sports

University of Michigan football game
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined us in the studio today to analyze what happened in Michigan sports this week.

You can listen to our conversation with him below:


Gordie Howe's Hockey Card at age 43.
Trish Thornton / Flickr

You don’t have to know much about hockey to know about Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe. 

This week, we learned his family is “expecting the worst.”  With his days numbered, you’ll be reading a lot about Howe’s hockey heroics.  He set just about every NHL scoring record, and a dozen still stand.  One of the most impressive: he finished in the top five for scoring for two straight decades.

He played in the NHL at 18, and at 51. 

Howe’s heyday paralleled his team’s, and his town’s.

The Wings were a dynasty, winning four Stanley Cups, and nine regular season titles.  No team symbolized the Motor City’s might like the Red Wings. 

Creighton Miller carrying the football for Notre Dame against the 1943 Michigan team. Bob Rennebohm of Michigan (wearing jersey #88) is also pictured.
1944 Michiganensian

Michigan and Notre Dame have the longest running duel among major college powers, and one of the best. But that seems to be coming to an end this Saturday – and with a twist: For the first time, it’s Notre Dame that’s backing out.

The rivalry between Michigan and Notre Dame goes back to 1887, when a band of boys from Michigan took a train to South Bend and literally taught their counterparts how to play the game.  

Melanie Kruvelis

The World Cup is over. And even if you weren't rooting for Germany or Argentina, the game was really something to watch. (Germany won, for all the non-sports fans out there.)

In addition to the game itself, the fans are just as fun to watch.

They paint flags on their faces, and scream, and cry a lot. 

Those fans exist outside of Brazil, too. There's an intense support section for the Detroit City Football Club. The minor league soccer team is called Le Rouge, and is in its third season.

Before the game, a lot of fans and supporters go to a bar and rally the troops.

Then the "Northern Guard" march to the stadium. There are smoke bombs, drums, gas masks, megaphones, and a lot of rouge and gold. 

Throughout the entire game, there's chanting -- some of which could never air on public radio.

According to Alex Wright, one of the DCFC co-owners, about 2/3 of the team play for their college team during the school year. The home games at Cass Tech High School began selling out this season, and Friday's game sold out by record numbers. 

Wright said that he and the other co-owners wanted to create the team because they're committed to the city. Wright doesn't believe that soccer is going to save Detroit, but it's just a reason to feel good about what's going on in the city. 

DCFC's season is over now, but fans like "Big Vytau" plan to come back next year -- and probably for a few years after that.

*Listen to the full interview above

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.

Playing styles of these soccer players from Brazil and Croatia might not reflect their national characteristics.
User: Diário do Nordeste / flickr

Last Thursday afternoon, the 2014 World Cup began as Brazil and Croatia ran out onto the pitch in Brazil. And with that, fans of Association Football (aka “soccer” here in the USA) plunged into a month of the High Holy Days: World Cup action.

Many fans of “the beautiful game” get downright nationalistic as they cheer on their favorite team, whether it be England, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast ... and of course, the U.S., which opens its World Cup bid this evening at 6 against Ghana.

With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But, if you think the playing style of your favorite team somehow reflects some deep cultural trait of that country, Stateside guest Andy Markovits says think again.

Markovits is a University of Michigan political scientist and lifelong soccer fan. He joined us today to talk about how generalizations of national characteristics can be superficial and dangerous. 

*Listen to the conversation above. 

Jason Hicks going for his ninth strike.
Amber Taylor / YouTube

We're talking the traditional, pitcher-of-beer, middle America, tenpin bowling.

Chad McClean set the official record in Gainesville, Florida last year. He managed 12 strikes in one minute.

Unofficially, Jason Hicks tied that record at his family-owned Clio Bowling Arcade last month. MLive's Aaron McMann says Hicks actually hit a 13th strike, but it was a second too late.

Here's a video of his last attempt:

David W. Carmichael / Wikimedia Commons

Fresh off their gold-medal win in Sochi, Meryl Davis and Charlie White will ride their fame straight onto one of the most popular shows on television.

