Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I'm Really Annoyed

Pick a word. Angry. Disappointed. Disgusted. Hostile. The list could go on for days. Any and all of them describe my feelings about the Detroit Tigers right this moment. It seems like there is a new rumor every day, each making me more frustrated than the last.

For those of you who visit here (thanks to both of you, by the way) and don't follow the Detroit Tigers, let me try and catch you up on the gossip.

Pudge Rodriguez seems to be leading an open revolt in the Tigers clubhouse. This group, which apparently contains Dmitri Young and Magglio Ordonez, wants Alan Trammell fired. They also intensely dislike Tram's coaching staff. This group doesn't think much of Dave Dombrowski, either.

This group is such a cancer that they have apparently already had talks about rumored manager-to-be Jim Leyland. Seems this group of happy campers wearing the Olde English D doesn't like Leyland, either. They think Dombrowski bought the Marlins title he and Leyland won and that neither deserves credit for the championship. This rebellious lot also thinks Leyland is too old.

In the meantime, some believe Young is faking an injury. Both D.Y. and Pudge have refused to pinch hit recently. Pudge has called out his teammates while being the underperfomer of the year.

If you believe the rumors, the front office refuses to discipline Pudge because he is the face of the team and sells tickets, jerseys and other product used to offset his salary. They would rather have him continue his undercutting of management and teammates than ship him out. Pathetic. (See, the negative words get easier and easier to come by.)

The rumor mill also has Magglio trying to convince anyone and everyone he can play, so he can get traded, while Carlos Guillen is hurt worse than is being let on. Seems he may never be an everyday shortstop again. The rumors also have some in the organization already planning on a losing season in 2006. Uplifting stuff, isn't it?

Increasingly the fanbase wants Trammell removed. Did I mention the Tigers are coming off a 6-24 skid? It's about 60-40 against retaining Trammell, but only his status as a Tiger legend keeps that number from being much larger. The heat on Dombrowski has been much less, but it does seem to be growing.

I am so aggravated with this baseball team right now, I don't know what I want them to do. Firing Trammell alone won't make the Tigers winners. It just won't. I think they can hire a guy who would be a better manager right now, but how much is that going to help this situation?

Firing Dombrowski, as some would have Mike Ilitch do, seems even more problematic to me. Sure, they can give him the boot, but how does that appear in baseball circles? If the remove him, who is next in line to get the job? Who would want it?

Between the baseball management careers of Trammell, Dombrowski and Ilitch, who can say he has won in his current role? Only Dombrowski. He is the only one of the group with a proven track record, wasn't he behind Montreal's success and rebuilt the Marlins, too? Dombrowski could land a job pretty quickly if not retained. That shoud say something about his perceived value beyond Comerica Park no matter what the team thinks.

Then there is the team. I am so stinking ticked off that if the Tigers announced that Pudge, DY and Maggs were on the next bus out of town and they were turning to the kids, yes, again, I might approve of the plan even if another 119 loss season ensued.

What the heck right does Pudge or any of these guys have to complain? Yeah, yeah, yeah. They can cry all they want about future Cy Young winner Kyle Farnsworth, but they failed to compete, so the Tigers made a pro-active decision. Did they get quality in return for Farns? Did they trade quality away may be the better question.

Complaining on this level when you are the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox might be tolerated. Winning championships and competing for post-season berths is different than trailing the division leaders by twenty plus games and finishing below .500.

Pudge may not like losing, but he signed with a team that had just lost 119 games. Pudgy, buddy, wake up and smell the coffee. This team was years away. You opted for the payday. Now, you get to cash enormous checks that no one else in the game was willing to give you. That alone should merit the Tigers front office some good will.

Now, common sense tells me that things are never quite as good or bad as they may seem. Winning more games probably quiets this clubhouse dissension down. Yet, that doesn't change the way I feel this moment.

Right now, I feel this franchise is doomed. What on Earth can be done? It's unlikely Pudge or Magglio could be dealt because of their contracts. Even if they could be moved, something that I would love in my current mood, would it yield more wins? If it didn't, wouldn't an increasingly casual fanbase turn their backs on the team again? Can the Tigers afford lower attendance in '06?

The Tigers cannot turn to their farm system, either, as there aren't any everyday players ready to fill in. They can jump into free agency again this winter, but by all accounts it's not a good group to chose from much like last year. Bringing in another would-be cancer like A.J. Burnett seems crazy at this time.

That brings me full circle. The Tigers can't maintain the status quo. Nor can they opt to turn to the farm system. Nor does free agency seem likely to help much. Firing the manager won't make unhappy players happy and firing the general manager would only be telling the fans that the Tigers are rebuilding. Again. It's a horribly frustrating picture. A picture I just don't see improving anytime soon.

