Friday, April 30, 2010

Red Wings Played Well Despite Loss, But Howard, Z-Line Must Be Better

As Game 1 losses in the conference semifinals go, the Red Wings dropping a 4-3 decision to the San Jose Sharks can be seen as encouraging.
The Red Wings lost this game in the first period when they allowed three rapid-fire goals. However, they pretty much controlled the game from that point forward.
The Sharks did get knocked back on their heels. The Red Wings were victims of questionable officiating late in the second period, which allowed San Jose a two-man advantage for more than a minute - and the Sharks cashed in for the eventual deciding goal.
There were a few cracks in the Red Wings’ armor that were exposed, though. Jimmy Howard has to be more consistent in goal. During an early onslaught, like the one by the Sharks, he has to keep the puck out of the net. It’s what Chris Osgood has done so well in the past.
Also, the fourth goal by San Jose was Howard’s fault.
It wasn’t only a low shot from close range, but it went through the 5-hole. Howard’s save percentage Thursday night was 85 percent. If it isn’t better starting in Game 2 Sunday, this will be a short series.
Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi and Valtteri Filppula didn’t perform well. The San Jose line featuring Joe Pavelski simply outplayed the above-mentioned trio.
My gut feeling is the Red Wings will win Sunday. I still believe they will take this series in six games. Even in defeat Thursday, you could sense they have this certain edge over the Sharks.
But there was also this "what could have been" feel to this loss. If only the Red Wings had been more prepared for the start of the game. If only their rookie netminder had been a little sharper.
This series might have been over before it really started. Instead, the Sharks have immediate confidence they can beat the Red Wings.

Random Thoughts

- Despite what some people perceived as success by Dontrelle Willis, his first few outings this season were iffy. Not Thursday, he was really good. It was by far the best sign yet he can do something no other pitcher has ever done - overcome "The Thing" or "Steve Blass Disease" or whatever you want to call it.

- You can’t dispute Tyreke Evans deserved the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award, but I think Stephen Curry is the better player.

- For a team with many flaws, the Tigers have done well early this season. A 13-10 record, surviving a West Coast trip with a 5-6 mark, winning two out of three from the Twins...the Tigers are doing OK. Maybe this will be a fun summer again for baseball in Detroit.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Column In Friday's Oakland Press

My column in Thursday's Oakland Press. Sharks vs. Red Wings: "Have Beens" vs. "Haven't Beens."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Simple Question For Detroit Sports Fans

It just seems odd the Lions were getting these kudos for what seems to be an iffy draft, while the Red Wings were getting blasted in this town.
It seems odd that Ndamukong Suh was being anointed as the next great one with a celebration of his existence as an athlete in this town - before he even puts on a practice uniform. While, at the same time, a true icon in this town, and still a great player, Nicklas Lidstrom, was being unceremoniously bashed by many fans.
Let me ask you this:
Which team, 99 percent of the time, comes through for you?
Which team, 99 percent of the time, lets you down?
Yet, why was it like that for about a week?

Random Thoughts

- Austin Jackson is hitting .136 against left-handed pitchers, is striking four times more than he walks overall, but his batting his average is pretty high, so he must be doing a good job as a hitter, right? Not necessarily. A month from now, if Jackson doesn't improve his pitch recognition, his batting average will drop 100 points. Defensively, however, he has been better than anticipated.

- You have to take the bad with the good with Ryan Raburn. A key 3-run double Monday at Texas, a huge error Tuesday in Detroit against Minnesota. At least Johnny Damon usually catches the ball. The Tigers are more effective with Damon in left and Raburn at DH.

My Column in Wednesday's Oakland Press on the Red Wings


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Red Wings Aren't Alone On The Brink

There are some Stanley Cup playoff seasons when the underdog is constantly winning. This is one of them. I would have thought, for example, New Jersey would have beaten Philadelphia. Seems like that series has been over forever - with the Flyers surprisingly and easily emerging victorious.

I didn't give Montreal much chance against Washington. It's tied 3-3. Boston beat Buffalo and the best goalie in the world, Ryan Miller.

The Red Wings aren't technically a higher seed than the Coyotes, but they are the better tean after recovering from a rash of injuries during the regular season.

Such unpredictablity during the postseason is maddening, but also one of the most appealing aspects of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Random Thoughts

- Count me among those who believe Jimmy Howard will play well tonight, but I'm not sure if it will ultimately matter. The Red Wings have played with fire too much in this series. Wouldn't surprise me if they get burned tonight.

