Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Listen up, you Muggs!

The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray …
Ditto with senior citizens.
Don’t I know it.
My wife, Kim, and I had made plans this past Saturday night. It was my belated birthday trek.
We were going to PJ’s Lager House on Michigan Avenue in Detroit to see the Muggs, one of my favorite local bands.
Things started out well enough. We stopped at Nemo’s to grab a burger. We were going to watch the last couple of innings of the Tigers’ game and then walk the block or so to the Lager House to hear the Muggs.

Things went as planned, until the Tigers unexpectedly came back from a 6-0 deficit to tie it up in the bottom of the ninth and later beat the White Sox, 7-6, in the 12th inning.
We left the euphoric crowd at Nemo’s and got to the Lager House, only to find that the Ill Itches – the second group on the bill -- hadn’t begun to play yet. The group had wisely decided to wait until the Tigers’ game had ended before starting its set.
Nothing against the Ill Itches, but Kim and I were getting weary. We listened for a while, but it was nearing midnight and still no Muggs. We sat near the bar. We yawned. We yawned again.
It finally dawned on us. Our demographics didn’t mesh. Kim and I are on brink of Social Security. A lot of the other patrons at the Lager House looked like they still could be collecting allowances. We got in the car and went home.
The Tigers were great. Undoubtedly, the Muggs were, too. I am sure the crowd at PJ’s loved them. By then, Kim and in were in our pjs at home.
Does rock and roll offer an early bird special?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bad break for Lions' Nate Burleson

Now I’m not a cynical sort. I still put out a plate of sugar cookies on Christmas Eve and make sure some carrots are strewn in the backyard come Easter Sunday.
Sure I feel sorry for Nate Burleson, who was involved in a single-car crash early Tuesday morning and fractured his arm.
Burleson was on westbound I-696 in Farmington Hills at about 2:25 a.m. when he crashed his 2009 GMC Yukon into a center median. Apparently he was distracted by a pizza box sliding off his front seat, according to Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw. The police report also indicates that alcohol was not a factor.
Burleson had been at Happy’s Pizza & Pub in West Bloomfield for an appearance with teammate Stephen Tulloch.  
Now I don’t know Burleson. I don’t know if he drinks or not. I don’t even know what time the appearance was scheduled for. But anything that happens at almost 2:30 in the morning is subject to at least a raised eyebrow or two.
Call me cynical. Call me naïve. Call Dr. Oz to do surgery on Nate’s arm. Or should it be Dr. Seuss?
Then again, these are the Lions. This is a team that historically has had more bad fortune than a Bernie Madoff investor. Burleson was their leading receiver this season. He had six catches for 116 yards in the team’s win at Washington Sunday. He led the team with 19 receptions through three games.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hang in there, football players

Here's an open letter to the players on the Ferndale football team.
And the kids from Hazel Park.
And Lamphere and Lakeview and Fitzgerald and anywhere else where wins have been tougher to come by than compliments from Oscar the Grouch.

Hang in there.
I know it is not Plato. It is not Socrates. It ain't even Eminem. It is just Evans.
Right now, the easiest thing to do is quit. Listen to your alleged friends loitering in the halls at school or the mall and just turn your equipment in. Take a last glance at the scoreboard, see the way the numbers are adding up against your team, and get discouraged.
None of the above teams have won a game yet this season.
It is no fun to lose. Somehow, the cheerleaders seem a little quieter. The trumpets in the marching band are a little less strident. The trips back to school in the bus seem much, much longer.
That ankle you wrenched on the third and 23 play is a little more painful. That bump you took  on the failed goal line stand is still throbbing. Every day, a new bruise seems to take up residence somewhere on your body.
Hang in there.
It know it’s not Shakespeare. It’s not Walt Whitman. It ain’t poetry. It’s just some prose from Evans.
Keep showing up for practice. Keep hefting in the weight room. Keep working harder and when you figure you’ve had enough, punch in and get back to work.
Lead by example, no matter where you reside on the depth chart. It doesn’t matter if you hardly leave the field during games, or if you spend most every Friday night toeing the spectating side of the sidelines.
Lead by encouraging your friends. I mean the ones on the team, not the ones snickering in the halls and the malls. Trust me, those aren’t your real friends. True friends encourage, not discourage.
They want you to quit and what does that set you up for later in life? Quitting again and again. Believe me, that is not a precedent you want to set. Life is full of pot holes and detours. College classes get too tough? Just quit school. The boss at work getting on your case? Just quit your job. Your wife starts to grouse too much? Just dial 1-800-CALL-SAM. Your newborn has a sleep pattern that maxes out at three hours per night. Take a walk out the front door and don’t return until you’re lassoed by the Friend of the Court.
Wins have been tough to come by for Hazel Park's Gary Tyner (with ball) and his teammates. (The Daily Tribune/LIZ CARNEGIE)