My Fantasy Hockey League Team

Yes, I know you don't care, as indicated by your lack of response to my plea for assistance, but I'm sharing anyway. Consider it punishment for not helping out a blogger in need.

My Yahoo! fantasy hockey league draft was held earlier this week. It was the autopick variety, but I did pre-rank my selections. For the fantasy geeks in the audience, here is more specific info. It's an eight team, head-to-head league. We have a starting lineup consisting of two centers, two leftwingers, two rightwingers, four defensemen, two goalies and two utility players. (Yes, in this supposed new era of offensive hockey, we are using two "designated hitters".) We have three bench players.

The stats for the league are goals, assists, power play points and plus/minus for the non-netminders. For the 'keepers, it's wins, save percentage, shutouts and goals against average.

Here is how many squad turned out. Oh, they are called the Scooby Doos, by the way.

C- Joe Thornton, Boston
C- Jason Spezza, Ottawa
C- Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
C- Daymond Langkow, Calgary
LW- Rick Nash, Columbus
LW- Alex Tanguay, Colorado
LW- Sergei Samsonov, Boston
LW- Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit
RW- Nikolai Zherdev, Columbus
RW- Danny Heatley, Ottawa
D- Ed Jovanoski, Vancouver
D- Sergei Zubov, Dallas
D- Jordan Leopold, Calgary
D- Wade Redden, Ottawa
C- Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
C- Daymond Langkow, Calgary
G-Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary
G- Andrew Raycroft, Boston
G- Jose Theodore, Montreal

Now, I can see problems, especially in the area of plus/minus. Zherdev and Nash could really bite me in this category. I'm hoping they will offset this by piling up points, particularly on the powerplay.

I'm a bit leery of my defensemen. Not that they aren't a nice foursome, but I'm not sure if they will score quite enough. Oleg Tverdosky is a free agent and I might pursue him. Both of Florida's potential scoring blueliners, Mike Van Ryn and Jay Bouwmeester, are available, too. As is Niklas Kronwall of the Wings, who I liked as a sleeper. Although, I just read where he is out for six weeks.

Overall, I like the team. They are a bit young and I'm taking some chances on guys like Zherdev, Heatley and Crosby (someone always grabs the hyped rookie too early, but I didn't think it would be me). However, I don't think you win too often without taking some chances on draft day.

Again, none of you give a rat's you-know-what about this, but I could say that about the entire blog. Obviously, it has yet to discourage me.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Night Moanin'

I've been taking an intentional break from the blogsphere for a few days, but that doesn't mean I've completely ignored what's been going on. Unfortunately for you, I have returned to my PC (although my stinkin' monitor went belly-up this afternoon) and have a number of items to address.

* A long time ago, like when I was a kid, you would sneak a radio into school to listen to a ballgame. Sometimes you would sneak a radio into bed so you could listen to a game past your bedtime. When you became an adult, you might sneak out of work to attend a game. You might even call in sick and go to a game instead. Well, some nice folks from Gambia have taken the concept one giant step forward.

See, they chartered a jet and lied to Peruvian officials about having to make an emergency landing because the plane was low on fuel. Guess what? They had plenty of petrol. However, they wanted to watch their nation compete in FIFA's U-17 soccer tournament in Peru.

Calling in sick to work just doesn't look so bad now, does it?

* Pavel Datsyuk returns. Talk about the long and winding road. How many teams in Russia was Pavel committed to?

* I would like to think the new rules would help a player of Datsyuk's ability more than most. His progress may well determine the Red Wings fate. Of course, getting some good goaltending wouldn't hurt, either.

* Michigan State coach John L. Smith thinks his team planting the MSU flag on Notre Dame's field was just a "kids having fun" sort of thing. John Lansing seems to think the politically correct police are making too big a deal about this matter.

I feel about this the way I feel about endzone celebrations. As long as you are comfortable with whatever counteractions result from your step into sportsmanship's gray area, then do what you will.

Rub your backside on a goal post, but don't start whining if an opponent clocks you. Plant your flag at mid-field this year, but if they do the same in your building next season, or take it a step further, be sure to keep quiet.

* Last Sunday, I was in a store and Christmas Trees were out. I kid you not. Up and decorated in late September.

* Speaking of signs of the holidays, I got my card in the mail to pick-up the JCPenney Christmas catalog last week. When I was given a copy, I had to do a double-take. The thing is slightly larger than a comic book. Okay, they aren't quite that thin, but they pale in comparison to the Christmas catalogs when I was young.

