Monday, May 30, 2005


All we need to know about last night's Pistons-Heat Eastern Conference Final game was revealed in Miami's point total-113. The Pistons odds of success do not improve as an opponent, any opponent, tops the one hundred point mark against them. Dwayne Wade or Shaquille O'Neal can go off for fifty, but if the Heat only score around 85 total, the Pistons chances at being winners increases.

The Pistons are at their best when they are playing championship level defense. Last night, they didn't come close to that. Again, one look at that 113 points tells the whole story.

If you are a Pistons fan, you should be worried. The Heat have won two out of three games without Shaq at his best. Wade also had one terrible game. Yet, the Heat have the lead and homecourt advantage.

I'm thoroughly perplexed. I guess I just have never seen this Miami team as much more than the Big Guy and D-Wade. Maybe I am wrong for the billionth time. Maybe I am right and the Pistons aren't playing at a championship level. I just can't figure out where the Heat are getting points from.

Oh, I see their players scoring, but I'm baffled as to how the Pistons D cannot stop such non-descript players from contributing. They can shut down Kobe Bryant, but not Rasaul Butler? It makes no sense. Yet, it's happening.

It's nitpicking, but maybe some of the Pistons perceived weaknesses are being revealed? The lack of a true point guard. The lack of depth. The lack of a true superstar. The latter may be the one thing I think is hurting the Pistons the most right now.

Even at their best, the Pistons can go into prolonged offensive funks. A superstar doesn't allow that to happen. If the team hits a bump in the road offensively, the star steps up and carries the load. Sometimes that can be for a quarter (remember Isiah Thomas vs. the Lakers?). Sometimes it's for an entire game (refer to Wade's Game Two performance). Sometimes it's for a series (see Jordan, Michael). Stars carry clubs when they go astray.

The Pistons lack that one player. However, they have always managed to make up for that singular presence by playing tough team defense and hitting big shots. However, in two of the last three contests, the defense and big shots never arrived. It's time for those things to re-emerge or the Pistons will be heading back to South Florida well in the hole.

Two More Days

Have you been checking out the prices for All-Star Game Tickets? Well, I have. It ain't pretty. I expected to pay a premium, but over $1,000 per ticket? Sorry, but as much as I want to go, that isn't going to happen.

In light of this, I did put my name into Major League Baseball's raffle for tickets. No, the odds of winning such a lottery are not good. However, I am rather optimistic about winning. I have no specific reason for such naive thinking, I just feel like I've got a good chance.

MLB's raffle offers the "winners" an opportunity to purchase a strip of tickets. Each strip contains a ticket to the Fan Fest, All-Star Sunday (featuring the prospects game and the celebrity softball contest), Workout Day featuring the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game itself.

There were only two ticket prices. One around $280, the other closer to $390. I'm sure the $280 version are the Uecker seats. And in Comerica Park, the Uecker seats may actually be closer to Uecker's Milwaukee than Detroit. The nearly four hundred dollar package is much closer, I'm sure. They may even be in Wayne County.

However, as my options appeared to be (not) paying $1,000 to see just the All-Star Game or (possibly) paying four hundred or less to get to go all the events, it wasn't that difficult a decision to sign-up for the raffle.

Now, if you are still reading this, you are probably wondering what about this "Two More Days" stuff? The lottery winners will be contacted Wednesday. If I win (and why wouldn't I?), I will know in two more days. Then, I have until Friday to purchase whichever ticket MLB has chosen for me.

What if the unexpected happens and I fail to win? I'll start searching for Plan B in two more days.

Michigan Gets In

The University of Michigan's baseball team received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament today. The Wolverines had a forty win season, 41-17 to be exact, including victories over then top ten programs North Carolina and Georgia. That's usually more than good enough for any school to make the field of sixty-four.

However, Michigan's conference record was only 17-12. A fourth place regular season Big Ten finish combined with a rather early ouster from the conference tournament left coach Rich Maloney's team at the whim of the selection committee.

