Sunday, July 22, 2007

Baseball in Motown--Tigers Win in Extra Innings!

Last night, Detroit squeaked by Kansas City in the bottom of the tenth when Inge nailed a two-run homer for the 10-8 win. It wasn't a pretty game (Verlander threw three wild pitches early on), but in the end our guys won.

I'm not a baseball expert, just a fan. I know just enough to enjoy a game from start to finish. The huge scoreboard showing player stats, rosters, and a running tally of plays helps.

At Comerica Park you can't miss Detroit's car culture. You are steeped in it from the General Motors Fountain that erupts for home runs and strikeouts to the incidental music -- Car Wash, Glory Days, Rock the Casbah (unofficial anthem of U.S. forces during the first Gulf War), Love Shack ("...I got me a Chrysler as big as a whale and it's about to set sail!"). The park is situated so that Detroit's skyline--with the GM Renaissance Center directly to the right of the scoreboard--completes it.

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie--all American. But there is more to that litany--oil, nearly a century of European and American meddling in the Middle East, giant gas-sucking cars, suppression of alternative energy technology. Michigan finds itself in an identity crisis. As does Motown; The Big Three, displaced by Toyota's ascent to number one in 2006, became The Detroit Three. These rankings matter more than baseball team stats because as our guys lose market dominance, Wall Street loses confidence and workers lose jobs.

But this week there was some encouraging news from General Motors. According to GM and Toyota (source), GM sold more cars in the first quarter of this year than Toyota. It would appear that we are in extra innings.

From the Wall Street Journal online:
"Through the first six months of the year, GM's global sales were up 1.7% to 4.67 million, and the auto maker said it's on pace to have its second-best annual sales performance world-wide in its history."

That is, emerging markets (Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East) are hot for GM's cars.

Good news for investors. Good news for Motown. For American workers, not so much.