I'm guessing Christmas catalogs are soon to be obsolete. I'm sure internet shopping and the cost of production are making them into dinosaurs.

* Is anyone else as tired of Steve Mariucci's press conferences as I am?

* I cannot see this happening.

* In two games, Kansas City's Derrick Johnson has fifteen solo tackles, two assists, one sack and a forced fumble. Conversely, the Lions' Mike Williams has one catch for a touchdown. It covered three yards.

* Did you hear Brandon Inge on the radio say the Tigers had "no leaders"? Inge went on to blast teammates who put on public displays of "leadership". He basically implied such actions were just for public consumption and meant nothing inside the clubhouse. Sounds like a happy group to me.

* I think it's safe to say that the '05 Tigers stopped caring about a month ago. What I find so darn troubling is that all the things we are hearing and seeing from Comerica Park are the same things we've witnessed in years past.

There almost seems to be a perpetual lack of leadership and respect amongst the players and coaching staff in Detroit. Remember how Juan Gonzalez turned off a number of his teammates with his pouting and requests for special treatment? Sounds like the same thing Pudge Rodriguez is going through right now.

Previous teams in the Old English D turned their backs on Larry Parrish and Luis Pujols. Now, Alan Trammell is getting the same treatment, but from an entirely different cast of characters than those that got Parrish and Pujols canned. Although, I suspect the results will be identical.

It's easy to blame Trammell and Dave Dombrowski for the current problems, but who do we blame when these things appear to have been a problem before either arrived on the scene?

* I can sleep easy now. Oprah's chosen a book for us to read.

* After all the hoopla over the Palace Brawl, what do we get? A bunch of players put on probation. Shocking.

* Does Ms. Burk have nothing else to do? Seems Ms. Burk is all in a furor over the sexual nature of the new NHL campaign. She has seen every single ad for beer and shaving products, hasn't she? Forget that, has she seen the television ads for tires? I can't recall if it's Bridgestone or Firestone, but I do remember getting carded before being able to watch.

That's all for tonight, kids. I've got email to read after several days away from cyberspace. That and I've got to cram for my NHL fantasy league draft. Enjoy the weekend.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Amazing Loss

I'm amazed. No, not at the fact the Detroit Lions lost to the Chicago Bears. What amazes me is that I remain amazed at the pathetic depths our local NFL franchise can fall to.

When I flipped on the radio in my truck this afternoon, I had no idea what the score was. I had been at a function without access to scoring updates. One person did see the Lions cap atop my noggin and said "Harrington threw another interception". I wrote it off as just another anti-Harrington comment. Even if the thing went back for a touchdown, how bad could the Lions really be down? It still had to be very early in the contest. It was only around 1:30 p.m.

I headed for home around 3:00 p.m. Once my radio was on, I could immediately tell the Lions were on the short end of the stick. Dan Miller and Jim Brandstatter made it clear by their tone alone that the Lions were down. Nothing unusual about that, right? What I didn't know was by how much. I drove on waiting for the score.

When Miller revealed the Lions were losing 31-6, he endangered everyone on the road near me. I was totally amazed at the clobbering the Bears were inflicting upon Detroit. Now, I can't say a Bears win surprises me. Losing to a team everyone in town thinks they should beat is oh-so-typical. What caught me off-guard was the point spread. 31-6? 31-6?

Something else caught me off-guard, too. I was amazed at being amazed at a twenty-five point deficit. I was stupefied over the degree of the beating. Six hours and one more Bears touchdown later and I'm still just, well, amazed at the score and my reaction to it.

No one should be amazed at anything the Lions do. Less than a week ago, I wrote as much. We have seen the Lions routinely render a big win insignificant by losing to a team that has no right beating them. This pattern often happens in back-to-back weeks. Yet, in spite of this history, I was stunned when I heard the score for the first time today.

How on Earth can I be shocked? A Lions season, any Lions season, is much like the movie Groundhog Day. We just keep living the same thing over and over and over again.

Knowing this, why am I caught off guard by the latest pathetic performance? Thirty plus years of living down to our expectations and every once the Lions can still utterly amaze me with their incompetence. That may be more amazing than the loss itself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Maggs And Pudge Want Out?

Terry Foster is saying that both Magglio Ordonez and Pudge Rodriguez want out of Detroit pronto. Foster appears to have been accurately portraying Rodriguez' role with the team for weeks, long before anyone else, so let's assume he's right on this. What does it say if Maggs and Pudge both ask to be traded this off-season?

