Category: Sports - Original Written by Jordan Brazell
The month of August typically marks the beginning of back to school sales, back to school shopping and the end of summer fun as students know it. However August 1-7, approximately 1050 Detroit and metro- Detroit youth (male and female), ages 8 to 19, chose to live in the moment by involving themselves in fun, family, and baseball as they took part in the 2013 Detroit Tigers Hometown Championship.
The Detroit Tigers Hometown Championship, originally the Hometown World Series, began in 1995 as a baseball tournament hosted by the Youth Development Commission, featuring 28 teams from Detroit and surrounding areas. Every year since, the tournament has been successfully run, as it now accommodates 69 teams in seven respective divisions: machine-pitch (8 & under), 10 & under, 12 & under, 14 & under, 14 & under softball (girls), high school boys, and 19 & under softball (girls).
Along with the Youth Development Commission, the Hometown Championships are put on in partnership by the City of Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as the Detroit Tigers Foundation.
The Detroit Tigers Foundation, which is an affiliate of Illitch Charities, has been a part of this ‘Play Baseball Detroit’ initiative since 2008, and a huge part of the success of the program both financially and collaboratively, as stated by YDC Out-of-School program director Audrean Williams.
“They give us a grant to implement the championship tournament. We put in a proposal and say what we think it’ll cost and what we need to make it successful and they give us the funds, then Sam Abrams (from the Detroit Tigers) and I work together to make it absolutely wonderful,” said Williams.
At five o’clock p.m. on Aug. 1, the Hometown tourney officially kicked off at the beautiful Detroit Balduck Park, with the opening ceremony (being held) on the field. Alongside tournament players, family members, and friends, the ceremony also featured the Boys Scouts of America Color Guard, the Detroit Renaissance Drum Line, and songstress Arnesia Jones who sang the National Anthem. The Mayor of Detroit, the honorable Dave Bing, was also on hand to offer words of encouragement to the children and to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Mayor Bing, who fancies himself as “a (darn) good baseball player”, stressed the significance of teaching the young people the game of baseball, as well as the elusive elements of sports that can be used on and off the field.
“I think it’s so important that our young people have a chance to learn about sports, and sportsmanship,” Bing said. “It’s not just about winning, it’s about understanding how to play the game, because you’re not always going to win.”
One of the Hometown Championship’s efforts to teach players ‘how to play the game’ was by this year adding the Boys High School Showcase. The Showcase took place on the Wayne State University (WSU) campus on August 1, with Wayne State’s baseball coaching staff and players overseeing all of the action. The idea of this showcase was to attract players who have their sights set on playing baseball on the collegiate level, then giving them the opportunity to challenge themselves in a college setting while receiving fundamental skills training from college players and coaches.
Heading up this event was WSU assistant coach John DiLaura. DiLaura, who according to wsuathletics.com, is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and one of the newest additions to the Warriors’ coaching staff, felt it was a great thing for the players to be able to come out and display their skills.
“It was good to give these kids the opportunity to showcase their ability,” DiLaura said. “It was good for Wayne State to partner up with the Tigers and give these kids a chance. Overall it was just a great experience.”
According to Coach DiLaura, there were about 50 kids in attendance, with ages ranging from 14-18. For the younger players, he explained that it was great for them to be out there getting experience early. The same can be said for the tournament participants in the machine-pitch, 10 and 12 & under divisions that competed in the Pitch, Hit, and Run competition.
As we all know, no child likes to be left out, so while the High School Prospects had their showcase, the PHR competition presented the younger athletes the same opportunity to show off their throwing arms, hitting power, quick feet and running ability.
Coordinating the competition was Steve Brown, who serves as the head coach of the baseball squad at Henry Ford Community College. Coach Brown has been involved with the Hometown Championships since its inception and has seen the growth over the years. One of the things he mentioned about the growth of the program was the Pitch, Hit, and Run competition as he iterated that “having the competition, added another piece where kids were able to display some of their individual skills and (you know) have some fun with it.”
As Brown confirmed the kids’ excitement in participating and his excitement in hosting PH&R, he also spoke on the event in terms of it being a teaching tool for the young players.
“I thought it would give them some things to work at, in terms of the different skills; whether it’s their speed, their swing, or their throwing and their accuracy…so it was just good overall,” Brown stated.
To continue to live up to the billing of the DTHC being a ‘good (or great) overall experience’, the Detroit Tigers and YDC held their Community Fun Day on August 3, which also took place at Balduck. There from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., an estimated 200 fun day attendees of all ages were treated to an extraordinary day of fun in the park with food, arts & crafts, games and more.
“We had not only all of the ball games going on, but at Balduck park we had a tent with arts & crafts, MY TV20 (media partner) supported us with bouncers, the kids did face painting, and (we had) popcorn and ice cream,” Williams (of YDC) said. “It was just a way for the community to come in and take part.”
