Friday, September 29, 2006

Playoff preview

What team would I like the Tigers to play in the playoffs? Well the Royals of course (scratch that after tonight's bed soiling) but since they didn't quite make it let's break down the teams that did.

Oakland Athletics

Things to be scared of: Frank Thomas resurgence, Barry Zito's curveball, a healthy Rich Harden, and Huston Street.
Things to be thankful for: The rest of the pitching staff is average at best. Kenny Rogers owns the A's (21 career wins vs. the A's more than any other team). Detroit won the season series (5-4) with 6 of the nine games played in Oakland. If the Tigers play Oakland it means the won the Central and will have home field.
Bottom line: Oakland really doesn't hit all that well. But they can get people on base. That could present problems when getting into the last innings. The key, like it always is in the playoff, will be pitching. With Rogers cancelling out Zito, I see Verlander and Bonderman leading the Tigers for the series victory in 5. I don't see A's beating the Twins, so the only way will see the A's is in the ALDS.

New York Yankees

Things to be scared of: uhh, everything they're the friggin Yankees. They spend the most money, have the best record, and have the best team in the majors on paper.
Things to be thankful for:They should always win, but they haven't since 2000.
Bottom Line: The Yankees have lost to the eventual World Series champion in the playoff 4 out of the last five years. Between the starters and Rivera the pitching staff is vulnerable. Add to that Big Unit has a herniated disk and that weakens the staff further. The teams that have knocked them out in the past have one thing in common, pitching. Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, K-Rod, maybe we can add Verlander to the list. Pitching prevails (and is the reason you will see Barry Zito in pinstripes next year) in 5 in the ALDS, in 6 if they meet in the ALCS.

Minnesota Twins

Things to be scared of: M+M, the "piranhas", Nathan and Santana.
Things to be thankful for: The Tigers did win the season series, and other than Santana and Nathan, none of their other pitchers really strikes fear into your heart.
Bottom Line: Besides the point that these teams can only face in the ALCS, the Tigers or the Twins will be the AL representative for the World Series. The Tigers pitching has just been to good, and the Twins have been too hot not to pick them. So my unabashed homerism gives it to the Tigers in a thrilling seven game series.

I'll be at the game tomorrow. Hopefully, with a little Chicago help, it will be the division clinching game. I was at the game were they won to guarantee that they wouldn't break the all time loss record, seems only fair I'll be there for the Division clinching, right?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Something I thought I'd never see

Not that I'm actually expecting them to make it, but this is pretty damn cool to see the old english D and World Series.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hooray Champagne!!!!

Two things are official today. The Tigers are in the playoffs, and the Lions are terrible. But we already knew that second one going into the season. I have heard so much crap spewed forth by Lions fans in the past years that I can't take it anymore. hear are the 5 things that I hear on a daily basis that drive me batshit insane.
1) If fans stop going to the games, the Ford's will be forced to change in order to get the fans back. This is one of the dumber ones, Most teams in the NFL get their money before tickets are even sold due to revenue sharing and the network TV deals. Any tickets that they sell are a bonus. Stop showing up, show up Bill Ford doesn't care, he's still getting paid.
2) They need to spend more more in free agency. There is a SALARY CAP. This limits the amount that they can spend. Like the Tigers in years past, the Lions are a team with a losing history. Therefore they would need to overpay enormously to get people to come here. Unlike the Tigers, the Lions do not have bottomless pockets in which to pursue players. They have to offer what they can and hope they win out.
3) Charles Rogers and Mike Williams have talent and need to play. Charles Rogers has been useless since his drug suspension. The reason why he was so good was his speed. He's not a big guy, so the only way he could beat defenders would be to run past them. He is no longer past, hence he is no longer anyone. Miami has two former coaches and his former QB, and they still didn't sign him, what does that tell you? As for Williams, I still think he can be saved. He has to realize that this isn't USC, and he actually will have to show up all week and contribute. Once he learns this (the sooner the better) he will line up opposite Roy.
4) If Millen left the team would get better. He is NOT going anywhere, sorry. He signed a five year extension after last year, he isn't getting fired. The only was he's going is if he quits. Which if it hasn't happened yet, isn't happening any time soon. Even if they do get rid of him, it would first require hiring someone that can run a football team, then a few years to weed out all the mistakes that the past leaderships had loaded the team with. Sound familiar?
5) The Lions show no signs of getting better. The Lions employ the same defense as Chicago. Chicago's first year the were 5-11, 2nd year 11-5 and the #2 defense in the league. Will the Lions do the same thing? Other than the 5-11, no. The defense right now simply does not have enough raw talent to make their inexperience in the system work. But once the team learns the defense they will be better. As for the offense, today Kitna threw for 350 yards and the team ran for over 100. The offense is stating to work. Still they should beat fucking Green Bay. I'll check back with the Lions when the baseball playoffs are over.

