this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
St. Xavier LB Sean Duggan is on his way home from his trip to Michigan. His Dad couldn't make the trip, but his Mom and Uncle (who's the equipment manager for the Detroit Lions) came.
Sean first told me he didn't have words to describe the visit. He said everything about it was awesome. They first toured the normal buildings, academic center, and the Big House. Sean and his family said they were in awe. He couldn't believe the size, and how nice it was. He was trying to compare it to his current field in high school, which holds 10,000 people. It seems like everything really blew them away. They got a chance afterwards to eat some local food, and take in campus.
They then met with the coaches. Greg Robinson sat with them, and talked about his experience, and why he liked Michigan. Sean and his family were very impressed that Rich Rodriguez actually sat with them for an hour to talk about everything.
He told me his Mom loved everything she saw, and so did Sean. Before this visit Sean didn't know too much about Michigan, but this visit vaults them into his top three.
I'm on my phone, so forgive me if there's any errors.
One of the big sticking points in the conference expansion talks is “Think of the poor students, and how far the women's field hockey team will need to travel.” I intend to evaluate that statement, and examine what difference, if any the proposed expansion scenarios have on it, as well as examine the effects of previous expansion (a.k.a Penn State).
|Colorado||Boulder, CO||920||880||1250||1240||1260||1300||1040||820||1360||1140||950||0||overall average|
As it stands now, the average distance between schools is 695 miles. Adding Texas and CU makes the max distance 2100 miles. Texas and Colorado are at least 800 miles away from every existing school, and already 950 miles from Boulder. And, it goes without saying, about 1200 miles from the Pacific. Adding CU and UT makes the new average 900 miles. On the surface, that’s a ton, but, by doing so, it allows the creation of an East and West conference, with the dividing line in Arizona or thereabouts. That should actually reduce the travel distance between in-conference schools. So what we could wind up with is some sort of Pac-8, and a South Western conference that has nothing to do with the Pacific. Or, given what’s going on today, anything and everything else.
The Big 10 is the conference we all know and love, and has a reasonable shape, making for much more manageable distances between schools. As it stands now, there is an average of 370 miles between schools, with Minnesota – Penn State the longest trip at about 900 miles. Note that Google maps is either aware of the Car Ferry, or assumes a Dukes-of-Hazzard-ish jump of Lake Michigan at Muskegon to get to Minneapolis and Madison. As always, chart:
|Champaign||Bloomington||Iowa City||Ann Arbor||East Lansing||Minneapolis||Evanston||Columbus||State College||West Lafayette||Madison||Lincoln||Columbia||South Bend|
|Michigan State||Ann Arbor||350||330||450||0||70||650||260||190||410||260||390||750||660||170|
|Penn State||State College||620||550||800||410||470||990||600||320||0||560||730||1100||860||500|
|Notre Dame||South Bend||200||200||300||170||150||500||110||280||500||150||240||600||450||0||overall average|
|pre minus PSU||262.2222||308.8889||345.5556||327.7778||301.1111||512.2222||217.7778||373.3333||248.8889||296.6667||319.4444|
It seems Missouri is less a given than it was yesterday, but I’ll leave it because it would make too much work to take it out. Adding those three makes the new average distance 400 miles, and Nebraska – Penn State is the long haul at 1100 miles. Once again, there would probably be East and West divisions in the conference to reduce the mileage even further, but a distance difference of 30 miles is pretty negligible.
Big-10 pre-Penn State
For those of you who have stuck with me this long, here’s the payoff. What effect would removing Penn State have on the distances? Or, how much effect did adding Penn State have originally? You can see that without Penn State, the average distance drops to 320 miles between teams, or a difference of about 50 miles.
What all this shows is that the net mileage difference from adding Nebraska, Missouri and Notre Dame would be less that the difference was just by adding Penn State, even without factoring in the divisional separation. The Pac-10, on the other hand, is already crazy, and adding anything east of Arizona is even more crazy. To put this in perspective, the CCHA has an exemption for any team that plays an Alaska team. Google maps says that it’s a 3800 mile drive from Ann Arbor to Fairbanks. The trip from Austin to Seattle is 2100 miles. Perhaps they will have exemptions for anyone making that trip.
