Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Friday, July 29, 2011

No (Detroit) lyin, I love NFL football

                              Can Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions scramble to a winning season?

I’m not the most productive guy around the house anyway.
There’s a light fixture above the sink that needs replacing.
It’s a pretty simple job, really. Shut off the electricity. Unscrew the bum fixture, screw in the new fixture.
But you would think I was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The light malfunctioned about six months ago. It is still malfunctioning.
So if there is anyone who is unhappy about the resolution of the NFL labor situation, it is my wife.
You see, if there is any day when I get anything done around the house, it is Sunday.
After church comes chores.
Mow the grass. Trim the hedges. Build an ark. Construct a cyclotron. You know, the usual stuff.
But Sundays are almost out of the equation. My wife knows that.
Are you ready for some football? Darn right, Hank Jr.
Coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions open on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, September 11. The kickoff is 1 p.m., and the game will be televised by FOX.
Quarterback Matt Stafford will be taking the snaps. He’ll be flinging the ball to the likes of Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. Defensively, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will be among those on the line snorting and sputtering and trying to tear into Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman.
There is absolutely nothing better than residing on the couch for an entire day of NFL football. Here’s my typical blueprint: Make a couple of sandwiches. Strategically place a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew nearby on the floor. Yank on a pair of Depends. Insert the catheter. I don’t want to miss anything.
Watch the pre-game shows. Listen to the wisdom of Plato, Socrates, Howie and Terry. Wait for the kickoff for the 1 p.m. game. Stay prone for three consecutive hours.
Once that game ends, hop up and sprint to the kitchen. Whip up some nachos. Grab some more Mountain Dew. Empty the catheter bag. Slip on some fresh Depends. Get ready for the kickoff of the 4 o’clock game. Once again, stay prone for its duration. Turn over once or twice to prevent bed sores.
That game is usually over about 7 or so. Then it is time for some obligatory family time. Ask the kids how school is going. Ask the wife how work is going. Thank her for making pot roast and mashed potatoes. Take the dogs for a quick walk. Pat the cats on the top of the head.
The couch beckons again. Sunday Night Football might just be the most important invention since Salk’s polio vaccine and Twinkies.
My dietary requirements for a nighttime game are different. I usually go with popcorn, Doritos, Twizzlers and Hot Tamales. Did I mention another two liters of Mountain Dew?
The game ends after 11 usually. After that, I’ll watch the news and then turn on TMZ. Honestly, I am usually exhausted by that point. It takes a lot of dedication to remain semi-comatose on the couch for 12 straight hours or so.
Many said it could not be done. I am living, heavily breathing, proof that indeed it can. Live Strong says my Lance Armstrong bracelet. I’m trying my best, Lance.
And don’t worry, dear, I’ll get to that light fixture when I have time. Until then, be careful around the sink. Don’t stub your toe in the darkness.
Are you ready for some football?
Somewhere, I hear my wife dial 1-800-CALL-SAM. Do the Bernsteins handle divorces, too

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's a Jeep thing

We bought a used vehicle the other day.
A 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee with nearly 140,000 hard-earned miles on its odometer.
Despite the high miles, I figured it was a solid vehicle that the kids could use to get to work and school.
Only our daughter, Breanna, has driven it to work the last two days, and has gone 0-for-2.
We bought the Brandon Inge of vehicles.
The Grand Cherokee started both mornings. It started when she headed out to lunch with a co-worker two days ago, but did not start when it was time to leave the parking lot of the Big Boy restaurant.
Breanna turned the key and nothing. It was silent as a librarian’s stare. An hour and a half later, the tow truck driver arrived. He checked the battery’s charge. It was fine. He checked for loose connections. Nothing wrong there, either.
Exasperated, he finally wandered to the passenger’s side door and opened it. He reached across and turned the key and the Grand Cherokee started.
Yesterday, the same thing happened. The Jeep started fine in the morning. It was fine all day long until it was time to leave work. Breanna turned the key. Silent as a cat burglar with narcolepsy. I drove 30 minutes to go pick her up. Before we left, I took the key to the Jeep, put it in the ignition, and it started right up.
Exasperated, I called the used car lot where we bought the Grand Cherokee. The mechanic told me there was a problem with the vehicle’s security system. If it failed to start, I had to lock the driver’s side door and unlock the passenger’s side door.
I followed his Arthur Murray Dance Studio routine of hippity hopping from one side of the vehicle to the other side of the vehicle.
Sorry, it still did not start.
Then the used car lot owner told me to go to the passenger’s side door, turn the key to unlock the door and back again to lock the door, and then go around to the driver’s side door, unlock it, get in and start the car.
I felt like I was playing a solo version of Twister. Is there a chiropractor in the house?
Nope, it still didn’t work.
The Grand Cherokee is going back tomorrow. I am going to swap it for something else. Preferably something you don’t have to do the hand jive to dismantle the security system. Hopefully, something I don’t have to do be double jointed to get the engine to turn over.
We don’t need fancy. We don’t need swank. We just need something that will start.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Food for thought in Orion Township

