Finalists were announced today in the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors 2016 newspaper contest. Two of Mitch Albom’s columns in the Detroit Free Press in 2016 were selected as finalists. Read them here:

For Best Sports Story

Pavel Datsyuk says he will leave the Red Wings after playoffs

April 11, 2016

Pavel Datsyuk wants to go home. His career has been here. His wealth has been here. His celebrity has been here.

But his heart is somewhere else. It’s in Russia — with his teenage daughter and his roots, both of which he wants replanted into his life.

“I’m thinking I go home after this season,” he said, in a long discussion at the Northville home of his agent and friend, Dan Milstein. “I may not be done with hockey, but — it is hard to say — I think I am done playing in NHL.”

While this may be a shock to fans, it cannot be to the Red Wings. The truth is, Datsyuk has been squirming to go home since 2012, the year he played in Russia during the NHL lockout. Last season he basically told Detroit he was finished, and only the length of his contract, terrific persuasion by general manager Ken Holland and personal involvement from Mike and Marian Ilitch convinced him otherwise.  … continue reading »

Best Sports Column

Spartans football coach Mark Dantonio talks about his program, his hangup, his rival Harbaugh and his lack of smiling.

EAST LANSING  — When your friends say you should smile more in news conferences, it usually means two things: 1) You should smile more in news conferences, and 2) There’s a side of you they see that others do not.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio hears that advice. Smile more. Loosen up. Don’t let things bother you. But he shrugs and says, “I am what I am.”

Popeye said the same thing. He also got really strong when he ate his spinach — which was, interestingly, a deep shade of green.

The many shades of the very strong Mark Dantonio (the ones that aren’t Spartan green) may never be seen in the usual spaces. The sidelines? The podium? The other end of a microphone? Forget it. There he furrows his brow, speaks briefly, often curtly, rarely makes a joke and gets things over with fast. He can come across like a detective being interrupted at a crime scene. Can’t you see I’m working here? continue reading »

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