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Too tough to watch/The Red Line

October 13, 2011
By Brandon Veale - DMG Sports Editor (bveale@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

When I was a kid, I had something I called the Sportscenter test. If a loss sustained by one of my favorite teams was truly painful, I went out of my way to avoid watching any highlights the following morning for fear of reliving the experience.

But when you make the sports section a profession, on the bad days, you can run, but you can't hide. So, here's a few words you probably don't want to read. Can't say I blame you.

It appears the Detroit Tigers have reached a crossroads. When faced with having to win three in a row in 1968, the Tigers rose to the occasion. In the same situation in 2006, they never made it back to Detroit.

I'm hoping for the former but buying the latter.

The good news: The Tigers have Justin Verlander on the hill for today's Game 5. I can't think of a better person to have on the mound when a win is needed to save the season. This is, of course, assuming that the skies don't spontaneously open up after the first inning yet again and force him to the bench.

If that works out, they just have to win twice in Texas over the weekend - sounds difficult, but Kaline and friends had to beat Bob Gibson - the only Rangers pitching legend is in the owner's box.

Fact Box

Back for another season of hockey hilarity, I definitely took a step backward in my third season of attempting to pick the WCHA. But two steps forward and one step back still counts as progress, right?

Wisconsin at Michigan Tech

The Huskies host a Wisconsin team that will be starting two freshman in goal and several other youngsters elsewhere and that went 2-for-20 on the power play at home last weekend against Northern Michigan. Not exactly a juggernaut. Tech's got a way to go, too, but this is as good a time to play the Badgers as there is.

The Verdict: Tech 3-2 Friday, UW 4-2 Saturday

Bemidji St. at

Colorado College

Bemidji is the first team to stick it to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, shocking Miami 5-3 in Ohio during the season opener Friday. They'll get another chance at a mutineer this weekend in Colorado Springs against a CC team that played an exhibition last week against the U.S. Under-18 team. Beavers claim another surprise this weekend.

The Verdict: BSU 2-1 Friday, CC 5-2 Saturday

Minnesota at

Minnesota Duluth

Turns out UMD's still pretty good. The defending national champs took down Notre Dame 4-3 in their opener before the No. 1 Fighting Irish came back to win game two 5-3. Minnesota, meanwhile, beat up 9-0 and 6-0 on Sacred Heart. Hard to believe a world where UMD is the established power and Minnesota the upstart, but that's what we're living.

The Verdict: UMD sweep 3-1, 4-1

Denver at Boston College/

Boston University

A wicked hard road trip looms for the Pioneers, as they face both Boston College and Boston University, which have combined to win three of the last four national championships. Both are good this year. It's hard to read from an exhibition game, but DU's tie with McGill two weeks ago doesn't bode well from the starting gate.

The Verdict: BC 4-3 Friday, BU 3-2 Saturday

UMass Lowell at Minn. St.

The Mavericks split their opening series at RPI despite scoring just two goals - that's bang for your puck. Lowell, which finished last in Hockey East last season and hasn't played a regular season game yet, so more good news appears to be on the horizon for MSU.

The Verdict: MSU sweep, 4-2, 2-1

St. Cloud St. at N. Michigan

The Other Huskies are back from a weekend at the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage, where they beat Alaska (Fairbanks) but lost a non-conference game in OT to Alaska-Anchorage. They head right back out on the road to face an NMU team that dodged a few bullets at the Kohl Center, in particular, giving up only two goals on 20 power plays. St. Cloud was 2-for-3 on the PP Saturday, but 0-for-7 Friday. The Wildcats youth and lack of discipline catch up with them.

The Verdict: SCSU sweep 4-1, 5-4

Maine at North Dakota

The Fighting Sioux got an early reminder of exactly who they've lost this season, getting dealt a 6-2 whipping from Boston College in Grand Forks Saturday during the IceBreaker weekend. The Sioux stay within Hockey East this weekend, but against a much tamer Black Bears squad that started last weekend 1-1 but is five years removed from the NCAA Tournament.

The Verdict: ND sweep 4-2, 2-1

Neb.-Omaha vs. Alaska-Anchorage

Mercyhurst vs. UAA

After hosting Fairbanks and two guests last weekend, the Seawolves return the favor in Fairbanks this weekend. Also just like last weekend, they face a non-league game with a WCHA opponent in Nebraska-Omaha, which will be trying to get a bad taste out of its mouth after losing at home to Colgate Saturday on a goal with two minutes left. Mercyhurst was also at the Maverick Stampede last weekend - UNO beat the Lakers 4-1.

The Verdict: UNO 5-3 Friday, UAA 4-1 Saturday

UNO at Alaska

The Nanooks had a rough outing against St. Cloud (4-1 loss) last Friday. Though they recovered to beat Clarkson 3-1 Saturday, another WCHA opponent will be a tough task.

The Verdict: UNO 6-3 Saturday.

Last season:?113-83-19 (57 percent)

Of course, Detroit has to get not just runs, but outs, and that has seemed like a challenging proposition. I distinctly remember that before his first at-bat in Game 1, FOX broadcaster Joe Buck mentioned that Nelson Cruz hadn't hit anything in the last month of the season or the Division Series. Now, I wonder if he was talking about the right guy. At this point, he has the ALCS MVP award locked up as long as Texas wins any of the next three games.

I was unhappy that Tiger third-base coach Gene Lamont held runners at third base in both Game 2 and 3 that could have scored key runs. Cruz showed that maybe Lamont wasn't so dumb after all, pegging Miguel Cabrera (running in second gear at best) by at least 10 feet on Delmon Young's fly ball.

Ranger catcher Mike Napoli held on after taking a glancing blow from Cabrera. On the other side of the plate, Alex Avila appears to be the poster child of a Tiger team that looks like it's out of gas. Hitting 2-for-26 in the postseason is the dictionary definition of a slump, but slump is a verb that indicates action - Avila just looks inert.

Add Delmon Young and Victor Martinez to the injury list with abdominal muscle problems and it's clear that the Tiger bandwagon is burning oil.

Of course, stranger things have happened. If you go back about five years and a few weeks to meet me at Central Michigan University in early October 2006, I would have told you that the Tigers were going to Yankee Stadium as 'lambs to the slaughter,' but it didn't work out that way. Nor did the World Series cakewalk anticipated a few weeks later.

Brandon Inge took a curtain call in a playoff game. If that doesn't tell you that postseason baseball doesn't make sense, I don't know what could.

So, the task for me and everyone else watching the Tigers today - keep suspending disbelief for another day and hope to get another chance to do so over the weekend. And if it doesn't work out? Find a new morning television channel.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com.

 
 

 

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