Saturday, January 29, 2005

Read This Now

I'm serious. You should read this article by John Brattain at The Hardball Times immediately. It's about MLB's economic structure. More importantly, it's exceptional writing.

Time To Fire Brown?

Is it just me or does anyone else think it's time to start to consider firing Larry Brown? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Joe Dumars is the guy who is going to make that decision not me, but I'm growing increasing tired of Brown's antics.

There is his perpetual whining. I realize that's not uncommon for a coach, but Brown's post Palace brawl "the sky is falling" attitude is already becoming the stuff of legend. And spoofs. Then, and far more appallingly, there is the rumored move to the New York Knicks.

When some NYC media types starting thinking out loud about the next head coach of the Knicks, they made a logic connection to Brown. Brown is in a continual state of moving on to the next job, is a New York native and is a fan of Knicks' boss Isiah Thomas (some around Detroit may recognize that name). It's not exactly out-of-the-box thinking to put two and two together and envision Brown in Madison Square Garden full-time.

What irritates me is that Brown simply refuses to take the high road. Not only does he not deny the speculation, but he does nothing but reinforce the idea he's ready for the Knicks' job every time he opens his mouth. Here is another story, courtesy of, where Brown does everything but resign.

Why couldn't he offer the usual "no comment" line? Or how about the equal standard "I'm working with a championship team right now. What more could you ask for?". It doesn't say "I'm staying" or "I'm gone", but it does imply "Can we talk about this later?". In fact, "I won't be ready to discuss my future until season's end" would be a fine response.

I'm not asking the guy to say "I love Detroit. I love coaching this team. I love Joe. I love Mr. Davidson." Although, hearing some combination of that would seem appropriate. However, all we hear is how Brown "never thought he would have to coach effort" and how much he loves Isiah.

Maybe I'm just way off base here. Maybe I'm taking a page out of the Bo Schembechler management book, but if I was Joe Dumars, I'd save Larry Brown the effort of loitering at The Palace of Auburn Hills one hour longer. I'd can him right this second.

I generally oppose calling for the firing of someone, especially someone coming off a championship. That kind of nonsense is, well, nonsense. This is a unique situation, though. Brown's carpet-bagger history combined with his post-fight trauma, his inability to say anything good about his current position, all while drooling over the move to MSG make me think his head and heart are not with the Pistons.

In the end, I would prefer a guy who wants to be the coach of the Pistons to have the job. Is that asking too much? I realize that firing a Hall of Fame coach coming of a NBA championship sounds plain crazy. That's because it is. It's also crazy for the same coach to act burdened by his job at the top of the NBA heap.

Brown is clearly unhappy coaching the Pistons. It's gotten so bad, he can no longer disguise his disdain for the situation. Neither can I. If Brown wants out, Dumars should open the door. Right now.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Old School Super Bowl

I'm getting old. I admit that. That means I spend far too long fondly remembering the good old days. You may remember my recent post about This Week In Baseball. Today, I got the NFL equivalent.

ESPN classic was showing Super Bowl highlight shows. I was watching some of the early Super Bowls. I'm talking about those in the single digits. Or, in Super Bowl terms, games below X in Roman numerals. The voice of John Facenda romanticizing the story of the games when the Super Bowl was all about football.

That's my biggest problem with football, in general, and the Super Bowl, specifically. It's equal parts game and hype. Hype translated not only in terms of over analysis, but in terms of pre-game show, halftime show, post-game show, commercials, gambling, drinking, counter-programming on other networks and mass marketing campaigns involving nearly every product known to man.

Anyone remember when we just cared about the game? At one time, the Super Bowl was all football and little of anything else. They had college bands perform, in part, because halftime was just, well, it was just halftime for crying out loud. No need for Janet Jackson or Paul McCartney, for that matter. We were watching to see who would be crowned champions not who sang during the time reserved for sandwich assembly and bathroom breaks.

Now, the Super Bowl has become a holiday. It's been watered down to make itself interesting to everyone. Some watch the game just to see the commercials. This is the same train of promotional thought that brought us Ferris Wheels and merry-go-rounds at Comerica Park. It's no longer enough for sports to be about sports. These events have to supply entertainment to all. The Super Bowl has led that transition from sport to entertainment.

