sports

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.

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.

The Detroit News has this obituary of Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward.

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.”

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."

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?

Lynch was 95. The Detroit Free Press has more.

(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).

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.

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.

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.”

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. 

Running track
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.”

The longest basketball shot? How can we really know? / YouTube

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

user: Michael Knight /flickr

A student riot erupted this week at Penn State following the firing of the university’s longtime coach, Joe Paterno. He was fired after details surrounding alleged child sex abuse emerged involving the university’s former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talked with Dr. Cheryl Cooky, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health & Kinesiology and Women’s Studies Program at Purdue University. She specializes in sports sociology. Cooky talks about how we view athletic scandals.

 

There's money to be made around the passion for Michigan football at Michigan Stadium.
Anthony Gattine / Flickr

Michigan Radio's Sports Commentator John U. Bacon has a new book out. It premiered at number six on The New York Times non-fiction best seller list this week. Bacon was already well-known at the University of Michigan for the book he co-wrote with Bo Schembechler. So, it wasn’t difficult for him to get access to the Wolverine football program in 2008 when the team got a new head coach Rich Rodriguez, or Rich-Rod.

Bacon's plan was to write a story on the spread offense that Rich-Rod had used so successfully at West Virginia. But Bacon quickly found himself in the middle of a new, more complex story.

"It started out being a very simple story... and, now you realize, of course, three years later, the real story is off the field: it's what it's really like to be a player, what it's really like to be a coach, NCAA investigations, pressure, losing, ultimately getting fired... I don't think you have to be much of a football fan to follow this," says Bacon.

Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Bacon about his new book, Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football.

wikimedia commons

The term “Michigan Man” probably goes back to the day men arrived at Michigan.

But it’s taken more than a few twists and turns since – and not always for the better.

Fielding Yost gave the term “Michigan Man” a boost when he started using it in his speeches.

But the phrase really took off in 1989, when Michigan athletic director Bo Schembechler announced he was firing basketball coach Bill Frieder, on the eve of the NCAA basketball tournament, because Frieder had signed a secret deal to coach Arizona State the next season.

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