Get used to it Rod and Mike.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Playoff Bound.

6 Games up on the White Sox with 12 to go...I think all that money I paid a few weeks ago will be going toward playoff tickets after all. This playoff berth more than likely will be as a wild card. At the end of the day more than likely, propelled by a Johan Santana win, the Twins will be in sole possession of first place, thanks to a Tiger loss earlier today to Baltimore. Can the Tigers still win the Central? Yes, they play Kansas City 6 times out of there last nine games. They will face a Blue Jay team without Roy Halladay next week. They are starting to hit again, especially Magglio showing the power that clean off hitters should possess with 5 HR in the past week (congrats on you 100th RBI today as well) and Granderson who has been on fire the past couple of days. The bats are back and the pitching can shut down KC and Toronto, the question is will the Twins lose? Well the Twins schedule is just as easy as the Tigers with Baltimore over the weekend then 4 games at home against KC before closing out the season vs. the White Sox. Realistically the Twins and Tigers will stay about a game apart until the final weekend, then the only hope that the Tigers have is sweeping the Royals and, rooting for Chicago to be the spoilers.
But 3 seasons after recording 100 losses beggars can't be choosy, and I'll take playoff baseball any way they get it. For many people meaningful baseball this late has been a new and exciting experience, with thousands upon thousands of dollars thrust forth in the purchasing of Tigers merchandise. In the interest of helping all those new fans, here's a handy guide to help you what a jersey purchase says about you.
1) You should wear something Tiger related to the game. The only accepted colors are white, blue, and orange. Attire for other Detroit teams are permissible, but not encouraged. And for the love of George Kell please do not wear any other baseball teams gear to the stadium. I don't care if they're not playing the Indians, there shouldn't be any Indian hats at all.
2) If you are going to buy a jersey, buy a real one, not one of those fake t-shirt ones. Nothing screams bandwagoner more than a cheap jersey t-shirt
3) If you decide to get a jersey, the name on the back sends a very important message to your fellow fans.
Pena or Higginson:(and yes you still see these): you live in Taylor, have Red Wing flags in the windows of your five color ford escort, and you're only wearing the Tiger jersey because your Teal Grant Hill Piston jersey has salsa dip on in.
Pudge: your either 10 years old or Puerto Rican
Inge: you're here just to get drunk on daiquiris and look at the player's asses
Zumaya: don't get me wrong, he's done a hell of a job, and will be a hell of a closer someday, but this is the bandwagon jersey of choice it seems. People in this jersey were the ones booing Todd Jones in June, the ones that cheer when JZ hits 100 mph...even if it's on a pitch out of the strike zone, and are usually the once drunk by the 5th inning and trying to start the wave.
Shelton: you're friends with chunk.
according to Ozzie Guillen, you're a Venezuelan piece of shit.
Granderson, Verlander, or Monroe: A solid investment on one of the building blocks for the Tigers success for the next few years.
Your own name: You are 35 years old with no kids, yet you bring a glove to the game and are first in line to try to get people to sign your hat before the game.