- Probably the worst thing that have could happened for Joel Zumaya was Nolan Ryan raving about his fastball. That wasn't a very good outing he turned in Monday at Texas. Almost cost the Tigers the game.

- Interesting point brought up during my live chat Tuesday: Who would you rather have, Ryan Howard or Miguel Cabrera? If his act is together, I'd take Cabrera because he can hit for power and average, and doesn't strikeout nearly as much as Howard. And I'm not sure if Cabrera, if he stays on this track, won't start coming close to matching Howard's power. Howard has a big edge playing in that band box ball park when it comes to home run production.

My column in Tuesday's Oakland Press: On Nicklas Lidstrom and this maybe being his last game:


Monday, April 26, 2010

Transcript Of My Live Chat Tuesday

This is the transcript of my live chat Tuesday at theoakland

Lions Draft: I Give It A B-minus - And This Is Why

I always laugh when people give a team grades for the NFL Draft. I realize how funny it is because we, obviously, won't know until years later how a draft pans out. And because I always fall for it and give the Lions a grade anyway.

Well, here it is for this year: B-

This is why:

- I like this draft from the standpoint the Lions got two defensive players and a running back in the first three rounds.

- I do question whether Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh will be able to dominate from the inside tackle position enough to justify the second overall pick. I do, however, believe he will be, at minimum, an excellent NFL player for a long time. I also think there is a level of patience that will be needed with Suh. Defensive line in the NFL is a position that usually takes time for a player to develop. If Suh doesn't set the world on fire right away, it doesn't mean he is going to be a bust. If Suh excels immediately, it will be a very good sign - and unusual for his position.

- Cal running back Jahvid Best is a 50-50 proposition. He has extraordinary speed and is an exceptional athlete. He is also undersized and injury prone. I see his impact as either great or him flaming out quickly because of injuries.
I don't see how he could hold up carrying the ball 15 times per game, or consistently between the tackles. Then again, only 12 running backs in the NFL averaged 15 carries per game last season. It's a passing league. The Lions likely will go with controlled passing attack, setting up the run with the pass, rather than the other away around.

- Cornerback Amari Spievy from Iowa was a stretch so early in the third round. But in fariness to the Lions, cornerback is such a valued position, it's common place to reach for one. He is a good tackler and a solid pass defender, but not the fastest cornerback nor best cover guy. His eventual role might be at safety.

- Miami tackle Jason Fox, the fourth round pick, is an athletic former tight end, who isn't very strong for the position. Can't see him, at 6-7, easily moving inside to guard. He will take time to develop - as a tackle. Another reach.

- Trading up for Best in the first round cost the Lions a shot at several good defensive players in the fourth round - South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood and Ohio State linebacker Thaddeus Gibson among them. The Vikings used the pick they got from the Lions for Everson Griffen from USC, a good rush end with a big upside.
T here were some good defensive players drafted after the Lions picked Fox - Kam Chancellor a safety from Virginia Tech, Parrish Cox a cornerback from Oklahoma State and Ricky Sapp a defensive end/linebacker from Clemson.
Much of how this draft will be judged depends on how well those players do in comparisonwith Best, Spievy and Fox.

- Not having fifth- and sixth round selections will depend on how well the Lions do after giving up those picks to acquire veteran players. Are guard Rob Sims, defensive tackle Corey Williams and cornerback Chris Houston going to be with the Lions for a long period of time or just stop gaps?

- Of the Lions' seventh round picks, I feel like defensive end Willie Young from NC State has the most potential. He is a little older than most picks (he'll be 25 in September), and has had some injuries issues. But he is athletic and easily could have been drafted much sooner.
Also, I don't understand why the Lions did not have select Michigan State wide receiver Blair White with the last pick in the draft. Bet he could play for them, and would be a strong special teams player. Instead, it was wide receiver Tim Toone, who is 25 years as well - a bit old for a developmental player - from a small school, Weber State.

My Column in Monday's Oakland Press - It never should have gotten to this point for the Red Wings:


Friday, April 23, 2010

Shouldn't A First-Round Pick Be An Every Down Player?

There are some things I like about the Lions' draft, but there are a couple other factors to mull over. Ndamukong Suh may be a disruptive force inside, and make every one around him better. But it's also true, defensive linemen are rotated out of the game more than any other position. And leaving them in the game is akin to letting a hockey player on the ice for too long on a shift - it leads to break downs.
Jahvid Best does have game-breaking speed, which will undoubtedly flash from time-to-time. But is he going to carry the ball in-between the tackles regularly? It seems doubtful given his size and injury history.
The Lions need a core. You can make a case that Suh is going to be that in the middle of the defensive line. OK. I'm buying that. Jahvid Best as the next Chris Johnson? Don't see that. Johnson carries the ball every play, a truly unique player for his relatively small size and truly blazing speed. He was fresh when the Titans got him. He has some injuries issues his junior season, but played every game as a senior. Best constantly has been banged up.

