Thursday, March 29, 2007

Where Do The Tigers Go After News On Rogers?

Sometimes, just from the way things sound, you know the news isn't going to be good. It was that way Thursday with Kenny Rogers. The ensuing news Friday, frankly, was awful.
Rogers, obviously, means a lot to the Tigers. He being out at least three months to start the season is a huge blow. First of all, it points out the value of pitching depth. You can never, ever have enough pitching. It's entirely possible, the Tigers will lose a second starter - or more - for stretches of this season because of ailments. It's just the way it works sometimes. It also points out the importance of getting Andrew Miller ready as quickly as possible. He needs some experience in the minor leagues. That was evident last season, and when I saw him throw during spring training. But it shouldn't be that much. He is a special talent and should move quickly.
The Tigers decision to put Chad Durbin into the starting rotation in place of Rogers, is a curious one.
Durbin had a good season at Toledo in 2006, but his track record in the major leagues is poor. And he has had a fair number of shots. Also, it’s odd this apparently came down to between Durbin and Miller. Huh? What about Wilfredo Ledezma? Isn’t he easily the sixth-best starter on the Tigers staff? Didn’t he do well last season when spotted into the rotation? I know Durbin has been starting and Ledezma has been relieving this spring, but there is plenty of time to prepare a starter before a fifth one is needed. Ledezma was every bit as good as Durbin at Toledo last year, contributed significantly to the Tigers at the major league level on a pennant winner, has a much better track record in both the major leagues and minor leagues than Durbin, is considerably younger and just, frankly, has a much better arm.
What is Ledezma, a situational left-hander? If that’s the case, it’s a waste. Usually this Tigers regime thinks things through better than this. It reminds me a lot of last season when Jim Leyland insisted on playing Neifi Perez and Ramon Santiago ahead of Omar Infante when Infante was clearly the best of three options. What about Zach Miner. Did the way he came through for the Tigers last season not mean anything? I have never been big on 4-A players being used as stop gap measures in these situations unless it is as a last resort. To me - and if he proves me wrong I'll be the first to give him credit for it - Durbin is a 4 A player. I just hope it's not somebody in the organization overvaluing somebody they signed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

If You Don't Like Opening Day, You Don't like Ice Cream

Opening Day is less than a week away. It always has special meaning to me, but, I must admit, even more so this season. It’s kind of like baseball is back in town. I didn’t rediscover baseball last year when the Tigers won the American League pennant after having their first winning season in 13 years. The game never went away from me. It never will. But I did rediscover the joy the game brings to so many people who aren’t obsessed with the game the way I am. Before last season, being in the Detroit area, when I would bring up the thought that an argument could be made that baseball is just as popular as football, I would get the strangest looks. I would point out how baseball is easily the No. 1 sport in New York - and probably Boston. Same can be said, I think, in Chicago - although the Bears now have a stronghold because they are winning. Los Angeles doesn’t even have an NFL franchise. In the Bay Area, the Giants and A’s pretty much equal the Raiders and 49ers. Those are most of the nation’s largest cities. I truly enjoy the NFL and football, but I think sometimes baseball was overlooked just because the Tigers were awful for so long. I do believe what the Tigers did last summer was even bigger than the titles won by the Red Wings and Pistons in recent years. If the Lions win the Super Bowl, it would be massive, but I am not sure it would be bigger than if the Tigers won the World Series. What I love about baseball, as much as anything else, is that it is an every day event. There are no breaks. There are continuous episodes. It sucks you in that way. There is nothing like the day-to-day drama of a pennant race. The Tigers could push three million in attendance this season. That’s a lot of tickets being sold. A lot of enjoyment of the game. And honestly, it can’t begin soon enough for me.

Random Thoughts

- I know it’s a rough game, which naturally lends itself to tough characters, but the off-the-field incidents involving NFL players has hit epidemic proportions. It should be the NTL - the National Thug League. The league is so paranoid about everything, but doesn’t levy enough suspensions for criminal behavior. Pac Man Jones is becoming the poster child for all that is wrong with the league. Great athlete. Troubled person.

- Do people believe in Todd Jones? He has put together two solid seasons in a row, but if he doesn’t get off to a fast start, the fans undoubtedly will be clamoring for Joel Zumaya to close games. That doesn’t seem fair to Jones given his track record.