The strength of their non-conference record plus their late season surge probably got Michigan in. Of course, the conference leading forty-one wins didn't hurt, either. Illinois, the regular season Big Ten champs, got the slight from the selection committee, instead. Ohio State earned an automatic berth by capturing the conference tournament in Champaign.

Now, it's off to Atlanta, where the Wolverines will be in a regional with host Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Furman. The Gamecocks are Michigan's first opponent. If the Wolverines can play like they did very early in the season (when the victories over UNC and UGA occurred) or late in regular season play (where Michigan jumped from last to fourth), Michigan can win this regional.

Don't misinterpret that statement, though. Michigan is not the favorite by any means. Nor should they be. The Wolverines, however, are a very good team. They have a talented pitching staff and more than enough offense to compete. In many ways, this season has been a disappointment in my mind for Michigan.

They didn't fair well in conference play. They got bounced from the Big Ten tournament far too soon, as well. The NCAA tournament is their third chance to live up to the pre-season expectations. We will see if three is indeed a charm.

Friday, May 27, 2005

My Foul Ball Story

Note: I tell this story periodically, but I don't believe I have shared it here. If I have, I apologize for being redundant. I'm getting old, so I expect that to happen more often as the years pass by.

Like nearly every baseball fan, I had always wanted to catch a foul ball. Who am I kidding? Catching one would have been great, but just tracking down one after rolling to a complete stop would have been sufficient. I had a few baseball head in my general vicinity over the years, but not one so close that I lamented a misplay on my part. However, one day my little dream came true.

Now, my foul ball story is a bit different than everyone else's. I did not make a tremendous catch. The ball I snagged had no historical significance. Not only did my retrieval not get any television coverage, it didn't even happen inside the park.

The Tigers were playing the Chicago White Sox as I recall. (Yeah, I know. When are they not playing someone in the A.L. Central?) I believe it was a Saturday afternoon. At the time, my friend, Kim, and I had the twenty game season ticket package.

On that day, Kim had to attend a wedding, so we got up and headed for the gate around the fifth or sixth inning. We left via the famous Michigan and Trumbull exit and headed west. We were discussing nothing in particular as we drew near the street named after Tiger legend Mickey Cochrane.

We were pondering when to cross Michigan Avenue when-BAM!- something drops from the sky right in front of us. The object hit the sidewalk and headed towards the heavens. This is where my instincts kicked in. See the ball, catch the ball. I looked into the sunny afternoon sky to find a baseball veering to my left. Without hesitation, I pursued the baseball.

Now, for those of you without a sense of the area, for me to starting heading to my left while walking west bound on Michigan Avenue meant I was heading onto one of the busiest streets in Detroit. This was never more true than on a Tigers game day. The visiting team always entered/exited Tiger Stadium on the Michigan Avenue side of the park. Buses, cabs, limos, city officials all zipped in and out of the parking areas near the curb. However, that never even entered my mind.

After a lifetime of chasing baseballs, I never gave a second of thought to potential danger. I did as I had always done. I went after the ball. Pavlov would have been proud. (My family not so much. They seem to worry about adults who chase baseballs into busy streets in major cities.)

Anyway, I tracked the ball and as gravity took charge, it descended right into my hands. I stood about a car length from the sidewalk. Kim was still checking for traffic on Michigan Avenue before venturing out. I was checking out my souvenir.

A Detroit police officer stood at the Cochrane/Michigan exit had told me two things. First, he had that shift for years and never came close to a ball. Second, he told me that the ball was courtesy of Cecil Fielder fouling one back out of play.

My play didn't get on SportsCenter. Ernie Harwell didn't reveal my hometown to those listening on radio. Of course, I didn't get run-over by a Detroit cabbie or the White Sox team bus, either. My loved ones are most happy about the latter of those things. Me, too.

