Saturday, February 26, 2005

Garcia Gets Physical

The Detroit Lions are going to have free agent quarterback Jeff Garcia take a physical. I've stated in this space before that I'm not thrilled about Garcia, but I'm generally unimpressed by all the free agent QB's. Let's be honest, I'll take just about anyone that can lead the Lions to playoff success. If that's Garcia, sign him up.

New Kids On The Block

Here is Baseball America's list of the top twenty-five Rookie of the Year candidate in Major League Baseball.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Making Bridges Case

John Brattain of The Hardball Times makes his Hall of Fame case for a Detroit Tiger few consider when debating would-be enshrinees, Tommy Bridges. It's nice to see someone recognize a guy who many around Motown have overlooked. Click here to check out Brattain's column.

Mets/Tigers Swap?

I'm not sure I would classify this as breaking news, but Newsday ran this story about the Mets interest in Ugueth Urbina and the Tigers interest in Mike Cameron in today's edition. I have reservations about unloading Urbina, who could be a very good set-up man for Troy Percival. He would also be insurance should Percival suffer an injury or falter.

That said, the sight of Alex Sanchez in center is an "R" rated affair, at best. I doubt there are many in Tigertown comfortable watching Sanchez pursue flyballs. Cameron, by contrast, is a good defensive centerfielder. He runs hot and cold with the bat, though. Of course, Sanchez' OBP isn't much more than a point or two higher than his batting average, so we are definitely talking about two players with numerous flaws here.

Lee Sinins at The Hardball Times suggests that the Newsday piece doesn't imply that Urbina and Cameron would be traded for each other. If the Tigers could land Cameron without parting with Urbina, I would feel better. Of course, this probably won't matter anyway, Cameron has a no-trade clause and Detroit is one of the destinations he wants to avoid.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Vikes Peddle Moss

Any other Lions' fans happy to see this? Randy Moss is apparently going to be traded from Minnesota to Oakland. More importantly, Moss will be out of the Lions division. Here is the story.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

That Was A Fast Quarter Century

Twenty-five years ago today, the US Olympic hockey team defeated the Russian team in what many consider one of the great upsets in sports history. It just doesn't seem that long ago. Like such big moments, I do remember where I was when the US won. However, unlike 99% of the population I have absolutely no connection with Al Michaels now famous "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" call.

By 1980, I was totally engulfed in sports. Because of that, I would try to pick-up games on television from distant broadcast signals. (This was an era pre-cable, boys and girls.) Toledo, Ohio's CBS affiliate was counted on to provide live NBA coverage, especially those late night playoff games. Our southern neighbors' NBC affiliate would kindly send up a signal for NFL coverage "blacked out" in metro Detroit.

When the Olympics of 1980 began, it was apparent that ABC was not going to be my first choice for coverage. The U.S. network was content to tape delay events for evening re-broadcast. (Some things just never change.) I had an option, though.

CTV, a Canadian television network, provided live coverage of many events, including the US-USSR hockey game. So 25 years ago, we turned our television antenna towards Ontario, so we could pick channel 42.

Now, this wasn't an HDTV quality picture. In fact, I'm sure many of today's kids would call the picture radio not television, but it was more than enough to clearly follow the action. Besides, what other option existed?

I got to see the USA beat the Russians live. It was very cool even if the broadcasters, none of whom I can recall, were Canadian. Who better to know all about hockey upsets, anyway? By the time ABC revealed the outcome to U.S. viewers, later than evening, Michaels' now legendary call was anti-climatic for me.

I may not get goose-bumps when Michaels' call is re-broadcast today, like I'm sure many do, but I do share one audio memory with the nation. "USA, USA, USA". It seems like yesterday.

Monday, February 21, 2005

News (and Free Press) From Camp

Finally, Spring Training has arrived. Amidst another six inches of snow around town, comes the first of many updates from Florida on the health of Magglio Ordonez. Gene Guidi of The Detroit Free Press gives us this upbeat view of Maggs' first day in Lakeland.

