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May 30th, 2018

Move over Ryan, Gibson, the Verlander

Express is just starting to get revved up

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

So it turns out, after all, that I was far from alone in thinking a few years ago that Justin Verlander’s luminous career was headed for an unceremonious and premature end. I wrote about it at the time, as painful as it was to even fathom it could be over just as he was hitting his prime at age 32.

 

There were others who refused to acknowledge that was even the remotest possibility. My “Friday Focus” (10 a.m., WGRY 101.1-FM) partner, J.C. Coyne – whose favorite words are “I told you so” – was among them.

 

Well, as it turns out, even Justin Verlander thought he was finished, and he admitted as much to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, the former Detroit Free Press baseball writer. In a revealing, heartfelt and heartening interview, Verlander recalled the shortest start of his career on Aug. 11, 2014 against the Pittsburgh Pirates when he was yanked from the game in the first inning. His first pitch registered an un-Verlander-like 86 mph on the radar gun.

 

His arm was killing him. As he sat in the tunnel off the visitor’s dugout and had an emotional meltdown.

 

“I was 99 percent sure I was going to need shoulder surgery,” Verlander told Morosi. “I couldn’t throw a baseball. I thought my career was over. I thought I was done. I thought the MRI was going to say I needed shoulder surgery.”

 

Turns out, he didn’t need surgery. And his career, as we know today, was far, far from its finish.

 

The pain, doctors eventually determined, was the result of poor rehabilitation from core muscle surgery he underwent earlier in the year. Like the bulldog that he is, Verlander thought he could pitch his way through the mending process. He could not.

 

But neither did he quit, and Tigers fans held their collective breath every time he took the mound as we watched, for the better part of a season and a half, his body healed and rounded itself into shape.

 

When you can throw a baseball upwards of 100 mph with even the vaguest accuracy, you have access to some of the finest medical minds and care money can buy, because billionaire owners like Mike Ilitch are willing to protect those precious assets. But as we learned, even great medical care can’t hasten the healing process – even when the rehab process is designed perfectly. And in Verlander’s case, it was not.

 

Nature takes its steady course even with world-class athletes – so who are we to take shots at a guy like Miguel Cabrera, who decided he’s not going to try to play through another injury? Let’s hope he can finally get his body into shape and pain free so we, in Detroit, can witness the guy who provided so many memories with his bad just a few years ago, before this litany of injuries that have taken a toll.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful of Cabrera could find his game the way Verlander has? We saw it the last year or so Verlander spent in a Detroit uniform. He warned us: “It’s coming. It’s coming. I can feel it. I’m not that far away.”

 

Turns out, he wasn’t. And now – in Houston, sadly – we’re witnessing a 35-year-old Justin Verlander who has been better so far this year than anything we saw in Detroit. His numbers to date are just staggering: 7-2 with a major-league-leading 1.11 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP. He has struck out 98 batters in 81 1/3 innings. Little wonder Verlander himself acknowledges this to be the best stretch of his career – dating back to his eleventh-hour trade to the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros.

 

These are statistics rarely seen since Bob Gibson was dominating National League hitters in the late 1960s. And Verlander is headed to the same place Gibson wound up: in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

 

The only question remaining is when. If Verlander has is way, that’s a long way off. He believes he has a lot of life left in that golden right arm of his.

 

“In my head right now, I’m thinking 45,” Verlander told Morosi when asked about his retirement plan.

 

Ah to be 10-feet tall and bullet proof, eh?

 

“I don’t know if that’s realistic,” Verlander said of his long-range plans. “I’m going to go as long as I can, until something changes.”

 

Hell, that’s enough time for him to serve out his current contract (which the Tigers are paying, in part) and return home to Detroit for a curtain call before it’s all over.

 

And if that ever happens, may I, too, for once in my life, can say, “I told you so.”

 

 

 

Keith Gave will be signing copies of his new book, “The Russian Five, A story of espionage, defection, bribery and courage,” at Barnes & Noble bookstores in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 9, 1 p.m., and in Brighton, Sunday, June 10, at 2 p.m.

 

Follow on twitter @KeithGave

 

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May 22nd, 2018

 

Imagine this: Houston is seeing

an even better Justin Verlander

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

In all those glorious years that we enjoyed Justin Verlander’s brilliance on the mound for the Detroit Tigers, we never saw him this good.