Random Thoughts

- This a deep draft. The Lions should be able to get a very good player in the third round tonight. They need to think defense. Ideally, a linebacker with some speed, like TCU's Daryl Washington or Penn State's Navorro Bowman, drops. It won't be long before Penn State's Sean Lee comes off the board. He might have been a better pick for Detroit than Best. What if Brandon Spikes is still there in the third round? Losing 28 spots in the fourth round prove to be significant on Saturday.

- The thing I like most about the Best selection is that it does add to the Lions' overall team speed, which has been lacking.

- Oh, by the way, the Tigers...It was a classic example of just how good their bullpen is last night. Ryan Perry has a chance to be a great closer some day. Right now he is a very good set up man. Carlos Guillen getting hurt again, however, is alarming. He is a fine hitter, but can he ever stay healthy? And since Guillen has been with the Tigers, there has been strong evidence they are much better offensively when he is in the lineup. That's especially considering they don't exactly have a lot of left-handed hitting. Brandon Boesch, who is replacing Guillen, is a 25-year-old, typical 4-A player, who got off to a hot start at Toledo. He is a big guy with some power. Maybe he can keep it going for awhile in the major leagues. The best part: He is a left-handed hitter.

- The tests are coming fast and furious for Red Wings' goalie Jimmy Howard. The one tonight: How will he handle a key playoff game on the road?


Trading Up For Jahvid Best A Reach By Lions

Jahvid Best is exceptionally fast and extremely athletic, and when he was healthy, was a productive running back at Cal.
The key word in the above sentence, however, is "when."
Best is more than a little injury prone. He has a long history of injuries - every year in college, in fact.. People talk all the time about protecting Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford as the franchise with a premier left tackle. Nobody is more important to a quarterback’s health than a running back picking up blitzers. Best is slight of build. It’s unlikely he will provide any pass protection for Stafford.
If the Lions try to hand Best the ball 300 times in a season, chances are he won’t make it. And if he does, chances are the QB won’t make it.
Trading up for Best, when they needed an every down back, wasn’t a good move by the Lions. Especially when there were a number of ways remaining they could have augmented their greatest need - defense.
I did like the pick of Ndamukong Suh second overall. I had an argument - and I felt a compelling one - that Eric Berry, the safety from Tennessee, would have been a better selection for the Lions. But it’s not like Suh is football’s version of Darko Milicic. He is very talented and driven. Whether he will be that rarity, who will have a tremendous impact playing inside tackle in the NFL, remains to be seen. But it wasn’t a foolish pick by any stretch of the imagination. And I really like it that so many of the Lions’ fans are happy with it. Usually, the Lions’ decisions tend to make their fans grumpy, upset or downright angry. Good to see a collective smile on their faces about something.

More of my thoughts about the Suh pick:

My Column in Friday's Oakland Press. Big Five Red Wings Must Shine:


Thursday, April 22, 2010

On The NFL Draft..

I think the most fascinating pick is Tim Tebow. For all the trashing that has been done on the guy, would somebody dare take him in the first round? He was a great college player, arguably the best of all time. His throwing mechanics have been dissected to the point it is ridiculous. He is a tremendous athlete who can win. Buffalo might bite ninth overall. The Bills did work him out in late March. Jacksonville is 10th overall. His appeal in that town is obvious. What is not mentioned often, but is definitely a factor working against Tebow, is that he is left-handed. There were no left-handed starting quarterbacks in the NFL last season, and several, including Matt Leinart and Chris Sims, have been disappointments from drafts in the not-too-distant past.
- The worst position in this draft is wide receiver. Honestly, I don't see a wide receiver - including Dez Bryant - who should be drafted in the first round tonight. Bryant is a talented player, but there are obvious character issues.

- Last year, there was a lot buzz about West Virginia QB Pat White before the draft. This year, there isn't nearly the same buzz about Armanti Edwards, but he is just as good - maybe better -athlete. Remember Edwards? He was the QB who scorched Michigan for Appalachian State a couple years ago. Will he stay at QB? Will somebody draft him as "wildcat" specialist? He is likely to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round. White, by the way, rushed 13 times for 81 yards last season - and didn't complete any of his five passing attempts.

