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On Michigan Radio, we don’t normally cover baseball outside the state. But we have to make an exception this week, because the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

If we don’t talk about this now, we might not get another chance for 108 years. And who knows? I could be gone by then.

Why should you care about either team?

Well, maybe you shouldn’t. These are just games, after all, while we’re in the throes of the most serious election in decades.

Courtesy of Frank Boring

When you ask anyone about women’s professional baseball, the majority of people will make some reference to director Penny Marshall’s 1992 film A League of Their Own. The movie stars Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna and tells the story of the real-life Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The league was created to provide sports fans with entertainment while the men – including many star major league baseball players -- were away fighting in World War II. 

Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, who contracted the Zika virus while in Venezuela during the offseason.
Bryan Green / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez got off to a slow start in 2016, allowing three earned runs in his first appearance of the season. His list of excuses, however, is rock solid: He may have still been fighting the long-term effects of the Zika virus.

 

Holocaust survivor sings national anthem at Tigers game

May 21, 2016
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An 89-year-old Holocaust survivor has fulfilled her longtime wish to sing the U.S. national anthem at a Major League Baseball game.

Hermina Hirsch sang Saturday at Comerica Park in Detroit before the Detroit Tigers played Tampa Bay.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus argues a call in 2014.
Keith Allison / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Tigers entered this season with expectations as big as their payroll. It’s currently at $196 million, the fourth-largest in the major leagues. The only teams who spent more are the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox.

You know, big city teams that compete for things like the World Series.

The Tigers might have been paying like the big boys, but they weren’t playing like them.

user: Urban Adventures / flickr

It's cloudy, chilly, and there's a chance of snow. Must be the Tigers' opening day in Detroit.

The Tigers play their home opener at Comerica Park this Friday afternoon against the New York Yankees. 

Manager Brad Ausmus' club is coming off a disappointing 2015 season, missing the playoffs and finishing last in the American League Central Division. It was out of character for a team that made the playoffs four years in a row previously, and reached the World Series in 2012.

flickr user Darren Whitley / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Metropolitan Detroit is getting a brand new baseball league.

The United Shore Professional Baseball League is preparing for its inaugural season in the summer of 2016, and a big part of that is a new baseball stadium now under construction in Utica.

courtesy of Dave Mesrey

 

It was 2009 when the wrecking ball took down Tiger Stadium.

Since then, volunteers who love that historic site at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull have cut the grass and maintained the field. They call themselves The Navin Field Grounds Crew, a tribute to the ballpark's name a century ago.

Now they fear their beloved grass could be replaced by artificial turf.

Courtesy photo / Kalamazoo Growlers

The flooded Kalamazoo River that winds around Homer Stryker Field forced the Growlers to cancel games over the weekend. The field was inundated with water Saturday morning.

“The outdoors truly got the best of Homer Stryker Field on Outdoorsman’s Night,” read a post on the Kalamazoo Growlers’ webpage published Saturday morning.

Ty Cobb safe at third after making a triple on August 16, 1924.
National Photo Company / Library of Congress

He was arguably America’s first sports celebrity. He paved the way for the "bad boy athlete."

Tyrus Raymond Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Besides being a brilliant outfielder and base stealer, Ty Cobb had a rough reputation: surly, mean, racist, someone who hated women and kids.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s another post season disappointment for the Detroit Tigers.

The fall air seemed to chill the Tigers' bats Sunday and a late rally in the ninth inning just wasn’t enough.

Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz sliced a two-run homer for his latest big postseason hit, and the Baltimore Orioles swept aside Detroit's Cy Young Award winners to hold off the Tigers 2-1 Sunday.

J.D. Martinez crushed a two-run blast in Saturday's victory over the Indians.
User: Detroit Tigers / facebook

 

The waning weeks of the regular baseball season have turned into a real roller-coaster ride for the Tigers and their fans.

The Tigers got clobbered by the Twins last night, losing 8-4. And Kansas City won, so that American League Central Division lead is down to just a half game over the Royals. Now the Tigers head to Kansas City for three games that could be the most important series of the season.

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon says as of now, the Tigers' chance to make it into the playoffs is 91%, according to ESPN. 

There are 10 games still ahead of the team.

* Listen to the interview with John U. Bacon above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Backers of a plan to bring pro-baseball to downtown Jackson may make their pitch official this week.

The group behind the ballpark plan isn’t saying much just yet. But they do have a website.

