I’m a solid Detroit sports fan and a super fan of the Valenti and Foster show on 97.1 The Ticket. I listen faithfully every day on the drive home for work and, if I make it home before 6:00 p.m., in the kitchen while I’m making dinner. I have the app downloaded on my phone for when I’m out and about and I even have a portable radio I move around the house on days I’m home. When there are big games on the weekend, I monitor Twitter to see what Mike* and Terry have to say. One of my 2015 goals was to interview Terry Foster for the blog and I’m thrilled to be able to check it off my list. Terry is a Detroit native, popular radio host, journalist at the Detroit News and a fellow blogger. Last week, we met up to talk about Detroit sports and it was awesome.
How have sports changed in Detroit in the past 25 years?I think it’s changed from the standpoint that we’re not as close to athletes as we used to be. Twenty-five years ago I think you’re more likely to see athletes, you interacted with them because the money wasn’t as disproportionate. Now, these guys have these clubs they go to, they’ve got their big rooms, their cliches. Twenty-five, thirty years ago if you went to a party with athletes, the athletes are mingling with you. Now they’re roped off. So you’re not as close to the athletes.
I think as far as the qualities of the teams, that is pretty similar. We win our championships here and there, we have our heroes. I don’t know if we have as many athletes that are as dominate as they used to be. Back then you had Barry Sanders who was dominate. Isiah Thomas was a dominate personality. You don’t have a dominate personality now. For instance the Red Wings, you don’t have Steve Yzerman, you don’t have Nick Lindstrom. I guess the Lions I could say Calvin and Ndamukong Suh but it seems different. It’s not that guy that everybody loves and embraces like they used to back in the day.
Detroit is considered Hockeytown, do we live up to the reputation?
I’m gonna say no. I think there is a pocket of very rabid Red Wings fans – I’m not even going to call them hockey fans, they are Red Wing fans that love that team. The Red Wings have gone to the play-offs with empty seats. $9 seats/ $19 seats. I don’t think the whole community embraces them as much as people think. Now case in point, you can go to a bar in Detroit and the Wings are playing but you don’t see them on the TV.
Do you think the new arena will have an impact on the community or is it hype?
I think the neighborhood that they’re building around the arena – if that happens – will have more of an impact. If they just stuck another arena there – who cares? The issue is getting people to live downtown, to play downtown, to go to restaurants downtown. I think the neighborhood is way more important than the stadium and I think that’s where the impact is. If you just had an arena, for three or four hours yeah, this is great and wonderful but then everybody disappears because it’s like a track meet to get back to your house after the game. But if a lot of people are staying there and walking home – that’s the biggest impact right there.
Your daughter plays soccer, do you watch DCFC and do you think soccer has a place in Detroit?
I’ve been to their games. I think it has a place. Now is it going to replace the Wings or the Pistons? No. But that’s okay. Cass Tech is too small for them now. They’re looking for other areas to play and I think that’s good. I think Detroit will get a semi-pro or a minor league team and I think they’ll get eight to ten thousand people for outdoor games in the summer. I think that’s where it’s headed. Now is it going to be on the front of the sports page? No. But it doesn’t matter. I think there is a niche and people who want to see it and will support it.
The Pistons were extremely popular in the 00’s but now they’re almost a forgotten team. Is it a reflection on the team or the NBA
It’s on the team. You’ve got to win. They’ve been putrid. The thing with Detroit is, if you don’t give us a reason to show up – we’re not showing up. Not only were they bad but they had infighting. One thing people don’t like here is when it appears the players are running it. And the players were running it because they were firing coaches, players didn’t like so-and-so and he was gone, that happened over and over again and that turns people off here. Work hard, play the right way, respect authority, I think people like that and the Pistons didn’t do any of that.
Can the revitalization of Detroit influence the type of players that come to our teams or is it all about the money?
I don’t think Detroit will ever be a high-profile free agent destination. It’s Detroit. It’s up in the north – it’s not New York, it’s not Chicago. That’s something we have to deal with. As far as second tier free agents, yeah it’s about the money. Everyone wants Kobe to come here, Aaron Rogers to come here – it’s not going to happen. When you look at the history of Detroit there really haven’t been high-profile free agents. Now some people say Pudge Rodriguez – alright fine but no one else wanted Pudge because they thought he was too old. But he came here and he did fine so there’s a guy you had to get under the right circumstances. The highest profile Piston was Josh Smith and he was a disaster. He’s the biggest name they’ve ever got but he was a disaster and they got rid of him and started winning again. I don’t think you’re going to get those marquee guys. It’s snowing today – nobody wants to come to this
Which Detroit athlete impresses you the most?
I’m going to say Grant Hill. I think he was a very good basketball player. He was dogged here for being soft which I didn’t understand. He was very smart. He personified something Isaiah Thomas told me, “If you just think of me as a basketball player than I’m a failure”. I always thought of Grant Hill of more than an athlete. He was a guy who just happened to be a talented athlete but he was well-rounded. You could get into deep conversations with him.
One of my favorite segments on the show is the Blitz. Generally, Terry asks Mike a series of quick questions but this time he was in the hot seat.
- Who will be the next national championship title winner? Tigers, I think they’re going to surprise some people.
- Which current Detroit player will be inducted into the hall of fame first? Pavel Datsyuk
- Will the Pistons move to Detroit? Yes
- When will the Lions get a new quarterback? 2020, you’re stuck with that guy
- What will happen first, Michigan will go to the Rose Bowl or Michigan State the National Title game? Michigan to the Rose Bowl, no one is going to the title game.
*Sadly Mike recently quit Twitter 😦