 

If your interest in Major League Baseball doesn’t wander too far from what happens at Comerica Park, be advised: This is the season – right now – that Verlander is punching his ticket to Cooperstown.

 

At 35, the ace of the defending World Series champion Houston Astros, is dominating hitters in ways we didn’t witness when he was leading the Tigers to two World Series opponents in his 13 seasons in Detroit.

 

After his five-hit, seven-strikeout complete-game shutout of the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, Verlander’s earned-run average fell to a staggering 1.05. At 5-2, he is the early favorite to win another Cy Young Award.

 

Verlander’s former Tigers teammate Max Scherzer, by the way is 7-1 with the third-lowest ERA in baseball at 1.69.

 

Can anyone explain how the Tigers, with these two guys plus a couple of other Cy Young Award winners Rick Porcello and David Price, couldn’t win a damned game in the 2014 MLB playoffs? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

 

With Wednesday’s Nolan-Ryan-esque performance, Verlander became the 33rd MLB pitcher to surpass 2,500 career strikeouts – 2,373 of which came with the Tigers. While’s Ryan’s all-time strikeout record of 5,714, is well and safely out of reach, Verlander is gunning to pass a couple of Hall of Famers on that list, Bob Feller (2,581) and Tom Glavine (2,607).

 

Verlander’s performance since he was traded late last summer to Houston is stupefying: 127 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings with a 1.05 ERA. That doesn’t include the playoffs last fall, when he struck out 38 in 36 2/3 innings, allowing just eight runs for a 2.21 ERA.

 

This is in stark contrast to a few years ago, when some of us – and shame on us – were writing Verlander’s professional obituary. In 2014, Verlander’s career was remindful of a shooting star – another premature and rather gruesome end to another fireballer’s career.

 

In 32 starts, the former MVP was a rather pedestrian – for him – 15-12, with an ERA of 4.54 and just 159 strikeouts in 206 innings. His once triple-digit fastball that average 95-plus in his prime had slowed to an average of 92.3. At 31, it looked like he was approaching the end of the big-league road.

 

We know now, of course, he was battling through a debilitating lower abdominal strain that required surgery – and he probably aggravated it and prolonged his comeback to 100 percent by trying to pitch through it.

 

Safe to say he’s all the way back now, and sits just seven wins short of 200 in his career.

 

Health-permitting, he’ll pad those stats over the next 3-4 years before he calls it quits and retires to a lifetime of bliss with new bride Kate Upton. Then, only a few questions remain: Will he make the HOF on the first ballot? And when it happens, which hat will he be wearing on his plaque?

 

It better darned well have an olde English “D” on it.

 

--

 

‘Bad News’ Tigers

 

Got to hand it to these kitty-cat. Depleted by injuries, youngsters and callups from the minors continue to battle in ways no one could have expected, let alone predicted.

 

After consecutive series wins over Seattle and Cleveland on their recent homestand, they traveled west to Seattle – a house of horrors in recent years – and managed an impressive comeback, 3-2 win over the Mariners.

 

They did it on the strength of another strong start by lefthander Matt Boyd, a brilliant shutout effort from five relievers -- Buck Farmer, Blaine Hardy, Warwick Saupold (2-1), Joe Jimenez (struck out the side in eighth) and Shane Greene (10th save) retiring 20 of the final 23 batters they faced, and a clutch, two-out, two-run single by shortstop Jose Iglesias in the eighth that drove in the tying and winning runs.

 

At 20-23, first-year Ron Gardenhire’s club is just 1.5 games back of first-place Cleveland (21-21) in the Central Division.

 

Who knew?

 

 

Keith Gave will be signing copies of his new book, “The Russian Five, A story of espionage, defection, bribery and courage,” at Horizon Books in Traverse City on Saturday, 4-6 p.m., and at Barnes & Noble in Northville on Sunday, 6 p.m.

 

Follow on twitter @KeithGave

 

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May 16th, 2018

When baseball reminds us of hockey:

Harper on Vegas GK; Cabrera on playing hurt

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

Bryce Harper, one of the best baseball players on the planet, has a pretty good future as a hockey prognosticator as well.

 

Before the puck dropped on the first Stanley Cup playoff game last month, the Washington Nationals’ outfielder predicted the two finalists for the big trophy: the hometown favorite Washington Capitals – and his hometown favorite Las Vegas Golden Knights.

