Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In case you missed it...

  • To help out it's star Dwyane Wade and his struggling Heat, NBA commissioner David Stern has announced "No Fly Zone" rules that apply to top stars. Now entering a five-foot zone around a star player will result in a foul being called. The NBA plans to debut the new rules tomorrow when the Pistons play the Heat. In fact, the NBA has already issued fouls they expect to happen during the duration of the game. Wade will shoot the free throws before the opening tip; all missed shots will not count provided Wade yells "DO OVER!" before the ball hits the rim. The Heat will also start the game in the bonus. Nazr Mohammed will not be making the trip, as he fouled out packing his suitcase.
  • Hoping to break the Curse of the Billy Goat, Alfonso Soriano was signed to a mind-blowing 8 year $136 Million contract by the Chicago Cubs. When asked why spend so much for one player on a team that has many needs, GM Jim Hendry said he had petitioned the National League to allow the use of ghost runners and that Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, and Derrick Lee will be the only three batters new coach Lou Pinella will be allowed to send to the plate. When this was denied, Hendry was seen asking for the phone numbers of Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg. Also to save the arms of the Cubs pitchers, opposing hitters will be swinging at a ball on a tee. Hendry argued that this would be no different then Cub pitching in the first place, NL officials agreed.
  • Newly anointed football golden boy Tony Romo has recently shot down rumors that he and Jessica Simpson were an item. In related news, Matt Millen has been quoted on the record as not being able to tell the difference between Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears, and was ready to announce that he was on the cusp of trading Mike Williams and a first round pick for Romo, until Lions executive VP Tom Lewand stepped in and informed Matt that he actually was negotiating a deal for Steve Bono.
  • Michigan State hired a new football coach earlier this week. There was an awkward period of a few minutes when the MSU Board of Regents realized they had offered the job to Phoenix Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, before finally hiring Mark Dantonio from the University of Cincinnati. MSU, in hopes of a wining season next year has scheduled games solely against Rutgers and Eastern Kentucky.
  • Florida coach Urban Meyer has openly criticized the BCS system, for allowing Michigan to remain ranked #2 after a 3-point loss at #1 Ohio State. When reached for comment Michigan coach Lloyd Carr grumbled inaudibly for five minutes and left the room to go smoke. A representative from 12-0 #8 Boise State was quoted as saying "Urban Meyer can suck my blue turf covered ass".

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Just in Time for Christmas

The Tigers just released the ticket prices for the 2007 season. I expected to see prices go up, and they did, but only in 5 sections. Better yet, with the exception of the $2 hike in the bleachers, prices only went up $5 for each section. The most expensive ticket in the park is $65, which is only $15 more than a cheap seat at Ford Field. More importantly, there were no price change in the seats I have. I sure there will be some people bitching about the bleacher seat going up, but come on for $10 you get to see (I never thought I'd be saying this) the defending AL Champions play. Tickets to see the Mud Hens will run you about that much as well, and as back to back IL champs, they are just as good of a value. So with all the outrage over the playoff ticket prices, it's good to see that the Tigers organization gave the fans a little reward by keeping ticket prices for over half of the seats in the park, the same.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Thanksgiving Tradition...of sucking

The Lions got their asses kicked by this guy.

It started off good yesterday, 2 drives two scores. I was happy, then S.O.L. (Same old Lions) Syndrome kicked in. That's when I started drinking. Now that the turkey and scotch induced hangover has subsided, I speak with a clear (well as clear as I get) mind.
I give up. I tried I really did. I didn't expect much this year. I set my expectations real low. I did buy some of the preseason hype(in retrospect listening to Peter King has never been a good idea). But, I still made excuses, and defended your faults. The defense is still learning the system, when the offence clicks in they're bound to beat a few teams. How do you go out and repay my loyalty? Getting blown up by Joey Harrington.

Joey. Fucking. Harrington.

Fool me once shame of you, fool me for the better part of two decades, shame on me. The worst part is I can't even be happy with the high draft pick, because Millen will screw it up. So were done for this year. I'll still root for Roy Williams because he's on my fantsay football team, but I'm adopting a stance along the lines of Springfielders in the Halloween episode where the billboards come alive and start wreaking havoc on the city.
Cue Paul Anka: "Just don't look, just don't look."
Maybe that will get the monster that is Matt Millen to retreat to the hills of western Pennsylvania for good.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Weekend Compendium Vol. 3

First off, apologies to not mentioning Jim Leyland's AL Manager of the Year title last week. I guess since it pretty much was a lock, I'd figured they had already given out the award, so I missed it when he officially received it. Sorry Jim.

