Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chewing the fat with Evans

I’m 30 pounds overweight.
It is getting ridiculous. I have to squeeze into pants that John Candy would have been comfy in.
All right, not exactly, but that is the way I feel.
I have to drop some serious weight.  I went to the gym today and worked out for awhile. That’s at least a handful of steps in the right direction.
I blame the weight gain over the last couple of years on cancer.
When I was diagnosed in November of 2009, I figured the kidney cancer that had spread to my bones, lungs and even brain was going to kill me quickly.
That is way when we went out for breakfast, I ordered anything that took two platters and a forklift  to deliver. That is why I always had fries with my burger already over-burdened with cheddar cheese and bacon. That is why I never hesitated to grab a XXL pop and popcorn and box of Hot Tamales at the movie theatre.
I figured if I was going to die soon, what did I care if the coffin had to be bumped up a smidgen in size? I would be riding, not toting.
But it appears the eulogy has been put on hold for a considerable amount of time. For six months or more, scans reveal the cancer has either totally disappeared or has shrunken considerably.
Thanks for listening to all the prayers, God. Thank goodness You grade on a curve.
The worse news from my frequent visits to the doctor comes immediately after I step on the scale.
This has to stop. I feel like Chaz Bono in a jock strap or a hippo in Underoos.
I have to go for a run. I have to go for a jog. I have to go for a walk.  In the opposite direction of McDonalds.

Monday, November 28, 2011

In a roundabout way ...

They are called roundabouts.
To me, they are blankety blanking roundabouts.
Nothing personal against these traffic circles, mind you.
In fact, I met a very nice woman in a roundabout in Rochester Hills a month or so ago.
She was headed northbound on Livernois and I had been southbound on Livernois before entering the roundabout. I was just exiting onto eastbound Hamlin when we met.
Translated: The right side of her fender met my right rear quarter panel.
“I really couldn’t tell you what happened,” she said apologetically a moment later.
She was a little befuddled and who can blame her? Roundabouts, which are fairly new to the Detroit area, are full of befuddlement.
Nobody seems to either know or care how to deal with them. Mostly, people go flying right into them like a bunch of NASCAR interns. They obviously figure the right of way is a divine right in America much like voting, over-eating on Thanksgiving Day and about 364 other days of the year or watching reality television featuring housewives with all the loveable characteristics of pit bulls (that analogy comes with apologies to pit bulls everywhere).
So here is Roundabout 101: When approaching the traffic circle, everyone yields. Only after looking to your left and making sure there is no oncoming traffic do you proceed. How difficult is that?
Like I said, I met a very nice woman in a roundabout a month or so ago. She was in a Cadillac. I was in a subcompact. Guess whose car got the worst of it?
Yep, and I had just taken the collision off my insurance since my car is a 1997 and I’d been paying more in premiums than the car is worth.
So, for what it is worth, these roundabouts are a pain in my …fender.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Target stores are real turkeys

There’s been a mushroom cloud above the nuclear family for years now.
Mom’s been married three times. Dad’s name doesn’t match the one on your birth certificate. There are not family trees any longer. There is family fescue.
Think about it. When’s the last time you ate Sunday dinner with everybody at the table?
Billy cutting into a piece of roast beef. Suzy cheerfully telling everybody about her day. Mom accepting everyone’s gratitude for a job well done and dad recounting the afternoon’s NFL game.
All right, I have not been smoking something funny in Ward Cleaver’s Grabow pipe.
It just does not happen.
About the only time our extended family all sits down together is on Thanksgiving.
We meet at Mom’s house. That’s the tradition. Everyone brings a dish or two. The appetizers are already out. The cheese ball encrusted in walnuts. The spinach dip nestled into the center of a bowl fashioned from rye bread. Shrimp positioned just so on a glass platter and an assortment of sliced cheese, sausage and crackers.
And that is before the kickoff of the real traditional meal. How do you spell g-l-u-t-t-o-n-y?
So we eat. And we eat again. And we lounge. We watch television. We put in a movie. We play with kids and grandkids and it’s a great time.
And a number of stores have announced plans to start their "Black Friday" sales on Thanksgiving night, some as early as 8 p.m.
An online petition, started by a Target employee to protest the chain's midnight Thanksgiving opening, had almost 160,000 signatures by Thursday afternoon. The petition was started by Anthony Hardwick.
"A midnight opening robs the hourly and in-store salary workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day," Hardwick, of Omaha, Neb., wrote when he created the petition, noting that workers need to be in the store at least an hour before doors open. "A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation -- all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night's rest on Thanksgiving!"
Amen, Anthony Hardwick. Oops, gotta go. It’s time to make a turkey sandwich complete with stuffing and cranberry sauce. I have not eaten in 38 minutes. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friday night and a lousy mourning

