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October 06, 1997 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-06

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - October , 1997 3B

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C ale
ident discusses the team and Ann Arbor

ligers pres
h rrMr c Hale Jr,. president of the
Z)ret i Tigers, makes his home in Ann
or along with his wife Sally and
eir three children. For the McHale
ftrii it has been a confusing couple of
weeks, not because the baseball season
cr me to an end, or because the Tigers
had an unprecedented successful
,eptember: but because of the schedul-
ing ofthe Michigan football season. You
sWe. the McHale household usually
robts for the maize and blue, but this
wreason the Wolverines faced both
' olorado and Notre Dame, the alma
iters of Sally and John, respectively.
But even the big losses to the
Welverines can 't put a damper on the
ear John McHale and the Tigers have
bad'. Improving from baseballs: worst
t amn to nearly a .500 ball club, the
(jrgazation sees a bright future on the
.4s the teams president, a position
held by/brmer Michigan football coach
0 d athletic director Bo Schembechler
>m 1990-92, McHale has played an
instrumental role in the revitalization of
the Tigers and the constant facelift of
n'ajor league baseball. From inter-
league plai to expansion to realign-
nwntl, 9cale works hard for the team
hisfather: John McHale Sr, played with
r five seasons (1943-45, 1947-49).
lhe Daily's Jordan Field recently sat
down with the former Fighting Irish
hteiacker and defensive end to talk
gut the Tigers, major league baseball
and life in Ann Arbor
Daily: You were born in the Detroit
area, moved to Milwaukee and have
also lived in the Colorado area. Now
you and your family reside in Ann
Arbor. How is life for you and your
family in Ann Arbor?
.MclHale: Ann Arbor is great. It is a
wonderful place to live. It's a great com-

munity. It's in many ways very much
like our previous home in Boulder,
Colo., only without the mountains, of
We enjoy it a great deal, and even
though my family is not affiliated with
the University, it is wonderful to have
the opportunity
to take advan-
tage of the
things that are
there because of
the University.
D: Like you
said, even if you <
are not affiliated
with the school,
the University
still has a major
effect on Ann
Arbor residents.
Do you find
yourself rooting
for Michigan
sports or follow-
ing the activities of the University?
M: Yes. Our kids have really gotten
into it, but we have an interesting situa-
tion in my family. My wife is a double-
degree graduate from the University of
Colorado, so we had a very exciting
weekend a couple weeks ago. And I'm
a graduate of Notre Dame, so we have a
lot of friendly rivalries when it comes to
Michigan football. But aside from the
games against our alma maters, our kids
and us have become very interested in
Michigan athletics.
D: There are many students at
Michigan as well as other Universities
across the nation who are studying
sports management or sports communi-
cations. What course of study did you
take to reach this point in your career?
M: Oh boy, I guess you could say I

have been the beneficiary of the happi-
est coincidences in the history of any-
one looking for a job in this area. My
father was in baseball and is still in
baseball for almost a 50-year career. I
was born in the metro Detroit area, but
I wanted to become a lawyer. From
there it has been
from one happy
coincidence after
another to get where
I am. I couldn't be
happier with the way
things worked out.
D: What are the
b most difficult
aspects of your job
with the Tigers?
M: There aren't
too many difficult
parts of this job. I
think the hardest part
of the job is being
away from my family so much in the
spring and summer and early fall. We
will have long stretches of night games,
when I won't see the kids at all. They
are young and they'll go to bed before I
get home and I'll leave for work the
next morning before they get up.
Beyond that, I feel my job is the dream
for anyone who graduates from law
school. I get a little baseball, a little pol-
itics, urban planning, facility design.
D: I would have to assume that the
majority of the Tigers organization is
extremely happy with the results of this
past season, and that the progress of
many players has far surpassed expecta-
tions. To what do you accredit this
somewhat surprising success?
M: Well, I think there are three prin-
ciple reasons why we have been suc-
cessful. Success in baseball, as I think is
the case in most sports, begins with
ownership. In our case, when we have
an owner who is willing to accept cer-
tain programs and trust the organiza-
tion, then that is a good start.
There are a lot of people who know
how to get from here to there, but it is
the process that can be painful some-
times -- and it sure was for us last year,
as it was for (team owner) Mike Illich.
It was brutal to have to take what we
took last year, when if you spend $5-10
million more you can achieve some-
what of respectability, but that doesn't
really solve what your problems are. So
getting Mike's warrant to start the
process of rebuilding last year is the
principal reason we are where we are.
The second and third reasons for our
success are (general manager) Randy
(Smith) and (manager) Buddy (Bell).
They are both terrific in understanding
how to go about doing this -taking the
bad with the good, never getting dis-
couraged other than maybe temporarily,
and carrying with them a real spirit of
intelligence and enthusiasm that is sent
throughout the ball club.