Charlie White will be paired up with professional dancer Sharna Burgess, and Meryl Davis will be paired up with dance pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

USA Today reports on the next "Dancing with the Stars" lineup.

Olympians Charlie White and Meryl Davis seem to have an obvious advantage. (

U.S. Olympic Team / Facebook

Why in the world are the Winter Olympics in Sochi, one of Russia’s warmest places?  

Chalk it up to corruption – both the Russians’, which we’ve come to expect, and the International Olympic Committee’s – which we’ve also come to expect.

The IOC hasn’t just shown a willingness to be bought, but an insistence.

That’s how you get a Winter Olympic skating rink built in the shade of palm trees. The warm weather is funny, unless you spent your entire life training for these Olympics, and there’s no snow. Then it’s just heartbreaking.

The University of Michigan named a new president last month, and the football team landed another great class of recruits last week. But there’s another story that keeps eclipsing those two. Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon has details.

I’ve been reluctant to write about the Brendan Gibbons’ story, because so little is clear – from the incident that started this saga five years ago, to the various responses since.

One thing is clear: the athletic department continually fails to follow the advice legendary athletic director Don Canham,

“Never turn a one-day story into a two-day story.”

This story starts in 2009, when Wolverine kicker Brendan Gibbons had an encounter at a party with a female student. Ultimately, only two people know what happened, but we do know she contacted the Ann Arbor Police, then decided not to press charges.

New legislation attempts to reduce the number of sports-related concussions in kids.
YMCA of Western North Carolina / flickr

Super Bowl Sunday is days away, and when you think about the atmosphere at any given sports event – be it the Super Bowl, a Red Wings game, or even your child's grade-school team – chances are the atmosphere is one of fierce competition.

Think of the crowd and the chants. You know, "Beat 'em, beat 'em, let's deFEAT 'em." But my next guest is asking us to look at sports in another light – in a spiritual light.

Jeanne Hess has been the head coach of Kalamazoo College's Volleyball team for some 30 years, and is an associate chaplain. Her book is called, "Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games."

Jeanne Hess joined us on Stateside today.

*Listen to the audio above.

He calls himself a "hockey rock star" – and he's earned the right to do just that.

Whether it was his 15 seasons as an NHL enforcer, the four Stanley Cups he won with the Red Wings, the legendary "Fight Night at the Joe" when he took down Claude Lemieux of the Avalanche, or his rock band "Grinder," Darren McCarty has played hard and lived hard, coping with family issues and addiction even as he skated to NHL stardom wearing  No 25.

He tells his story in an autobiography called "My Last Fight: The True Story of a Hockey Rock Star," written with the help of journalist Kevin Allen.

And, just like Darren on the ice, this book pulls no punches.

Corey Seeman / Flickr

Since I review the year in sports each December, my editor thought, “Hey, why not preview the year in sports in January?!?”

Why not? Because I have no idea what’s going to happen. Nobody does.

That’s why we watch sports: We don’t know how it’s going to end. It’s also why we shouldn’t watch pregame shows: everybody is just guessing. 

That said, if Michigan Radio wants to pay me to make wild, unsupported guesses – then doggonnit, that’s what I’ll do. 

Let’s start at the bottom.

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Detroit Tigers

The year in sports started out with the Detroit Lions missing the playoffs, and hockey fans missing the entire National Hockey League season.

The NHL lockout started the way these things usually do: The players thought the owners made too much money, and the owners thought the players made too much money.  And, of course, both sides were dead right.

Michigan Football / Facebook

Moments before the Michigan Wolverines introduced Brady Hoke as their new head football coach in 2011, Michigan fans had lots of questions. Why not hire a national star like Les Miles or Jim Harbaugh, who both played at Michigan? Who was Brady Hoke? Was he up to the task?

Hoke answered these questions by nailing his first press conference. He won over more Michigan fans in just a few minutes than his predecessor, Rich Rodriguez, had been able to do in three years. When a reporter asked Hoke if the Wolverines would be rebuilding, he famously replied, “This is Michigan, for godsakes” – and a star was born.

