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John U. Bacon
John U. Bacon

  The Big Ten held its media days last week. Fourteen coaches told a few hundred reporters that their team chemistry has never been better, their senior leadership is outstanding, and they can’t wait to get back on the field – but one man stole the show.

Michigan’s new head coach Jim Harbaugh charmed the reporters with stories about everything from his daily commute to the office to his lifelong respect for Woody Hayes – yes, Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, Michigan’s sworn enemy.

When Harbaugh left the podium for the next coach, some guy named Kyle Flood of Rutgers – whom you’ve never heard of and probably won’t again -- half the assembled media got up and left the room to follow Harbaugh into the hallway, to ask him still more questions. He happily obliged.

  Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio had to field plenty of questions, too – but his were about Michigan, and Harbaugh himself. He’s still getting them this week. What’s a fella have to do to get out of the shadow of a man who just arrived, and hasn’t even coached a Big Ten game yet?

John U. Bacon
John U. Bacon

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joins us for this week’s sports roundup.

John U. Bacon
John U. Bacon

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon brings us this week's sports roundup:

Tigers approaching the trade deadline

The Tigers came out of this past weekend 11.5 games behind AL Central Division leaders the Kansas City Royals.

After the Red Sox, “beat the crap out of us,” as described by Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, there’s some question as to how things are going to play out approaching Friday’s trade deadline.

flickr user Darren Whitley / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Metropolitan Detroit is getting a brand new baseball league.

The United Shore Professional Baseball League is preparing for its inaugural season in the summer of 2016, and a big part of that is a new baseball stadium now under construction in Utica.

courtesy of Dave Mesrey

 

It was 2009 when the wrecking ball took down Tiger Stadium.

Since then, volunteers who love that historic site at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull have cut the grass and maintained the field. They call themselves The Navin Field Grounds Crew, a tribute to the ballpark's name a century ago.

Now they fear their beloved grass could be replaced by artificial turf.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

You may see fewer Confederate flags at next month’s NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway.

A spokesman for the race track in Brooklyn says they want events at the track to be “the most fan-friendly and welcoming environments”. 

Flickr user pontla / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Fourth of July weekend is at hand. In addition to reaching for a hot dog or a burger, more Michiganders are reaching for a paddle.

"There's a growing interest in all forms of it. From the old canoes on the rivers to sea kayaking to recreational boats down around Belle Isle to stand-up paddleboards," says Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes, who focused on this growing demand for his most recent column.

This was a big week for the Detroit Red Wings. The team signed defenseman Mike Green and veteran center Brad Richards.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says that while the Red Wings have a top line of players, people often don't realize that in hockey third- and fourth-string players can be just as important. And the Wings need more than a few key players.

But securing top talent says a lot about how the Wings are perceived by NHL fans and players.

Bacon says it shows how strong the organization is when it can recruit top players even when Detroit doesn't have the best reputation in the country. 

Courtesy photo / Kalamazoo Growlers

The flooded Kalamazoo River that winds around Homer Stryker Field forced the Growlers to cancel games over the weekend. The field was inundated with water Saturday morning.

“The outdoors truly got the best of Homer Stryker Field on Outdoorsman’s Night,” read a post on the Kalamazoo Growlers’ webpage published Saturday morning.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s official: Jeff Blashill is the Detroit Red Wings’ new head coach.

Blashill was widely considered the heir apparent to Mike Babcock, who just left to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs. He signed a four-year deal with the team worth an undisclosed amount.

Blashill has been the popular and successful coach of the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for three seasons.

Ty Cobb safe at third after making a triple on August 16, 1924.
National Photo Company / Library of Congress

He was arguably America’s first sports celebrity. He paved the way for the "bad boy athlete."

Tyrus Raymond Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Besides being a brilliant outfielder and base stealer, Ty Cobb had a rough reputation: surly, mean, racist, someone who hated women and kids.

John U. Bacon brings us the week’s sports roundup:

Michigan women’s softball team

The Michigan women’s softball team reached the Women’s College World Series only to lose the series 2-3 against the Florida Gators. Bacon believes what head coach Carol Hutchins and her team have achieved is nothing short of a miracle.

Michigan had to play half its schedule on the road before playing their first home game. “Imagine, if you will, the University of Alabama hockey team taking down the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA championship”.

Hockey

With the Detroit Red Wings' season over, Bacon claims that with trade deadlines and summer camps in August, the Red Wings need to get a new coach by June. Jeff Blashill, head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, is said to be the man to succeed Mike Babcock.

Michigan softball playing earlier this year in Ann Arbor.
MGoBlog / Flickr

Michigan lost to the defending champion Florida Gators in the final and decisive game of the Women's College World Series last night by a score of 4-1. The Gators scored early in the game and it proved too much for the Wolverines to overcome.

Michigan (60-8 on the season) faced a tough pitcher in Lauren Haeger, the National Player of the Year.

U of M pitcher Megan Betsa.
MGoBlog / Flickr

The University of Michigan’s women’s Softball team will go for a national championship tonight starting at 8 p.m. in Oklahoma City.

