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The Prince Fielder Economic Effect in Detroit

Apr 6, 2012
Micki Maynard / Changing Gears

Slugger Prince Fielder has only played one regular season game with the Detroit Tigers, but the team is reveling in his economic impact.

The Tigers drew a record Opening Day crowd of 45,027 to Comerica Park, the second-highest single game attendance in the park’s 12-year history.

Many people were there simply to see Fielder, the former Milwaukee Brewer who signed a $214 million, nine-year contract with the club earlier this year.

George Ruiz / Flickr

Ann Arbor’s Parthenon Restaurant closed last week after almost 40 years at the corner of Main and Liberty. 

For me, it marked more than the passing of a favorite spot, but the end of a time-honored ritual for the guys. 

We filed in, and walked to our favorite table in the back.

A little warmer, and we’d sit outside, but it was still March, so whatya gonna do?

The owners and waiters nodded. They’ve seen us more than a hundred times.

Scott Galvin / UM Photo Services

One of the most unlikely careers in the history of University of Michigan sports ended last weekend, in overtime.

Two years ago, Michigan’s hockey team was in danger of snapping its record 19-straight NCAA tournament bids.

They finished seventh in their league – unheard of, for Michigan.  So, the only way to keep the streak alive was to win six straight league playoff games to get an automatic NCAA bid.

Oh, and they had to do it with a back-up goalie named Shawn Hunwick, a 5-foot-6 walk-on who had never started a college game until that week.  

It didn’t look good.  

But the kid caught fire. 

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Some couch and garbage fires were reported near Michigan State University after its men's basketball team lost to Louisville in the West Regional semifinals.

Authorities say a crowd in the hundreds that gathered Thursday night at the Cedar Village apartment complex near the East Lansing campus was mostly peaceful after the Cardinals beat the Spartans 57-44 in Phoenix.

The area has been the site of past disturbances following Michigan State sports events.

No injuries were reported. Police say one arrest related to a fire was reported. The crowd thinned by late Thursday.

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

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Brandon Wood scored a season-high 21 points to help No. 8 Michigan State defeat No. 7 Ohio State 68-64 on Sunday in the Big Ten tournament championship game.

Draymond Green, who had 12 points and nine rebounds in the final, was named the most outstanding player of the tournament. The Spartans (27-7) claimed their first tournament title since 2000 in a dramatic game that featured 16 lead changes.

Jared Sullinger scored 18 points and Deshaun Thomas and William Buford added 11 each for the Buckeyes (27-7), who were denied a third straight title.

user huqixiu.co.cc / Flickr

The Big Ten basketball experts knew exactly what was going to happen this season before it even started.  Michigan State would battle for another title, while Michigan would be stuck in the middle, fighting for a tournament bid.  

And that’s exactly how it started.  The Spartans jumped out to first place, and had it all to themselves with just two games left.  The Wolverines spent most of the season in the middle.  

The experts looked pretty smart – until Michigan started mastering head coach John Beilein’s unconventional system.

WISSA

If you were listening to Michigan Radio last night, you might have caught a snippet on PRI's The World about a unique winter sports championship that took place recently in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with contestants from all over the globe.

In case you missed it, here's the general idea.

(courtesy of TeamUSA.org)

Reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber captured her third straight American Cup at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, finishing with a score of 61.032 to beat teammate Aly Raisman by two-tenths of a point in the first major prep for the London Games.

Yet it was Gabrielle Douglas who stole the spotlight.

Competing as an alternate, making her ineligible for the all-around title, Douglas outperformed her more celebrated teammates, putting up a combined score of 61.299 points, nearly two-tenths ahead of Wieber.

American Danell Leyva roared back from a slow start to win the men's event, surging from fourth to first in the final rotation with a thrilling high bar performance. Leyva finished with a score of 90.664, just ahead of Ukraine's Mykola Kuksenkov.

When Ann Arbor's own George Jewett, an African-American, made Michigan’s football team in 1890, he would not have predicted it would take more than four decades for another black player to follow him.

The biggest reason was Michigan’s head coach from 1901 to 1926, Fielding H. Yost, who had unequaled ambition and ego, and six national titles to back it all up.

But he also had a blind spot: he was a racist.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.  His dad fought for the Confederates, after all.  But Yost was surprised decades later when his discriminatory decisions created a national controversy.

It started when he named Harry Kipke Michigan’s next head coach.

