Blogs > The Back Page

The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nice headline

As many readers have noticed, our front-page headlines tend to stand out not just in point size, but in creativity as well. Brandon Inge's winning home run Sunday gave designer Matt Mowery, of Red Wings section design fame, the opportunity to use the third-baseman's name as part of Monday's hammer headline.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

There's a new skate park in town

Although it didn't get in the sports section, my latest story is still sort of sports related. It's about the opening of Riley Skate Park in Farmington Hills. Everyone is really excited for the official opening Monday and this place is supposed to be one of the best in the nation.
If you're a skate enthusiast, this place has free admission. Founders Park, inside which the skate park is located, also has a disc golf course.

Advertising on prep uniforms?

If you didn't catch it in the paper the other day, this item stood out in my mind. There's plenty of advertising at prep games all around the field, but when will the restriction on uniform advertising be lifted? It sure could help programs with funding in a tough time, but would they rescind the advertising when the economy turns around? Well, I'm getting way ahead of things.

Most Mich. HS teams can’t have ads on uniforms
From staff and wire reports
DETROIT — Michigan may be facing tough economic times, but high schools looking to make a few bucks can’t do it by selling real estate on football jerseys and hockey sweaters.
Guidelines for team uniforms don’t allow schools to accept sponsorships, The Detroit News reported Monday.
“We’ve been getting that question for several years; there are schools who are interested,” said John Johnson, spokesman for the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “People are looking for ways to monetize whatever they can do to fund programs.
“More schools are moving in that direction, to the point of self-funded programs. We understand schools are looking for every opportunity. But the sponsorship of uniforms is something that’s not allowed right now.”
That applies to all sports governed by the National Federation of State High School Associations, Randy Allen, MHSAA’s assistant director, told The Associated Press.
Schools do have some options, though. The News reports ads could be placed on warm-up and practice gear, since that clothing isn’t regulated by the MHSAA.
Sports outside the federation’s jurisdiction — such as bowling, tennis and golf — aren’t bound by the guidelines barring advertising on uniforms, Allen said.
The MHSAA’s own guidelines allow breast-pocket or sleeve ads on bowling shirts, Allen said. As for golf and tennis, “the need hasn’t arisen” to address whether ads are allowed under rules set by the United States Golf Association and the United States Tennis Association, he said.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

CWS a good watch

Former Birmingham Brother Rice standout D.J. LeMahieu helped LSU take a 1-0 lead in Monday's 11-inning College World Series finals opener.
I wasn't surprised to see the game go to extras, and it's not because I know a lot about college ball. Several games in the CWS have gone to extras, and they've been great games to watch.
It seems every day I'm laying out the designated college baseball page, another contest goes long. Hopefully, tonight's (Tuesday) potential clincher for LSU will be another close one.

(The Associated Press photo of D.J. LeMahieu in Monday's game)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tigers rain delay

Unfortunately, the crew didn't call the Tigers game tonight until after first edition went out, but we got it in the second edition. Be sure to clip out the box score on page B5 and get your free Arby's sandwich.

NASCAR agate goof up

Agate is what readers refer to as the box scores, the stats, etc. Today's Sprint Cup lineup for the agate page, called "Scoreboard" in the paper, came in a bit odd. Normally we copy and paste the material from our AP feed and format it to fit our columns and our style. Somehow a story about skateboarding legend Tony Hawk found its way into the lineup today. Just a funny tidbit from my day on the copy desk.

36. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 91.436.
37. (04) P J Jones, Toyota, 91.425.
38. (55) Patrick Carpentier, Toyota, 90.907.
39. (12) David Stremme, Dodge, 90.rn at noon for the First Fathers event if they let me back in.”
Hawk posted other insights from his Washington visit on his Twitter page, telling fans about eating Frosted Flakes cereal inside the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. In another tweet, he says “back at White House, Tweeting live from the Diplomatic Room. Unbelievable.”
Hawk joined other dads, athletes and celebrities at a Father’s Day forum hosted by President Barack Obama. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay helped man the barbecue grills for a White House picnic for the attendees, which included NBA players Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat and Etan Thomas of the Washington Wizards.
“The Prez addressing all of us fathers before we split up to visit DC charities,” Hawk tweeted. “D Wade & Etan T make me feel short.”
On the Web:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Red Wings commemorative section

Don't throw away today's (Monday) issue without checking out the special Red Wings commemorative section. The 12-page special insert features content from Red Wings beat writers and Oakland Press columnist Pat Caputo as well as excellent design.