So there you go, if you were lucky enough to snap playoff ticket, when you go you won't look like a tool.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Chicago showdown

The good news, the Tigers all but clinched a playoff spot with an 8-2 win earlier tonight. The Tigers are 6 games up with 12 to go. Even if the Tigers go 5-7 the rest of the way the Sox would have to run the table to pass them. Even better news, Magglio has seemed to have found his big boy pants, and is hitting like a clean up hitter again.
Now for the bad news, even if the Tigers get shutout the rest of the series, they still would have scored more than the Lions did. I've done enough defending of this team the past 2 weeks, so go ahead get it out. Naked coaches, 40 points on the field, guaranteed wins, Matt Millen, let me have it. At least Brett Fahverah and his amazing, magical, mystical, turnover machine of an arm is coming to town this Sunday.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Relief is spelled O-R-I-O-L-E

Today marked the return of two things that were foreign to the Tigers recently:
1) winning a series
2) winning a game without hitting a home run.

After clobbering a various assortment of Oriole pitchers for 17 runs yesterday, and Nate Roberston out dueling Mr. Anna Benson for a 2-0 decision tonight, the Tigers have finally guaranteed themselves a series victory for the from time since the series vs. Boston in mid-August. Add that to two White Sox losses, and now there is a bit of breathing room (5 games up) when it comes to the Wild Card, especially with the series in Chicago looming next week. Now one would hope they get a sweep and maybe add one more game to the A.L. Central lead. At 3 games up with 12 to go I like the Tigers odds of winning the Central, especially with 6 of the last 9 vs. Kansas City.

Speaking of Chicago, if you ask Roy Williams, the Lions are leaving with a victory. Many have ripped up Williams for saying that. I for one actually like it. Not the guarantee part, but the confidence that no matter who the Lions are facing that they think they will win. In years past before every game you'd hear "we're just going to go out and do our best." Your best? Fuck that shit. Like John Mason said in The Rock, "Losers always whine about doing their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen." HOWEVA...they still have to execute, and that's what will stop Detroit from winning. It will be another field goal delight with both offense getting the crap knocked out of by each teams defense. The winner will be the team that forces the other team into making more mistakes. The Lions will hang in there and scare Chicago, but will end up 0-2 when the day is done.

HOORAY BEER: U of M football for dashing Notre Dames title hopes and the fellation of Fat Charlie. If they could just knock of the sweater vested nuts of Columbus I'd be a happy boy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Where have I seen this before?

Two words come to mind all the sudden: Maddeningly Inconsistent.
First the Red Wings storm through the regular season, only to get bounced in the first round. Same thing with the Pistons, regular season dominance, poor performance leading to an exit in the playoffs. Now it looks like Tigers are joining Detroit's newest club: The Bedcrappers. Say what you will about the Lions, at least they are considerate enough to suck the entire year, so not to get your hopes up only to have them dashed in just a few months time.
Maybe I'm just bitter about the Tigers blowing a desperately needed opportunity to add some distance between themselves and the Twins by getting spanked by Texas tonight. Maybe, it's the fact that I just received my credit card bill and looked at how much I plunked down for playoff tickets, now knowing that they will probably make it, but I will more than likely be witness to the wild card Tigers struggling in October, and the Yankees winning the ALDS at Comerica.
But the part that really chaps my ass are games like yesterday, where through the literal and figurative rainclouds they was light and hope that the team was beginning to right itself (See game 1 of the last three series), and just 24 hours later we're talking about yet another loss. It's not just the losing, it's the way they are losing. It's like the team from August and September's past have taken over.
Now a day off and Baltimore comes to town. This series must be won, period. This is Baltimore they are out of contention, they should be losing to a playoff team if the Tigers still consider themselves one. I don't give a crap about teams that are out of it playing hard and being "spoilers". If you played that hard throughout the year you'd be in the pennant race not watching others in it. These teams are out of it because of inferior talent and/or coaching, and should lose to teams with superior talent and/or coaching. I guess after this weekend series we will see which one the Tigers have.

BOO CREEPY FOOT DOCTOR: Craig Monroe has as many outfield assists as he does hits in this past week.