- Of the two Alabama cornerbacks available in this draft, Kareem Jackson is likely to be selected first, but I think Javier Arenas will be the better pro player. If the Lions go running back in the second round, Arenas might not be a bad choice for them in third round.


Five Things The Lions Must Accomplish In This Draft

My column in Thursday's Oakland Press on the five things the Lions must accomplish in this NFL Draft:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What If The Lions Pick McCoy Instead Of The People's Choice Suh?

When the Lions held a "meet and greet" with their fans recently, some started chanting, "Suh, Suh, Suh"
Nebraska defensive tackle Nadamukong Suh has become the choice of the Lions' fans for the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. Thing is, Gerald McCoy, a defensive tackle from Oklahoma, is just as highly rated as Suh. Most of the NFL people I've talked to feel McCoy has a higher ceiling - meaning more long-range potential - than Suh, and the only reason he didn't match Suh's production in college was because he played in a system that required more gap responsiblity.
It is a little bit of dicey situation for the Lions. Appeasing their fans shouldn't be the goal, but they have been incredibly arrogant down through the years, taking their fans for granted often - too often - and have paid the price with a half-empty Ford Field on many Sundays the last two years.
They can't ignore their fans anymore. It will be interesting to see how the Lions handle the situation if the pick is McCoy - or any other player other than Suh.

Random Thoughts

- After all those "Demon Drop" saves registered by Fernando Rodney with the Tigers last year, isn't it amazing how easily he picked up saves against the Tigers the last two nights?

- The best sign for the Tigers: How well Miguel Cabrera is hitting in the clutch. The worst sign: Rick Porcello scuffling through three starts. The Tigers need Porcello to be rock solid like he was the second half of last season to remain in contention.

- The Lions play three of their first four games on the road, with the only home game being against Philadelphia. The schedule maker sure didn't do them any favors.

- Nobody's said anything, but Nicklas Lidstrom was brilliant last night. He keyed the Red Wings' penalty killing unit, which keyed their victory. He also had four shots on goal and played excellent hockey for a team-high 26 minutes. What a great player. And few seemed to notice how well he bounced back from a subpar performance Sunday.

My column in Wednesday's Oakland Press on the Red Wings:


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Transcript of My Live Chat Today...

Talk was on the Lions' Draft and Scheffler-Sims trade, Red Wings and Tigers:

Reminder: I will be tweeting on Twitter at patcaputo98 tonight during the Red Wings-Coyotes game.

Is Zack Follett The Lions' Version Of Brandon Inge?

Zack Follett was available so late in last year’s draft because of concern about injuries. He was a highly productive college player, not just some grunt. It is possible he could play in Ernie Sims’ spot at linebacker.
Injury concerns held him back (he missed time at Cal because of foot and neck injuries) at draft time, but Follett did display surprising closing speed and excellent tackling ability on special teams last season as a rookie.
The danger is this guy becoming the Lions’ version of Brandon Inge. He has an engaging personality, so much so that fans might start liking the kid so much, they overlook any shortcomings he has as a player.

Random Thoughts

- The idea the Tigers can’t score runs yet are pitching really well isn’t true. They are eighth in the American League in runs scored, but 10th in team ERA. Their lack of power is an issue, though. They are just one of four teams in the American League still in single digits in home runs with eight.
The Tigers have been putting runners in scoring position, just not getting big hits lately. When they got one - Miguel Cabrera’s home run Sunday for example - they won the game. This is where they might miss Curtis Granderson and his 30 home runs.

- Ivan Rodriguez might play forever. He leads the National League in hitting. Kind of sad seeing him bounce around to all these different teams, however. Just something about Pudge playing for the Nationals isn’t right. Now that team was the perfect fit for Dmitri Young...

- You know who is going to play well for the Red Wings tonight - guaranteed? Nicklas Lidstrom. So he had a bad game Sunday. He is still a truly great player. He’ll prove it again tonight.

Note: I will be doing a live chat today at 11:30 a.m. at


Monday, April 19, 2010

Scheffler A Big Play Tight End, But Who Plays Linebacker?

