Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Ulitmately, Jim Tressel was as deceitful as it gets
If he had only practiced what he had been preaching, especially in the book he wrote, "The Winner's Manual: For The Game of Life."
As much fun poked at Tressel because of his sweater vests, I never viewed him as this outlaw coach or villain. Other than calling out Michigan when he initially got the job at Ohio State, which was good for the rivalry, he wasn't particularly outspoken. He was generally humble in media and public settings.
He wasn't Barry Switzer or Jerry Tarkanian in that you suspected immediately he was running a bandit program, although there has been smoke coming about the athletic program in Columbus for years.
It turned out Tressel preached one way, practiced another, and that there were Ohio State faithful, and those among the Big Ten family, who believed he was genuine.
Take the rivalry against Michigan, and much lesser to Michigan State, and put it aside. Tressel appeared good for the Big Ten. He brought the conference honor. It's sad in that sense he eventually brought the Big Ten ultimate dishonor.
Labels: Jim Tressel
Key for Tigers is winning against American League Central foes
Monday, May 30, 2011
On Jim Tressel's resignation
In this state, it's sad - because Michigan and Michigan State will never get the opportunity to beat Tressel; the disgrace of his departure will provide limited solace.
In Ohio, they don't care about the shady part. They only care that he won. In their minds, it won't be tainted - even if the NCAA changes the records. And there will be plenty of great coaches lined up for that job. They will inherit a full cupboard that will be more than enough to overcome the inevitable sanctions. It doesn't mean the ship will turn around and head in a different direction.
It does, however, open the door this season. That Michigan State game in Columbus will be particularly telling. All those Buckeyes will still be suspended. Can the Spartans, who appear formidable, take advantage?
Labels: Jim Tressel
Next two months when Justin Verlander often at his best
He lived up to them Sunday night. The Tigers were reeling. The Red Sox had been playing exceptionally well. Verlander was up against one of the better starting pitchers in baseball, Josh Beckett. Verlander shut the door on the Red Sox, winning a close game. He had lost a similar outing in Boston not long before.
What a great starter does, is provide impetus for the team. He stops losing streaks. He lets everyone know the bad times can't last that long because he is going to get the ball every fifth day.
Verlander did that Sunday.
In his career, Verlander has a combined record of 31-13 in June and July - the most critical time of the year for deciding which clubs are in the pennant race. He needs to continue that trend in order for the Tigers to move into position for the stretch run.
Labels: Justin Verlander
Sports just part of the bigger picture on Memorial Day
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Lets hope Lance Armstrong isn't proof there aren't American sports heroes
Friday, May 27, 2011
On the Nate Burleson issue...
- When a prominent Detroit area athlete refers to Detroit as "not desirable" it is an issue, not something to just sweep under the rug.
- I presented the video and let you be the judge of what it meant. I didn't like it when I first saw it, and said that, too, but now understand what he was talking about.
But I'm not afraid, as much of a buzz-saw as I may find myself in because of it, to be the only guy in the room to raise my hand and say, "What does this mean?"
- Fans jump on and off bandwagons continually. It's the nature of sports. The Lions won their last four games last season and Burleson played well. Early last season, when the Lions were losing and he was playing despite being injured and it obviously had a bearing on his effectiveness, I kept getting calls about how he was a bust and had to calm people down about it.
I call it the Brandon Inge factor. Now he is the worst player in the history of mankind - and will never be good again. Not necessarily true. In 2009, at the All Star break, when Inge was playing the best baseball of his career, I said he would likely slump the second half of the season - and you'd thought I had just attacked the American flag or something.
Where are all those who were ripping Curtis Granderson now?
I understand that. I don't have any problem with it. Love fans for it, actually. And there is some justification for it. Sports is a bottom line business.
I just try to sort through it with whatever knowledge and experience I have.
- I was born in Detroit and have lived in Oakland County since I was nine, except for when I attended Michigan State. I don't hide my affection for this area, understanding its good points and bad. What we've gone through is very difficult, and I understand some of the self-effacing things people say, but don't agree with the perception this is a horrible place overall.
I'm grateful I was born here. I feel blessed I still live and work here. I don't think we should apologize to anybody for who we are.
