Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's all about the Rust Belt

The time has come.

This weekend, it's a battle royal for bragging rights...




The Tigers take on the Indians for the top of the American League central division, and the Pistons are up against the Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

May the best pair of teams win.

These are two old school, rust belt, mostly ignored, thought to be downtrodden cities. Both areas are considered bad jokes by the rest of a very smug nation. They are continually described as the worst of large US cities. In the rest of the country, the only Midwest city that exists their minds is Chicago.

As someone who lived quite safely for several years in Detroit, and also spent quite a bit of enjoyable time in Cleveland, the rest of the nation doesn't know what they are missing.

You hear the same old cliches. Detroit is the "Murder Capital of the World." Cleveland is "The Mistake on the Lake." Neither is true, not that the rest of the country cares. Because (Sarcasm on) there is nothing at all wrong, bad, silly, old, awful, funny, strange or scary with other areas of our country. (Sarcasm off)

It's much easier to just keep Detroit and Cleveland as the butt of jokes.

For the next few days, Detroit and Cleveland are the epicenter of the sporting universe. But will the media treat it as such? Probably not.

What is going on between these two forgotten cities should be treated with the reverence that the worldwide leader in sports did the recent Red Sox - Yankees series, which was not nearly as compelling. The Yankees are 9.5 games out, for chrissakes! That series didn't mean much of anything in the big scheme of things, other than to rile up the constantly on the verge of hysterics, always wanting the center of attention, Red Sox Nation. Because, as you know, (Sarcasm on) Boston fans are the best in all sports. (Sarcasm off) They'll even tell you as much!

The big story in sports is what will be going on at Comerica Park starting tomorrow, and continuing at Jacobs Field next weekend. That battle will be going along with the high stakes action at the Palace tonight, and the Quicken Loans arena Sunday. (I do have to say that "Quicken Loans arena" doesn't roll off the tongue nearly as well as "The Gund.")

It doesn't get better than that, especially for two similarly thought of rust belt cities. Not that the MSM cares.

In hoops, the story won't be about Detroit vs. Cleveland. The story the MSM will prefer to push is LeBron James vs. the world. "OH MY GOD, WHAT WILL LEBRON DO?! Will he pass or shoot? He'll pass! No, King James will shoot!"

Christ almighty, it's more about the Pistons forcing LeBron into making those decisions, and what the Cavs will do to counter. But that's not nearly as compelling in their small MSM minds. The NBA is about stars, and how boring eastern conference basketball is when compared to the west. (Even though those high flying west teams never win in the playoffs. Look at the recent NBA title winners. The Spurs, who play in more of an east style, and 2 eastern teams, the Pistons and Heat. But that's another post...)

As for baseball, next weekend the Yankees will once again find themselves being pounded by the Red Sox on the same weekend the Tigers visit the Indians. Which series do you think will be the better story? On the field, it's easily the Tigers and Indians, but in the MSM? It's all about their east coast bias, so screw the flyover cities. You know all media eyes will be on Fenway.

That's a damn shame, as the more compelling season long race will be in the Central, not the East. Just as the more compelling NBA playoff series is in the east, especially when compared to the Spurs methodological destruction of the Jazz.

But it's the Western conference, just as it's the Eastern division, so they must be more entertaining, right?

Even if the rest of the country has no clue, the next two weeks should be a first class, white knuckle, E-ticket ride for both Detroit and Cleveland.

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