Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reputation and Reality Aren't Matching for Pistons

There is a saying I like to use. Sometimes, probably a bit too much, a least when I am yapping on the radio.
But, sorry, here it is again: "With rank comes responsibility."
I guess it is my way of saying that certain athletes or teams have raised the bar because they have performed well in the past. And because of it, they have gained a certain measure of respect others do not have.
The price for "rank" comes with the challenge of, when the moment arrives, having to do it again.
The Pistons have arrived at that moment. And they aren’t getting it done. Period.
Hey, you can say we’re spoiled because this is their fifth straight Eastern Conference finals. But you can also say we have come to expect certain things from the Pistons, who are widely respected in the Detroit Area. What we’ve come to expect is a lot better than what they have produced so far in their series against the Cavaliers. Swagger is a good thing, but the Pistons seem to have taken it a bit further to the land of overconfidence. They seem to expect the Cavaliers to just fade away. Maybe, just maybe, LeBron James and his buddies have grown from last year when they had the Pistons on the ropes, but couldn’t put them away.
Sometimes this flirting with disaster gets a little stale. The Pistons, frankly, are lucky they aren’t down in this series. They can’t lose Game 5 this time and expect to win it. They are better than this - and need to start playing like it. Bottom line.

Random Thoughts

- The subject is the sacrifice bunt. Are you for it or against it? Lately, it appears as if Tigers manager Jim Leyland is against it. He doesn’t call for the bunt much. The Tigers have a powerful hitting attack this season, and Leyland appears determined not to take the bat out of the hands of his hitters. I tend to agree with him on this point. I don’t know what the statistical evidence actually is, but it appears, to me, that more times than not, bunting backfires. An out is an awfully steep price for moving a runner into scoring position. Just my opinion.

- Sorry. I know the rest of the world would rather watch poker or billiards or NACAR, but not me - I love the Stanley Cup Finals. Game 1 was terrific. The way Ottawa came out with a lot of jump. The way the Ducks stormed back to win the game with an unrelenting attack. The way Jean-Sebastien Giguere made a huge glove save during the waning seconds. Great stuff. Can’t wait for Game 2 tonight.

- Too bad for the Tigers they didn’t win in Tampa Monday - blowing a big lead - or they already would have made up two of the games they lost to Cleveland in the standings since being swept by the Indians over the weekend. The key, really, is beating the bad teams. It’s what made the Tigers last season. Having said that, it would be good for the Tigers to at least split their series in Cleveland this weekend.

- I know the Red Wings want Dominik Hasek back, and I understand why, but I would stop short of begging him. Remember how that turned out the last time they did it? He is a lot better when he has something to prove or feels snubbed than when he is comfortable.

- Hey, the most underrated aspect of this time of the year is the "ping" of the college baseball regionals, and then the College World Series. I get hooked on it. I admit it.

16 Comments:

Blogger WiredTiger said...

The only time I really appluad the sacrifice bunt is in the late innings when you need 1 run. Other than that unless your pitcher is up it probably is better to go for a big inning. Especially with these Tigers where everyone in the lineup can hit a home run.

9:59 AM 
Blogger WiredTiger said...

I continue to be impressed with Leyland as a manager. He just has a good feel on what should be done in each particular situation.

10:01 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Wiredtiger,
I agree with you about bunting, but I don't even like it that much during the late innings. Leyland has earned his sterling reputation as a manager, but I hope he sticks with his basic philosophy "that talent means more than experience" and they start to bring up some of their pitching prospects in the minor leagues who are doing well rather than relying on the relievers who have failed them lately.
Caputo

10:15 AM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, I am with you big time on "With rank comes responsibility." I am a teacher and that is #1. No reason it doesn't work in sports. I am just about sick of the Pistons and their attitude. I will gladly eat my words if they win the NBA finals. I can't even watch the 4th quarter anymore, not because of the tension, but because of the play.

I am not going to question Leyland on the sac bunt. There was a time last night when it was called for, but so what.

I love the way the Tigers play all out every night, regardless of what happened the night before. Can you imagine Leyland managing the Pistons? They may be uncoachable.