- I am surprised Marshall Faulk has retired. I thought Mike Martz would bring him to Detroit to join the Rams North. But give Martz time - Dane Looker could be wearing a Lions uniform any day now.

Monday, March 26, 2007

No, Not More Neifi Perez. Please...No...

Sure, I understand how it works. Neifi Perez is going to get his money. The Tigers don't want to pay him his money for doing nothing. But honestly, do we have to see any more of this guy to understand he is on, well, the downside of his career?
It turns out we will. He has made the Tigers' opening day roster. Some will say he had a good spring, but I was in Florida and saw him swing the bat left-handed. It is still the most feeble left-handed swing I have ever seen from a major league position player. He doesn't look fast anymore. He isn't much of a fielder. What is his value to the team? He has little. Somebody like Brent Clevlen ultimately will take Perez's spot. I have a feeling he is going to have a good year in the minors and then help the Tigers at the major league level. As for the pitching decisions, Durbin and Jason Grilli will be on the spot if they do not perform well early in the season. Long relief is important. Those guys are both shaky, and the Tigers do have some pitching depth to turn to in the minor leagues.

Random Thoughts

- Pardon me if I seem obsessed with Greg Oden, but...
There was a time when basketball was about big men. Wilt vs. Russell. Wilt vs. Kareem. Hakeem vs. Parrish. Moses vs. everybody. A lot of it was about the big guys matching up. Lately, though, the game has gotten away from size. There are more power forwards than ever, but fewer centers.
In the NBA right now, several teams really don’t have a center. To me, that’s the best part about the Final Four. We’ll get to see two bonafide centers going at it - Oden from Ohio State vs. Roy Hibbert from Georgetown. Oden is a terrific player. He has certainly lived up to his advance billing. But it’s difficult to watch him and not wonder how he’d do against a player taller than him. Hibbert has a couple inches on Oden. While Hibbert doesn’t appear to be as athletic as Oden, he does play a true center’s game with a hook shot and some pretty decent moves near the bucket. He is also very strong and older than Oden. He might be able to push Oden around a little bit. The 3-point shot is, mostly, a good thing for basketball. The downside to it, though, is that it seems to have minimized post play. I really enjoy watching centers with great footwork. It’s one of the great nuances of the game that seems to be fading. These two guys are a little raw. Neither of them is going to drop step like Kevin McHale, but they can both play. At least it will be a little bit of a lost art that will be found.

- I covered a lot of the state high school basketball tournament the last couple weeks. It’s always good to see a high school team get on a roll and just march through the tournament. Birmingham Detroit Country Day wasn’t supposed to be that good, but the Yellowjackets were, winning in Class B. It was a great story. Oh, by the way, 6-foot-11 Country Day center DaShonte Riley, a sophomore, will be one of the best players in the state by the time he is a senior. He is raw offensively, but has an exceptional knack for blocking shots. He is very good defensively already.

- The Red Wings continue do a really good job of scouting and developing players. Valterri Filppula and Jiri Hudler have gotten stronger as this season has moved on. I know Hudler is small, but he plays with a lot of character and confidence. It wouldn’t surprise me if both were major contributors during the playoffs.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Kitna's Comments Anything But Out Of Order

Look, nobody in the media has criticized the Lions any more than I have. I don’t believe, as a general rule, they should be given the benefit the doubt. They haven’t earned it. But I do, however, feel the constant public mocking of Lions quarterback Jon Kitna on talk radio for saying he thinks they can win 10 games this season is inappropriate. If I’m a Lions fans, I’d be glad Kitna feels that way. For one thing, he is going to be 35 years old next season. He should be playing to win because he sure isn’t part of a rebuilding process. Secondly, that’s leadership to help instill confidence in his teammates. Now do I think the Lions will win 10 games this season? Are you serious? They will probably be below .500. Their offense should move the ball between the 20s effectively, struggle in the scoring zone again. Their defense is awful. The draft isn’t going to make that much difference. But Kitna better not feel that way.

Random Thoughts

- Greg Oden is a terrific player, but the problem for him in the NBA is that there are few true centers remaining in the league. You have to wonder if that will make things easier or more difficult for him at the next level.

