Detroit Sports

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

3-0 Hole

Since 1997, the Detroit Red Wings have been among the best teams in the NHL. Throughout that time period they have won four Stanley Cups and came a game shy last year of winning a fifth. The team has had multiple hall of fame players, great coaches, great scouting and a myriad of 100 point seasons along with making the playoffs for nearly two straight decades. The Red Wings have been the staple pro-sports team in Detroit. Wings' fans always can rely on the fact that the Wings will have a competitive team that has a chance to win it all. In fact, anything shy of a Stanley Cup in Detroit is simply not acceptable. Much is demanded of the Wings every season and perhaps rightly so due to the talent and ability the team possesses every season.

However, has simply too much been expected out of this team? So much is demanded out of this team, and this season they did not meet those demands or even come very close. The Wings are currently in a 3-0 in the second round against the Sharks, after blowing a two goal lead in the third period at home. Unless they pull off a miraculous comeback, their season will soon be over. I wonder if this seemingly collapse of a great team still goes back to last season, where they held a 3-2 series lead in the Finals.

Although the Wings did not meet expectations, a fan can still not be to utterly disappointed. Although professional sports are a "what have you done for me lately?" industry, the Wings have still created dynasty in the last two decades. They have won the most Cups in that time period, and have always been near the top of the league. Furthermore, in Detroit, one can look at the Wings and see greatness, but then look across town at the Lions, where the exact opposite is true (just seeing the Lions finish at 8-8 would be exciting!). Anyways, regardless of whether the Wings are washed up or just plain worn out, they have still been an incredible team that one has to be extremely proud of.

Finally, after the Wings won the Cup in 2002, it seemed like their dynasty run was over. The likes of Yzerman, Shannahan, Federov, Hasek, and Hull were no longer on the team. Also, they could not manage to get past the early rounds in the playoffs. However, the Wings found a way to reinvent themselves by drafting and grooming good players and by signing some key guys. Consequently, they came back and won the Cup two seasons ago with a young team and an old goalie. Is there any reason to believe the Wings will not do that again over the next few years?

Simply put, the Wings have been a phenomenal team to watch and rout for. Hopefully that should continue as they rest and regroup during what appears to be a longer off-season than first expected.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Double or Nothing

The Detroit Tigers have had an interesting start to the 2010 season. They currently sit with a 12-10 record and are 2.5 games out of first place behind the Twins.

Double or Nothing:
Interstingly, the Tigers are leading both leagues in doubles this season with 61 total. Brandon Inge and Miguel Cabrera both have 10 doubles each and are near the top of the league in that category.

Rotation Implosion:
The Tigers starting pitching has been their weakest link this season thus far. In fact, Max Scherzer has the lowest ERA of any starter (4.23). Dontrelle Willis follows suit with an ERA of 5.00. Verlander, Bonderman, and Porcello all have very high ERAs well over 5.00. Each of their starters have had a couple good games, but none have been very consistent (except for maybe Scherzer). It appears that most of the other pieces to the puzzle are coming into place for the Tigers, and it remains frustrating to see the starting rotation, which has so much potential, struggle so much. However, the baseball season is long, and much time remains for the starting rotation to get back on track.

Bullpen Dominance:
Despite the starters failing so far, the Tigers' bullpen has been phenomenal. In fact, five of their relievers have an ERA of under 1.69. Additionally, Joel Zumaya looks like he is totally healthy to start the season. He has 14 strikeouts in just under 13 innings; he also has a WHIP under 1.00. He appears to be back where he was in 2006, where Tigers' fans remember him helping the Tigers reach the World Series in that magical 06 summer. Furthermore, the bullpen has really helped the Tigers come back and win a number of games. With the starting pitching imploding in several games, the Tigers have had to come back on multiple occasions while depending on their bullpen to hold the other team at bay.

New Additions on Offense:
This off season the Tigers made a variety of moves that landed them some new faces in the motor city. So far their new additions have been playing pretty well. First, Johnny Damon has hit well this season. His power numbers are way down, probably mostly due to playing in Comerica, but he is still hitting .321 and currently has a 15 game hitting streak. Second, Austin Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance and will most likely content for AL rookie of the year. However, he is on pace for 245 strikeouts and and only 77 walks. Finally, Scott Sizemore has done decently at second base while hitting .255 on the season.

