Time Out with TANY • Mid-April Edition

Posted In: Sports, Local Sports, National Sports,   By: Jack B Tany

17th April, 2023     0

THIS COLUMN WAS WRITTEN IN FRONT OF A LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE

 QUICK QUIZ

Who was the first Designated Hitter to homer in a regular season American League baseball game?

  1. Ron Blomberg
  2. Willie Horton
  3. Tony Olivia
  4. Don Mincher
  5. Tim Novak

QUOTABLE QUOTES

“If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.” – Comedian Jack Lemmon.

“I’ve never scored a goal in my life without getting a pass from someone else.” – Soccer Star Abby Wambach.

“We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking.” – University of Southern California football coach John McKay.

IDLE THOUGHTS

We've all asked the question of what an offensive lineman would look like as a basketball player. St. John Fisher University (Rochester, New York) center Connor Williams is the answer. Williams, who hails from Victor, New York, checks in at 7-feet and 360 pounds. In high school, he played basketball and football and was named Monroe County Player of the Year in basketball as a senior and earned all-league honors on the gridiron. He's a cybersecurity major and goes by the nickname of "Big Cozy."

On December 15, 1973, Tennessee defeated Temple University in the finals of the Volunteer Classic basketball tournament in Stokely Athletics Center by the score of 11-6. The game holds the NCAA record for fewest points scored by both teams.

When I first read that Hunter Dickinson has entered the transfer portal, I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. On March 31, Dickinson became the most accomplished player ever to enter college basketball’s transfer portal. The 7-foot-1 center led Michigan in scoring and rebounding all three of his seasons; he was a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection and, as a freshman, a second-team All-American. My guess is that Dickinson wanted a better shot at a national championship and felt Michigan, having lost two other starters from a team that failed to reach the NCAA Tournament last season, was not in good position to win big. It is rumored that he has narrowed his choices to Maryland, North Carolina, Villanova, and Kentucky. He’s on track to graduate from Michigan this spring or summer and has two years of eligibility remaining. Let’s start making these players who enter the transfer portal pay back their scholarship money.

Congratulations to Shohei Ohtani for being the first player to get a pitch-clock violation as a pitcher AND as a batter.

Classifications for Michigan High School Athletic Association postseason tournaments for the 2023-24 school year have been announced, with enrollment breaks for postseason tournaments posted to each sport’s page on the MHSAA. For 2023-24, there are 750 tournament-qualified member schools. Effective with the 2023-24 school year, schools with 807 or more students are in Class A. The enrollment limits for Class B are 380-806, Class C is 177-379, and schools with enrollments of 176 and fewer are Class D. The break between Classes A and B decreased eight students from 2022-23, the break between Classes B and C decreased 11 students, and the break between Classes C and D is six students fewer than for the 2022-23 school year. The new classification breaks will see 21 schools move up in Class for 2023-24 while 24 schools will move down. Locally, Bay City (Bangor) John Glenn moved up from Class B to Class A, Pinconning moved up from Class C to Class B, Sanford-Meridian moved down from Class B to Class C, Michigan Lutheran Seminary moved up from Class D to Class C, and Merrill moved down from Class C to Class D.

I always admit when I am wrong. And I was completely wrong about the World Baseball Classic when I pooh-poohed it in a previous column. I watched the final three games of the tournament and they were as intense as World Series games. Japan captured the 2023 World Baseball Class championship when they bested Team USA in a 3-2 thriller. Shohei Ohtani closed the game on the mound, getting Mookie Betts to ground into a double play before striking out Mike Trout to win the title. It’s the third WBC championship for Japan and the country’s first since 2009.

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane not only ordered World Series rings for more than 2,000 employees, but also is paying the taxes on every ring, including the taxes for players and coaching staff’s rings.

Tori Jankoska, who was the first ever 2,000-point scorer in Michigan State University women’s basketball history, had high praise for Spartans coach Suzy Merchant who recently announced her retirement. “She was just as good of a person off the court as she was on the court,” said Jankoska, a Freeland High School graduate. “She kept it light. She was easy to talk to off the court as well as on the court, just asking questions and being a guiding light and that way, you can go and step into her office and have normal conversations with her. Just keeping it light and having fun while also getting your work done on the court. That's kind of the way she ran her program. And as far as X's and O's go and game planning, she was one of the best in the country. So just having her have that knowledge and then us being able to do it for her on the court.” Two years after Jankoska was drafted into the WNBA, she decided to follow in Merchant's footsteps and join the coaching staff at Virginia where she is now an assistant coach for the Cavaliers