D: What are the team's first priorities
for this offseason?
M: We've got a lot of interesting
things to do here. Randy will start his
now-infamous examination of every
single player in each organization of
major league baseball - this was what
brought us Deivi Cruz this season -
and even though we can't expect the
same results as this year, we know that
through a search like that we can obtain
everyday players.
We also need to prepare for the
expansion draft, which is in November
this year, and while that is going on we
need to assess who on this club is here
for the long term. Randy has already
identified the strengths of the team and
also areas of improvement -- primarily
finding an experienced contact hitter.
D: What was your experience and
what are your feelings toward the
experimental interleague play this sea-
M: I think it was great, and I think as
an organization we felt it was great. I
don't think that we benefited from the
league's wide popularity for those
games, whatever the reason may be, but
we enjoyed it, the players enjoyed it and
so did the fans.
D: What about your feelings toward
the proposed realignment of the league'?
M: I think it is a positive develop-
ment in baseball. I think the best part
about it is that it follows on baseball's
response to the fan's needs. For the last
10 years, every national fan survey has
had fans urging us for interleague play.
For many years, the league said 'No,
we know what is good for the game and
it's not interleague play.' But the league
is finally listening after the strike and
some other issues, and now, lo and
behold, the fan's knew what they were
talking about.
D: So in other words, these proposals
are a part of the league still trying to
win back fans lost from the strike in
M: Yes, it is that to a large extent, but
there are also undeniable benefits to the
clubs. It makes sense for the future in a
lot of ways to develop regional rivalries
to curtail travel, to develop more flexi-
ble, attractive schedules and to set more
games that can be started at times when
more people can watch or will watch.

Out of Bounds
Em~ t Crsierwllb
etic without students
T his space is usually reserved for the defense and the acknowledgment of stu-
dents and athletes in the University community who otherwise would not be
Not today. Instead of admonishing the University for unfair labor practices or
advocating athletes' rights to hold jobs during the school year, today's column will'
lambaste the student body.
Generally, undergraduates are a fairly good bunch of people (heck, I'm one of=
them). But as sports fans go, Michigan students are hypocrites. Unforgiving, nasty,
abominable hypocrites.
'They complain when Michigan teams are having subpar seasons but hop right
back on the bandwagon, as if it were a taxi cab taking them home from some frat
party, whenever the Wolverines look good again.
One of the largest grievances students have is the University's ticket policies. Too
many silent alumni, they complain, "Why can't I get more football tickets?"
And then, like spoiled children, they rebuke the opportunity to purchase season
tickets for basketball as if Crisler Arena housed some infectious disease that might
keep them from going out the next night.
The Athletic Department ticket office has received 2,100 applications for student
tickets, nearly 1,000 short of the student allotment.
That is, in a word, pathetic.
So Michigan's home basketball schedule isn't as glorious as the football team's.
The Wolverines still host Duke, UNLV, Minnesota, Michigan State and Indiana.
Fourteen times you get to see your Michigan Wolverines tip off in Crisler Aren.
I find no fault with those of you who wouldn't get basketball tickets anyway.
Obviously, not every student will be a sports fan and not every sports fan will be a
basketball fan.
But more than 3,000 students purchased tickets last year. Are the other 1,000 of
you so capricious that a trip to the NIT has swayed you from buying season tickets?
Would you be that ashamed to attend basketball games that Maurice Taylor isn't
playing in'? Do the actions of a misguided booster and the questionable decisions of
a player or two discourage you from supporting your basketball team'?
Students have been crying for months that they didn't get a chance to see the
Michigan-Colorado football game because of a lack of tickets. Now's your chance
to get in on the action.
It is disgusting that students fault alumni for Crisler Arena's hushed atmosphere.
Some undergrads complain that alumni occupy too many seats, but you won't even
buy tickets when given the opportunity.
Michigan basketball fans are the most unfaithful in the Big Ten, denying suppert.
at the first sign of mediocrity despite more signs to the contrary.
Might I remind you that the Wolverines ditched their stereotype as whiny cryba-
bies (that distinction still belongs to the fans) and won the NIT.
The last time Michigan won the NIT, it won Big Ten titles the next two years I
see no reason why this year's team will be worse than last year's.
The underachieving Taylor is gone and 300-pound center Robert Traylor pos-
sesses the heart and the dedication that Taylor never had.
I know $100 is a lot for a student to shell out for basketball tickets, but I have a
feeling that if Chris Webber were in a Michigan uniform, $100 would seem likea
petty sum.
So for all of you who have declined to purchase tickets, who are leaving Crjslr
Arena emptier than it already is, I don't want to hear any of your complaints in
February and March.
You've disappointed your basketball team and you have no right to expect any
more from them.
- John Leroi can be reached via e-mail atjrleroi@umich.edu.



McHale's moves
o 14th President in Tiger history
i Colorado Rockies Executive
* Vice President of Baseball
Operations (1991-93)
a Practiced law in Colorado
(1981.91) and represented major
:.eague teams
ApPlayed linebacker and defen-
sive end for Notre Dame, where
he graduated in 1971

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