Williams explained that Community Fun Day was their way of giving back to the community, but as it turns out, having a youth-centered group of events with a plethora of positive reinforcement is a gift within itself. It gives kids a platform, in which they may strive to do something good (and fun). Also, it gives parents and family the opportunity to support all the children and enjoy the City of Detroit.
“It was good to be down here to see this side of the city. Balduck was good, this field (Woodbridge Community Center) was good; heck of a time. Everybody was great. Everything (was great): the free popcorn, the family day with the bounce houses, everything. They really did a great job, they really did,” said Mike Kelly, a parent from St. Claire Shores.
“First of all, the facility (U of D Mercy) is a beautiful facility; we had one game here before. Today was a challenging day. Both teams played to the best of their skill, but in the long run, the (Butzel) Phoenix were the winners, which everybody kind of knew they were going to be (laughs),”inputted Detroit parent, Sherry Billingslea.
No matter which teams the parents (family and friends) rooted for, the one resounding fact was that they were there, involved, which is something the mayor credits the Hometown Championship for fostering in the community:
“Anytime that you have something like this, in the community, the community gets engaged. Whenever the community gets engaged, you’re looking at success,” Bing added. “So not only do you have the young people involved, but you have a lot of parents involved and community people involved. It’s important in helping to bring our city back.”
The Detroit Tigers and Youth Development Commission collaborated to organize the awesomeness that was (and is) the Detroit Tigers Hometown Championship; however the unsung partner in this three-headed effort was the City of Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation. Every field in use during the hometown championship was located within the city limits, something which attracted Maheras-Gentry site coordinator Rhonda Adams to join the DTHC team.
“I think it’s actually awesome,” said Adams. “I grew up playing baseball and softball so it’s really cool to start bringing this stuff back into the City of Detroit.”
While the three championship sites were located at Woodbridge Community Center, University of Detroit Mercy, and Wayne State University, the DPR had the honor of hosting every single tournament game. Those three host fields were the previously mentioned Balduck Park, Maheras-Gentry playfield and Stoepel Park, which are the home fields for the Eagle Sports Club, Think Detroit PAL, and Rosedale Grandmont baseball leagues, respectively.
All three of the leagues provided top quality, manicured fields which allowed all the players the opportunity to give their all on the field. Though it may have seemed like just a small task, preparing the field of play was almost as important as organizing the actual tournament.
Nonetheless, the Eagles Sports Club and Think Detroit PAL (as well as Rosedale Grandmont) expressed their gratitude, as well as excitement, for the games that were played on their respective sites:
“It was a great experience to have kids playing at Maheras-Gentry. It was exciting hosting it and having kids from different parts of the city come play on Detroit PAL’s site,” said Greg Hicks from Think Detroit PAL.
“It’s always exciting to see baseball, at its’ best, being played inside of the City of Detroit,” said Terry Brennan of Eagle Sports. “Over the course of four days, Balduck Park saw many exciting games, hundreds of kids and families having fun, all thanks to the Detroit Tigers and YDC.”
In addition to the opening ceremony and community fun day, Balduck Park was also the place for tournament action in the machine-pitch and 10 and under divisions. The machine-pitch tournament took place from Aug. 2-5, featuring 10 teams competing in a double-elimination format, with the championship pitting the American league champion Lac St. Clair Bulldogs up against the National league champs, Lincoln Park North (at Woodbridge Comm. Center). In the Championship game, the Bulldogs were victorious; however, as head coach Chris Ritter put it, “the most important part of the day was getting ice cream.”
“This was actually our first year – we’re just getting involved and what a great tournament. Thank you (Detroit Tigers Hometown Championship) for having us, and we really had a nice time,” said Ritter.
Eleven teams comprised the 10 & under division, which did battle from August 1. to August 5., when the Detroit Bees (American League) defeated the Detroit Dreamers, the champions of the National League, at Woodbridge. The 12 & 14 and under divisional tournaments both lasted August 1-6 and concluded with the Detroit Bees and Southfield Cardinals capturing the crowns in the respective divisions.
At the University of Detroit-Mercy, the 14 & under and 19 & under girls softball tournaments (August 1-6) both closed out in a championship doubleheader on the campus’ softball field. In the 14 & under title game, Love Train bested the Orioles in convincing fashion, which is something 14-year-old Detroiter Brooke Thomas says was a great feeling.
“I feel like I’ve proven myself sort of,” Thomas said. “I think it was really a lot of fun, just coming out here and playing with these girls and having them put their all out there on the field.”
In game two (19 and under), the Butzel Phoenix outlasted Taylor Baseball in a close two-run game; a game which went back and forth, with no lack of competitiveness, as Alexis Powell, a 19-year-old Canton native pointed out.