Insult to injury

There is a short brief about the Penguins celebrating their championship at PNC Park in front of the Tigers today on B2.
It would have happened to whoever the Pirates played, but it just so happened to be the Tigers. Hope Mike Ilitch missed the trip.

(Penguins captain Sidney Crosby carries the Stanley Cup onto the field at PNC Park before Sunday's game between the Pirates and the Tigers in Pittsburgh/The Associated Press)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What you wanted to see this morning

We planned on running this or something similar at some point in the past week. Obviously things change, but just like a b-side to your favorite song, here's a peek at what could have been. (This was actually prepared in the event of a Wings sweep to run June 7)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When contracts and idol worship collide

This NBA Finals sidebar gave me a laugh when I read through it. Reebok should have met Gortat they were getting into when they signed the guy.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Local boy makes Top 10

Former Brother Rice baseball standout D.J. LeMahieu made the Top 10 on "Sportscenter" last night. LeMahieu now plays for LSU and made a leaping snare for the Tigers, as they beat Rice in Friday's super regional.
LeMahieu's grab was No. 7 on the countdown introduced by musical act the Jonas Brothers.

La Russa Twitter dispute settled

Whoever used the La Russa Twitter page could have been humorous about it, but took it too far. Read the imposter's comments if you don't believe.

La Russa, Twitter settle lawsuit ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Twitter have reached a settlement in his lawsuit against the social networking site. La Russa said Friday that Twitter has agreed to pay legal fees and make a donation to his Animal Rescue Foundation. The organization is likely to take control of the name “There is a law against improperly using a person’s name without authorization and it wasn’t authorized,” La Russa said. “You can’t sue everybody for criticizing you, but it seemed like that was the perception. It was improper use of the name, but it’s been settled.” La Russa is founder and chairman of ARF, an organization in northern California that finds homes for pets. He said the donation was not going to be “too ridiculous.” La Russa filed suit last month in the Superior Court of California. He sought unspecified damages, claiming an unauthorized page that used his name caused emotional distress by making light of the manager’s DUI charge and two Cardinals pitchers who died in recent seasons. The lawsuit became public this week and La Russa said it was handled by the head of ARF, who is an attorney. “The biggest misconception was that it was about somebody using Twitter to be critical of me,” La Russa said. “I have plenty of critics. You can’t sue everybody who is criticizing you.” The account bearing La Russa’s name is no longer active. The lawsuit includes a screen shot of three tweets. One posted on April 19 said: “Lost 2 out of 3, but we made it out of Chicago without one drunk driving incident or dead pitcher.” Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile died of a heart condition in his Chicago hotel room in 2002. Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock died in an auto accident in April 2007, and the medical examiner measured his blood-alcohol level at 0.157 — nearly twice the legal limit. In March 2007, La Russa was found sleeping behind the wheel of a running sport utility vehicle in spring training with a blood-alcohol level of 0.093 percent. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. La Russa’s lawsuit said the page bearing his name was hurtful to the 64-year-old manager, who has led the Cardinals since 1996 and also managed the Chicago White Sox and Oakland A’s during a 30-year managerial career.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Switching it up

If you've read my bio, you may recall it says I sometimes cover prep sports in Oakland County. Tuesday night, I did just that, taping a regional girls soccer game between Lake Orion and Troy. Coming in, I thought the Dragons were the favorites to win the game, they were ranked in the top 10 in Division 1 all season, peaking and finishing at No. 2.
I have to give credit to the Colts, who came out and put it to Lake Orion and came out with a 3-1 victory.
Click here to watch the video on

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

LifeLock locks up Mercury

On the day General Motors filed for bankruptcy, I found this business nugget on the wire and thought I'd share it. Click the link to actually see what the jerseys look like. Honestly, they don't look gaudy like some international jerseys and the company beats the snot out of Chico's Bail Bonds.