MVP Season?
Miguel Cabrera has played a MVP caliber season so far. He has come up with huge hits for the Tigers to help them win some games. Also, he leads all of baseball with 25 RBIs and is hitting .341 on the season with a OBP of .426. Cabrera is one of the best power hitters in the league, and his reputation for that has continued this season.

Overall:
I suppose the Tigers are somewhat fortunate to be two games above 500. As mentioned, their starting pitching has been terrible, but the rest of the team has done rather well. It appears that they have the hitting and bullpen to have a great season, but pitching will ultimately make or break this team. Time will continue to tell the fate of the 2010 Tigers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Update

These past couple of weeks have been pretty busy for me due to to the end of another college semester. Thus, I have not posted much lately on the blog.

Putting that aside, the Tigers have started the season a bit rough. They went 5-1 at the start but have won only 2 of their last 7. Justin Verlander has pitched horrible to start the season, reminiscent of the last two season starts for the Tigers' ace. Additionally, Willis and Bonderman have both had some good and bad starts. The verdict is still not out on the two former stars, due to the season being so young. The Tiger's biggest addition this off-season, Johnny Damon, started the season horribly but has come back and is hitting near 300 presently.

Also, the Red Wings clawed their way back into the playoffs on a tear and ended up clinching the fifth seed in the playoffs. However, they are currently in the midst of a tough first round series with the Coyotes. The Wings have battled back to tie the series at 2-2 after a scrappy 4-0 win tonight.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Final Rotation

Long time Tigers' starter Nate Robertson no longer occupies a spot on rotation and was traded to the Marlins for a minor league pitcher.

It seems as if many baseball analysts remain confused about this deal, wondering why the Tigers would trade Robertson but give Dontrelle Willis a starting position. All spring Robertson, Willis, and Jeremy Bonderman had battled for the final two starting spots on the Tigers' rotation. Robertson out pitched Willis this spring but was still the odd man out in the rotation battle. Here is what Rob Neyer of ESPN said about the deal:

"Bottom line? The Tigers were going to get bubkus in a trade for Dontrelle Willis so they moved the most marketable major-league pitcher they had. In that regard, this trade makes sense.

Of course, now the question is: Will the 2010 model of the D-Train be a local or an express?

I'm betting on local. What's a little odd is that Robertson's out-pitched Willis this spring, at least statistically. In 20 innings, Robertson's struck out 19 and walked seven. In 15 innings, Willis has struck out 10 and walked eight (both of them have plunked two hitters)."


The Tigers definitely took a gamble by releasing Robertson. Since acquiring Willis two years ago, he has won exactly one game with the Tigers. On the other hand, Robertson, although not phenomenal, has been a consistent pitcher for the Tigers over the past seven seasons. However, during the last two seasons Robertson only won 9 games and had an awful ERA. Both pitchers have struggled with injuries the last few years, but both appear to be completely healthy this spring.

I actually really liked this move for the Tigers. Although the risk appears high by trading Robertson, the Tigers potentially have a killer pitching lineup. Consider how good their starting rotation would be if each pitcher duplicated their best season statistically:

Justin Verlander: 19-9, 269 SO, 3.45 ERA
Rick Porcello: 14-9, 89 SO, 3.96 ERA
Max Scherzer: 11-14, 174 SO, 4.12 ERA
Dontrelle Willis: 22-10, 170 SO, 2.63 ERA
Jeremy Bonderman: 14-8, 202 SO, 4.08 ERA

If you number crunch that you get a combined record of 80-50 with 904 SO in 1030 innings pitched with an average ERA of 3.65 (can you say playoffs?). However, why even mention the numbers from their best seasons? Everyone knows Willis and Bonderman appear to have their best seasons behind them. Regardless, I believe this shows the potential of the Tigers' rotation. Consider that Willis and Bonderman are finally healthy and have been spectacular in the past. Additionally, I like Willis over Robertson, because Robertson has never really proven himself as a very good starting pitcher. He has been consistent (earlier in his career mostly), but is really about an average MLB pitcher, while Willis had Cy Young potential at one point. Robertson is also a couple years older than Bonderman or Willis. Finally, Verlander, Porcello, and Scherzer probably have their best years ahead of them and will further boost the rotation.

