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Keith Gave's Northern Sports Desk

 

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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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  --- ARCHIVES ---
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

-  June 27th,2017, Red Wings draft strategy baffling; Pistons fill big need with Kennard

 

-  June 23rd, 2017, Holland, Wings are big losers after this week’s Vegas expansion draft

 

-  June 20th, 2017, Ch-Ch-Changes are coming, and the Tigers are not alone

 

-  June 12th, 2017: When the Red Wings finally brought home Stanley Cup

 

-  JUNE 6TH, 2017: Tigers begin June surge while other Detroit clubs prepare to make news, too 

 

-  May 30, 2017: Tigers hitting critical stretch drive early this season: Win now or else

 

-  May 24, 2017: Now we know what's ailing the Tigers, and it ain't pitching

 

-  May 19, 2017: MAILBAG; You've got Questions, We've got Answers ... 

 

-  May 16, 2017: The Masters of Relief Pitching Endure ... 

 

-  May 8, 2017:  Tigers' GM Al Avila Faces Huge Crisis ...

 

-  May 5, 2017:  Red Wings Amongst the Losers in the NHL Draft ... 

 

-   May 3, 2017: Lions Tap into more character with first-round pick Davis 

 

-  April 27, 2017: Can "Santa" Quinn deliver again as Lions Head to Draft.....

 

-  April 24, 2017:  In a Moment of Inspiration When The Tigers Need it Most ... 

 

-  April 21, 2017: Hall of Fame needs to recognize one more...

 

-  April 17, 2017:  No Yzerman or Gallant to Rescue Wings...

 

-  April 13, 2017:  As The Joe is Set to Become a Pile of Dust ... 

 

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-  April 3, 2017: All the Experts are Wrong; Tigers will be good this year ...

 

-  March 31, 2017: Red Wings 25 Year Playoff Streak Something To Behold....

 

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-  January 23, 2017:  Wings GM Holland still has a few options...

 

-  January 17, 2017:  Tigers Slumber through the offseason; Is long expected change still coming?... 

 

-  January 13, 2017:  For Red Wings Fans its time to learn how the NHL Draft Lottery works ... 

 

-  January 6, 2017:  Lions Kicking Out Some Deafening Jams Preparing to Invade Seattle ... 

 

-  January 3, 2017:  It's January and there is still football in the "D" ...

 

-  December 31, 2016:  Lions must prove themselves against the Packers ...

 

-  December 29, 2016: All is right as Wings Honor 1997 Red Wings

 

-  December 23, 2016:  Lions vs. Cowboys, a precursor to things to come?

 

-  December 20, 2016: Lions still control their fate ...

 

-  December 19, 2016: Weather Injuries Threaten Lions' threaten run of wins....

 

-  December 14, 2016:  Nothing is certain yet, but Lions are 1 and 0 in most important ... 

 

-  December 9, 2016: WARNING! Anything goes in Lions-Bears Rivalry

 

-  December 5, 2016:  Detroit Lios Didn't Quite Punch Their Playoff Ticket 

 

-  December 3, 2016:  Lions Might be in Drivers Seat but ... 

 

-  December 2, 2016:  Hockey's New Fixation with Numbers in Inexplicable Casualties ... 

 

-  November 28, 2016: Michigan-Ohio State: Preemininent Rivalry ... 

 

-  November 22, 2016: Downtown Detroit wins big as Pistons Announce Homecoming...

 

-  November 18, 2016:  A Model Argument:  Verlander got Robbed...

 

-  November 14, 2016:  Lions and Red Wings Toy with Expectations ... 

 

-  November 11,  2016:  Howard's Brilliance, Mrazek flops ...

 

-  November 7, 2016: Stafford, Prater, keeping us tuned into the Lions ...

 

-  November 4, 2016:  Cubs Indians Game 7...

 

-  November 2, 2016: Red Wings Know What Needs Fixing ... 

 

-  October 28, 2016: Players Answered Houghton Lake for the second shot at Roscommon in Playoffs...

 

-  October 21, 2016:  Close Cousins: Skins QB vs Stafford ... 

 

-  October 13, 2016: History Shows not give up on Red Wings Playoff hopes ... 

 

-  October 11, 2016:  Happy Thanksgiving Canada! ... 

 

-  October 7, 2016:  For Detroit Sports Fans, Hope is a Muscle as their teams grapple with issues ... 

 

-  October 3, 2016:  Baseball, football seasons effectively over within hours in Detroit ... 

 

-  September 29, 2016:  Former Spartan Hoyer Eyes Reunion with the Lions ...

 </

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