(L-R): Danielle Sylvester, Pastor Tim Chappell, and Jerry Anderson hold up one of their signs which got their church, New Beginnings Baptist Church, in trouble. Photo taken on Tuesday, July 26, 2011, in Lake Orion, Mich. (The Oakland Press/Jose Juarez)

Free Food.
That’s a sign you see occasionally in front of the New Beginnings Baptist Church that sits astride Lapeer Road in Oakland County’s Orion Township.
While the needy appreciate the notice, some of the more fortunate apparently do not.
The church has been ticketed.
So much for five loaves and two fish. Thank God there were no code enforcement officers when Jesus fed the 5,000. Jesus probably exceeded seating capacity in that solitary place near Bethsaida, too.
Does anyone in the township offices have any common sense?
The sole reason for the Free Food sign is to feed the hungry. The reason that people are hungry is that the economy around here is still anorexic.
Gone are many of the well paying jobs in the automotive sector that kept people comfortably in the middle class. Pay these days is lower or non-existent, medical deductibles are rising while coverage plummets and what used to be sirloin is now Hamburger Helper at best.
Free Food fills stomachs and a growing need. Handing out tickets to a church in violation of a sign ordinance is an obscenity.
The only valid reason to force the church to take down the sign is that nobody needs free food any longer.
Chew on that for reality, Orion Township.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why don't the bill collectors call Washington D.C.?

                                   Will a "For Sale" sign be on the front lawn of the White House soon?

I don’t get it.
I drive a 1997 car because I don’t have enough money to buy a new one.
I tote my dinner to work every night because I don’t have the money to eat out. There’s not sirloin in the lunch pail, either. It is more like bologna or tuna fish.
Our family vacations consist of going up north because that is all our budget allows. We stay with friends, because nothing is cheaper than freeloading.
So how come this country is facing national default?
You spend what you have. If you don’t have the money, you cannot afford it. That really is not too difficult a concept to grasp, is it?
I’m as dumb as a cinder block, but even I understand Economics 101.
Our politicians must be dumber than I am.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama threatened to veto Republican emergency legislation to avert an unprecedented default as the clash over the U.S. debt deepened with a deadline only a week away.
The impasse extended beyond the long-standing battle over increasing the debt limit between Democrats and Republicans, as a conservative revolt within the Republican party threatened to sink Speaker John Boehner's efforts to line up enough votes for the measure to pass.
Majority Leader Harry Reid said the measure stood no chance of passing the Senate even if it clears the House. He pronounced it "dead on arrival."
Our country owes money because it spends more than it has. Don’t the bill collectors have the home phone numbers of our politicians?
They should call Barack, just like they call us. They should call Boehner, the same way they call us. Three or four times a day minimum. First thing in the morning. The last thing at night. Call until guts churn every time the phone rings. Most of us know that feeling.
Threaten to take their cars. Threaten to foreclose on their houses. That includes the White House. Threaten to turn the electricity off. Threaten to shut the water off.
Threaten to lay them off. It’s Economics 101, folks. You spend what you have.
All right, enough of that. I am going to eat dinner now. I have a can of baked beans, some pretzels and an apple. If I can gather some change, I might even have some Swedish Fish for dessert.
Why don’t our representatives try that menu for awhile?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Beatle, and I'm not talking a Volkswagen