Furthermore, if Willis or Bonderman flop, the Tigers still will have
Eddie Bonine waiting in the wings to potentially start. Also, Armando Galarraga will be staying warm in the minor leagues as a backup plan.

Overall, this deal was definitely a little risky. However, Willis and Bonderman both have proven themselves in the past and both are finally completely healthy to start the season. It will be exciting to see the rotation develop throughout the season. Aside from Willis and Bonderman, the other three starters will most likely tear it up this season.

The closer the season gets, the more excited I get to see the Tigers play. They made some surprising moves this off season, but they still have a great chance to clinch their division.

Again, High Risk = High Reward, but will it pay the Tigers dividends in 2010? Time will only tell.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lions still after Pacman

The Detroit Lions have shown considerable interest in Adam "Pacman" Jones, the former Dallas Cowboy DB and kick returner. In fact, some sources think the Lions will sign him next week.

The question is not whether Pacman has the skills necessary to play in the NFL still; the question is whether he can perform off the field. From the reports, it sounds as if Pacman is physically ready and in great shape to come back and perform at a high level. However, the former star has had a very troubled past laden with problems off the field that could be risky for any team that wants to sign him.

He definitely has a lot of talent the Lions could desperately use. However, could he simply be a cancer to the team much like Terrell Owens has been to some of his teams? Is the talent worth the price of possible destruction to the team? It has been reported that he has changed his life off the field, but time will only tell.

Overall, I believe the Lions should sign him. After celebrating last year for winning the first time in 20 games, the Lions could use all the help they can get. Why not take a gamble on a proven talent? What do they honestly have to lose? This would be a great addition to an already productive off-season for the Lions. Perhaps they could sign him to a one year deal. Besides, Lions fans know that there is always next year anyways if this blows up in the Lions' face.

High Risk = High Reward

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Crunch Time

For the first time in a long time, the Detroit Red Wings are actually fighting for a playoff spot. In fact, the last time the Wings missed the playoffs was in 1990.

Red Wings' fans are not familiar with the Red Wings potentially missing the playoffs. Moreover, the Wings have arguably been the best NHL team in the last decade while winning four Stanley Cups since 1997. However, this season has been a struggle for the Wings. They are fighting for the eighth and final seed in their conference and have been floating near the bottom of the playoff standings all season.

The Red Wings had some injuries earlier this season that have hurt their playoff chances. Probably the biggest injury was losing Johan Franzen early in the season. Other injuries also plagued the team.

Interestingly, the Wings have been riding rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard throughout the season. He has played remarkably well for being thrown into the starting role. Howard has started mainly because former starter Chris Osgood has really had a brutal season statistically speaking.

Despite only holding unto the final playoff spot by three points over the Flames, the Wings are starting to play excellent at the right time in the season. The team has won seven of ten games, and just won a huge game over the Flames to keep them at a distance. Also, the Wings are completely healthy going down the final stretch of the season.

Is there any question that the Wings will not make the playoffs? I do not think so; the Wings simply know how to win and get the job done. They should not have a problem securing one of the final seeds. Although getting to the playoffs via the seventh or eighth would be unconvential for the Wings, they still have a great chance to make another deep run into the playoffs.

In fact, Wings' head coach Mike Babcock said it best a few days ago: "Wouldn't you love to draw us in the first round?"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Linkage

I am happy to announce that Detroit Sports has teamed up with TicketNetwork in order to give you best opportunity to buy Detroit Sports’ tickets and tickets to similar events. I have added TicketNetwork’s links to my sidebar, so please check the site out. TicketNetwork even has some special coupons to save you even more when you buy tickets to sporting events. It is a great website that needs to be explored for any fan seriously thinking about buying sports tickets.