In other news, I was driving on E. Stadium to get lunch today at work and as I get up to Michigan Stadium, I come across a couple police motorcycles lights and sirens blaring going in the other direction. I pull over to the side like any good motorist would, then I see another police car, then a hearse and a funeral procession. Then it dawns on me...That's for Bo. Many outside of the state may not understand the reverence the he was held in here. He wasn't just the coach of Michigan football, he was Michigan football. I am not a U of M fan, or college football fan for that matter, but the Wolverines were always on in my house growing up. I remember a few players Tony Boles, Greg McMurtry, and Elvis Grbac, come to mind, but the lasting memory I have is Bo on the Sidelines, with those aviators on, snarling at somebody. That and the fact as Michigan's A.D. he fired the lame duck Bill Frieder before the 1989 NCAA tournament, which interim coach Steve Fisher led to the national title. I have conveniently forgot what he did from 1990 to 1992. So as I watch the coach pass by the Big House for the last time, as so many that have been around Ann Arbor long enough do, here's my Bo story.

Through my job, I was able to participate in his charity golf tournament earlier this year. I come in after my round and turn in my score card when someone at the table calls out" Hey coach, how'd you do today?" He mumbles a reply. Then the guy calls out "How's the team this year?" He volume and intensity in his voice skyrockets as he starts singing the praises of Mike Hart and LaMarr Woodley. Later during the banquet, people are eating and awards are being handed out, then Bo steps up to the mic, and every one in the room stops and focuses on Bo. The speech was basically a thank you for everyone coming out and a little football talk. Nothing spectacular, but to be in the room to hear a legendary coach talk, was still pretty cool.

That's how I remember him. R.I.P. Bo, well as much peace as you can get during football season.

On to the rest of the weekend activities:
One streak ends, and another one begins. The Pistons beat the Wizards and Rockets on Friday and Saturday, led by Rip Hamilton's 57 points in the two games. This looked a little more like last year's teams, with a 13-2 run to open the 3rd on Friday, and holding the Rockets to 14 in the 4th on Saturday. SO let's just back away from the ledge a little bit shall we? As long as they don't lose to Philly and Atlanta.

As for the Wings, well their franchise record tying 9 game winning streak ended in Calgary Friday night. They followed that up with a loss to Edmonton in a shoot out on Saturday. That with Joey MacDonald playing in his first NHL game. Along with Jimmy Howard, the Wings netminders of the future look pretty good. They look to break that new streak with tow games against the Canucks Tuesday and Wednesday. Jason Williams is back after taking a wicked, but clean hit last Wednesday against Edmonton. Tomas Holmstrom should be back in the mix after being out with a groin injury.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mayor gets elected to a new term & WTF Pistons?

Sean Casey signed a one year extension today. So it appears that the first base situation is the same as last year's. In the press conference today it was made apparent that Casey in the starter, and Chris Shelton's roster spot will have to be earned. So put to bed the ideas of Sheffield playing first, a trade for Adam LaRoche, or signing Aubrey Huff. It appears that his playoff hitting prowess, easy-going demeanor, relatively cheap cost (and the fact he actually wanted to come back), made Sean Casey a Tiger once again.

So the line-up more than likely looks like this:
CF Granderson
2B Polanco
SS Guillen
DH Sheffield
RF Ordonez
C Rodriguez
1B Casey
LF Monroe
3B Inge

So he isn't your typical power first baseman. Big deal, the Tigers already have enough guys that can hit the longball. He was probably signed for what he brings to the clubhouse just as much as what he brings to the field. Sort of a karmic balance for what Sheffield (supposedly) brings. Casey's going to go out, hit around .300 and play solid D. What more can you ask from a guy that more than likely will hit 7th? With Sheffield there will be more pitches for the guys around him to hit, and more guys on base for the bottom of the order to drive in (in theory). And if it doesn't work out, well it's not like the Tigers don't have a wealth of pitchers to trade for a first baseman next August.

Back in the Olde English "D"...for one more year

On to the hardwood. So Pistons, last night, anyone ever hear of BOXING OUT THE FREE THROW SHOOTER??? Alright, I got that bit of pent up frustration out of the way, What the fuck Pistons? It's not the record, it's early. Only five teams are above .500 in the East. It's not that Ben Wallace left, Chicago isn't doing any better than the Pistons. The most frustrating thing so far this season has been the story of the two teams this year. In the wins they have owned the boards, and scored most of their points within fifteen feet. In the losses, there have been turnovers, poor rebounding, and poor shot selection.

So why can't there be more of the first team and less of the second one?