I cannot say that the change has been all bad, if the Lions could actually make the Super Bowl I would be eating up all this ancillary nonsense, but I miss the way pro football used to be. I think lots of others, even those who still follow the sport with great passion, miss the old school days in the NFL, too. Thankfully, NFL Films has kept that part of history alive. It's all we have left.

Sorensen May Face Prison Time

Ex-Tigers broadcaster Lary Sorensen appears to be headed to prison. Sorensen, a former big league pitcher and University of Michigan player, was arrested on his sixth DUI charge. Here is The Detroit News story.

More On Maggs

Here are today's stories on Magglio Ordonez. Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and Daily Oakland Press. If today's rumors are true, speculation indicating that Scott Boras is looking for a deal of five years or longer, the Tigers should pass.

There is no way that Detroit should saddle themselves with a 31 year old (by the way, Happy Birthday, Magglio) with a horrible knee for five years or more. It's a deal that's got Dean Palmer or Bobby Higginson written all over it.

There is also a rumor that Ordonez is looking for around $11 million or more a season. One wild piece of speculation has Ordonez' counter proposal at seven years, seventy-seven million dollars. The Tigers should not provide Ordonez with more money, or the same amount, than the White Sox offered him when they thought he was healthy.

Ordonez, for all of his potential upside, is just too big an injury risk. Three years at $11 million a season, heavily incentive based, with several out clauses for the Tigers, plus a club option for a fourth season. That's the max. In fact, I would prefer a two year deal with a club option for a third season. Anything more than that and I can't call it a good signing.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ordonez Counters

The Magglio Ordonez saga continues. Today's news is that Ordonez has told agent Scott Boras to offer Detroit a counter-proposal. It appears that if the Tigers agree to Ordonez' counter, the ex-Chicago outfielder will become a Tiger.

I know some view this would-be signing as a potential disaster, The Daily Oakland Press' Pat Caputo offers these words of caution, but even the most negative observer has to admit that a healthy Ordonez is a major upgrade. The question is whether or not Ordonez is indeed healthy.

We all know I favor this move, but I would really have preferred that Ordonez participated in some kind of workout before the Tigers' management. If the Tigers accept this new proposal from Camp Ordonez, without seeing if the guy can even take the field, we are all going to have to hope it's filled with out clauses. More importantly, we are going to have to hope that Ordonez can give the Tigers several strong, productive seasons.

I think it's safe to say that everyone in Tigertown remains cautiously optimistic, myself included.

Update: has this story on Ordonez' counter proposal. I just can't see the Tigers topping the five year, seventy million dollar deal the White Sox offered last year. Nor do I think they should.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

When Is Help Arriving?

Everyone in Tigertown is debating the addition of Magglio Ordonez. Will he work out? Can he work out? Just how bad is his knee? How much is it going to take for the Tigers to sign him? How long a deal should it be? The questions just keep coming. However, the question I ask is when do we think the Tigers farm system is going to produce productive everyday players?

In signing any free agent, that has to be the question. How long before a Tiger farmhand can fill that spot and produce at an all-star, or close to all-star, level? The Tigers have some starting pitchers that could make themselves viable candidates for the rotation in 2006 or 2007. That's why I was hesitant to see them sign guys like Derek Lowe. The long term answers may already be in the organization.

Conversely, it looks to me like the only Tiger minor outfielder close to The Show is Curtis Granderson. Granderson appears to be a hitter, but does anyone project him to be the hitter Ordonez is capable of being?

Even if he eventually comes close to Ordonez-like productivity, the emphasis is on eventually. It could take several seasons at the Major League level before Granderson reaches his full ability. With Bobby Higginson and Rondell White playing on the last year of their contracts and Dave Dombrowski spending quite a bit of time looking for an upgrade to Alex Sanchez, it appears the Tigers will need a minimum of three outfielders soon. Very soon.

How long will it take for the Tigers' farm system to provide more help than just Granderson? Two years? Three? More? It's an inexact science. A Tiger prospect could get hot, shoot through the system and become a big star in less than a year. It's unlikely, but possible.

It's equally possible that the Tigers are at least three years away from anyone other than Granderson contributing to their outfield. Again, unlikely, but possible.

That's, in part, why I am in favor of inking Ordonez. I suspect help from the farm system is somewhere between one and three years away. By the time the Tigers farm clubs have a number of outfield prospects on the verge of making the big league team, Ordonez' deal will be done.