- I have watched a lot of combine tape and the best athlete I have seen on defense for his position might be Tim Crowder, a defensive end from Texas. The kid weighs more than 270 pounds and runs like a receiver. He ran a sub 4.7 and was a productive player for Texas.

- I like Jim Leyland’s lineup. I just wonder if Pudge will complain if he continues to hit sixth in the order. Last year, he didn’t.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Shaun Rogers: What A Waste Of Talent

The reason Shaun Rogers is such an enigma isn’t because he has a chance to be merely a good player. It is because he has a chance to be a great player, perhaps the best at his position, defensive tackle, in the National Football League. But because of what happened last season, when he acted like a bitter knucklehead, got suspended by the league for four games and then missed the rest of the season because he was slow recovering from surgery, I wonder if Rogers will ever reach his potential. He did get one big contract from the Lions. It should be enough to set him up financially for life. He doesn’t seem to have the motivation for greatness - or to win. You could say a trade would help Rogers, but I am not so sure. The ability needed to play in the NFL is not something that can be turned on and off like a switch. Once a player loses it, he never seems to recover. Seems to me, Rogers has lost it. Not showing up for voluntary workouts is just another sign his passion for the game is gone.

Random Thoughts

- Spring training is just spring training, but then again, it might be nice if Justin Verlander at least turns in one good outing in Florida. He has been lit up like a Christmas tree so far in the Grapefruit League. It might be cause for concern.

- I saw Detroit Redford’s Manny Harris - Michigan’s Mr. Basketball - play Tuesday at Calihan Hall. I thought his 47-point performance was more because of Detroit Osborn’s porous defense than what he did. Kalin Lucas from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, in my humble opinion, is the better player.

- Speaking of Calihan Hall, I think it is great building. The sight lines are excellent and it has charm you don’t find in modern arenas. I love the place.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Stars Could Do In Pistons

I have been going on the assumption the Pistons are - easily - the best team in the Eastern Conference. I have had the full expectation the Pistons are clearly better than both Cleveland and Miami and will be reach the Eastern Conference finals without much trouble. Now I am having some doubts as the season moves on and teams start getting ready for the playoffs. It’s weird, but Miami losing Dwyane Wade has only somehow made the Heat stronger. I know Wade is a great force, but they have played extremely well without him and Jason Kapono - the best shooter for the Heat. The loss to Orlando aside, it seems Shaquille O’Neal has something to prove and is proving it. Cleveland has played a lot of home games lately, so their recent winning streak is understandable from that point. And the Cavaliers are still lacking in certain areas, but LeBron James is eventually going to lead his team to championships. He is capable of being an incredible playoff force, and it may apply itself this year. The Bulls are still there and solid, yet lack the big star. I can’t help but fall into the trap of the star system in the NBA. I always like a team in the playoffs that has that one big star. I know the Pistons have shattered the mold in recent years, and I know their starting five is formidable and I feel Chauncey Billups, in particular, is a star. Yet, somehow, I still feel the Pistons will be vulnerable to opposing star players come the postseason.

Random Thoughts

- I am surprised Jim Leyland named Jeremy Bonderman opening day starter. It seems out of line considering both Justin Verlander and Kenny Rogers were better pitchers last season than Bonderman. I am not sure if Bonderman earned the honor nor if he is the staff ace. It is still more about potential than reality with Bonderman.

- I know he has won a national championship, but this was, nonetheless, Tom Izzo’s best coaching job. I was in Winston-Salem Saturday night sitting courtside. If you all saw what I did, up close like that, you’d know just how much that game should have been a blowout. North Carolina was so much more talented. Yet, the Spartans were in that game. That speaks volumes for Izzo. Watch out for the Spartans next season when this group of players blends with an outstanding recruiting class. It should be dynamite.

