Monday, June 22, 2009

Great Year For Pittsburgh Sports Fans

By Scott Morganroth
If you're a Detroit er, the weekend of June 12-14 was a tough one to digest against Pittsburgh sports teams.
It was difficult to see the Detroit Red Wings lose the Stanley Cup Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 as home ice advantage meant nothing.
But to see the Detroit Tigers lose a pair to the Pittsburgh Pirates was harder to deal with. It wouldn't have bothered me as much if the Tigers lost to a Pirates team which featured players like Bobby Bonilla & Mr. Steroids Barry Bonds.
Those Pirates, managed by current Tigers Manager Jim Leyland from 1990-1992, reeled off three straight division titles.
It wouldn't have bothered me if the Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente and Dave Parker, etc... of the 1970's which won a pair of World Series titles, would have defeated the 2009 Tigers.
The Pirates are now an organization which has a new stadium but instead of putting people in it, they're now known for trading their quality players away with their annual fire sales.
Yet, we're midway through 2009 and Pittsburgh can still make a legitimate claim to being "The City of Champions."
The Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl on February 1st, while the Penguins won their third Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history on June 12Th.
Pittsburgh wouldn't have a chance to win an NBA title because they don't have a team.
The Pirates won't win this years World Series yet the franchise still has a proud history.
The University of Pittsburgh does have a fine football and basketball programs.
Does anybody remember that Tony Dorsett won a National Championship in 1976 for the University of Pittsburgh, and in 1977, won a Super Bowl in his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys, thus becoming the first player to accomplish this feat?
The Panthers basketball program is an elite team in the Big East Conference and I wouldn't be surprised they'd defeat the Los Angeles Clippers.
If for some reason, the Los Angeles Dodgers do win the World Series this year, it would be ironic if all four major sports titles were won by two cities.
Even though the public may not know members of the 2009 Pirates, they're well aware of Penguins Owner/Hall of Fame Player Mario Lemieux, the Rooney Family, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Mean Joe Greene, Ben Roethlisberger and Sidney Crosby.
Your economy may be down but it sure seems like your sports teams are doing a nice job picking up the slack.
The best part is the Penguins will be playing in a long overdue arena in the future and we could be looking at a dynasty in the making. The Steelers are a model franchise run by the Rooney's and their last three coaches have all won Super Bowls speaking of Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher.
The three rivers are nice to watch and your sports ownership appears to be solid for the most part as well as the Pittsburgh Panthers success.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

NBA Post Finals Observations

By Scott Morganroth
Now that the Los Angeles Lakers/Orlando Magic mismatch is over, it's time to reflect on what would have been.
The ultimate choke artists are the Cleveland Cavaliers! This is a team which had a chance to put itself in the record books with the Boston Celtics if they had won its last home game with a 41-1 record but decided to rest its players and settled for 39-2 by losing to the Philadelphia 76'ers 111-110 on April 15TH.
I'll bet that 41-1 record would have been a nice consolation prize for not winning a championship or at least have the right to face Kobe Bryant and compete for one.
Before the final home game, Lebron James took the microphone and told the Cleveland fans that he was looking forward to snapping the city's half century championship drought.
The Cavaliers had a false sense of security just by thinking a 66-16 record could coast to the NBA Finals.
Sweeping the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks meant nothing when the Orlando Magic took advantage of their overconfidence. Undoubtedly, home court advantage throughout the playoffs meant nothing since they didn't make it all the way through to the finals.
When James decided not to show sportsmanship by not shaking the Magic's players hands after the series was over then refused to speak to the media, this was classless. I'm sure he's been criticized plenty but I hope he learns from his infamous hat trick of overconfidence, sportsmanship and bad public relations.
I do believe that Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert is the one person who could deliver Cleveland a title. But Gilbert, who is from Farmington Hills, MI and used to advertise with the Pistons and did watch the perfect business model by the late William Davidson, won't do it with Ben Wallace.
Wallace isn't the same player former Pistons TV Play-By-Play Announcer Fred McLeod used to broadcast on the 2004 championship team. Wallace's defensive abilities never took his next two stops the Chicago Bulls and Cavaliers to the promised land. He is on the downside of his career.
I'm sure Coach of the Year Mike Brown knows it. But if one Wallace doesn't work, Rasheed Wallace is an unrestricted free agent and might come at a reasonable price. Another chance to land a former Piston for Gilbert could be quite tempting. Desperation can do many things especially with a long championship drought.
I'll bet Brown will attempt to protect Wallace like former Pistons Coach Larry Brown did and channel that intensity. If Rasheed can play some defense and hit few timely three pointers, he might actually get Cleveland fans to like him since he's had unpleasant things to say about them in the past.
But I guess for the time being, the only way we'll see a Bryant versus James match up is on video games until we them play on the court next season. We'll have a year to see if this mega ratings match up ever materializes.
Perhaps then, I'll watch more than 15 minutes of a finals series. But I'm probably not alone and if James is smart, he'll take the microphone and speak to the Cleveland fans in June and not April learning from his overconfidence experience.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