I also like signing the ex-White Sox star because I believe the Tigers can sign Ordonez without changing the long term direction of the ballclub. They can continue to focus on stocking their farm system with prospects, but also try to be competitive at the same time. By the time a new wave of Tigers are ready to take over the contracts of Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez should be expiring.

If the Tigers' farm system doesn't supply the big league club with a corps of solid Major Leaguers in three seasons, we will have much more to worry about than Ordonez' knees.

Horse Of The Year

Here is part of the reason horse racing continues to stay out of the mainstream. Ghostzapper won the Horse of the Year. Why do I view this as a problem? Well, the distant second place finisher was a horse named Smarty Jones. I have little doubt that none of you have heard of Ghostzapper. I am equally confident that quite of few of you heard about Smarty Jones. There lies the problem.

Horse racing has four big events. The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness Stakes, The Belmont Stakes and the Breeders Cup. Amongst casual fans, those are the folks the NTRA and other in the industry are trying to lure in, there is one race-The Kentucky Derby. There is one other racing event that even merits their attention-The Triple Crown.

Smarty Jones won The Derby. He won The Preakness. Smarty came within a length and a half of winning The Triple Crown. Along the way, Smarty became a national phenomenon. Yet, when the racing industry picked it's Horse of the Year, Smarty got left in the dust. How do you explain that a horse that won only one of racing's big four events, the Breeders Cup, beat the horse that won The Derby, Preakness and finished second in The Belmont?

I can't. Now, if Smarty had only won The Derby and fell into the mix in the remaining two Triple Crown races, I could see giving the Horse of the Year title to Ghostzapper. A strong year capped with a Breeders Cup Classic victory would be Horse of the Year material, if you don't have a horse win multiple Triple Crown races. However, we had just that.

A three year old nearly captured the increasing elusive Triple Crown and, for reasons beyond me, captured the attention of casual sports fans. Two wins and a place in The Triple Crown chase isn't chopped liver. In fact, isn't pursuing The Triple Crown what almost every trainer, jockey, owner and diehard fan dreams about?

Horse racing needs to clarify what events are important. If you can win two-thirds of The Triple Crown and not be Horse of the Year, just how big are The Derby and Preakness? When you name a four year old, even an undefeated one, Horse of the Year over a near Triple Crown winner you've basically diminished the sport's three biggest races.

Does anyone in the industry think that the Tom Fool, Iselin Handicap and the Woodward are on par with the Derby, Preakness and Belmont? How on Earth are you going to explain to casual sports fans that the races they didn't see on television matter just as much as the races they did see?

This isn't just another tirade from some Smarty Jones bandwagon jumpin' fan, either. No, I dispelled any notion of being a Smarty fan back in this August post. As I pointed out then, I don't think Smarty is a great horse. I think the hype over him is ridiculous. I also think that winning the first two legs of The Triple Crown and finishing a close second in the last race does make you Horse of the Year.

Regrettably, the Eclipse Award voters disagreed. In the process, they further diminished the allure of their sport by minimizing the significance of their three biggest events.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Tigers Make Move On Maggs

My pleas have been addressed. The Detroit Tigers have had an initial meeting with free agent Magglio Ordonez. Reports indicate that owner Mike Ilitch, President/G.M. Dave Dombrowski and manager Alan Trammell all met with Ordonez yesterday.

Both regular readers of this blog know that I have campaigned for Ordonez all winter long. The Tigers are in desperate need of outfield help, with Bobby Higginson and Rondell White aging and in the last year of their contracts, and could use a middle-of-the-order type bat. A healthy Ordonez fills both those voids instantly.

Of course, I am very concerned about the health of Ordonez' knees (when was the last time someone went to Austria to have knee surgery?), but what other options for improvement remain? I won't go so far as to say it's Ordonez or bust, as Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press suggested today, but adding only Troy Percival won't significantly improve the Tigers chances in 2005.

With Carlos Delgado now in Florida, Scott Boras will turn all the spurned Delgado suitors towards Ordonez. Clearly, the Tigers will have some competition for Maggs' services, but Ilitch and company should be willing to do something close to the Ivan Rodriguez deal to land Ordonez. I might not offer four years, but I'd definitely pay (or overpay) Ordonez should he produce his pre-injury numbers.