And I don't apologize to anybody for feeling that way.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Lions Nate Burleson: Innocent or insensitive comment about Detroit area?
So this area is fine to sponge off for a living, but not a "desirable" place to visit or live? Were these just innocent comments or biting the hand that feeds him? You be the judge. Here's the video. Notice his facial expression when he mentions Detroit:
Labels: Detroit Lions Nate Burleson
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tigers have used draft to try to solve bullpen issues - it just hasn't worked
The Tigers took college relievers with their first four picks in the '08 draft. First-round pick Ryan Perry (Arizona) has reached the major leagues, but been hauntingly inconsistent.
Second- and third-round picks Cody Satterwhite (Mississippi) and Rick Green (Kentucky) have hardly pitched in 2010 or this season because of injuries. The fourth-round choice that year, Brett Jacobson (Vanderbilt), is having a good season in Double-A ball. Problem is, it is in the Twins' system. He was the pitcher traded to Baltimore for Aubrey Huff in 2009 - and has since been traded to the Twins.
The Tigers selected college closer Chance Ruffin from the University of Texas with the 48th overall pick in last June's draft. He is holding his own, but hasn't been spectacular at Double-A Erie this season. Despite being drafted just last year, Ruffin is advanced in terms of age. He will turn 23 in September. The Tigers, obviously, need him to move quickly.
It's not like the Tigers totally missed in the '08 draft, though. Catcher Alex Avila (Alabama) was their fifth round pick.
Brian Rafalski was a great Red Wing. He was a great player - period
Reportedly, he has a bad knee.
There will be fans who think it's good, that the Red Wings' defense was old and small and Rafalski was a reason why - and that the Red Wings can use his $6 million salary more wisely.
That's naive. Rafalski didn't play up to his usual standards last season because he wasn't himself. Obviously, he was hurt.
But when healthy, Rafalski was an integral part of the Red Wings' success. He moved the puck as well as any defenseman in the game. He was an effective right-handed shot on the point of the power play - a rarity. And he was effective many times last season, even with a bad wheel.
Rafalski has displayed tremendous competitive character in his career and played underrated defense despite a lack of size.
It's not an accident Rafalski, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Wisconsin who grew up in Allen Park, played on three Stanley Cup championship teams with the Devils and the Red Wings. Nor that he starred for the U..S. Olympic team in 2010 when it nearly shocked the hockey world by taking heavily-favored Canada to the brink.
What a career. His presence on the ice will be sorely missed by those of us who truly enjoyed watching him play.
Labels: Brian Rafalski
Michigan State's Big Ten title finally matches present with distant past
Monday, May 23, 2011
On Lions' lockout practices being meaningless, about Tigers' woes and Lance Armstrong...
On the American League Central race...
If the Indians go .500 the rest of the season, they will win 88 games. I don't believe they will go .500 the remainder of the season.
This is what I think will happen with The Tribe: They will play roughly .500 ball this season, but come out of it feeling really good after the fast start and calling up their real future later in the season, infielders Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis and maybe Cord Phelps. and perhaps a pitching prospect or two.
I still believe the White Sox are coming from behind and are the real threat to win the American League Central.
It's the Tigers that are iffy. The series in Pittsburgh just wasn't good. Even the win Sunday lacked sizzle.
I would put recently called up left-hander Charles Furbush in the rotation and Phil Coke in the bullpen. It seems obvious. I would also move Miguel Cabrera into the three-hole in the batting order. Seems obvious, too.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Hoke is crushing MSU in recruiting
My column in Sunday's Oakland Press: http://bit.ly/kGHMDL
Where Interleague baseball falls short
Meet Brandon Inge, latest scapegoat for Tiger fans
What I take exception with is the perception Inge is the only problem with the Tigers. A lot has gone wrong the last three games, all losses. Inge has only been part of it.
I was on Twitter (patcaputo98) throughout the Tigers-Red Sox game last night, and on radio after the game - and it was a constant blast on Inge. He wasn't why they lost. He had two hits.
It's gone the complete opposite of 2009 when Inge got off to a fast start, was voted to the All Star team in the late ballot and was the poster child for wonderfulness in this town.
