December 04, 2016

No Longer the Pontiac Pussycats …

Turn the Lions on the TV

For the first time in a long time, I'm planning to watch the Lions' game today. Now, what that really means is that the Lions are about to break our hearts again! When the Detroit Lions suddenly are on everyone's TV set it means that they're doing well. I used to be a die–hard fan and would watch them regularly. As the team faded and started to be worse than usual every season, I quit watching. The "owen" Lions were the last team I watched regularly — I didn't want to miss them messing up and winning a game that year! They have come a long ways from the Millen Days …

December 03, 2016

The Fast Food Gourmet

Fast Food Gourmet

In the fall of 1988 or so for my birthday, my buddy Bru took me on the "fast food gourmet." I don't necessarily remember the food from all the places, but I think it included McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's. I'm not sure, though. My modern FFG would include flying to Las Vegas to get a double double at In N Out, seeking out a Wendy's for a Frosty, and maybe going to Culver's for french fries. That's just off the top of my head thinking, actually. I suppose I could go to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries and be just as happy. Back in '88, Subway was relatively new to Traverse City and Taco Bell wasn't really on the list of choices.

I remember in the last '70s going to Flint with my Grandma Morgan and Mom and one of our stops sometimes would be a visit to Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers. I think a lot of times we would also go to eat at Hudson's, too, which was probably classier than Wendy's. 

In the '70s, I also would sometimes get a Big Mac at McDonald's and that's probably why I still love a Big Mac. McDonald's has been a part of so many people's lives it's amazing. Later, I discovered the quote from Ray Kroc below. So true. 

December 02, 2016

Baseball's Season and a Solution

The Baseball Folks Got It Done

It's good that the baseball folks on both labor and management sides were able to strike a deal before the deadline on December 1. I thought that it would happen simply because both sides are making so much money it's not funny. 

I still think some changes need to happen. I realize that the season is going to start in the middle of the week beginning in 2018 so the players can have five more off days. I think moving the opening of the season up is not the best idea UNLESS teams are going to start in domes and warm weather cities. That would mean the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs, et. al., would never have a true Opening Day.

If I were part of the solution, I would go with opening the season about a week later and ending it at least a week earlier, if not more. In June, July, and August, each team would play a double header every week–end whether it was on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Teams would have 12 week–ends essentially during those months, so one double header each week–end would take 12 dates off of the schedule. Certainly, you could charge for both games or your could have a premium cost for the double header. There have to be enough old school fans left who would love a double header with a 20–minute break between games.

Baseball should end its regular season before September arrives — and the post season before November arrives. A month to complete the playoffs seems reasonable enough. Baseball isn't the kind of sport where a team would appreciate a bye that is any longer than one game. A "bye series" would get the team out of rhythm and in baseball, rhythm matters.

It seems like this would be a way to create excitement once again (not that the game isn't already exciting!)

December 01, 2016

Thanksgiving and Buckets

Bucket List Item: Checked Off

On Thanksgiving Day I was able to do something on my Bucket List. I don't necessarily have a Bucket List written down, but there are things I would like to do — and attend the annual Lions Thanksgiving Day Game is one of those on my list. I have said for years, "We should go to the Lions game on Thanksgiving." And we never had.

The night before Thanksgiving and all on the road was lots of snow and slush and ice and (stuff). And Tyler Stegman, Courtney's fiancé, had gotten a chance to get the tickets. It was a complicated negotiation but eventually it was decided that we would attend the game. Lori even got us some gear for the game and we met at the Mt. Pleasant Olive Garden for dinner. I'll leave out the details, but suffice to say we were going to the game.

The trip down to Detroit was great as usual. The game was neck 'n' neck most of the time until the Lions kicked a last second field goal to win. The crowd is awesome at Ford Field. Imagine if the Lions ever actually put out a high quality team — the fan base will go insane! When the cats are on defense, the building is so LOUD! It has to be a tough place to play for visitors.

We ended up having our family Thanksgiving on Sunday and it was wonderful. The turkey was delicious and the noodles were possibly the most popular item. Even the pumpkin pies were top notch! Happy Thanksgiving!

November 08, 2016

Scenes from Elk Rapids, Michigan

My Alma Mater Is In The News 

I don't have any details. I haven't asked any questions. It's certainly interesting. I remember when the tide changed and the Elks finally made the playoffs. I'm sure there's a great amount to the story that no one knows right now, but when my hometown and alma mater is big time in the news, I take an interest. The school fired the popular football coach and now there's an outcry of support. It will be interesting to see how it all develops.

