Friday, June 06, 2008

Championship Seals Red Wings Legacy

There was a time, not long ago, when winning a world championship seemed rare.
The Tigers won in 1968, and no area team did it again until the Tigers in 1984.
The Lions, Red Wings and Pistons didn’t come close during that period. Mostly they were dreadful. Michigan State basketball did win the national title in ‘79, but it was a one-shot deal because of Magic Johnson. It wasn’t something sustainable. Michigan football was a power under Bo Schembechler, and the Wolverines’ popularity grew enormously during the ‘70s and ‘80, but the one thing missing from Bo’s glowing record was a national title.
But since the Pistons broke through and won back-to-back titles, the last two decades have been terrific. The Red Wings with their four championships, the Pistons with three, Michigan with its national title in football, MSU with another one in basketball - and the Tigers unexpected and thrilling pennant ride in 2006.
It never gets old, does it?
I do think, however, it’s obvious that the longer span between titles, the more excited people get when one is captured.
As exciting as this title run was for the Red Wings, it didn’t carry quite the same luster as in 1997 when it broke a four-decade drought at a time when the rest of Detroit’s teams were struggling.
I do, however, feel it is more indicative of the Red Wings’ franchise and the utter brilliance of their front office.
What is the saying? As difficult as it is to reach the top, it’s even more difficult to stay there. The Red Wings have been on top for a long time. They don’t always win the Stanley Cup, but they are always the team to go through. Even when they lost to Anaheim, Calgary and Edmonton unexpectedly during the early rounds, those teams reached the finals. Each lost in the finals, but all went to seven games.
Because of those postseason disappointments, though, the Red Wings needed this title to seal the legacy of this great era. Even though they played well during the playoffs in 2007, reaching the Western Conference finals, they had become known primarily for their playoff failures.
Not anymore.

Random Thoughts

- I fully expect the Pistons to name their new coach early next week. And from what I understand, it’s still going to be Michael Curry. If that is, indeed, the case, it will be interesting how Curry handles his first real public exposure as coach.

- The baseball draft is more of a shot in the dark than any of the other major sports, so time will tell whether the Tigers hit the jackpot with University of Arizona reliever Ryan Perry, their first-round pick Thursday. There is obviously a need there, but I must admit I do have my concerns when it comes to drafting college relievers in the first round. Remember Rick Greene and Matt Anderson?

12 Comments:

Anonymous Tom Mohan said...

Great observation about hunger for a championship. I've heard you talk about it on the radio show as well.

Go Lions!

Before I'm old or dead if possible.

10:24 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat, with drafting pitchers in the first few rounds they surely get a pitcher or two out of it. Perry's delivery, according to Scouting report, is good. Tigers upper minor league system should be loaded with arms in a couple of years and that is cool.
If he looks good this summer then they do not have to go after K-Rod during free agent market even though he is from Venezuela and closes 86% of his games. Better off too spend their $$$$ and go after a quality starter if Rick P is not ready or they trade Nate. Is there much value in the any of the four right handed LF Tigers have on board now? Is it possible to get a AA or AAA pitching prospect for one of these guys because there is very little at these two levels. Rumours of Heilman for Thames sound good.

7:56 AM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

I remember that Matt Anderson was pretty darn good before he threw his arm out. But the Tigers don't seem to be throwing all their eggs in one basket with their first round pick anyway like they did then. If Perry flames out, they grabbed a bunch of similar type pitchers who could play the same type of role, not to mention some of the players already in the system who may play that type of role. The thing about pitchers who are good at shutting down a team for an inning, is that even if you have an over abundance of them, they are universally wanted by every contender and make fantastic trade bait.

-Marty

1:15 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Tom Mohan,
Everybody works hard in professional sports, but the Red Wings work ethic sets them apart. It's a sure sign of their "hunger."
Caputo

7:03 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
I saw Perry pitch several scoreless inning the other day in the super regionals. He was pretty impressive. Maybe they did make the right choice. Time will tell.
Caputo

7:05 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
Anderson's situation ran deeper than that. He pitched poorly. Put together a string of 22 saves in a row that essentially ran Todd Jones out of town. Then pitched poorly again. He hurt his arm after that. I think he would have benefitted by starting more in the minors or college.
Caputo

7:06 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

I do agree that Matt Anderson should have started in the Minors, because that would have forced him to work on things other than his 100MPH fastball. At the same time, it appears that the Tigers are going to do this with their draft picks, based on what Chadd has said about them. It doesn't mean they expect to make them into starters, but that starting is the best way to force them to work on their problem areas.

-Marty

10:07 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
Anderson did start a few games in the minor leagues for the reasons we're discussing. I guess it's just a matter of what you're seeking. If I were making the decisons (and Tiger fans should be thankful I'm not LOL) I would rarely draft college closers in the early rounds.
Caputo

6:18 PM 
Blogger Chris F. said...

Congratulations to the Red Wings. Now if only the Lions would suit up. At least communicating with fans on FireMillen.com has been a blast.

1:45 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

I can see your point. Sometimes pitchers are much more effective in relief, because it allows them to get away with less control, or maybe they pitch differently or with more power. If they couldn't get by starting in college, and had to move to the pen, that could be a big problem since the level of competition is night and day different.

At the same time, these guys (Dombrowski, Chadd) have all had great success with their draft strategy everywhere they have been so I am inclined to trust them. Now, if it were someone like Randy Smith, or Matt Millen with a horrible draft history I would be more inclined to doubt the strategy.

-Marty

4:05 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
Their draft strategy under Chadd seems to change year-to-year. It's kind of interesting.
Caputo

2:36 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

It is interesting, but I see the same strategy really since Dombrowski has been here. Guys with power arms with good movement on their secondary pitches are valued above all other prospects. Second seems to be Power bats, but that is a distant second. Ability trumps performance for every draft so far. (Verlander was only average in College even though he had fantastic stuff, Maybin was a HS position player, Miller actually combined both ability and performance very well). Even though Chadd didn't get starters this year, he still went after the best available arms (ability wise) regardless of record. He did that in Boston as well, from what I've heard (guys like Papelbon and Jon Lester). Talent seems to trump all other concerns under Dombrowski, and that seems to have spread to this draft as well. I seem to remember Smith valuing performance over ability. Of course this is only my oppinion, but I can't remember a draft under Dombrowski where more position players were taken in the first 10 rounds than pitchers.

-Marty

4:05 PM 

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