HOORAY BEER!: Chris Chelios inadvertently let it out that Nicklas Lidstrom will be the 33rd captain in Detroit Red Wings history.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Weekend roundup

This past weekend Bill Laimbeer coached the Shock to their second WNBA championship in 3 years. I mention this for two reasons, the Shock were the only Detroit team to win this weekend, and Laimbeer in all probability has parlayed this success into becoming the next head coach of the Pistons, probably after this season's early playoff exit. Still it could be worse, I could be living in Cleveland.
Tigers vs. Twins:
Well one more series, more games in which the Tigers are outhit. It simple really, the Tigers need to remember how to hit or they will be spending October watching other teams. They have a very favorable schedule, the only team at least 5 games above .500 that they play is Chicago next week. Texas, Baltimore, Toronto, and Kansas City are just the teams to conduct batting practice on while the Twins and the White Sox battle Oakland, the Angels, a resurgent Cleveland, Boston and each other. The schedule favor the Tigers, they just need to produce. All the past months struggles will be forgiven with a late push and a fresh start in October.
Lions vs. Seattle:
The Lions hold the defending NFC champions to 9 points, Shaun Alexander to 50 yards and 2.1 yards per carry, and did not allow the number one red zone offense in the league last year to score a touchdown, yet all I hear is how much the offense sucks and how they should have won the game. A stark contrast to the expectations of a massacre before the game started. Yes the vaunted Martz offense wasn't firing on all cylinders, but for the most part this was the first time all the pieces have been together in a game. They moved the ball well with some exceptions. Most people that saw the game, including me, were stunned to find out the small amount of yards gained by Kevin Jones. He looked 2004 good, minus the fumble. Did I mention this was a team that played in the Super Bowl last year, and had added an All-Pro linebacker in Julian Peterson, and had Ken Hamlin, who was out for most of the year last year, in the lineup? This was a step in the right direction...the Lions will still lose to the Bears in another 9-6 crapfest on Sunday, but they're getting better. Maybe Martz should follow Joe Cullen's lead and run a few naked bootlegs?

BOO HAIRSTYLING VACUUM ATTACHMENTS: Robert Geathers for killing Trent Green and depriving me of a point that would have won my fantasy game

HOORAY BEER!: To Reggie Bush for catching a shit ton of balls and justifying me picking him for my #2 RB.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The team across the street.

