BEST LOCAL SPECTATOR SPORT
BEST AREA ATHLETE
MOST EXCITING LOCAL TEAM
MOST DISAPPOINTING LOCAL TEAM
BEST LOCAL ATHLETE TO TRADE
BEST ATHLETE TO BRING TO A DETROIT TEAM
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE IF/WHEN THE WINGS WIN THE CUP
Hockeytown Café, 2301 Woodward, Detroit, 313-965-9500
BEST GYM TO WORK OUT
Powerhouse (various locations)
BEST GYM TO MEET SOMEONE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX
Bally’s (various locations)
BEST GYM TO MEET SOMEONE OF THE SAME SEX
BEST PLACE FOR OUTDOOR EXERCISE
BEST PLACE TO SCOOT
Wayne State University campus, Detroit, 313-WSU-INFO
BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE
Sports Authority (various locations)
BEST SPORTS BAR
Spectadium, 2511 Livernois, Troy, 248-362-4030
BEST SKI/SNOWBOARDING HILL
BEST NON-ORGANIZED SPORT
BEST ILLEGAL PLACE TO SKATEBOARD
BEST HIKING TRAIL
Stoney Creek Metropark, 4250 26 Mile, Shelby Twp., 810-677-9159
BEST LOCAL BEACH
Metro Beach Metropark, 31300 Jefferson, Mount Clemens, 800-477-3172
BEST PUBLIC GOLF COURSE
Rackham Golf Course, 10100 W. 10 Mile, Huntington Woods, 248-543-4040
BEST IDEA FOR A NEW EXTREME SPORT
5. Barefoot abandoned-house obstacle course
4. Pothole jumping
3. Urban kayaking
2. Shark-tank wake boarding
The city as playscape
BEST IDEA FOR A NEW EXTREME SPORT
That was then, this is now. Before the XFL first hit the air waves, it promised much in the way of extremism: extra-heavy hits, extra-bulging tits, more taunting and risqué flaunting. But now that we’ve seen what it actually delivers, there’s not much that qualifies as "extreme" there, Vern. Certainly not the football talent level. And cleavage we can get anywhere (like in MT’s back pages). As for the hyper-violence that recliner spuds across America have been clamoring for, well we’ve got a better idea: Just rev up the old golf cart and tool on down to the local Toughman competition. Now that’s some hitting.
Vastly more interesting were the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place suggestions. Number two, "shark-tank wake boarding," lets Michiganders combine the exotic beach thrills of Jaws and street-punk surfin’ — something to keep the kids in town during spring break. As for "urban kayaking," number three, you just don’t want to stay underwater too long and don’t open your mouth. Number four, "pothole jumping," gets extra points for using a permanent feature of the metro environment in a way that improves fitness and dexterity, while sharpening the reflexes. But the freakiest challenge of all comes from number five: "barefoot abandoned-house obstacle course." Even fire-walking yogis start sweating at the thought.
Let the games begin! —George Tysh
Batch of pain
Best Local Athlete to Trade
Quarterbacking the Detroit Lions is one thankless job. Just ask the parade of almost-was journeymen and hard-luck cases who've led the team since the '60s: Plum, Sweetan, Landry, Danielson, Hipple, Long, Mitchell. Or ask MT’s Best of Detroit voters. Charlie Batch, current Lions signal caller, "won" the contest as Best Local Athlete to Trade. You could ask Batch himself what's best about being Lion QB, if you can catch him between hospital stays. He makes the disabled list the way most people make grocery lists. In three years of pro ball he's suffered neck strain, a compression fracture of the back, triceps bruise, thumb and shinbone fractures, and bruised ribs. He's a big guy — 6-foot-2, 220 pounds — and was sturdy enough to set most of the career offensive records at Eastern Michigan. I mean no offense, Charlie — and that's his problem, no offense. I’d like to defend him — but not as an offensive lineman.