 

“The dream matchup,” he called it.

 

Seemed like a pipe dream at the time.

 

Today, not so much.

 

The Caps lead their best-of-seven series 2-1 against Tampa Bay. And Vegas heads home just three wins away from the Finals after splitting the first two games of their series with Winnipeg. Game 3 of that series is tonight.

 

In other words, a Capitol City/Sin City Stanley Cup – considered virtually unthinkable when Harper suggested it – is very much in play.

 

And if it happens, you’d think Harper may have a bit of a dilemma on his hands: Whom to root for? Betray his hometown Golden Knights and cheer for the Caps with all the other hockey fans around the city hungry for the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title? Or risk alienating the locals – and honor his instincts as a true and serious sports fan – and hop on the Golden Knights’ bandwagon?

 

Doesn’t seem to be an issue for the National League’s 2015 MVP. He’s all in with motley crew of castoffs intent on making sports history as the first major professional expansion franchise to win a league championship.

 

Harper is riding the playoff roller coaster like every other Vegas fan, and clearly enjoying the ride.

 

“I get more nervous watching them than anything I’ve ever done in my life,’’ Harper told USA TODAY Sports. “Even playing ball. I don’t get nervous watching my team or when I play at all. I really don’t. But when I’m watching them, I get so nervous. I’ll sit on the couch with my wife, going nuts.

“It’s unreal.’’

What’s even more unreal is how Harper has been smitten, gob smacked really, by the sport of hockey. He and his wife, Kayla, haven’t started their family yet, but when the kids arrive and grow up, he knows which sport he hopes they’ll play.

“I’ve fallen in love with hockey,’’ Harper told the newspaper. “When we have kids, I want them to play hockey. How awesome would that be? I can’t imagine being on the ice and playing such a cool sport.’’

Reminds me of those days in the late 1980s, when some of the Tigers like Jack Morris (a Minnesotan and pretty good skater) used to visit The Joe with Kirk Gibson, Dave Bergman and Alan Trammel (Bambi on ice, but the Southern California native fell in love with the sport, too).  Their affection for the game was beyond genuine.

--

Cabrera: ‘I’m going to take my time’

One of Miguel Cabrera’s many endearing traits has been his willingness to suck it up and play hurt to help the Tigers.

Not anymore.

He’s had it with unappreciative fans and media critics who criticize him when his production dips when he tries to play through an injury.

“Nobody appreciates you when you play hurt, so I’m going to take my time and play when I’m good,” Cabrera told MLive’s Evan Woodbery before this afternoon’s series finale against Cleveland at Comerica Park. “I played hurt a lot of years here in Detroit. They don’t appreciate that. When you are doing bad, they crush you. They crush you. They say you’re bad, you should go home, you don’t deserve anything, you’re old.

“I say, ‘OK, I’m done playing hurt.’ Now I take my time.”

The Tigers’ first baseman is on the disabled list with a strained hamstring – the kind of injury that lingers and tends to flare up and worsen if an athlete returns too soon. It’s the latest in a series of ailments that have slowed him in recent years, and particularly worrisome because, at 35, Cabrera is owed $154 million over the next five seasons with Detroit.

Cabrera’s attitude is remindful of another Detroit superstar, Sergei Fedorov, who played hurt a lot more than people care to acknowledge. As with any athlete, injuries affected his play. And when his performance didn’t live up to the highest expectations we all had of him night after night through a grueling 82-game season, we criticized him.

And by “we” I mean not just fans and media, but teammates and coaches, too. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. In retrospect, it feels almost shameful.

So, it’s hard to Miguel Cabrera with this new attitude. Let him heal up. After all, is there another hitter we’d rather see at the plate than his guy, when he’s healthy and feeling good about the world?

 

 

Keith Gave will be signing copies of his new book, “The Russian Five, A story of espionage, defection, bribery and courage,” at Horizon Books in Traverse City on Saturday, 4-6 p.m., and at Barnes & Noble in Northville on Sunday, 6 p.m.

 

Follow on twitter @KeithGave

 

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May 3rd, 2018

30 years later, one man’s

bold vision takes shape

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

Two completely unrelated headlines this week reminded me once more just how far ahead of his time Mike Ilitch was, and what he meant to the city he loved.

 

The first big story featured news of the Detroit Zoo pushing plans to build a huge aquarium in downtown Detroit, creating a riverfront attraction that could draw a million visitors a year.