- Tyler Hansbrough is an unrelenting force, but I am not so sure how his game will translate to the NBA. He is much bigger and stronger than college inside players. That won’t be the case in the NBA.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Say it Ain't So, Sammy, Say It Ain't So

Sammy Sosa has hit in all 10 of the exhibition games he has played in this spring - and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about it. Is it bad for baseball or just another of the many ironies about the game? The Rangers have placed him on their 40-man roster. It wouldn’t surprise me if he made their opening day club. In my mind, Sosa is a bum along the same lines as Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro. I found it telling how he suddenly couldn’t speak English before congress. And how he went from a skinny kid to the Incredible Hulk and magically started hitting home runs. I also consider him one of the all-time phony players. This could be totally unfair, but as far as I am concerned, Sosa’s is just big act. His teammates with the Cubs had issues with him and he was selfish. But he did hit 60 or more home runs in five straight seasons. He did have a strong following among the fans. And there is no definitive proof he took steroids. Maybe a return to form by Sosa would be good for baseball. Then again...probably not.

Random Thoughts

- Are you bothered Duke is already of the NCAA Tournament? Me neither. Sometimes Coach K and his pious attitude is a bit much.

- If the University of Michigan cares about basketball, then Tommy Amaker has coached his last game for the Wolverines.

- See where Kevin Curtis signed with Philadelphia. The Lions off season has been underwhelming, to say the least. They aren’t even good at setting up smoke screens. Matt Millen isn’t going to take Brady Quinn in the draft. Like he is fooling anybody.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Leyland Outburst Might Have Been Necessary

It’s the dog days of spring training. The initial feeling of starting camp and playing games for the first time in awhile has gone away. And it is still fairly distant to opening day. I have done that Lakeland to Vero Beach trip a number of times. It is a long one. It can’t be the most pleasant bus ride. So it almost seems trite that Tigers manager Jim Leyland would go off about how apathetic play will not be tolerated on his team after a game in Vero Beach. From my experience, a veteran player would hear that and start rolling his eyes. I would dismiss it as typical manager rhetoric - except I thought the exact same thing last April when Leyland went off on his team following an early season loss to Cleveland.
I thought it was too early to go to the proverbial whip. It turned out to be just the right time. What I like about Leyland as a manager, more than anything else, is that he has an uncanny feel for his team. Last year during the playoffs, it was brilliant the way he inspired confidence in his team by downplaying, in a simple, matter-of-fact way, his team being an underdog to the Yankees. He has been really smart in his dealings with Ivan Rodriguez, massaging his ego at the same time as fitting him into roles that are better suited for the team. The message Leyland sent to his team last April proved to be necessary. Maybe this one is, too.

Random Thoughts

- Kyle Calder has been an excellent addition for the Red Wings. For the second game in a row, during Tuesday’s win at Nashville, he set up a goal by outfighting an opposing player along the wall and keeping the puck in the zone. That type of effort was wasted in Philly this season, but could prove to be very valuable to the Red Wings - especially during the playoffs.

- Yes, I do think it is disturbing the only players the Lions seem to sign as free agents are ex-Rams and former Buccaneers.

- Michigan won the game, but is losing the war. To have only 3,000 for one of its games - any game - is a testament to how low the program has gone. If that doesn’t send a message to the administration that Tommy Amaker just isn’t working out, nothing will.

Monday, March 12, 2007

What Is Missing? How About Fighting In The NHL

The issue has been raised twice on national telecasts, first in the United States, and then in Canada, about how a lack of fighting has hurt the NHL.
Oddly, it was Brett Hull, on NBC during the Red Wings-Avalanche game on March 4, who first brought it up. He said even though he had just one and a half fights during his career, it was the fighters who protected him. And he feels fighting is good for the intensity of the game. Then this past Saturday, CBC’s Don Cherry, while showing a clip of Hull’s comments, made the same point. Cherry talked about Detroit and the lack of attendance, and said much of it has to do with the dearth of fighters on the Red Wings’ roster. Detroit is last in the league in fights, and despite the Red Wings’ stellar record, apathy has clearly set in regarding the team. Cherry mentioned Bob Probert, Joe Kocur and Darren McCarty and their popularity in Detroit, which despite relatively pedestrian hockey skills, was exceeded only by Steve Yzerman during the Red Wings’ salad days..
I think that was a great point by Cherry, and one I hadn’t thought much about. Detroit is a working class town. It wants working class hockey players. The Red Wings are very skilled and it’s appreciated, but only to a degree. People around here want to see hits. They want to see fights. They don’t want a "Fancy Dan" team - unless it wins the Stanley Cup - or comes close. The Red Wings used to fight a lot. Their modern legacy was set up by fights with Colorado. Their greatest players from the past - Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay - were great scrappers. It is part of their lore. Scotty Bowman discouraged fighting when he was Red Wings coach. It was smart because the Red Wings had more skill - and it would be taken off the ice into the penalty box. Or his team might have been thrown off its game by it. But the Wings have gone too far the other way. The point really home early during Sunday’s game against Boston when Darryl Bootland got into a fight. The crowd at Joe Louis Arena loved it. It was the highlight of the game for them. And when the Bruins were pushing the Red Wings around after blowing the game open during the third period, I couldn’t help but wonder why Mike Babcock didn’t send Bootland out there to stir it up. In the old days, that would have happened. In the old days, the game was better for it.