Coaches talk about the value of sports. A reference point of that talk is often life lessons. The ironic thing is, some of those lessons are not even realized until later in life.
I know I sound like your coaches. I know I sound like your parents. I know this isn’t necessarily something you want to read or even hear.
Everybody wants to play on a winning team. That’s why the huddles get so big at some schools where W’s pile up like dirty clothes on your bedroom floor. The cheerleaders maintain perfect choreography. The tubas oomph with greater emphasis. The players sprint onto the field before games a little faster, and their cars leave the school parking lot after another victorious game with more urgency. There is plenty of strut in their steps.
Hang in there and you’ll be strutting later. It might not be this season. It might not even be this year. But the strut will eventually come.
You know how to persevere. That is the quality I want to see when a resume crosses my desk. You know how to hang in there when the going gets tough. Everybody likes to hang out in the huddle when the wins are piling up.
Just because you’ve lost some games, you are not losers.
Don’t forget that. Just hang in there. It ain’t Plato. It ain’t Lady Gaga. It’s just Evans.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Who tried to drown this dog?

Dogs offer immediate gratification.
Say your slow pitch softball team gets pummeled 25-12. Or your recreation basketball team loses by seven and you clanked eight of 10 shots from beyond the arc, and made a putrid two of seven free throws.
Or your wife beats you by five strokes on the golf course or your son schools you in ping pong.
Guess who your best buddy is?
Yep, the mutt whose tail wags vigorously whenever you walk in the door no matter how lousy your day has been.
Your dog would wash your face with his tongue at least five times a day if you would allow it. He’d peel grapes for you if only he had opposable thumbs. He’d trot up to the corner store to buy the newspaper and cigarettes and bring back the change if only he had pockets.
He’d wave palm fronds to keep you cool if you lived in the tropics. He’d huddle up next to you in the Arctic to keep you warm.
Dogs are like that, aren’t they?
Here is what humans are like, at least the scummiest among us.
Sandra Boulton, the public relations director for the Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter, passed along a disturbing press release. Here are excerpts from it:
`On Monday evening, August 26th at approximately 9:50 p.m., the Dearborn Heights Police Department received a tip from an anonymous passerby. The caller informed police that a dog was tied to a rock that had been thrown into the Rouge River in Dearborn Heights, near the intersection of Warren Road and Outer Drive. Officers responding to the call recovered the dog from the muddy bank of the river. 
`The dog was muddy, but otherwise appeared to be in good condition, so he was brought to the Dearborn Animal Shelter for safekeeping. After several days in the care of the Shelter, the dog, now named River, is doing well. He seems friendly with staffers so far and has a healthy appetite. 
`“Elaine Greene, Executive Director, Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter, commented “Animal cruelty of any kind is deplorable, but this situation seemed vicious in its intent.  The dog, a handsome Labrador/retriever/hound mix appears to be very friendly and we are disturbed that anyone would do such a thing to him.” River will soon be ready for a new home and available for adoption from the Shelter. 
`In an effort to assist Dearborn Heights Police in the case, the Dearborn Animal Shelter is posting a $1000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible for this act of animal cruelty.  Call the Dearborn Heights Police at this tip line with any leads 313.277.7408.’ 
I can’t imagine such a thing. What kind of sick individual would do that to a dog or any other animal?
Dogs ask for nothing but your love, some Alpo, a bowl of water, and an occasional walk around the neighborhood. You are the focus of their lives, no matter what kind of person you are. They don’t care if you are a saint or sinner; live in a mansion or a cardboard box; eat filets or Hamburger Helper; or are a pastor or an ex-con.
They don’t care if you are on the PGA Tour or just came home from the miniature golf course; if you are an NBA player or a rec league scrub with a bum knee and bursitis. They don’t care if you drive a Cadillac or a 20-year-old pickup truck.
They just care about you. All they ask is that care is volleyed back their way once in a while. A pat on the head and a biscuit go a long, long way.
I guess the incident in Dearborn Heights just goes to show you that the real animals in this world sometimes have just two legs. They sometimes take a dog to the river with a rock tied to its leg.