 

The second, a lesser story but no less significant to those of us who spent so much time there: Joe Louis Arena is being gutted like a dead walleye; this week, the nearly 20,000 seats went on sale, mementos for fans and memorabilia collectors hoping to own a piece of Detroit Red Wings history.

 

Combined, these stories reminded me how lucky we were to have Ilitch come along when we needed him most. It was nearly 30 years ago when, through a serious cash infusion and a series of audacious marketing schemes – like giving an American-made car away at every game to put fannies in those seats – Ilitch and his family built a money-printing machine out of the once-beleaguered franchise.

 

Jacques Demers, the language-butchering French-Canadian coach, would take the Wings from last overall in a 21-team NHL to the Stanley Cup semifinals in two straight seasons. His young captain, Steve Yzerman, would rise to among the elite handful of players in the entire league. And somehow, the barely .500 Wings managed to win a couple of playoff rounds in the woeful Norris Division and advance to play the mighty Edmonton Oilers and Wayne Gretzky.

 

The city was head-over-heels in love with its hockey team in a way it hadn’t been since the dynastic 1950s. The Wings were selling out every game. They cut off season-ticket sales at about 16,000 – with several thousand more on a long waiting list.

 

That’s when Ilitch started thinking he needed a bigger, better arena for his hockey club. But Joe Louis Arena was barely a decade old. What to do with it?

 

Ilitch had a plan for that, too. Retrofit the building and recast it as a fresh-water aquarium – a tribute to the Great Lakes fishery and ecosystem. The new hockey arena would be downtown, not far from his recently renovated FOX Theatre. Build it, he knew, and the people would come.

 

And then. . . a deal came along that Ilitch could not refuse. Tom Monaghan had squeezed every last penny out of the Detroit Tigers, running them into the ground in the process. Ilitch, the former Tigers farmhand at shortstop, jumped on the opportunity and bought the franchise for $85 million cash.

 

Suddenly, his priorities changed. He needed all the resources he could muster to rebuild the baseball team and, eventually, build it a new home. The new hockey arena – and with it those plans for a downtown aquarium – became backburner issues.

 

Spending freely, Ilitch retooled his baseball club, built it a new home and saw his club twice compete in the World Series. At their peak, his Tigers drew three million fans a season. Meantime, “our little hockey club,” as his wife, Marian, often described it, had gone on to win four Stanley Cup titles.

 

Eventually, just a few years before his death last spring, the city of Detroit and the Red Wings got about to building that new arena, which has become the jewel of The District Detroit, the finest arena of its kind in the world and a tribute to a revitalized and energized downtown that has earned the city global acclaim for its comeback from bankruptcy.

 

So, what’s my point here? I’m not sure, to be honest, other than some feelings as disparate as those headlines that caught my attention this week:

 

* It’s sad to see the buzzards pecking away at The Joe.

* It would be great to have an aquarium the kind that the Detroit Zoo is talking about, on the site of the since-demolished Ford Auditorium next to Hart Plaza.

* And, while I’m thankful for all Mike Ilitch did for the city, I wonder who will step up and carry on, because so much more work remains.

 

 

Keith Gave will be signing copies of his new book, “The Russian Five, A story of espionage, defection, bribery and courage,” Friday, May 11, 7 p.m. at McLean and Eakin Books in Petoskey, and at Barnes & Noble Books in Saginaw on Saturday, May 12, at 1 p.m.

 

Follow on twitter @KeithGave

 

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April 30th, 2108

 

NHL’s lottery draft

dodges Detroit again

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

The Red Wings just can’t seem to get the hang of this draft lottery business.

 

For more than 20 years since its inception in 1995 to prevent “tanking” to secure the first overall pick in the entry draft, the Wings and their fans didn’t have to give this annual event a second thought. That was something the poor kids in the NHL community participated in while Detroit prepared for long Stanley Cup playoff runs.

 

That changed in the last couple of years, when time – as well as a series of questionable personnel decisions and a long drought at the draft table – caught up to them. The Wings found themselves in a neighborhood in need of serious gentrification. They were in the NHL’s ghetto of teams clustered at the bottom longing for luck in the draft lottery.

 

It didn’t come.

 

For the second time in as many years of participation, the Wings moved backward in the selection order. They finished fifth from the bottom, but will draft sixth overall.