There are a couple things about the Lions’ three-way trade that sent linebacker Ernie Sims to the Eagles in exchange for former Western Michigan tight end Tony Scheffler, who is coming from Denver.
One is the health of a first-round draft choice from last year, Brandon Pettigrew. Maybe there are some problems with his rehabilitation following knee surgery. Secondly, Scheffler is a very good receiver. He has the speed to stretch the field down the middle, but is more of a receiver than blocker. He is a mediocre blocker - at best - but could really help take some of the pressure off Calvin Johnson. Scheffler is very athletic and can make plays in space.
He was available because of a run-in with Denver coach Josh McDaniels. It stemmed from QB Jay Cutler’s dispute with McDaniels. Scheffler was close to Cutler, who, of course, was traded to the Bears. Scheffler reportedly was overheard in the locker room saying he, too, wanted out of Denver - and was benched by McDaniels.
The Lions can use this type of weapon offensively, but it does leave their linebacker corps thin. Obviously, Sims didn’t figure in their long-term future. In the last decade, the Lions have had 12 first-round draft choices. Sims was the only one from the defensive side of the ball. He hasn’t been a big playmaker, and his consistency has waned the last two seasons.
But somebody has to play linebacker? The draft is not particularly deep with multi-purpose outside backers. Most of the best ones would fall under the category of pass rush specialists. An exception is Missouri’s Sean Weatherspoon, but he will be long gone by the time the Lions draft 34th overall in the second round. Weatherspoon would be a stretch at the second overall pick. The Lions could play DeAndre Levy in Sims’ spot. It’s where he saw a lot of his playing time last season, but who would man the middle now that Larry Foote has departed? Could be the Lions are eyeballing somebody like Florida’s Brandon Spikes in the second round. His slow 40-yard dash time doesn’t mask the fact he is a terrific football player.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Column In Monday's Oakland Press On Red Wings: This On Jimmy Howard

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sunday Column On Lions Draft

My column in Sunday's Oakland Press on how the second overall picks in the NFL Draft haven't exactly panned out:

Also, I will be doing a live chat per usual on Tuesday morning at 11:30 at

Friday, April 16, 2010

There Are Still Goals For Benson To Reach At OU

My initial reaction to Oakland center Keith Benson exploring the possibility of entering the NBA Draft is that he should not do it.
Benson has made great progress at Oakland, but can make more by staying in college. Not sure where he'd go in this draft, but he can move himself into elite company by getting stronger and dominating next season.
But there is another way to look at it. What more is he going to accomplish at OU? The Golden Grizzlies were 17-1 and won the Summit League tournament last season. They did go to the NCAA tournament. Isn't that as far as it goes at OU?
Well, there are a couple frontiers for Benson to reach at OU. One is a victory over a top program. Oakland was blasted last season by all the big boys. Also, OU has never won an NCAA tournament game (excepting the play-in game). That would be a legitimate possibility if Benson returns.

Random Thoughts

- Moving Justin Abdelkader into the lineup for the Jason Williams is a good move by Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. He will hit people. Look for Brad Stuart to take Williams' spot on the point of the second power play unit.

- We're about to find out whether the Tigers are for real. Of their next 30 games, 27 are against teams that had winning records last season. Oh, and the West Coast is a very different place to win. The Tigers were a horrible road team for much of last season. How about that King Felix-Jeremy Bonderman pitching matchup tonight. Could be a little rough.

My Column in Friday's Oakland Press on how the Red Wings must toughen up tonight


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is Gerald Laird Really That Bad?

There are times when the fans in this town turn, almost in unison, against certain athletes. On the brink of becoming one of those players is Tigers' catcher Gerald Laird.
Laird made a key blunder in the Tigers' loss to Kansas City Wednesday. He dropped a throw at the plate, allowing Kansas City to score the go-ahead run, and setting off a chain of events that led to a 7-3 defeat.
It was a painful loss. The Tigers would have won another series. Obviously, it was not the ideal way to head into a road trip West against better competition.
Laird was 0-for-6 in Game 163 against the Twins last season, failing in the clutch. He hasn't hit a a home run since July 3 of last season - a span of 237 at bats.
What is not fair about Laird is that his considerable defensive skills - particularly throwing - are often overlooked.
Do I think he is the Tigers' answer as an every day catcher? No. Manager Jim Leyland caught him too much the first four months of last season, and Laird clearly wore down as a result, and he hasn't really recovered at the plate. But I do feel he can be the part of a solid platoon with Alex Avila, and that it's possible, maybe even likely, Laird will find his hitting stroke at some point of the season? Yes.

Random Thoughts

- Bottom line about John Kuester as the Pistons coach: He did nothing to indicate he is the solution, but was given a free pass on this awful season that, thankfully, ended Wednesday. It's why he is returning for next year.

- Ben Roethlisberger clearly has issues. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would be wise to suspend Roethlisberger for a game or two under these circumstances. He is just another player making the league look back. A message must be sent. A strong one.