I had never caught a Major League baseball before and have not since. While crossing off one of those little things on every baseball fan's checklist didn't occur as most would have dreamed of, I treasure the baseball just the same. I treasure the story just as much.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

MLB Power Rankings

Dayn Perry at Fox offers his MLB power rankings and Dan George at does the same.

You Know It's A Big Game When.....

Liverpool beat AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League final today. This draws a collective yawn from 99% of the nation's sports fans, but it turned out to be such a classic match that ESPN actually skipped a broadcast of the World Series of Poker to re-broadcast the contest. Now, you know it had to be big-time to bump poker.

As I appear headed to become an Everton fan, thus not liking Liverpool, I'm appropriately aghast at Liverpool's triumph. I also tip my cap to the lads as Milan had them down 3-0. Liverpool tied the match in the second half and won on penalty kicks.

I'm not sure which is more surprising: That Liverpool prevailed or ESPN canned poker for the night?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A Little Preakness

Afleet Alex's spectacular triumph at The Preakness yesterday has led me to a simple conclusion. The Kentucky Derby just has too many darn horses in the field. If Afleet Alex had gotten a better trip at Churchill Downs, which translated means there were too many horses in too little an area, we might be looking at a Triple Crown winner.

The problem arises as every owner with enough cash and a horse with enough eligibility points is going to write a check to live out his/her dream to run for the roses. Never mind if their three year old has zero shot at winning. To run in the Derby allows every one that second of hope. In fact, Giacomo' stunning win will only further encourage every owner with a decent horse and a big enough checking account to participate.

The nice folks at Churchill Downs are in the racing business. It's not their job to turn down easy money. Nor is it their job to deny horse owners their shot at history. So, we get fields that are far too large, thus creating a situation far more like a rugby scrum than a horse race.

Now critics of this overly simple idea would argue that we've had a number of horses win the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Derby and Preakness. It's the Belmont that's the deal breaker. True, but I wonder just as much about how many good, but unlucky horses, get caught up in what has become part horse race, part shoving match the first Saturday each May and never rebound, as I do about the those that have won the first two races.

You could also argue that greatness overcomes those crowded fields. Horses like Silver Charm were dominant horses, just not Triple Crown winners. I cannot argue that point. I also cannot disagree with that theory because I believe horse racing will get a legitimate Triple Crown winner when a great horse does emerge.

However, when most in the sport complain about the length of The Belmont as being the hindrance to finding a great horse, I wish someone would realize that the first race in the Triple Crown counts as much as the last.

No More Walton, Please

Add me to the list of people annoyed by Bill Walton. After listening to the former UCLA star in back-to-back nights, I was beginning to wonder if Walton watched the NBA regularly? It started with his "analysis" at the halftime of Game Six of the Pistons-Pacers series. Walton would have had you believe the Pistons were playing the worst basketball in the history of the league and the Pacers were only matched by Red Auerbach's Celtics.

Walton went on and on and on about just how putrid the defending champs were playing. You might start to take the Hall of Famer seriously, unless, of course, you happened to know what the score was. The Pacers were crushing the Pistons, 46-39. Maybe I am just too pro-Pistons, but since when is a seven point defecit on the road, against a rival, a team that must win to stay alive, while you are playing lousy ball such a horrible situation? Honestly, I thought the Pistons were in great shape at the half.

Now, I really just passed off Walton's in-studio analysis to over-reaction on both our parts. Bill grossly over-hyped the matter and, I presumed, I just was wearing my Pistons cap too tightly and jumped on his perspective too quickly. That was until the next night.

Walton, Mike Tirico and Steve Jones moved from the studio to announcing Game Six of the Suns-Mavericks. Walton picked up right where he left off the night before. Walton had the Suns dead and buried before halftime. Jason Terry and Josh Howard were just too much for the Suns. The Suns looked tired. They played no defense. They didn't make good decisions. Their bench wasn't helping. Nash was off his game. Blah, blah, blah.

