Saturday, April 29, 2006

Lions Draft Recap, 2.0

I just erased about eight paragraphs giving a blow-by-blow recount of my perspective on the Detroit Lions draft. I got into paragragh nine when I realized I was spending far too much time talking about our Lions. We've seen all this Lions silliness before, so why ramble on? Here's my bottom line. The Lions draft, thus far, is mediocre. I expect the "experts" to give them a "C" grade.

My single biggest problem is first round choice Ernie Sims. Why did they take a linebacker with a history of concussions? This wasn't a value pick. It was the ninth pick in the entire draft. You want to shop for value? Please wait until round three. In the first round, especially in the top ten picks, I prefer healthy, productive players. Call me nuts, but I think it's a problem to have a guy with a history of brain trauma playing a position where his job is to run into people--often head-on.

As I stated at the start, I could go on for days. I won't. I will refer you to this fine post at I'm not Matt Leinart crazy, but the overall point isn't lost on me. Trading down was clearly the best option, taking a d-lineman was the second best option, painfully enough, taking one of two uber-QB prospect was the third best option when the Lions were on the clock. Instead, the Lions chose: D) none of the above.

Friday, April 21, 2006

There's A New Team In Town

The anti-soccer readers amongst you (that would be most of you, as you've told me) won't be happy, but I'm here to report that Detroit has a new soccer entity. The Detroit Ignition have joined the Major Indoor Soccer League. While we all know I enjoy soccer and follow far too many "B" list (and several "C" and "D" list) sports in America, I've met this announcement with mixed emotions.

I wish the Ignition all kinds of success, and I like their logo, but I don't consider the indoor version of the world's most popular sport actually soccer. Maybe I'm ill-informed about the indoor game. It's usually a pretty good bet that I don't know what I'm talking about. However, it just doesn't strike me that the indoor and outdoor games are remotely similar.

Boards? Boards in soccer? Don't they have penalty boxes, too? In soccer? Penalty boxes in soccer? It just isn't right. And don't even get me started on artificial surfaces. Comparing the two versions of soccer is like comparing Arena Football to the NFL. They just aren't close. They are so diverse that I must admit, I just can't embrace the indoor game (in either sport).

Now, veteran readers here can protest as I love the Canadian Football League. It's not the NFL, either, but I enjoy it for what it is. What's up with that? A solid point. One I can't argue. Maybe I'm just a soccer snob?

No, that can't be it, either. Because if I was a true soccer snob, I'd stick the leagues overseas that play at a much higher level than Major League Soccer. While I do watch the Premiership and other Euro leagues, I enjoy MLS (DC United fan here). As unlikely as it now appears, I would love to see Detroit get a MLS franchise. I'd even debate season tickets, if such an event occurred (and I had the cash). So, if I was a true soccer snob, would I embrace a Detroit MLS team? Probably not. I'd just hope for more EPL matches on television.

This is why I remain conflicted about the Ignition's arrival. I'd like to see Detroit become a bigger player in the pro soccer, but I'm just not crazy about the indoor version. I want to promote soccer on this blog (just as I do college baseball, curling, open wheel racing, etc....), but I'm not sure I'm going to watch the MISL with any regularity even with a Detroit team.

This said, how about we make a deal with our new team? We'll watch. Once. Ok, maybe twice, but only for as long as we can stand it. We aren't going to give up the Tigers, Pistons, Wings, Lions, Wolverines or Spartans to watch, but we'll find a time when we can sit through a game. Then, if we don't find it interesting, we'll politely move on.

If we like it, great. The team will have a new fan or two. I'll take credit for expanding your sports horizons. Maybe one of us can start an Ignition blog. (Stop pointing your finger at me. I'm one over my limit at two, thank you.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

With The Ninth Pick In The NFL Draft The Detroit Lions Take....

If you are a Detroit Lions fan, don't you have one huge fear for NFL Draft Day 2006? The fear is that when the Lions are on the clock, one of the big three quarterback prospects remains available. If eight picks roll past, and I use the term "roll" very loosely as their is nothing about the NFL Draft that moves quickly (Mel Kiper's mouth being a notable exception), and the Lions find that Matt Leinhart, Vince Young and/or Jay Cutler have slipped down to them, aren't we all going to hold our collective breath?