(USA Boxing)

Flint boxer Claressa Shields took a big step toward her Olympic dream Saturday night, winning the middleweight title at the USA boxing trials.

USA Boxing summed up Shields performance in the championship final:

Teenage sensation Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) continued her amazing run through the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in her rematch with fellow middleweight Tika Hemingway (Pittsburgh, Pa.). She once again got off to a quick start in the bout, racking up 13 points to 9 for Hemingway in the opening two rounds. She continued to build on her lead in the third to claim at 19-13 advantage with one round remaining. Hemingway could not dent her deficit and Shields went on to win a 23-18 decision. The victory gave Shields the first-ever middleweight crown and completed the trio of boxers who will vie for spots in London. Yet Shields accomplishments didn’t end there, she was also named Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament, only her second in the open division. 

Shields must now prepare for the World championships.  The top eight women boxers at the world championships will qualify for the Olympic tournament in London.

Hamline University

I’ve coached high school boy’s hockey teams for almost a decade.  But a few years ago, I spent two years helping out the Michigan women’s hockey team – and I learned a lot more than they did.   

It’s worth noting that I’m comparing only high school boys and college women, based solely on my observations of two hockey teams.  Your mileage may vary. 

My education started on day one.

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If you're a Detroit hockey fan, you're probably celebrating the Red Wings' recent record-breaking home win streak at the storied Joe Louis Arena---a bit of magic for a veteran team in an aging building---but across the river there's a piece of hockey history that make's "the Joe" look like the new kid on the ice arena block.

                                      

16 year old Claressa Shields dominated another more experienced fighter in Tuesday's Olympic women's boxing trials.   Shields is now a step closer to her goal of representing the United States at the London Olympics this summer.  

ESPN reports:

Claressa Shields kept up her surprising charge through the middleweight bracket with a 31-12 victory over Andrecia Wasson. The impressive 16-year-old built on her upset of Franchon Crews, the top American 165-pounder, a day earlier.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

16 year old Claressa Shields is the youngest fighter trying to win a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team.   

She made her case for representing the U.S. in London this summer by defeating the top ranked woman in her weight class last night. 

Here's what the Seattle Spokesman-Review said about Shields performance last night:

The 16-year-old middleweight from Flint, Mich., turned the first U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing on end Monday night with a dominant performance in upsetting top-seeded Franchon Crews in a crackling highlight to the opening round.

And on a night when nerves seemed to earn a draw in more than a handful of bouts, the youngest competitor among the 24 trying to take the next step to the London Olympics betrayed none.

“I wanted it – I wanted to fight her as soon as I qualified,” said Shields. “She was saying she’s the best, so if she’s the best, I wanted her. Piece of work.”

It’s hardly over for Crews, a five-time national champion. But now she’ll have to fight her way back in the double-elimination event, as only the champions in the three weight classes qualify for the AIBA World Championships in China this May.

A top-eight finish there guarantees fighters a spot in the first Olympic women’s boxing competition in July.

Shields will face another Michigan fighter in her next bout. Centerline's Andrecia Wasson was the 2010 Welterweight World Champion.

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.

(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:AndrewHorne)

The National Hockey League tomorrow will make official that Michigan Stadium will host next year’s Winter Classic matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Today,  the University of Michigan Board of Regents agreed to lease the college football stadium for a pro hockey game for three million dollars.

Big time hockey in the open air is rare, but not unheard of.    For example, this won’t be the first hockey game at the Big House.  More than 104 thousand fans watched U of M defeat MSU on a specially built ice rink on the Michigan Stadium field in 2010.  The NHL matchup is expected to draw as many fans, and possibly more,  to Ann Arbor.

The largest crowd ever to see an NHL hockey game was 71 thousand at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008. 

This will be the second time the Red Wings have skated in the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic.  

Since its inception in 2008,  the Winter Classic has become a popular event on the NHL schedule.  

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.

When an 85-year old man dies, you cannot call it a tragedy.  Sad, yes, but tragic, no.  

But Joe Paterno’s passing might be an exception.  Born in Brooklyn in 1926, he enrolled at Brown University, where he played quarterback. He still holds a school record -- for interceptions -- with 14. 

After graduating, Paterno was supposed to go to law school, but instead followed his coach, Rip Engle, to Penn State.  

His father was beside himself.  “For God’s sake, what did you go to college for?”  That was 1950.  62 years later, that’s where Joe Paterno died. 