Not to be outdone, The Detroit News has it's Tigers Extra section in their sports section today. Stories included are on Kyle Farnsworth, Franklyn German and how the Tigers want to be like the Twins. Which makes me wonder if they want a cheap owner who doesn't care about his team or its history?

Honestly, I'm tired of the Tigers trying to be like another organization. We spent about eight years listening to how the Tigers were going to model themselves after the Indians. That didn't work out so well. I appreciate the desire to have a competitive ballclub and the Twins are a fine organization, but can't the Tigers just be themselves? (Yeah, I know. That hasn't worked out so well, either.)

The News also has a photo gallery. (You'll need to click over there to find the link.) There's little better than the sights of spring when surrounded by winter. This weather won't last forever.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Lockouts, Steroids And This Past Week

For the both of you that continue to stop by, I have to apologize. There is little worse than a blog with no new posts and this past week was pretty pathetic around here. I could easily say that I was busy at my other blog, Big Ten Hardball, because I did post far more over there than here. That, however, would be more of a cop-out than a decent excuse.

The truth is I really didn't feel much like posting. Mostly because I'm still not really sure what to say about the two most dominant stories in sports this past week-the NHL lockout and MLB's steroid controversy. Frankly, both have thrown me for a loop.

It's not that the cancelled hockey season or the fact some knuckleheaded baseball players chose to inflate more than their egos is keeping me awake at night. No, it's a bit deeper than that. These two ongoing stories, and the fact there just doesn't appear to be any good way around or through these issues, has me in a mood I almost am never in. I have had enough of sports.

When I say I had enough of sports, I mean I was plain tired of it all. The leagues, the teams, the athletes, the controversies, the labor problems, the money, the egos, the greed, the media, the fans, everything. The continuous coverage of the blatant stupidity that is the lockout and the steroid problem were just to much for me to overcome. I just needed a break. So I took it away from this blog.

That really only hurt me. The two of you who stop by on a regular basis just lost out on some crummy writing for a few days. I, however, probably alienated more than a fewer people who stopped by here over the last week. They were looking for a timely blog, but instead found this place barren. I owe them an apology, too. In the long run, my annoyance with the sports world hurt this blog more than my break away from here helped me.

Honestly, I am only in a slightly better mood today. I have improved, in part, because time and rest do tend to rejuvenate. It also helps that the Mickey Mouse operation known as the National Hockey League is so laughable that I cannot help but snicker at their ability to shoot themselves in the foot at every available opportunity. (Fellow Detroiters should also think Detroit Lions here.)

When I heard last night the NHL might un-cancel their 2004-05 season, I actually laughed out loud. These guys cannot even cancel a season without screwing it up. Of course, the league does appear to be shut down for good after today's meeting solved nothing. This meeting, called by the NHL's ownership group, only served to make the league look like the dog and pony show most non-hockey people think it is anyway. At least they provided me with some much needed comic relief.

Although, I continue to be bemused at the NHL, the lockout itself is just ridiculous. Everyone who isn't a NHL player or owner knows that. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Unfortunately, neither party seems willing to admit they have a problem. They both openly admit that the other side of the table does have issues, though.

I learned something several baseball labor disputes ago. If they want to crush their own league, I now support that cause. If the owners and players cannot reach an agreement, I say let's start a new professional league. I don't even care what sport we are talking about anymore. Even my beloved baseball can blow itself up and a new league can form and I am going to watch the newbies play.

Apparently, common sense and history are the casualities of our own obsession with sports. Because of us, the fans, the leagues make billions of dollars. Ticket revenues, beer sales, advertising, broadcast fees, jersey sales and the like have generated so much money that everyone involved can't see straight.

The athletes and owners are now willing to toss logic, tradition and their checkbooks overboard in pursuit of securing even more of our money. They are also willing to cancel the World Series and the Stanley Cup Finals to "assure the future" of the sports they have ruined financially by over-expansion and over-spending.