A week from Saturday, when Commissioner Paul Taglibue steps away from the podium after announcing the Lions' fifteen minutes is underway and Leinhart, Young or Cutler is still around, aren't we all going to have the same set of notions? "They can't take a QB, can they?" "Millen can't take a QB. He can't." "Oh, they'll go in a different direction. They can't invest more money into the quarterback position. It makes no sense." "If they take a QB, I'm not rooting for them anymore." "Holy crap."

For roughly fifteen minutes, as few teams seem to take less than the maximum time allowed, every single Lions fan listening or watching is going to be nervous. Very nervous. No, it doesn't make any salary cap sense to take another signal caller. Yes, the Lions need help all over. Yet, if any of the three big name college QB's are still on the board, we are all going fear that when Taglibue comes back to the microphone he announces that with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft the Detroit Lions have selected..........a quarterback.

After drafting wide receivers in the first round for three straight seasons, would anyone really be shocked that Matt Millen opts to take a college quarterback even though he just signed two veteran free agents to replace the soon-to-be-Dolphin Joey Harrington? As soon as my laughter subsided, probably sometime in the midst of the first game of the year, I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Does anyone have great confidence in Josh McCown or Jon Kitna? The term retread would seem to apply to both. Kitna never took hold of the Seattle job and got bumped, rightly so, by Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. McCown, who to me appears to have more potential, for both success and failure, couldn't keep the signal caller duties in Arizona. Arizona. What does it say for the Lions' plight when they are taking on the Cardinals' failed projects?

Yes, Mike Martz could wave his magic wand and turn either or both into Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks. (Again, McCown would seem more probable to me.) Couldn't the same be said of Leinhart, Young or Cutler? All of whom, at least so far, haven't failed as NFL throwers elsewhere. All of whom are younger. Any of whom could lead this franchise for a decade something I'm not sure we can say about any of the incoming veteran QB's.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not at all promoting this concept. I'd feel much better if the Lions traded down and got two later first round picks. I totally embrace the idea of trading up and taking a D'Brickshaw Ferguson or A.J. Hawk. I'm fairly comfortable with them staying put at nine and taking someone not a quarterback, as well. Although, if the draft plays out as some have predicted, I'm not overly excited about the Lions' potential choices at that spot.

It just happens that I think the scenario where one of these three elite quarterbacks falls into the Lions lap is possible. I also think it's plain frightening, in a football sense. The Lions can't intelligently justify selecting a quarterback, yet after spending fifty years searching for Bobby Layne's heir, can they be blamed for considering a highly touted college arm no matter who is on the roster currently? Every ounce of common sense tells you there is no reason for the Lions to draft a QB in the first round. Yet, what if a future Hall of Fame signal caller is staring at them when they are on the clock?

If the guy who slips down to the Lions choice turns into the next Dan Marino or Ben Roethlisberger and the Lions go elsewhere, Millen will get blasted for not making a good decision. Take the QB who slides to nine and get hammered for committing too much money in one position, for creating a three-headed QB controversy and, if the QB fails, for revealing your perceived lack of football smarts. Basically, take him and you're an idiot. Don't take him and you're, well, an idiot. Sounds like the proto-typical Lions scenario to me.

Now, all of this can be alleviated if Leinhart, Young and Cutler have found homes before the ninth pick. Then, we can just focus on the players at positions the Lions don't have millions tied into free agents. (That would be all the other positions, but that's a different post entirely.) Our worry can then be limited to the upside of whatever newcomer is chosen, instead of trying to figure out which QB camp we want to be in--Kitna's, McCown's or First Round QB's.

In light of his recent draft day decisions, I have serious doubts that Matt Millen would have the courage to take Leinart, Young or Cutler. For all the reasons I've previously mentioned, I believe Millen has to go in a different direction even if one of the top QB's is available when the Lions pick arises. He has to, right? Of course, isn't that what we thought a year ago when there was no way Millen would draft a wideout three years in a row?