Additionally, I have added some more Detroit Sports’ links to my sidebar as well. If anyone else is interested in linking a Detroit based sports blog to my site, please feel free to email me at any time.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Starts at the top

The year was 2000 when the Detroit Lions hired Matt Millen to be the new president and CEO of the team. The owner of the team William Clay Ford Sr. essentially gave over the reins to Millen to run the franchise.

I think Lions fans everywhere were excited when the Lions hired Millen, because Ford was finally giving control of the team to somebody else. The Lions had won only one playoff game in the last half a century previous, and fans were hoping that this would finally be the turning point for the franchise.

Eight years later in 2008, the Lions finished one of the worst stretches in NFL history (31-84 record over that time) and fired Millen halfway through the 2008 season. During the Millen era the Lions became, and still are, one of the laughingstocks of the NFL.

With the supposed high level of parity within the NFL, a fan may wonder how the Lions are so terrible every season. When watching a game, a Lions fan typically has no confidence for the Lions to pull out a victory. As Lions fans, we just know they will find a way to blow an important game. They have simply been atrocious in the last decade, undoubtedly the first or second worst team in the NFL. The seventies and eighties were not much better, with zero playoff wins for the Lions. Even in the nineties, when they had Barry Sanders, arguably the best running back of all time; they still were not that good.

Eventually one must realize that part of the blame has to go back to the top. Since William Clay Ford Sr. bought the team in 1964, the Lions have won exactly one playoff game, that is right, one playoff game since then. They have been to the playoffs only nine times in his tenure owning the team, with all of them being on the road (except their playoff win against Dallas in 1991).

I think putting all the blame on Ford could be foolish. The bottom line is that players must play, and coaches must coach. However, the owner is the one who should be putting the right players and coaches in place. I do not think it is a coincidence that in the decade previous to Ford owning the team, the Lions won three Championships and lost a fourth.

Growing up my Dad would always say, "Ford is laughing all the way to bank." He meant that the Lions were terrible every year, but fans would still come out to the games and sellout the stadium: essentially keeping Ford happy because he was still making bank. Perhaps Ford is simply a businessman who wants to make a profit. He really has no background in football, from what I researched, other than with the Lions. The Lions are worth near $900 million dollars (according to Forbes in 2009). The team also has revenue in excess of $200 million every year. How much of that goes into Ford's pocket is hard to say, but he is definitely making enormous amounts of money from the most lucrative sports industry in America. In fact, in 2005 Forbes listed Ford as being worth an astounding $1.2 billion dollars and the 283rd richest person in America. I realize much of this probably came from his time with Ford Motor Company, but his profits from the Lions are undoubtedly substantial.

Is Ford sacrificing winning in order to keep making money? I remember watching a piece on the LA Clippers a few years back talking about how much money the franchise made in-spite of the team continually losing. Could Ford being doing the same thing? Apparently, the 49ers, the best team in the 80s, made the least amount of money among NFL teams. However, the worst team, the Buccaneers made the most money in the NFL during that same time period. I am sure the economics of the NFL are different now, but I believe the principle still remains the same: winning should be more important that making a huge profit in the NFL. I sometimes doubt if Ford really believes that. On the other hand though, the NFL is still a business and one cannot downsize the fact that owning a NFL team is very profitable.

I believe this man is in football for more than just the money (regardless if the importance of money comes first or not). I believe he wants to build a winner (if for nothing else the money that would come with it). But in nearly half a century, he has simply not been able to figure it out. He graduated from Yale and is probably extremely smart when it comes to business. However, being great at business does not make you great at building a winning NFL team. Even when he gave team control largely over to Millen, he kept him for far too long, and even gave him a huge contract extension in midst of their losing: another stupid ownership decision that continues to cost the Lions to this day. Regardless of any defense one wants to give him, people are ultimately judged mostly from their actions and what they do, not as much from what they say or think. The bottom line is that he has not produced a winner on the field, and seemingly has not even put together an environment where a winning team could be build. Even the people he has hired to try and build a winner with have miserably failed.

