It’s that time of year again, when sports fans relish the opportunity to watch multiple events all through the month of April. For Tigers fans, and fans of all the Detroit sports, it’s a special time also. With the Tigers season just beginning, the Red Wings vying for yet another play off run, and the Pistons, well, I’m not sure what they’ve been doing, but I’ll root for them anyway. Helping spread the joy of Detroit sports are the lovely Fox Sports Detroit Girls. This year Lauren is joined by newcomers Stephanie and Brittney, who are doing a great job representing our sports teams. This is April in the ‘D’, and it’s a great time for me to watch baseball and hockey. I’m hoping the Tigers get on track, and start playing like a premiere team, but I’m grateful just to be watching baseball at this point.
I always enjoy visiting Grand Rapids, but usually its to see the West Michigan Whitecaps play some baseball. Obviously, there’s no way baseball can be played in the crap weather Michigan is experiencing this time of year, so we watched the next best thing…minor league hockey. It was a perfect day to watch the Grand Rapids Griffins defend their home ice against the San Antonio Rampage. The kids absolutely loved Van Andel Arena, and Grand Rapids as a whole. As the second biggest city in the state, it’s a little more interesting than anything in the U.P. It was a great hockey game as the Griffins won 7-3 with five power-play goals. We even saw a penalty shot in the game. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get the kids down to see the Griffins. Maybe because there is so much hockey up here, it never crossed my mind to travel to see it. We had so much fun, this will be and annual trip for us now. The Griffins play in the American Hockey League, which is equivelent to Triple-A in baseball. Grand Rapids has so much else to offer, too, as we also went to the Van Andel Museum and saw the Titanic relics exhibit. The kids were in ‘awe’ of the whole museum, and the Titanic display was amazing.
A little extra bonus to our trip…ok, this was the highlight…meeting the newest Fox Sports Detroit Girls, Stephanie and Brittney! The girls were extremely nice to the kids, and signed autographs for them. Brian played shy during the photo, but they still signed a baseball and his Whitecaps hat. Trevor wasn’t feeling well at first, but caught up them later during the game for a pic. The FSD Girls were more than happy to get another picture and chat with us for a while. We may have talked them into going to the Crosstown Showdown in Lansing on April 11th, but I hope we get to meet them at a Whitecaps game this summer!
Fox Sports picked the perfect day, Valentine’s Day, for their secret revelation. It was announced yesterday that joining the lovely Lauren as members of the Fox Sports Detroit Girls are Stephanie and Brittney. Lauren has been on her own representing Detroit’s sports teams since Allison moved on to Hollywood the first of the year. I was actually surprised to see that two girls were chosen, but I guess some of the other sports regions have three girls as representation. Both are from the Detroit area and graduates of Michigan State University, both should do a great job as spokeswomen for our sports teams. The ‘April in the D’ promotion on the Fox Sports Detroit nework is just around the corner, too, and last season they brought in Megan for just that month. The kids and I are attending a Grand Rapids Griffins game next weekend that Lauren is scheduled to attend, so we’re hoping that Stephanie and Brittney will be there, too. I find Steph particularly cute, personally…Happy Valentine’s Day!
Yesterday was Allison’s last official day as a Fox Sports Detroit Girl. She’s out in California now, and no doubt she will be successful in everything she does. We here a M.I.B. wanted to say ‘thank you’, and wish her all the best. She and Lauren have done a great job representing Detroit sports and the state of Michigan. Allison was also one of the few Fox Sport girls chosen to attend last year’s MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City. She’s already had an un-credited cameo in Iron Man 2, and rumor mill has it she’s dating Captain America himself, Chris Evans. As a Marvel fan when I was a kid, I think this is pretty awesome. I believe that she had a hand in choosing her successor, though her and Lauren set some pretty high standards. All the best, Allison!
Photo courtesy of Fox Sports Net/Fox Sports Detroit/FSD Girls
Well, I miss baseball already. I miss the sun shining, and the smell of the grass and goodies as I walk into the ballpark. I miss spending time with the kids at the fields, playing catch, and watching them run the bases. And with the Tigers season in the rear-view mirror, and the NHL locked out, I’ll also be missing Lauren and Allison-The Fox Sports Detroit Girls. As the bad news just keeps pouring in, I not only learned this morning that RSBS has boarded up their windows for good, but now Allison has announced that she will be leaving Detroit, and making a name for herself in L.A. She’ll be missed, and it’s too bad the kids and I couldn’t catch up with her and Lauren at a game this summer. With luck, maybe we’ll have a chance before she leaves after December. Best of luck, Allison, and we look forward from seeing more of Lauren! Here’s the link to Allison’s ‘goodbye’ video:
Photos courtesy of Fox Sports Detroit Girls/Fox Sports Detroit/Fox Sports Net
It’s always hard to watch baseball come to an end in the fall, but at the same time it makes you appreciate it when it comes back the next spring. As much as we miss baseball during the winter, we don’t just sit around and sulk. Winters up here can get dull and depressing, so we really have to keep busy to beat the winter blues and make it through until the baseball fun begins. As usual, we take in a lot of hockey games up here. We live in the original ‘Hockeytown U.S.A.’, so between our Lake Superior State Lakers, junior and high school hockey, we spend a lot of time at the rink. We also do a fair share of ice skating ourselves, too. The kids are involved in their own activities throughout the school year as well. Lily participated in the youth bowling league, while Trevor played flag-football and wrestling. A special treat this winter, too, was that we were able to catch a Harlem Globetrotters game. I took Trevor and Lily a few years ago, but this was Brian’s first time seeing them and he had a great time. We were also able to see the Stanley Cup at a Detroit Red Wings Alumni game which was a thrill for the kids. It wasn’t just sports that held our interest, as we saw some rock concerts, too. I took the two older kids up into Canada to see Avril Lavigne (my hearts pants…), and saw legendary rock bands like Slaughter and Stryper come to town. We also spent some time playing outside, and over at the tubing hill blazing down the icy slopes. Do you think that scared Brian at all…No. Anyway, I might not win father of the year..I’ve been known to give the kids NyQuil out of a shot glass, and help them with their math by teaching them Blackjack, but we do have a lot of fun together. Plus, only a single dad can get away with a full size hockey net in the living room, and foosball table instead of a dinner table!
