Friday, June 01, 2007

Was It Bad Defense Or LeBron's Greatness?

The Pistons are being roundly criticized for the way they defended LeBron James Thursday night. For how he was able to attack the basket unimpeded over and over. For how he simply destroyed the Pistons during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, when everybody knew he was going to shoot each time down the court.
I am not so sure it is justified. There are times, albeit very rare, when a truly special athlete just exerts his will. Nobody was going to beat Tiger Woods when he won his first Masters. If pressed, he probably would have shot a 59, or something equally ridiculous, for the final round.
Three very different style pitchers allowed Reggie Jackson’s three straight homers during the ‘77 World Series. There were a couple times in the Super Bowl they could have put the entire secondary on Jerry Rice - and he still would have sprung free and scored touchdowns.
It was just LeBron James’ time. It was his moment to take over. Period. That was utter brilliance. The Pistons were completely helpless to stop him.

Random Thoughts

- For some reason, Justin Verlander’s personal house of horrors is Jacobs Field. He melted down there during a start last season, had a rough major league debut there and pitched poorly again at Jacobs Field Thursday. It was disappointing, though, because the Tigers really needed him and they gave him a lead. Same with Nate Robertson Wednesday in Tampa. The last thing the Tigers need is for their starting pitching to go belly up. The Tigers have had three normally dependable pitchers let them down and blow leads this week - Verlander, Robertson and closer Todd Jones.

- College coaches in the NBA just don’t seem to work. I don’t see Billy Donovan being an exception in Orlando. His skill was more as recruiter, not as an x’s and o’s guy.

- The Tigers simply need more production from first base. Sean Casey has been a disappointment. Marcus Thames is not the answer there. Too bad Chris Shelton isn’t doing a little better at Toledo because he might get another chance. But his power numbers aren’t that good and he is still striking out too much. Or that Jeff Larish hasn’t taken off at Erie. He is a left-handed hitter with power. If he develops quickly, it would help the Tigers immensely.


Blogger Fred C. Brill said...


What James did last night was pretty Jordan-esque. And everyone has now officially declared last night as his “game of ascension”. Me? I think I need to see him do a few miracles before I acknowledge him as the next “Air-deity”.

A hot night is a hot night – and everyone has been waiting for King James to deserve his crown – anxious to give him his coronation. But Jordan did it over and over again for how many years? Carried the Bulls to how many champions? Jordan rose Scotty Pippen to a level higher than I ever thought he was worth? And in between championships he was more interested in playing baseball for the Cubs!

What James did was amazing last night. But for right now I consider last night to be his really hot game – and hope our Pistons can close him down and still win this thing,

And it wouldn’t be so bad to see James knocked on his … a couple of times as well.

As for my beloved Tigers – I am ready for a fire sale. “Everything must go – big bull pen sale – we got lefty’s – righties and flame throwers – get ‘em while their hot – or at least not too cold!”

Ok – not really. But they are making me lose confidence in success this year big-time. Losing that series to Tampa Bay was just awful.

But the Cleveland sports talk guys and journalists must love Detroit right now. Good thing they don’t play hockey!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Go Sens.

11:27 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred C. Brill,
LOL on the Cleveland thing. You're about LeBron. Still a lot more work to do. If Cleveland does win this series, it'll be interesting to see how San Antonio would handle him. He has had a lot of success against the Spurs in the past. The Sens need to stop trying to be so fancy and dump and chase more. Spezza has been particularly awful.

12:13 PM 
Blogger Moondogg said...

Terrible last possession in regulation by the 'Stuns last nite.
No imagination, no strategy. Nothing. Just four guys standing aroung, (well, five--including Billips) and Chauncey ends up throwing up an awkward shot that didn't have a prayer.
That is the poster child of reasons why I--and many other Detroit fans--just do not have confidence in Flip Saunders.
I just don't believe in his leadership. The way they had a John L. Smith mental meltdown in the clutch during Game 4 spoke volumes.
I'm not trying to be unfair to Saunders. Hey, I love the Pistons. I want the man to succeed! I'm just speakin' from the heart, man, just speakin' from the heart!

8:33 PM 
Anonymous Chief said...

Yo Book,

We need a column and a blog entry on tonight's tigers game

-Jones is now in shambles.

-The manager did a terrible job...Bring in Seay to pitch to Nixon and live with it.

-Does Dombrowski have a pulse? Waiting around for guys from the DL is not smart.

10:55 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, 12-11!? What a shock, but you could see it coming. What's the deal with Todd? He was in hitter's count with the Indians all night and you can't do that. Geez, what a game. Who pitches now? Offense was super awesome.

We're going down to see the Tigers tomorrow night. Should be a crazy night in Cleveland. Hope we can win at least one of the two against Cleveland tomorrow.

Hangin' in there,


11:09 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I wrote a column this week in which I said Flip gets all the blame when they lose and none of the credit when they win. They are going to keep him around for awhile, but I don't know if he is the problem as much as some their lack of incentive from the players. Billups should have incentive because of his contract situation, though. I agree about their offense. It is stagnant.

7:48 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You are right on every point as far as I am concerned - especially the last one. Dombrowski can't just let the season fadeaway when he does have options from the minor leagues. (Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Eugulio de la Cruz, Jair Jurrjens).

7:51 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

When Jones is at his best, he works quickly and gets ahead in the count with his fastball. When he tries to get too fine or struggles with his command is when he gets in trouble. Those two blown saves really hurt. The bad part is, with Zumaya out, the alternative is not there. They don't have a closer in the minors to turn to.

7:54 AM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

Book, I'm partially with you on LeBron's great performance... he was definitely locked in emotionally, but he also received a little help from the home team. Defensive options they could have hit LeBron with include:
#1 doubling him in the backcourt
#2 clogging the middle with bigs
#3 stop using the 3-2 zone
#4 harassing him with Lindsey
#5 using hack-a-Bron when he get into the paint (he's only a 70% free thrower)
#6 using the 2-3 zone (which clogs the paint, but is vulnerable to the long jumper)
Laymen can see these things, but an experienced coaching staff can't!

2:09 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I know this isn't a popular stance about now, but I don't think it was the coach's fault. Seemed like they tried a little bit of every thing and none of it worked.

4:48 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

I never hear much about Jeff Larish, but he has been the minor leaguer I have been paying the most attention to since we drafted him. At the time Carlos Pena was our First Baseman, but he was let go soon after. Now we really need a guy like Larish who is patient and has alot of power, plus he is an excelent fielder. He doesn't hit for average (Around .250 last time I checked) but he takes a lot of walks, to the clip that he actually had a .400 OBP with the .250 BA! Plus he usually has a APS around .850, and he is left handed.

I just took a look at his stats now, and his BA is .246, his OBP is .357 and his OPS is .844. I still hope that he can bring up his average, so that the Tigers can fit him into their lineup next year when Casey will likely leave.

12:26 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Larish was considered a big-time prospect early on at Arizona State, then faded but then established himself in 2005 - especially during the College World Series. He would have gone sooner in the draft based on the performance he displayed there. He has power, but seems to have some holes in his swing. He is a definitely possiblity, though.

1:26 PM 

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