Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On The Oakland County Top 10 List...

I very much liked writing the series about the Top 10 Greatest Athletes in Oakland County History.
In case you missed it, or parts of it, the final list went:
1. Kirk Gibson; 2. Pat LaFontaine; 3. Hayes Jones; 4. Meg Mallon; 5. Pete Dawkins; 6. Campy Russell; 7. Micki King; 8. Alexi Lalas; 9. Ted Simmons; 10. Peter Vanderkaay. We’re working on getting the profiles posted on website.
The list came from readership voting on both website and through a mail-in ballot from our print edition. It was shared with a list sports editor Jeff Kuehn compiled, and that I did. The final tally was based on a 50-25-25 percentage basis. My list was the same as the final list, with a couple changes in position. And I had Steve Howe on my list instead of Vanderkaay. I knew Steve, played against him in high school and American Legion ball and liked him.I fully understand how talented he was - and troubled. For my thoughts on Howe, who was 11th on our list, go to and type "Caputo" and "Howe" in the search box to read the column I wrote following Steve’s unfortunate death last year.
All voting segments had Gibson No.1. Chris Webber, wrestler Steve Fraser, Bob Welch, Bill Muncey and Bill Freehan also received strong support.
Vanderkaay did very well in readership voting and I understand why he was included on the final list. He did win a gold medal and there may be more in his future.

Random thoughts

- I must admit I was surprised by the way the trade deadline went down. Surprised because the Tigers didn’t make a move because they have serious problems in their bullpen. Surprised because other American League teams with needs didn’t make moves, either. The only significant move that might affect the Tigers later was Boston acquiring Eric Gagne. And it was more a case of the Red Sox augmenting what was already a strength. I see the Tigers wanting to acquire infield help as concern about the health of Carlos Guillen. That was evident Tuesday when he made a bad error that opened the flood gates for Oakland, and then left the game with a sore knee. Jack Wilson is a good player whose growth has been hindered by the malaise in Pittsburgh. If he comes to the Tigers - which is still possible later this season or during the off season - it would give the Tigers the option of moving Guillen to first base next season. Guillen seems to struggle to stay healthy while playing shortstop.

- Kevin Garnett is a great player. I have always thought a lot of Ray Allen. I just wonder how well Paul Pierce is going to handle being the third-wheel in that equation for the Celtics. Seems to me like he has always been a selfish player.

- I don’t want to belabor the point, honest, but I do find the fact Shaun Rogers is not practicing telling. He should be recovered from surgery and in shape by now. Also, the knee injury to Drew Stanton is dangerous because the Lions can’t put him on injured reserve this season and still have him practice with the team. That would greatly slow down his growth. And if they have him as their No. 3 QB with little practice time, it would be very risky. Seems like a no-win situation there.


Blogger maddog52 said...

I tell you what Book I thought the Tigers actually listened to the Book on Sports and were really going to pull off a deal with Pittsburgh. To me you play for the playoffs. I think the Tigers have a few other issues more then just the bullpen. One of the main reasons the Tigers are struggling lately is that the starters aren't even going 6 innings. Seems like when they had that great stretch where Bonderman and Verlander were dominant. They were going 6 to 7 strong innings and at the samet ime the Bull pen had a descent stretch of success. This bullpen is fit to fill roles. These guys wouldn't even be seeing the light of day if Rodney and ZUmya of last year were here. Plus I think this month was killer. THe tigers haven't had much time since the beginning of july including the break. This upcoming home stand I think is cruicial. I think they need to take all three series. Not sweeps but just take the series. If not I think they are in trouble.

As far as the celtics. Yeah I think it was a good deal at the same time I don't think they threaten the Pistons. After the big three they have nothing left. Allen doesn't have enough to play 40 minutes a game all season. Garnett and Price will get wore down as well. The C's have nothing else. I thought they gave up way to much for one player. Even though it is Garnett. I am predicting the Celtics will be disappointed by seasons end. Personally I don't think the T-Wolves got that bad of a deal. THe Pistons are in an interesting spot. There really isn't anybody on the free agent market in my mind worth getting. The only way they could of improve is to make a trade. Nobody wants their crap like Murray and Mohammad.

10:19 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I agree that Pittsburgh seemed to be the perfect trade partner for the Tigers. I just wonder what the Pirates were seeking in return. Salomon Torres was an ideal fit. He has been hurt some this year, he had a nasty blowup with management, they wanted to move him and the Tigers could really use him. I don't understand why that didn't happen. Then again, the Pirates didn't trade with anybody. That tells me they were probably asking for too much.

8:01 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I watch every game and I have been noticing that the team seems to underperform as hitters when we are facing starting pitching that we should be able to hit. (example, yesterday in Oakland) We seem to do a little better when we are facing Santana, Buerhle, Dice-K etc. I find it real interesting. What do you attribute that to???

10:34 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

I know our starters are struggling a bit right now. I don't believe it will be a long term issue though.

We still have the best starting rotation in the MLB

I think having Kenny go back on the DL took some wind out of their sales.