I'm not sure I even want to ponder that question. The mere thought that the Tigers two highest paid players, both nailing down ten million or more a year, neither having spent more than two seasons here, are no longer able to stomach the baseball in Motown makes me a bit queasy, too.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Trammell On Hot Seat?

Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News and Fox suggests Alan Trammell may be on his way out as Detroit's manager. Rosenthal thinks that Jim Leyland might be Tram's replacement.

I've been saying this for days, but I think Jim Leyland would be a good choice to manage the Tigers. I'm not so much in favor of canning Trammell, no one in Tigertown really is, but I am very much in favor of the Tigers adding Leyland.

Leyland wouldn't solve all the Tigers problems, but he would bring far more managerial experience including a championship under Dave Dombrowski in Florida. Between his run of success in Pittsburgh and the title with the Marlins, Leyland's credentials would put him amongst the elite skippers in the game.

The Tigers need to continue to upgrade the team and Leyland might be a part of that make-over.

Looking For Inside Information

Hey, you.

Yeah, you. Come here. Anybody follow you here?

No? Good. Do you know anything about hockey?

Ssshh. Type more quietly. See, I need a little inside information about the NHL.

No, I'm not trying to win a Pulitzer Prize. I'm trying to win my fantasy league.

Can you win a Pulitzer with a blog entry? Really, can you?

Ooops. Sorry, I strayed there for a minute. Look, I've never done real well in my fantasy hockey leagues. I want that to change. So, I need you to give me some advice on who to draft.

Now, I know Joe Thornton and Martin St. Louis. The big guns are not an issue. What I am looking for is someone who can tell me what second and third year guys are about to explode onto the scene. Or even the rookie that's going to go crazy in his inaugural campaign.

As none of you are in my league, I can trust you. So, if you have any insight on which players may become household names, even if it's only in my house, I'd appreciate the help. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section. Or email me.

Thanks for the assistance. Let's keep this conversation between us, o.k.? Oh, one more thing before you go. You know anything about international soccer? See, I can sign up for this UEFA fantasy league.

More Lions

Yesterday's win was just a win. No more. No less. Even if it becomes a turning point, an indicator of future success, a harbinger of things to come, we won't know that for weeks or months. However, based on Lions' history we can only take one thing from the victory-the Lions won the game.

Yes, it was a semi-big game because it was Green Bay, a division rival, the season opener, the home opener and the rest of the division lost. To assume it means more is premature. It may even qualify as laughable if you've followed this franchise for more than a decade. If there is one constant about Lions football it's that they always find a way to bungle things.

Start red-hot? Finish ice cold. Start 0 for September? Finish with a tremendous run at a wild card berth. Win this week, lose the next. The opposition really never matters. The Lions have always found a way to tempt us into belief only to end up in their usual state of mediocrity.

The Bears are next. Regardless of the result, I'll hold true to the same mantra. The win is only a win. Two in a row. Three in a row. Four in a row. Yeah, I'll be getting more excited, but to sound like every football coach at every level in America, they only count for one win each.

It's a sixteen game schedule. The Lions could go 8-0, I would be thrilled, but waiting for the inevitable collapse. Sorry, I've been there. Done that. I'll believe the Lions are a ten win team when they win ten games. I'll believe they are a playoff team when they secure a playoff spot. I'll believe they are Super Bowl contenders when they win a playoff game. (Yeah, it may only take one of those.)

Hey, I'm still watching and still rooting. I can't imagine giving that up. I've just learned to follow the coach-speak. I'm taking them one game at a time.

A Little Separation

Jake over at Motown Sports Revival has decided it's time to separate his happiness from his addiction to Michigan football. Amongst other points he makes, Jake has come to the conclusion that Michigan's football objectives are not the same as the other elite programs in the nation. I tend to concur.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Little Weekend Recap

I've got to move on to other things, I need more than two day weekends, but I did want to review some of this weekend's action. To begin with, our beloved Detroit Lions beat Green Bay, 17-3. It was not a game that will ever appear on ESPN Classic, but a win is a win. Hey, the first team offense even scored two touchdowns. How can you not be excited about that?

The Pack looked bad. Real bad. They screwed up a field goal. They turned over the ball. The committed penalties in bunches. Basically, they played like the Lions usually do. If I'm a Green Bay fan, I'm nervous about '05.

As for the penalties, did anyone else noticed how often Packer DBs went to the face of Lions' WRs? It got called a couple of times, but it happened quite a bit more than that. I wonder if that's the tactic teams will employ to slow down the Lions WR corps?

I was very happy to see linebackers making plays this afternoon. I saw Earl Holmes post-game interview on FSN-Detroit. I know he's about fifty years old, but I like Holmes. Just seems like a good guy. He's got a bit of game left, too.

