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Solving Detroit Fans. [Dec. 19th, 2005|08:15 pm]
Sauce1977
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In this passage, ellie ponders the intricacy of when, exactly, and how, as a fan, one goes about understanding when it's time to actually let a coach/manager/executive/et cetera go, with regard to sports.

Quoted, ellie:

Here's my question to you:
When is it time to fire your coach? After one bad season? Two? Not winning a Superbowl? Do you fire Dungy if he doesn't win the Superbowl? Do you fire Edwards for having a season destroyed by injury?



Allow me to help with the fleshing out of just what to do, with regard to examples from the Detroit market.

It completely depends on the communicated expectation given to the public, either through franchise leadership, media, public word-of-mouth, or a combination in percentages of all three.

For example, in the Detroit market, the Pistons are an accepted trust level among fans to which Davidson the owner and Dumars the leader/architect are given public allowance to do what they feel they must, with little question.

The team they field is not just competitive, but it's also highly successful. When Dumars decided, in mid-surge (starting from the acquisition of Ben Wallace in 2000) that, at the end of the 02-03 season, it was time to fire Carlisle the coach, we generally accepted not only that but all of the deals on the player-level besides the Carlisle-can. We accepted this because we knew it was going somewhere, and we were hopeful of it reaching the top (championship) or close enough to it.

Also, it helped Dumars to have 'street-cred' in his reign. He had been an essential part of a team which had tasted championship in 1989 and 1990. In his history in Detroit, he was soft-spoken, but his actions were always purposeful. Nobody expected him to become an example of quality front-office leadership, following his run as a legend in the Pistons uniform, but we gave him the benefit of the doubt, especially since the surge started with no time wasted.

True to form, in the 2004 NBA Finals, Dumars's Pistons tasted the championship and earned it, 4-1, against the Los Angeles Lakers. At this point, the plan had completed. In the season following 03-04's champ title, we as fans gave that conglomerate even more trust because they had accomplished their mission earlier than expected. It was a huge plus. All the rest is the bonus round on this player foundation.

So, when Larry Brown's health and persona dominated the town and the team in 2004-2005, and it came within one quarter short of a back-to-back, we as fans trusted the front office to do whatever it wished by this time. The success far outweighed the failure.

It was once again as successful as possible, though some of us (including myself) believed that Brown had over-stepped his role by courting media attention in regard to other pursuits while harboring a serious injury which we suspected had affected his current team's preparation to play from night to night . . .

I suspect to this day that some days, when Larry Brown was ailing with his hip and bladder, that he would not be available to prepare his squad enough to play for that next night, and I think it escalated in seriousness of his injury during the playoff run. Some nights, the Pistons were all-cylinders-firing-perfectly. Other nights, sometimes the very next game against the exact same team, they were helpless and confused.

Such behavior was bi-polar, and it almost seemed as if it was tied to the general preparation, of which Brown was solely responsible. He had a stint of games in the regular season in 04-05 where he had to leave the team for his health (hospital), and in that stint, his largely incapable staff took on his duty. Of which, when Brown coaches a team, he's QBing most every play on offense and defense from the sidelines, kind of like how a manager in baseball communicates to batters and runners through the base line coach.

His control was so essential to the success, and he demanded not only that control, but he wanted and aspired to have duties similar to a GM in the future.

So, when it came time in summer 2005 to sit down with him, (of which all this came out after the fact), Brown and his agent communicated to Dumars/Davidson that there was a great probability, almost a certainty, that Brown would have to leave the team at some point in the near future, possibly later in the 2005-2006 regular season, for more work in the hospital.

In the regular season stretch in 04-05, Gar Heard, bless his heart, tried and failed with the rest of the staff to get anything done with the team. That team lost and lost some more. They were totally disorganized without Brown.

To which, when Davidson/Dumars heard this, they let him go. There was no way this scenario was going to work for this squad . . . it was better to go anywhere else than to deal with that again.

However, we trust the duo, owner/architect, because as fans, we see they hit their marks to perfection more than they do not.

In comparison, in sum, all of this with the Pistons is clearly not the same level of trust for other teams.

Money is tight, and allegiances are based on limitations of being a body of people which can barely afford a handful of games, let alone season tickets, plus all which they sell for merchandise, concessions, et cetera, ad nauseum.

When average folk spend money, they have so little of it in comparison. The pro sports created this level of financial incompatibility with the people, so the body of Detroiters as meager incomes and avid fans, in comparison, demand a plan that works and expect, in general, a team to get to the top every once in a while.

Of which, with the Lions, it has been a series of "5-year-plans" which all have failed, starting from the moment the Fords purchased the club in 1963.