Forget labor disputes for a moment. Does anyone think Jose Canseco or any of the others took 'roids for anything other than to make more money? They weren't even worried about the long-term health issues or the legal ramifications of using an illegal substance, do you think they care about the history of their sport? Do you think they care about what we fans think?

These steroid using players have not only thrown the national pastime for another public relations hit, but have further confused the Hall of Fame process. I admit the Hall of Fame is far from being perfect, but when it comes to voting for the steroid generation, I am equally confounded by the legitimacy of their candidancy and angry at their assualt on records I'm not sure they obtained legally. Thanks for ruining the sport-past, present and future-so you could cash in, guys.

Then, since I am clearly on a tirade now, comes the media. We have all of these "insiders" providing us with information on their respective sports. Did any one of these guys-in-the-know break the steroid story a decade ago? Only Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post gets a hall pass on this one. That's one guy out of how many? Hundreds? Thousands?

They can provide us with leads on trades that will never happen, but break the biggest story in baseball in a quarter century? No, they collectively turned their heads. Many of these media types now suggest that the fans didn't want to face up to the steroid story amidst the homerun chase. Hey, gang, it was your job to tell us the story. Or did I get our job descriptions confused?

Even the "insiders" that are former jocks laugh at each other's lack of knowledge about their respective sport. For years, we've heard that only the guys "who played the game" really know what's going on. Well, if we listen closely it appears the athletes cannot even agree on what's going on. At this point, we all know that these ex-jocks will lie through their teeth about what "really" happens anyway.

Let me not leave us, the fans, out of my wrath. During the last week, I've heard more nonsense out of the mouth of fans than I can stomach. From the lockout to steroids, fans have suggested some of the most self-serving, ignorant things I have heard from my fellow fanatics in quite a while. Maybe it's time we all get some perspective. Maybe we all need a break from our sports addiction. For others, it's time to seek professional help.

I'm guessing by this point, assuming either of you are still reading this, that you can see my frustration with the sports world and why I stayed away the last few days. You are no doubt thankful I didn't write daily in this mood.

I apologize for the poor quality of writing. This is a true rant, not something scripted so I can be "Caller of the Day". Hopefully, this prolonged cry into cyber-space will be beneficial for my mental health. I thank those of you who stop by here and hope any new visitors will give me a second chance. It will be much better in the days to come.

MLB Power Rankings

Buster Olney at has his pre-season baseball power ratings out. The Detroit Tigers are in at a respectable #19. Check out the entire list here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Random Observations

In the hours before the latest snow storm pays a visit, here are some odds and ends I'm thinking about.

First, I'm another Lions fan not thrilled about the potential addition of QB Jeff Garcia. Garcia, who thrived under Steve Mariucci in S.F., is apparently going to be released by Cleveland and Detroit is amongst the would-be suitors. Now, in fairness to Garcia, none of the free agent crop of quarterbacks does anything for me. However, I find Garcia underwhelming. I think he can be a servicable, but unspectacular back-up. For the right price, he's no worse than the other free agent signal callers. Of course, he's no better, either.

The Detroit Tigers released their Spring Training broadcast schedule. I'm somewhat disappointed that more weekday games aren't being carried by SportsRadio 1270, the Tigers' flagship, but it's good to know the boys will be back on the airwaves shortly.

When the NHL and the NHLPA get together again before tomorrow's 1pm deadline, I want them to remember one five letter word. P-O-K-E-R. That's right, poker. When Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman are sitting around the table trying to prove who is the most arrogant, ignorant leader in pro sports, both men should remember poker. Why? Because both men need to forget the insane notion that hockey is remotely popular. Sorry, fellas, but when televised card games get better ratings than your sport, you aren't in charge of much of anything that anyone cares about.