Danny

11:38 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
The thing is, even if the Pistons get to the finals, is San Antonio will be rested and at home to start the series. The Pistons needed to put the Cavs away asap to be rested. That's not going to happen now.
Caputo

11:41 AM 
Blogger Dave said...

I agree with wiredtiger's view on bunting. I think that bunting is a lost art because it's not a skill that has value when negotiating a player's contract and is also not practiced often enough by teams/players to be reliable for use in a key situation.

12:22 PM 
Blogger Fred C. Brill said...

Book,

I love the sacrifice bunt, it puts the ball in play and forces the fielder to make the play – often not easily – often causing mistakes. But then I love small ball – although I don’t mind the dingers when we get them. But small ball was how the game was invented to be played. Read the book about Ty and the Babe and when the homer came to really be in baseball and you remember that baseball was born to be a chess game – not a homer derby. But that’s just my opinion.

Even if Leyland doesn’t apply the sac bunt often – I am not second guessing him. It’s still taboo in my book to second-guess our skip. If we don’t make the playoffs this year, next year he’s fair game!

Regarding your comments on the Pistons – and their responsibility to step up and perform in big plays – here is my take. The most I can ever ask anyone in a sporting event – at any level – is to put 100% of their effort into their performance. Give me 100% and I am proud of ya. You cannot hold somebody accountable for the outcome – only the effort they applied to the execution.

That being said, I was really disappointed last night in Billups. Effort? Yes, he gave it effort, but his thinking was all messed up. Trying all those three points when he knew he didn’t have the groove. And those fouls at the wrong times. We could have won that game last night – but the last minute and a half was just not well thought out. Now is that Billups or Saunders?

Lord Stanley would enjoy this match up if he could see it. He would enjoy the match-ups. I get the feeling that Don Cherry would want to be a Duck fan, but he has to pull for the Canadian franchise – even though the Ducks have “a bunch a good Canadian kids dare eh?”

Go Sens.

Thanks Pat.

12:48 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Dave,
I figure most people disagree with me about the bunt. I have to admit, I have changed my thoughts on it down through the years. I love National League ball. I love the details that come from the game, the nuance. But you know, the more I watch these games and am around it, I've come to realize the long ball rules and small ball is more fun to watch than actually effective.
Caputo

12:55 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred C. Brill,
LOL on Don Cherry. You know it because of their roster makeup and the way they hit everything in sight, deep down he is for the Ducks. They are pretty good. You make a good point about the pressure bunting puts on defenses. I'll concede that, but a good fielding team often turns a bad bunt into an out at second.
Caputo

12:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
For some reason, your second comment about de la Cruz didn't post, about how his pitching coach says he needs more time in the minors because of command issues. The point is well taken, but honestly, could he do worse than these 4-A guys they are using?
Caputo

4:42 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, if the Pistons aren't rested when (IF) they play the Spurs, that's their fault.

If I were a betting man, I would bet that even if they were rested, they coundn't beat the Spurs in a playoff series.

Danny

7:28 PM 
Anonymous Chief said...

President Book,

I saw that Tata pitched tonight in Toledo, 3IP, 0 ER. I think they're fasttracking him in short relief to get another live arm up here.

Also, the injuries at this point are a little too debilitating. I think we have to wait for them to get healthy

11:03 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
All the cards right now are definitely on the Spurs side. I still think the Pistons will win this series, but I am not positive like I was when it started.
Caputo

12:48 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Chief,
If Tata is healthy, he is definitely a viable option. We'll see how he bounces back physically from his outing.
Caputo

12:52 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

You are probably right, and he could help right away because he has a lights out fast ball, but I worry that he may end up like Rodney and Zumaya and have his achilles heel be walks. I would rather him get his control right while he has time to work on it, instead of bringing him to the Majors right now. The season is really long, and I think we may need a little bit of patience for De La Cruz.

-Marty

8:30 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
The thing about de la cruz is he has been in the minor leagues for a long time. At some point, he has to do his learning in the major leagues. Find out what he can and can't get away with against major league hitters. He is short, not deceptive in motion and his fastball doesn't have a lot of late life. So it negates his raw velocity some. He will have to spot the ball to be successful. What needs to be known is how that equates against big league hitters.
Caputo

8:53 AM 

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