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Michael Moore

Michael Moore is an Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author

September 17th, 2010 4:33 AM

Detroit, You're Out, Even When You're Not

Today's OpenMike blog by Michael Moore

It's bad enough that capitalism (i.e., organized corporate crime) has bludgeoned Detroit to near death. But after stealing tens of thousands of jobs from us, after stealing our middle class, after stealing our tax base that has decimated the police and fire departments (over 70 houses burned down the other night -- on average, we're used to only 35 Detroit houses burning daily)... yes, after all this misery and suffering, does the world of sports need to also keep stealing the few great moments given to us where we can shine?

Last Sunday, Calvin Johnson of the woe-begotten Detroit Lions caught an incredible pass in the end zone in the final seconds of the game to beat the Chicago Bears. Except they didn't beat the Chicago Bears. Because the ref said Johnson didn't have control of the ball.

But he caught the ball, with two hands, and with both feet in the end zone. He then slammed the ball into the ground in what appeared to be the beginning of his mini-victory celebration (see video). The ref, though, ruled it "incomplete." There was nothing incomplete about it.

Was the ref right on the "letter" of an arcane and rarely-enforced NFL rule? Maybe. Probably not. Who cares? (The rules apparently also say that GM can devastate Michigan, then get a giant taxpayer handout to keep it alive, and then go right back to paying its CEO $9 million a year.)

But maybe the Bears game wouldn't be so bad had not Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers also had his perfect game ripped from him by an umpire back in June. Not only did he throw a perfect game (not a single batter made it to first base in 8 2/3 innings, a virtually impossible feat), but he also got the last out of the game by running over to first base himself to touch the bag in plenty of time before the runner got there.

There have only been 20 perfect games in the history of baseball. The 21st, by this umpire's own admission after the game, was stolen from Galarraga because of his bad call.

Neither call, in baseball or football, was reversed. And neither Detroiter asked for it to be. Galarraga and Johnson took their abuse with such good grace and forgiveness, it set an example that all of us wished we could see in sports every week. People were amazed not to witness any Motor City madmen action -- only humility and kindness.

Well, I'm from Flint, so I ain't all that forgiving. That these two huge blown calls could happen in the same summer to a town already so badly battered just sucks. I'm not saying that umps and refs have it out for Detroit. But ask yourself this: Do you think two blown calls on huge historic plays in one summer would be allowed without any howl or cry if they happened to two teams in New York? You know the answer.

My theory is this: When an ump or ref knows they've made a bad call against Detroit -- I mean, c'mon, it's sad, pathetic, worthless, useless Detroit! -- they know they won't have to worry about getting too much shit because the people they are offending are a broken people from a ghost town that doesn't even have a daily paper delivered every day to the house where sports columnists can call for blood. Who's gonna give them the crap the Post and Daily News would give them (I'm guessing photoshopped crucifixions of the ump and ref on both covers)?

That's my take. And here's my plea to the professional sports leagues: Back off on Detroit. Make damn sure you get it right from now on. And if you're on the fence, well it's Advantage: Detroit. Quit bullying the defenseless. Give us the break no one is giving us. C'mon, in addition to our our #1 crime rate, our Worst Place to Live in America Award, our alcoholism and divorce rate, the thousands of foreclosed empty homes that line our streets, all we have left is our Tigers and Pistons and Red Wings and, well, our Lions. We have nothing here to look forward to other than the next 70 homes that will burn tonight.

The Tigers, who were in first place just two days before going into the All Star break, never recovered from the crime of the stolen perfect game. They are now 16 games behind first and dead in the water. The Lions? They still have William Clay Ford as their Lord and Master. Isn't that punishment enough?

Young people and fresh community activists, plus artists and musicians, are trying to save Detroit. I hope they do (and I help them in whatever ways I can). Most of you have no idea what Detroit and Flint and Michigan mean to us. Or maybe you do. Because now many of you live in places that are starting to resemble Detroit. Better hope for a decent call this Sunday.

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