Also keep in mind, that history is not going to portray either of you in a good light after this debacle. There is also a good chance both of you could end up losing your jobs over this, too. Why haggle over a few crummy million dollars? Cut to the chase, come to an agreement and get out of hockey, gentlemen.

I have to admit that if the NHL can get an agreement, I'm going to be in the group that is offended by a thirty game or less regular season. I heard Barry Melrose tell me on ESPNEWS tonight how exciting a short season like this could be. Barry, if it is such a great idea, why not do that every year? Even better, why not skip the regular season entirely and just play two months of playoffs every year? I'm sorry if I think missing 70% of the regular season and giving someone the Stanley Cup will make them champions with an asterisk.

Speaking of asterisks, here is an interesting suggestion for Barry Bonds.

Why am I just not enjoying college basketball this year? I just cannot stay interested. I use to watch hundreds of games on tv a year, but I just don't find it compelling now. I don't know why, though.

The snow is coming, but some pitchers and catchers reported today. For that, I am thankful.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Reviewing The Ordonez Deal

Tom Meagher of The Hardball Times is confounded by the Tigers contract with Magglio Ordonez. Meagher does understand that Detroit is not operating from a position of strength, though.

Sonics Soar

The Seattle SuperSonics are apparently super, again. Back-to-back wins over Sacramento and Phoenix make a rather big statement. No, it's not the playoffs, but Seattle is impressive.

Lions Diary

As we so often do as Lions fans, it's time to concentrate on the NFL Draft. Don Banks at suggests in this mock draft that the Lions could land Miami (FL) CB Antrel Rolle. Banks goes on to say that Rolle may be a safety in the NFL.

Don't take my word for it, though. Go check out Banks' work and see where Michigan WR Braylon Edwards goes on his board, too. If Banks is right, the Lions could see plenty of Edwards for years to come.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Media Loves Maggs Move

Magglio Ordonez' arrival in Detroit seems to have met with almost universal applause. Color me surprised. I really expected venom over a potential seven year deal to consume every newspaper column in Metro Detroit. Ordonez' health and the structure of the contract certainly dominanted the press conference. So much so, in fact, that I don't recall hearing Ordonez utter much more than a paragraph in total.

However, in spite of all the contract questions, most of the scribes opted for caution over negativity when offering their perspectives. I would go so far as to say that 90% were just plain positive in tone. Even some of our more cynical Detroit sport writing vets offered up some praise for the Tigers latest, boldest move. The Free Press' Drew Sharp and Oakland Press' Jim Hawkins, two of the more negative Tiger on-lookers (rightly negative, I should add), are examples of the far more upbeat message the media sent forth from the Ordonez press conference. (Even Peter Gammons threw the Tigers a curveball of love. Sort of. See link below.)

Again, I am very, very surprised. Maybe the Pudge Rodriguez signing, which seemed to draw far more ire as I remember it, has worked out so well that we've all taken a more cautiously optimistic approach to such deals? I just don't know. I do know that it nearly every writer suggested the risk was worth the reward. I completely agree with that premise, but I hope none of them beats up Tigers management should Ordonez fail to live up to expectations.

Here is more all-Magglio, all-the-time coverage:

Crystal Evola, Oakland Press
Michael Rosenberg, Detroit Free Press
Gene Guidi, Detroit Free Press
Krista Latham, Detroit Free Press
Bob Wojnowski, Detroit News
Tom Gage, Detroit News
Gage, again
Lynn Henning, Detroit News
Peter Gammons,

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Too Much For Too Long

As more details about Magglio Ordonez' deal are revealed, the less excited I become. I still hesitate to get too negative, but any contract that could potentially pay Ordonez for seven years is just too much. I have stated before that I would have reservations about a five year deal. Going to seven years, even with club options, seems ridiculous in light of the lack of competition the Tigers appeared to have in pursuing Ordonez.

