Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Anaheim Haunts Detroit Sports Tuesday Night

Tuesday night in Secaucus, New Jersey, the Portland Trail Blazers emerged from the NBA Draft Lottery with the #1 selection. Blazer fans are surely ecstatic at the prospect of Greg Oden or Kevin Durant suiting up at the Rose Garden Arena. Sports fans in Detroit would point to another reason why their counterparts in Portland could celebrate on Tuesday. Anaheim couldn’t ruin their night.

Orange County did a number on the Motor City last night. Most significantly, the Anaheim Ducks downed the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 to capture the NHL Western Conference finals in six games. Due in large part to the goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Hockeytown was no match for Mickeytown. In a bitter twist for the automotive capital of the U.S., its team was eliminated in the Honda Center. The Ducks’ Honda connection does seem appropriate, since they’re getting more mileage than their competition from Detroit.

Now instead of the Red Wings capturing their 11th Stanley Cup title, either Anaheim or the Ottawa Senators will win their first. The Ducks began their run to the finals with a 4-1 opening round win over Minnesota. Therefore, their mascot Wild Wing contains the nicknames of two of their playoff victims. The then-Mighty Ducks also eliminated the Wild and the Wings on their way to the 2003 Stanley Cup finals, which they lost to New Jersey in seven games. Disney has since sold the team, but “It’s a small world” will accurately describe the U.S. television ratings for these finals.

Also last night, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim held off the Detroit Tigers 6-3. In a potential playoff preview, the Angels increased their AL West lead to 5 ½ games, while the Tigers remained ½ game behind Cleveland in the Central. Orlando Cabrera had a home run and three RBI, and his leaping catch snuffed out a ninth-inning rally for Jim Leyland’s club. Cabrera’s hang time was much better suited to Comerica Park than the Palace of Auburn Hills. In the NBA, you don’t see Orlando winning in Detroit.

The series continues with games tonight and tomorrow afternoon at Comerica. If the Angels continue the Anaheim-over-Detroit trend, the Cleveland Cavaliers will surely adjust accordingly for Thursday’s game 2 against the Pistons at the Palace. The visitors would likely take the court as the Anaheim Cavaliers. Also, in addition to getting to the foul line, LeBron James would need to make another adjustment to enhance his team’s chances for victory. You could expect him to replace his headband with a pair of mouse ears.

Obviously, Tuesday did not feature any Detroit-Anaheim matchups on the gridiron. The NFL season does not kick off for another 3 ½ months. Plus, Anaheim has been out of the league since the Rams bolted for St. Louis in 1995. Detroit has also been without an NFL franchise since the Lions hired Matt Millen.

Perhaps the Tigers will rebound tonight against 5-0 Bartolo Colon. Even if that happens, do not expect the Detroit fans to warm up to Anaheim anytime soon. Last night, Motown fans had a new nickname in mind for the home of Disneyland. To them, Anaheim was the crappiest place on Earth.