The question remains, where do the Lions go from here? Even if it was completely Ford's fault for losing, there is not a whole lot anyone can do. He owns the team; he is the boss. He decides who stays and who goes. Even after he retires, the team ownership will probably be inherited by his son, who has seemed to play a similar role within the organization.

I guess we will never know exactly know to what extent Ford's ownership has affected the Lions. It unquestionably has had a negative impact for years, but the extent of that is unknown. As Lions fans, I suppose we can have a "wait for next year" mentality and hope that we will land some great players in the draft. Other than that, can fans do anything?

The only way Lions fans can hope for a change would seem to come in the form simply boycotting the games. If few fans show up to games, profits would go down quickly. Could this be the way to get Ford to pay wake up and "smell the roses?" Perhaps.

Lions fans are tired of excuses and half baked attempts to produce a winning team. We are craving a winning team; Lions fans simply want to watch good football in Detroit. Period.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Put away the bottle

Miguel Cabrera apparently has stopping drinking and intends to keep it that way. Apparently the Tigers' slugger has underwent counseling to help him with his drinking problems.

One wonders how legitimate this change will be. We live in a sports world where athletics are paid millions for being able to walk around the base path a few times, but only get slapped on the the wrist essentially for committing adultery, drunkenness, and other sins; while at the same time being looked at on our national stage as supposed heroes for our youth to look up too. I hope Cabrera realizes his statue in society, and I pray that it will be a real change in his life.

Athletes must start realizing that they are living in the lime light whether they like it or not, and their actions (despite how much money they make) have consequences they must pay.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lions going for LT?

Apparently the Lions are considering going after recently released running back LaDainian Tomlinson and are also considering trading their first round draft pick (second overall).

LT has arguably been the best running back in the NFL for the past decade or so. He has over 12,000 yards rushing and 128 rushing touchdowns. However, the last two seasons have started to show his age as his numbers have significantly dropped. Running backs in the NFL typically do not perform well in their 30s.

This is a story that definitely could develop as the draft gets closer. The Lions need all the help they can get, so picking him up could provide some benefit to their inept running game.

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Site, Banner, etc....

Since I have been starting to update this blog again, I have put the site under some major cosmetic changes as compared to years previous. As one can tell, I have an entirely new banner that I hope readers will enjoy. One of my friends from college helped me design it (thanks Jon!), and I really think it looks sharp.

I also changed the entire design of the website into one of the default templates that blogger has. I will continue to modify it to my liking.

As for posting, I want to post maybe once a week or so on different topics relating to Detroit Sports and the Michigan Wolverines (primarily football and maybe some basketball). I do not watch the teams enough to post on games, and one could find much better game coverage elsewhere. This blog is mostly done for enjoyment, and a way for me to get my rants out about Detroit Sports. If anyone has any ideas or comments please feel free to email me.

Finally, I would like to start adding links of advertisers and fellow bloggers in the next couple of weeks. This will help complete the overhaul of my blog.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rich Rod back at it

The University of Michigan's flamboyant head football coach Rich Rodriguez could apparently be in trouble again with NCAA regulations.

This has been one of multiple allegations against the former West Virginia coach. One wonders if he really causes that many problems or if people are just complaining because of Michigan's horrific record in his first two seasons with Michigan. Either way, it is rather disturbing to always hear bad news stories about this guy and how he does not play by the rules.

Rodriguez started to turn Michigan around last year, winning four games to start the season but then sputtering out as the season went on (5-7 finish). However, it was Rodriguez's first season with his own recruiting class. This upcoming season he will have had a whole extra year to build on the team. Also, their starting quarterback Tate Forcier appears to have some great potential, although there has been questions about his durability and arm strength.

Overall, it is frustrating to hear about Michigan potentially breaking rules. These accusations will definitely further hurt Rodriguez's already bad reputation as a coach. Nonetheless, I would give him at least one more year. Michigan turned it around last year to some extent and can build on last year's successes. It definitely matters if Michigan does things right off the field, but I think people will forget about this if he can put a championship caliber team back on the field. Hopefully next year they will not continue to be one the laughing stocks of the Big Ten.