I’m a Beatles fan come lately.
Fifty six years old and I have finally seen the light.
It came in the form of pyrotechnics at Comerica Park in Detroit Sunday night.
It was an amazing, amazing concert by Paul McCartney and his band and I am not one of those folks who worshipped McCartney or even the Beatles when they held the world’s attention hostage for so many years.
I don’t know why, but I guess I never appreciated their immense talent.
Oh, I liked some of their songs, but hardly their entire body of work.
I was always more into Hendrix than Harrison; more into Led Zeppelin than Lennon.
But McCartney, 69, and his band absolutely enthralled the Detroit crowd Sunday. He went at it furiously for three hours. He played lots and lots of Beatles songs. He seemed to enjoy himself, but no more than my wife and I and thousands of others did.
It was undoubtedly one of the best concerts I have ever seen. Congratulations, Sir Paul. It was a royal performance.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Richie Rich wears suits; he also wears shoulder pads

I can’t sidle up to the NFL owners.
Anyone with that much money makes me uncomfortable.
I’ve got a pal who is pretty well off. Lou says he “doesn’t do used.”
That means he has never bought a used car.
Well, I just went out and purchased a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee with nearly 140,000 miles on its odometer.
I do used. My finances dictate it.
Detroit Lions’ owner William Clay Ford probably doesn’t do used, either.
But do you know what, I’m not sure many NFL players do used either. I have a tough time sidling up to them, too.
Players generally make a lot of money, too.
Not that they do not deserve it. The NFL is the only league where the contracts are not guaranteed. There is also a mighty short shelf life on careers. On average, they last about three years.
But who said football is a career? What is wrong with going out and getting another job once you yank the helmet off?
Go sell insurance. Go get a masters degree in business. Put your name on a resume and work a nine to five job. Join the real world; it is something you probably have never been a part of.
Elite athletes are treated differently. People fawn all over them. It is that way in high school and it is that way in college. If a guy makes the pros, it is that way multiplied by 10.
People buy them drinks. People buy them dinner. People throw themselves at athletes.
Athletes are spoiled. Owners are spoiled. Neither group is particularly likeable.
But the real world loves football. The NFL lockout should be ending any day now. That is good news for regular folks.
That means you and I. When's the last time anyone bought you a steak?

An Old Goat stays home

Fred P. Wilhelm of Troy (seated) has decided to sit out the 2011 Port Huron to Mackinac race that begins today. The 82-year-old sailor has participated in more than 30 of the events.