Some say the coach is to blame. To those who say that, who would do better? Name one guy who's not coaching right now that would do better ? All kidding aside, it's not Flip Saunders coaching that is making them miss open jump shots and free throws. One of the biggest complaints is that he worked the starters too hard and they were tired for the playoff run. With apologies to Herm Edwards, you play to win championships, not one game. So this year he's using the bench. Nine players have averaged over 12 minutes, and only Rip Hamilton has played over 35 per game. It's not like a bad start will doom them to a lottery pick. So everyone settle down, have a Fresca, and we'll ride this one out. There's still 74 games to go. If they miss the playoffs, then we'll talk about a change in direction.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Weekend Compendium Vol. 2

Well this weekend started off great. The Tigers got their big bat, I was at the Joe for the Wings beating Nashville, and the Pistons looked good in a victory over the Lakers. Well it was all downhill from there. The Pistons looked like a lottery team against Golden State, and the Lions...well the Lions were the Lions. Those last two subjects are kind of depressing, and that's the last thing I want on a Monday. So let's focus on the new guy.

The Tigers fired the first shot across the bow of the other contenders this season. In Gary Sheffield they picked up the big bat they believe they needed to keep the team in the hunt for the World Series next year. But can Sheff cook up a World Series title for the Tigers?

The are a few unfavorable factors to this, for one, he's 38. He's can also be a pain in the ass when he doesn't get his way. The Tigers gave up two top 10 prospects in Sanchez and Whelan. And there is the question of will he be healthy enough to play the whole season?

Answering my own questions, yes he is 38 but so was Frank Thomas, and he had a great year playing essentially the part of a full time DH on the A's, which is the same thing Sheffield will be doing for the Tigers, according to Jim Leyland. Who's to say he won't be happy here? He sounded happy to be here (yes, the Tigers now have all-stars from other teams, and potential Hall of Famers happy to come here and play) in interviews. He received the contract extension he was looking for, and he is reunited with Leyland who was the manager of the Marlins with Sheffield when the won in 1997. As for the prospects, they're just that...prospects. They are not All-Stars like Sheffield, they aren't even on the 25 man roster, and they didn't have to go out and trade a guy like Jeremy Bonderman to get him. They could develop into all-stars, but the emphasis is on could. They could also develop arm problems and never make it out of the minor leagues. As for injuries, Sheffield missed most of last season after hurting his wrist in a collision at first base. The Tigers did the right thing by trading a guy that will help the team now, for guys that might help the team later. The only Sheff that the former GM's would have traded for would be the guy to your right. So now the only hole, is at first base. I'm sure with the Winter meeting coming up that spot will be filled rather quickly.

A special congratulations goes out the the AL Rookie of the Year, Justin Verlander. Injuries to Liriano and Papelbon late in the year made this race a bit wider than it should of, but Verlander was a stud most of the season, don't let a couple errors in the World Series cloud your memory.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sheffield a Tiger

Holy Crap. I leave work early to go to a Red Wing game, and en route find out that the Tigers have made a deal for Gary Sheffield. They give up minor leagues Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan, and Anthony Clagett. It's late and I'm tired, but I'll have more on this tomorrow. Oh, by the way the Wings defeated Nashville 3-0. This was Dominik Hasek's second shutout in a row, and the 8th consecutive win for the Wings.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Coaching swicheroo

Looks like there will be a new face in the bullpen next year. Lloyd McClendon has been given the hitting coach job vacated by Don Slaught a few weeks ago. Replacing McClendon as the bullpen coach will be Jeff Jones, pitching coach for the Toledo Mud Hens.

McClendon was the hitting coach for the Pirates from 1997-2000, before he was promoted to manager after Gene Lamont's departure. I don't know how much this will effect the free swinging ways of most of these Tigers. Hopefully he can have more of an influence when the younger hitters (Granderson in particular) get caught in a slump. As for Jones, seeing as he handled most of the young pitchers while they were in Toledo, it seems only natural that he could keep grooming them here in Detroit. Hopefully this switch brings around a scenario where McClendon gets mad and takes a base back to the dugout with him.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Weekend Compendium

Welcome to my visitation to the weekend that was. You may ask why the big word? Why not just say summary? Well I didn't go to college for 4 years to use little words. I went to college and learned that people tend to listen to you when you use big words in their proper usage. That, and to get a job in a completely unrelated field.
On to how the home teams fared.

The Lions:

They won! That in itself is amazing news. This wasn't a bottom feeder team either. This was Atlanta. A team in the playoff race. The team that leads the NFL in rushing yards. The Lions beat them, with 3 starters missing from their defensive line. Obviously Ron Mexico forgot to drink his Powerade. Seriously though, this is the first Lions game I've sat down and watched all the way through in a long time. whether it was the Tigers playing, other games with fantasy football implication on, or the fact that they have been plain terrible, I can say that I've watched a full 60 minutes of Lion football this year. Well here are three things that I noticed that make me feel the Lions are actually improving:
1) They have a leader at QB, and they want to follow him.
Here's a little photographic evidence.


