June 13, 2009 [LINK / comment]

College World Series 2009

The University of Virginia Cavaliers baseball team plays its first-ever College World Series game this evening, going against the LSU Tigers. If you look at the list of eight teams that qualified, you may notice a certain regional pattern. As the Washington Post pointed out, "This year, Virginia is the northernmost school in a field that includes Louisiana State, Cal-State Fullerton, Arkansas, North Carolina, Arizona State, Texas and Southern Mississippi." Location matters, indeed.

To a large extent, this built-in climate advantage for southern universities is permanent. One possible solution that would have collateral budgetary and academic benefits should be considered, however: Moving the standard university schedule forward by two weeks. Instead of the present spring semester lasting from mid-January until early May, you would go from early February until the end of May. For institutions in the north, that would save a great deal on heating bills. Schools that offer an intensive one-month term in May could simply move that to January, which would be more appropriate for travel to places like Latin America in any case. In most universities, summer school would remain essentially as it is.

Anyway, it's been fun watching TV reports of the U.Va. players getting treated like big stars, signing autographs for fans at Rosenblatt Stadium. Let's hope this charmed season ends on a happy note. smile

More fallout in Detroit

It seems that demolition at Tiger Stadium has taken a pause, but it's too late to turn back now, so don't get your hopes up. I know that some fans think that Tiger Stadium was overrated, and I [wouldn't] dispute that it had its share of faults. It was, however, an authentic embodiment of a baseball experience that few Americans can get any more, and I share the feelings of Detroit fans who mourn its passing.

In the National Hockey League Stanley Cup final game last night, the Detroit Red Wings squandered their home advantage and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1. Is this an example of bad karma, as a form of divine retribution for the sacrilege of gutting a "green cathedral"? Detroit has not won a hockey championship since 1955, whereas Pittsburgh has won twice, in 1991 and 1992. baseball In Pittsburgh, meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers beat the Pirates, 3-1. How ironic is that?

Tiger fan blogger John Parent has a "final goodbye to Tiger Stadium." Like the author Tom Stanton, whom I mentioned yesterday, John really "gets it" when it comes to understanding the true value of old ballparks.

In identifying those individuals in Detroit most at fault for the needless demise of Tiger Stadium, I should have mentioned George Jackson, head of the Economic Development Corp. He was named one of the "worst persons in the world" by the often-opinionated (to put it mildly) Keith Olbermann of MS-NBC. In an interview on WJR radio, Jackson called Tiger Stadium an "icon of urban blight." Links via [PreserveTigerStadium.com].

This enlarged profile of Tiger Stadium more clearly illustrates my conjecture that, in at least some parts of it, there were a few rows of seats behind the second set of support beams. If anyone who has been to a game there know for sure, please let me know.

Tiger Stadium

Used stadium for sale

Tiger Stadium is not the only abandoned major sporting venue in the Detroit area, and this surplus inventory may have raised pressure on officials to "liquidate" their stock. In the far-out suburb of Pontiac, the once-gleaming Silverdome sits all alone in a vast, weedy parking lot. Like Cuba, in a way, it serves as a monument to human folly. Last year a developer offered to buy it for $20 million, but the mayor of Pontiac, Clarence Phillips, objected on the grounds that the guys' finances were too shaky. The city is paying $1.5 million a year to maintain the Silverdome, most of which is for electricity to keep the dome inflated. See the Detroit Free Press. (They had the same problem at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, South Dakota, which is why they replaced the inflatable roof with a rigid structure a few years ago.)

Believe it or not, there was a proposal last year to create a "Global Baseball League" consisting of 10-12 countries that would have played most or all its games in the Silverdome beginning in April 2009. See sportsology.info. As far as I know, this hare-brained scheme didn't pan out.

Bosox sweep the Yanks

With all the baseball activity in Detroit and Omaha this week, I didn't pay due attention to what was going on in Boston. It's just as well, the way things turned out. The Red Sox have beat the Yankees in all eight games so far this year, and have now taken over first place in the AL East from the Yankees. frown

COMMENT by: Karl Bennett, of Orlando, FL on Jun 14, 2009 00:10 AM
The Red Wings won four Stanley Cups since the 54-55 season, including last year.

COMMENT by: Andrew Clem, of Staunton, VA on Jun 14, 2009 15:28 PM
Thank you, Karl, for the fact check, and likewise to Owen and Russ, two fans who sent me e-mail messages setting me straight. Russ gives more detail: "The Red Wings are noted as one of the most successful sports franchises ever, and that includes recently. They have won Stanley Cup titles in 199697, 199798, 200102, 200708. So no offense, but you could not have been more wrong about the Red Wings." Indeed, I owe hockey fans an apology for my ignorance of the sport. Chalk it up to mental exhaustion or just plain laziness, but I was relying on a 1996 reference guide even though I have more recent almanacs. -- Or MAYBE I was just testing to see what kind of a response I would get. (I wish.) Sorry, folks.