There are risks with signing Ordonez, but my thought has always been that the Tigers can offset some of the risk by agreeing to an incentive driven, relatively short-term contract. Besides, weren't the risks nearly as big with Steve Finley (age) and Troy Glaus (injuries)?

Free agency is a risky business, but the Tigers appear like they are back in the business of fielding a competitive team. Adding Magglio Ordonez would be another step in that direction.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Horton Arraigned

Michigan guard Daniel Horton was arraigned today on a domestic battery charge. Here is the Detroit Free Press story. Coach Tommy Amaker has a press conference scheduled for tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Pudgy Auction

Ivan Rodriguez' road jacket is available via auction at If you've got, at least, $609.60 lying around, you can own Pudge's jacket from 2004. Of course, I still think it's a stinking ugly jacket in gray, but I'm not bidding.

Friday, January 21, 2005

One Labor Problem Resolved

Well, for the rest of this year, anyway. The US Soccer Federation and the players union have reached a settlement. This will allow the players to participate in next month's World Cup qualifier. Playing a group of strike-breakers in a WC qualifier would have been a horrible mess. Thankfully, this issue is settled for now.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Pena Pounded

I'm guessing The Daily Oakland Press' Pat Caputo isn't impressed with Detroit Tigers firstbaseman Carlos Pena. If he is, he's hiding it well. Regardles, Caputo does raise some interesting opinions about Pena and the Tigers off-season.

First Person-Hines Ward

An Q & A session with one of my favorite players, Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rosenberg On Darko

Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg offers this piece on the Motor City's most talked about, highest paid bench player, Darko Milicic.

Turn Out The Lights

In spite of Trevor Linden's attempt to save the hockey season, it doesn't appear a deal will get done in time to save this season. Both sides still cannot overcome ownership's insistence on a salary cap. At this point, I think it's best to just forget this year.

As much as I hate to think the Stanley Cup will not get awarded, it's ridiculous to come to a resolution and force down a thirty-six game (or less) regular season then head straight to the playoffs. I'm sorry, I just can't call a thirty-six game schedule acceptable.

Monday, January 17, 2005

New Adventures In Blogging

A few years back, I ran a website focusing on Big Ten Conference baseball. It met with some critical acclaim, if you consider a few emails of support I received from some national media types as critical acclaim.

As I still love the sport and really miss the old site, I have established a new blog called Big Ten Hardball. I hope you will stop in and check it out.

Weekend Wrap

I haven't done a Weekend Wrap in quite a while, so as I was able to watch everything from luge to golf to football to tennis this weekend, it seems like a good time to review.

Roger Federer has a chance to become one of the stories of 2005. He was dominant in '04, but some think he has a great opportunity to capture tennis' grand slam. (Jon Wertheim of agrees.) All eyes will be on him this year beginning with the Australian Open. Federer rolled through his first match Down Under.

What else can be said about the NFL playoffs? It appears the best four teams have advanced. I love the Pittsburgh Steelers, a childhood favorite of mine, but I cannot and will not pick against New England. I can't. The Pats are two wins short of dynasty talk. Two wins from football immortality.

In the NFC, my head says Philadelphia has to win. They've been here far too often to fail, again. However, I just see Michael Vick running, throwing, kicking, selling hot dogs and keeping the Eagles D busy enough that they forget to watch someone else from Atlanta long enough to lose the stinking game.

Vijay Singh won, again. Shocking, I know. The guy is just in a groove. One of the ESPN broadcasters made mention the runs of guys like Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo and other top players and opined that Singh was now in that type of streak. Who could argue?

In case you had not noticed, and don't feel badly if you haven't, the NHL lockout continues. The league's puck manufacturer has been forced to lay people off and the NHLPA is suggesting it's players look for other work. Anyone else remembering the air traffic controllers strike of the 80's? I think it may be time for the rank and file to consider a new strategy-firing it's union leaders or becoming strike breakers. Unless, they like playing overseas, of course.

Where is the outcry? A sixteen year old was the first draft pick in the MLS draft. No screaming about missing college? No worries about too much, too soon? No, it's American soccer. No one really cares about those kids.

I know the Phoenix Suns have hit the skids since Steve Nash's injury, but even with the Suns rolling, it's time to notice Seattle. The Sonics dispatched LeBron James and Cleveland last night. While Nash deserves MVP consideration, so, too, does Seattle's Ray Allen. Allen has been the focus of the SuperSonics attack and has been doing it all, as their record indicates.