Remaining Tiger Stadium Demolition Insane

By Scott Morganroth

When my colleague George Eichorn sent me a photo that the remaining portion of Tiger Stadium was now being demolished, there were chills down my spine.
That's the last thing I need at the moment with back surgery scheduled for June 24Th and a hospital stay which figures to last as much as five days let alone a recovery process that could be up to 12 months.
On January 1st, I took a few pictures of the last part of Tiger Stadium. It was a snowy, cloudy day with the temperature around 10 degrees.
Three days prior, I had lunch with Ernie Harwell on my 46Th birthday and asked him what the odds were of saving Tiger Stadium? Like all of us, he was hoping it would get preserved but didn't appear optimistic.
Although I currently live in Florida, when I heard that Harwell wasn't getting enough cooperation & support from the city of Detroit and decided to no longer work on the committee to save the landmark, this was worse than the Lions 0-16 season.
Bad seasons get fixed and franchises get turned around. But when landmarks get demolished as Harwell's famous home run line, Tiger Stadium is "long gone."
This man was loved by Tigers fans for his memorable calls. But when the same people who listened to his broadcasts in the city disrespected him in his efforts to save Tiger Stadium despite the fact that he was willing to donate some memorabilia and use a "Field of Dreams" concept, this was hard to swallow.
The city's Economic Development Corp. board voted 7-1 to finish the demolition. The non-profit group was unable to come up with $33.4 million for the redevelopment project therefore the of Detroit is paying $400,000 to handle the project.
What bothers me about this is everybody is in a hurry to demolish the building but they have no plans what to do with the land for the economic development.
Now when Metro Detroiters drive on I-75 by Michigan & Trumbull, there will be memories on a vacant piece of property.
I have no problem tearing a building down as long as there is something that's going to be built on the land!
The remaining portion of Tiger Stadium could have been used for youth or Wayne State University baseball. The Tarters at Tiger Stadium would have a nice ring to it.
While I'm unaware of the maintenance costs to run the facility, if all parties could have cooperated & worked together, something could have been worked out. What was left of Tiger Stadium would have made an ideal minor league baseball venue.
When the city of Miami tore down the Orange Bowl which was the site of past Super Bowls, Orange Bowls, College Football National Championships, the Miami Hurricanes, Miami Dolphins, they're using this historic site to build the Florida Marlins a long overdue new ballpark.
If the Marlins keep former Tigers Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, this is where they'll have a chance to have productive careers.
Now the question remains, what will make the most sense for the Tiger Stadium site?
If new Mayor Dave Bing wants to score points with voters as he did with the Detroit Pistons, he'll address the Detroit Red Wings needs and build another Olympia Stadium.
Despite the Red Wings heartbreaking attempt at winning a fifth championship in 13-years to the Pittsburgh Penguins, as much as Joe Louis Arena is a decent facility, it's 30 years old and is one of the oldest stadiums in the NHL, thus it's become outdated. It needs more suites and first class press facilities.
We all know that accessibility will never be a problem at the Tiger Stadium site. The only way to increase economic development is by building newer restaurants, sports bars and memorabilia stores.
Detroit needs to get this decision right!
The national perception around the country is negative. With the auto industry in shambles, the casinos struggling due to lack of disposable income, the sports traditions keep the city in the news especially when the teams are winning. On Fathers Day, the Tigers drew over 40,000 at Comerica Park in their three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Here is some advice to you Bing. Follow the city of Miami's plan! It's a good one because the only way to connect the past, present and future generations is by preserving historic sites and creating new traditions.
It would be great to see the next Steve Yzerman playing at the Corner of Michigan & Trumbull.
Scott Morganroth can be contacted at scottsports33@aol.com

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