“This last game was great competition. I think we all needed that,” said Powell. “I think it’s really special for some of these girls. We may not all get the ability to play on these fields every day, so when we do, it’s a real blessing. The win was just icing on the cake.”
all of the winning teams during the DTHC were honored at the August 15th Tigers game at Comerica Park, in a special on-field ceremony before the game.
The final game of the 2013 Detroit Tigers Hometown Championship resided in the baseball diamond at WSU on August 7, between the Motor City Prospects and the Detroit A’s. In the contest, the M.C. Prospects, who Coach Ward Elliott said are a collection of scouted players from Detroit and surrounding area, ultimately were too much for the A’s to handle, as the Prospects claimed the High School division.
Even in the defeat, Detroit A’s head Coach Ray Stephen had nothing but kind words for the DTHC, calling it “a well-planned, well-organized championship”. Also, Coach Stephen expressed his gratefulness to the Detroit Tigers Foundation’s initiative, ‘Gloves for Kids’, for helping his program by supplying them with baseball equipment for the season.
“The Tigers have been real good to us in that respect,” Stephen said. “I call Sam, I tell him what I need and he tells me to come on down.”
After the game, 17-year-old Motor City Prospects pitcher Damon Ellis (from Detroit) said, “It helps just getting better every day so colleges can notice me. I hope to play college baseball one day so every day I got to put in my work so I can get better.”
The showcases, competitions, and the tournaments allowed the players the chance to get better, in addition to the opening for exposure, which is something that Prospects coach and Chicago Cubs Associate Scout Ward Elliott found was crucial to discovering the underrated talent in the city. Ward, who trains some of the state’s best players at the Redford Cage (12592 Inkster Rd.) in Redford, MI, mentioned that showcases like the Hometown Championship were important because, “it allows scouts to really get to know the inner-city players. It allows them to get out there and really judge the talent.” “There’s a lot of talent in Detroit, especially for baseball,” said Elliot. “We only have like 4-6 get drafted per year, but we have outstanding talent in the City of Detroit.”
Above everything else that the Detroit Tigers Hometown Championship had to offer, it offered the players the chance to be better, by doing more and seeing more. The Pitch, Hit, and Run Competitions, H.S. Showcases, and the tournaments themselves gave the players added repetition along with the chance to be coached by coaches that take time out of their schedules to be there and teach players the game of baseball, on top of life through baseball, because as Coach Ray Stephen so insightfully indicated it, “the way you live should be the way you play the game.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 October 2013 15:20
Category: Sports - Original Written by Nick Hopson
Last season, the Tigers were able to take care of the Athletics in the fifth game of the ALDS. Justin Verlander was able to lead the Tigers to a win in game one and game five. This season it is Max Scherzer who has the ace spot in the rotation.
The likely Cy Young winner will face off against Bartolo Colon in the opener. Bartolo Colon is coming off a stellar year, going 18-6 with a 2.65 era. While his record and ERA are similar to Scherzer’s, there is one key difference. Scherzer had 240 strikeouts to Colon’s 117. Colon’s contact style pitching will most likely get him into trouble against the high powered Tiger offense.
Bartolo Colon also seems to be the ageless wonder. He is putting up career numbers at 40 years old. Last season Colon missed the playoffs due to a 50 game PED suspension. You cannot help but wonder about his late career resurgence. An overweight pitcher having resurgence at 40 seems too good to be true.
Oakland comes into this series with very limited star power in comparison with the Tigers. However, they didn’t have a problem scoring runs as they ranked fourth in runs scored this season. The Athletics have four players that have at least 22 homeruns.
The Tigers have counter with a league best .283 batting average. The Tigers have multiple players who were able to hit .300. Oakland on the other hand only had Donaldson who hit .301 and a .254 team average. Donaldson also lead the team in RBIs with 93.
One important factor in this series will be Miguel Cabrera’s health. His numbers suffered in September due to injury as he only hit .278 with one home run. Cabrera is still not 100 percent but seems to be feeling better as of lately. The Tigers can produce without him but their chances of winning defiantly increase with a healthy Cabrera.
The difference maker for the Tigers will most likely end up being pitching. The Tigers come in with a four man rotation that contains three pitchers who had over 200 strikeouts. Each pitcher also had at least 13 wins and an ERA below 4.
If the Tigers are able to play to their potential, they will be very tough to beat. This is a team that is build for the World Series and anything less should be seen as a disappointment. I predict the Tigers in 4 games over Oakland.