The amount of money, too, is a concern. If the Tigers were contemplating spending that kind of cash, an amazing $105 million, couldn't they have gotten into the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes? How about upping the offer to Adrian Beltre? Both would have filled bigger holes than a corner outfielder. (Not that the Tigers are exactly strong at that position, either.)

Was it Bo Schembechler or Woody Hayes who said that "When you pass, three things can happen and two of them (incompletion and interception) are bad"? That appears to be exactly the situation the Tigers now find themselves in with Ordonez' contract.

The first thing that can happen is the one we are all hoping for. Ordonez stays healthy and hits like he has in the past. Frankly, if the Tigers can get even four .300/30/100 seasons out of Ordonez, they should dance down Woodward. Three seasons like that might still yield a party at the Comerica Park administrative offices.

The second and third scenarios seem, unfortunately, far more likely. If Ordonez hurts anything other than his bad knee, the Tigers can't void his deal. He could miss significant time due to other injury concerns and still get paid for five years minimum. If the thirty-one year old just steadily declines, but continues to play due to his enormous contract, a la Bobby Higginson, the Tigers could be paying Ordonez for seven years with little chance of moving him elsewhere.

I agree with Bill at the Detroit Tigers Weblog who believes this is a Mike Ilitch production. It's just difficult to imagine Dave Dombrowski proposing this kind of offer. I know some in Tigertown called the Ivan Rodriguez signing last year nothing more than a PR move. It was to a degree, but it was a far better baseball move than the Ordonez contract. This new deal, in it's length and financial terms, is not a smart baseball move. It's all about putting more behinds in the ballpark on gameday and trying to build on last year's warm fuzzy feeling.

I sincerely appreciate Ilitch's desire to build on last season's momentum. 2004 was the best season, public relations wise, in Ilitch's tenure. The increased ticket sales, the better on-field performance and positive buzz the team generated in town was inspiring. However, if Ilitch is going to cry poverty in two years with both Ordonez and Rodriguez in tow, and the team is still well below .500, then the PR benefits will be temporary and the spite many fans have quelled will re-emerge quickly and far more harshly than ever before.

I favored the addition of Ordonez. I even suggested that knowing the Tigers would have to overpay. Honestly, I thought overpaying was giving Ordonez about what he made last year, $14 million a season. Coming off a freak knee injury, giving him more than that just seemed beyond comprehension. Yet, that's exactly what it appears the Tigers have done. And they've done it over a longer time than I think any Tiger fan can embrace.

Update: The Tigers and Camp Ordonez remain quiet. Neither side willing to confirm or deny a deal. However, nearly every media source says it's a done deal, so I suspect they are working out the details as to when Ordonez can make it to a press conference here and, perhaps, still dotting some of the "I's".

I read Dan's view at Detroit Sports Blog and realized that my reaction to the contract probably gives everyone the impression I am not happy about Maggs arrival. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Remember, I am the guy who asking about Ordonez when everyone else was concerned about Beltran, Beltre, Pavano, et al. I'm very happy to have Magglio in an Old English D.

I'm leery of the terms of his contract, as they are being reported currently, but I am looking forward to having Ordonez in the heart of the Tigers lineup. A healthy Ordonez can do wonders for the Tigers. He gives them the opportunity to improve significantly again in 2005. Like your basic Tigers' slappy, I'll be glued to the radio tomorrow awaiting press conference news.

I'm happy to have Ordonez in Detroit, but just more than a bit concerned about the contract he signed.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

A New Original Six

Tom Benjamin offers this very interesting solution to the NHL lockout.

Ordonez Is Coming To Detroit

There are reports that Magglio Ordonez and the Detroit Tigers have agreed in principle to a contract. Newsday and, locally, Danny Knobler of the Booth Newspapers are reporting the deal is for five years and seventy-five million dollars. Most are expecting a news conference sometime in the upcoming week.

The good and bad of this deal are fairly obvious to all. Ordonez, when healthy, is a productive middle-of-the-order hitter. However, his knee injury is unique and no one is quite sure how it's going to hold up.