I spoke with Andre Yruretagoyena today about the USC sanctions. USC is one of his top schools, along with Michigan, and Oregon. With the news coming out about the two year bowl ban, and loss of scholarships, we're probably going to see a reaction from most kids considering USC.
The same goes for Andre. I asked him what his reaction was, and he said, "I want to say it doesn't affect me, but it does. It's two years, which would end after my first year, so I would be there for it. I don't know if there's anything more, but if the NCAA finds more, then who knows what else they'll do. You never know with the NCAA."
While this isn't a complete step back away from their program, it will definitely have an effect on how recruits see their future. In this case, it could potentially be a big blow. The Chaparral head coach is very smart when it comes to this stuff, and usually does a good job with his players recruitment. I can't imagine they're not at least discussing this.
The potential transfers from USC's juniors and seniors could have a big effect on all this, as well. If some of their bigger name players decide to leave, you can be sure that recruits will notice.
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with a new installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH MAGNUS
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
Before we begin today, I'd like to thank Tim for the Diarist of the Month recognition. But really, all the thanks should go the featured members, not me-- they're
the ones that honestly make these so fun to read. (No homo.)
+1 to Oregon Alum for correctly predicting this week’s entry. Yes, of course it’s about time we featured the one and only Magnus. Treasured by many, hated by a select few, respected by all… Magnus plays a very specific role in the hallowed halls of MGoBlog—and to my surprise it wasn’t easy to put a finger on exactly
what that role is. And that seemed like the perfect place to
start in this exclusive MGoProfile interview:
1. It’s strange… I couldn’t imagine an MGoBlog without your two cents, and yet, unlike Mathlete or Jamiemac, it’s hard for me to nail down your specialty. So, in your own words, what role does Magnus play at MGoBlog?
Well, it all depends on perspective. From my perspective, I'm a fact-checking, football-loving, generally level-headed fan who spends too much time on the internet. To many readers, I'm a pot-stirring Devil's advocate. I'm sure the true answer lies somewhere between those two extremes. Regardless, I like to think that I have an eye for football talent and schemes, along with an ability to relate those observations in terms that can be easily understood by experienced and novice fans alike. I'm also funny on occasion, but that usually only happens late at night when I'm lonely, trying to woo female Brian Posehn doppelgangers on eHarmony.
(Note: I simply cannot express how disappointed and confused I became after actually googling ‘Brian Posehn,’ but I suppose that’s another story). How did you discover MGoBlog? And, given someone who patrols these waters, so to speak, what do you like best and/or least about our community?
I discovered MGoBlog during the 2006 football season. I had been writing blog posts about Michigan football on MySpace, but none of my friends cared because most of them were MSU fans. After I wrote a post about how deep Michigan's backfield was behind Mike Hart, none of my friends commented. Actually, I think one of my female friends commented and said, "I like reading your blogs, but when I see that they're about football, I stop reading." So I decided I needed to find some more like-minded individuals. The thing I like best about MGoBlog is the variety of contributors. We have bloggers, coaches, Mathletes, Facebook stalkers. I think there's even a girl or two. If someone has a question, the answer is only a forum post away. Least liked is the meltdowns. I didn't really "arrive" on MGoBlog until halftime of the 2007 Michigan-Northwestern game. Haloscan was going nuts when Michigan was down 16-7 at intermission, and I called everyone "pussies" for the ways they were acting - renouncing Michigan fandom, calling for Lloyd Carr's head, etc. The game wasn't even close to being over, but I'm pretty sure I was threatened with death. Meanwhile, Michigan scored 21 unanswered points in the second half and won the game, 28-16.
2. Ah yes, the vortex of negativity that is the LiveBlog. From what I’ve seen, you haven’t posted your own diaries since somewhere around the Shavodrick Defection. Certainly this has much to do with the creation of touchthebanner.blogspot. Tell us about the formation of the blog, and how it stands out from other blogs about Michigan football.
