT 2, CHICAGO 2.

The point the Wings get for getting the game to OT gives them 102 and means Chicago can't catch them in the West standings, so Detroit will play Nashville in the first round.  Both the Wings and Predators have 102 points as I write this.  If they end tied in points, Nashville will have home-ice because they have the tie-breaker.  Down to a minute left in OT.

In shootout now and Datsyuk opens with a move you can't believe and does everything but score then Patrick Kane goes down and makes a move I can't even describe and beats Howard.  Hudler shoots high and if Sharp scores, it's over.  Sharp's slapshot it wide.  Bertuzzi must score to extend the game.  He hits the post and Nashville has home ice in the first round.  FINAL (SO) DETROIT 3, CHICAGO 3.

Off to Comerica Park...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Let's Watch the Wings and the Kings!

We are about six minutes away from the opening face here at the Joe where the Wings tonight host the LA Kings.  Detroit again will be without their best player, Pavel Datsyuk (they have won twice, 2-4-1, in the 7 games he's been out), their best defenseman, Niklas Lidstrom and their #1 goalie Jimmy Howard.  For good measure, also out tonight are: defensemen Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson and forwards Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi.  That's the kind of list that could easily do in most teams.  The Wings with 89 points lead the Kings (74) by fifteen points in the Western Conference standings, but the Kings are what is know in the industry as a desperate team.  LA is in 9th place in the West, one point out of the playoffs, and are part of the logjam which as we enter action on this Friday night sees 5 teams separated by 4 points.  That's the difference between being in 7th place and 11th.

As far as the injuries are concerned, we've only just today learned today how badly Lidstrom was hurt as it was reported that it was only yesterday that he was able to get a skate on his injured foot and skate at practice.  Datsyuk was back on the ice Monday--13 days after having a knee scoped, and it is hoped that he (and Lisdstrom, too for that matter) will be back in the lineup when the Wings head to the coast next week.  The status of the other injured players is unknown as the league has for some time now maintained a tight-lipped policy when it comes to this sort of thing, but as soon as we know something, you will too!

At 7:29, Jeff Carter (18) scored off a goalmouth scramble with the Kings on the power play.  A shot hit the crossbar and Joey MacDonald reacted for a split second as if he thought the puck had gone in  the net.  By the time he realized that it had in fact not, it was too late and Carter slid the puck under him.  Detroit is 12-12-1 (.500) when allowing the first goal this season, Los Angeles is 24-4-6 (.794) when scoring first.  FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 0, LOS ANGELES 1.

Henrik Zetterberg (17) ties it at 14:40.  Good quick passing got him the puck at the top of the right circle and his one-timer hit the back of the net before LA goalie Jonathan Quick could move from one post to the other. Valtteri Fippula and somebody else (I missed the name what with all the noise in the building) got the assists.  The goal came on Detroit's second shot of the game, LA leading in Shots on Goal right now 8-2.  FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 1, LA 1.

The second assist on the Zetterberg goal went to Juri Hudler, for those of you scoring at home.

Ooops.  MacDonald gives up a weak one.  A little wrister from the near right boards sort of knuckled over the blocker and into the net and the Kings lead again at 17:41.  FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 1, LA 2.

The Kings lead after one, 2-1 and the big story is that Detroit was held to 3 shots on goal, the fewest they've had in a period since they got two way back on Tuesday night in the first period in Philadelphia.  The Kings had 9 shots in the first and it was the 9th, the shot that MacDonald muffed, that has cost them in this one.  Detroit is 7-12-1 (.375) when trailing after the first, LA is 14-1-2 (.882) when leading after one.  END FIRST PERIOD: DETROIT 1, LOS ANGELES 2.

We are past the mid-point of the second period (9:39 remaining) and the Wings still do not have a shot on goal in the period, and have only 3 in the game.  What they seem to be demonstrating tonight is that the Grand Rapids Griffins cannot beat the Los Angeles Kings, but we shall see.  SECOND PERIOD: DETROIT 1, LOS ANGELES 2.

Though shorthanded by injury, the Detroit Red Wings still have Filppula and Zetterberg wearing their sweaters tonight and it's a good thing.  Zetterberg has just scored his second of the night and 18th of the season to tie the game after Filppula, making a 360-degree spin at the top of the left circle to avoid the defense, set him up in close.  Zetterberg's backhand sneaked between Quick's right arm and his body (goalies HATE when that happens) and this contest is even.  The goal came at 15:37.  SECOND PERIOD: DETROIT 2, LOS ANGELES 2.

The Wings wound up getting 5 shots in the second half of the period--including the goal by Zetterberg--and so they are hanging in there down there, tied at two after two in spite of being outshot 16-8 after two.  Of the 20 players dressing for Detroit in this game, 5 have been called up from Grand Rapids in the past week or so and those 5 players have a grand total of 18 NHL games between them.  Yet the Wings are tied here, so that's pretty good.  It shows Detroit has some depth in the organization.  And, as I say, they also have Filppula and Zetterberg.