Learn more about adoption, events, volunteering or donating online. The Dearborn Animal Shelter is located at 2661 Greenfield Road, Dearborn, and is operated by the Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter. For more information, call 313.943.2697 and visit

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Getting ready to Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo

I’m feeling pretty good about my running these days.
I can stroll out my front door about noon and make it around the neighborhood before dusk. I’ve started using a watch and not a sundial to time myself.
Getting back in shape isn’t easy. It takes work. It is sort of like marriage, only much sweatier.
That is why I have my eye on the Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo event that will be held on Sunday, Sept. 15. Proceeds benefit the Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex and veterinary care.
The event includes 5K and 10K runs as well as a noncompetitive 1.5-mile fun walk.
With that in mind, I went to the zoo the other day. I figured I’d take a stroll and size things up. See which animals I could take in a foot race.
I went by the camel habitat. They did not look too active. Mostly loitering, chewing, spitting and and looking mildly disinterested. None were wearing Nikes. No headbands or ear buds. No heart monitors or belts holding more bottles of water than the Absopure delivery man totes. No problem taking one in a race, right?
Wrong, according to Patricia Janeway, the communications director at the zoo. Suren, the zoo’s five-year-old Bactrian camel, can go 100 miles without water. She can travel up to 25 miles per hour, too.
Then Janeway made me feel even worse about myself. Suren has 80 pounds of fat stored in her humps that can be converted into energy. I’ve got nearly that stored in my belly. So how come it does not get converted into anything but another couple of inches on my waist and a trip to Kohls for bigger pants?
All right, so the camel probably is not the beast to challenge. I kept looking around. I wandered by the polar bear exhibit. They were doing a lot of swimming. They were doing some lounging. They looked like me on vacation, minus their copious back hair.
Wrong again, says Janeway. The Zoo’s eight-year-old polar bear, Nuka, can also sprint at up to 25 miles per hour. She has paws the size of a large pizza at Green Lantern.
This was getting discouraging. I knew enough to stay away from the cheetahs. Even the one whose diet consists of Cheetos and soda pop. And the jaguars. Even those with the hood ornaments. And the kangaroos. Even those with Twinkies and Ho Ho’s in their pouches.
And Janeway kept it up. There’s Kisa the Amur tiger who run up to 50 miles per hour. Over there is Kivuli the giraffe who tops out above 30 mph. Even Jasiri the white rhino motors at 20 mph when properly motivated.
Not that I’m Usain Bolt, but this was getting downright discouraging. I had to ask Janeway; isn’t there a limping llama on the grounds? How about a hobbled hippo or a wildebeest with bursitis? Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo was coming up and seemingly every darn animal could make me look like a sloth.
Bingo! There’s Homer the two-toed sloth. He’s 21 and we seemed to share a lot of the same characteristics. We both like to just hang around. We both are inclined to move only when seriously prodded. Just guessing, but Homer and I have honey-do lists that go on and on like a Tolstoy novel.
Janeway confirmed my suspicions. Homer can manage a paltry 0.15 miles per hour. I’m not above a little trash talking. Hey Homer, your mother was a bean bag chair!
I’m going to get out of my chair and head back over to the zoo on Sunday, Sept. 15. There’s the 5k, the 10k and even an untimed 1.5 mile walk that seems to have my name emblazoned all over it.
Runners in the 5K and 10K events will start at the Zoo’s 10 Mile Road entrance and wind through the scenic streets of Huntington Woods surrounding the Zoo.  Walkers will follow a course past award-winning animal habitats as they stroll through Zoo grounds. 
If you see me at the Zoo tht day, make sure you say hi. I'll be the one in the XL running shorts trash talking Homer the two-toed sloth.

Online registration is available at until Sept. 11, and registration will also be available at the Zoo on Sept. 13, 14 and 15.