 

Do not for minute think this isn’t a big deal. It is. Just consider this analysis from one scout.

 

“This is not a particularly strong draft crop – certainly not what we expected at the start of the season,” he said. “Our biggest complaint is a lack of depth. We do like the top five players in our first tier — a lot! They would represent a strong top end in any draft year.

 

“But in our opinion, there’s a fairly steep drop-off to the five guys who make up the back end of the top 10, and after that there’s not much consensus at all.”

 

In other words, if it weren’t for bad luck the Wings would have no luck at all.

 

Buffalo won the draft – just the second time in each years the last overall team won the first overall selection, and their timing was great with Rasmus Dahlin – widely considered a generational defenseman – leading the talent pool.

 

But the Carolina Hurricanes also won, jumping from 11th to the No. 2 spot (the Canes had a 9.9 percent shot at a top-three pick). Montreal moved up from fourth to third, dropping everyone else down – Ottawa to fourth, Arizona to fifth and Detroit out of that neighborhood where game-changing players typically reside.

 

So Dahlin is on his way to Buffalo. And the next three players – right wing Andrei Svechnikov (Geno’s not-so-little brother), left wing Filip Zadina, defenseman Evan Bouchard and left wing Brady Tkachuk – according to Red Line Report, a respected independent scouting group – will be off the board.

 

The only way this turns out well for Detroit is if one of the teams ahead of them reaches down for something very specific they were looking for, and either Tkachuk (my top choice after Dahlin) or Bouchard falls into the Wings’ lap.

 

Nevertheless, this sixth overall pick is the highest Detroit has been on the board since they chose 6-foot-5 center Keith Primeau with the third overall pick (and two picks later Jaromir Jagr went to Pittsburgh). The following year, they had the 10th overall pick and chose right wing Martin Lapointe. Both had notable NHL careers, though neither was the kind of game-changer Detroit so desperately needs.

 

So what’s the point here? Well, although it worked out for Buffalo this time, all that talk of tanking after the NHL trade deadline is all a bit silly isn’t it? Even then, a team still needs a lot of luck to get one of those transitional players.

 

Like the NFL draft, which was concluding Saturday as the NHL’s ping pong balls were in the air, the hockey world will descend on Dallas for the June 22-23 draft. We’ll see then if Detroit’s luck might turn around – or perhaps the Wings will create some of their own luck by finding a Pavel Datsyuk in the late rounds.

 

Twenty years ago, the Wings used a sixth-round pick (171st overall) to select Datsyuk. A year later, they acquired Henrik Zetterberg in the seventh round (210th overall). And that’s back when they were winning Stanley Cups! It might take that kind of magic turn around this franchise’s fortunes.

 

--

 

An offensive draft?

 

Speaking of the Lions – and drafting players – how surprising was it that they opted for an offensive lineman over an edge rusher they so desperately need with that first-round pick?

 

And then they took the running back most people expected them to take in the second – albeit not the one everyone thought they’d take.

 

So it’s fairly clear that by bolstering the interior infrastructure and a commitment to improving the running game to complement one of the most efficient passing attacks in the game, the Lions may simply have to outgun their opponents in offensive bonanzas this season, because they haven’t done much to upgrade a rather generous defense.

 

Their games should be entertaining, at least, and probably frustrating, too.

 

Keith Gave will be signing copies of his new book, “The Russian Five, A story of espionage, defection, bribery and courage,” Friday, May 11, 7 p.m. at McLean and Eakin Books in Petosky, and at Barnes & Noble Books in Saginaw on Saturday, May 12, at 1 p.m.

 

Follow on twitter @KeithGave

 

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April 23rd, 2018

 

Quinn and fellow NFL GMs pile it

high and deep ahead of annual draft

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

A new twist on an old joke: In the days and weeks leading up to the NFL draft, how can you tell when team’s general manager is lying to you? Yep, his lips move.

 

And so it is this week as 32 club executives finalize their strategies without tipping their hands – like a giant table of no-limit Texas hold’em.

 

The best we can do when a GM speaks is to disregard most of what he says after analyzing every nuance from myriad points of view – and then hone in on what was not said. It’s called listening between the lines, and it is the reporter’s most effective device in telling an accurate story. Or at least trying.