Joey Harrington looked like a decent quarterback today. He did a solid job. Not that Steve Mariucci will acknowledge that. Harrington isn't Canton-bound, but the guy did his job.

The Lions are your division leaders, as Minnesota and Chicago ended up on the losing end as the Packers did today. Another division games awaits as the Lions are off to Chicago for Week Two. I'll just enjoy today's win for another 24 hours before debating the Bears, thank you.

Around the NFL, Pittsburgh looked very good. I know he hasn't won the Super Bowl, but Bill Cowher still has to be one of the top five coaches in the league. If your third team runningback goes off for over 100 yards rushing, it could be the system.

Tampa Bay played a nice road game vs. the Vikes. I never thought Cadillac Williams would be that productive this early.

Miami won?!?!?! San Francisco, too?!?!?!

Over to the college kids. I didn't get to see much of Michigan's loss at the hands of Notre Dame. I was in a restaurant during ND's opening march down the field, though. It was plain ugly if you root for the maize and blue. I didn't see enough to make too many blanket statements, but I do wonder if this is a one or two loss squad or something worse.

If Charlie Weis keeps winning, will he stay at ND or look at the NFL the way Nick Saban did?

Michigan State rolled Hawaii as they should. Nice solid win. Drew Stanton looks like the All-Big Ten first team quarterback right now with Chad Henne's off day vs. the Irish and Drew Tate getting knocked out of Iowa's loss to Iowa State.

I loved the Texas at Ohio State game. I'm not crazy about either program, but I loved the match-up. The first meeting between traditional college football superpowers. Tons of future NFL players on the field. #2 vs. #4 in the land. It had a playoff-type atmosphere. College football is about these type of games.

Yes, Vince Young is your Heisman leader at this second. Of course, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush did have the week off. A.J. Hawk is your defensive player of year after two weeks.

The Tigers took two of three from Kansas City. Were any of them televised? Neither today's afternoon tilt or Saturday night's affair were. That's nearly as shameful as the Tigers record. I guess it doesn't matter as with pigskins in the air, no one cares.

Oh, by the way, Chris Shelton can still hit.

As for other things no one cares about, Roger Federer won the U.S. Open. He's going to be one of the great tennis players of all-time and no one in the U.S. will notice. I'm as guilty as anyone. I really had planned on watching more of the Open, but it just didn't fit into my schedule very well. Even when it did, I didn't find the match-ups compelling. Maybe it was just me.

The United States won the Solheim Cup. If you have to ask what the Solheim Cup is, you probably don't care. I was happy to see our ladies re-capture the Cup, though. Paula Creamer continues to play the part of phenom.

Dan Wheldon won the IRL race in Chicagoland. Wheldon all but won the season's championship with the victory. It was a pretty close finish with Wheldon holding off Helio Castroneves. Truth be told, I was rooting for Castroneves. Although, I have no problem with Wheldon.

As for my other "football" boys, Everton lost to Portsmouth, 1-0. I'm totally offended. The Toffees do have ten players, including most of their newly acquired transfers, out with injuries. I suspect Everton will continue to have problems until the Holidays. That's just a guess from a newbie soccer guy, though.

Reading tied, 1-1. Reading? What now? Brian's following yet another Euro team? Yes, I am as Bobby Convey, one of my favorite U.S. players, is at Reading now. Convey was their player of the month. You don't care, but this isn't your blog, now is it? Remember a few paragraphs ago, when I pointed out this would be about things you didn't care about. I did warn you.

Until my next post that you don't care about, I bid you a good evening.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I Am Not Alone

Apparently, I wasn't the only one upset after Thursday afternoon's horrible loss to Cleveland. A couple of players were quoted in today's newspapers as not really pleased with the Tigers current state of affairs. The guys wearing the Old English D are basically calling for change as I did about twenty-four hours ago.

Looking at Crystal Evola's article in today's Oakland Press we find back-up catcher Vance Wilson sharing his concern. Wilson said that "we should be a little embarrassed about the overall season". The veteran backstop suggested everyone in the organization can take a share of the blame for the dismal campaign.

Wilson's most painful statement came when asked about the team's repeated mistakes.

"To me, that's the players' lack of preparation", Wilson said. "We can continue to roll in it or get positive and fix it. Hopefully, that's what we're doing and working toward."

Wilson wasn't alone in his less than complimentary analysis. Magglio Ordonez had some interesting things to say to the Detroit Free Press' John Lowe. Ordonez flatly announced "I think we stink". Things didn't get better from there. These two sentences from Lowe's piece speak volumes.