My blog posts on MGoBlog were met with some ill will. People reacted negatively to my "Pink Slips" series, which tried to identify weak links on offense and defense. They thought I was being too negative about players, but I was also saying, "Hey, I think this backup might be pretty good." Then Shavodrick Beaver, a 2008 quarterback who was supposed to enroll early, spurned U of M for Tulsa at the eleventh hour. The board went crazy, and I responded by essentially saying, "Let's all calm down. Forcier is better, and we still have until February to pick up another QB in this class, anyway." People weren't too happy with my mindset. Of course, the guy who replaced Beaver was Denard Robinson, who's arguably the team's most exciting player going into 2010. After that I started posting at Touch the Banner more often. I'm no computer whiz, but I figured I'd show off my Neanderthal programming skills and mediocre football knowledge over there. That way MGoBloggers wouldn't have to read my opinions unless they found them worthy of visiting another site. It gives me the freedom to say what I want, and I try to make it different by offering analysis on current and potential Wolverines. I also created an offer board that attempts to track every Michigan scholarship offer, which I hadn't seen elsewhere. Brian does a great job with his UFRs, which I devour, but I try to offer a different perspective. It's also a chance for me to make predictions - about game outcomes, player development, etc. - and check later to see if I was right.
Sounds like coachspeak. You’re a coach, correct? Tell us—why football? What makes football the king of the jungle?
Yes, I've been coaching football for several years now. Football is the quintessential test of overall athleticism. Speed, leaping ability, hand-eye coordination, strength, courage, spatial intelligence, endurance. And on any given play, you might get the chance to demolish someone and make him forget his birthday. It's also a test of leadership. I've been on and coached some teams with all kinds of talent but poor leadership, and the results have been less than satisfactory. I learn way more about a kid by how he practices, how he treats his teammates, how he responds to coaching, and how he reacts to pressure than seeing him in class every day.
3. Many Bothan spies died to give us the knowledge that our own Magnus, so named for his resemblance to a fearsome Viking warrior, was indeed once a member of the Glee Club. Tell us about this experience and how it relates to your passion for Meeshigan football.
I've always taken pride in trying to be a well rounded individual. When I was in high school, we had quarterbacks, linebackers, and linemen in choir. I was never embarrassed to be a singer. And I'm an ugly guy, but any fella in a tuxedo looks just a little less repulsive. So when my high school choir director found out I was going to U of M, he recommended that I join the Men's Glee Club. Much like MGoBoard, there were guys with all kinds of interests who had a singular passion. One had been a walk-on football player. Another works for the Obama administration. Another joined the Armed Forces. And on football Saturday mornings, 20 to 30 of us would walk around to tailgate parties, sing Michigan songs, and try to sell our CDs. All those songs you hear the marching band play on Saturdays? Glee Clubbers might be the only people in the stadium who actually know all the words . . . and are dorky enough to sing them.
Hey, I have a UM Glee Club CD that gets played often during the months of September and November (I’m a big fan of “Go Blue, Let’s Go Blue!”), and there's nothing like rockin' out with that ol' thing on a Friday morning to get you good and nuts about the next day's game. And you can all quote me on that.
4. So when you’re not reciting the words to the second verse of “Varsity,” what do you like to do for fun on your own time?
Like I said above, I pride myself on at least attempting to be a well rounded individual. I work out six days a week when it's not football season, and I'm beginning the process to become a personal trainer. My girlfriend and I hike the nearby mountain trails. I sing in a choir, and I just started singing in a rock cover band - Tom Petty, White Stripes, Oasis, Radiohead, the Toadies, etc. I go to a lot of concerts and read music magazines like Magnet and Paste. The sound quality of an mp3 is atrocious, so I refuse to go digital; I have 600+ CDs and counting. One of my goals for this summer is to read a book a week. I tend toward fiction like Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis, but I also have a fascination with Mafia memoirs and instructional football literature. The only thing I won't try at least once is jumping from something high in the air. If God had intended for us to fly, he would have made the ground softer.
Sweet—you had me at Radiohead. Describe the perfect meal.
Well, my mother is Italian, which means she knows how to cook. The meal would start with a recipe for chili that she commandeered from a local Coney Island. It's not soup so much as it's spicy, liquid meatloaf. That would be followed by her lasagna and meatballs. The dessert would be my grandfather's homemade cannoli with chocolate chips in the cream, along with my grandmother's two-layer banana cake with cream cheese icing.