And I would not be surprised to find out later that Sheffield's earlier comments really did have an affect on the rest of the boys.

I agree very much that they are tired. Wore out. The All Star break was no break, and I think you said it on the radio Book that even their recent 3 game homestand was just like another stop on a road trip.

Gagne going to Boston? I personally don't think it has an impact in anyway. Boston is not our concern at all in my opinion.

Luckily Cleveland has been sliding down the same slope we have. It's all a matter of who reaches the end of the slide first.

Injuries to Guillen and Sheffield won't make the end come any sooner.

But we are still in it. Ain't it great?!

12:58 PM 
Blogger Moondogg said...

I wanted to throw out a name that you guys overlooked in your Oakland County best athletes feature.
I realize that I'm biased because I'm a fellow West Bloomfield Laker, but I feel that Todd Krumm was a glaring omission from the list.
Krumm led WB to the 1983 Class A baseball title, had a stellar football career at Michigan State and then played both pro football and baseball.
If you guys can find 9 people with better credentials than that, bless you!

1:22 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Interesting point. I think right now they are just in a slump in every way, need a day off and will be glad to get home for an extended period. I also believe that veteran hitters do tend to bear down against the better pitchers and sometimes have problems with lesser pitchers, especially those they haven't seen much before.

2:27 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I don't think this is going to be long term slump for the Tigers. I watched a lot of that White Sox series in New York and they were awful. Then there is Tampa Bay. I expect the Tigers get better in a hurry the next week. And Cleveland struggled against Texas at home much the same way the Tigers did. I watched some of those games and it was odd. It seemed like the Indians were going to break loose any second - and they didn't. What a wasted opportunity for them.

2:30 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Todd is one of my favorites, too. My first big assignment, before I was even on staff, was covering West Bloomfield winning the state baseball title. Then I covered Todd as the beat writer when he played at Michigan State. Great athlete. Great kid. Last I heard he was a Bloomfield Township cop. But if you look at the list, he didn't match up. Gold medal winners, Heisman Trophy winner, greatest American hockey player of all time, stuff like that. He didn't even make the ballot. It just shows you how many great athletes have come from Oakland County.

2:34 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Randy Moon on your list Book?
Still in shock that West Maple is an elementary school.


5:31 PM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

I'm surprised at Gibbie being #1 on the Oakland Co. athlete poll. I thought LaFontaine, Ted Simmons, Welch and Lalas had longer periods of sustained excellence... but the masses have spoken.

If the trade for Jack Wilson goes down, I just hope that the all important "player to be named later" is what we give in return. I understand standing pat knowing that Gagne and Dotel were the real targets... failure in securing either player justified Dombrowski's thinking here.

I believe that Shaun Rogers checked out mentally 2 years ago. Pulling his mind from the abyss may be next to impossible... he's been officially LIONIZED!

8:23 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Wilson is a very good defensive SS with a CAREER on base percentage of .306.

He's also due $ 6.5 million in 2008 and $ 7.5 million in 2009 (or more than the Tigers will pay Inge and Polanco in those years)

With numbers like that, Jack Wilson better be Ozzie Smith - which he ain't!

9:05 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Randy would be the first to tell you he doesn't belong on the list. But I do know for a fact that when his team played Kirk Gibson's and Steve Howe's team, Randy's team did win. And rather convincingly, I might add.

3:02 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Gibby, I think, deserved it. He was a special athlete in a truly unique way. I think you're right about Shaun Rogers. I doubt he will ever be the same. The environment, like with so many others, got to him. He didn't arrive that way.

3:04 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I like Wilson as a player. I think he is pretty good. But not for that kind of money. Seems odd they would be that interested in him.

3:05 PM 
Anonymous Chief said...

yo book,

Bullpen deals aside, this team is dead unless their starting pitching and power offense returns to form. Their starters have been awful the past two weeks and without Sheffield healthy, almost no one else is hitting homers. Bullpen is bad, but the Tigers' good players have to come through.

4:12 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The starting pitching is the key. Especially Verlander and Bonderman. They must start coming through for the Tigers, be stoppers, or they will be in serious trouble.

9:17 AM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, I am really looking forward to your comments on the Tigers tomorrow. Been up north and couldn't hear you on the radio. Saw a Beach Bums game!

When it rains...

Need to at least split vs. Tampa Bay. Verlander needs to step up and be a stopper a la Jack Morris.


9:02 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the top ten athletes of oakland county, where are the Pacioreks from Orchard Lake St. Marys, or the Fifes out of Clarkston. There was Mikr Grace from Waterford Mott who played with either St Louis or Cinncinnati, and no mention at all of Tim McCormick.

9:40 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

They all were considered for the ballot, there was a write-in space on the ballot, but they didn't generate much support. I didn't put any of them on the list I submitted. Not that they weren't great athletes in their own right, but those on the top 10 accomplished more overall. But it is a subjective thing. Everybody has an opinion. That is why we polling from four different sources - readers internet, readers ballot from the print edition, my list and a list from sports editor Jeff Kuehn.

11:41 PM 

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