Dad always stood at the north end of the football field.
There he was, on what back then was a cinder track.
Dad watched intently, but he hardly uttered a word. Regular as a Timex watch. That is, until Timex began manufacturing its watches in China. Those keep lousy time.
Dad’s timing was impeccable.
It is now called the Tom Evans Field at Walled Lake Central High School. After Dad died, they erected the sign.
The Walled Lake Central Vikings were on the road for a Division 1 regional championship game in Utica against Eisenhower Friday night.
Eisenhower took advantage of its guests, defeating the Vikings 38-21. Eisenhower advances to a semifinal game against Detroit Cass Tech. The Technicians got past De La Salle 6-0 on a touchdown scored late in the fourth quarter.
Cancer is a thieving bastard. It stole Dad away some years ago.
He started out as a teacher and coach at what was then Walled Lake High School and later became the district athletic director.
When Walled Lake Western opened for the 1969-70 school year, Walled Lake High became Walled Lake Central.
There are now three high schools in the expansive district with the addition of Walled Lake Northern out on Bogie Lake Road.
Dad and Muddy Waters were buddies at Michigan State University.
Muddy got out of school a year before Dad and he came to Walled Lake as a high school teacher and coach. Muddy called my dad one day and told him the school needed a driver’s education instructor.
Great, said Dad. There was just one problem. Dad did not know how to drive. Born and raised in Chicago, there was never any need for a car. He traveled by bus or took “the L.”
Dad took a driver’s training course in Lansing himself and then came down for the job interview. He got the job.
Dad was supposed to play basketball and baseball at Michigan State, but those plans were interrupted by World War II. Just a few weeks into his freshman year, he enlisted in the Navy.
When the war ended, he went back to East Lansing, but he did not play any sports.
Still, games remained very important to him. Especially those games played by his three sons.
He attended most of our games. The ones he could not get to, he’d ask about.
After the infrequent baseball game he could not make, Dad would ask if we got any hits. Then he’d ask if we had struck out. If the answer was yes, he’d ask if we had swung at the last pitch.
Swinging implied effort, and effort was very important to Dad.
Dad would’ve loved the effort expended at Swinehart Field in Utica Friday night. Both Eisenhower and Walled Lake Central enjoyed outstanding seasons leading up to the regional championship contest.
Coach Bob Meyer’s Walled Lake Central squad reached the Division 2 semifinals last season, but when the Vikings moved up a division this year and had a 6-3 record during the regular season, they were expected to make a quick exit from the playoffs. Central became even more of a long shot when it drew defending Division 1 state champion Lake Orion in the first round.
The Vikings beat the Dragons 20-17, then faced a strong Clarkston team in the district final and overpowered the Wolves 45-26.
Coach Bob Lantzy’s Eisenhower squad is enjoying another outstanding season. The Eagles are champions of the MAC Red Division. They emerged from the rugged league competition with a 5-0 record and will take an 11-1 mark into the semifinals.
Yep, despite the final score, Dad would’ve loved Friday night’s game. I would’ve loved watching it with him, too. From the south end of the field.
Cancer is a thieving bastard.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My name is Suh; how do you do?

Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions has been accused of being a dirty player.

Football isn’t played with upraised pinkies.
That is not the kind of game it is.
If you don’t like to get hit, try darts. Maybe Chinese Checkers with a side order of Amy Vanderbilt.
That’s why all this talk about Ndamukong Suh being a dirty player is just plain hilarious.
What do folks figure happens once the ball is snapped in the National Football League? That everybody comes off the ball, exchanges pleasantries and recipes for pecan pie, and goes back to the huddle?
It is mayhem of the first order. It is a flash mob minus Oprah and The Black Eyed Peas. It is chaos and it is anarchy and if you don’t think it is violent, then go back to your game of Candyland and glass of sweet tea.
So what is a dirty player anyway? Someone who survives? Someone who gets in the last shot? Someone who hits a quarterback too hard, at least in the myopic perspective of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell? Someone who raises welts and ire?
Dirty players somehow seem to be synonymous with great players. I used to hate Dick Butkus when I was a kid because he regularly wreaked havoc with the Lions. The last time I looked, he was in the Hall of Fame. I don’t know of anyone outside of Green Bay who felt that Ray Nitschke was a loveable character, but he’s in the Hall of Fame, too. How about Jack Lambert? Warm and fuzzy will never be used to describe him. He, too, is a Hall of Famer. What about Mike Singletary? If those maniacal eyes did not stop opposing running backs, his thunderous tackles did. Another Hall of Famer. Mean Joe Greene didn’t get his nickname from adhering to Roberts Rules of Order.
How come when the Lions stunk, nobody ever accused anyone on the team of playing dirty? Now that they are 6-2, the wailing can be heard from purple mountain majesties across the fruited plains.
Just keep smacking people, Mr. Suh. It's time for a group hug.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dondero grad is a Hall of Famer