It says the group is conducting a market study. They’re trying to gauge potential public support for the plan which would include a privately financed stadium and possibly a crowd-source funded team of players.

There are about a half dozen minor league and independent baseball teams in Michigan:

This one thing meant the world to a runaway teen

Aug 20, 2014

Veronica Riddle ran away from home as a teenager. She wants people to know that spending time and talking with troubled youth can be a big deal. Here's why.

user: Edwin Martinez / Flickr

  

Last summer, I told you about Coach Mac, my little league baseball coach who believed in me, and helped me rise from the team’s worst player to become the team’s captain in one season.

I didn’t know where my old coach was, but after the story aired, I received a thank you letter from Coach Mac himself. This week, Coach Mack passed away.

The summer before Mac McKenzie became our little league baseball coach, I spent the season picking dandelions in right field, and batting last. But just weeks after Coach Mac took over, I rose to starting catcher, lead-off hitter, and team captain.

user: Aaron / Flickr

You’ve heard of Babe Ruth. If he’s not the best known American athlete of the last century, he’s in the top five. He was more beloved – by Americans of all stripes – than probably anyone. Ruth loved the fans, and the fans loved him back.

 
In 1961, when fellow Yankee Roger Maris – a nice, humble guy – was approaching Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season, he became so stressed his hair started falling out.

When Hank Aaron started approaching Ruth’s career home run record, he had it worse, for two very simple reasons: 714 home runs was the record in baseball that even the casual fan knew. And second, unlike Maris, Aaron is black. Of course, that shouldn’t matter in the least – but it mattered a lot in 1974.

Aaron grew up in Mobile, Alabama, one of seven children. They say his wrists were strong from picking cotton, and also his unusual practice of swinging “cross-handed” – that is, holding the bat with his left hand on top, instead of his right, a habit he didn’t break until the minor leagues.
 
Aaron made it to the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, one of the first African-Americans to play major league baseball. According to Daniel Okrent, a best-selling author who invented fantasy baseball, this was baseball’s richest decade for talent, because every kid grew up playing baseball – not soccer – and, finally, everybody was allowed to play.

Mandy Warhol / Flickr

All right, you fans of West Michigan's Whitecaps, it's your chance to decide what treat will be added to the concession menu at Fifth Third Ballpark.

The annual online poll lets fans choose their favorite item from ideas submitted by fans. The team has pulled a top-10 list from hundreds of ideas.

Mickey Graham is with the West Michigan Whitecaps, and he joined us today to discuss some of the top choices. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer easily won the American League Cy Young Award Wednesday.

The award honors the best pitcher in Major League Baseball this year. Scherzer led the major leagues with 21 victories this season.

Scherzer gave credit to his Detroit Tigers teammates.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update 2:00 p.m.

Here's the video from the press conference:

11:30 a.m.

It's official. Jason Beck writes for MLB.com:

Jim Leyland is stepping down as manager of the Tigers, and he will announce his decision today at a news conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET at Comerica Park ...

The decision ends Leyland's eight-year tenure leading the team he grew up with, first as a Minor League catcher and then as a manager in its farm system. This season was his 50th in professional baseball, 22 of them managing at the big league level, the last eight in Detroit.

10:36 a.m.

It's not official yet, but talk radio and Twitter are buzzing about the expected announcement that Tigers manager Jim Leyland will announce his retirement decision at an 11:30 press conference this morning.

This from ESPN.com:

Jim Leyland won't return as manager of the Detroit Tigers next season, a decision the team will announce in a Monday morning news conference, according to multiple reports.

Here's how the news broke on Twitter:

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek will be at the news conference this morning.

*The headline for this story changed when the information was confirmed by MLB.com. Early reports used the word "retirement." He says he's taking another position with the Tigers, hence the strikethrough above.

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland
Detroit Tigers

"I hope you enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed you." - Jim Leyland in a statement to fans

Here are some of the significant numbers from Leyland's career as an MLB manager (numbers from the Detroit Tigers):

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Red Sox are going to the World Series for the third time in 10 seasons.

Shane Victorino launched a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Red Sox past the Detroit Tigers 5-2 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Victorino's home run came on an 0-2 pitch and followed an error by shortstop Jose Iglesias to load the bases.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Detroit Tigers split the first two games of their American League Conference Series with the Boston Red Sox over the weekend.