Everybody's favorite holy roller QB Jon Kitna is seen here on the offensive after a cheap shot was administered to the side of his head. DeAngelo Hall (5'10", 190 lbs.) was the one who delivered it. Kitna is attacking LB Michael Boley (6'3", 236 lbs.) The Lions have a QB willing to fight linebackers. Hopefully he's smart enough to punch with his left hand. If Joey Blue Skies took a hit like that, he'd still be on the turf. Even if he did have a little piss and vinegar (mostly vinegar if you ask me) in him, who would jump to his side in a fight? Center Dominic Raiola has promised he would deliver vindication for Kitna if he should meet Hall on a football field. Could you even say half the players on the team last year would help Harrington up after a sack last year?
2) The "Playmakers" are making plays. Kevin Jones had over 100 yards on the ground, with 2 TD's. Roy "All he does is catch First Downs" Williams had a career long 60 yard TD catch, and a one handed circus grab late in the game. Dre Bly and Kenoy Kennedy had big interceptions. Ernie Sims had a fumble recovery. Here's a prime example of what was different with a couple plays from a drive in the second quarter. It's 3rd and 7, two false start penalties push the Lions back to a 3rd and 17. In years past it would have been either a draw up the middle for 4 yards or a checkdown pass to the TE or RB for a minimal gain and the4th down. But this year's team completes a 18 yard pass to First Down Roy. The drive ends with after a failed 4th and goal from the 1, but 2 plays after the turnover on downs, interception Dre Bly. Next play touchdown Kevin Jones. Stuff like that never happened for the Lions in years past.
3) The defense is hitting people. 17 different people had tackles. Vick only ran for 80 yards and two first downs. One play in particular that stands out was Fernando Bryant hitting Ashlie Lelie the second he touched the ball Lelie was separated from it by Bryant. It was one of many hits that led to a case of alligator arms by the Falcon wide outs. There is no stat for dropped passes, but I counted at least six among the Atlanta receivers. In years past, you would only see Lions defenders in the highlights getting shaken off an offensive player on his way to a big gain.

Now the key is to do all these things this Sunday against a team they should beat in the San Fransisco 49ers.

The Pistons:

After last Wednesday's opening night debacle vs. Milwaukee, the Pistons bounced back nicely with wins over Boston and Memphis. Nazr Mohammed has shown himself to be a nice replacement for Ben Wallace. He has averaged 11 points, 9 rebounds, and a block a game so far. He also is shooting 83% from the line, something Ben Wallace has never done. Making up for the energy missed by Wallace has been Jason Maxiell. Mad Max has been chipping in with a couple blocks and rebounds off the bench. Maxiell could be important seeing as how they will need help in the paint, if/when 'Sheed's temper flares up and gets 2 techs in a game.
Speaking of 'Sheed, another thing that's looking good, is that the Pistons are driving to the net more. 'Sheed looks like he realizes that he can't hang around the three point line with Ben down below to do the dirty work, so he's been setting up shop around the paint. Rip and Chauncey especially have gotten in on the act as well.They still have the ball movement and take they're high percentage jump shot, but they have been taking it to the hoop with consistency. Let's see if they can keep this up on a tough 4 game west coast swing.

The Red Wings:

Can we still call it "Hockeytown" if nobody is paying attention? Lost in all the hoopla over the Tigers world series, Pistons season starting, U of M potential national title run, and the Lions winning, has been the team that used to own this town. The Wings have won six in a row, and they are still showing up near the bottom (or the back if you get the real life paper version) of the sports page. But then again when you lose the face of the franchise, and when your regular season is basically an 82 game prelude to real hockey in April, who can expect many people to notice. Maybe wins over Edmonton and Nashville can turn some attention their way.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The first signing of the offseason.

Architect of the franchise, Dave Dombrowski was signed to a four year extension today, keeping him contractually bound to the Tigers until 2011. Also this should dispel any rumors that he would leave Detroit to join pal Jim Hendry in his hometown of Chicago. Sorry Cubs fans. This ensures that the next signing will continue to be good news for the Tigers.

Also congratulations to the Gold Glove winning battery of Pudge and Kenny Rogers. It was Pudge's 12th, most by any catcher in Major League history. It is Rogers' third in a row, and his fifth overall. And no, there wasn't any pine tar on the glove.

Hopefully this is the start of many positive reports for this Tigers' off-season.