Monday, May 05, 2003

PistonsSports Beat: I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is roughly halfway between Detroit and Chicago, so althought my shift in major league allegiances upon moving to Chicago hasn't clashed with my conscience, I still keep an eye on Detroit teams. And what a spectacularly lousy show they've put on lately, with the Tigers's historically bad start and the Red Wings' equally historic first-round sweep at Anaheim's hands. Only the Pistons could salvage the city's sporting mood, with
three straight defiant wins in the first round to avoid infamy themselves. As the NY Times headline points out this morning, the Pistons should be the first to thank David Stern for extending the first round last year from best-of-5 to best-of-7 (which, though fairer to teams after a seemingly interminable 80-plus game regular season, still ultimately means more (yawn) NBA (groan) playoff games (still awake?)

As for the Tigers, the chase for history is on. They're about one fifth of the way toward the expansion 1962 Mets' record of 40-120. Detroit's April record was 3-24, and I think I saw in the Times yesterday that the '62 Mets had 12 wins at this point in their season. The Tigers are hitting .184 as a team and lost Saturday on a game-winning home run by Damion Easley, whom they paid to leave this offseason.

Attendance was about 13,000 for that game in the 40,000-plus-seat stadium, which brings me to one final sports note: The NYT's Murray Chass reports (second item here) the average MLB crowd in April was 24,390, the lowest it's been since 1991. As he says, you can chalk it up to the economy and the weather, but early season attendance has dropped over 14 percent the last two years. Just think what it would be if we were coming off a strike.

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