"This is a football town that has been locked up for a number of years," said Standerfer, a former quarterback for Elk Rapids who, by the way, played against Schindler. "Everyone is flying high around this town." (Record–Eagle article by Mark Urban, 2006) 

From Up North Live (video)

From the Record–Eagle (article)

From the Elk Rapids News: (setting the scene) Guest Editorial
This letter is written to express my concern and astonishment over the firing of Elk Rapids football coach, Ed Schindler.
The news came to me after catering the high school’s football banquet: Coach Schindler had been fired. No one knew it was coming or the reason why.
The handling of this matter by the Elk Rapids High School athletic department, school board, and superintendent is suspect to say the least. No one had heard that the coach’s job was in peril or that the athletic department was considering terminating Coach Schindler. And then to fire him the night before the football banquet was a heartless demonstration of any appreciation the athletic department might have had for a man who turned around Elk Rapids football.
What kind of board members, athletic director, and superintendent decide to change the direction of a program by blindsiding a coach who has built a program up over 10 years and was named “Coach of the Year” while at Elk Rapids.

“Ed is really the total package. He’s been the Associated Press Coach of the Year in Class C. He’s very community oriented. We were just very impressed by him. We have a list of 30 things we’d like in a football coach, and he is every one of those things.” This is a quote from Jim Standerfer that appeared in the Record-Eagle on January 12, 2006.

What happened? With whom do you replace a coach like that? 
The signs on the fences in the football stadium represent dollars from businesses going to the football program because Ed Schindler knew the program would need money to grow. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for the athletic programs through fundraisers. Ed and Amy Schindler helped to coordinate the growth of high school sports. The conduct of the players as they enter the field and prep for the game is a reflection of the discipline Coach Schindler brought to a down trodden program.
The information given in the Elk Rapids News was that he was released so the program could go in a different direction. Qualifying for playoffs seven times in the last 11 seasons is the wrong direction? The whole thing smells. 
​I will be attending the school board meeting on November 7 to offer my support for Coach Schindler and protest his being let go as head football coach. Submitted by Joe Watt, Williamsburg

I wrote this back in '06, after the Elks made the playoffs for the first time:

Maroons manhandle Elks, 62-0

The Menominee Maroons pounded the Elk Rapids Elks today 62-0. It was Elk Rapids' first trip to the playoffs in school history. Back in the late '70s and early '80s (not to mention '89 and '90) when the Elks had solid teams, the playoffs either didn't exist or qualifying was too tough. When ER added soccer in the late '80s (maybe 1989?) the football program began to suffer. Perhaps it was lack of focus, direction, or vision. The team suffered throughout the '90s and well into the 2000s. However, after the 2005 campaign, the coach was fired and a new coach brought in.

Ed Schindler arrived as the new Elk Rapids coach. He played high school football at Frankfort under the legendary Tim Klein. Schindler told the Record-Eagle that he knew he wanted to be a coach when he left his former high school, Evart, and went to Frankfort. He said he went from being on a football team to being a part of a program. Prior to arriving at ER this season, he had success in turning around two other programs.

I consider the turnaround happening at ER similar to when Ben Steele arrived at Vestaburg in 1998 when I was the athletic director. Steele had success as a coach and came in and turned the "program" around. Previously, there hadn't really been a program. The Wolverines were playing football on a high school team. The first couple of years were filled with controversy (cutting the junior varsity team, changing some rules, enforcing rules and expectations, etc.) but in year three, the Wolverines made the playoffs. They lost to perennial power Fowler, 47-7 in 2000. They made the playoffs again in 2002, but lost. They annually make the playoffs; however, it was 2005 before they finally won a playoff game.

A solid coach who has a program, vision, and focus can really change things quickly.

Congrats to ER for finally making the playoffs. Heck, congrats for finally getting over .500! If history is any indication, with a new coach and buy-in, things will be continuing to move forward for you. Keep movin' the chains!

Mark Urban's Article:

Congrats to the Elks

- Article written by Mark Urban of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

"This is a football town that has been locked up for a number of years," said Standerfer, a former quarterback for Elk Rapids who, by the way, played against Schindler. "Everyone is flying high around this town."

Elks take their time for first playoffs

TRAVERSE CITY — After waiting years for its first playoff appearance, what's another day ... another hour ... another time zone.

Elk Rapids (6-3), which earned its first postseason berth since the football playoffs began in 1975, will play at Menominee (9-0) on Saturday. The game will begin at 1 p.m. — Central Standard Time.

"That's how far we've got to go," Elk Rapids athletic director Jim Standerfer joked about playing out of the Eastern time zone. "But it doesn't matter where we go. We're tickled. I'm so excited for the kids and they're all pumped up. It's nice to see the program turned around and headed in the right direction."

The winning record under first-year coach Ed Schindler is the first for the Elks since they went 5-4 in 1996. Elk Rapids was undefeated in 1979 (7-0-1) and 1978 (8-0), but didn't make the postseason under the old — and more strict — playoff format.