I assumed Walton just didn't understand the Suns. They are not a deep team. They don't play D. Well, the certainly don't play much. They attempt to outscore you. Along the way, they make bad decisions. They also hoist a few shots that make you cringe. They can also drop forty points (and sometimes more) in a quarter. That's the nature of up-tempo hoops. Bill didn't know that?

I admit to rooting for Phoenix. I also admit that Dallas was playing wonderfully. However, just as an in-game sound bite from coach Mike D'Antoni indicated, the Suns figured the Mavs couldn't keep up their level of play. Walton did grab hold of that concept, but that's the problem with Walton's analysis. He grabs hold of everything.

Whatever the moment provides, Walton presumes will extend to the entire contest. Pacers go on a 12-0 spurt, it's the Pacers night. Jason Terry hits back-to-back threes and the Suns look tired tonight. However, when the Pistons come from behind to win in Indy, they played like champions. And when Nash zips past Terry to drain a game tying three, Nash appears to be on his game and the Suns are posting one of the greatest comebacks Walton has ever seen.

Even partner Steve Jones laughed about Walton's flip-flop analysis. It was particularly funny when Walton compared the Suns' Nash to Lance Armstrong early in the game. Walton said Nash may be the world's second best trained athlete behind the Tour de France champ. Then, as Nash missed a few shots later on, Walton suggested the league's MVP looked "tired". Jones quickly wondered aloud what happened to the world's second best conditioned athlete?

As the game progressed, and Nash's shots started to fall, Walton praised Nash's endurance, again. Jones jumped on that too, wondering if Nash was the Armstrong-like figure of early in the game or the tired player Walton suggested Nash had become a bit later?

This "what have you done for me lately" analysis makes Walton seem like he knows less about basketball than I do. Which simply cannot be correct. How can someone who played for John Wooden, won two NBA crowns and a league MVP award say such short-sighted things? You begin to think Bill might not watch any of his NBA League Pass package that he does commercials for.

Of course, by perpetually praising whomever is leading, Walton does cover himself in the end. But along the way, he sure sounds ridiculous.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Below .500

What is it about playing .500 baseball that the Detroit Tigers just cannot seem to get a handle on? With this afternoon's loss to Tampa Bay, the Motown Kitties have fallen below the break even mark once again. This .500 mark has been a bugaboo since the Justin Thompson/Bobby Higginson/Tony Clark days. No matter what collection of players wear the Old English D, none of them have been able to sustain a level at or, dare I wish, above .500.

I realize the largest part of the problem is that our local team just hasn't had enough talent to maintain a mark better than .500. Which leads me to an even more troublesome question. Is this current group of Tigers closer to being a playoff contender or, I hate to say it, closer to rebuilding?

Why would I pose such an impolite inquiry? Because, well, because I am beginning to wonder. This group of Detroit baseball players isn't exactly a youth movement. Pudge Rodriguez, Rondell White, Ugueth Urbina, Troy Percival, Jason Johnson, Ramon Martinez, Vance Wilson, Doug Creek, Jamie Walker, Bobby Higginson, Dmitri Young and Magglio Ordonez are all over thirty. Carlos Guillen will be thirty in August.

Kyle Farsnworth is twenty-nine. Brandon Inge, Marcus Thames, Mike Maroth, Jason Smith, Nate Robertson, Chris Spurling, Matt Ginter and Craig Monroe are all twenty-eight. Carlos Pena is twenty-seven.

That means on the twenty-five man active roster, twenty-one Tigers are 27 years old or older. That doesn't include the three Tigers on the DL (Higgy, Maggs and Percival) that I've listed above. That's not a young team.

Sure, Jeremy Bonderman is young and appears headed in the right direction. It's too soon to guess on Nook Logan's career path and Omar Infante is just too inconsistent thus far to get a handle on. Both could join Bonderman as potential Tigers All-Stars of the future, but that's being really optimistic. It's certainly not a core to build upon. At least, not yet.

