|Great Year for Local Sports.
||[Oct. 18th, 2011|10:37 am]
The Tigers exit from the ALCS didn't bother me in the slightest. At season's beginning, I didn't think the Tigers would make the playoffs. They have arguably the best hitter and best pitcher in 2011 on their team, a good manager, and enough talent (Peralta, Avila, Valverde) to where they could compete for the championship most years. I think Detroit needs a better relief staff. Phil Coke is just an average reliever, and maybe guys like Al Albuquerque will get better, but they need to learn their lesson with staffing mediocre players on the pitching staff ... it's not a substitute for going out and paying for better guys. A solid staff, especially in the bullpen, can get you a longer way than your hitting will, I believe. The Tigers could use one more good starter, but those are hard to find, especially since the lousy free agents often command big money, too (hello John Lackey).
Texas Rangers simply pounded Detroit with a better lineup, deeper bench, and better relief staff. I don't care for Ron Washington's cheerleading antics, but to be fair, I'd probably love his wild clapping and hollering if he was coaching the Tigers. I hope the Rangers do well and win the Series because they're up against the Cardinals, and if dealing with LaRussa's mad genius tweaks isn't difficult enough, their fans are going to be subjected to several Cardinals home game broadcasts courtesy of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. When the Tigers went to the Series in 2006, it made for some of the worst broadcasting I've ever observed. Buck and McCarver openly rooted for the Cards (they have history with that team). It's an unforgivable slight from a fan's perspective, and I've deeply loathed the both of those clowns ever since. So yeah, I like LaRussa but I hope the Rangers destroy them. And I'm more than tired of the All-Star game determining home field advantage. St. Louis gets it with their crappy record? What's the point of giving a shit about the regular season past making the playoffs? There's no incentive for dominating from start to finish. Either get rid of that stupid reward, or cut the season down to 140 games. The season is too damn long.
Lions are exceeding every rational Detroiter's expectation. I had plenty of fun laughing at the clowns who predicted winning records from that team during the Millen era, but this is a better caliber of front office and personnel. Calvin Johnson is an outstanding receiver. When this is over, he's probably right next to Barry Sanders as one of the best players the Lions have ever had the privilege to employ. Ndamukong Suh is almost a perfect defensive tackle, and he's just 2 years into his career. Add that with my new hero, Jim Schwartz the Wild Boy, and you have the most entertaining football in the state. Yeah, I said that. Screw all the Michigan schools, this is the best football you could possibly watch. They're currently overplaying their actual talent level right now (5-1 at the moment, I'm thinking they're more of a 9-7 or 8-8 team, possibly a 10-win club), but even if they crash and burn the rest of the way, they have a great shot at making the playoffs, especially as a wild card. That's an accomplishment bigger than any other team out there, considering this club turned in a winless season in 2008.
There likely won't be an NBA season, due to lockout and greed. I'm cool with this. Pistons are currently terrible and have absolutely no hope to be better in the near future. The NBA hasn't been nearly as enjoyable as it once was. Even the Pistons championship in 2004 felt lesser than the 1989 and 1990 crowns. If any professional sport needed a reboot, it's this one. The league model is lousy, especially with regard to player salaries on the low and medium end. The rules make for plenty of sissies and flopping. Refs are as big of a show out there as the players. And Stern is basically the worst commisioner of all sports, and this is after weighing him against Bettman and Selig and Goodell. There isn't a good commish to be had in all of the major US sports, really.
Red Wings are as good as they ever were. I'm greedy when it comes to hockey. Detroit could use another 2-3 championships. At least a couple a decade is good for me. They haven't been a mediocre club since the early 1990s. The current crop of young fans don't know bad local hockey. It's a big contrast to fans in the Chicago and Toronto area. Sure the Blackhawks won one recently, but they were garbage for a long, long time. In terms of talent, it will be very hard to replace Nicklas Lidstrom when he decides to retire. Detroit's had arguably one of the best defenders of all time on their roster for 20 seasons, counting the current one. I couldn't be more happy with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Maybe Jimmy Howard will play better in future playoffs, but if any elite goalie becomes available, it's hard to stick with a late-blooming Howard who hasn't shown me anything special in previous playoff games. Make that deal, Red Wings. The 2 best goalies in 2011's Cup made the Finals. Goaltending wins championships.
Michigan Wolverines football started out well enough with new coach Brady Hoke, but I think they drop a few more games come season's close. They're obviously going to a bowl this year, but it won't be a glamorous one. Denard Robinson is not typical Michigan-caliber quarterbacking. To be fair, he's a leftover from the spread-option offense that previous coach Rich Rodriguez used, but in terms of NFL-level talent, even the shittiest Michigan QBs of the past (John Navarre, Chad Henne) were backup-level for NFL talent. I don't think Denard makes anyone's pro roster as a QB, unless they run a lot of Wildcat. Even then, you can sit up in the box because his arm is garbage.
Michigan State Spartans football carries the state colleges famously. Their uniforms (both clubs actually) were horrible for the annual Michigan/State game, but aside from that terrible Notre-Dame-looking junk they wore, they have a really good defense. Mark D'Antonio is as solid a college football coach as they come. Spartans could be looking at a major bowl game if they keep it up. Their players come off as dirty with more than their share of late hits and cheap shots, but you have to bend the rules a little to succeed. I wonder if D'Antonio will jump for greener and bigger pastures elsewhere, like Nick Saban did. Ohio State currently needs a head coach, and he's got ties there. Unless your name is Tom Izzo, Michigan State really has never been the place to stay for most of their coaches.