 Women will compete for Olympic medals in boxing for the first time this summer.    One of the women training hard for a shot at Olympic boxing gold is a teenager from Flint.

Claressa Shields is 16 years old.  And she is scary good in the boxing ring.  

Shields has won 19 amateur fights. 14 times she’s stopped her opponent by knocking them out. 

mgoblue.com

The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State in football is one of the best in the country.  But it obscures the fact that, in just about every other sport, Michigan’s main rival is Michigan State.

In men’s basketball, there’s no team either school would rather beat than the other.  The problem is, for a rivalry to really catch on, both sides need to be at the top of their game.  Think of Bo versus Woody, Borg-McEnroe and, of course, Ali-Frazier, which required three death-defying fights just to determine that one of them might have been slightly better than the other. 

The Michigan-Michigan State basketball rivalry, in contrast, usually consists of at least one lightweight.  When Michigan got to the NCAA final in 1976, Michigan State had not been to the tournament in 17 years.

Bryan Frank

The college football bowl season has always been a little crazy - but most of that used to be “fun crazy.”

Now it’s “bad crazy.”

Michigan played in the first ever bowl game against Stanford on New Year’s Day in 1902.

The Wolverines won, 49-0 – but didn’t play another bowl game for 46 years.     

Pasadena didn’t host another game until 1916, and no one else sponsored one until 1935, when the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, and the Sun Bowl started, followed two years later by the Cotton Bowl.

The games were just glorified exhibitions, intended to reward a few good teams with a nice trip, and for the Southern cities to promote themselves.

For three quarters, the Detroit Lions performed like playoff veterans.

They led Drew Brees and the mighty New Orleans Saints at halftime. They were still right in the game heading to the fourth quarter.

But Brees and the Saints blew it open in the final period, turning Detroit's postseason return into a one-and-done affair with a 45-28 NFC playoff victory that was much closer most of the night on a raucous Saturday at the Superdome.

Images from MSU and UM Facebook pages

The Big Ten is still considered one of the nation’s top leagues, despite its frequent belly flops in bowl games. 

This year, the Big Ten placed a record ten teams in bowl games – then watched them drop, one by one. 

And not just in the storied Rose Bowl, but in games like the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, and the Insight Bowl. 

When Iowa got whipped 31-14, I wonder just how much insight they had gained. 

Brendan Gibbons drilled a 37-yard field goal down the middle in overtime to lift Michigan to a 23-20 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.

The victory capped an impressive debut season for head coach Brady Hoke, who has led the Wolverines (11-2) back to prominence with a BCS bowl victory. Denard Robinson highlighted an otherwise unspectacular night with touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards to Junior Hemingway.

Kirk Cousins threw for 300 yards and one touchdown and Dan Conroy kicked a 28-yard field goal in the third overtime, giving No. 12 Michigan State a 33-30 victory over No. 18 Georgia in the Outback Bowl on Monday.

Georgia's Blair Walsh became the Southeastern Conference's career scoring leader with a field goal in the second extra period. But he missed a 42-yarder in the first overtime after conservative play-calling and had a 47-yard attempt blocked on the final play of the game.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan State and the University of Michigan will be playing more west coast teams in the future.

  A deal announced Wednesday could mean the Big Ten will  wield more power in the increasingly competitive world of college athletics.  

Other college sports conferences have added schools in recent years to make themselves more competitive.   The Big Ten is effectively adding another entire conference.  

If you are a football fan, you probably know that the Detroit Lions won a thrilling comeback victory yesterday, and are having their best season in something like a million years.

If you know a lot about University of Michigan athletics, you may know that the athletic department has a budget of $110 million, of which football takes the biggest share. Michigan State’s athletic budget is about $80 million.

Dave Hogg / Flickr

Former Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren said, “I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”

But this year, the sports page had plenty of both.

Sad to say, bad news tends to travel faster.

So let’s start with some good news.  In men’s tennis, the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, already one of the best, was joined by a man named Novak Djokovic, who won three majors this year on a gluten-free diet – no joke. 

Hundreds of the nation’s best teenage figure skaters are in East Lansing this week competing in the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships. Organizers say the Lansing area economy is among the winners.   

On the ice, figure skaters glide through their routines to strains of classical music.  But it’s the hundreds of skaters, their coaches and families who are music to the ears of East Lansing businesses.   

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