Fred P. Wilhelm is an Old Goat.
This is not meant to be derogatory; in fact, just the opposite.
That fact that he is 82 years old does not make him an Old Goat. The folks from AARP will confirm that.
What makes Wilhelm an Old Goat is that he’s sailed in “over 30” Port Huron to Mackinac races.
There’s even a society of Mackinac Island Old Goats at the Bayview Yacht Club, where Wilhelm has been a member since 1957. Here’s the club’s definition of an Old Goat:
“An Old Goat is a sailor who has sailed twenty five or more Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Races. Racing sailors count their Mackinac Races like some people count birthdays and anniversaries. Competing in and finishing 25 races to Mackinac Island is a significant accomplishment and Old Goats are honored to be listed among other sailors that have attained this status.
Since the first Mackinac Race in 1925, Bayview Yacht Club has hosted this spectacular annual fresh water event which has attracted intrepid sailors from around the globe. The first fleet of only nine boats was battered by strong winds and only three finished. Today we host more than two hundred fifty racing yachts for the annual trek from Port Huron to Mackinac Island. Whether sailing the traditional shore course or the longer Cove Island or South Hampton course, it is an exciting and challenging adventure and sailors must face every conceivable type of challenge mother nature can present. From big waves and high wind to black flies and intolerable heat, the sailors press on to finish yet another Mackinac Race.
The SOCIETY OF MACKINAC ISLAND OLD GOATS was formed in the 1950's by Bayview sailors who by then had sailed twenty five races. Names like Bobbie Roadstrum, George E. Van, Commodores Bill Nagel, Stan Puddiford and Trent McMath, Ted Coggin and Bobbie Bryant had all sailed Mackinac Races in the 1920's and were inspired when the Chicago Yacht Club created its prestigious Island Goat Sailing Society.”
“Racing is about the competition,” said Wilhelm. “A lot of the boats are very close in speed, so you try to put yourself in position where you have the wind and the competition does not. You put up the proper sails and go through the waves as well as you can.
“In the Mackinac race, you try to figure out where the winds will come from. In the olden days you would look for a cloud to get under because there was supposedly more wind there,” he said, chuckling.
There was a race in the 1960s where there was way too much wind. The water on Lake Huron was churning and the waves were rising. A decision was made to motor into Alpena.
“By the time we got there, the storm had passed and the skies were blue,” said Wilhelm, chuckling again.
There are certain recurring moments that a sailor never forgets.
“When you see the sun rising in the morning,” said Wilhelm. “And when you are out on the water at night and there’s nothing but the stars and the moon.”
When he sees the sun rising this morning, he will be on dry land. When he looks up into the sky tonight, it won’t be from the deck of a sailboat.
For the first time in many years, Wilhelm is sitting out the Port Huron to Mackinac race.
"I'm 82 years old,” he said. “A lot of people think that sailing is an easy sport, but there are times when you have to move quickly and you need strength and endurance. I just have a feeling that I could not carry my weight anymore."
While that is almost certainly not the case, the Wilhelm family will be represented proudly. His son, Fred R., owns the Mystic 3. Father and son used to be part-owners. Fred R. Wilhelm sails out of the Crescent Yacht Club in Grosse Pointe Farms. Joining him on the crew are Tim Greening of Grosse Pointe Park, Dave Simon of Grosse Pointe Woods, Lee Greening of Grosse Pointe Park, Ed Kriese of St. Clair Shores, Dr. Edward Vermet of Grosse Pointe, Mitch Vermet of Grosse Pointe and Alex Simon of Chicago.
The Mystic 3 is a 1993 Dobroth 41-footer built by Wiggers.
Thousands of people on both the U.S. and Canadian shores will cheer the sailboats this morning as they make their way up the St. Clair River from Port Huron to the starting area that takes place about five miles from the Blue Water Bridge.
From its traditional start in southern Lake Huron, the fleet will head north on one of two courses. The shorter course, called the "Shore Course," covers 204 nautical miles (252 statute miles) along the Michigan shoreline before heading west to Mackinac Island Bell's Beer finish line. The longer "Cove Island Course" is 259 nautical miles (298 statute miles) and takes the sailors around a buoy off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Canadian waters before heading West toward the Bell's Beer finish line at Mackinac Island.
Fred P. Wilhelm has been sailing since he was 12 when a buddy who lived on Mona Lake in Muskegon bought a small sailboat. The Wilhelm family lived in Muskegon for awhile while his father worked for Continental Motors during the World War II years.
Fred P. spent some time in the army himself. He was in the military during the Korean War and was stationed in Japan. When he got out, he bought his own sailboat, a Lightning. He kept that five or six years until he got a little larger sailboat, a 25-footer.
That larger sailboat came the same year that he married Jean. They first met on a ski trip in northern Michigan and had been married 53 years until she died about three months ago. Jean had been afflicted by Alzheimer’s the last several years.
“Jean would go sailing with us once in awhile. She’d come on the trip back from Mackinac sometimes. There were some nice places to stop on the way back. We certainly had some good times,” he said.
He worked in tool and die for Erie Engineering and Punch Craft before starting his own company, Metalon, a tool and die manufacturer in Warren.
That is the same city where Fred and Jean raised their three kids; Lynn, Fred and Julianne. All three still reside in Macomb County while Fred lives in Troy.
While Fred P. Wilhelm will stay home today, he did drive to Port Huron Thursday to pick up the crew which had taken the boat there.
“It was my decision not to go this year,” he said.
An Old Goat in dry dock? Somehow, that just does not seem right.

Want to follow the race live? A GPS tracking link can be found at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shanks for nothing, Tiger Woods

Now I don’t know Tiger Woods personally.
I just know him from what I’ve read; about both the golf course and the bedroom.
He got his way in each venue plenty of times.
I don’t know caddy Steve Williams, either.
But I do know caddying.
I spent a handful of my formative teen years lugging around the bags of country club members. Generally it went well. Most were nice guys. Sometimes, you would run into a real jerk.
I remember one member in particular. He couldn’t hit a ball straight if he was teeing off in a tunnel.  But one afternoon he shanked a  fairway wood and he started shouting obscenities.
They were aimed at me. Somehow, it was my fault his ball wound up out of bounds.
All I could do was mutter to myself, pick up the bag, and go searching for the ball. I was part caddy, part pack mule, and part Sherpa guide.
Woods split with Williams, his longtime caddy, Wednesday.
Tiger announced the split on his website, writing, "I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stevie for all his help, but I think it's time for a change ... I wish (Steve) great success in the future."
So far, no replacement has been named.
But now, Steve has fired back -- saying, "After 13 years of loyal service needless to say this came as a shock. Given the circumstances of the past 18 months working through Tiger’s scandal, a new coach and with it a major swing change ... I am very disappointed to end our very successful partnership at this time."
Steve, I know how you feel. Some guys are real jerks. But most of us already knew that about Tiger Woods.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hutchison smiles at the birdie

Photo by Ray J. Skowronek
Randy Hutchison of Traverse City proudly finished atop the leader board at 2011 Michigan Open played at The Orchards in Washington Township.