My Euro Football News

I see, courtesy of, that Fox Sports World is about to become Fox Soccer Channel. I have to think this is good news for fans of international football here in the U.S.

As an aside, I noticed this week my sneaky cable provider added Fox Sports World to it's digital television package. Comcast seems unable to inform it's subscribers about their new products/channels. This is the latest example.

Back to news from the pitch. My semi-adopted English Premier League squad, Everton, unloaded Thomas Gravesen to Real Madrid. As the Toffees continue their remarkable season, fourth in the Premiership currently, it's seems like a horribly bad sign for Everton to move one of it's best players.

Yes, Gravesen may have wanted out. Yes, the club is probably not clear of it's financial woes. Yet, this is why they remain semi-adopted on my part. I'm already rooting for a top ten market franchise pawning itself off as a cellar-dwellar (the Detroit Tigers) and an American football squad keeping it's champion-less streak of almost fifty years alive (Detroit Lions), I don't think I can handle one more team struggling to perform at a high level for an extended period.

Of course, Everton is on the bubble of qualifying for Champions League play. Which, should it happen, would border on a miracle. If they can finish as well as they have started, or close to that, I am probably on board for the long haul. They do kind of wear Honolulu Blue, after all.

Players Union At Fault?'s Buster Olney suggests Gene Orza and Donald Fehr may have ignored the player's desire for tougher drug testing years ago.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

MLB's New Drug Policy

Major League Baseball and it's Players Association have a new drug policy. Some have called it too little. Some have called it too late. Some have called it a first step. In the end, what it really amounts to is window dressing. It's all just an attempt at public relations. In fact, that's what almost all such drug policies are. Just an attempt to keep the appearance of tradition and fair play alive.

Honestly, does anyone believe that any league's drug testing policy is effective? If you do, I have two words for you. Marion. Jones. Does any sports organization have a more complete drug testing policy than the IOC? Does anyone hand out stiffer penalties for violating said policy? The answer to both questions is no.

Yet, in spite of years of testing, the IOC couldn't pin a single thing on Jones. The organization that stands at the forefront of illegal doping issues in sport can't catch it's best cheaters. Why? Because the tests aren't as advanced as the drugs are.

If Jones, who competed in countless international events, got away with using a designer steroid for years, why would you think MLB is suddenly going to catch it's abusers?

Forget Jones, whose drug use may still be called "rumored", let's focus on those athletes getting caught for a second. Were any of them deter by the possibility of a lifetime suspension? Apparently, not. So much for the "stiff penalties will stop them" theory.

Do we think that one NFL player (the league with the most over-hyped drug policy) or a single baseball player, both of whom stand to make far more money than an Olympic athlete, would be tempted to bypass the use of performance enhancing drugs because they might get caught? What if they don't?

In the NFL or MLB, where income potential far exceeds anything 99% of Olympic athletes could dream of making, to what ends would an athlete go to cover up their violation? If a MLB player making eight million dollars season wanted to buy a masking agent, couldn't he afford the stuff on the cutting edge?

I give MLB and the MLBPA credit for trying to put out a P.R. fire. The average fan demanded a stricter policy and the parties came to an agreement. (If only all of their problems were solved as quickly.) However, I'm not going to be naive. A percentage of athletes in every sport are using banned performance enhancing drugs. If they are not worried about long term side effects, the athletes will not be scared off by a possible suspensions.

I applaud all involved for trying to right a wrong. MLB's revamped drug policy is a positive move. The fans just need to remember that even if the tests come back clean, the possibility of steroid use isn't gone.

Extra Coverage: Check out David Pinto's piece on the dilemma over false positive readings.

Montoya's Season Reviewed

Inside College Hockey reviews Michigan goalkeeper Al Montoya's season thus far. Warning to the Blue faithful: the article isn't going to make you happy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

TWIB Notes

Unfortunately, I found myself home sick today. It's an ongoing problem that seems to be getting worse, so I headed over to the doctor's office. While on the phone scheduling my appointment, I noticed that ESPN Classic was broadcasting an old edition of This Week In Baseball.

I think today's first edition, there were two episodes back-to-back, was from 1979. It was classic in every sense of the word. That unforgettable theme song. Mel Allen. The retro uniforms that weren't actually retro at all. Tons of Astro turf and multi-purpose stadiums to go around. It was as close to pure television bliss as one could find.

