October 23, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Tigers even it up (just barely!)

If a team had to choose between winning only Game 1 or only Game 2 in a postseason playoff series, the latter would probably be preferred most often, so as to gain momentum for the subsequent road series. The Tigers absolutely had to win last night's game, but the way they did so did not exactly inspire confidence for the rest of the World Series. Once again, Kenny Rogers shouldered the burden of veteran starter with perfect poise for seven-plus innings -- the third straight game he allowed zero runs. And once again, Craig Monroe got things off on the right foot for the Tigers by hitting a first-inning homer. Everything was going fine until the ninth inning, when reliever Todd Jones bobbled a ground ball with two outs, allowing the Cardinals to start a last-ditch rally. They scored one run and loaded the bases, but Yadier Molina grounded out to end the comeback threat. Whew! Dodging a bullet like that is not characteristic of a championship team, so the Tigers still have a lot to prove. See MLB.com.

Detroit: rock city! *

Like Cleveland, Detroit has a strong tradition in rock music, hence the pre-game performances by Bob "Like a Rock" Seger on Saturday and John "Cougar" Mellencamp on Sunday. (Mellencamp is from nearby Indiana.) Both musicians have cashed in their working-class credentials by letting their tunes be used in TV car advertisements, and after all, Detroit is the home of the auto industry. Another famous Detroit-area rock musician is Ted Nugent, and sure enough, I heard his song "Stranglehold" being played on the Comerica Park PA system before Game 2. He is quite a character, playing extremely loud guitar, but he is clean-shaven, boasts a drug-free lifestyle, and is an avid hunter and outspoken Cultural Conservative. Go figure. I mentioned Ted on August 15 in connection with a joke about the French. Maybe he will show up to perform "Motor City Madhouse" in Game 6 or 7 (if necessary).

* That's the name of a 1999 movie (see imdb.com) based on a 1976 song by KISS.

MLB, players near labor deal

Negotiations between representatives of Major League Baseball and the Players' Association are close to reaching an agreement that would avert any work stoppage. Unlike the hair-raising situation in August 2002, the deadline is not imminent, so there is no risk of terms that would later turn out to be unsatisfactory to one side or the other. The fact that attendance remains on an upward trend, and that there has been a changing mix of teams in the postseason for the last few years, are signs that the sport is healthy overall. No one wants to take the blame for upsetting the apple cart. "Stay the course!?" See Washington Post.