He wasn't that good. At the time, I said he would be hitting .250 by the end of the season. I was wrong. He hit .230.
Inge was going to find his level. In that case, he wasn't as good as his mid-season numbers suggested - and there would be a period that evens them out over a 162-game schedule.
This season, it's likely Inge's numbers will rise at some point. His average year is 15 home runs and 70 RBI. He'll probably hit .230 to .240. He doesn't hit for high average. He generally makes close to 20 errors in a season, although he did better in that regard last season, but has been more error-prone so far in 2011.
He has struggled, but so has much of the bullpen and several other hitters. Inge is not the only issue, just part of it. Yet, the majority of the fan venom has all been directed at Inge.
And by the way, the Tigers aren't in bad shape. They did lose three games in a row, and the two in Boston were amazingly frustrating. But they are only 1.5 games behind in the wildcard race heading to Pittsburgh, which has been floundering. If they win a few games this weekend, they'll be fine.
The Indians are starting to slide, but the White Sox are beginning to play well. Seems to me like the American League Central will ultimately be a two-team race between the Tigers and the White Sox.
Labels: Brandon Ige
Pitching is taking over baseball, and that's a good thing
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Albeit hindsight being 20-20, here's second-guessing Jim Leyland
- Why wasn't Andy Dirks in the lineup? He is a left-handed hitter. Clay Buchholz, who dominated the Tigers, is a right-hander. And why not use Dirks as a pinch hitter late in the game rather than just running him? While it's true Buchholz has been slightly better against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters this season, that hasn't be the case throughout his career. Right-handed hitting Ryan Raburn was completely overmatched by Buchholz and Jonathan Papelbon, the right-handed closer for Boston. Raburn was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. And I'm sure Raburn isn't in the lineup for his superior glove work in left field.
- OK, Leyland didn't bring back Phil Coke, who hadn't thrown that many pitches, after the rain delay. But why pull Ryan Perry after just two hitters in a tie game? He got those hitters out easily. Daniel Schlereth, who replaced Perry, was a disaster.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Will Tigers trade best prospects?
I hear fans bring up the name of pitcher Jacob Turner all the time. It's unlikely a circumstance will arise where he is traded. Center fielder Daniel Fields and third baseman Francisco Martinez might be different.
Both are 20. They are easily the Tigers' best position player prospects. Both got off to slow starts this season, Fields at high Class A Lakeland, Martinez (who will turn 21 in September) at Double-A Erie. Both have come on strongly in May.
Each player is handling themselves well for their age at a relatively high level of the minor leagues and have physical skills, including bats which project as major league regulars. But it will be awhile before they have an impact in the major leagues. Tough call.
Labels: Daniel Fields Francisco Martinez
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
What should the Tigers do with Joaquin Benoit?
The going rate now for the best setup man - which Benoit was reputed to be after a brilliant 2010 season for Tampa Bay - is $19 million for three seasons, or what the Tigers are paying him to be their setup man. Obviously, it is not going well. He is getting lit up like the fireworks show at Comerica Park on Saturday nights. It particularly hurt when the Tigers' long winning streak was snapped by Toronto Monday after Benoit threw one meaty "hit me" fastball after another down the middle of the plate, and was shelled in a tight game as a result.
There is a concern here, obviously. The Tigers don't have much bullpen depth. Starting pitching is a strength, but they need to be able to finish. That means getting to closer Jose Valverde, who has pitched well. That means being able to fill in the inevitable eighth inning gap.
Benoit has been a mixed bag in his career. He was utterly dominating last season for the Rays. He missed the entire previous season because of shoulder surgery. He pitched a long time for Texas. He had some pretty good seasons for the Rangers. He has some pretty bad ones, too. He's never been a primary closer for an extended period of time. Setup man is his middle name.
I see two options if Benoit can't handle it. One is obvious - moving Phil Coke to the bullpen for it. He is a gutty pitcher who has proven himself under pennant race pressure. The other is trying rookie Alberto Alburquerque in the role. He does have a nasty slider that is very much confusing opposing hitters, at least the first time they see him.
Neither is as good as the 2010 version of Benoit, but so far he's been the lesser version from pre-2010.
