sports

Sports
1:12 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Sports in 2012: The best, the worst, and the just plain silly

In 2007, Joe Paterno runs out with his team. In early 2012, Paterno, 85, died with his legacy in tatters.
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. 

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Sports
11:39 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Big money pushing kids out of the Big House

Michigan Stadium
user AndrewHorne Wikimedia

John U. Bacon remembers the days of two dollar tickets at the Big House.

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.

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Sports
10:31 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Commentary: College football bowl games are a sham

The sparsely attended Motor City Bowl in 2006 featured Central Michigan University vs. Middle Tennessee State University.
Terry Johnston Flickr

Commentator John U. Bacon says college football bowl games are a sham

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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Sports
11:06 am
Tue November 20, 2012

Rutgers makes it official, Big Ten now at 14

Rutgers University has joined the Big Ten Conference.
Rutgers Athletics

Yesterday, the University of Maryland announced that they'll join the Big Ten Conference, and there was speculation that Rutgers would follow suit.

Today it's official.

From the AP:

Rutgers is announcing that it will join the Big Ten at an afternoon news conference Tuesday on its campus in Piscataway, N.J.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany will be joined by Rutgers University President Robert Barchi and athletic director Tim Perenetti.

Rutgers will be leaving the Big East, where it has been competing since 1991. The move follows Maryland's announcement on Monday that it was departing the Atlantic Coast Conference to join the Big Ten in 2014. Rutgers will be the Big Ten's 14th member.

Rutgers also plans to join its new conference in 2014, though the Big East requires 27 months' notification for departing members. The Scarlet Knights will have to negotiate a deal with the Big East to leave early.

10:40 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Funeral set for famed Detroit boxing trainer Emanuel Steward

Lead in text: 
The Detroit News has this obituary of Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward.
Detroit - The funeral for Emanuel Steward, the legendary Detroit boxing trainer and manager who worked with some of the most celebrated pugilists of the past four decades, will be held Nov. 13 at the Greater Grace Temple. According to funeral officials, the delay was to accommodate friends traveling from overseas Steward died Thursday.
Sports
3:15 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Stateside: Sportistas seek entry into a male-dominated realm

The book by authors Albertson and Markovits.

Women’s place in sports is an important one, claim Andy Markovits and Emily Albertson, co-authors of “Sportista: Female Fandom in the United States.

Markovits, a Sociology professor at the University of Michigan, and Albertson, a U of M law student, coined the term “Sportista.”

According to Markovits, a “Sportista is a female who loves sports and is knowledgeable about them.”

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Sports
11:23 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Tigers manager Jim Leyland 'the bridge' to Detroit's past

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Detroit Tigers

The odds makers are picking the Detroit Tigers, but the San Francisco Giants are a loose bunch.

They fought off three elimination games on their way to the World Series... twice.

Here's one statistic NPR's Tom Goldman pointed out this morning:

"Three times in the past in World Series when a team that's swept its way into the Series, like Detroit did, played a team that went the full seven games, like the Giants did, the team that went seven won every time."

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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?

2:01 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Longtime Red Wings announcer, Budd Lynch dies

Lead in text: 
Lynch was 95. The Detroit Free Press has more.
Who: Frank Joseph James Lynch - legally changed to Budd after World War II when he became a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen. * Died this morning at age 95. * Born: Windsor, Ontario. * Resided: Wyandotte. * Family: Six children, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren.
Sports
11:42 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera wins MLB's first 'Triple Crown' in 45 years

Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera
(commons/wikipedia)

Miguel Cabrera won baseball's rare "Triple Crown" tonight after finishing up the regular season in Kansas City.

That means he led the American League in home runs (44), batting average (.330), and runs batted in (139).

It's been 45 years since the last player, Carl Yastrzemski, won the Triple Crown while in Boston.

The Associated Press reports Cabrera is the 15th player in Major League Baseball history to achieve the feat. Others on the list include Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams.

Cabrera's milestone wasn't official until the Yankees pinch hit for Curtis Granderson in their game against the Boston Red Sox. Granderson had homered twice to reach 43 for the year, tied with the Rangers' Josh Hamilton and one shy of Cabrera.

Cabrera went 0 for 2 against the Royals before leaving in the fourth inning to a standing ovation. He finished the regular season with a .330 average, four points better the Angels' Mike Trout, his biggest competition for MVP. Cabrera was the runaway leader with 139 RBIs.

Congrats are pouring in to Cabrera on his achievement, who is on the short list for the MLB's MVP award (the award the Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander won last year).

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Sports Commentary
12:03 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Notre Dame v. Michigan rivalry ends: It's not about tradition anymore

Michigan vs. Notre Dame. The two teams play their final game in 2014.
Michigan Football Facebook

Notre Dame announced this week the school is suspending its century-old rivalry with the University of Michigan after the 2014 season.

The only constant is change. 

Yeah, yeah.  We know that – and in case we didn’t, there’s always some office blowhard too eager to say it, as if it’s some profound truth.

But that’s why, the more things change, the more we appreciate things that don’t.

When Carole King sang, “Doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more?” she probably wasn’t talking about NFL franchises, but she could’ve been.

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Sports
11:44 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Is the Michigan vs. Notre Dame rivalry coming to an end?

Denard Robinson avoids a rush from the Fighting Irish.
Michigan Football Facebook

It appears that a storied college football rivalry is coming to an end. The two teams first met in 1887.

More from the Associated Press:

Notre Dame has notified Michigan it is exercising a three-year out in their contract, meaning their last scheduled game against each other will come in 2014.

A letter from Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon cancelling games in 2015-2017 was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The AP reports the teams were scheduled to take hiatus for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

The Notre Dame football team is required to play five games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The school recently joined the conference, but kept its football team independent.