- Here some advice for the Red Wings before Game 2 of their opening round series against Phoenix Friday: It's playoff hockey. Start hitting like it.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Dontrelle, NBA MVP, Tiger And The Foibles Of UM And MSU Football

It's difficult to proclaim Dontrelle Willis "back" when he has allowed 21 base runners in 11 innings and has a 4.91 ERA. The Tigers have won both his starts, but may be living on barrowed time with this particular slot in the rotation.

- LeBron James will probably win the MVP Award this season, but it always becomes a hallow honor if the recepient doesn't perform well during the playoffs, like LeBron, Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett in the past.

- So it appears if Tiger Woods' marriage is over. Anyone surprised? Me neither. Bet the clubs in Vegas are happy about it, though.

- Possible rule violations at West Virginia when Rich Rodriguez was football coach there - seems like the Rich Rodriguez saga is never ending. Always some bad news for Michigan football in this regard; never anything good.

- In the "they never learn" department at Michigan State: Wide receiver Fred Smith, the only four-star recruit in one of head coach Mark Dantonio's early recruiting classes, is back on the football team not long after being released from jail. Smacks of Glenn Winston. The Spartans were short on experienced running backs when Winston was let back on right after leaving jail. They are short on wide receivers and spring practice was going on as Smith re-joined the team. Wrong message - again - from Dantonio.


Wednesday's Column In Oakland Press On Red Wings And Live Chat Transcript

My Column in Wednesday's Oakland Press. Are The Red Wings A Dynasty?

Transcript Of My Live Chat Tuesday (Along with Tiger Writer James Briggs chat during game)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Some Thoughts On The NFL Draft

I'm not so sure the Lions won't take a middle linebacker in this draft. Pat Angerer from Iowa would be a great value if he slips to the late rounds.

- The most versatile defensive back in this draft is Nate Allen from South Florida. Can play corner or safety. Could fit Lions in second round if Patrick Robinson and Kyle Wilson are gone.

- The most underrated offensive lineman prospect in this draft is Illinois guard Jon Asamoah. Don't be surprised if he is a better pro than the more celebrated Mike Iupati from Idaho.

- Ricky Sapp from Clemson is probably the most athletic defensive end/linebacker available and would be a bargain in the second round. Not sure he won't be a better pro than Michigan's Brandon Graham.

- Running back I'd take if I were the Lions if he falls to the sixth or seven round: Keith Toston, Oklahoma State. He doesn't have any overwhelming physical tools, but hits the hole hard gets the most out whatever creases are presented by the defense.

My column in today's Oakland Press on the main reason for the Pistons failure this season:



I will be doing a live chat this morning at 11:30 a.m. at

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mickelson Masters Triumph Poetic Justice

NOTE: I will be doing a live chat Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m. at

I remember the cold manner in which Tiger Woods treated Phil Mickelson during the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills.
Not that Lefty didn't deserve some of it. It wasn't the best time to breakout new equipment, and he played horribly. Woods didn't help the situation, though, when U.S. captain Hal Sutton paired them as a "Dream Team."
There was more to it, which came to a head a couple years later when Tiger's caddy, Steve Williams, who acts like a rogue cop and has done nearly as much to hurt Tiger's reputation as his mistresses, blasted Mickelson publicly.
There is also the matter of what Mickelson is going through with his wife and mother, and how Tiger has taken his family for granted in a classic philandering way.
Mickelson winning The Masters was a fitting twist to Tiger's comeback. It was a tale of perseverance rather than comeback.

Random Thoughts

- I have the Red Wings beating Phoenix in five games.

- Seems like Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour's stock is sinking as the NFL Draft nears. I hear he might be a late-round pick - at best. Don't understand why. The kid has good wheels and his arm and release were good during the Senior Bowl week. He must have had a disappointing pro day.

- The Tigers obviously didn't win Sunday because Justin Verlander allowed five runs in the opening inning. Rather, they won because Verlander didn't allow a run in the next four. It's a sign of maturity. Verlander is very, very good. Could win 20 games this season. Also, early this season, Miguel Cabrera has been every thing he wasn't his first two seasons as a Tiger when his statistics were misleading. He has been clutch.

My column in Monday's Oakland Press on why the Red Wings should come out of the Western Conference and reach the Stanley Cup Finals again:


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Column On Tigers...

....In Saturday's Oakland Press

Friday, April 09, 2010

Did Babock Make A Mistake By Playing Osgood?

I don't know for sure if the Red Wings would have beaten Philadelphia on Sunday if Jimmy Howard started in net instead of Chris Osgood, but I do know their chances of getting a fifth seed for the playoffs would be a lot better had they won that game. It does lead to second guessing of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.

Random Thoughts

- I have little doubt Michigan State wide receiver Blair White can play in the NFL. Not only will he be a very good special teams player, but he will contribute significantly as a receiver.