Game 1 Friday 10/4 in Oakland: Max Scherzer vs. Bartolo Colon
Game 2 Saturday 10/5 in Oakland: Justin Verlander vs. Sonny Gray
Game 3 Monday 10/7 in Detroit: Jarrod Parker vs. Anibal Sanchez
Game 4 (if necessary) Tuesday 10/8 in Detroit: Dan Straily vs. Doug Fister
Game 5 (if necessary) Thursday 10/10 in Oakland
Last Updated on Friday, 04 October 2013 14:25
Category: Sports - Original Written by Nick Hopson
After clinching the American League Central, the Tigers can now look towards the playoffs. They are currently one game back of the Oakland Athletics. Oakland will finish the season against Seattle while the Tigers will travel to Miami for the final three games. The Tigers need to gain two games if they want home field advantage. Oakland current holds the tiebreaker as they beat the Tigers 4-3 in the season series.
The other big story in this final series is Jhonny Peralta. He is returning from his 50 game suspension due to his link with the Biogenesis clinic. However, his place is no longer at short stop. His position has long been lost to Jose Iglesias. Iglesias has hit .276 with the Tigers through 43 games and has made outstanding plays in the field.
The Tigers have been trying Peralta in left field in the instructional league recently. Left field seems to be his only option if he has any shot to make the playoff roster. He would be a hitting improvement over Dirks or Tuiasosopo but is largely unproven at the new position.
Matt Tuiasosopo has really struggled in the past month. He doesn’t have a hit in the month of September. His average is down to .250. If Peralta is to make the playoff roster, it would make the most sense if he replaced Tuiasosopo. He would be a question mark defensively but it would be hard for him to be worse than Delmon Young used to be.
Jim Leyland will have some tough decisions when deciding his playoff rotation. There is no question that Max Scherzer has been the best pitcher on the staff this year. The problem is the Tigers still have Justin Verlander, a pitcher who has been one of the best in the league over the last few years.
Based on the season, Verlander should be the third starter. Not only has Scherzer out pitched him, Anibal Sanchez has as well. It would be surprising if Leyland has Verlander in the third spot. It is still very likely that Verlander will get the ball game one.
Regardless of the rotation order, the Tigers have the pitching to make a long run in the playoffs. This is a team that should be disappointed if they don’t make it to the World Series. However, it may be a bigger disappointment if they lose in the World Series.
Last Updated on Monday, 30 September 2013 02:21
Category: Sports - Original Written by Nick Hopson
The Lions put up 27 points in the second quarter on Sunday on their way to a 40-32 victory over the Chicago Bears. The score doesn’t reflect the Lions domination of the Bears. Chicago scored 16 points in the last four minutes of the game.
In the second quarter, the Lions were able to score three touchdowns between 6:09 and 2:43 remaining. Stafford accounted for two of the touchdowns, one rushing and one passing to Johnson, while the third Lions score was a 37 yard run by Bush.
Returning from injury, Bush didn’t seem to miss a beat as he was able to gain 139 yards on 18 carries. He averaged a massive 7.7 yards per carry. Bush also had four catches for 34 yards. It was good to see that Reggie Bush was able to produce after taking a week off due to a knee injury. He looks to be at full strength going forward.
The Lions didn’t seem to be affected too much by the loss of Nate Burleson. Burleson was injured last week in a car crash. Kris Durham and Brandon Pettigrew were able to step up in his place. Durham had three catches for 58 and Pettigrew had 7 catches for 54.
Considering that Pettigrew is known for his lousy hands, it was encouraging to see him record seven catches on seven targets. The Lions did lose two fumbles on the day but neither was Pettigrew. Pettigrew could have a large impact on the offense if he continues to produce like this. Burleson’s production will have to be replaced by someone.
The Lions defense did great job containing the Bears’ offense. They were able to force 4 turnovers while holding Matt Forte to 95 yards rushing and Brandon Marshall to 79 yards receiving. Jake Cutler was both sacked and intercepted three times.
Louis Delmas accounted for two of the three interceptions. Nick Fairly returned a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter. Two of the three sacks came from Ndomukong Suh. The Lions need Suh to continue this high level of production if they want to make up for the loss of Jason Jones.
It was a good day for the Lions special teams as they didn’t give up a big return to the dangerous Devin Hester. The Lions also got a 57 yard punt return from Micheal Spurlock which set up the Lions first scoring drive in the third.
After a very encouraging win, the Lions will travel to Green Bay next Sunday for a 1pm game.
Last Updated on Monday, 30 September 2013 21:39
Category: Sports - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The Detroit Tigers won their third consecutive American League Central title on Wednesday in a 1-0 shutout victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Tigers win 3rd straight AL Central title. As noted yesterday, they are headed to 3 straight postseasons for 1st time since 1907-1909.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 26, 2013
It is the third straight pennant for the Tigers, who will surely be looking to make another run to the World Series
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 01:56
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