5. Great, now I'm literally drooling all over my 2007 Student Shirt here. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
An elementary school friend asked if I wanted to go with his family to a game one Saturday, and I took him up on it. I still have the ticket stub. On November 4, 1989, Michigan crushed Purdue, 42-27. The only three guys I remember from that game are Leroy Hoard, Tony Boles, and Erick Anderson. I remember thinking, "My entire town could fit in this stadium." Actually, my entire hometown could have fit in Michigan Stadium four times over, but I don't think I knew my times tables at that point. So I was hooked. Some of my best childhood memories are from my entire family sitting down on New Year's Day to watch the Rose Bowl or the Orange Bowl or the Outback Bowl and watching Michigan play. It meant so much to me, my mom even looked up from her Ladies Home Journal two or three times a half. She just liked to see the rest of us happy when Michigan won.
6. Finally, the staple last question-- who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
This is probably a cliche, but Tom Brady. He was just so cool under pressure, like against Alabama in the Orange Bowl. Brady threw the ball 46 times in that game, and he completed 34 of them, with four TDs, to win in overtime. That game was unbelievable. And from my perspective, it helps that he staved off Drew Henson for the QB job. I played against Henson when he was a Brighton Bulldog, and he beat us late in the game. I still hold a grudge against him for that. You too, Dave Pearson.
Drew Henson… it took me a long time to forgive him for skipping town for the Bronx bombers. Any specific stories about playing against Henson, Pearson, or any other Wolverines??
In the lead-up to our playoff game against Henson, there was literally a preview headline that referred to him as "God." On Brighton's first series, he hit a wide receiver named Steve Schaft on a slant route that went about 65 or 70 yards for a TD. Henson didn't do a whole lot for most of the rest of the game. They kept running a fullback dive out of the shotgun and we were stuffing it all day. The story goes that he drew the following play up on the sideline during a timeout: Near the goal line late in the game, they ran another fullback dive, but Henson pulled the ball out and ran around right end for a TD. I doubt that play wasn't already in the playbook, but that's how the legend goes. Dave Pearson didn't do anything special except hit me really hard. He was large.
Given that the guy’s recently cracked the 24,000+ MGoPoints barrier, it goes without saying that he does his fair share of posting and then some. And, really, I think that’s where Magnus does his best work—walking a fine line between humor and documented fact, displaying a well-above-average understanding of the game, questioning validity when needed, and holding all of us to a reasonable standard of intelligence, credibility, and yes, even grammar. He’s a stamp of authenticity, and a voice that stands out in the crowd. He’s the guy three rows behind you who yells out everything that you’re thinking during the game. He’s the gray-haired celebrity judge on Iron Chef America who isn’t necessarily liked by everyone, but is nonetheless respected because he knows his business. He’s freakin’ Magnus, and around here
we all understand what that is.
And yet, for a guy who deals in such high volume, it’s surprising how little we know about him. I enjoyed gaining some new perspective on the guy behind the wisecracks and the insight, and realizing that there’s much more iceberg below the water that we just can’t see. I guess that could be said about all of us, and that’s what
these Profiles are all about, Charlie Brown.
I’ll see you all next week for another edition of MGoProfile!
Alright, folks, calm down. Cal-... No. I said relax. Stop... will you stop screaming? Okay... good. Now come out of the corner. Good. Now lets have a bit of a history lesson, okay. Just a little.
In the early 20th century, the wealthiest man in America, without question, was one John D. Rockefeller. The name associated with so many good works and warm, fuzzy thoughts of a better time was a rich son of a gun, as I'm sure you all knew. What you did NOT know, however, was that, prior to 1914, he was also one of the most hated men in America. He was regarded as selfish, materialistic, out of touch, curmudgeonly, grumpy, old, ugly, and an easy target for the media.
Being an older gentleman, he only had a partial knowledge of the exact goings on of his companies, and being christian, he chose to make all of his philanthropies private. He also did not make himself available to the press because they insisted on lampooning him. This personality and style of living carried on to his children, most notably John Jr., who was just as lampooned.
In 1914, things got their worst, when Miners at a Ludlow, Colorado mine owned by Rockefeller organized a strike due to the extremely poor conditions and pay at the mine. I won't go into great detail, but eventually the National Guard arrived, and though reports dispute the specifics of what happend, it is known that 19 people (including two children) from the strikers and their families' were massacred.