They've tried everything, and it doesn't work. The people were satisfied with the Barry Sanders era, but it never reached very close to the top, and the fans were hoped with this next era (1999-2005) that, sometime in this set, they'd not only reach the playoffs, but maybe they'd win a game or two (after a handful of building years).

Well, it's built, but the house can't stand, and it's crumbling. Everything that could go wrong . . . did. Plus, to top it off, Millen expressed his own expectations of this team making the playoffs during this summer, to which everyone banked as reality. It had enough talent, that much is certain.

This has been the worst year of all the years, almost as bad as the first Mornhinweg year or two, but worse in the sense that this team is certain to be rebuilt once more with nothing accomplished.

It goes beyond the coach. It helps everyone to see that for over 40 years, this franchise has done nothing ultimately productive with its time.

All franchises are completely individual cases within the framework of sport-to-fan in an area.

One story which I did not share, a side-story to the Lions game yesterday, is as follows.

At one point, a true Bengals fan sat down on the steps next to one of my friends. I did not hear the complete conversation, but he chatted amicably with my friend. He was inquisitive of my friend of the Detroit atmosphere, of which he didn't know much of it, and he wanted to compare what was there for the fans of Cincinnati's local sports scene.

He knew of the championships that our town had experienced, and he tried to relate the information that Cincinnati does not have a professional basketball club. They do have baseball (Reds) and football (Bengals), and both pro clubs do not have quite as recent of a solid history. The Bengals season, of course, is a long sigh of comfort and relief after so many sub-.500 seasons from the last time they had meaningful football (late-80s-early-90s). The Reds, once a major player in the hunt for World Series action, haven't been competitive for some time.

It is nice, as a Cincinnati fan, to install this understanding in fellow fans, and I accept this viewpoint. I will caution, however, that any long period of fruitless production can be considered a breach of trust with the local fan base. A team needs to get to the playoffs every once in a while, and maybe, they can win a game or two. In American football, a playoff victory means a whole new level, so the expectations of winning at least one playoff game are about as equal as, say, winning at least one early series.

Of which, the Bengals have appeared in Super Bowls.

To which, the Lions have managed one playoff victory in the Super Bowl era.

20-58 over a series of years can make for some bitter fans.

Thankfully, there is much option among the teams with which to devote $upport.

I hope this helps.

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: ellie
2005-12-20 02:50 am (UTC)
It does help actually. Being from NY, we tend to want to fire out coaches after a blow out. Can you believe there are people here that wanted to fire Joe Torre after this season? People actually were screaming for George to fire him. Of course, these were the radio-callin junkies, but still, they're people and they wanted him fired.

It really comes down to trust of fans and team leadership, as you've said. Every once in a while, teams need to make play off appearances, as you've also said.

Which is why I sort of sit there dumbfounded when people in NY really want Herm Edwards to go coach in KC. They don't want him fired (I think they still remember the good times) but they definately want him out. With the exception of this year, Herm came through. No, the big game in Febuary was not won (nor did they play in it), but they did make it quite far into the playoffs. I remember a blow out of a pretty darn good Colts team. I remember a down to the wire game against the Steelers, who at the time had the best record in football and a QB that had never lost a game.

Thus my whole questioning. But darn, you really helped out.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-12-20 02:54 am (UTC)
Didn't Herm deliver a stunning win against the Bolts last year, first round?

People are literally looking at Wayne Fontes in Detroit as the best coach they've had for the team in 20-30 years.
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[User Picture]From: ellie
2005-12-20 03:03 am (UTC)
They did. Sort of. It was by a field goal. I remember that if the SD kicker had made some, the game would have been very different. It actually reminded me a lot of the Seattle-NY Giants game this year. The game would also be mimiced by the Jets-Steelers playoff game the next week. Only, the Jets kicked choked. That's why they drafted a kicker this year and cut the old one.

Nyers easily forget the good times. They like to focus on the bad. I think the problem too with Edwards is that expectations are consistantly high. The Jets haven't seen a superbowl since the 60's. I think Jets fans look to the other NY team, and they see something they want, play off appearances and championships.

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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-12-20 03:20 am (UTC)
Absolutely, they do.

I'm looking at the Pistons, and I see the Lions in comparison, and there's no point to bother with the Lions.

Here's a little personal belief system . . .

I believe that the Pistons are the only worthwhile franchise in this metro area.

Keep in mind, I follow all of the NFL, almost waaaay too much.

I follow enough basketball around the NBA to not be subject only to the Pistons. The grass extends to the brown, elsewhere, in my view.