Random Thoughts

- I know this is Big Ten Country, but honestly Purdue and Illinois were lucky to get into the tournament. I don’t think either one of those teams - or Michigan State for that matter - would beat Syracuse. Big Ten basketball this season was the Big Two - Ohio State and Wisconsin - and the Little Nine. Other than the top two teams, the conference was bad. Does anybody honestly think Purdue or Illinois would have gone 10-6 in the Big East?

- Save for Magglio Ordonez’s headache, I thought the Tigers recent altercation with the Red Sox was a good thing. It shows they aren’t sitting back and resting on their laurels. It’s going to be a tough season for the Tigers. Teams will be coming after them. Better they get ready for it.

- Tired of hearing about the Western Conference’s strength in the NBA? Me, too. The Pistons are more than holding their own on this Western swing. It should be more than interesting when they face Dallas Sunday.

Friday, March 09, 2007

What About Bonds Is Worth Celebrating?

John Rocker, Gary Mathews Jr., David Bell...The situation involving performance enhancing drugs in baseball just isn’t going away. It’s strange. There isn’t a player now who can accomplish great things, especially involving power hitting, without the accomplishment being suspect. It’s totally unfair, I admit it, but I don’t believe what Ryan Howard did last season, or that Albert Pujols is really that good - unless something fishy is involved. I know Henry Aaron, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays didn’t use anything like that, but still had great power. So it is possible to be a tremendous power hitter without being on something, or even lifting a lot of weights. By no means has it gotten to the point where it has ruined the game, but there is little question it has tainted it. That’s why I hope baseball doesn’t celebrate Barry Bonds’ breaking Aaron’s home run record. It’ll be bad for the game, a real scarlet letter on it. What is worth celebrating about that?

Random Thoughts

- Something about Michigan playing Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament brings out the worst in college basketball. Good for the Wolverines - they won the game. But that was just an awful game. Same for last March when the two teams played in the conference postseason tournament.

- I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed by Joey MacDonald when he played for the Red Wings, so I guess it was a bit shocking he beat New Jersey like he did the other night for Dave Lewis and the Boston Bruins. I wonder if Lewie will start MacDonald Sunday against the Red Wings?

- Want my impression of the Tigers from when I was in Lakeland? Honestly, they looked terrific. The caliber of this team is so much better, even in exhibition play, than it used to be that it’s incredible.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Heart of The Tigers

The Tigers were playing Toronto down here in Lakeland on Tuesday when it dawned on me one of the reasons they are so good. Carlos Guillen was at the plate. Remember him? He had an MVP-caliber season last year. He came up with important hit after important hit. He played very well defensively. He provided quiet, but effective leadership in the clubhouse.
Guillen’s average wasn’t quite as high, but in every other category he was nearly as good as Derek Jeter in 2006. Nobody talks about him, though. But once the season begins, there is no more important player on the Tigers. What a great trade Dave Dombrowski made to get Guillen. What an astute move it was to sign him long-term (three years, $14 million). How important it is that Dombrowski sign Guillen again. Why? Because he is the heart of the Tigers.

Random Thoughts

- Oakland University turned in a great effort before falling just short against Oral Roberts in the Mid-Con tourney title game Tuesday. I know they draw great crowds there, but it is an extremely unfair situation to be holding the tournament on Oral Roberts’ home floor. The court was anything but level for OU. This season, the Golden Grizzlies were the third-best team Division I team in the state behind only Michigan State and Michigan. That’s significant progress.

- It'll mean a lot if the Lions are able to sign a really good free agent that isn’t a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer or St. Louis Ram - and doesn’t play defensive line. But it doesn’t seem like free agents are buying what the Lions are selling, which is a bunch of nothing.