It was hard to imagine a happier honeymoon than Hoke’s. In his rookie season, the Wolverines beat Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State – for the first time in eight years. They won their first BCS bowl game since Tom Brady did the job in 2000, en route to an 11-2 record. From the fans in the stands to the team in the trenches, the love for Coach Hoke was universal.

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.  

Politicians are falling all over themselves in Washington and in Lansing to oppose spending any money to, as they put it, “bail out” Detroit.

University of Exeter / Flickr

Summer time, and the livin' is easy.

But not if you have children. Nowadays, you have to drive your kid to soccer camp and band camp, to this lesson and that clinic, to make sure they never have a single un-programmed minute of summer to themselves.

Yes, something is gained from all this -- like structure and safety -- but something is lost, too. You see a basket in every driveway, but no one playing on them. Without their own games, kids never learn how to settle their own arguments. Does any ten-year-old know what a "do-over" is?

Flickr

Bring the X-Games for 2014 to Detroit.

That's what an impassioned pair of Detroit boosters is saying to ESPN.

They've launched an all-out campaign to get the sports network to choose the Motor City over three other contenders for the summer 2014 X-Games, which are ESPN's extreme sports answer to the Olympics.

Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler are the ones responsible for this bid to win over ESPN.

The two joined us in the studio to talk about their campaign.

Listen to the full interview above.

On today's show: Boondoggles.

We took a look back at some of Michigan's sorriest episodes in government spending.

And, we spoke with the members of the duo Midnight Faces, a Grand Rapids band taking a new approach to music from the '80's.

And, Dr. Amanda Lotz joined us in the studio to discuss the future of television now that services such as Netflix have become increasingly popular.

Also, a campaign has started to bring the summer 2014 X-Games to Detroit. We spoke with the guys responsible for starting the campaign about why they think Detroit should be chosen to host the event.

First on the show, with school out for the summer, state officials are already looking for ways to get more students to show up for classes in the fall. The state Department of Human Services wants to expand pilot programs that put more social workers in schools with high truancy rates.

At the same time, DHS has a new statewide policy that threatens to take away welfare benefits from families with kids who persistently miss school.

But, critics say that still means too few families are getting the support they need to avoid losing their cash assistance.

Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher gave us the full report.

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Tomorrow night will bring Game Four in the Western Conference semifinals between the Detroit Red Wings and archrivals Chicago Blackhawks.

The Wings handed the Blackhawks a pair of stinging losses in Games Two and Three, so tomorrow night’s game at the Joe finds the Wings up two games to one.

John Keating covers the Red Wings for Fox Sports Detroit, and he has done so for many years, so he’s seen this team through its ups and downs. He joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

user migbcn / Flickr

We have seen droughts in sports in this state, that is for sure.

The last time the Lions won the NFL championship, for example, was 1957. Well, there’s been a similar drought in the world of bowling leagues, but that might be about to end.

Mel Shannon’s been bowling with the Knights of Columbus Men’s League in Ann Arbor for about as long as anyone can remember.

Last time Mel won the championship was 46 years ago - 1967.

But, Mel is on the verge of winning the championship again tonight.

Mel is a Word II veteran who is 87 years young and he stopped by the studio along with John Kennard - who is also part of the K of C men's bowling league.

Listen to the full interview above.

Detroit Derby Girls / Facebook

When you think of Masonic Temple, chances are you think of the shows you've seen in the grand theater or the smaller Scottish Rite Cathedral.

But to a growing group of fans, the Masonic Temple is the arena for roller derby.

Masonic Temple is the home rink of the Detroit Derby Girls, the official roller derby team in Detroit.

Cseeman / Flickr

March Madness here!

For many of us, it's like Christmas in March. Sixty-eight teams vying to make it to that Final Four.

For others, it's time to say goodbye to the sports fans in your house, and prepare for three weeks of non-stop college hoops on the TV.

Maybe while you're reading a book or watching another TV in another room.