Of course, I grew up with TWIB. It was Must See TV, long before an ad exec every came up with the slogan. First, you watched TWIB, then the NBC Game of the Week, then played baseball until the sun went down. On many Saturday afternoons, the Game of the Week wasn't watched for very long. Or at all. It was TWIB, then out to the school yard for a full day of baseball.

As I watched this episode, I could recall so much of my childhood fascination with the game. Parker, Winfield, Lynn, Rice, Rose, Yaz, Ryan, Reggie, Seaver. The new teams in Toronto and Seattle. Comiskey. Fenway. Tiger Stadium. The Big A in Anaheim. The Yankees versus the Red Sox. TWIB was more than the premier highlight show, it was our link to the game nationwide and a weekly history lesson in the game.

The show brought back to me the sights, sounds, emotions and, yes, even the smells of an era long gone. I had thoughts of our games in a school yard. Clear summer days, diving catches and no one allowed to hit to rightfield.

I remembered that first trip to Cooperstown. I remembered our old dog who, on occasion, would wander over to our makeshift ballfield when he escaped our backyard. I remembered the three games a day: The one before lunch. The one between lunch and dinner. The one we played until we couldn't see the ball in the dark. Then beginning the process anew the next day.

Clearly, Allen's voice resonated with me far past the confines of my living room. I did, however, begin to feel sorry for the youngsters of today. Not only do they not get to enjoy This Week In Baseball the way my generation did, they'll never enjoy baseball as I know it. As the generations before me knew it.

Baseball was the game. We knew all the players. There were scheduled doubleheaders. NBC was the only national baseball network. On a clear night, you were excited to find a game on the radio from a town far away. We played it wherever there was open space. We played it without umps or parents. Our gloves were part of our wardrobe and we treasured a good bat. We played and watched baseball because we loved it.

I know there are some young people today who still love baseball. In fact, I have been pleasantly surprised by those twenty-somethings that love the game. Apparently, the contracts that look more like Powerball lottery winnings, labor strife and police reports have alienated as many kids as some pundits have led everyone to believe. Yet, I cannot help but feel they, and those that follow behind them, have missed out on a unique era. That's because they did.

For an hour this morning, I got to relive that era. I only wish I could share that feeling with everyone.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Mythical Champions

While Auburn fans still want a piece of the mythical national championship USC claimed last week, another make believe football title was recently captured. For the first time I can ever recall, my fantasy football league team won the league championship. Yes, the Honolulu Blues (I wonder where I got that name from?) finally won a championship.

While my streak of near-misses and lousy seasons doesn't quite match the Boston Red Sox recent snapped string, it does pre-date things like internet stat services. Sure, I've finished first in the regular season on an occasion or two, but never won a championship.

In typical Detroit Lions fashion, the Blues finished the regular season at a less than amazing 7-7, but unlike the home team, went on to win a title.

The Blues were powered by a potent backfield featuring Shaun Alexander, Tiki Barber and Kevin Jones. Chris Brown, early, and Larry Johnson, late, also provided punch from the RB slot.

Dante Culpepper was my primary quarterback, but Brett Favre also got his share of points in a league that allowed for two active QBs each week. Byron Leftwich was my clipboard holder.

My receivers were Randy "Drop Your Drawers" Moss, Hines Ward and Andre Johnson. They got help from rookies Roy Williams and Larry Fitzgerald, plus Kerry Colbert. Marcus Pollard and Randy McMichael were my TEs.

David Akers handled my kicking chores and the Detroit Lions' defense helped out. I think they did, anyway. My thanks to all for leading the Honolulu Blues to my first ever fantasy football title, not that a single one of you cares.

Is The Honeymoon Over Already?

I guess Randy Johnson's first day in the Big Apple went well. He took a physical, pushed a cameraman, went on Letterman. Sounds like the Big Unit may be in for big trouble if just one cameraman in January can draw his ire. What on Earth does he think is going happen come June or July?

I Can't Be Right, Can I?

It appears that the Detroit Tigers are, at very least, curious about signing Magglio Ordonez. Even some other Tiger sites have joined my plea to land the ex-White Sox outfielder. To which I say "Welcome to the party, fellas". As I have said here probably far too many times, an incentive based deal to Ordonez is exactly what the Tigers should pursue. However, before I pat myself on the back, let me clear up a few things.