- I've learned down through the years to expect a cold day like this for Opening Day. A nice, warm sunny day is never expected. A cold day with clouds is the norm. A rainy day, which today is not, isn't unsual.

- The Frozen Four would been much, much more interesting had Michigan been participating. I think the Wolverines probably would have given Boston College a better game.
Should be a good title game, though, with BC and Wisconsin.

My column in Friday's Oakland Press on opening day:


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Where Are All The Curtis Granderson Bashers Now?

Anybody who thinks Curtis Granderson is just an average player got the message Wednesday night that he is much more than that.
A 10th-inning bomb into the right field seats at Fenway Park off Jonathan Papelbon to beat the Red Sox while wearing a Yankees uniform has already made him a star in New York.
And it should. Come on. How many players are capable of doing that?
The headline on the back page of the New York Post Thursday: JUST GRAND!
It was accompied by a photo of Granderson hitting his game-deciding shot.

Random Thoughts

- Surprising fact about the Red Wings: They have lost just 24 games during regulation time this season- the fourth fewest regulation defeats in the NHL.

- I think Tiger Woods' ad for NIKE, with his late father, falls under the category of tacky. Would they even consider making the same ad were Earl Woods alive? Pathetic. Another example of Tiger and NIKE out of control.

- I do think, dispite the Tigers' loss Wednesday in Kansas City, it was a good sign Miguel Cabrera hit such a clutch home run. Despite his impressive stats during his first two years with the Tigers, those were the type of clutch hits that were missing from Cabrera reportaire.

- Just curious: Why did the Diamondbacks trade Max Scherzer? I know Edwin Jackson is a good pitcher, but Scherzer, who was the 11th overall pick in the baseball draft not long ago, could surpass Jackson as soon as this season - let alone in the long term.

- The Lions have to get running backs from somewhere. Has to be the draft, doesn't it? I figure they'll draft one in the third round. It will be someone along the lines of Ben Tait of Auburn, Anthony Dixon of Mississippi or Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech.

- I do still wonder where Toby Gerhart will fall in this draft. Ditto for Tim Tebow.

- A team that is not often mentioned, but might be a trading partner with the Lions is Buffalo. The Bills need a quarterback desperately, but don't really have extra draft picks to throw into such a deal. San Francisco does, but are they happy with Alex Smith? It would be bizzare if Oakland took Jimmy Clausen so soon after taking JaMarcus Russell first overall. I hear Buffalo is interested in Tebow, but ninth overall would be a stretch.

My column in Thursday's Oakland Press about why this Red Wings' regular season does mean something:


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Some Points To Consider About Offensive Linemen And The NFL Draft

A point about offensive linemen is that you shouldn’t necessarily build your team around early-round draft choices at the position.
A classic example why not is the most recent Super Bowl. Of the 10 offensive linemen to start for the Saints and the Colts, three were undrafted free agents, and two were taken in the sixth round or lower of the draft. None were selected in the first round. Only New Orleans’ starting right tackle Jon Stinchcomb (a second round pick in 2003) was taken in the draft before the fourth round.
The Lions have two first rounders (tackles Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus), and a second-rounder (center Dominic Raiola) on their offensive line. It’s not that they haven’t used premium draft picks on the offensive line that’s been their issue, but rather their failure to develop later round picks and undrafted free agents for the spots.
In the last three Super Bowls, there have been three times as many undrafted free agents starting on the offensive line as first-round draft choices.

Random Thoughts

- One thing I haven’t figured out about this year’s Masters is whether more people will be rooting for Tiger Woods than against him. Certainly in the past there were more people rooting for him.

- So Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye essentially played their best games of the season as the Pistons routed Philadelphia - on the road nonetheless - Tuesday night, but only after they both missed a team flight...
I don’t know if that is good news or bad news. Because from a bigger picture point of view, they probably shouldn’t have been playing at all.
Team discipline is important. Doesn’t seem like the Pistons have much of it right now.

- The Yankees did start Curtis Granderson Tuesday against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. They also hit him ninth in the batting order. Granderson did single off Lester in his second at bat. He struck out the first time he faced him.

Caputo And His Boss Video: Did MSU Get Jobbed?


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

On Tigers' Bullpen, Poly, Grandy And All The Lloyd Carrs Wearing Green And White

I think one of the biggest keys for the Tigers this season is the back end of their starting rotation performing well enough that Phil Coke doesn't have to be moved from the bullpen.
What I liked best about the Tigers' season-opening victory Monday was the way they were able to use Coke and Ryan Perry in setup roles. It allows Joel Zumaya to get his feet wet in a longer role, and maybe he will get stretched out more and develop his off-speed pitches. It allows the Tigers to do a lot with situational left-handers, too.
If Cokes goes into the rotation, that perfect balance will be thrown out of whack.