When it comes to March Madness, most people talk brackets.

The odds of picking a perfect bracket in the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament are one in 9.2 quintillion (that's 18 zeros).

That's  according to calculations by Jeff Bergen who's a mathematics professor at DePaul University.

Michigan and Michigan State both play today at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

They've both spent most of the season in the Top 10.

Michigan in the #1 spot for a while. Michigan State in the Top 5 for a while.

The Big Ten Championship tournament last weekend was disappointing for both.

But what makes March Madness different from the World Series? Or the run to the Super Bowl? Or the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs?

Today we talked March Madness with our sports commentator John U Bacon.

He'll gave us the scoop on how the Big Ten teams will fare in the tournament, and who from the Michigan and Michigan State teams will make it to the NBA.

To hear the full report, click the link above.

The astounding success of Southeast Michigan skaters

Feb 27, 2013
Liz Chastney / davis-white.ice-dance.com/

In less than two weeks on March 10th, the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships will begin in London, Ontario.

That  means the eyes of the world will be on a couple of University of Michigan students who have been hailed as one of the greatest American teams in the history of ice dancing.

Five-time national champions, silver medalists in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, 2011 world champions and four-time Grand Prix Final champions.

It’s no exaggeration to say these individuals helped to make Southeast Michigan the ice-dance capital of America.

Today we spoke with Meryl Davis and Charlie White who shared the secret to the astounding success of Southeast Michigan skaters.

To hear the full story click the audio link above.

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

U-M Bentley Historical Library

In the Michigan hockey program’s 90-year history, some 600 players have scored more than 10,000 total goals.  But the man who scored the team’s very first goal 90 years ago, might still be the most impressive one of the bunch. 

This is the story of Eddie Kahn.

Cosensmma.com

A Michigan state house committee meeting this week is expected to draw dozens of Mixed Martial Arts fighters.

State Representative Harvey Santana says there are amateur Mixed Martial Arts events being staged in Michigan every weekend. And he says the way many bouts are staged puts fighters at serious risk.

Santana recalls recently watching an overmatched MMA fighter lose badly.

Ben Stanfield / Wikipedia

2012 was a remarkable year in many ways, and the sports world was no exception.

Just a few hours into the New Year, Michigan State and Michigan both won bowl games in overtime, and both finished with eleven wins.  A good start.

Not all the news was happy, of course.  We said goodbye to some legends.  Budd Lynch, who lost his right arm in World War II, announced Red Wing games for six decades, right up to his death this fall, at 95. Another Bud, VanDeWege, ran Moe’s Sports Shops in downtown Ann Arbor for 46 years, turning thousands of Michigan fans into friends. He passed away at 83. 

user AndrewHorne / Wikimedia

A 'seat license' is a fee fans pay just to reserve the right to buy the tickets.

They call it a donation, even though every single one of us apparently decided to donate the exact same amount, or lose our tickets. But that allows us to call it a tax deduction.

It's hard to call that honest, or cheap.

In fairness, Michigan was the last of the top 20 programs to adopt a seat license program, in 2005.

It started gradually, and left endzone fans alone.

But this week, Michigan pushed the seat license for the best tickets up to $600, and even people in the endzone will have to cough up $150 per ticket, just for the right to buy them.

In the past decade, the total cost of my two tickets on the ten-yard line has more than tripled, to over $1,700, which makes you wonder just how we got here.

Terry Johnston / Flickr

The people who sell bowl games need us to believe a few things:

  • Their games are rewards for great seasons;
  • They offer players and fans a much-wanted vacation;
  • The bowls are non-profits, while the schools make a killing. 

These claims are nice, and would be even nicer if they were true.

Forty years ago, college football got by with just eleven bowl games.

The 22 teams they invited were truly elite, and so were the bowls – like the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and The Granddaddy of Them All, the Rose Bowl.

When your team got into a bowl game back then, you knew they’d done something special.

But the number of bowls has more than tripled, to a staggering 35, including such timeless classics as the The Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl, and the legendary Taxslayer.com Bowl.

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