"You have to get used to winning," Ordonez said. "Winning is a habit. Losing is a habit."

"We need to change our attitude," Ordonez said. "We should be over .500."

It sounds to me like their is an attitude problem in the Tigers' clubhouse. Maggs (Mags?) and Wilson were appear to say what I did yesterday-change does appear to be in order at Comerica Park.

If you are Alan Trammell neither player did much to help your cause here. A lack of preparation? That sounds like a manager's job to me. So, too, does changing the attitude of the ballclub.

If there is indeed a losing mentality around the Tigers dugout, I would expect Dave Dombrowski to find it and flush it out as he did with the ballclub when he first arrived. A number of players who were more concerned about things other than winning found themselves in another city as soon as it was possible, no matter what us in Tigertown felt about the guys being sent away.

I would hope Dombrowski would do the same, again. If Pudge Rodriguez is part of the problem and not part of the solution, he must go. As much as it pains me to say it, if Trammell must go, then he, too, must be shown the door.

I'd prefer a promotion for a Tiger legend, but if Tram can't muster enough respect to get the players to prepare and there is a losing attitude around the team, Trammell has to be held accountable. That goes with the job.

It's becoming more and more clear that there may need to be some substantial changes in this team before Opening Day 2006. I may not be the only one who thinks so.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Time To Think About Changes

The Detroit Tigers need to make some changes this off-season. As the Tigers have made a large financial commitment to veterans in recent years-Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Placido Polanco, Troy Percival-I don't think they can go the youth route. Changing directions now and going to a youth movement would only alienate their core group. Besides, I don't think they have enough quality prospects to make that happen anyway.

So, the Tigers will probably need to continue to make moves with an eye towards contending-either for the wild card or A.L. Central crown. (Can Chicago play this well two years in a row?)It's too early to get into specifics, but I have a general idea of what I would like to see the Tigers accomplish after the season concludes.

  • Sign a free agent pitcher.
  • Trade Pudge Rodriguez, as that seems to be his current desire.
  • Acquire a new catcher.
  • Decide if Carlos Guillen should play short or third.
  • If he stays at short, acquire a new 3B. If he moves to third, get a new SS.
  • Make Brandon Inge a super-utility player like Tony Phillips was.
  • Let Carlos Pena go.
  • Call Jim Leyland.

I don't want to overreact, but this continuing cycle of waiting for player development and inability to play above .500 baseball is wearing on me. We are hearing all the same excuses about the Tigers today as we did about Detroit's baseball team when Tony Clark, Bobby Higginson and Justin Thompson were the supposed future.

Today's pathetic loss to Cleveland, losing 4-2 after Nate Robertson goes five innings without yielding a hit while his teammates strand eight runners on base in the first four innings, really has me steamed. This is the sort of incomplete baseball the Tigers have played, well, forever it seems.

I don't know if anyone in the Tigers front office has noticed, but Cleveland is better than Detroit. Again. Not all that long ago, the Indians dominated the Tigers. Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel (who killed the Tigers), Roberto Alomar, Albert Belle and company just ran over the Tigers for about a decade. Then they were the model the Tigers of Randy Smith were trying to become.

Well, Smith's vision failed, the Indians eventually faded, were pretty lousy for a while, but have suddenly shot right past Detroit again. This time with a new corps of young players led by Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore. No honking big contracts in Cleveland, just another group of kids that appear headed to beat the stuffing out of our bengals once again.

If Cleveland isn't enough, and it is, let's peek in at Oakland. Resident genius Billy Beane has lost Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder in the last several years only to see his A's continue to contend with a team that I suspect over half of Motown cannot name. They obviously had players of value to trade this off-season, but they have also filled in holes from within their own organization.

It was bad enough that the budget strapped Athletics developed Tejada, Giambi, Hudson and Mulder (who went to MSU, for crying out loud) in the first place, but to lose them and toss in Nick Swisher, Dan Johnson and Bobby Crosby in the lineup and still be playoff contenders speaks to the quality of their front office's draft day decisions. Sabermetrics or not, the A's are doing something right on a budget smaller than the Tigers.

What really scares me now is Milwaukee. Yes, Milwaukee. The Brewers, who haven't been terribly good since Robin Yount and Paul Molitor moved on, are staring to look like a baseball team. They traded for Carlos Lee last year. They have put prospects Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder into the fray. Lyle Overbay is a decent looking hitter and Brady Clark is amongst the National League leaders in batting average last I looked.

The Brew Crew also have Ben Sheets and Chris Capuano to lead their starting pitching. The Brewers are young, talented and could be good for years. If pressed, and I was forced to pick between the Tigers roster and the Brewers roster, which would I take? Well, neither of us even wants to think about that.