The NFL Football season starts tomorrow and usually for Lions fans ends sometime within the next few weeks. This season will end with the Lions watching the playoffs on T.V. instead of participating, yet again. However this season should actually show signs of improvement for once, despite the efforts of Matt Millen and driving while nude coaches.
The main difference simply are the men underneath the headsets. Rod Marinelli has instilled an attitude where effort is the most important thing. Charles Rogers found that out the hard way, Mike Williams is on the way to finding that out next year. Given the "talent" coming Marinelli's way thanks to Matt Millen, it's probably for that best that he will focus on effort. Added to that is Mike Martz's explosive (based on history, and blind faith) offense. The big if is can Roy Williams and Kevin Jones live up to their potential. Roy averages a TD every 6.2 catches, it just keeping him healthy being that hard part. Kevin Jones this year will show which season out of his first two was the fluke. On defense...well let's just hope Martz's offense will be able to score a lot of points.
That being said let's break down the schedule and see where the 2006 Lions will end up.
Weeks 1 & 2: vs. Seattle, @ Chicago:
It won't be pretty and there will be many calls for Marinelli's head. But these are playoff teams, the Lions will not beat a playoff team this year. If they do manage to beat one of these teams, said team will not make the on it. So fat 0-2
Weeks 3-7 vs. Green Bay, @St. Louis, @Minnesota, vs. Buffalo, @NY Jets:
Green Bay and the Jets are expected to be two of the worst teams in the league. That means wins for the Lions (in theory) 2-2. You don't think Martz won't be amped up to beat the team that pretty much ran him out during the season? It will be close but the Rams improved D prevails, 2-3. You don't think Dick Jauron won't be amped up to beat the team that ran him out of town? Too bad his QB is J.P. more for the Lions 3-3. One good WR, a shaky RB situation, a hit or miss D, and an aging QB? Playing Minnesota is like looking on the mirror, advantage home team, 3-4 into the bye week.
Week 9-11 vs. Atlanta, vs. San Fransisco, @Arizona:
If the Falcons can pry themselves away from fighting each other they could win a game Matt Schaub should be the QB by this week, but he wont. Lions win aided by 4 Ron Mexico turnovers, 4-4. San Fransisco falls in the same category as GB and the Jets, 5-4. The long trip to AZ slows down the offense enough for the Cards to win in a shootout, 5-5.
Week 12 vs. Miami:
Thanksgiving and Joey Blue Skies returns to Ford Field. Judging by Culpepper's performance on opening night he may be the starter, that's not a good thing. Regardless the Lions win their only nationally televised game of the year, 6-5.
Week 13-17 @New England, vs. Minnesota, @Green Bay, vs. Chicago, @Dallas:
Crunch time. At New England, no chance, 6-6. Minnesota loses this time in the battle of the mirror teams, 7-6. Sadly the Minnesota game will be the last one they win. Outdoors at Green Bay in December no matter how crappy they are will equal a loss for the dome team. Chicago will win their 9th game and clinch the division against the Lions, and Dallas will be playing they asses off at home for a wild card berth/division title so no luck there either.
The Lions will end up 7-9, I'm hoping for some bounces going their way and stealing a win or two from a better team (I'm looking at you Arizona and home game vs. Chicago) but 7-9 is a good start to keep Marinelli's attitude echoing throughout the locker room and building a better 2007 team. Well a guy can dream can't he?

On an sort of unrelated note...please read this story about Pat Tillman in the latest SI. With the 5 year anniversary of the events of 9-11 on Monday, it is a harrowing account of a man who may not have believed in all the ideals of this country, but believed it was his duty to put his life on the line for it. So please read it, and regardless of your political stance the next time you see someone in uniform, thank them.

coming up: back to sports and the Tigers-Twins series wrap-up.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Is this ship sinking too?

Dmitri Young is gone. Dave Dombrowski has said it was performance related, but you have to wonder have some demons from the past come back. Has the attitude that has haunted the clubhouse in the past returned. Earlier in the year an unnamed player was quoted as saying the clubhouse didn't want him back. A very interesting move, when you realize that Chris Spurling was released earlier in the day to make room for Mike Maroth on the 40 man roster. If they were planning on releasing him, why not do it so Maroth can come back. Why drop two players when you only have to drop one? Also why drop a guy you had hitting third earlier that day? I have heard DY was spotted saying a thing or two to Leyland as he was pulled for a pinch hitter in the 8th. The move ended up being the right one. Pinch hitter Kevin Hooper sac bunted the runners to 2nd and 3rd, with C-Mo driving them in and tying the game on a rain-aided double.
DY or no DY, the Tigers have played like crap the past month. Pudge is vintage 2005, swinging at everything. Magglio is lucky to have warning track power. Sean Casey is a double play machine, not in the good way. At least Infante, Inge, Granderson and Monroe look like they're trying. The rest of the hitters have that look I saw last September, which gives me the sinking feeling like all that money I plunked down for playoff tickets, will be used instead for season tickets next year. The only thing keeping me sane is the fact that, arguably, they've been playing without their best two hitters(Polanco and Guillen) for the last few games.
This all leads up to a series that is simply the most important one of the year. The Tigers go into the Metrodome to face the Twins for four games(hopefully with Guillen in the line-up). The Tigers have owned the Twins all year, and if not for a 8th inning implosion they would have been the only team to sweep the Twins at home back at the end of July. But that was then and this is now. At the least a split is needed for some sense of "righting the ship". Well see what team shows up, hopefully it's the one I spent all that money on to see in the playoffs.

coming soon: Lions preview