He's had several streaks of brilliance: a 6-2 start in 1999; hope-reviving, decisive wins over the Patriots and Giants last year; three times he's thrown more than 100 straight passes without an interception. He's wobbly sometimes (bruised ribs might affect one's passing). Five-yard-high, -wide or -long misthrown balls eerily recall the bad years of Scott Mitchell. Will the new Lions management take MT fans' hint and try to trade Batch and his seven-figure contract? The team has played according to MT’s 1999's Best New Lions' Slogan ("We suck"), even folding before the lousy Bears to dodge a playoff spot last season. And who could they get for Batch? Two wooden legs and a specialist to be named later? Even worse — Troy Aikman?
Coach Marty Mornhinweg stated last month, "I'm excited about Charlie Batch … tremendous positives … he's rehabbing nicely." Lions fans hope these don't win next year's Best Famous Last Words award. —Dennis Shea
Wanted: One prodigal son
Best Athlete to Bring to a Detroit Team
Thanks to fire-sale trades that have brought in some interesting talent and also left the team with a horrible player balance (three point guards, three power forwards, zero centers), the Pistons are almost $16 million under the salary cap for next season. It’s mostly for one big reason, the possibility that Chris Webber — former U-M player, keystone of the illustrious Fab Five and now a member of the very talented Sacramento Kings — could become a Piston next season through free agency. That’s what team President Joe Dumars, the management, players and fans up at the Palace are hoping and praying for anyway.
Webber was run out of Golden State and Washington following a series of personality conflicts and sketchy incidents. In Sacramento, he has become one of NBA’s premier players. He’s an all-star, a real power in the paint, and, most importantly, a consistent and solid team leader. Having begun his career at Detroit Country Day High School, Webber would be welcomed back as a real prodigal son for the Detroit metro area.
We know the Pistons want him. We know they have the money to bring him here. We know the fans would be beside themselves. The only real question is whether or not Webber wants to play for the Pistons. But since players must worry about this season before the next one (the Kings, unlike the Pistons, are expected to be a real contender in the playoffs), we’ll have to wait until the summer before we know what the big guy is going to do. In the meantime, let’s start planning the welcoming parade. —Aaron Warshaw
Spandex not required
Best Gym to Work Out
Powerhouse (various locations)
When I first learned Powerhouse Gym received the most votes for best gym, I was a little disappointed. Sure, it was nice that this large international chain was the first to open a location in Detroit. But I thought to myself: Powerhouse is the gym that attracts only die-hard weight lifters and professional athletes. The first time I (a petite female) walked in with a free pass, I walked straight back out the door the second I saw all the men who looked like they were on steroids.
But I gave it a second chance a year later. And let me tell you, the atmosphere was much different.
They had obviously been marketing more toward women. I saw a banner promoting their new child-care service and cardio machines. They offer nutrition counseling. The crowd exercising inside was definitely more mixed — genders, body shapes, fitness levels, ages, you name it; the atmosphere was more inviting and comfortable. And the gym maintains a top-of-the-line collection of free weights and equipment.
The ability to cater toward all groups of people — without evidencing the "wear-your-best-Spandex-and-try-to-hook-up-with-someone-instead-of-actually-working-out" vibe — now makes me glad that Powerhouse won "best gym." —Nicole Jones
Best Local Beach
Before you visit, make sure that Metro Beach is open. Local morning news programs cheerily recite daily beach closures almost as often as they do snow days during the winter months. (Does anyone else think that’s weird?)
Since 1994, Metro Beach and other local beaches have been closed on numerous occasions — sometimes for long stretches of the summer — due to sewage overflows and other water quality problems. The Sierra Club asserts that in some locations, e. coli bacteria levels have been recorded at more than 80 times higher than the level which has been determined as safe for human contact.
But when the e. coli levels are low enough to allow you in, and the sun hits the water just right, a day at Metro Beach is what summertime is all about, huh?
Visit www.channelkeeper.org to learn more about the water quality problems in Detroit’s local rivers and lakes.
Go to the Macomb County Health Department’s Web site (www.libcoop.net/mchd/sum_beach.htm) to read water sample reports for Metro Beach and other county beaches.
If the coast is clear, call the Metro Beach office for information and picnic table reservations: 810-463-4581. —Karen Fisher