After this, Rockefeller Jr.'s already horrible reputation dropped like a rock to the point that people were calling for him to be brought up on criminal charges, and all of his companies, which employed many, many thousands, were at risk.. It was only this horrific turn of events that caused Rockefeller Jr. to take care of his image. He visited the mine site after this, met with the miners, improved their conditions and pay, made public the information regarding all the money he gave to charity, and worked with specially selected press and media to cultivate the right image. In a short time, he transformed his image to a genial, kindly, giving, worldly gentleman with a soft spot for the public interest.
This is generally known as the birth of Public Relations. Here's where this ties in to our story today.
He only did so much image work because his livelyhood and those of all his thousands of employees were at severe risk. He did not care, one whit, what the public thought of him. Simply put, he was too important for that. He didn't read articles that insulted him, his person, or his choices and get upset that people might be thinking poorly of him. He didn't worry that he was a discussion of negativity at dinner tables around the world. Important people do not care what you think. They don't, and they shouldn't. You, your friends, your local newscasters and their bosses don't matter to important people.
Rich Rodriguez is our coach in 2010. It's a fact. He will do everything within his power to ensure it stays that way in the future. He doesn't care if Drew Sharpe insults him. He doesn't fear that somebody in the Admissions department has it out for him and is keeping his recruits out. The only man at his workplace more important than him does not have it out for him, and therefore, his livelyhood is not threatened. Dave Brandon and MSC aren't going to let somebody mess with the rules just to mess with RR. They want him to succeed. If they didn't, they'd not be defending him. Then he would care. Here's what he cares about, wins and losses.
So the next time you worry that our coach is staying up nights worrying about what the papers will print tomorrow, or that somebody in cubicle 12 in admissions wants to put a knife in his back, stop. He is too important to care what they think. He cares about wins, and losses. Be a fan. Support him, and help him win. Then, it won't matter if he cares what the detractors think. Because their won't be any.
Edit: Since some people have been unclear on the point of all this, let me respecify. Quite simply, the point is to show that it takes a boondoggle of EPIC proportions before important people care what the less important people think. It takes something that is truly, truly threatening to them. Nothing to that level has yet happened. A couple of bad years and a recruiting/admissions snafu, with the support of Brandon, aren't leaving Rodriguez feeling threatened.
John Bird and [best name ever for a Southern blogger] Winfield Tufts of the Georgia Tech blog From the Rumble Seat have been publishing an ongoing series comparing the sports teams and fans of various cities. The series has been linked on MGoBlog, which was how I found it. Apparently, my commentary on there (most of which is repeated below) was enough that John and [I love it!] Winfield offered me an opportunity to reply with some thoughts as to the rivalries and traditions of Detroit area sports, to which I dutifully applied the Misopogonal treatment.
You can find the article here (as well as learn my real name). Below is the entirety of my response to John.
Hey, John. Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this. Any time you're on a To: line with the likes of Cook and Kurt you're like one step short of Fu-Te Ni in this town.
Well, there's um THE GAME. The one ESPN called the greatest rivalry in sports. The one where 100,000+ people pack into some 90-year-old stadium or other in late November and the hits rattle the whole country. Michigan has a history of taking its greatest players (Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard, et al.) out of Ohio State's backyard, then using them to beat the best Buckeye teams. The Buckeyes have a history of deserving it.
Key moments: Two Heisman Trophies were won on long returns, a guy named Tshimanga Biakabutuka had so many yards that everyone in both states learned how to spell his name correctly, and in 2006 the teams came in ranked No. 1 and 2 a day after Bo Schembechler died, and no less than three universes were born.
Michigan also has a "we respect you, now die" rivalry with Notre Dame, a sibling rivalry with Michigan State that's as heated in-state as it isn't outside of it, and the Little Brown Jug game with Minnesota, which I guess is significant if only because we were trading a goofy object as a trophy long before it was cool to do so.
Like Michigan, the Red Wings' consistent historical success has created strong enmities among the detritus left in our wake. Some, like Colorado, Chicago and Toronto, are returned to sender (after packing the envelope with cast-off car parts), though there are others who call themselves our rivals whom we have to be reminded of, like St. Louis, or Anaheim, which I think is in Switzerland or something.
