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John Eby: Tigers’ 1968 grand-slam king passes away at 71

Published 12:32am Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jim Northrup was always one of my favorite Detroit Tigers, so I was sorry to hear of his death at 71 after a seizure at a Grand Blanc assisted living facility.
His triple off the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series helped Detroit to a 4-1 victory and the team’s first title in 23 years.
Who can forget that one amazing week when he clubbed an MLB-record three grand slams, adding two more that summer, including one in Game 6. Or the following season against the A’s when he went six for six at the plate? No major leaguer had done that in 44 years.
By the time the Tigers won another title in 1984 I was working at the Daily News.
That magical ’68 season when Denny McLain won 31 games I started buying baseball cards, and Northrup’s is one I have autographed. He’s still young in my mind, not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Northrup played a dozen seasons for three teams, including Baltimore and Montreal.
My one and only time in the Tigers locker room during the 1987 playoffs, I was standing there taking in the scene when I realized Northrup was standing immediately in front of me, doing television commentary.
In other baseball news: I don’t know what’s more surprising, that Derek Jeter of Kalamazoo Central High School is about to become the third-youngest player to ever reach 3,000 hits or that he will be the first New York Yankee to achieve that feat.
Thank you, Dallas Mavericks: “Lone Star” Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, 38, and a cast of focused role players prevail over the Miami Heat’s Big Three, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. “This was the rare sporting event in which an American audience rooted for a European to humble three native sons … ‘the little train that could,’ only it comes with a powerful German engine,” Sports Illustrated put it.
The Heat’s mocking coughing karma caused them to choke, giving a 31-year-old franchise its first NBA championship. Nowitzski, the series MVP, made All-Star 10 times in 13 seasons.
Boston’s first Stanley Cup since 1972: Vancouver Canucks have never won in their 40-year history. Bruins forward Mark Recchi, 43, is the only hockey player from either team even alive back in ’72. I doubt if I can name any Bruins since Bobby Orr, Derek Sanderson and Phil Esposito. During their 39-year NHL title drought, even the long-suffering Red Sox won two World Series, the Patriots captured three Super Bowls and the Celtics tacked on a 17th world championship. I’m shocked a Canadian team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since the Clinton administration — the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. SI “covered” both finals, predicting victory for the Heat and the Canucks.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “It seems like the public discourse is now the language of deception. Usually, whose job it would be to defog the room are pretending they can just narrate the world.”
— Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” The host “lost more sleep” over his interview with former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld “than (Rumsfeld) probably did over the entire Iraq war.”
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“They’re narrating their impression of the world and not reporting about it. I don’t like to interview politicians because their language is designed to conceal. I like to interview people who want to reveal their thinking. Newt Gingrich, bless his heart, got in trouble on ‘Meet the Press’ by speaking the truth. You can’t speak the truth on television today because somebody will find a way to turn it against you. Most of my guests are not on the show to make news, they’re on to explain the news, to help understand the news. There’s no game-playing. They’re not trying to find that edge that will create a headline in tomorrow morning’s paper.”
— Bill Moyers
on “The Daily Show”
•••
“You and your people know that the truth goes down in a democracy better when it’s marinated in humor. You do a splendid job of juxtaposing. You don’t attack people. You put what they said 10 years ago and what they said last night. That’s good journalism. It’s comparative, not declarative. People don’t want to keep their opinions hidden, but they want to keep the facts hidden. It takes a lot of money, time and effort to go and explore the facts and bring them out. A lot of news organizations no longer do much reporting. They simply rely on opinion, talk, all of that, which undermines … it’s all about entertainment.”
— Moyers to Stewart
•••
“The Republican prescription is to cut taxes and slash government spending … Taxes … are at their lowest level since 1950 … The case that America is grinding to a halt because of high taxation is not based on facts … rich countries that are in the best shape right now, with strong growth and low unemployment, are ones like Germany and Denmark. Many Republican businessmen have told me that the Obama administration is the most hostile to business in 50 years. Really? More than that of Richard Nixon, who presided over tax rates that reached 70 percent, regulations that spanned whole industries and who actually instituted price and wage controls? Republicans don’t bother to study existing health care systems anywhere else in the world. They resemble the old Marxists, who refused to look around at actual experience. Conservatives used to be the ones with heads firmly based in reality. Their reforms were powerful because they used the market, streamlined government and empowered individuals … think of the reform of the tax code in the 1980s … Today conservatives shy away from the sensible ideas of the Bowles-Simpson commission on deficit reduction because those ideas are too deeply rooted in, well, reality … what we have instead are policies that don’t reform but just cut and starve government — a strategy that pays little attention to history or best practices from around the world.”
— Fareed Zakaria
•••
“In the end, all the Republican talk of repealing and defunding may prove too radical for an American public that is conservative in the traditional sense.”
— Time political columnist
Joe Klein
•••
“The Casey Anthony trial shows Facebook and Twitter can be arenas for mass, lip-licking bloodlust.”
— Time, June 27, on the “first major murder trial of the social-media age”
•••
Anniversary: 40 years since the New York Times published the leaked Pentagon Papers, the government’s secret 7,000-page report on Vietnam.

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