It looked like the Tigers were going to win both games over the weekend.   Saturday, the Tigers defeated the Red Sox 1 to 0 in Game One.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Detroit Tigers are on their way to the American League Championship series.

The Tigers defeated the Oakland A’s last night to win their American League Division Series playoff.     

Tigers pitching ace Justin Verlander dominated last night’s game in Oakland.

Verlander struck out 10 Oakland batters on the way to a 3-0 Tigers win. 

The Tigers will now play the Boston Red Sox for the right to play in the World Series.   

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Detroit Tigers take on the Oakland A’s in today's game three of their American League Division Series.

The teams are tied one-one in the best of five game series. The series has been marked by strong pitching and little scoring by both sides.

Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland says he would like to see his players produce more runs in this afternoon’s game at Comerica Park.

screengrabs / FoxSports video

It's not exactly an apples to apples comparison.

The Detroit Tigers had just clinched a division title after a long season, and the Detroit Lions had simply won a game, but the two different ways the head coaches of Detroit's major sports teams celebrate a win does show something about their personalities.

Here's the "Jim Leyland moonwalk" making the rounds online (You can scroll to 1:25 to see the moonwalk, but his heartfelt 'thank you' to his players, staff, and fans is worth watching. - you can follow this link if the video doesn't load below):

And here's the "Jim Schwartz headset throw" going around the net (the Lions had just beaten the Washington Redskins - follow this link if the video doesn't load below):

Maybe it's just the difference between baseball and football.

H/T to Tony Brown.

Julian Carvajal / Flickr

When I started in tee-ball, I was so short that if the catcher put the tee on the far corner of the plate, I couldn’t reach it.  Yes, I struck out – in tee ball.  


Our first year of live pitching wasn’t any better. One game we were beating the other team so badly, they were about to trigger the “Mercy Rule,” and end the game. Coach Van pulled me in from my post in right field – where I kept company with the dandelions – and told me to pitch. I wasn’t a pitcher – I wanted to be a catcher, like Bill Freehan -- but I’m thinking, “This is my chance.”  I walked three batters, but miraculously got three outs. We won – and I figured that was my stepping stone to greater things.

I was surprised my dad wasn’t as happy as I was. He knew better – but he didn’t tell me until years later: Coach Van was not putting me in to finish the game. He was putting me in to get shelled, so the game would keep going. He was putting me in to fail.  

Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta has been named as among those who could be suspended for using performance enhancing drugs.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 8-3 at their home opener Friday.

More than 45,000 fans jammed Comerica Park to see the game—an opening day record.

But tens of thousands more came to downtown Detroit just to enjoy the festival atmosphere, in what has become a semi-official holiday in southeast Michigan.

The Spirit of Detroit is ready for Game 1 of the World Series.
Matt Helms / Twitter

This photo was tweeted out by Matt Helms, City Hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

Helms writes in today's Detroit Free Press that Mayor Bing has been trash talking with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

The two have made a wager, writes Helms, "the losing mayor has to visit the other team’s city to participate in a day of service for youth and youth programs."

Why don't they play baseball in the rain?
Beyer Weckerle / wikipedia

Last night's rain delay of Game 4 of the ALCS reminded me of one of my all-time-favorite George Carlin bits....

...the differences between football and baseball.

"Football is played in any kind of weather... rain, sleet, snow, hail, mud. Can't read the numbers on the field, can't read the yard markers, can't read the players numbers... the struggle will continue.

In baseball, if it rains, we don't come out to play!"

So why can't baseball be played in the rain?

I found the rules that outline how a game is called (by the home team manager during the regular season, and by the league in a championship series).

But not why it's called.

This explanation seemed to explain it well enough.

Rain affects the game of baseball differently because "it's a game of precision":

As a result, heavy rain makes the ball extremely hard to grip. This actually harms the team on defense dramatically more than the team on offense. If a pitcher is unable to grip the ball, he will throw erratically and will have to significantly slow his pitches. As a result, the batting team will be at a great advantage as it is not significantly harder to swing a bat or run on a dirt track in the rain.

When it's raining, the advantage goes to the offense.

Runs could be scored in bunches while the defense struggles to get three outs. Once an inning does end, the rain might let up, and the opposing team would no longer have the same advantage.

That makes sense to me. Although it does seem like it would be hard to slog through the mud to get on base.

How does this explanation sit with you? Are there any other explanations that you know of?

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