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP - Step aside, Days of Our Lives.
You, too, General Hospital.
All the afternoon drama anyone could possibly want took place at The Orchards during the waning moments of the fourth and final round of the 94th Michigan Open Thursday afternoon.
Traverse City’s Randy Hutchison carded a dramatic birdie on the 18th hole to erase a one-stroke deficit to the University of Michigan’s Matt Thompson and capture the tournament championship.
“I knew I had to make a birdie, and I didn't expect Matt to make a bogey,” said Hutchison.
Thompson, who will be a senior at U-M this fall, had birdied holes 16 and 17 to take a one-shot lead.
“My last birdie had been on the sixth hole, so I was due for one,” said Hutchison.
He proceeded to rip a drive off the 18th tee, and then hit a poached egg sand wedge to just two feet for the final birdie, while Thompson missed the green with a 7-iron shot. Thompson also just missed making the ensuing chip shot from left of the green and finally missed a seven-foot par-saving putt.
Hutchison knocked his final short putt in for the win.
Hutchison won $10,000 and heads back to the NGA Hooters Tour. His final birdie gave him a 2-under-par 70 for a 16-under-par 272 total.
Thompson finished at 273 with a 68.
Hutchinson started Thursday’s round with a three-stroke lead.
“Winning a pro tour event has always been a dream of mine,” said Hutchison. “I have won at the amateur level and the collegiate level, but this is my second year playing pro golf. It feels even better to get my first win in my home state.”
While Hutchison plans to celebrate his victory, it won’t be a long-lived celebration.  He’ll be back in his 2003 Dodge Stratus with 131,000 proud miles on its odometer soon enough, heading to North Carolina to resume his life on the Hooters Tour.
“It costs about $2,000 a week on the tour,” said Hutchison. “The entry fees alone are about $1,100 per tournament.”
Add in a week’s accommodations at a Super 8 or a Red Roof Inn, meals, laundry, toiletries and hey, the Stratus does not run on hay.
The check for $10,000 he received yesterday gives him a nice five-week cushion back on the Hooters Tour.
While the winner will be heading to North Carolina, Thompson will be returning to Ann Arbor soon for his senior year. He’s majoring in psychology.
Upon graduation, he will turn pro and most likely play the Gateway Tour based in Arizona. His parents recently moved from Michigan to Arizona.
“I’m definitely looking forward to turning pro. It’ll be nice to get to that next step and see what I can do,” said Thompson.
Thompson attended Lakeview High School in Battle Creek.
Brian Ottenweller, a former University of Michigan player now on the mini-tour circuit, finished at 275 and in third place with a 67.
Muskegon pro Andy Ruthkoski, the 2007 Open champion, shot 70 for 279 and fourth place, and Ann Arbor amateur Martin Jeppesen, an Eastern Michigan University golfer, shot 66 for 280 and fifth place. Sixth place went to mini-tour pro Ryan Lenahan of Grosse Pointe Shores, who shot a course-record 63 for 281. PGA Tour star Mike Weir was the previous record-holder at 65.
Thompson, who was also second in the 2009 Michigan Open, missed at being the first amateur to win a state Open since 1975.
“I feel like Randy beat me,” he said. “I made bogey on the last hole, missed the green, then just missed that chip, but I shot 68 today and was 15-under. I can’t be too disappointed. To have a two-shot swing like that is an emotional roller coaster, but I played well. I just came up short and Randy beat me. He made a great birdie there to win.”
The Michigan Open returns to The Orchards in 2012.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The future is plastics; sign up for 2012 Wiffle Ball tournament