Mercury jerseys to have LifeLock name across front
NEW YORK (AP) — Following the lead of international sports, the Phoenix Mercury have become the first WNBA team to put a sponsor’s name on their jerseys.
Under the three-year deal with LifeLock announced Monday, the identity theft protection company’s name will replace the “Phoenix” and “Mercury” across the road and home uniforms, respectively. The team’s logo will appear above the “LifeLock” on the left side.
The Mercury are the first team to finalize an agreement under the league’s new initiative aimed at increasing revenue and marketing opportunities. WNBA president Donna Orender expects more teams to reach similar deals.
“There are very positive discussions going on in the marketplace right now and I would estimate there could be another one this season,” she said.
NBA commissioner David Stern believes such agreements are important to the continued growth and success of the WNBA.
“This groundbreaking deal represents the next step in the financial health of the WNBA,” he said, “and it serves most importantly as a blueprint because I’m sure there will be more, for other teams to assure their financial health.”
Mercury star Diana Taurasi stressed the confidence the deal showed in the future viability of the WNBA.
“I think it’s very important,” Taurasi told The Associated Press. “Things are down, people are struggling. You don’t have many companies venturing out and doing different things. For LifeLock to step up and recognize the WNBA is something they can invest in and be very positive and productive in women’s sports is huge.”
In addition to its name on the jerseys, LifeLock’s logo will also be displayed on the Mercury’s home court and on the team’s Web site, and the company will be featured in e-marketing campaigns and on social networking sites.
Also, WNBA season-ticket holders will be eligible for a free one-year LifeLock membership valued at $110.
“I don’t think that’s ever been done before by a marketing partner, and we really are excited to be the first ones,” Mercury president and chief operating officer Jay Parry said.
Existing jerseys with the Mercury’s team name on the front will continue to be sold, but once they run out, only ones bearing the LifeLock name on the front will be available.
Phoenix coach Corey Gaines played in Europe for 12 years, so he is used to having corporate names on jerseys.
“Let’s take, for instance, the stadiums of baseball, football and basketball,” Gaines said in Phoenix after the Mercury practiced. “They changed the names, and I remember everybody was all mad about it. ’We want our old stadium names back.’ They forgot about that faster than you could sneeze.”
LifeLock CEO Todd Davis said the Tempe, Ariz., based company was looking forward to the unique opportunity.
“It really gives us an opportunity for people to hear our message,” said Davis, who is seen in television commercials and on advertising signs boldly displaying his social security number. “And when you understand what we’re all about, our mission is to go protect all things personal. This gives us an opportunity to showcase that mission ... And we’re doing it not only with the WNBA’s fans, with a team, but their most personal and valued assets — the players themselves.
“We are very proud and honored to be a part of both the WNBA family and our hometown Phoenix Mercury,” Davis added. “We expect this to be an extremely successful partnership and a long-term partnership together.”

Monday, June 01, 2009

Facebook fight

You know I love when modern technology and sports collide, so here's another instance. (Ross the intern gets a nod for finding this item first on Saturday afternoon when he should have been working)

Cops: Falcons Ojinnaka charged with simple battery
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka is free on bond after being accused of fighting with his wife over his Facebook activity, police said Friday.
Ojinnaka, a fourth-year reserve drafted out of Syracuse in the fifth round of 2006, was charged with simple battery, said police spokesman David Schiralli in suburban Gwinnett County.
Police said Ojinnaka’s wife confronted him about contact with a female friend on Facebook. Police said he tossed her down some stairs and threw her out of their house in Suwanee late Tuesday.
Ojinnaka, who has started seven of 30 career games, told police his wife began the fight by attempting to stab him with a pen.
Falcons spokesman Reggie Roberts said Friday that coach Mike Smith had talked with Ojinnaka, but the team would have no further comment.