Hey Detroiters: does this bother you?

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I have never lived in Detroit, so I am an outsider to the place in most every respect.  My parents were both born and raised there. My extended family calls the Detroit suburbs home now (like a lot of folks they started moving out after the 1967 riots). But I was born and lived until I was eleven 55 miles north of Detroit in beautiful Flint, Michigan.  As such, I don’t presume to have any standing of my own to talk about what is and what is not appropriate when it comes to talking about Detroit and its ills itself. Just a vicarious interest in the place by virtue of people with whom I share some DNA.

But outsider status notwithstanding, columns like the one George Vecsey wrote for today’s New York Times — about how the Tigers and Lions are making Detroit feel good, and ain’t it great for such a crappy city to feel good — really bug me. This one isn’t bad or egregious in any way — it’s an OK column on its own merits — but we see them written every time a Detroit team does something good. Or New Orleans or Cleveland or anyplace else that is depressed or blighted. And they kind of drive me nuts.

I’m not sure which aspect of these columns bug me more: (a) the “those poor, poor sods” sentiments which, not unlike ruin porn, necessarily revel, however unintentionally, in the misfortunes of the city; or (b) the presumption that something as superficial and fleeting as the success of a professional sports team makes a bit of difference to the people hardest hit by those misfortunes. (note: anyone with tickets to tonight’s Tigers-Yankees game probably has a job).

This isn’t a really big deal in the grand scheme — and you all know that I can get overly-sensitive about certain things and that this may be one of them — but I’m curious to hear if this kind of thing bugs people with stronger Detroit ties than mine.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.