Therein lies my frustration tonight. The Tigers (63 wins) are getting lapped by small markets Oakland (77) and Milwaukee (69), while Cleveland's (79) about to pass Detroit by for the second time around. It's unbelievable.

I'm not sure I'm going to be all that pleased if the Tigers trot out the same group, or something very close to it, in April '06. How much improvement can we really expect from this group? Yes, Mags has shown me that he can still be productive, but the Tigers still go into long droughts even with Ordonez healthy. Yes, Guillen's return to health would be significant, but wasn't he healthy all last year?

Pudge, whose whining is leading me to believe he should be dealt even if the Tigers have to eat half his salary, is going to be another year older. Will he be better than he was in '04? Doubtful.

I keep waiting for Jeremy Bonderman. I still think he can become a star, but his lack of progress does worry me. Outside of him, does anyone else in the rotation look like a guy you want in Game Two of a playoff series? Not to me.

Maybe Joel Zumaya or Justin Verlander can hold down that role, but what is their learning curve going to be? We are still waiting on Bonderman who is now in year three in The Show. In three years, the veteran nucleus of this team will be very old. Most will be gone. Then a new youth movement will be underway.

I'm not that patient tonight. Right now, I want a free agent arm to occupy the number two spot. A number one would be even better, but that's more wishful thinking than solid thought. I want Pudge dealt, so the Tigers can fill spots elsewhere. I'm a big Carlos Pena fan, but I don't want Tony Clark, Part II.

I want Brandon Inge on the bench or rotating positions daily. He's a tough minded player, but his bat just doesn't warrant a starter's role. I want a new thirdbaseman. Whether that means Guillen slides over or the Tigers acquire a new one. I'd be willing to trade Rodriguez, Maroth and/or Craig Monroe, to name just three, to accomplish my September 8th goals.

I want someone to call Jim Leyland, not because I desire to have Alan Trammell canned, but I don't desire to keep the same patterns of mediocrity alive. I'm on the Leyland bandwagon, but I understand if you don't want to join me.

Tonight it appears to me that this current group of players in the Olde English D are headed in the same direction as all the Detroit baseball teams of the last fifteen years. A team just good enough to tempt you into believing next year will be better. I'm not believing that theory tonight.

No, tonight I want changes. My changes sound huge, and to a degree, I guess some are. But I just want some tinkering to get this team above .500 for a full season. Is that asking too much?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Guillen's Return?

There has been some talk that the Detroit Tigers may try to get Carlos Guillen back in the lineup before the season ends. My question is "Why?". It's seems to me like Guillen's biggest problem is that he hasn't rested enough this year. (I know that's hard to believe with as much as Alan Trammell gets criticized for resting his players.)

Every time he returns, he's forced out of the lineup, again. Most everyone thought his injury was serious enough that it would be over a year to heal. It's probably just this side of amazing that Guillen gave the Tigers anything at all in '05.

I think the team should let him rest, continue a light workout schedule, and come back strong for next year. Maybe I'm wrong. We all know it wouldn't be the first time.

College Hoops Previews

Attention, college basketball fans. is previewing the 2005-06 season with a look at 144 Teams in 144 Days. It will give you something to ponder between now and Midnight Madness.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

U.S. Grabs World Cup Berth

Tonight, the U.S. Men's National Team qualified for Germany 2006 with a 2-0 triumph over Mexico. I know what you are thinking. "Brian, only you would post something about soccer on the first Saturday of the college football season. What is worse, is that only you care." Both sentiments may, indeed, be accurate. Regardless of how nutty you presume me to be, let me assure you of two things: 1) Qualifying for Germany 2006 is a big deal. 2) Lots of people care.

Every other nation on the globe wants in the World Cup. You've heard this before, but it's is true. The World Cup is the championship sporting event on the Earth. Every nation wants in and failure to succeed in that endeavor leaves lots people unemployed. It tarnishes the careers of many great players.

In addition, every other nation doesn't want the United States in the W.C. They love to see our team get kicked to the curb. That includes tonight's rival, Mexico. Yet, despite the rest of the world looking down on U.S. Soccer and the vast majority of our own sports fans not caring, the U.S. has become, to use a college basketball term, a mid-major.

The U.S. soccer program is clearly behind Germany, Brazil, Italy, Argentina and other traditional powers. However, inside their region, or conference to keep the college hoops analogy going, the U.S. has become a power. They now are qualifying for soccer's big international dance somewhat routinely. (I hesitate to say "routinely", but it is becoming pattern.) The boys wearing the red, white and blue might not be amongst the favorites to win, but they are becoming a thorn in lots of people's sides.