Although, I am not thrilled about the size of this deal, I think the Tigers have made a good signing. If the deal does indeed include voidable years should Ordonez' knee flair up, then the Tigers have done all they can to protect themselves. We will have to wait and see just how the contract is structured before being too critical of the deal. Suffice to say that Ordonez would instantly become the best hitter amongst the outfielders and probably bat cleanup in 2005. It's hard not to view that type of addition as positive.

Update: has (finally) picked up on the New York Newsday story. They are reporting the deal could extend into the seven year length Ordonez and Scott Boras were looking for. They are also reporting that the Tigers can void the deal at anytime should the knee injury flare up. The story also indicates a Monday press conference.

I wonder if Chris Shelton is about to come into a little extra money? Shelton wore number 30, Ordonez' number in Chicago, last season. I think it's a safe guess to assume that Shelton is going to get a small amount of Ordonez' new found wealth.

Someone on the 40 man roster is going to have to go to make room for Ordonez. Bill at Detroit Tigers reviews the outfield options here. I'd probably cut Fernando Vina. Regardless, it appears the Tigers really need to make a trade or two before Opening Day.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Recruiting Experts

I really enjoyed this piece in today Detroit Free Press by Michael Rosenberg. It pokes some fun at all of the recruiting experts one day after national signing day.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Random Observations

I haven't posted anything in the last few days, however that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention. Here are some of the things I have been thinking about.

The Chicago Cubs have opted to sign Jeromy Burnitz to a short-term deal over offering Magglio Ordonez a long term deal. This is both good and bad news. The bad news? Add the Cubs to the list of teams scared off by Camp Ordonez' contract demands and wobbly knee. I think that brings the total number of teams afraid to 31.

Oh, there is good news. The Tigers are looking like front runners to sign Ordonez. Since they haven't counter Scott Boras' last proposal maybe Ordonez will accept whatever overpayment the Tigers offered originally. Complete with plenty of out clauses and incentives, I hope.

Even if the Tigers do sign Maggs to a reasonable deal, they still need to make a trade before Opening Day. There has to be a player or two available that would improve the Tigers in 2005. As an example, if the Mets ever decide to move Mike Cameron's contract, I'd like to think Dave Dombrowski would make an offer. Cameron's ability to cover ground in center could make up for the weak fielding corner outfielders the Tigers intend to trot out onto the Comerica Park grass this year.

Will the NHLPA just fire Bob Goodenow already? It's over boys. You lost. Your leader sold out you and your sport in the process. Just take the stinking salary cap and play hockey. Next season.

I assume most Detroiters have seen where Chris Chelios, Derian Hatcher and Kris Draper are playing in the UHL. This is just an example of how the NHLPA lost. You cannot have three visible players off an elite NHL franchise suit up in a low level minor league, a league with a salary cap, plus have another 200 or so of your players making less money playing in Europe only to turn around and tell us how you can't accept the concept of potentially making less money. You already are.

Chelios, Hatcher and Draper all signed on with the Motor City Mechanics. Does anyone else think that if the lockout extends into 2006 there may be a number of NHL players who become real life mechanics instead of hockey players?

I was impressed with Serena Williams at the Australian Open. When she got hurt, I thought for sure she would just let Lindsey Davenport walk right onto to the title. Wow, was I wrong! Williams just cruised right past Davenport in the last two sets. I'm still a bit surprised.

Apparently, Pro Football Weekly passed out a NFL Draft preview to the media during Super Bowl Week. Braylon Edwards, Michigan's wideout, was tabbed as San Francisco's choice at the top of the board. The publication had our Lions taking, I hope you are sitting, quarterback Aaron Rodgers of California. That would really quiet the quarterback controversy, wouldn't it?

I agree with many NBA beat writers, Steve Nash is the league's Most Valuable Player to this point in the season.

Hopefully, I will be able to crank out a few more posts this week. Thanks for bearing with me during the slow times.