Just Release Him, Already

I have some unsolicited advice for Matt Millen. Look, Matt, Joey Harrington is going to be a member of the Miami Dolphins. It's just a matter of when, not if. So, do us all a favor and just release the guy.

Oh, sure. You can try to make a trade, but you have zero leverage. You aren't going to get a first rounder (what Harrington was). You aren't going to get a second rounder. Third and fourth rounders seem pretty unlikely, too. To save face, you might plead with Miami and land a seventh round choice, but who are we kidding? That's window dressing, not a trade.

The problem is the Dolphins, and everyone else in the world, knows what's going on here. Harrington doesn't want to be here. Your new coaching staff doesn't want him here, either. You've already moved on by acquiring not one, but two guys to replace him. You also don't want to pay him his big bonus that comes due before camp opens.

Knowing this, as everyone in the world does, why on Earth would the Dolphins send you anything in return? They can just sit back and wait. Eventually, with your shiny new replacement quarterbacks already signed on the dotted line, you are going to have to cut Harrington to avoid paying out that bonus money. Then, the Dolphins can get their new back-up QB for nothing. No bonus. No old contract. No traded draft picks.

Stop the dog and pony show, Mr. Millen. Let Harrington walk. Don't drag it out just to land a draft pick that probably won't even play in the CFL, let alone the NFL. Try to do something with a degree of class and just release him. Cut your losses. Cut his losses. Start anew.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

TV Guide

Pro Beach Volleyball. That's what is on Fox Sports Detroit this moment. Pro Beach Volleyball. Did I mention the Tigers are playing the Indians right now? So, instead of seeing our local baseball team, the one with 100 years of history behind it and, oh by the way, has a winning record currently, our Fox Sports affiliate is broadcasting volleyball.

Of course, the game is being broadcast in Cleveland, so Indians fans can watch. It's also on the MLB Extra Innings package, so the rest of the U.S. can see it. And it's on, so the rest of the world can see it. Tigers fans actually in Detroit, however, cannot see it without a ticket. Does this make any sense?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening Day Blogging

Having not subjected you to a post here in over a week, I've got a number of thoughts to pass along. However, it's Opening Day. Does anything else really matter? Oh, some might think so, but they would be horribly misguided.

This is going to be my first attempt at live blogging. O.k., semi-live blogging, but you get the idea. (Think NBC Olympic coverage.)

12:59 pm- The hot dogs are cooking and the Washington vs. New York Mets game is first up. I've got MLB Extra Innings again this year, so I'll be flipping channels. Hope that doesn't bother you.

1:01 pm- Do I have any Mets or Nats on my fantasy league teams? I'm in four fantasy leagues this year. One doesn't really require much brain power from me, as I'm running the Arizona Diamondbacks. I have all their players and I cannot acquire anyone not in purple and teal.

1:06 pm- Mets are starting Tom Glavine. I've always been a Glavine fan, he's one of my all-time favorite pitchers, but if he's the Mets second best starter, they might be in trouble. Glavine isn't exactly close to his peak. Which feed do I watch: Mets coverage with Keith Hernandez (another of my all-time favorite players) with some guy I don't know or the ESPN feed with Chris "Back, Back, Back" Berman and Jeff Brantley? Hmmm.

1:12- I've got Gary Majewski and Jose Guillen on different fantasy teams.

1:15- Glavine K's Jose Vidro.

1:17- Glavine gets Guillen to fly out. A flip of the channel reveals that we have three two o'clock starts--Red Sox @ Rangers, Pirates @ Brewers and Cubs @ Reds.

1:22- First hot dog of the season. Mustard only, thank you.

1:25- Second time I've seen the Lou Diamond Phillips PSA. Lou is wondering if we know what our children learned in math class. Nice of Mr. Phillips to care.

1:27- Mets 2B Anderson Hernandez makes a sparkling backhanded play.

1:28- I love those Washington road uniforms. Caps are even better.

