Monday, April 29, 2013

On Jason Collins coming out, Lions and NFL Draft, Red Wings playoffs, Tigers

This is a replay of my weekly live chat. Would love to have you participate when we do it live each Monday at 1.

Detroit Red Wings, Stanley Cup playoffs and hunted becoming hunters

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Detroit Lions make curious picks to conclude NFL Draft

Friday, April 26, 2013

First three rounds of NFL Draft solid for Detroit Lions

On Detroit Lions and a look at second day of NFL Draft

- The best top-end talent is at wide receiver. There are several who figure to be available when the Lions draft tonight, who would likely start this coming season. That is either n the second or third round.
The one I feel fits best is Terrance Williams from Baylor. He was a versatile and productive college player, who showed well at the Senior Bowl. Great athlete. Ranked higher by most draft gurus and still on the board than Williams are Justin Hunter from Tennessee and Keenan Allen from Cal. Both are good. Robert Woods from USC, too. I think Allen will be better than Hunter, but he has had some injury issues. There will be a lot of very good wide receivers there for the Lions in the third round should they pass on one in  the second. Two I think will be productive NFL players are Steadman Bailey from West Virginia and Markus Wheaton from Oregon State. They were just flatout tremendous football players with solid tangible skills. I can't imagine it wouldn't translate to NFL production.
There are many others. Quinton Patton, from Louisiana Tech and Aaron Dobson from Marshall aren't mentioned enough. Ryan Swope from Texas A&M is overhyped.
Brian Winters: Offensive lineman fits Lions
- I think the best defensive back left on the board is Johnthan Banks from Mississippi State. He was a brilliant college player, whose stock dropped simply because of his 40 time. Yet, he was very good return man in the SEC. He also projects as an NFL safety if needed, which may be the Lions' need given Louis Delmas' injury history and the recent off-the-field issues of Amari Spievey. Boise State's Jamar Taylor has speed and a chance to be an impact NFL player. Robert Alford from Southeastern Louisiana would be an outstanding pick for the Lions in the third round. He is a cornerback with legitimate high-end speed. Of the two cornerbacks from UConn, I think Bildi Wreh-Wilson is better than Dwayne Gratz. I wouldn't take either early in the second round, though.
I don't understand the infatuation with Banks' teammate at Mississippi State, Darius Slay. The best defensive back regardless of position remaining in the draft is Jonathan Cyprien from Florida International, but he is a safety. Where Banks fits is he can play either corner or safety.
- The Lions need offensive line. The offensive lineman remaining on the board I feel will be the best NFL player is guard Brian Winters from Kent State. He mostly played tackle in college but was a major reason Kent State moved onto the map unexpectedly. He's huge, has decent athleticism and is a classic mauler, which is perfect for guard in the NFL. This kid is going to start for a decade in the league. Very underrated. He is a much better player than any of the tackles remaining on the board. Barrett Jones from Alabama is overvalued by many fans because he got so much pub at Alabama.
- I don't see the Lions taking an inside linebacker in these rounds, but they did have Manti Te'o in for a visit, and he is the best player, regardless of position, left on the board.  Kevin Riddick from North Carolina has value in the third round. The outside linebacker pickings are somewhat slim. Honestly, given the Lions' needs elsewhere, I don't see a pure outside linebacker I'd draft tonight.
- Otherwise: If he is there in the third round, defensive end Alex Okafur from Texas could help the Lions. The fit would, however, depend on what they do in t
he second round.

Ziggy Ansah was a terrific first-round NFL Draft pick for Detroit Lions

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Detroit Lions, NFL Draft and getting what has been wrong right

Jose Valverde, the Detroit Tigers and seeing what sticks

When I envision Jose Valverde coming out of the bullpen for the Tigers, I don't necessarily see impending disaster.
I view it instead as a process of what somebody (honestly, I forget who) once referred to me as "weeding out the weeds."
The Tigers re-signed Valverde, whose meltdown in the playoffs last year is well-documented. They need a closer. They must determine whether he can fill the role. If he can't, they will find out - sooner instead of later. Reportedly, he had been throwing well during a brief stint in Lakeland.