I am not sure when Jimmy Howard, the starting goalie for Detroit, will be back.  He started last Sunday in that 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks here and did not come out for the start of the second period.  I didn't see him get hurt but as a goalie myself, I sort of kind of figured he'd pulled a groin.  It's an occupational hazard.  You butterfly; you hit the ice and spread those pads as far as you can, and your groin at some point lets you know that you are engaging in an unnatural activity.  I think that every season I've played for the last 12 at least at some point I wind up with a sore groin and inevitably it doesn't go away until a month or so after tthe season ends.  Well, it turns out that Howard has a groin pull. He's day to day.  They get better treatment up here in the National League than I do in the beer league, but I'll bet Howard feels that sore groin the rest of the way.  If he doesn't go and really tear it, he'll hurt but he'll play.  They added an assist to Kronwall on the goal by Zetterberg which tied this game late in the second period.  SECOND INTERMISSION: DETROIT 2, LOS ANGELES 2.

We are still tied here just about mid-way through the 3rd.  I'm going to head downstairs now because (did I mention I' playing tonight with a slight groin pull?) it's going to take me a little longer than usual to get to the dressing rooms.  I will update you later when I get the chance.  THIRD PERIOD: DETROIT 2, LOS ANGELES 2.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Let's Watch the Wings and the Blackhawks!

Sure, live everybody else I'd love to be watching the most important sporting event of the day, the final round of The Honda Classic, duh, but here we are at Joe Louis Arena as the Wings host the Blackhawks.  These teams have played four times this season, and each has been decided by a single goal, which makes me think we are due for a blowout by somebody here today.

Speaking of blowouts, I just checked the scoreboard and the Tigers are leading the Braves 17-1 in the bottom of the 7th down in Lakeland where they really ought to think about instituting a "mercy rule" for these spring training games.

I also checked the scoreboard and saw Ohio State 11, Michigan State 5 and was a bit taken aback until I realized that this was not the score, but rather where the teams are ranked.  The game, as it turned out, had not yet begun.  Oops, our first blunder of the afternoon. I am fairly confident it will not be our last.

A Detroit win today will move them back into first place in the Western Conference, and will tie them for first in the overall standings, although the Wings would technically be first by virtue of a better win percentage than the Rangers, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The standings are quite interesting right now.  San Jose got beat by the Blues last night and lost their Pacific Division lead in the process, falling in one night from #3 in the West to #7.  This means that if the playoffs were beginning right now, the Sharks and Wings would meet in the opening round.  Of course, whether or not San Jose even makes the playoffs is an open question.  Here's how the stand in the West as we speak:
#7 San Jose 73
#8 Dallas  73
#9 Los Angeles 72
#10 Colorado 70
#11 Calgary 69

That's five teams separated by four points, and only two of the five are going to make the playoffs.

The teams are out on the ice and we will have the national anthem and then the dropping of the puck and then the etc....

At 3:17, the Blackhawks lead on a power play goal by Patrick Sharp (25).  His shot from the left point appeared to hit Niklas Kronwall and carom in.  Kyle Quincy was off for interference at the time.  First Period: Detroit 0, Chicago 1.

The Wings tie it at 6:03.  Darren Helm made a great play--two of them, really--avoiding checks as he moved into the zone before dropping it back to Kronwall who ripped it from the line, beating Chicago netminder Ray Emory cleanly.  First Period: Detroit 1, Chicago 1.

There's a lot going on out there today.  MSU is off to a good start against Ohio State, leading 14-7 five minutes in with a Spartan win meaning a Big Ten title, and Tigers Woods shot 62 (!) today in the final round of the Honda and is the leader in the clubhouse after moving up 16 spots on the leaderboard.  He is two shots off the lead, though. Lee Westwood, with a 63, moved up an amazing 22 spots.

Gee, I was watching the State game (they are KILLING Ohio State) and I forgot to tell you the first period here is over.  Good period, 1-1 tie.  The Wings hit the post twice neither of which counts as a shot on goal and in that stat, it's Detroit 9-5.  END FIRST: DETROIT 1, CHICAGO 1.

Joey MacDonald replaces Jimmy Howard in goal for Detroit to start the second period,.  We do not know why.  I did not notice Howard getting hurt in the first.

38-29, MSU at the half.  The Spartans had a huge lead halfway through the half, the Buckeyes cut it to 5, and the Spartans lead by nine at the break.  I'd rather have the double-digit lead MSU had earlier, but at the same time, I'd rather be up nine than down nine...

The second period is over and the Wings trail 2-1 on a goal by Patrick Kane with 1:19 left in the second period.  The Wings are outplaying Chicago, but are trailing here.  The Wings have outshot 'em 17-13, and have hit the post at least three times, but are down a goal as we move to the third.  It's been tough to update what with the watching of the MSU-OSU basketball game (State's lead has been cut to 3 in what was once a blowout but which is now a too-close-to-call nailbiter) and Rory McIIlroy has won the Honda Classic by two strokes over Tiger Woods and now will become the #1 golfer in the world at the age of 22.  Oh, and that rookie we gave the #3 star to here the night before last, Bendan Smith, got into his first fight in the second period, getting the clear decision over Andrew Shaw.  Don Cherry would be proud.  End of Two Periods: Detroit 1, Chicago 2.