Dondero grad Ray Arthur is a legend at Petoskey High School. He turned that school's wrestling program into a state power. (Submitted photo)

This beginning of this column is offered with sincere apologies to Chagall, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Peter Max and every grade school, junior high, middle school and high school art teacher.
Petoskey High School Hall of Fame wrestling coach Ray Arthur certainly has nothing against art. In fact, he has nothing but admiration for artists and their craft.
Arthur readily admits that when it comes to artistic talent, he was not
exactly at the top of the grade curve.
“I think I have the artistic ability of a caveman and his stick figures,”
said Arthur, laughing. “My prowess ended at finger painting.”
So he is certainly not pointing any fingers when he says his motivation to get into wrestling stemmed from a chuckling bribe offered by Frank Goldberg, his eighth grade physical education teacher at Clara Barton Junior High in Royal Oak.
“Frank Goldberg told me that if I competed in the city wrestling championships, I could take another semester of phys ed instead of art class,” said Arthur.
Arthur proceeded to win the city championship.
“I was small. I wrestled at 105 as a freshman, and then 112 as a sophomore, junior and senior. Small did not go well with basketball or football. In wrestling, I got a chance to compete with people my own size. It was the same with tennis. Size did not matter.”
Arthur also was captain of the tennis team at Dondero.
He wrestled four years at Dondero High School in Royal Oak where he earned four letters. He later wrestled at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant.
He did his student teaching at Mount Pleasant High School, a school with a strong wrestling tradition. While Arthur was there, the team won a state championship.
“When I was a kid, we went up to Lake Charlevoix every summer,” said Arthur. “I worked the gates on the Ironton Ferry. I picked cherries in the orchards. We went swimming and fished all of the time. I loved it and that experience created some permanent memories.”
That is why, when Arthur started sending out resumes after graduating from CMU, he limited his search to communities either on the Great Lakes or on substantial inland lakes.
“They needed a wrestling coach in Petoskey,” said Arthur. “They needed someone with a background in social studies. I had a double major in social studies and physical education.”
While Arthur is in his 33rd year teaching at Petoskey High School, he stepped down as the wrestling coach after the 2010 season. He will be inducted into the Michigan Wrestling Association Hall of Fame on Friday, Nov. 11, at the Causeway Bay Hotel in Lansing.
He led the Northmen to a 685-142-8 dual meet record. Those 685 wins rank
fourth among high school wrestling coaches in the state, and ninth nationally.
Arthur’s teams won 20 league championships, 13 team district and seven team regional titles, and his 1996 squad won the Class B state championship.
Until then, no school north of Mount Pleasant had ever won a state
He coached his son, Kegan, who is now wrestler at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Kegan was a four-time letter winner, a two-time individual medalist, and
Petoskey High’s all-team leader in victories with 201.
“I loved the interaction with the kids in coaching,” said Arthur. “I enjoyed meeting them and helping them develop in and out of school. Also,  due to my longevity in the sport, I was also lucky enough to coach the children of some of my former athletes. That is always a fun thing.
“Petoskey is a small town. There is not a place or business where I can go where I don’t run into former students or athletes.”
Ray and Toni Arthur live on Walloon Lake. That’s the same lake where Ernest Hemingway spent 22 years at the family cottage.
Hemingway was an author, not an artist. That is probably good for everyone.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

To have and to hold ...for 72 days anyway

A very brief moment of bliss between Kim Kardashian and Kris Hamphries.

Seventy two days.
That is how long the Kardashian-Humphries marriage lasted.
Now this might fall into the Too Much Information (TMI) category, but I have worn underwear longer than that.
Something smells about the entire situation; who can’t gut out a marriage for at least three months?
Marriage is all about compromises. Saying all right to seven-grain bread when you’d prefer Wonder Bread. Agreeing to a vacation in Maui when you would rather go to Cedar Point or Knott’s Berry Farm. Agreeing to a Chevy Aveo when you want to be behind the wheel of a Silverado 1500.
There are other things, too, like letting the 85-pound Labrador sleep on your side of the bed; eating tofu when you would much rather have a sirloin steak; and being nice to your mother-in-law who looks at you like you are road kill.
So how can things get so inflexible in just 72 days? Once again, this might fall into the TMI category, but I’ve gone that long between flossings.
All right, let’s put a smile on our faces and figure out who is going to win in the district championship games.