My belief system, however, is something I do not profess for everyone to take up . . . I will literally disown teams, and entire sports, for actions which I expect as a fan (or former fan) to be corrected.

Of which, when I have stated, slowly, over this season, that I was to disown (and have) the Lions, despite my incessant talking about them, I am in no way, shape, or form ever going to consciously spend another cent on that club, actually follow them with any real interest, and certainly will never return, so long as the Fords control the ownership of the franchise.

Unfortunately, by the time the Ford family removes itself from football, I may actually be dead. It is, in other words, safe to say that I'll never support that club.
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[User Picture]From: duj_1arm
2005-12-20 08:42 am (UTC)

Yeah, Fire Joe Torre!

We might win the division next year if you do...

As for the assholes calling for Tito's head, fucking hell, the guy won the Red Sox their first Championship for 86 years, I think he's got a few years grace before he has to win another one to keep his job.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-12-20 09:45 am (UTC)

Re: Yeah, Fire Joe Torre!

Same can be said for the nutjob who managed the ChiSox to their title.
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[User Picture]From: ellie
2005-12-20 05:39 pm (UTC)

Re: Yeah, Fire Joe Torre!

As a Mets fan, I love to see the Yankees fans in dismay. I love to hear them call and shout for the firing of Torre. I just sit and laugh my tushie off. I just sit there and am amazed at how many playoff appearances and championships that man has got the team. Every year, the Yankees are serious contenders.

Which in part prompted my whole line of original questioning.

Of course, as a NYer, we want our teams winning championships every year. If they're not, we a rather unpleasant bunch and wrongly so.
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[User Picture]From: fruitpunch76
2005-12-20 03:42 am (UTC)
If only more people would realize this in Detroit......
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-12-20 09:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'd have to play Santa Grinch and shit in a lot of Xmas stockings.

It's up to all of them to learn.

I will expect it to remain the same until it does not prove.
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From: all_gr0wed_up
2005-12-20 06:11 am (UTC)
That was an excellent piece of writing there and I think you're pretty damn spot on with your assessment.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-12-20 09:50 am (UTC)
People like to focus on the less-than-1-million residents in the city.

In fact, the metro area is one of the larger markets in the nation. Think Los Angeles in one respect. They have something like 3 mil in the city, but the entire valley's more like 20 mil.

Outside of expansive 'Detroit' area, that's about all that is the same between both of those areas.
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[User Picture]From: thecesspit
2005-12-20 04:10 pm (UTC)
But the Michagan area does seem to sport two pretty decent college teams... are they not a better "product" for the football hungry masses to spend their dollars on?

I've always found the support of US college football pretty staggering... 90,000 folks to watch students play ball? (I know it's nothing like theBritish University system, but in my -head- it is).
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-12-20 04:50 pm (UTC)
I've never been to a college football game, and the only one I'd ever really want to see is the ridiculously-talented teams like USC.

Nothing gets me pumped like pro game. I see so many amateur mistakes with the Lions that I'd probably froth at the mouth in anger over all the mistakes made.

I think I'd love robots playing football. Cyberball would rock. Less mistakes . . . more touchdowns.
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[User Picture]From: ellie
2005-12-20 05:40 pm (UTC)
I would completely advise against college games.

/shudders at the Army games she was dragged to
//fears the Buffalo Bulls (My sister made me go!)
///finds herself less a fan of football and more a fan of the nfl
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-12-20 05:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, shit, Buffalo is MAC . . . that's the absolute last place I'd want to go.

My cousins attend a number of Wolverine games in Ann Arbor. They looooove it. There is something wonderful about being part of a crowd over 100,000 . . . some of the Silverdome games with the greater capacity were stunning for size.

I crave great football. It won't be better in any other version. The Lions, naturally, make a case for their defeat at the hands of some college squads, but there's nothing better than a Bills/Giants SB that hangs on one kicker's attempt.

Every once in a while, one witnesses something like that. That's more than enough to keep the interest for many years.
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[User Picture]From: thecesspit
2005-12-20 09:57 pm (UTC)
Fair enough, I shall avoid if I'm ever in the position to see any of Washington State teams play and instead go to a CFL team instead...
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2005-12-20 10:03 pm (UTC)

In defense of NCAA football . . .

It's one particular bonus to the NCAA version.

The action is maintained as 'pure.'

There is little of the professional 'illness' to the game. Some people prefer this level of amateur competition because it doesn't always feature the most predictable outcome. Teams are more of a 'team.' Players are not just yet making the gigantic sums of money and the concerns along with that fortune. This is why a lot of people like minor league baseball almost or more so than the pro game.
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