Jose Valverde: Nothing ventured, nothing gained
This could play out in a number of different ways. One is he will be awful. OK. You know. Another is Valverde does well for a period and works as a transition to another option, whether it be Bruce Rondon,, who was also called up, or a trade when it is more viable to make one.
Two keys will determine Valverde's performance. Does he throw early-count strikes? When he faltered last season, he fell behind hitters too much with his fastball.The other will be the action on his split-finger pitch. When it's working, it comes in like a fastball and acts like it is dropping off a table at the plate. When it isn't, the ball tumbles more on its direction to the plate, making it much easier for hitters to recognize. It's not that hitters club that pitch, but rather just take it. More often than not, it's for a ball, creating a situation where Valverde inevitably must come in with a fat fastball.
One thing you can be certain is that Valverde will handle the pressure of the situation. His antics on the mound are a sideshow. In reality, Valverde has great confidence in himself, understands he is going to get criticized when he falters and doesn't dwell on it. He is a tough competitor. His issues were strictly an inability to make the pitches he used to because his so-called "stuff" was faltering.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Detroit Lions and NFL Draft, Tigers needed moves and Red Wings

This is the video chat. We do this every Monday at 1. You more than welcome to participate:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

On Red Wings and their push for playoff spot this week

These issues staring Detroit Tigers in face following weird road trip

On high school football coaching legend Mike Boyd and his career

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Red Wings have no excuse if they don't make the playoffs

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pistons hold Lawrence Frank accountable, but what about Joe Dumars?

"42" is terrific, but nothing can top real Jackie Robinson story

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions and his contract extension

The sooner the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford agree on a long-term contract extension, the better.
Stafford has two years remaining on his original contract, but it does limit what the Lions can do in free agency in coming years. A long-term contract would spread out the salary cap hit. Stafford's original contract was typically back-loaded and the Lions are looking at huge cap hits this season and next approaching $20 million each year,. It didn't hinder the Lions this off season in signing free agents because they essentially kicked the salary cap hit for defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh down the road. In the future, it will be different. Suh,and Stafford would both have huge hits next season.
Stafford: No reason  to believe contract will not get done
Also, there is the necessity to avoid a distraction. It hasn't gotten to that stage yet, but if the Lions start this season, and Stafford is not signed long term, it will gradually become the top issue surrounding the organization.
Stafford is the easily the best quarterback the Lions have had since the 1950s. Last season, the Lions were 4-12, but it's difficult to place the blame on Stafford. It took the Lions 50 years to find a QB of his caliber and attempting to replace him would be risky. It's not just the comeback victories he has led (including three even last season) or the passing numbers (5,000 yards or close to it the last two years), but also Stafford has embraced playing in Detroit since Day 1. He likes it here, wants to be part of a Lions' uprising on the field, and understands his position perfectly well as a leader. He's an NFL player, meaning any guaranteed money he receives from a contract extension would be wise for him before he risks injury in the coming season.
The Lions' problems have been with talent evaluation and poor planning putting together a roster on the field. They have actually done well with contract negotiations. The one talent evaluation they did get right was drafting Stafford first overall in 2009 (anybody still want tackle Jason Smith or linebacker Aaron Curry or QB Mark Sanchez). They can't afford to let Stafford fall by the wayside, especially given the importance of the position. And Stafford wants to stay. I believe, probably sometime between the NFL Draft and the start of training camp, this will get done.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Call me crazy, but I think the Pistons' future is bright

Why the Detroit Tigers lineup could be very special

Monday, April 15, 2013

On why The Masters wasn't what it could have been, Trey Burke a Piston, the Tigers and "42"

The weekly chat at You can join if you like every Monday at 1 p.m.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Masters badly missed Tiger Woods being there at the end