Peter Pan promised eternal youth. He absolutely refused to grow up. But he wore tights, not baseball knickers.
Ponce de Leon supposedly discovered the Fountain of Youth. But do you know what; he never once stuck a wad of Double Bubble in his mouth.
So from my vantage point, Pan and Ponce are pure fiction.
Conversely, what John Thompson promises about eternal youth is certified fact.
“The nice thing about the Wiffle Ball tournament is that it’s a family event,” said Thompson. “The kids get to run around and play and the adults get to act like they are 12 years old again.”
Thompson, who resides with his wife and kids in Clinton Township, is certainly right about that. There is something marvelously timeless about the game of Wiffle Ball.
Check the rearview mirror. Take a glance at the resume. Everybody has some Wiffe Ball in his or her background. Did you know that Noah took a Wiffle Ball and bat onto the ark to keep the animals entertained during God’s longest rainout? Trouble is, those surly grizzly bears chewed both bat and ball up. And, to take their minds off the big battle, General Custer and his men played a rousing game of Wiffle Ball before riding out for a couple of innings.
All right, so things did not go so well in their game against the Indians later on. Generally, playing Wiffle Ball is a certifiable blast.
Here’s a brief summation for the one or two folks on the planet who might not know what Wiffle Ball is all about. The ball itself is plastic and full of holes that allow the air to whistle through. Hence, the ball dips and dives; curves and cavorts in ways the Niekros could only dream about. The bat is likewise plastic, making it extremely easy to generate tremendous speed on a swing. Connect solidly and send a line shot straight up the gut and pitchers have been known to go down like they’ve been tasered.
“We played a lot of Little League and city league baseball,” said Thompson, who grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. “Wiffle ball came a little later to us. I think we were teenagers when we got into it. We played a lot at my buddy, Vinnie’s, house.”
Home plate looked suspiciously like the front step of Vinnie’s house. A home run did not have to clear a fence. Nope, the ball had to clear Seton Place Drive, the street which ran in front of Vinnie’s.
“Back then, a home run seemed like it was a 500-foot shot. I’d guess it was probably only 100 feet away, which is still a pretty good shot in Wiffle Ball,” said Thompson, laughing.
Everybody has their own autographed version of a Wiffle Ball game. In South Orange, they were one-on-one affairs. The pitcher stared down the batter. The batter spat some spent Red Man in response. Or was that root beer?
Either way, there were only two competitors per game. All runners were invisible. The bases were merely specters, too.
“We adopted different lineups. There had to had to be an American League and a National League team. I liked the Yankees and the Houston Astros. If a left-handed hitter was coming up in the lineup, then you had to bat left-handed,” said Thompson. “If a right-handed batter was in either the Yankees or Astros lineup, you had to hit right-handed.”
Thompson is the mastermind behind a local Wiffle Ball tournament that recently celebrated its 11th year. The event is usually held at Wanda Park in Sterling Heights. The Polish War Veterans Home is situated there.
Twenty two-person teams competed at the 2011 tournament and the championship squad was manned by Rochester residents Chris Gabbard and Neto Ramirez.
All the fields at the Wanda Park tournament are fenced, with home runs measuring from 85 feet down the foul lines to 100 feet in smack dab centerfield. It’s a double elimination event.
Thompson has been on the winning team twice; in 2006 and 2010. Both times, he’s teamed up with Chris Engquist. This year, their title defense lasted just three games.
“We went from top to bottom real quick,” said Thompson.
John and his wife, Susan, have three children; Emily, 20; Audrey, who is six; and three-year-old Sylvia.
“Susan ripped the first home run that a woman had ever hit in the tournament. My buddy, Jerry, was pitching. I don’t think he has played since,” said Thompson, chuckling.
“That is one thing I like about the tournament,” he continued. “Entire families come out. We don’t just play Wiffle Ball. We grill hot dogs and hamburgers. There is plenty to drink for everyone. We all get a chance to act like kids.”
The tournament is always held on the final Saturday in June. That means the 2012 edition will be held on Saturday, June 22. The cost will be about $40 per player.
How much does a sip from the real Fountain of Youth cost anyway? You’ll look better in baseball knickers than green tights.