Key moments: A vicious, face-rearranging hit from behind, by Colorado forward Claude Lemieux on Wings speedster Kris Draper in the 1996 playoffs, set up a game that got its own name. "Fight Night at the Joe," March 26, 1997, one of the most legendary nights of hockey in NHL history, featured 11 goals, a goalie fight, and revenge served cold as Red Wing grinder (and Draper's best buddy) Darren McCarty turned Lemieux into a turtle, and then later scored the game-winner on an overtime breakaway.
Though no one rivalry really stands out, Tigers/White Sox is the on-again, off-again hate-hate relationship for baseball [added: which as of June 9, 2010 stands at 1,000 to 999 in favor of Detroit]. It was on-again until we traded South Chicagoan Curtis Granderson and the "Wrong Sox" went into a Darrell Evans-in-Atlanta Era "let's pick up every washout veteran on the market" mode.
Historically, we were very early Yankee-haters, and also had a short but epic late-'90s us-or-them thing going with Toronto. When we do make it to the World Series (eight times), the Cubs or Cardinals have a knack for being there waiting. Oh, and we hate losing to Cleveland. Do they know we hate losing to Cleveland?
Key moment: You guys in Atlanta like pitchers' duels, right? Game 7 of the 1968 World Series, St. Louis: the Tigers send out Mickey Lolich, on two days rest after pitching twice already in the Series, to face Bob Gibson, who was coming off a World Series record 17-strikeout outing. Victor....Lolich, who took the game 4-1.
When the Pistons have our 'fros up, we're the Crassus of the NBA's First Triumvirate, the Smoltz (Warren, MI) to Boston and LA's Glavine/Maddux, the Zeke to their Magic and Bird. When not, we're content to play foil for whatever bull they're peddling in the Cut-Windy City.
Key moments: The late-'80s Pistons earned their nickname "Bad Boys" in the 1987 series with Boston, a 7-game dogfight so gritty it might have made hockey players blush. In '88, Isiah Thomas, playing on a severely sprained ankle, scored 25 points in the 4th quarter of Game 6 against the Lakers, and might have won the Championship right then and there, but for a questionable call that gave L.A. a pair of game-ending free throws.
The Lions' biggest rivalry has been no less intense despite being wholly one-sided for the last 53 years. That rivalry is with their fans, who continue to fill the stadium every Sunday as the Lions have continued to find ways to torture us for it.
Key moment: After definitively proving himself the worst GM in the history of sports, in 2005, the Lions re-signed Matt Millen to a five-year contract extension that made Millen, at the time, the highest-paid executive in the NFL.
The nice part about being the most Jake, bee’s knees, barney-mugging, cat’s pajamas town this side of the Atlantic during the decade that major sports shaped themselves (1920s) is that Detroit has had a long time to come up with traditions (kind of like how we Jews have accumulated 3,000 years worth of holidays).
The list of traditions starts like this: “Hail to the Victors,” the opening salvo to Michigan's acclaimed fight song which we like to think of as the second-most popular diddy in the United States behind the one written by Francis Scott Key.* The Victors is best enjoyed while leaping to touch the “M Club Supports You” banner before home games.
* Key's lesser-known hits from the same night include Can I Have My Doctor Back? You Can Stop Firing, It's Been 25 Hours -- I Think You Got It, and Get Me the Fuck Off This Ship.
No list of Detroit traditions can be complete without flying mollusks, i.e. our penchant for hurling octopi on the ice during Red Wings playoff games. The ‘Legend of the Octopus’ dates back to the 1952 playoffs, when eight legs symbolized the eight wins needed to win the Stanley Cup. The tradition has remained unique to the Red Wings due to two remarkable features: 1) we have our own closely guarded code for when it is appropriate to toss an octopus, something copycat tossers have yet to figure out, and 2) they are actually really slimy and gross and smelly and nobody would touch those things if it wasn’t already a 50-year-old tradition.
Less famous is the tradition of Red Wing lady fans tying a red string in their hair for each playoff win, and a white for each playoff loss (due to the playoffs often lasting two or three months, the ribbons are now usually tied to a hat or wrist).
A relatively recent tradition has been the dressing up of the city’s signature sculpture, “The Spirit of Detroit.” The iconic sitting man by the late Detroit-area sculptor Marshall Fredericks (our resident Michelangelo) tends to rock a giant jersey of whichever local team seems to be making a championship run.