First, it sounds like Ordonez' knee is pudding. That's not promising. The extent to which Ordonez' is able to play is questionable. Second, let's not fool ourselves. Ordonez would prefer to play elsewhere. I think Ordonez would like to play for the Cubs, first. Texas may even be second. Detroit is only on the radar because they have both interest and cash. Third, and finally, let's remember who Ordonez' agent is: Scott Boras. Boras is a master of "creating" interest in his clients, even the ones barely able to walk.

None of these obstacles is overwhelming, though. If Ordonez can only hit, which may be all his knee allows him to do, he could still DH in the American League. Last I checked, the Cubs were still in the National League. Having one more option to collect incentive money does help the Tigers' chances.

As for the Cubs interest, they were not willing to chase Carlos Beltran this year or Ivan Rodriguez last season. Have they found a closer, yet? The Cubs may be close to the end of their financial rope. They are certainly making it appear that way. Regardless, other teams, including the Cubbies, will make Camp Ordonez an offer. However, I'm not sure I can see his agent walking away from the highest bidder.

As for Mr. Boras, he did get Pudge Rodriguez the money he was looking for, so I'll remain optimistic that the same thing can be done to bring Maggs' bat to Comerica Park in 2005. The Tigers just need to make the contract big enough to get Ordonez' attention, but tie the money to production. (Just as an example, I would offer Ordonez up to $11 million a season, assuming he hit all of his goals-at bats, hits, homers, runs batted in, etc....)

If Ordonez' knee is able to carry him successfully through the majority of 2005, he would be a spectacular addition to the Tigers' lineup. While it took the Tigers a while to publicly inquire about Ordonez, I'm glad to see them finally make the effort.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Teeing It Up

Today, I was forced to plow though about six inches of ice covered snow. That must mean it's golf season! The 2005 PGA Tour gets underway in primetime beginning tonight with the Mercedes Championship. For a preview, click here.

The older I get, the more I dislike winter and snowfall. However, being a sports junkie I must admit that I love watching golf this time of the year. It's comforting to know it's sunny and warm somewhere.

Lions Diary

Another season in Detroit Lions history is complete. I am not even going to dwell on it. Well, I am not going to dwell on it right now. No, I will save that for another day. Right now, I am going to make two predictions for the 2005 Lions.

The Detroit Lions will make the playoffs in '05. They will also (please sit down immediately) win a playoff game. Yes, you read that correctly. I am predicting the second playoff victory in Lions history since 1957 next season.

You could argue that my prediction is just me being a homer. In part, you are probably right. I do, however, believe they will make the playoffs for more solid reasons than that. Three reasons should be self-evident.

Reasons one and two are the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. I'm not overly impressed by either. Both certainly have talent, especially on offense. That just doesn't bother me all that much.

Am I impressed by Dante Culpepper? Of course. Is Bret Favre a certain Hall of Fame choice? Yes. Do I think the Vikes are much better than the Lions? No. Are the Packers light years ahead of the Honolulu Blue and Silver? No way. Realizing that neither the Vikes or Pack are super-powers helps the Lions chances in 2005.

Which leads me to the third obvious reason I think the Lions will get into the post-season next year. The whole NFC is down. Only Philadelphia has played consistently above average football. If the Lions can have a solid, not spectacular, just solid, off-season, they should be as good as just about anyone in the conference.

There are some other reasons I predict a post-season appearance. Like the number tenth overall pick in the 2005 draft. A guy who should start and improve a position somewhere on the field. A safety would be nice, but I'll take an upgrade anywhere.

There are the kids. Roy Williams. Kevin Jones. Teddy Lehman. Boss Bailey. Charles Rogers. The Lions have a nice nucleus of young talent. (I'll also predict that Rogers plays in 10 games minimum next year.)

Steve Mariucci appears to finally understand that Joey Harrington is better suited throwing the ball down field, not laterally. If the Lions' head coach allows Harrington to wing it like he did at Oregon, the Lions' signal caller should make more noticeable improvement in 2005. (Note that a change in strategy late in the season, allowing Harrington to throw downfield, led Champagne Joey to toss for over three hundred yards in two of his last three games.)

I expect all of this to lead up to the Leos making the playoffs and actually winning a game next year. If this young and seemingly improving team cannot make the playoffs in a pitiful NFC in 2005, things will not be pretty in the Motor City for Mariucci.

