baseball

Sports Commentary
7:10 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Remembering the quiet dignity of baseball's Hank Aaron

Baseball legend Hank Aaron
Credit 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.

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Stateside
4:56 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Vote now to get your favorite food added to the Fifth Third Ballpark concession menu

Fifth Third Ballpark
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.

Sports
8:45 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Detroit's Max Scherzer wins the AL Cy Young award

Max Scherzer
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.

Sports
2:00 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Tigers manager Jim Leyland steps aside

Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
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.

Sports
12:44 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

The Tigers' Jim Leyland by the numbers

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):

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Sports
6:34 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Red Sox slam Tigers again, ending Detroit's season

(file photo)
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.

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Sports
12:15 am
Mon October 14, 2013

The Detroit Tigers are heading home after splitting two games with Boston in the ALCS

(file photo)
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.

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Sports
11:46 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Detroit Tigers win Game 5 in Oakland, will play Boston in the American League Championship series

Go Tigers
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.   

Sports
8:44 am
Mon October 7, 2013

The Detroit Tigers host the Oakland A's in baseball playoff game today

Comerica Park will be a busy place this afternoon as the Tigers host the A's in Game 3 of their American League Division 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.

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Offbeat
10:27 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Jim Leyland and Jim Schwartz display two ways to celebrate a win for Detroit

After a win, Jim Leyland moonwalks, while Jim Schwartz smashes his headset.
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.

Sports
7:00 am
Fri August 9, 2013

I loved baseball from the start – but it didn’t love me

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.  

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11:21 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Major League Baseball planning big suspensions for 20 players including Detroit's Peralta

Lead in text: 
Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta has been named as among those who could be suspended for using performance enhancing drugs.
Major League Baseball will seek to suspend about 20 players connected to the Miami-area clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, possibly within the next few weeks, "Outside the Lines" has learned. If the suspensions are upheld, the performance-enhancing drug scandal would be the largest in American sports history.
Sports
6:06 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

The Tigers are back! And Detroit celebrates

Fans without tickets try to see some of the action on opening day
Credit 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.

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Sports
4:18 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Spirit of Detroit suits up for the Tigers, Bing talks trash

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."

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Sports
10:16 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Baseball: 'I can't come out to play! It's raining out!' Why not?

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?

Sports
5:00 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers wins AL MVP

Justin Verlander became the first starting pitcher to win the AL MVP in 25 years.
user sd dirk Flickr

The Cy Young award last week. The American League MVP this week.

It was announced today that Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers took home the prestigious baseball award.

It's the first time a starting pitcher has won the award since Roger Clemens won it playing for Boston in 1986, according to ESPN.

More from ESPN.com:

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Sports
11:56 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Detroit Tigers outlast NY Yankees to win Game 5, move on to ALCS

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Don Kelly and Delmon Young hit first-inning home runs, Doug Fister and the Detroit bullpen held on and the Tigers edged the New York Yankees 3-2 Thursday night to win the deciding Game 5 of the AL playoff series.

The Tigers escaped jams all game and advanced to the AL championship series against Texas.

Jose Valverde shut down the Yankees in the ninth as the Tigers eliminated New York in the division series for the second time in six seasons.

Sports Commentary
6:30 am
Fri September 30, 2011

Good times for Detroit's sports teams

The Detroit Tigers are in the playoffs, and the Lions are 3-0.
Keith Allison Flickr

Once in a while something happens that is so unusual, even those who don’t normally pay attention have to stop and take notice.

Haley’s Comet, for example, only comes along once every 75 years.

A leap year only comes around every four years.  And Lindsey Lohan goes to jail – no, wait, that happens every week. 

Well, this week, Detroit sports fans got Haley’s Comet, a leap year, and a clean and sober Lindsay Lohan all wrapped into one:  The Tigers clinched the American League Central Division, and even more shockingly, the Lions won their third straight game. 

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Changing Gears
11:52 am
Thu September 29, 2011

Detroit, Milwaukee Get Ready For Post-Season Economic Boost

The Detroit Tigers drew 2.6 million fans to Comerica Park during the regular season, good for 13th place among major league teams.
Flickr

There may be no joy in Boston or Atlanta, but there is plenty among baseball fans in the Great Lakes.

The Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers are headed to division playoff series in the American and National Leagues, respectively.

The Brewers have a leg up on their neighbors across Lake Michigan: they’ve clinched home field advantage in the best of five series. They play the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday and Saturday at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

The Tigers face the New York Yankees those same days at Yankee Stadium in New York, then return to Comerica Park on Monday.

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Sports
5:29 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

History: Detroit Tigers

Comerica Park in Detroit.
user: Urban Adventures / flickr

(*We're experiencing technical problems with one of the above audio files. Please ignore the "audio processing" message above.)

In 1935, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series. The last time the baseball team won their Division was back in 1987. And now the Tigers will open the playoffs this Friday. While it’s certainly exciting for the team and its fans, is there a larger impact the city and the state can enjoy from a successful sports team?  Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry gives us a historical perspective.

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