Monday, May 16, 2011
The sea has parted for the Tigers and they need to go for it
They have a better record than the Yankees. They have a better mark than the Red Sox. They are way in front of those pesky Twins, who are bruised and battered this year after haunting the Tigers for so long.
The Tigers only trail the Cleveland Indians, a club in transition, by just 3.5 games in the American League Central. That is even though the Indians have played as well as they possibly can - and the Tigers clearly have not.
What that says is the American League isn't as strong as most seasons, and that the window of opportunity has popped wide open for the Tigers.
This is what I expect:
- The Red Sox and Yankees to come on, and the Rays to continue to play well, but that the wild card option is more open for the Tigers than most years.
- Ultimately for the Indians to fade and the White Sox to make a run. The White Sox have started to quietly win some games and are inching toward .500. The White Sox recovered nicely from a similarly bad start last season. They have the same 17-24 record they had last season - and they won 88 games in 2010.
- Mets shortstop Jose Reyes and outfielder Carlos Beltran are on the final year of their contracts and playing well. The Mets are having financial problems and may even be willing to deal All Star third baseman David Wright, an expensive, but outstanding player, who is signed long term.
If there is a team that should be interested in any of those three players, it's the Tigers, who have plenty of flaws along with their obvious strengths.
The key to their availability is whether the Mets remain in the National League East race. They have been playing better lately, but are still below .500.
There remain roughly six weeks until the trade deadline. The Tigers' objective in that regard should be clear, however.
Go for it.
I see one untouchable in their system - pitcher Jacob Turner. Anybody else, I'd move if it meant bringing in a quality player to help ensure a postseason spot.
Labels: Tigers Sparky Anderson
Sunday, May 15, 2011
No need for the Red Wings to make major changes
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Game 7 is going to be another tight one for the Red Wings
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
There are plenty of reasons the Red Wings are winning - these are five of them
1. Jimmy Howard - Nobody is questioning anymore the wisdom of Howard receiving a two-year contract extension worth $2.25 million annually late in the regular season. Do you know where the Red Wings would be without Jimmy Howard right now? Golfing.
2. Niklas Kromwall - Not only is he dishing out tremendous physical punishment at times with crushing checks, but he has been a steady influence getting the puck out of his own end and offensively. The best hockey he has played for the Red Wings, and Kronwall has been a good player for a long time.
3. Henrik Zetterberg - Doing his typical rising-to-the-moment act in the postseason. Fabulous two-way player.
4. Pavel Datysuk - If there is a better forward in the world, I don't know who it is. Playing effectively through injury. His grit and toughness are vastly underrated.
5. Nicklas Lidstrom - Can you imagine the Red Wings' without him? Me, neither.
Honorable mention: Patrick Eaves (Has made a lot of key plays and very good defensively. Tough player) Jonathan Erickson (Has really emerged these last three games, and in every facet).
An epic victory by the Red Wings
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Max Scherzer is just scratching the surface
But the most telling aspect beginning this season for Scherzer is that he hasn't pitched nearly as well as he is capable.
His early starts, his velocity wasn't up. He was throwing his four-seam fastball in the 90 mph and 91 mph range. Obviously, as the weather has warmed a bit and he's gotten stretched out, Scherzer is throwing harder.
His command has also been off. He's thrown a lot of pitches, and hasn't worked that deep into games. He only went five innings, for example, in his victory at Toronto Monday, and is averaging 6 1-3 innings per start. He has thrown more than six innings in only one of his eight starts - an 8-inning effort vs. the White Sox.
While I see it as a sign of maturity that he has been able to fight his way through some of these starts without his best "stuff," Scherzer has also benefited from excellent run support.
But still. Six-and-oh? A three-point-two-zero ERA?
I'm completely puzzled why the Diamondbacks traded Scherzer. It could go down as one of baseball's all-time blunders, and finds for the Tigers.
Labels: Max Scherzer Detroit Tigers
Monday, May 09, 2011
Tigers moving in position to make a run for AL Central title
- A spectacular event like Justin Verlander's no hitter Saturday definitely builds momentum. Verlander had been more consistent this season than he was being given credit for even before Saturday. He has allowed three or less earned runs, and pitched at least six innings in every start this season, a big improvement from his April struggles the previous three years. Obviously, he is in line for a big season.