Tigers Make Minor Moves

The Detroit Tigers have made two additions in recent days. First, utility infielder Ramon Martinez signed. That was followed a trade for veteran backstop Vance Wilson. On the surface, these are pretty mundane moves. No one is going to get overly excited about adding a utility guy and back-up catcher. However, I wonder if these additions are leading towards something else?

The Tigers are saying that Wilson's addition, in particular, is evidence that Brandon Inge will be their starting thirdbaseman. In theory, that's sounds about right. Wilson frees up Inge from his back-up duties behind Ivan Rodriguez. With Alex Sanchez re-signed, everyday centerfielder would also be an unlikely position for the versatile Inge. That leaves Inge starting at third, right? Perhaps.

It also seems plausible that the additions of a utility infielder and back-up catcher make Inge a more likely trade possibility. With Wilson behind Pudge and Martinez backing-up all the infielders, Inge's loss would be less painful. In theory, Inge and a pitcher could be dealt in an attempt to find an everyday thirdbaseman. Or a corner outfielder. Or a centerfielder.

Contrary to what the Tigers' front office is saying about Inge's new found status, I'm not convinced they are satisfied with Inge as their everyday man at the hot corner. They spent the off-season talking to Adrian Beltre and Corey Koskie. When Jeff Kent stopped by to chat with Dave Dombrowski many thought a Kent signing would push promising Omar Infante to third.

These are not signs that the Tigers are confident about Inge at third. I think everyone knows he can field the position. He could easily be one of the best in the league if left to play there everyday. However, with only one good offensive season on his record, after a number of sub-par seasons with the lumber, the Tigers have a good reason to be looking for an upgrade.

These may end up just your typical nondescript winter moves. Or they may open the door to a trade.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Random Thoughts From Bowl Day

I know many still long for a college football playoff system, but I still enjoy the one day bowl bonanza that is January 1. If I had my way, all the big BCS games would be on the first of the year. Forget this January 3rd, January 4th silliness. Give me the Orange Bowl where it should be. Right after the Rose Bowl on January 1.

Regardless, here are some of my unconnected thoughts on college football's biggest day.

I wish the Cotton Bowl was part of the BCS. Really, I just wish it was still a big, big bowl game. No offense to the nice folks in Arizona, but the Cotton Bowl will always be bigger than the Fiesta Bowl to me.

It's not good for college football to have Notre Dame and Alabama be mediocre or worse. Same thing applies to Penn State. Almost every traditional power has taken a hit at some point, but it's time for the Irish, Tide and Nittany Lions to re-join the party.

I really like quarterback Drew Tate of Iowa. I was impressed with him nearly every time I saw him play. That last second touchdown pass to beat LSU didn't surprise me a bit. Okay, it surprised me some, but not much.

A great Rose Bowl. A classic. So much for needing a Pac-10 opponent. Texas proved they belonged in the BCS.

Conversely, what in the world happened to California? Texas Tech just smashed the Bears. Did Cal just get too darn depressed over not being in the Rose Bowl? Their performance won't help them with voters next year.

With Texas beating Michigan and the Red Raiders dropping the Bears, who still thinks the Big XII was weak? (Yeah, I know. Lots of you.)

That Louisville-Boise State match-up turned out to be a great game, although not on January 1. The Cardinals may actually be building a nice, believable program. Their next task, the Big East.

Speaking of believable (okay, so some of the thoughts are connected), Utah looked good again. Pittsburgh ain't Auburn, I'll spot you that. However, the Utes came, saw and beat everyone thrown at them. What more can you ask for?

Vincent Young looked like mini-Michael Vick, didn't he? I hated to say it, but we all thought it. I'm not sure Young is going to be that good all the time, as Michigan just couldn't handle the running QB all year, but with him at the helm Texas is going to be tough again in '05.

Two bowl games remain. I really think the Orange Bowl could be a great game. Lets hope all the players can play up to their potential come Tuesday night. If they come close, it could be every bit as good as the Rose Bowl. Probably better. (For the record, I'm hoping for an Oklahoma win. I'm not expecting it, but I am hopeful.)

Adrian Peterson. Reggie Bush. Ted Ginn. Steve Breaston. Drew Tate. Vincent Young. Anyone else ready for next season, yet?