1:30- Alfonso Soriano steals second proving I should have drafted him. Mets catcher Paul LoDuca drops his glove and the ball attempting to throw out Soriano. Strange.

1:33- Did Jeff Brantley just use the term "hisself" instead of "himself" about three consecutive times or is my hearing getting worse?

1:45- Flip on light in kitchen, blow fuse. It happens to be the same fuse the television is on. Uh oh.

1:50- All is fine. TV is working, light bulb in kitchen is replaced.

1:58- It looks like Glavine's batting helmet is two tone. The helmet appears to be primarly black with a large blue portion in front where the NY sits. The blue portion flares out towards the back and fades into the black. It almost looks like a Marvel superhero mask design. (I'm more a DC Comics man, myself.) Oh, Glavine singles.

2:00- Flip to Red Sox @ Rangers. No satellite feed as of yet.

2:01- Paul LoDuca singles in Xavier Nady. We have scoring! Soriano misses catching the ball on the hop as he tries, unsuccessfully, to grab the ball with his bare hand. No damage done as his centerfield is behind him. I think we can assume Soriano will commit nearly as many errors in the outfield as he did in the infield.

2:02-Back to Sox @ Rangers. MLB Extra Innings is having technical trouble with the feed. Pirates at Brewers is up and running as is Cubs @ Reds.

2:05- President Bush is in the Reds dugout. He's wearing a Reds jacket. His ceremonial toss is high and outside.

2:08- Sox @ Rangers is on ESPN2. Steve Stone is doing the game, which I consider to be a bonus. Finally, a game in bright sunshine! I'm probably all but done with Nationals at Mets.

2:15- David Ortiz flys out, channel flip follows. Carlos Lee misplays a flyball that nearly plunks him on the melon. Another channel flip. Todd Walker drives in Juan Pierre, Cubs, 1-0. I have to stay with Cubs/Reds game as Derek Lee is coming up. Yeah, I've got Lee on one of my fantasy teams. Hey, it's a sixteen team league. Lee is vital to my success. Anyway, his at bat is uneventful.

2:26- Back to Texas. Manny Ramirez is a blonde today. Seems appropriate.

2:30- A Roger Clemens sighting. The Rocket is in Arlington taking in the game between two of his rumored suitors.

2:32- Prince Fielder fans on three pitches. Did I mention I flipped over to the Bucs/Brew Crew game? No? Sorry.

2:40- Debating second hot dog.

3:00- Second hot dog? Long gone. Tampa @ Baltimore joins the fun.

3:05- Jason Varitek doubles in two Red Sox runs.

3:07- Pondering when to don my Tigers road jersey.

3:15- Tigers road jersey is on.

3:30- Flipping through Detroit Free Press Tigers Preview. There seems to be three repeating themes. Verlander, Zumaya and Leyland. Big Papi goes deep-Red Sox, 5-0. Schilling has looked good.

3:34- Channel flipping finds Johnny Gomes homering for Tampa. It's the D-Rays, 2-0.

3:45- Over to Tigers pre-game. The Detroit lineup is being introduced to the K.C. faithful. Pudge looks like he has lost more weight.

3:50- I wonder if I'll get the LA feed of the Dodgers vs. Atlanta game? I'd like to hear Vin Scully on Opening Day.

4:05- Tigers game heads to commercial break before first pitch. I may be gone for a while.

Ok, it's now 5:57 pm. The Tigers are up 2-1 behind two Chris Shelton homeruns. The Tigs have just chased Scott Elarton from the hill. Kenny Rogers has looked pretty good today. By the way, I still want to visit Kauffman Stadium someday.

In other things that happened while I was gone, I received an catalog in the mail today. Nice timing on their part. I flipped through all the other games and found most to favor the hitters today. I did indeed get the L.A. feed, so I heard Vin Scully for the first time in '06. Red Sox won. Derek Lee has driven in two for the Cubbies. Did I mention I've got Shelton in a 12 team fantasy league I'm in?

I think I'm going to stop my plausibly live blogging here. I hope to stick with the Tigers game until the end and I've got about three other things I need to do today, so that will be it for this post. Thanks for reading.