 

In a pre-draft news conference last week, seven days ahead of Thursday’s annual draft in Arlington, Texas, Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn spoke nearly 4,000 words answering myriad questions about his team’s strategy.

 

He provided plenty of background about the process, how his staff of scouts prepare for each draft as much as 18 months in advance. He spoke of how the team’s philosophy going into every draft is to identify “for good football players. We’re looking for big, strong, tough competitive guys that are going to help us win.”

 

He’s looking for durable players, dependable guys with an ability to learn, a competitive nature. In other words, the Lions are looking for the kind of athletes sought by every team in every sport.

 

Blah, blah, blah, blah-blah.

 

Quinn refused even to isolate a position or two of particular need – like edge rusher or running back – which the whole football world knows the Lions covet.

 

But his overarching theme in his remarks was about the depth of this 2018 draft.

 

Deep at the corner position and the offensive line. Really deep with receivers. The cream of the draft, however, is among the top 8-12 players selected. And since the Lions don’t draft until 20th overall, that depth will be important.

 

Moreover predicting which player the Lions might select in the first round is virtually impossible. And all those click-bait mock drafts that have Detroit selecting from any of more than a dozen names are, in fact, futile in terms of providing any real, relevant and accurate information. Pointless other than something to talk about over a beer at the bar until about 8 p.m., Thursday, when league commissioner Roger Goodell stands at the podium and announces which player the hapless Cleveland Browns select with the No. 1 overall pick.

 

A few hours into the televised coverage of the first round, Quinn will finally show his hand and we’ll know then what the Lions will do with their first pick.

 

But since you asked so nicely, I will venture a guess, wild as it might be, but based on what I heard between the lines when Quinn was talking about all the depth in this year’s crop of gladiators. It’s also based on the fact that Detroit has only six selections in the seven-round draft, a league-low shard with four other teams. (The Packers have a league-high 12 picks. Good timing in a deep draft, but that’s how they do things in Green Bay.)

 

I’m guessing the Lions have their sights set on an edge-rusher or defensive lineman slated much higher on the board. And if, by circumstance of a series of unforeseen events ahead of the 20th pick, that players falls in their lap, the Lions will claim him.

 

And if not? Then the Lions will trade down and try to add another pick or two. In two years of drafting and signing free agents, Quinn has done quite a masterful job of adding much-needed depth throughout the roster. But it’s still thin in several positions. They need players, and this is the time to get them.

 

Regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised if the first two picks aren’t on the defensive side of the ball – an edge rusher and a linebacker. Detroit just hired one of the finest defensive minds in the game as its head coach, but Matt Patricia still needs players to execute his game plans.

 

One more thing: When the draft is over and these general managers are talking about how thrilled they are with their first pick (“I can’t believe he was still on the board. . . .”) and how great they feel their overall draft, be forewarned: Their lips are moving again.

 

What: NFL Draft 2018

When: April 26-28*

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: NFL Network, FOX, ABC, ESPN

First selection: Cleveland

Most selections: 12, Green Bay

Fewest selections: 6, Detroit, New York’s Giants and Jets, Philadelphia ant Tennessee

Total selections: 256

 

* Round 1, Thursday; Rounds 2-3, Friday, Rounds 4-7 on Saturday.

 

Keith Gave will be signing copies of his new book, “The Russian Five, A story of espionage, defection, bribery and courage,” Thursday, 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, Allen Park; on Friday, 7 p.m. at McLean and Eakin Books in Petoskey; and Sunday, 1 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, Kalamazoo.

 

Follow on twitter @KeithGave

 

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April 12th, 2018

How students can help build a

better future – and a great resume

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

Young people throughout the nation have been standing up, speaking out and taking to the streets confronting serious issues and demanding a seat at the table. The Michigan High School Athletic Association, to its immense credit, has always pulled out a chair, imploring student leaders help make decisions that will resonate throughout the state.

 

This is important stuff. So rather than stepping up on my soap box to pontificate on other pressing sports issues (Should we be optimistic or pessimistic from what we’ve seen of the Tigers in their nine games to date? Does bringing back Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill for another season make sense? What should the Pistons do with Stan Van Gundy, who built this sad-sack team?), I’m going to turn this space over to the MSHAA for this important announcement.

 

A big part of our job in the radio business is to spread the word, and this is serious business. Our region of the state is always woefully under-represented in matters like this, and it’s important for students up here to try to resolve that. High school sports are every bit as important here as they are down below, where the power structure that governs the games is located.