Elk Rapids is one of three area teams that will wait until Saturday to open the playoffs. Each of the others will also feature area squads travelling across the Mackinaw Bridge to the Upper Peninsula.

Cheboygan (6-3) will play at Kingsford (7-2) in a Division 4 district semifinal set to begin at 3 p.m.

Mancelona, in the playoffs for the first time since 1977, will also play a time zone away for its Division 7 tilt. The Ironmen (6-3) will be at Norway (7-2) for a 2 p.m. kickoff.

The other eight playoff games involving area teams will be under the lights on Friday. All the Friday night games begin at 7 p.m.

At Thirlby Field in Traverse City, defending state champion St. Francis (8-1) will host Onekama (6-3) in Division 7.

In Division 1, Traverse City West (6-3) will put its six-game winning streak on the line at Holt (8-1).
There will be a Big North Conference rematch in Cadillac when the Vikings (6-3) host Petoskey (5-4) in Division 3. Petoskey beat Cadillac 6-0 in a five-overtime game played in the cold and snow two weeks ago.

Two games in Division 6 will pit Northwest Conference foes against Lake Michigan Conference teams. Suttons Bay (9-0) hosts Boyne City (6-3) while defending state champion Kingsley (7-2) will open at Charlevoix (8-1).
There will be three Division 8 games involving area teams, all in separate districts.
Onaway (5-4) travels to Ski Valley Conference champion Central Lake (9-0) in a repeat of Friday's match-up, a 32-15 triumph by the Trojans.

Hillman (6-3) plays at Gaylord St. Mary (8-1) in another Division 8 game on Friday night while Frankfort (5-4) takes to the road to play Marion (6-3).

By the time area teams take the field on Friday night, Elk Rapids will already be on its way to the southernmost tip of the Upper Peninsula. And the Elks will have a lot of support on their way out of Antrim County.

"This is a football town that has been locked up for a number of years," said Standerfer, a former quarterback for Elk Rapids who, by the way, played against Schindler. "Everyone is flying high around this town."

October 01, 2016

The Great American Playoff Race

Great playoff race 

It's 2016 and the Tigers are back at it again, making things real. If the 2016 season isn't a reminder that every single game counts, there's no season that would express that truth (see 2009, for more information). In 2009, the Tigers starter in game number 163 was a young rookie named Rick Porcello. In 2016, Rick Porcello is a good candidate to be the Cy Young Award winner on the American League East Champions, the Boston Red Sox.

What It Means to Be An Ace

Ace starters throughout the baseball landscape include former Tigers Max Scherzer (Nationals), Rick Porcello (Red Sox), and David Price (also Red Sox — along with former Tiger GM Dave Dombrowski). Drew Smyly didn't have a good season for the Tampa Rays but he still has potential. The Tigers young pitchers Mike Fulmer, Daniel Norris, and Matt Boyd all look to have some high upside at much less cost than the aforementioned aces. Also, Jordan Zimmermann should recover next year after a season of injuries. Scherzer and Price are both making more than $200 million over the course of their seven–year contracts and Porcello is making $20 million a season for a few more years. The Tigers' own Justin Verlander seems to be fully back to ace status, by the way.

Five More Games

The Tigers should have won at least five more games at home this season. You almost have to win 50 home games and finish .500 on the road to make the playoffs. The Tigers played decent on the road but should have been better at home. Perhaps if injuries hadn't taken games away from Jose Iglesias, Cameron Maybin, and Nick Castellanos to name a few, the Tigers could have won a few more games. Of course, injuries are part of the game and ask the Los Angeles Dodgers what it is like to overuse the disabled list. And they're going to win the National League West.

Can the Tigers Still Get In

The Tigers have a good shot to make the playoffs, but it could be a wild ride.

August 28, 2016

Offense Concerns

This is from a few years ago. The Tigers go through these things every season. We were five–and–a–half up on the Twins at this point in 2006. Just because the tribe is up on us, doesn't mean we can't win the division. #keepthefaith

AUGUST 25, 2006

Where is the offense?

The Tigers just lost their third game in a row, 4-2, in Cleveland. The Indians did not play that great, but they outplayed the visitors. A rookie, Jeremy Sowers shut the offense down. Yesterday was ugly against the White Sox' Jon Garland, and the day before Freddie Garcia looked incredible against the Tigers. Bonderman gave up a lead for the second straight start.

These guys look exhausted, wore out, and disinterested in playing right now. It's almost like the Texas Rangers series last week-end took its toll on the Detroiters. Right now, they're not looking good, but they are still 4-1/2 games up in the American League Central Division.

Let's hope that the rest of the week-end goes well because it will notbe easy in the Bronx next week!