BY SAMANTHA ELLIOTT, Editor in Chief
This has been quite the year for sports in the city of Detroit.
In a state rich in football history, football has definitely been the talk on the streets this year. After the University of Michigan Wolverines head football coach Rich Rodriguez went “three and out” last year, the Wolverines started off the new year by hiring long time prospect Brady Hoke.
Michigan was in dire need of a new direction for the football program, and turned to Hoke. He wasn’t a huge name in football, he didn’t have a winning career record, and he had never coached at this level. Yet almost the entire state put all of their hopes and dreams on Hoke’s shoulders. Hoke didn’t seem to mind telling media that under his leadership, they would do things right at Michigan, claiming that he would walk there if he had to.
Those who had doubts about Hoke were quickly proven wrong in just the second game of the season. The Wolverines prevailed over Notre Dame for the first time in four seasons in a “fans-holding-their-breaths-with-three-touchdowns-in-the-last-two-minutes” kind of game.
The team showed they were there to win and continued to do so for the next five weeks before suffering their first loss at the hands of the Spartans. However, it would be just one of two games the team would lose the entire season.
I can honestly say that at the beginning of the season, I did not see the Wolverines finishing with a 10-2 record, but I couldn’t be more thrilled. Sitting through the press conferences, listening to Hoke, you can truly tell that he cares about football, he wants the best for the team, and he is far and away a true Michigan man.
Detroit Lions football has also been quite a topic among sports fans across the country. I’ve never been a big Lions fan and I certainly didn’t plan on jumping on the bandwagon this season. Of course I’m happy for the team; after that terrible year a few seasons ago, it’s nice to see a turn around. However, after watching a few games and seeing all the penalties and unsportsmanlike conduct from players such as Suh, I think they definitely have some shaping up to do before they start thinking about the playoffs.
The Detroit Tigers, on the other hand, are a team that I have always loved. If there’s one name fans will take away from the 2011 Detroit Tigers’ season, it’s Justin Verlander. And for good reason, too.
The Tigers’ starting pitcher went 24-5 in the 2011 season–his best season ever. He had a Major League-leading 250 strikeouts. He had an American League-leading 2.40 earned runs average. He was voted “Player of the Year” by the Major League Baseball Players Association, the second pitcher ever to do so.
With all of the statistics backing him up, it’s no wonder he won the American League “Most Valuable Player” as well as the Cy Young award.
However, Verlander is just one of many on the team and can’t be expected to carry the team to the World Series himself. The Tigers again lost in the second round to the Texas Rangers. It was an interesting playoff round dampened immensely by rain. Many fans, myself included, feel that the outcome of the series could have been different had there not been so many rain delays, especially the one that prevented Verlander from coming back in to pitch.
Winter meetings have begun for the team, although not much has happened in the way of trades or signings. So far the team has lost and gained a pitcher. The Tigers’ 2008 first round pick, Ryan Perry, was traded in exchange for Collin Balester of the Washington Nationals. The Tigers also signed reliever Octavio Dotel for a one year contract. In a very smart move on the Tigers’ part, the team also resigned closer Jose Valverde after 49 saves in 49 chances last season.
As Detroit sports wind down their seasons or enjoy their off-seasons, the Detroit Red Wings are still working hard, just halfway through their 2011-2012 season. The season started off on a great note with the team going 5-0 before losing almost as many straight. Since then, things have looked up. A team usually plagued with injuries has surprisingly seen very few this year. Goalie Jimmy Howard has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Wings, playing seventeen games straight before finally taking a well deserved break last week.
It’s still awhile before playoffs start in April, but teams are already looking ahead. It’s common knowledge around the NHL that if you’re not in the playoffs going into the Christmas season, chances are you won’t make it. The Wings are sitting fourth in the Western conference, far ahead of the place they were in at this time last year. As usual, I’m not worried at all about the Wings. I have full faith that they will enter their twenty-first consecutive season of playoffs and quite possibly even bring the cup home.
Again, 2011 has been quite the year around Detroit, and now 2012 is just around the corner, holding limitless possibilities for all of the hometown teams. We’ll continue to watch the Wings’ quest for the cup, see if the Lions make it to the post-season, watch the Wolverines in their first bowl game under Hoke, and wait patiently until the Tigers start their spring training. Until then, Go Wings! Go Tigers! Go Lions! And Go Blue!