The non-big sports have been pretty big in Detroit for long enough to have their own established traditions. One is “The Monster,” a Links series golf course at Oakland Hills Country Club that hosted the 2004 Ryder Cup and 2008 PGAChampionship, its name stemming from being a really hard course before the big courses started Tiger-proofing. Sailing is a big thing here, too, as much as sailboat racing can be a thing outside of the British Empire. The Port Huron-Mackinac sailboat race, organized by Detroit-based Bayview Yacht Club, is one of the largest freshwater races in the world (the other being the Chicago-Mackinac).
If there’s anything redeeming about Lions football it’s this: when your wife and mother-in-law are arguing over the proper temperature to cook stuffing, you are not in the kitchen, because you are in the living room, because since 1934, the Detroit Lions have been playing Thanksgiving Football. We give thanks.
The Tigers' traditions, like their rivalries, seem to be fleeting, though old ones start back up from time to time (like rookies getting washed with champagne after their first MLB homer, started by Lance Parrish in the ’80s and brought back this year). The longest tenured that is currently active is the chant, “Eat ’em up Tigers, eat ’em up!” which originated with a local panhandler. A more entertaining street entertainer around Detroit-area home games is a rhyming drummer who makes disparaging quips, quite intelligently, about passers-by who decline to give him change.
“Gum Time,” mostly a feature of 2006, was the Tigers’ version of the rally cap, stemming from starting pitcher Nate Robertson’s (now with the Marlins) stuffing of lots of Big League Chew in his mouth to spur comebacks (this worked).
There is one Tiger tradition that has lasted the ages, and like the city, it is simple yet classic. It’s a D. It’s in an Olde English font. We wear it. Always.
The Pistons’ most prominent traditions have a strong whiff of annoyance: an announcer with a jeering way of claiming Detroithas possession, and giving the opening introductions to Europe’s “The Final Countdown.” We know this does not speak well of us, but we enjoy are comfortable with that.
A few Detroit traditions have died but are still remembered fondly. One was an annual just-before-Opening Day exhibition against AAA Toledo. Another – this one ruined by an uncaring Roger Stern – was family-friendly MLK Day basketball with the Pistons. Other dead traditions are best left to history, such as drunken brawls at the Silverdome during Lions losses.
Michigan’s marching band also has a neat tradition of playing “Temptation” followed by “The Hawaiian War Chant,” because, according to
tradition state law Hammurabic code “You can’t have one without the other.”
Ultimately, Detroit’s greatest tradition is probably its fans (our announcers always say so), and, with certain very big exceptions, our media. The two are connected. Allow for elaboration:
From the late, great Ernie Harwell to the passionate Bob Ufer, fatherly Jim Brandstatter, and friendly team of Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond, we have been singularly lucky in broadcast voices.
We boasted several nationally renowned sportswriters throughout the 20th century (the last being the pre-sappy-period Mitch Albom), and these in turn gave way to probably the most robust and intellectual blogging base in the country, from Pride of SB Nation Bless You Boys, to the NHL blogging clearinghouse Kukla’s Korner, and of course the preeminent MGoBlog.
Yet our most cherished blogging treasure is a slightly unstable woman named Samara Pearlstein who dies inside with every Tigers out, and whose mix of self-drawn artwork and effervescent writing creates perhaps the most poignant sports commentary on the Internet.
Make no mistake: our major newspaper columnists are generally utter crap, and our talk radio (now down to one station) trades almost solely in polemics. Yet the blogosphere over Southeast Michiganhas been strong enough that when a Brazilian guy said he had never seen a Red Wings game, the fanbase raised enough money to fly him to Detroitand rectify that five times over (donating the rest to charity). And just this week, not 24 hours after his call blew the first perfect game by a Tiger in our century-plus history, Tigers fans cheered Jim Joyce for owning up to his mistake. That kind of mercy doesn’t come from Yahoo boards.
Also (shameless appeal) this once came off the line in Detroit:
(the car, not the passengers. We wish we could produce those passengers)
That's it. That's my case for Motown. We are not the most populous city anymore, but we fill our stadiums, and since half of Detroit's population has split to the four winds, when our teams are in town we tend to fill everyone else's stadiums as well. That is why, when your poll closes, I believe it will end like this: "Michigan, the Champions of the West."
What a great ending.