Sunday, May 27, 2007

Big night for Cleveland

Detroit, MI. Cleveland, OH. These two midwestern towns are not at the top of many Americans' lists for places to immigrate to. Their respective NFL franchises have been sitting at the bottom of the league totem pole for decades.

However, on this Memorial Day weekend, Cleveland and Detroit were hosts to some of the best TV sporting drama this side of the soaked Indy 500.

The evening started off for me with ESPN's Baseball Tonight and coverage of the Indians/Tigers series. I believe that these two baseball teams will be facing each other again in the ALCS in October. Their combination of explosive hitting, purpose pitching that bends without breaking, and speedy defense (by AL standards) will quietly carry these teams far into the playoffs.

Flipping over to TNT, I caught the beginning of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals between Detroit and Cleveland. Of course, this series has all been about Lebron, Lebron, Lebron.

Cleveland got off to quick starts in both games as Ryan Garko hit a three-run home run to put the Indians up in the first inning. Over on TNT, Lebron looked like a man on fire as he put down several slam dunks to lead the Cavs to a quick double digit lead.

Back at baseball, I watched as ground ball after ground ball went to the left side of the infield. In their attempt to bring viewers into a completely immersive baseball experience, ESPN made sure that Joe Morgan repeatedly told us how effective Cleveland's Fausto Carmona is at forcing ground balls. Somehow Detroit still managed 9 hits, but as Morgan reiterated, those were good pitches but great batters just know how to find the holes in the defense. Really? Magglio Ordonez knows how to hit the ball three inches to the right in order to barely miss the third baseman's glove? I guess I underestimated him.

I also loved how much Morgan obsessed over Ordonez's proclamation that city hall's flag was the real indicator of wind direction as compared to the stadium flags. There was an awkward silence when the camera continually showed both sets of flags flying in the same direction.

Back over on TNT, the Pistons pulled the game close, but could never extend their lead to any significant margin. Rasheed Wallace and Chris Webber each contributed double digit points from the paint, but the Cavaliers refused to go down 3-0. With the game still in the balance in the first part of the fourth quarter, Lebron drove into the lane and slammed home a monster dunk while being fouled by Chris Webber. Detroit never seemed to recover as the Cavaliers continued to rain down three-pointers, invigorating the home-town crowd clad in maroon "Beat Detroit" t-shirts.

The Pistons scored six unanswered points in the final minute and a half, but Lebron James came through in the clutch, and yet another shot of an exasperated Flip Saunders flashed on the screen. He and his curly short mullet did not have a very fun night in the rock and roll city.

The night ended well for the folks from Cleveland. My Detroit-loving roommate, on the other hand, had to suffer through both losses. I just enjoyed another summer sports night.

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