Now, the Tigers are going to lose a number of older players this off-season. At minimum, Urbina, White, Higginson, Johnson and Fernando Vina's contract will all be let go in October. That opens up some roster spots for some of the Tigers farmhands. Great. The '06 squad will be younger. However, does adding three or four rookies to the roster bring the Tigers closer to the top of the division or will it be a step back?

What if Mike Ilitch pursues another big name free agent or two? If, as I suspect they will, the Tigers do add some more high priced talent in the winter of 2005-06, then more of the kids stay on the farm and the Tigers will continue to go to battle with a slightly older roster. Can adding a new group of veterans next season propel the Tigers above .500? If so, will it be enough to contend? If not, why not go with the kids?

As you can probably tell by this rambling, I'm dazed and confused by the Tigers current situation. I'm just baffled trying to figure out where they are and where they are going. Playing below .500 for a prolonged time apparently is confusing for certain members of the fanbase.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

It's Coming

Here is a little something for you football fans out there. This one for the MSU and Michigan supporters, this one for the Lions fans. Those of you who support other college or professionals squads, I am confident you will be able to navigate your way around those links to find something that suits your taste.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Monday Night Moanin'

In a little tribute to former Detroit Free Press columnist Bob Talbert, I've entitled this vast array of unconnected observations after his famous "Out Of My Monday-Moanin' Mind'" columns. It also has kind of a sports ring to it with the slightly more obvious connection to Monday Night Football (and Baseball).

Not all of it will be moanin'. Most of it will be sports related, but I'll warn you that I may toss in a few non-sports topics, too. After a tip of the cap to Mr. Talbert, we're off.

Why do I get the feeling watching the U.S. Open this year will be like watching tennis on Boise State's football field? Seems the USTA thinks we cannot follow the ball very well, so they've opted to paint the courts blue. Yes, blue. This will help the ball stand out for fans and players alike. I'm having a Fox glow puck flashback.

I'm not sure why exactly, but I'm siding with Manchester United fans on this one. I just have bad vibes about Malcolm Glazer's takeover of the Premier League club.

Can anyone tell me why red peppers (and yellow and orange, for that matter) are $4.99/lb? It seems even more odd when compared to green peppers that are less than half that cost. I'm sure the answer is simple, but there does not appear to be a short supply of peppers in any color.

The review of Mitch Albom's work at the Free Press is complete. The summary of their review is equal parts explanation and Albom love fest. I'm not sure why they spent so much time discussing Albom's history at the paper and his far-reaching endeavors today?

Albom's is one of paper's drawing cards, I know that. Albom is a busy guy. I knew that, too. Albom is a talented fellow. I kind of picked up on that. However, how does any of this fit into the context of the investigation?

The final analysis of the situation comes across as Albom is a busy, productive, respected, although widely disliked by his colleagues, member of the media. If he makes a tiny error, one many at the Freep and other publications have done, we need to be understanding as long as the story is right.

Hey, I've got no problem with that theory. I just hope the Free Press hierarchy understands that their journalism can now be perceived as stories "based" on actual events. Kind of like made-for-tv-movies.

One of my co-workers has been worried about the possible Eastern Conference Final match-up between the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat since the regular season began. My friend at the office has been lauding the Heat all season. I, conversely, dismissed the Heat all season long. If the Pistons could beat the Lakers with Shaq O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, the certainly can beat Shaq and Dwayne Wade, right?

Well, for the first time all season, I'm concerned about a Pistons-Heat meeting. If the Heat can pound on Washington without the Big Fella, that's not a good sign for Detroit basketball fans. Yeah, Indiana is better than the Wizards, but I'm starting to believe in the Heat' bench. That's not something I could say even a week ago.

Of course, the Pistons still need to find a way to dispose of the Pacers. Tell me Rick Carlisle isn't a good coach.

I knew this was a bad idea (scroll way down) right from the moment I read it. Too bad Marquette's administration doesn't have a grasp of the obvious.