They’re up against the Florida Gators – the defending national champion – in game three of the Women’s College World Series. The series is tied 1-1 after the Wolverines beat the top-ranked Gators in game two of the series last night.

Flint Olympian and CANUSA Games / flickr creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint’s games will go on.

Flint school district students have competed against their peers from Hamilton, Ontario for more than a half-century in a variety of sports.

Last year, the financially troubled school district decided to end its funding, putting the future of the games in doubt.

nfl football on field
Flickr user Parker Anderson / Flickr

Tom Brady and "Deflategate"

The Wells Report, commissioned by the National Football League on the New England Patriots' "Deflategate" controversy, says Tom Brady was "generally aware of the inappropriate activities ... and the release of air from Patriots' game balls."

Our weekly sports commentator, John U. Bacon, thinks the controversy is "stupid."

Kate Wells

Right now it's baseball season, and hockey and basketball playoffs are underway.

It's also women's football season.

First of all, yes, if you didn't already know – women's football is at thing.

There’s the Legends Football League, aka the Lingerie Football League. Which is exactly what it sounds like: helmets, cleats, shoulder pads … and push-up bras and bikini bottoms.

Then, on the fully-clothed front, there appear to be two main leagues.

red wings warming up before a game
Flickr user Ellen / Flickr

The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round series. This is the 24th straight season the Wings have made it to the playoffs.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People who rely motorized wheelchairs could soon be able to use them while they hunt in Michigan. 

Right now, it’s against Michigan law for a hunter to discharge a weapon from a motorized vehicle. 

Flickr user Corey Seeman / Flickr

"You've got a long way to go," is what Stephen Ross, native Detroiter, University of Michigan benefactor, and one of the country's most influential developers, told Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes about Detroit's transformation in a rare interview.

Howes took Ross on a driving tour of the city and says Ross wasn't overly enthusiastic about the improvements that have already been made.

Joe Louis was the guest of honor at the "Champions Day" celebration of 1936.
Boston Public Library / flickr.com

Seventy-nine years ago this month, Detroit sports teams and athletes celebrated a winning streak that's never been replicated since.

That year, Detroit athletes earned titles that kept piling up: the Tigers won their first World Series, the Lions won their first national championship, the Red Wings took home their first Stanley Cup. Not to mention Joe Louis and a myriad of others that came out victorious. 

Matthew Mitchell / MSU Athletic Communications

The impossible run sputtered to a halt Saturday night as Michigan State fell to Duke.

Disappointment and pride intermingled that night amongst players and fans – disappointment at the loss and pride at having fought their way to the Final Four.

The Spartans started Saturday’s game with promise. They led Duke 14-6 within the first four minutes. Then, however, the streak ended.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Duke is one step away from its fifth national championship.

  Justise Winslow had 19 points, Jahlil Okafor added 18 and the top-seeded Blue Devils beat up on Big Ten power Michigan State 81-61 in Saturday night's national semifinal.

  Next up: The winner of unbeaten Kentucky and fellow top seed Wisconsin.

user: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Danals / Wikimedia Commons

Tomorrow night, March Madness resumes – even though it’s April.

Why?  There is too much madness for March alone.

And it’s going to get madder.  Of the teams who made it to the Final Four, three of them were the top seeds in their regions.   

There’s Wisconsin, which won the Big Ten regular season title and conference tournament en route to a sterling 35-3 record. 

MGoBlog on Flickr / Flickr

There hasn't been a whole lot for Wolverine fans to cheer about lately.

But, amidst all the buzz about Michigan State University and the Final Four, Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says there's something for the Maize and Blue to be excited for.

"The spring game this year for the first time since 2000 is going to be an actual game," says Bacon.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University officials hope to discourage “destructive” celebrations during next week’s final four basketball games.

Ten people were arrested Sunday after the MSU Spartans won their quarterfinal game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Jason Cody is an MSU spokesman. He bristles at the suggestion post big game rowdiness is a school tradition. 

He says the university is pushing a message to get more students to celebrate responsibly.

User shockmotion / Flickr

A former University of Michigan grad, Derek Stevens, walks into a Las Vegas hotel to plop down a $20,000 bet with sportsbook director Tony Miller. 

ESPN's Darren Rovell takes it from there:

FLICKR USER JOHN GREMMER / FLICKR

Both the Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis and the Women’s Final Four in Tampa will fight it out with their shoes skidding across a floor made of Michigan maple.

The company responsible for making these floors is Connor Sports, a business located in the small Upper Peninsula town of Amasa, in Iron County.

The business has been around since 1872, a time before basketball was invented.

FLICKR USER MGOBLOG / FLICKR

They have been chosen – it’s time for the Final Four.

Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo has now taken his Spartans to his seventh Final Four since 1999.

Number seven seed Michigan State plays number one seed Duke on Saturday in Indianapolis.

Tom Izzo talking to a referee
MGoBlog on Flickr / Flickr

On Friday night Michigan State faces Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 portion of the NCAA March Madness. It's Michigan State's seventh Sweet 16 in eight seasons.

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