One of the strangest baseball games in history went down on Saturday in the minor leagues. The Reds’ Double A affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts, defeated the Rocket City Trash Pandas, 7-5. Those seven runs came despite the fact that the Lookouts were held without a hit during the ballgame. The seventh inning is perhaps one of the most bizarre frames of baseball ever. Chattanooga racked up seven runs in the inning despite failing to record a single hit. Thanks to a stunning combination of walks, plunked batters, defensive errors, and wild pitches, the Lookouts posted the seven-run inning without ever recording so much as a single of their own. The inning consisted of five walks, including two with the bases loaded, two hit by pitches, a wild pitch, and a defensive error by the Trash Pandas center fielder, which was responsible for three of the runs. The center fielder dropped a deep fly ball which would have ended the inning. Instead, the three runs crossed the plate, followed shortly thereafter by three more. On the very pitch before that disastrous error, the home plate umpire issued a ball on a 0–2 count, despite both the pitcher and catcher seeming to think it was a strike. Had that decision gone the other way, they’d have avoided the disastrous error altogether. 

The Detroit Tigers paid tribute to late Detroit sports writer Jerry Green before their opener. Very classy.

The height of the walls at Comerica Park were lowered in center field (from 8½ feet to 7 feet) and right field (from 8½ feet to 7 feet). A new wall in right-center field was constructed in front of the old wall, lowering the height from 13 feet to 7 feet, and creating a double wall visual. A yellow line at the top of the new wall indicates any ball hit above it will be a home run. The ballpark lost the first row of seats in right field, roughly 50 total, because of the alterations. The Tigers added a row of flowers above the right-field wall, and because the first row has been removed, fan interference won't be an issue. The new wall was reconstructed with material and padding that enhances player safety, and Comerica Park no longer has an out-of-town scoreboard.

Larry Segovia went to bat on a clear night and three strikes later people were soaking wet. The Class-B Albuquerque Dukes outfielder struck out on June 15, 1955, in Pampa Texas, and after the strikeout, he stormed into the dugout and kicked a water fountain. His kick broke a pipe and water gushed out, spraying everyone in sight. The geyser soared 50 feet high, drenching players and fans. The game was delayed as the grounds crew shut off the water and cleaned puddles off the field.

Have you ever heard of someone hitting for the cycle and throwing a no-hitter in the same game? Now you have. Meet Brady Ware of the DII University of Indianapolis Greyhounds. The graduate student finished 4-for-4 at the plate with two runs and five RBIs while striking out 11 batters across seven hitless innings against Drury University in Game 2 of a doubleheader. The lefty set the tone early with a towering solo homer to kick off the scoring before adding a three-run triple in the same frame as the Greyhounds put up an eight-spot in the second. In the very next inning, the 6-foot-1 slugger ripped an RBI double down the left-field line to push the Indianapolis’ lead to 12-0. He completed the cycle in the fifth with a single through the right side. For Ware, though, that wasn’t enough. On the mound, the southpaw retired the first nine batters in a row before he ran into some trouble, starting with a wild pitch on a swinging strikeout to kick off the fourth. Another wild pitch and a walk put runners on first and second with nobody out, but two K’s and a flyout kept Drury off the board. Ware struck out the side in the sixth and added his 11th and final whiff in the seventh frame. He issued a pair of two-out walks, but stayed calm and induced a game-ending flyout to close the book on his historic performance.

Longtime Harvard women's ice hockey coach Katey Stone has come under fire after allegations of abusive coaching practices and at least one incident of racist language came to light in a Boston Globe report. One incident in the report details Stone's use of racist language during the past season to degrade her team, which included two now-former players who identify as North Americans of Indigenous descent during 2021-22 season. Both players left the team after the incident. The incident led to a review by Harvard that ended with the school deciding to keep Stone on as coach. That decision was met with backlash from former players who, according to the Globe, "say Stone has emotionally damaged them." Sixteen of Stone's former players told the Globe they fault Harvard for keeping her despite several complaints about her alleged abusive coaching practices. Some 14 recruited players have left Stone's program since 2016, including three this season. Stone, 56, is in her 27th season as Harvard's coach. In addition to reports of forced binge drinking and verbal abuse, veteran players compelled their new teammates to act out humiliating sketches, in which LGBTQ players were forced to portray their sexuality as a target of ridicule. Furthermore, as a way of keeping younger players in line, the team’s leaders instituted a system of kangaroo court-style fines for innocuous offenses. LGBTQ players say they were forced to pay a “gay tax.”