Are there even two roads in the Metro Detroit area not under construction at some juncture?

Have you ever seen those construction warning signs suggesting you choose an alternate route as delays are possible on the path you have chosen? Well, I wonder how congestion free the alternate routes are going to be if everyone opts to take them instead? Wouldn't you advise us to avoid the alternates as delays are possible there, too?

In what may be the worst baseball uniforms at any level, the University ofMiami has trotted out orange tops with gray pants. I think the pants are pinstriped green, too. I can't find a great photo, but you get a small taste here. They are even worse on television. Terrible.

Bud tosses Donald under the bus, part II.

Tonight's "I Know You Don't Care" post: Ricky Ray re-joins the Edmonton Eskimos. Yes, I am happy about this. Yes, I am a geek. I thought having a blog implied that?

Yesterday, the sun came up. And Annika Sorenstam won.

That's all for tonight. Hopefully, I didn't embarass myself or the late Mr. Talbert too much. Thanks for stopping in.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Tigers Lose Game, Pudge & Young

Wonderful. The Tigers get hammered by the Angels, 9-3 and watch both Ivan Rodriguez and Dmitri Young leave the game with injuries. Pudge got hit on the toe by a foul-tip, while D.Y. hurt a knee running to firstbase. With Troy Percival and Magglio Ordonez already on the shelf, Carlos Guillen still needing an occasional day off to rest his ailing knee, the last thing the Tigers need is to lose Pudge and Dmitri for anything more than twenty-four hours.

It's the middle of May and I'm starting to get the feeling this edition of the Tigers isn't really much better than last year's model. I do think Jeremy Bonderman is better this year, but Nate Robertson looks worse than in '04. Guillen is about the same as last season, but Pudge is worse. Neither Percival or Magglio have been active long enough to matter. That's makes the Tigers about even to last year's club and that's exactly what they appear to be.

I hate to mention this, because I really like the guy, but I've seen enough of Carlos Pena. It's time for Alan Trammell to sit him. If Young is healthy, let him play first all the time. Yes, it will hurt some defensively, but Pena just doesn't produce enough to leave him in the lineup daily. I wish I was wrong, but my hopes for Pena are all but gone.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Hamburgers In The Detroit River?

Remember what the Colonists did to all that English tea? What will those living in Detroit do if this idea gets approved?

You Don't Care, But.....

Everton secured a spot in the Champions League next year. Very, very cool. Sometime between now and then, I'll try to capture just how amazing this season has been. I won't be able to do it justice. However, this might do.

I now return you to sports that you care much more about.

Pistons Lose And The MVP Race

Okay, the Pistons lost. They beat the Pacers senseless in Game One, got up big early in Game Two and mailed the rest of the game in. It's not the end of the world. I defer to ESPN's Chris Berman for this nugget of wisdom. Once is an accident, twice is a trend, three times is a problem. Well, boys and girls, the Pacers have one win. I'm not ready to go into panic mode quite yet.

If Indiana wins Game Three, thus giving them two wins, that qualifies as a trend and then I would start to wonder. However, until Game Three is over, I still think the Pistons will advance.

There was some controversy about the NBA MVP Award. Most of it caused by Miami Herald columnist Dan LeBatard's left-handed assertion that race "may" have played a factor in Steve Nash capturing the award over Shaquille O'Neal. The easy comeback is to assume that being a homer played a part in LeBatard's opinion-where was he all the other years Shaq came up empty while in L.A.? Unfortunately, by bringing race into the matter, all LeBatard accomplished (besides getting himself more attention) was diminish Nash's remarkable season.

Nash was just as valuable to Phoenix as O'Neal was to Miami this year. Last year, the Suns couldn't even dream playoffs. This year, they are the best in the West. When Nash missed some time due to injury the Suns stumbled.