2. Austin Jackson had a big weekend at Toronto. His slump, especially considering how many pitches he was swinging and missing at, had become disturbing.
3. All of a sudden Brad Penny and Rick Porcello don't look like such disasters and there are options to replace Phil Coke when he moves back to the bullpen, where he belongs.
4. Minnesota and Chicago continue to flounder while the "miracle" Indians weren't so miraculous over the weekend.
The Red Wings showed their true colors - and so did Joe Thornton
Friday, May 06, 2011
How good is Brennan Boesch?
There wouldn't be this constant anticipation of the other shoe about to drop.
For while the numbers aren't nearly as staggering - Boesch was the second coming of Babe Ruth the first half of last season, another Kevin Witt the second half - he has played very well overall in 2011.
His average is .318. He's only hit a couple home runs, but has plenty of doubles. He has been much better defensively.
He has a bad series in Cleveland, but bounced back nicely this week against the Yankees.
Is he really a 4-A player or a long-term solution in the Tigers' outfield?
I don't know yet.
But right now, he looks like a pretty good player.
Labels: Brennan Boesch
It's going to take awhile to figure out this version of the Tigers
Thursday, May 05, 2011
The NFL Draft was great, but now this...
For a few short days, we got to actually enjoy the football aspect of the game.
People got excited about the Lions' draft - maybe a little too excited. But it was fun. Now, this...
Instead of a minicamp this weekend in which we could get a glimpse of Lions' draft picks like Nick Fairley, Titus Young and Mikel Lashoure, it's all so vague.
In truth, the NFL isn't only great because of Sunday in the fall or the playoff season. It's also about the off season.
The draft was an oasis. The rest of the off season, frankly, I miss.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Red Wings series on the shoulders of Datsyuk and Zetterberg
Zetterberg is a good enough player that he can play exceptional hockey on the wing, but I've always thought he is better at center ice. Not having them on the same line creates more matchup problems for the Sharks, especially at Joe Louis Arena where the Red Wings have the last line change.
Labels: Pavel Datsyuk Henrik Zetterberg
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Change at second base could just be the start for slumping Tigers
First up: Scott Sizemore. First down Will Rhymes.
Switching second basemen after a seventh straight loss Monday night, this time against the Yankees, could be just the beginning.
Next Up: The Tigers will likely make a move on the pitching staff - probably Brad Thomas out, Phil Coke moved from the rotation to the bullpen, and Andrew Oliver, who has pitched well in most of his starts at Toledo, called up to join the rotation.
To follow: Andy Dirks called up from Toledo, probably to replace Casper Wells. Seems improbable the Tigers will send either Austin Jackson or Brennan Boesch out this early. Jackson is their only above-average outfielder defensively. Boesch has struggled the last few games, but did hit well to open the season.
Another issue: Is manager Jim Leyland in trouble? If he is, Tom Brookens is the likely replacement. Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon would be out. They are a package deal with Leyland.
Will bin Laden 's death start a turnaround in this country?
Monday, May 02, 2011
Is Magglio Ordonez finished as a quality player?
There is justification for this notion. Ordonez is 37 and hasn't hit a lick this season.
But done? I'm not so sure.
He was "done" after he had a major knee injury with the White Sox. He was "done" after he signed with the Tigers and had a stomach injury which kept him out most of his first season in Detroit.
He bounced back for a very good season, and to hit one of the epic home runs in Tigers' history the following season. Then he put together one of the best years ever by a Detroit player in 2007.
In the first half of 2009, Ordonez literally could not pull a fastball to the left side of the field. And had no power. But then, from July 2009 to July 2010, he had the best batting average in baseball. He was on pace for roughly 20 home runs and 100 RBI when he was injured last season.
Ordonez is a lifetime .310 hitter. His average 162-game season is 26 home runs and 110 RBI.
Maybe age has caught up to him. It does look like it so far this season. We saw it when Gary Sheffield was with the Tigers.
Then again, maybe water will find its level for Ordonez - again.
Certainly the Tigers must continue to play him, especially given their limited options.
Labels: Magglio Ordonez
Sunday, May 01, 2011