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Jason Hanson all-time Lions great, but no Hall of Famer

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meet the new Red Wings, not like the old Red Wings

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Tiger Woods won't really be the No.1 golfer in the world until he wins The Masters or another major

Tiger Woods: Comeback depends on majors
Perhaps the most overhyped sports occurrence of the year so far is Tiger Woods 're-gaining his spot as the world's No.1-ranked golfer.
Tiger hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. If he doesn't win a major this year, his No.1 ranking will ring hollow. Don't believe it? Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald have ranked No. 1 in the world since Woods' slide, which happened after he had knee surgery and personal issues, which landed him as a daily headliner for TMZ as much as ESPN. Winning non-major tournaments recently has helped Woods in the quest to break Sam Snead's record for most PGA wins, but what matters most is the majors and Jack Nicklaus' record. Woods is 37. It is no longer such a given he will win the five more majors necessary to break Nicklaus' all-time record of 18 major titles. It is the most-coveted record in golf, and separated Nicklaus from all others, including Snead.
The Masters is this week. Augusta National is a course which traditionally sets up well for Woods' game. He has been winning lately because he is putting execeptionally well.
Will it continue this week? Woods' performance at The Masters, in reality, will determine his status as the world's No.1 golfer.
Regardless of what the rankings might say.

Respect Michigan won this season trumps NCAA title game loss to Louisville

Monday, April 08, 2013

On too much Fab 5, not enough '89 and current Michigan teams, Lions draft and Tigers

Replay of the live chat. We do this every Monday at 1. Would love to have you join us with questions and comments when we do it live.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Fate on Michigan's side vs. Louisville in NCAA Championship Game

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Eric Fisher Detroit Lions best NFL Draft story, but not necessarily pick

Friday, April 05, 2013

Tigers best on display in Opening Day rout of Yankees

Comerica Park, Tigers, opening day, Detroit's great baseball tradition

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Win or lose at the Final Four, Michigan's basketball comeback complete

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Trey Burke, the NBA Draft and whether he will be a great pro player

It is working out remarkably well for Michigan point guard Trey Burke. Instead of sitting on an NBA bench as a rookie, he returned to school and has, in heroic fashion, led the Wolverines to the Final Four.
In the process, his NBA stock has risen dramatically - from late first-round if he had entered following his freshman year to a possible Top 5 selection this year.
Trey Burke (left): Athleticism not an issue
It's about height. Burke is quick enough, savvy enough and shoots well enough to star in the NBA, but is he tall enough. Burke is generously listed at 6-0. There is no comparison between NBA players and college players. The Pistons' Brandon Knight looks small by NBA standards. He towers over Burke.
Late in the regular season, I wasn't sure. It did seem like Burk was hindered by Victor Oladipo's NBA combination of athleticism and length vs. Indiana. He did a great job defensively vs. 6-4 NBA prospect Nate Wolters of South Dakota State in the NCAA tournament opener, blocking a couple of his shots on drives. He struggled shooting that day, but it didn't seem to be as much about the 6-foot-4 Wolters' length as Burke just having an off shooting game. It was a moot point anyway because his floor game was so good.
I some similarities between Burke and Mateen Cleaves, who was athletic and displayed tremendous leadership qualities, albeit in a different way, as a college player at MSU.
As an NBA player, Cleaves struggled to defend
But I think there are two significant differences, too. Cleaves played through his senior year at MSU. He was good as a sophomore, but not like Burke. He could jump as well (Cleaves was a good dunker), but he didn't have nearly the same stop-and start-quickness. Burke is a much better shooter, too.
Chris Paul is a truly NBA player at Burke's size. Denver's Ty Lawson and Orlando's Jameer Nelson were small point guards, who starred in college, and were able to adjust well in the NBA.
It wouldn't surprise me if Burke is able to do the same.

Monday, April 01, 2013

On Tigers issues entering season, Michigan in Final Four, Trey Burke a Piston?