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.
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.
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 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."
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).
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?
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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
"...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."
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.
Michigan Radio's Sports Commentator John U. Bacon has a new book out. It premiered at number six on TheNew 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.
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.
Obama is expected to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of Veterans Day and then travel to San Diego for the game.
“This Veterans Day, President Obama will honor our nation’s veterans by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and then by traveling to San Diego, California, to attend the Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson,” the White House said in a statement. “He looks forward to a great game between Michigan State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”
The nuclear powered aircraft carrier is famed for being the carrier from which Osama bin Laden's body was buried at sea. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
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.
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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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.
College conferences are going through a major upheaval – perhaps the biggest in the history of college sports.
In the past year, we’ve seen Nebraska join the Big Ten, Colorado and Utah join the Pac-10, and, this week, Syracuse and Pittsburgh join the Atlantic Coast Conference. DePaul, Marquette and Texas Christian University just joined the Big East.
Which raises the question: Just how BIG is the East?
Big enough to swallow half the Midwest and a chunk of Texas.
A lot of people who don’t care much about sports seem to care about this.