Archive for the ‘ Detroit ’ Category

Jim Joyce Goes Viral

The Anatomy of a Feeding Frenzy

If you were anywhere near a sports fan, native Detroiter, highlight reel or Sportscenter broadcast, you now likely know that Detroit Tiger Armando Galarraga was robbed of an extremely rare perfect game (never before executed by a Detroit Tigers pitcher) by a blown call on the 27th out. (Watch for yourself here.)

But even if you have no interest in the game or its outcome at all, you’ll likely be aware of this ignominious event as a case study in social media. As the near perfect game played out in the final inning, I, for one, was compelled to go directly to Facebook (and Twitter) to share in the glory with my online friends, who I knew would be participating in this history online as well. While I couldn’t be at a sports bar to watch this unfold with my closest friends, the social Web was the next best thing.

Until the final “out.” After shaking the feeling of having been hit in the gut, and following a period of alternate stunned silence and expletive hurling, I returned to the social networks to participate in the cat calling. What unfolded almost immediately was an online and communal feeding frenzy. Unlike anything that was possible before the emergence of social media, Jim Joyce (the umpire who admittedly blew the call) became the chum in an online feeding frenzy that broke quick and broke hard.

Within minutes of the game’s conclusion, there were more than 10 Facebook pages devoted to his ouster (and worse).

Minute by minute, the FIRE JIM JOYCE page added fans (or “Likers, I guess it is now) by the hundreds (already more than 4,400).

Jim Joyce, the Tigers and Galarraga (the spurned pitcher) became trending topics on Twitter.

ESPN led every sportscast off with the story, and put the video story front and center on its homepage.

Scores of YouTube users uploaded video of the disputed call.

There is even a FireJimJoyce.com already.

This is not the way Jim Joyce wanted to become famous…nor Galarraga. But to Joyce’s credit, he has been contrite, gracious, embarrassed and owning of his mistake.

The whole mess is a shame, for everyone involved. Even the base runner seemed shattered that he beat the play at first. Now Major League Baseball has a public controversy on its hands—one it certainly didn’t invite and one with no perfect options. Joyce is a public pariah. Galarraga, for all his graciousness, was robbed of a place in history. Detroit sports fans take another kick while they’re down.

From a purely social media perspective, however, it’s fascinating to watch wildfire spread.

As for the call itself, I’ll let you make it:

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On Michigan Winters

Many of us remember our childhood winters quite differently than what we experience year in and year out as adults. If you ask most people in Michigan, they’ll tell you that they remember “snow days” home from school, ice skating in the local park, sledding on the local hill, building snowmen in the yard, having snowball fights with the friends and neighbors. They remember snow on the ground for the entire winter season. But is this how we remember it, or how it truly was?

Nostalgia can play tricks on you. Is it possible that a week’s worth of memories falsely define our childhood winter memories? In other words, winter in Michigan to me means snow on the ground for months at a time, until a thaw in mid- to late March. But what is reality? (Keep in mind how a child’s impression of time is quite different than that of an adult. Three-weeks-’til-Christmas, back then, seemed like an eternity. As an adult, it’s “so much to do, not enough time!”)

A few years ago, a car salesman was trying to talk my wife out of getting four-wheel drive on her new car because “It doesn’t really snow in Michigan anymore.” Oh really? The next two winters were fierce. The snow mounds bracketing my driveway were taller than me…on more than one occasion…in each of the following winters. “Doesn’t really snow in Michigan anymore,” he says.

This winter, we’ve had our share of snow too. Nothing like out East, of course. But it’s been steady and significant.

In fact, if I could describe what a “typical” Michigan looks like, based on my childhood memories, this year would be it.

Getting chilly in December, but we’ll be lucky to have a “white Christmas.”

Steady intervals of snow in January and February…a few inches at at time.

A snow day here and there.

A blanket of six to eight inches of snow persistently on the ground. Plenty of resources available for sledding, skiing, snowmen, snowball fights, etc.

Snaps of cold, but nothing like the multiple weeks on end of sub-10-degree weather that have been the norm the past several years.

A milding March.

Yeah…I’d say this is EXACTLY the type of winter I remember. But if I look back at the past 10-15 years, this winter has been anything but typical. In fact, it’s been the exception.

So what’s “normal”? What’s typical? Does this feel like a typical winter to you? If you’ve complained about it this year, and you’ve lived in Michigan since you were a child, you should have nothing to be surprised about nor complain about. This is how you remember it…and this is as it should be.

If you don’t like it, wait a minute.

Detroit vs. Hiroshima: 64 Years Later

This one is making the rounds via e-mail. Being a Detroiter, I thought it depressing but necessary to point this out pictorially.

As we all know, Hiroshima and Nagasaki looked pretty bad following World War II…

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Look at it today, 64 years later:

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Remarkable what hardworking, determined people can do in 64 years, isn’t it?

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Now let’s take a tour of Detroit, 64 years after WWII:

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Now ask yourself. Which city looks like it lost a war 64 years ago?

Keep on keeping on, Big D!

UPDATE: A reader complained in the comments section that, “The set of 10 current pictures does not show Hiroshima at all. The pictures were taken in Yokohama, a wealthy port city near Tokyo, some 670 km (420 miles) east of Hiroshima. Specifically, the pictures show the Minato Mirai 21 district, which is a part of Yokohama harbour redeveloped as a tourist attraction.” Wanting to keep my “integrity” in good standing (“As if you ever had any!” — my dog), I point that out. Of course, there is too much on my plate at present to fact check the fact checker, so let’s take him at his word. HOWEVER, the post was more intended as a commentary on Detroit than it was a documentary on Hiroshima and Nagaski. I think that was pretty evident. Detroit’s stagnation — nay, demise — since WWII is the real story, which the pictorial (that I pointed out was an e-mail forward) aptly demonstrates.

