On Saturday night I watched in dread as Magglio Ordonez slid into home plate, was tagged out… but never got up. Quickly confirmed to have a fractured ankle, he had to be aided off the field. The number three hitter in my Detroit Tigers lineup, swinging the bat well again after a forgettable 2009, gone for 6 to 8 weeks (2B Carlos Guillen landed on the 15-day disabled list after the same game). A mere matter of days before the non-waiver trade deadline. A season that on the cusp of the All-Star break looked like it could be promising… you can just about write it off now.
A month ago relief pitching sensation Joel Zumaya broke his arm and finished his season while pitching against Minnesota. Less than a week ago third baseman Brandon Inge broke his hand on an inside pitch. With some key rookies providing unexpected contributions, it looked like the Tigers could weather the storm enough with a trade deadline pick-up to make the final piece. Hard to see how that can happen now, at least not without mortgaging away a much more promising future.
Dare I say it, but my Colorado Rockies haven’t looked much better of late. Ubaldo is off his game, the effect of Troy Tulowitzki being out of the lineup for weeks now taking its toll, and the post-break road trip couldn’t end soon enough. Too many holes in the lineup. Inconsistency from the bullpen. Can they catch enough fire to make up lost ground in the NL West race come September? I’m beginning to have my doubts.
For the Tigers and Rockies, if things continue to falter, there is always 2011. But need I go into the trainwreck-like spectacle that is the governor’s race in Colorado? “There’s always 2014….” (more…)
WHEREAS, on June 2, 2010, at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga masterfully pitched a game against the Cleveland Indians in which he indisputably retired each of the first 26 batters he faced in succession with exactly 80 pitches thrown (62 strikes, 18 balls); and
WHEREAS, with two outs in the top of the 9th inning, the 27th batter, Cleveland Indians shortstop Jason Donald, grounded the ball to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who in turn flipped the ball to Galarraga, who clearly touched the bag with his foot before Donald did; and
WHEREAS, veteran first base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled the runner safe at first; and
WHEREAS, thousands of the paying customers at Comerica Park could see immediately that the umpire blew the call at first; and (more…)
Tonight I am at a loss for words. The great Ernie Harwell — to all of us who grew up with his voice and grew up to love Detroit Tigers baseball, simply “Ernie” — passed away today at age 92, after a long bout with cancer. If you want to know why I’m choked up with tears, here’s a start:
Today — April 9, 2010 — will go down as a memorable day. First, my native state of Michigan officially declared it Ernie Harwell Day in honor of what looks very much like the legendary Hall-of-Fame baseball broadcaster’s last Detroit home opener with us (and bless the Tigers, they beat Cleveland 5-2). Can’t say it enough: Thank YOU, Ernie Harwell.
I’ve also learned that lawmakers from my adopted home state of Colorado have declared today David Benke Day, in honor of the selfless, heroic teacher at Deer Creek Middle School who doubtless helped save student lives from a deranged gunman. I’m honored to have met both of these fine, humble men, and am glad to know they share the same commemorative day. They are both most deserving, each in his own way.
But there’s one other reason to make April 9, 2010 memorable: It’s the 145th anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s famed surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House — most beautifully and eloquently captured in the memoir of General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies — bringing the great hope of peace to an American nation ravaged by the Civil War. (This one is for you, Snags.)
There’s no stopping the forward press of time. I’m not so sure about turning 33 today, but at least my name isn’t Josh. A few months ago the combination of age and name seemed so charmed. They were a pair of Colorado wunderkinds: one 33-year-old Josh making strides towards one of Colorado’s most powerful positions, the other 33-year-old Josh newly occupying the other.
Josh Penry was making giant strides toward the Republican nomination for governor. Then one day in November the plug suddenly was pulled on his campaign. Now he isn’t even running for re-election to his own state senate seat in 2010. What’s going on?
But he’s on Cloud Nine compared to Josh McDaniels, who yesterday felt the bitter sting of missing the playoffs in his first season as an NFL head coach, losing 8 of the final 10 games after starting 6-0. Add in the turmoil with Brandon Marshall and other Bronco players, and it looks like the bandwagon is emptying for the time being. Where does he go from here?
I still have high hopes for 33. After all, so far it doesn’t seem much different than 32. The year’s work has just begun. I’m back in the fight.
Here’s the latest, greatest example why sports and politics don’t mix …. At first, when I read this posting from the Right to Work blog, I thought I had another solid reason to cheer against the New York Yankees for whatever is left of the World Series:
Mark Teixeira has a $100 million contract to play baseball with the Yankees. Good for Mark. But it’s too bad that this multi-millionaire is stepping to the plate on behalf of the union bosses by advocating for the Card Check Forced Unionism bill.
But then I followed the link and found that two of the 12 Forced Unionism baseball spokesmen were Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies. And horror of horrors, my favorite hometown pitcher Justin Verlander is a pro-EFCA signatory as well.
Shouldn’t these guys be focusing on how to hit A.J. Burnett’s curveball (or in the case of the Detroit Tigers’ Verlander, how to improve his golf game)?
All told, it does nothing to make me more interested in tuning in to tonight’s World Series Game 5. Like I said, a bad way to mix sports and politics.
A quick walk down Detroit Tigers memory lane: Today is the 3rd anniversary of Magglio Ordonez’ walk-off 3-run homer that won the ALCS and launched the Tigers into the World Series (also the first epic late-inning playoff loss for Huston Street, then of the Oakland A’s).
Which also means it was exactly 25 years ago today that the Detroit Tigers last celebrated World Series triumph, with an 8-5 victory over the San Diego Padres in Game 5 down at the Corner (and my childhood hero Alan Trammell named Series MVP). Sadly, the stadium is gone now. But the memory lives on.
