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.
This time last year, Brady Hoke was the darling of Michigan football fans.
He’d charmed everybody at his first press conference, then led a team that had averaged just five wins a year to a 10-2 regular-season record, with thrilling wins over Notre Dame, Nebraska and arch-rival Ohio State.
Then he capped it all off with an overtime victory in the Sugar Bowl.
The man could do no wrong.
When he referred to injuries as “boo-boos” and Ohio State as “Ohio,” fans did not conclude he was an ignoramus who knew nothing about the greatest rivalry in sports, but a motivational genius, who understood exactly what the duel was all about.
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.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) - Brad Keselowski has won his first NASCAR championship.
The 28-year-old Detroit native clinched the Sprint Cup title Sunday when fellow title contender Jimmie Johnson pulled out of the season finale because of a parts failure. The championship is the first for longtime NASCAR owner Roger Penske and gives outgoing car manufacturer Dodge the sweetest of parting gifts.
All Keselowski had to do was stay out of trouble over the final 60 miles, which essentially turned out to be 40 victory laps around Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Whether your candidates won or lost this week, we can all rejoice that it’s finally over.
Or, we think it is. We can’t be sure anymore, can we?
All this made me ponder the relative craziness of politics versus sports. I got to thinking: Which is sillier? Playing politics, or playing sports?
As silly as sports are – and I seem to devote half my commentaries to that very subject – after watching the 2012 campaigns, I can tell you, it’s not even close: Playing politics is sillier, in a landslide.
The ongoing lockout of the National Hockey League could cause the cancelation of the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. The outdoor game is supposed to be at the University of Michigan Big House on New Year’s Day. The week-long Hockeytown Winter Festival in Detroit would be canceled with it.
That would be a bummer for the Red Wings’ affiliated team the Grand Rapids Griffins, which is supposed to play at the festival.
“It’s a sad time for hockey right now,” said Bob Kaser, VP of Community Relations for the Griffins (among other job titles).
He says some fans have traveled to Grand Rapids to get their hockey fix during the lockout. Fox Sports Detroit broadcast a Griffins game last week. But Kaser’s not really thrilled about the circumstances.
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 week, the Ann Arbor Pioneer high school football team went across town to play long-time rival Ann Arbor Huron. It wasn’t the players’ performance during the game that made news, however, but the coaches’ behavior afterward. And the news wasn’t good.
Ann Arbor Pioneer came into the annual rivalry with Ann Arbor Huron, sporting a solid 4-3 record and a good chance to make the playoffs. Huron hadn’t won a game all year, and was simply playing out the season. The only stakes were bragging rights – and even those weren’t much in question.
DETROIT (AP) - Max Scherzer capped a stupendous stretch for Detroit's starting rotation, and the Tigers advanced to the World Series for the second time in seven years by beating the New York Yankees 8-1 Thursday for a four-game sweep of the AL championship series.
Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta hit two-run homers in a four-run fourth inning against CC Sabathia, who was unable to prevent the Yankees from getting swept in a postseason series for the first time in 32 years.
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?
His parents named him Frank Joseph James Lynch—but everybody knew him as Budd.
He passed away this week, at the age of 95. No, you can’t call that a tragedy, but you can call it a loss—one thousands are feeling.
In a week that included no Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25, the idiotic NHL lockout and, far worse, Jerry Sandusky’s sentencing, I’d rather spend my few minutes with you honoring a man who lived as long as he lived well.
Lynch was born in Windsor, Ontario, during World War I.
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).