Re: Pistons Predictions

Go back and read this post about my predictions for the upcoming Pistons season.

Now read this article, an account of their most recent preseason game.

I know preseason games amount to less than zero, but the similarities are uncanny!

Miguel Cabrera Needs to Sit

Another day, another Debacle in the D. The latest, Miguel Cabrera’s now public run-in with his wife, the law and booze, has put the Detroit Tigers in a disastrous PR position. Play him or sit him?

Raise your hand if you condone/excuse any of the following:

  • A team’s franchise player partying ’til all hours during a playoff run
  • Drunken outbursts in public and at home
  • Spousal abuse
  • BACs of .26 or higher
  • Complete disregard for your team, its success or the privilege of your profession (this means you, millionaires)
  • Excusing unlawful, disgusting behavior for the sake of winning one baseball game

If you raised your hand, congratulations — you’re an insufferable cad. Or, you’re the Detroit Tigers.

No matter how many Cabreras play tonight, the Tigers are cooked. They can’t hit, and their pitching has escaped them. The Twins are destined (and have been) to win by very much to very little tonight. Even if the Tigers do the unthinkable and steal this game, the Yankees await. That wouldn’t be pretty either. So what is to be gained by playing Sir Drinxalot tonight? (I’ll give you a few moments to tally that up.)

Now, what can be lost?

But let’s also look at this simply from a PR standpoint. (BOR-ring, says my dog.) The first fatal flaw of any PR crisis strategy is pretending the crisis doesn’t exist. By playing Cabrera tonight, after already dismissing direct questions about the incident, the Tigers are, in effect, condoning (or excusing) his behavior. By sitting/suspending him, they are sending both him and the team’s publics a clear message — this behavior is not condoned, regardless of how much his playing would serve the team’s self interests.

No matter what they do, the Tigers have a PR crisis on their hands. This should not be about one game, one fatally flawed playoff run. If they win with him in the lineup, they still have lost. If they lose without him, they have at least taken an honorable position, for which many will applaud them.

PR crises of any kind must be met head-on. Ignoring them or failing to address them implies complicity. United Airlines and Domino’s are two recent cases that come to mind: one who ignored a crisis that ballooned out of control (the former), and one who faced the music directly and relatively quickly. It’s all about the message you are sending: not only how you respond to a crisis, but when.

The Tigers can send one of two messages today:

  1. “Beating your wife in a drunken stupor and partying with the ‘enemy’ during the most important series of the season is excusable, as long as the party in question hits .300 or better.” (Would they have played Rayburn in the same situation?)
  2. “There is no place on our team for those who are not committed to the Tigers, to winning, to baseball, to family and to the rule of law; and until Mr. Cabrera addresses his own personal issues, we will commit ourselves to winning without him.”

Your call, Tigers. And you only get one strike, I’m afraid.

Pistons Predictions

The last prediction I made in this space about the Pistons was that they would take one of two games on the road in an opening round playoff series against the Cavaliers. FAIL. Not only did they NOT take one in Cleveland, they got blown out in four straight games. So obviously I have earned the right to be regarded as a Pistons prognosticator…here goes:

New Look Pistons Basketball

The Pistons will win 47 games, good enough for the 7th seed in next year’s Eastern Conference playoffs.

This team will be fun to watch at times, and maddening to endure at others.

The up-tempo offense will score big against bad teams. But their lack of defense will be exposed against the upper echelon teams.

Villanueva will be a pleasant surprise to those who have not followed his game and development in his early NBA career.

Wilcox will take the mantle from Sheed and lead the team in technical and flagrant fouls. At the same time, he will provide sorely needed toughness on a team replete with finesse players.

I will be calling for a Rip Hamilton trade by week two, as it will be clear he can co-exist with Gordon no better than he did with Iverson. Their games will be mutually exclusive and we’ll be wondering how we can keep both players, and keep both players happy…or why we need them both.

Stuckey will convince us once and for all he is not a starting point guard in this league.

Tayshaun will start the season relatively strong, then fade after the All Star break. (I know, that’s going out on a limb.)

Will Bynum will dazzle, but we won’t be able to find the minutes for him.

Austin Daye will be this year’s Darko, and DaJuan Summers will be this year’s Ben Wallace / Jason Maxiell. Stud. (But too small.)

Gordon got game. (Offensively, at least.)

They will be better than most people (and “experts”) expect, but it will not be good enough to make any significant noise in the East, or the Central division.

I will once again be grateful that I forfeited my season tickets two years ago and got while the gettin’ was good.

Posted Without Comment

I’ve grown weary of discussing, dissing and defending The D. It’s dead to me. …to Time, too:

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Time magazine, whose parent company bought a house for journalists in Detroit to cover the city, has posted its cover story for this week’s issue, a blistering look at a place it calls “the urban equivalent of a boxer’s mouth, more gaps than teeth.”

The essay by Time reporter Daniel Okrent, headlined “Detroit: The death — and possible life — of a great American city,” describes a town nearing a “postapocalyptic nightmare.”

Check out the blog. Or the Twitter account.

Read it….and, yes….weep.