Here’s hoping that Detroit repeats the feat sometime before that anniversary turns golden and my hair turns (completely) gray.
You’ll grant me a few indulgences for posting this one — after all, how often do I bother to write about my alma mater’s athletic feats? Not too often, I can assure you. But what happened yesterday in the old Hills & Dales on homecoming rates among the most historic gridiron happenings on Muddy Waters Field: the Chargers toppled the number 1 team in Division II, the perennial powerhouse Grand Valley State Lakers, 27-24.
Well, historic enough to make the Detroit News, anyway. The last time Hillsdale beat conference foe Grand Valley? Fifteen years ago, the year before I began my (non-athletic) college career. True, because it certainly didn’t happen during my brief tenures as sports editor for both the Hillsdale Collegian (1997) and Hillsdale Daily News (2001-02).
Yesterday’s upset ranks right up there in Charger football history with Chester Marcol’s 62-yard field goal (1969) and the 1985 NAIA national championship (before the team moved up to NCAA Division II). No word on whether the goalposts at Muddy Waters Field were left standing this time. But this was Hillsdale, after all — so no, it wasn’t that historic.
If you live in my world, politics largely has taken a back seat this week. My two MLB teams — the Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies — are respectively locked in the races for the last two playoff berths.
Result? With five games to go, Rockies have a three-game lead and a magic number of three to claim the NL wildcard, and the Tigers have a two-game lead and a magic number of four to claim the AL Central title. For me? After last night’s high drama, I just need a few relaxation exercises.
As far as being a baseball fan, this season has brought out the best for me. I’m enjoying (and sweating out) every minute of it. Hopefully, it gets even better heading into October.
I’ll admit it. I’m a fool for baseball. And one of the greatest reasons I love the game so much walked out onto the field at Comerica Park this evening — Ernie Harwell, 91 years young, diagnosed with terminal cancer, but as optimistic and gracious and gentlemanly as ever — to say thank you:
“It’s a wonderful night for me,” Harwell said. “I really feel lucky to be here, and I want to thank you for that warm welcome. I want to express my deep appreciation to Mike Ilitch, Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers for that video salute and also for the many great things they’ve done for me and my family throughout my career here with the Tigers.
“In my almost 92 years on this Earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey, and the blessed part of that journey is that it’s going to end here in the great state of Michigan. I deeply appreciate the people of Michigan. I love their grit. I love the way they face life. I love the family values they have. And you Tiger fans are the greatest fans of all, no question about that.
“And I certainly want to thank you from the depth of my heart for your devotion, your support, your loyalty and your love. Thank you very much, and God bless you.”
It’s just like Ernie Harwell to say thank you to all of us, when all of us should be saying thank you to Ernie Harwell. As Ernie’s last season as the voice of the Detroit Tigers began in April 2002, I penned a column as Hillsdale Daily News sports editor — a column titled “Ernie Harwell reminds us what baseball is about”.
Simply one of the best, and a personal hero of mine. All the best to Ernie Harwell, his wife Lulu, and their family.
For the baseball fan, September is a sweet (or bittersweet) time of the year. As a Detroit Tigers fan, I’ve been accustomed to more of the latter. But the pennant race is on, and both my Tigers and my Colorado Rockies are in the thick of things.
Fans of the Detroit Tigers are now the second most confident fans, with 68% who think their team will win a World Series title this year. Overall, only 4% of all baseball fans think the Tigers will win. The Tigers currently lead the AL Central division by 3.5 games.
Mercifully, for the sake of fellow blogger Civil Sense, I haven’t harped on the American League Central race in awhile. But the All-Star break is upon us, and a good time for reflection on the standings:
1. Detroit Tigers 48-39 –
2. Chicago White Sox 45-43 3.5 GB
3. Minnesota Twins 45-44 4 GB
4. Kansas City Royals 37-51 11.5 GB 5. Cleveland Indians 35-54 14 GB
It’s not looking good for the Indians, especially after the symbolic 10-1 spanking Detroit delivered to them this afternoon.
Are you looking for a good summertime fiction read? A fresh story in the fantasy/action genre that is simultaneously fast-paced and in-depth? Then I urge you to buy a copy of The Way of Shadows, the first in the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks.
I love to read, but the fantasy/action genre — nor fiction in general — is typically not my cup of tea. Then again seldom do I know the author personally, as in this case. Brent and I went to Hillsdale College together, are fellow Sinfonians.
Having that sort of a personal connection with the author made it easy to pick up the book. But once I did, the crisp and colorful storytelling, the unpredictable plot, and the compelling characters were what kept the pages and chapters quickly turning. (more…)
It’s been a couple weeks since my last update on the baseball season for Civil Sense.
A great piece in yesterday’s Detroit News recounts the amazing feat of the 1984 Tigers’ 35-5 start. A quarter century later, this year’s Detroit squad is nowhere near the caliber of dominance of the franchise’s last world champions.
I have a friendly rivalry going this season with blogger Civil Sense from The Colorado Index. Today seemed like a good a time as any to point it out. Baseball is a long season, but his Cleveland Indians have slipped to the worst record in the Major Leagues after back-to-back home shutout losses to my Detroit Tigers.
Tonight’s 4-0 victory was great, but the finish couldn’t match the 1-0 thriller on Friday — when Tigers ace Justin Verlander carried his two-hit shutout into the ninth inning. Grady Sizemore came to the plate with one on and one out when … well, watch for yourself:
Yep, that’s my boy: Curtis Granderson. And my Detroit Tigers a game out of first place and six games ahead of Cleveland. Ouch, Civil Sense. Ouch. (It can’t feel good for Indians fan Jeff, either.)
The good news for the Indians is that 80 percent of the season is left to play.