This is actually rather impressive considering the state of soccer in this nation. Most of you have stopped reading this, or never started, simply because you found out I was talking soccer (again). Some people aren't just indifferent to soccer like they are towards the Outdoor Games or water polo, no they despise the world's version of football. They refuse to even consider embracing the sport.

It is with this as a backdrop that U.S. Soccer has elevated itself. Again, the U.S. may only be a mid-major, but imagine if even one quarter of our sports fans chose to care? How many more kids would aspire to become professionals if their parents loved the game? Or if enough Americans cared about the sport that the MLS became a viable option? Or the games overseas were more popular in non-World Cup seasons?

Tonight's game is one that I feel more sports fans would like if they could get past whatever negative stereotypes they hold about the game. First, I think most could find a rooting interest. It wasn't a Real Salt Lake versus F.C. Dallas match-up. It was the good old U.S. of A. in action. Second, the boys representing us did have something to play for. A World Cup bid was at stake. Again, think making the Big Dance.

Third, and finally, U.S. Soccer took on Mexico, their biggest rival. The match-up between the U.S. and Mexico is like many border rivalries. The teams are in the same region. They are vying not only for the same goal, World Cup qualification, but they are also looking to be the big dog in their corner of the planet.

They face each other often enough that they aren't real friendly. The games tend to get chippy. The fans of both teams are very passionate. Translated that means road games are tough. Very tough.

In the end, the U.S. won on goals by Steve Rolston and Demarcus Beasley, avenging a loss in Mexico City earlier in the qualifying round and advancing to Germany 2006. That seems like the recipe for compelling sport, but I know lots of you, or both of you still reading this, still don't care. It's too bad because I think you are missing out.

On the very first Saturday of the college football season, not only did I take time to write an extended post about soccer, but a sellout crowd in college football crazed Columbus, Ohio filled the stadium to watch the match. Maybe you can love college football and soccer, too.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Garcia Breaks Leg

So much for that veteran back-up quarterback to push Joey Harrington. Jeff Garcia broke his fibula in the first quarter of tonight's game against Buffalo. I'm sure we will be hearing plenty about this over the next day or two.


I've read some things I think you might be interested in, so let me share.

Michael Rosenberg, of the Detroit Free Press, reviews Lloyd Carr's tenure at the helm of Michigan football program. Rosenberg also gives us his take on the Tigers negotiation with first round choice Cameron Maybin.

Those of us living in the Great Lakes State guessed this to be true. The Freep confirms it.

Neon Deion makes an interesting plea.

Scoop Jackson of gives a different look at the Jeff Kent/Milton Bradley flare-up in L.A. I think I might agree with Scoop.

Here is OLN TV's broadcast schedule for the NHL.

The AP, courtesy of Fox, previews the Mexico-United States World Cup qualifier.

That's all for this edition of Link-O-Rama. I hope you can find something in the mix you enjoy.

Comerica Park Gets Low Grade

In a poll at, Comerica Park ranked 28th in Major League Baseball for overall experience. In something Sports Illustrated dubbed the Fan Value Index, MLB parks were rated in a number of categories ranging from the ticket prices to the neighborhood. Only the Florida Marlins (Dolphins Stadium) and the New York Mets (Shea Stadium) got worse grades than the Tigers' home.

Comerica Park really got nailed in three categories. The yard received only a three out of ten mark in accessibility and neighborhood, while getting only four points for the average cost of concessions/souvenirs. Ouch. I'll let you review the rankings in their entirety.

Now, if you are looking for a reason to discredit the survey, not that I am, one could point to the marks given Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Probably the two most loved baseball parks on the planet came in eleventh and thirteenth, respectively. There is simply no way, under any circumstance, either is not in the top ten.

The winners? Miller Park in Milwaukee came in first. Second went to Pittsburgh's PNC Park. I have heard nothing but good things about both, so I wouldn't quibble. However, from a Detroit perspective, it sure appears all that love from the All-Star Game is long gone.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Relief

Today is the day the blogging community set aside for pleas for donations to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. I encourage everyone to make some level of financial support to whatever organization they feel is best. I'm starting with a contribution to the Humane Society.

I've linked some organizations in the right sidebar and Google, Yahoo and Amazon, amongst others, all have links to various charitiable organizations working in region. You can also check out my previous post to find more links to charities.

My thoughts and prayers are with those Katrina has affected and with those who now try to help the recovery efforts.

Special thanks to John Fontana of Boltsmag and Eric McErlain of Off Wing Opinion for making the special New Orleans Donate jpeg image available.