- A pet peeve: Spring training ball parks that look like regular season stadiums. Legends Field in Tampa is so big, it just lacks the usual spring training charm.

Monday, March 05, 2007

MSU And U-M More Equal Than Separate

I understand the dynamics of it. Michigan is a senior-laden team and Michigan State is rebuilding. I understand that MSU’s non-conference schedule was a little stronger than Michigan’s. But, honestly, were the Spartans that much better than the Wolverines this season? So much better that MSU is an apparent lock for an NCAA tournament bid while the Wolverines figure to be on the outside looking in? They each had the same conference record. Both were awful on the road. The two teams split their meetings during the season. Michigan State won one more game overall. They both hit the 20-win mark.
There was a lot of whining from Michigan State fans last week after the Spartans lost to Michigan. About how the team was rundown because of sickness, and how the loss, really, didn’t mean much. In truth, all the Spartans presented for the loss were excuses. They didn’t suck it up the way Tom Izzo’s teams usually do. The Spartans did not show up. The result was a defeat that makes Michigan’s resume appear nearly as impressive as the Spartans at this late point. State had a chance to crush U-M. The Spartans did not do it. They showed no killer instinct. Shame on so many of Michigan State’s faithful for not being honest about it. They almost sound like Wolverine football fans and their moaning after one of Michigan’s inexplicable poor efforts in an important late-season game.

Random Thoughts

- Henrik’s Zetterberg’s injury may be a blessing in disguise. It will make certain he is rested for the playoffs. It may also insure the Red Wings do not face Calgary in the opening round as opposed to, say, Dallas. In my opinion, the Stars would be the Red Wings ideal opponent during the opening round.

- Dewayne White is a decent player, but isn’t an upgrade from what James Hall presented to the Lions at defensive end, at least up until last season when he was injured. The Lions need speed off the edge. They need somebody who can get to the quarterback. They still don’t have that player because White is not it. The Lions also badly need a middle linebacker.

- A team a lot of people, like Peter Gammons, are gushing about is the Toronto Blue Jays. I know this is the era when teams kind of appear out of nowhere, but I still see the Blue Jays being a shade behind the Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees and Red Sox in the American League. Want a sleeper? I like the Angels. I really like them if Bartolo Colon comes back strong. But that’s a big "If."

Note: Due to technical difficulties, I have not been able to respond to the comments left on this blog. I will, however, do so to each and every comment when the issue is corrected. Thanks for your patience and for supporting this blog.
- Pat Caputo

Friday, March 02, 2007

Lions Did OK With Bly Deal

Ultimately, the Lions probably would have been better off, for this coming season anyway, if they had not traded Dre' Bly.
He was, arguably, their best defensive player. They are void of quality cornerbacks. His departure makes the Lions even more vulnerable defensively.
At least, however, the Lions got something of value in return. Tatum Bell is not an ideal every down back, but rather a smallish runner with excellent speed who, when spotted properly, can be an impact player. Used in tandem with Kevin Jones (depending on his health), Bell could work out very well for the Lions. George Foster does help the Lions with their offensive line. A draft pick always helps. It was not like the Lions got nothing from Denver for Bly, who was entering the final year of his contract, is expensive and is getting older. I do not see where the Lions could have done much better under the circumstances.

Random Thoughts

- On my first day down in Lakeland to write columns for The Oakland Press, the player I was most impressed by is Gary Sheffield. He really looks like a pure hitter. Two things: He is in great shape physically and he has extraordinary bat speed. At 38, it does not appear he has lost anything at the plate. I think he will hit 30 home runs this season and knock in 100 runs. That would be a huge help for the Tigers.

- Jim Leyland seems almost paranoid about his batting order for the coming season. It is almost weird. It is a no-brainer, is it not? Sheffield and Mags hit in the three and four spots, and Pudge hits down the order. Granderson leads off and Polanco hits second. After the first four, it is pretty much mix and match. What is the big deal? It cannot be Pudge's ego, could it?

- Anybody notice just how bad the Michigan State basketball team has been on the road? I think the Spartans will get into the NCAA tournament, but it has not been good the way they have played away from the madhouse that is the Breslin Center on game night.