While Miami dominated the East in 2004-05, the Heat did manage to get to the playoffs last year while the Big Guy was still playing and fighting with Kobe Bryant. O'Neal elevated the Heat, but they weren't crummy without him. Phoenix, however, was terrible a year ago and is a completely different animal with Nash in the fold.

Shaq was indeed worthy of the MVP award. So was Nash. Why some just cannot accept that is puzzling.

It's Called On The Job Training

Before the Tigers headed out for their latest road trip (and returned with a very nice 4-2 mark), Alan Trammell's managing was coming under heavy criticism around town. I, for one, have absolutely no qualms about Tram's managing. It's not great. However, I expect that. Why? Because the guy is learning on the job.

When Trammell was handed the reigns of the Tigers he had no previous managerial experience. Anywhere. I don't even think he managed Little League. While many assumed that meant Tram's hiring was strictly a public relations move, I viewed it more as an opportunity for the ex-Tiger great to easy into a role he truly desired. The pressure would be off as nearly all of us in Tigertown knew the ballclub wasn't good. We also knew that Dave Dombrowski was going to turn the team over to younger players the first chance he got.

That meant Tram could grow as his young team did and, as the theory went, he and the team would be ready to compete around the same time. A time that would still be years away. Well, something happened to blow that theory up-119 losses.

In the two years since falling to the depths of the sport, the Tigers have added veterans Rondell White, Jason Johnson, Ivan Rodriguez, Ugueth Urbina, Troy Percival, Magglio Ordonez, Vance Wilson and Kyle Farnsworth. Trammell no longer has the luxury of growing up with his young team because his team isn't all that young.

Sure, the Tigers still have youth in the form of Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, Nook Logan, Omar Infante and a few others, but the additions of highly paid veteran players have moved expectations levels up a notch or two. Or maybe three. Trammell's on-the-job training is now viewed, even by supporters, as a hindrance to the team's chances at competing for the American League Central crown.

That part about being legitimate contenders is debatable. What is not is that the Tigers short-term direction changed paths unexpectedly and it has increased the criticism of Tram's decisions. It also has many wondering if Trammell should remain as manager.

The questions are fair, although premature. It's a bit unrealistic to think Trammell is going to be a great manager this soon. Trammell is in only his third year and, unless he was some kind of managerial prodigy, he was bound to make the mistakes young managers make. It's just most of those managers make the majority of their errors in AA ball, not The Show.

Trammell may not be ready to guide the Tigers to the pennant, but it's not his fault. He's still learning his craft daily.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Midweek Meanderings

Although he is way too low on this list, the Tigers' Jeremy Bonderman gets some love from

Repeat after me fellow Detroit Lions fans "I am so glad Cleveland took Kellen Winslow, Jr.".

A Michigan legend passes from the scene.

Bellamy Road is your Kentucky Derby favorite at this moment. If you saw the Wood Memorial, you would agree.

I want the Celtics to beat the Pacers anyway, but knowing we can all relive the brawl and it's aftermath about 10,000 more times if Indiana advances to take on the Pistons, I am really pulling for the C's.

Is it just me or does Alan Trammell just seem to rest his big names way too much?

I was happy to see him let Bonderman toss more than 100 pitches the other night. I was equally happy to see Tram vary his pattern of Kyle Farnsworth in the seventh, Ugueth Urbina in the eighth and Troy Percival in the ninth.

I don't report as much on the Pistons as I should. Frankly, I'm not sure why I don't. I think I take them for granted. They are a solid team on both ends of the floor and I just expect them to win on most nights. They usually do, too.

Bud Selig wants harsher penalties for those players using steroids and a variety of other performance enhancers. Now, it's up to the MLBPA to agree. They won't, of course. Not without stipulations. Lots of them.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. Donald Fehr and the union failed the players. By refusing to ban these substances long before they became an issue, Fehr allowed the users to take a PR hit and potentially face a life threatening issues long-term. He also made his entire membership appear guilty by association. The MLBPA proved, once and for all, that their concern is not about the players, but about their paychecks.