Hats off to Bay City Western baseball coach Tim McDonald for becoming just the 13th coach to reach the 800-win plateau in Michigan High School Athletic Association history. The Warriors blanked Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 5-0 as McDonald used a different pitcher in each inning of the 7-inning affair. Ironically, McDonald is a Sacred Heart graduate before going on to Central Michigan University where he was an All-American and is still the Chippewas’ all-time wins leader with 36.

Quinnipiac won their first NCAA men’s hockey championship in thrilling fashion with a 3–2 come-from-behind overtime win over Minnesota Saturday night. In a showdown of the NCAA’s top offense (Minnesota) and top defense (Quinnipiac), the title tilt lived up to its billing. Jacob Quillan scored 10 seconds into overtime to give the Bobcats the victory – the school’s first in any sport. Quinnipiac, thanks to solid fore-checking and a solid attacking style, outshot Minnesota 30–15 in the victory. Minnesota has won five national championships, tying them with Boston University and Boston College for fifth-most in NCAA history. However, the Gophers now see their championship drought extend to 20 years after last winning it all back in 2003.

Nothing in sports beats hockey’s handshake line.

Actor/singer Dean Martin’s birth name was Dino Paul Crocetti. His heritage is Italian and the famed icon only learned to speak English at the age of five after being born in Steubenville, Ohio. Many people don’t realize that Martin wasn’t just a pretty face and a talented actor. He was also an athlete, winning at least 24 boxing matches in his lifetime. Starting in the welterweight division at the tender age of 15, Martin used the fighting name “Kid Crochet.”  Life wasn’t easy and although he could hold his own in the amateur ring, he wasn’t always as lucky in professional fights. The pay in boxing wasn’t nearly as lucrative as it can be today, and Martin struggled to pay for the tape to protect his knuckles. As a result, he suffered several injuries, including a broken nose, busted knuckles, and a badly bruised body. Luckily, these were all only temporary and he managed to escape the boxing world without any everlasting repercussions.

After a historic run to the women’s national championship game, the University of Iowa’s athletic department has paused ticket sales for next season after soaring demand. The program set a Big Ten conference record for home attendance this season, averaging just over 11,100 fans per game. The early demand for season tickets was reportedly so strong that it would smash the attendance record just set this season. The season-ticket base last season was 6,500 tickets. Most years, renewals for season tickets are around 90% for all sports, and the expectation is that it will be right around 100% for women’s basketball heading into next season. On top of the existing season-ticket holders, Iowa already received new season ticket requests for an additional 6,700 seats. If all new season ticket requests were fulfilled, there would be 13,200 season tickets accounted for next season in an arena that sits 15,056. Since the potential was there for fans to continue buying season tickets at a level approaching the full capacity of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the athletic department was left with no choice but to pause season ticket sales to allow seats for general admission for next year.

Whatever happened to Melvin “Sugar” McLaughlin?

QUICK QUIZ ANSWER

C. On April 6, 1973, Minnesota Twins legend Tony Oliva became the first DH to homer in a regular season American League game. After missing most of the 1972 season with a bad knee, Oliva had his career revitalized by the new DH rule. Writers knew they were recording history when the designated hitter debuted in the American League. But they had no idea what to call it. That day, Oliva’s first inning, two-run homer off Oakland’s Catfish Hunter marked the first time a DH homered in a regular season AL or NL game.

The next morning, papers around the country printed an Associated Press story about Oliva’s blast and other firsts from DH’s that day. But the position was often called “DP” or “DPH” in headlines and stories, along with the soon-to-be-standard “DH.” Oliva was one of the final DHs to bat that day, as Oakland hosted the Twins in a night game. Eight DHs combined to go 8-for-32 (.250) in openers, with Ron Blomberg of the Yankees becoming the first DH to bat, the first one to record an RBI (on a bases-loaded walk in his first at-bat) and the first DH to notch a hit (an infield single in his second at-bat). But it was Oliva, who played in only 10 games in 1972 due to a knee injury, showed just how valuable the new position would be. His 400-foot drive to right field on the first pitch he saw from Hunter scored Rod Carew and demonstrated that Oliva – freed from the need to play the outfield – could still be a productive player.

Oliva later singled home Carew in the fourth inning and drew a sixth-inning walk, finishing the game 2-for-4 with three RBI in an 8-3 Minnesota win. By the time in 1973 season was complete, Oliva had posted a .291 batting average with 20 doubles, 16 homers and 92 RBI in 146 games – with 142 as a DH and four more as a pinch hitter.

After the 1972 season, Oliva would never again play in the field.

 

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