Fantasy baseball isn’t easy. My biggest jab at football fans is how lazy they are. They only commit to their team once a week, and make such a big deal out of one game. When trying to recruit teams for fantasy baseball, I get the same remark from football fans: “What? I’ll have to check it almost every day! Fantasy football you only have to check once a week.”
Lazy, lazy footballers. Well, if anyone on the blogosphere would like to partake in some fantasy baseball, feel free to join my league. It’s all for fun, free, and the lucky winner just might get a congratulatory e-mail from ME if I’m not feeling lazy. It’s through Yahoo! sports, so everyone by now should have some kind of Yahoo! account. The League ID is: 77279. The password is: beer. Enjoy.
I have to say, I’m really glad it’s time for the Super Bowl. Really, I am. To me, it means the end of the football season, and we can finally concentrate on baseball. The fact that this years ‘sporting’ event of funny commercials and laughable half-time shows takes place in Indianapolis, does hold a special place in my heart. The city’s football stadium (I’m sure it has a name, I just don’t care) is right next to one of my favorite Minor League venues in Victory Field. This house of baseball mastery has been around since 1996, and has been voted the best Minor League stadium in the past. While there on our baseball trip in 2009, there was a lot going on already to get the city Super Bowl sound. Out over the left field wall, we witnessed constant construction on a brand new hotel big enough to house all the players and celebrities. That didn’t distract us from seeing some great baseball, though, or taking in all of the ambiance of one the best stadiums to feature the best sport.
Victory Field has been, and will be a part of the festivities this weekend, however. So far Dan Patrick has been broadcasting his syndicated sports show from there this week. Today it will also host the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl, and will be transformed into a nightclub tonight and Katy Perry will put on a show. I’d prefer Avril, but, hey, that’s just me. Making a beach atmosphere on a baseball field in February is no easy task for the Victory Field grounds keepers, either. Along with a million pounds of sand, there will constructed a concert stage, LED robbonboards and specially constructed bleacher sections. It’s basically a giant airplane hangar, that can house a beach, stage, and fit in 5,000 rapids fans. Below is a promo pic and a good photo of the preparation being done on the field.
Here are some artists rendition of the completed beach and night club. Looks like a lot of fun to me, but he grounds crew will have their work cut out for them getting the field back to being baseball ready in a couple of months. Last year, Victory Field was voted Triple-A ‘Field of the Year’ and head groundskeeper Joey Stevenson was named Triple-A ‘Sports Turf Manager of the Year’, so there is a reputation at stake, here. In all, though, it’s good to see this field get a little publicity, even if it’s not just for baseball.
The last several months have been the hardest off-season for the kids and I yet. I wish it was simply because there was no baseball, but unfortunately, it has nothing to do with our favorite sport. Without going into to much detail, I believe a family is like a team, and when one team member is selfish the rest suffer. If there’s one thing this experience has shown me, it’s how strong and special my kids are. I know I’m the dad and it’s my job to take care of them and be there for them, but the fact is they’ve been there and taken care of me more than I ever imagined. I truelly believe that if it wasn’t for them, I’d be in some padded cell right now being spoon fed pudding three times a day. I can honestly say that my kids are my best friends, and I really believe that we’ll be ok…as long as we stick together. We didn’t just hang our heads, though, we kept busy and shared a lot of laughs together this winter. Here’s a few pics from how we survived our toughest off-season…Opening day is on the horizon, and I’m determined to make this summer one of the best they’ve ever had. They deserve it.
Lots of Hockey
Photos property of M.I.B
It seems as fall is in the air, and summer is just about done. It’s an exciting time at the Major League level, but in the Minors, the seasons are winding down. For the kids, school starts on Tuesday, so we decided to head downstate and get in a couple of days of fun before it all comes to an end….
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Windy City Thunderbolts: For the second year in a row, we end our baseball season with the Bums. My parents have season tix, so we just met them at the game, and there’s no place the they’d rather be with the grandkids than a baseball game. With their birthdays about ten days apart, we had them annouced over the PA system, which made the kids feel like celebrities. The Beach Bums are making a surge for their fist ever playoff appearance, so lots of good atmosphere for the game. The kids got to meet some of the players after the game, too, which is always a thrill. Final: TC 8, WC 4.
Adventure Island: Summer wouldn’t be summer without hitting the water park. The kids enjoyed the bumper boats, but they told us it was too cold to open the water slide. Hey, were from the U.P….nothing is too cold for us. You’ll also enjoy a pic of ol’ #94 here putting on a hitting display in the batting cages. I’m contimplating making a training video…we’ll see. The park here also has go-carts and adventure golf, both a summer must.
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Hampton Pirates: I know this is a baseball blog, but I’ll throw just a little college football in here, too. Going down to watch football still didn’t stop us from visiting the baseball field there just to say hi. Hard to believe it will be seven months before baseball is played there again. The football game was fun (not as much as baseball, but at least they have cheerleaders), and we were able to dodge the rain thankfully. All in all, a good end to our summer fun. Now it’s time to track the MiLB playoffs and plan next season’s baseball trip. Final: CMU 33, Hampton 0.
Photos property of M.I.B.