By the way, this is another union failure. Although, I'm not exactly buying the story.

This is not an improvement.

Liverpool appears determined to ruin Everton's Champions League spot. The Toffees had best just take care of business in the Premiership and never mind what their backyard rivals accomplish in the CL Final.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tigers Notes And Other Baseball Thoughts

After a hopeful beginning, a win on Friday night, the Tigers coughed up the last two games in Chicago and leave the Windy City below .500, again. It's darn frustrating. The Tigers just don't play very well versus division rivals. That absolutely has to change. Soon.

The Tigers bullpen scares me. All of them. What appeared to be a strength on paper, isn't in reality.

Aren't we all pleasantly surprised by Nook Logan? I don't know if his hitting can keep up at his current pace, but it would be fun if it did.

I know everyone wanted free agents pitchers this past winter, but I still look at Carl Pavano and Derek Lowe and think the Tigers would have paid too much to get them. Yeah, I know Lowe is off to a solid start, but it's a new league, a new ballpark and a different division. Let's wait and see how Lowe's record looks at season's end.

Not that I don't want the Dearborn native to do well. I hope he excels, but I couldn't see signing him to a deal that long for that kind of cash. Pitchers are just too frail and many of Lowe's numbers were in decline over the last several years.

Let me say this about the White Sox. In general, I am indifferent to Chicago's entry in the American League. No reason to really hate them. No reason to really like them, either. However, I have lost nearly all respect for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Guillen's ongoing verbal pounding of Maggio Ordonez, Frank Thomas and anyone else that has drawn Guillen's ire makes the Sox skipper look very small. I have no real qualms with the Sox players, but if Guillen can't close his pie-hole, I could see myself rooting against him all of the time.

The Red Sox and what's left of their starting rotation visit Detroit Monday through Thursday. Boston is trotting out Jeremi Gonzalez tomorrow night against Jeremy Bonderman. If Pudge, DY and Carlos don't pound Gonzalez, I'm going to be disappointed. This is a chance to grab the opener from the defending champs in your own yard. You have to win. Well, you have to win if you expect to play above .500 baseball this year.

Speaking of the Red Sox, I saw their now infamous games with the Devil Rays last weekend. When Eduardo Perez hit his walk-off homer, complete with his over-the-top bat tossing celebration, I said to myself "I'd plunk him tomorrow". Sure enough, both teams upped the showboating ante over the series and the beanballs followed. Contrary to Curt Schilling's opinion, Lou Piniella wasn't the problem. Players who show-up pitchers were the problem.

I know it's old school and some would suggest out of date thinking, but if you are going to admire your handywork a bit too long, I expect a pitcher to drill you. Not in the head, as the Sox-Rays hurlers opted for, but a message should be sent.

The Red Sox-Rays series was one I watched courtesy of MLB Extra Innings. I've had the package in three of the last four years, but I think this will be the last. Why? There seems to be far less games available per week. I'm amazed at the number of games I don't get each night. Conversely, appears to make every game available. What is worse is that is much less expensive. The Extra Innings deal is about $150. The is $80.

The only good reason to keep Extra Innings is that I can watch the tv for hours without tying up my PC. Apparently, I need to consider hooking my old PC up prior to the 2006 season.

I'm not sure what night I it happened, but did you see Oakland's Eric Byrnes make that incredible diving catch? He left his feet and appeared to flying above the ground for quite a while before grabbing the ball and hitting the ground. It was one of the better catches we will see this year.

I've got to go back to baseball and television again. The Tigers next three games against the Red Sox will be on Fox Sports Detroit. Then, Detroit's next three games, including the first two games against the (insert your California city here) Angels, will not be seen locally. The Angels contests are both the typical 10pm EST starts. What on Earth is FSN-D showing at 10pm that is more important than the Tigers-Angels games? This lame excuse of a broadcast schedule is really annoying me.

I don't like voting for a designated hitter for the All-Star Game. I just don't.