 

Our students – from this region – need to be heard. In the message below by the MHSAA, they can learn how.

 

MHSAA Accepting Student Advisory Council Applications

 

EAST LANSING, Michigan – The Michigan High School Athletic Association is seeking student-athletes to become members of its Student Advisory Council beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

 

Four boys and four girls from the Class of 2020 will be selected to two-year terms, and will meet on matters related to maintaining and promoting a proper perspective and sensible scope for high school sports in Michigan. Eight members from the Class of 2019 already are serving on the Council, while eight members of the Class of 2018 are leaving the Council this spring.

 

To be eligible for the committee, candidates must be a member of the Class of 2020, complete the official application including answering the three short-answer questions, submit a letter of recommendation from a school administrator, have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and be available for all scheduled meetings.

 

In addition, candidates should show a history of leadership on athletic teams as well as with other extracurricular activities, community service projects, or in the workplace; and show an understanding of the role of school sports and have ideas for promoting a proper perspective for educational athletics.

 

Applications are due in the MHSAA office by 4:30 p.m. on April 18. Applications can be downloaded from the Student Advisory Council page of the MHSAA Website, filled out on the computer or handwritten, and returned to the MHSAA office by e-mail, fax or any mail delivery service. The link to the MHSAA page is https://www.mhsaa.com/Schools/Students/Student-Advisory-Council.

 

The Student Advisory Council meets seven times each school year, and once more for a 24-hour leadership camp. In addition to assisting in the promotion of the educational value of interscholastic athletics, the Council discusses issues dealing with the 4 S’s of educational athletics: scholarship, sportsmanship, safety (including health and nutrition) and the sensible scope of athletic programs.

 

A fifth S – student leadership – is also a common topic. Members contribute in planning Sportsmanship Summits, Captains Clinics and other student leadership events, and assist with medal ceremonies at MHSAA championship events. The Council also judges the “Battle of the Fans,” which it created during the 2011-12 school year as a way to promote positive sportsmanship.

 

The eight new members of the Student Advisory Council will be notified by April 27. The 2018-19 meetings are tentatively scheduled for Aug. 26, Oct. 7, Dec. 2, Feb. 17, April 28 and May 19. Meetings will take place at the MHSAA Office in East Lansing. Two conference call meetings will be held on Jan. 13 and Jan. 27.

 

For more information, contact Andy Frushour at the MHSAA at (517) 332-5046 or afrushour@mhsaa.com.

 

 

 

Students: step up. Think about it, how cool would something like this would look on your resume when it comes time to apply for college admissions.

 

Administrators, coaches and teachers: You know how important this is; encourage your young leaders to apply.

 

Keith Gave will visit Horizon Books in Traverse City on Saturday at 2 p.m. to talk about and sign copies of his new book, “The Russian Five, A story of espionage, defection, bribery and courage.” Watch this space for local appearances and book-signings.

 

Follow him on twitter @KeithGave

 

-30-

 

 

April 6th, 2018

Wings hoping for much better

luck in this year’s draft lottery

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

DETROIT – With just one more game to play before the merciful end to another season in Hockeytown, we can say this with some conviction: The Red Wings will have a shot at a pretty good young player in the NHL’s June entry draft.

 

Their 4-3 loss Thursday night – a fairly entertaining game between two of the league’s also-rans this season – put the Wings in a position to finish no better than sixth from the bottom. And Vancouver’s surprising overtime victory a few hours later, with the Sedin twins combining on the game-winning goal in the final home game of their redoubtable NHL career, left Detroit and the Canucks tied with 72 points.

 

That pushed Detroit to 27th overall, five spots from the bottom. If the odds hold – and the Wings know after their debut appearance in the draft lottery last spring that can be a huge “if” – Detroit has an 8.5 percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick, Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, widely considered a generational talent. The Wings also would have a 26.1 percent chance at one of the top three picks in the draft.

 

With a point Saturday in their finale against the visiting New York Islanders and a Vancouver loss at Edmonton a few hours later, the Wings would finish 26th overall, dropping their odds to 7.5 percent and 23.3 percent respectively – if the ping pong balls fall into place (according to statistics) in the April 28 draft lottery.

 

But strange things can happen, as the Wings found out last season, when New Jersey Devils jumped from fi

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