ESPN.com reports the two teams have taken long breaks in the past.

They've played every year since 2002 and regularly since 1978 after not meeting from 1944 to 1977 or 1910 to 1941.

Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon was handed a letter before last Saturday night's game (which Michigan lost 13-6). Brandon said he hopes to work with Notre Dame on another contract in the future:

"The ball is in their court because they've triggered the three-game notice," he said. "We'll play them next year at Michigan Stadium for the last time in a while -- it appears -- and we'll make our last scheduled trip to South Bend in 2014. There will likely be nothing on the board for five years after that. Beyond that, I don't know what will happen."

ESPN.com reports "the Wolverines have an NCAA-best .735 winning percentage in football, and the Irish (.732) are second. Michigan leads all-time series 23-16-1."

No word on Notre Dame's game contract with Michigan State University.

Health
1:19 pm
Sat July 28, 2012

Transplant Games of America begin today in Grand Rapids

Steve Vanheest has been training for the Transplant Games of America at the Hunting YMCA in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Transplant Games of America are traditionally put on once every two years for athletes who are organ donation recipients. Living organ donors can also compete. Hundreds, if not a thousand athletes from all over the country are expected to compete in a dozen sporting events including track, volleyball, golf, basketball, tennis and several others.

The games are held to promote organ donation and, according to the organization’s website “to show the world that transplantation is a treatment that does indeed work.”

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Sports
7:32 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Why Michigan's softball team knocks it out of the park

Scott Galvin U-M Photo Services

The University of Michigan softball team won the Big Ten title this year – for the fifth year in a row, and 15th time overall. It went to the NCAA tournament – for the 18th straight season.  Winning titles is what they do.   

And this was not even one of head coach Carol Hutchins’ best teams. 

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Sports Commentary
7:00 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Kids need to learn how to lose

Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann Flickr

Remember Field Day?

For most of us, it was a hallowed year-end school tradition, right up there with ice cream socials, and signing yearbooks.

The kids loved it, of course, and looked forward to it every year. 

But not at Burns Park, one of Ann Arbor’s oldest, most desirable and most educated neighborhoods – and occasionally, one of its kookiest.

There is a reason many townies jokingly refer to it as “The Republic of Burns Park.”

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Sports
5:09 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Madness: A 192 foot basketball shot?

The longest basketball shot? How can we really know? YouTube
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Sports Commentary
7:36 am
Fri February 10, 2012

Reflecting on Super Bowl XLVI

It’s been five days since the Super Bowl, just enough time to give us a little perspective. Was it a football game? A concert? A competition for the Clio Award? Or some bizarrely American combination of all three?

Let’s start with the least important: The football game. You might have caught bits of it, squeezed between the ads and the show. Those were the people who ran really fast and wore clothes. For the Super Bowl’s first 30 years, most of the games were boring blowouts. I suspect even the players can’t recall the scores. But the halftime shows and the ads were hard to forget, and often featured a member of the Jackson family having his hair ignited or her wardrobe mysteriously malfunction.

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Sports Commentary
7:33 am
Fri February 3, 2012

National signing day is like game day for college football coaches

Chris Singeltary, the director of player personnel for the University of Michigan's football team, pulls the first signed letter of intent off the fax machine at 7:14 a.m. on National Signing Day.
screen grab mgoblue.com

The most important day of the year for a college football coach is not the home opener, the big rivalry game or even a bowl game.  It’s national signing day, which falls on the first Wednesday in February.

On signing day, the end zone is not grass or Astroturf, but a fax machine tray.  Only when a signed National Letter of Intent breaks the plane of that tray does it count.

A couple years ago I got a chance to see the sausage get made – and it’s not pretty.

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Offbeat
4:02 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Taking water recreation to new heights, introducing the 'Dolphinator'

Every summer, it seems there's some new water recreation device on the Great Lakes, I wonder if we'll see the "Dolphinator" anytime soon.

That's not what the inventor, Franky Zapata, calls it, that's what Robert Krulwich calls it on his blog "Krulwich Wonders":

I'm looking at this thing and thinking it should be renamed "The Dolphinator," because this is about as close as a human is ever going to get to flying in and out of the air and sea as dolphins do. In fact, it beats the dolphins.

Have a look:

I can't wait to spot one in action on the Lakes. I don't know how hard it would be to get your hands on one (Mr. Zapata's online store is down at the moment). But Krulwich writes that the "Dolphinator" (as it is now known here at Michigan Radio), costs $6,441.

And riding it is a snap... according Zapata:

"...the Flyboard is very intuitive : it’s like learning to walk. Find your balance and you will become Flying Man or Dolphin Man! Between 2 and 20 minutes are needed to learn with an instructor and 20 minutes/ 1 hour without." 

Sign me up.

Tourism
1:18 pm
Sun January 8, 2012

Could "white gold" bring people to Michigan?

user will_cyclist Flickr

Promoting winter sports may be a way to attract more tourists to Michigan, and more tourists mean more money. 

“Snow in Michigan is really white gold,” said Mary Dettloff with the Department of Natural Resources.

Snowmobiling is already a huge industry for the state. It attracts people from around the country, and Dettloff says it has an economic impact of more than $1 billion.

Michigan currently has 99 state parks and recreation areas where people can experience the great outdoors and do things like cross-country ski, snow-shoe, and hike. 

State parks also host special workshops and classes. One of the most popular programs is a “make-your-own-snowshoe” workshop. Some state parks also have dog-sled demonstrations and lantern-lit, nighttime skiing and hiking. (For the truly brave there’s a public luge in Muskegon State Park.)

Dettloff said the state has the potential to become a destination for winter sports but she said the state needs to do a better job promoting itself to tourists.

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