For more information, contact Thompson at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Honda chopper for sale

Anybody want to buy a motorcycle?
Not just any motorcycle, but a real classic.
A chopped 1974 Honda CB 750.  It has a Springer front end and an Amen Savior softail frame.
It also has an owner to whom the internal combustion engine is a source of infernal confusion.
The theory when I purchased this bike a few years’ back is that I would learn all of its secrets and turn myself into a mechanic.
The reality three or four years later is that it has been parked in the garage much more than it has been on the road.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a very cool motorcycle. But I still don’t know a carburetor from a carbohydrate. I don’t know an oil filter from an unfiltered Camel cigarette. I wouldn’t know a cam chain from a chain smoking Kirk Cameron.
So there you go, I have a classic motorcycle that sometimes needs a gentle touch and I’ve got the touch of a lobster.  Oh, I still love the bike. I just don’t love having to work on the bike.
When it runs, it runs great. But it needs a new battery. It needs some new tires. Its carbs have to be adjusted. Right now, they leak more gas than Joey Chestnut after eating those 62 hotdogs at Nathan’s on Coney Island.
Speaking of carbs, I guess you are wondering how much bread I want for the bike. I guess about $2,000 sounds right. That price is negotiable. I’d consider a trade, too. Tell me what you have.
What I have is a cool-looking, classic motorcycle; a cool-looking, classic motorcycle that is parked in the garage.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Detroit Tigers' broadcaster says thanks to military men and women

Please pause for just a moment between your third and fourth hot dog. Or, take a moment to reflect after your sixth beer and before your seventh beer.
Or maybe somewhere just shy of your fifth deviled egg.
Here's something that you see occasionally on bumper stickers, but is certainly something we should all pause and take a moment to digest: Freedom Is Not Free.
That's what the Fourth of July weekend is all about. That is why we should all pause and give thanks to the men and women in the military.
Detroit Tigers' broadcaster Mario Impemba did more than just pause. For the third consecutive year, Detroit Tigers’ fans currently serving in the United States Armed Forces can enjoy this season's home opener in the form of 'Operation Opening Day' -- a three-hour DVD containing FOX Sports Detroit's coverage of the Tigers 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on April 8 at Comerica Park.
'Operation Opening Day' is a gift from Impemba, who is the FOX Sports Detroit play-by-play announcer, in cooperation with the Tigers and Major League Baseball Productions.
The video is available to all active members of the military. It contains pregame festivities, the entire game telecast and postgame interviews.
"It really struck me when we were on the preseason caravan in Lansing a few years ago. A group of reservists was getting ready to ship out to the Middle East,” said Impemba. “They talked about how much they regretted being gone for the Tigers’ home opener. Opening Day in Detroit is our annual holiday that brings our city together, something so many of the men and women in our armed forces do not have a chance to experience in person.
“While they are away serving our country, I am honored to bring Opening Day to them and hope this small piece of home lets them know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice. This is just a small way of saying thanks to them."
Thanks is something we don't say enough, especially when it comes to the military. How do you properly express your gratitude for such a sacrifice? A handful of years of their lives at least. Tragically, for some, it is much more than that. Theirs is the ultimate sacrifice.
I sidestepped the war in Vietnam. I was part of the national lottery, and the date of my birthday came up somewhere in the 300s. I was one very happy guy. That's because by then I'd seen enough sadness.
I used to play the trumpet and that meant I'd get called out of school to play Taps at way too many funerals.
Impemba and his wife, Cathy, have two sons; Brett, 18, and Daniel, who is 15. Brett is a June grad from Dakota High School in Macomb Township. He will be playing baseball at Oakland University soon. Daniel is heading into his sophomore year at Dakota.
Mario Impemba has been part of the Tigers’ broadcast team for 10 years. His partner is Rod Allen. This is his 17th season broadcasting in the major leagues. Prior to joining the Tigers, he was the radio voice of the Anaheim Angels.
"When you think about it, a lot of the people serving in the armed forces are just 18 to 21 years old. They are still young men and women,” said Impemba. "I know when I turned 18, I registered for the draft because it was mandatory but I really did not think much about it. When you are a parent, your perspective is different. A lot of the people fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are the same age of Brett, or just a little bit older.”
Let’s pause and give thanks to our forefathers. They are the ones who secured our freedom. It was on the fourth of July in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. Much blood was shed in the Revolutionary War. Blood continues to spill to this day. Freedom is Not Free.
Troops, as well as family and friends of troops, can request the `Operation Opening day’ video at Orders must include a valid military address (APO, SPO or FPO address, military base or ship address) so the DVD gift can be mailed directly to the men and women currently serving
our country. Quantities are limited and requests will be fulfilled as
“If it brightens their day and makes them feel like they are home for even a little while, that is a great thing,” said Impemba. “The DVD is just a small token of our appreciation for what the men and women in the military do for all of us.”