Random Thoughts

- Anybody notice Curtis Granderson is tied for the American League lead in home runs, and Placido Polanco leads the National League in RBI? I love early in the season when the stats are skewed.

- Honestly, I can believe all the "MSU got jobbed" talk. Thought the Spartans were above that. It's sooooo Michigan of them. The Spartans had dozens of opportunities to take over that game against Butler. One non-call wasn't the difference. Here's the bottom line: They just didn't get it done. So pleeeeasssse - can the Spartan Nation stop whining like they are all Lloyd Carr at one of his Monday press conferences?

Transcript from my live chat today at




Monday, April 05, 2010

On Verlander, Eric Berry and The Red Wings

The best part about this opening day today is the pitching matchup. I've voted for the Cy Young Award in the past, and if I had a vote last season, I would have given it to the Tigers' Justin Verlander. He pitched more tough innings by far than Zack Greinke - or anybody else - in the American League. Should be a fascinating game today.

- Another reason to believe Tennessee safety Eric Berry is the best player in the upcoming NFL Draft: His vertical leap. It was 43 inches at the combine. That's better than 90 percent of NBA players. He won't get beat on too many jump balls, that's for sure. As for being playmaker, did you know that in three years at Tennessee, Berry finished just nine yards short of setting the NCAA record for interception return yards? He was the best defensive player in the SEC from the moment he stepped on campus.

- The more I think about it, the more I feel the Red Wings would be better served by facing Phoenix in the opening round of the playoffs than Vancouver. The Red Wings can handle the Coyotes' trap. Vancouver is far more talented.

Reminder: I will be doing a live chat Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m. at


Sunday, April 04, 2010

My Columns Over The Weekend And Monday About MSU And Tigers

My column in The Oakland Press Baseball Special Section on how I see the 2010 Tigers:

My column in Monday's Oakland Press on how sport fans in this state have become total snobs. Their attitude toward MSU's Final Four run, but loss, has become typical:

My column in Sunday's Oakland Press about MSU's Final Four loss to Butler:

I will be holding a live chat per usual Tuesday at 11:30 in the morning at

Friday, April 02, 2010

On Shaun Rogers, Pavel And Final Four Picks...

Players such as Shaun Rogers are haunting to NFL teams and their fans. On one hand, they are immensely talented. On the other, you can't really trust that talent will manifest in a manner that will lead to winning. That's because they always do something to negate it. There have been times when Rogers has played very well with the Browns, too. Has it led to winning? Did it when he played in Detroit? Anybody surprised he got in trouble at the airport the other day?

- Pavel Datsyuk played terrific hockey for the Red Wings Thursday against Columbus. He could have had a couple more goals in addition to the brilliant one he did score. It's a great sign for the Red Wings that Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are just starting to hit stride as the playoffs begin.

- Want a pick? OK, here is one: Michigan State 71, Butler 68. Here's another: Duke 78, West Virginia 74.

My column in Friday's Oakland Press on Michigan State and Hickory High, er, Butler. Is Gordon Hayward really Jimmy Chitwood?


Thursday, April 01, 2010

How I See The American League Central In 2010

This is how I see the American League Central in 2010:
1. Minnesota - The Twins will miss Joe Nathan and the Metrodome, but they have a tremendous middle of the lineup with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and the underrated Jason Kubel
2. The Tigers - Love their pitching in a certain way with Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer leading the rotation, and a bullpen that should be solid. But run production and defense could be major issues.
3. The White Sox - Kind of remind me of the Tigers in 2008 in that they are high-priced, but overrated.
4. Cleveland - Depends on how much help the Indians get from the minor leagues. They are developing a lot of good players, but are still far away from those players becoming a nucleus.
5. Kansas City - Talent level is improving, but still missing that little extra. Remindful of the Pirates in the National League.

Random Thoughts

- Great matchup in the second round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs between Plymouth and Windsor. If Plymouth’s Tyler Sequin doesn’t go first overall in the upcoming NHL Draft, he will go second behind Windsor’s Taylor Hall. Defenseman Cam Fowler from Farmington Hills, who starred for the United States during its gold medal triumph at the World Junior Championships, is on Windsor’s blue line. He is a probable Top 10 - maybe even Top Five - overall pick in this draft.

This will be a great series on a number of different of levels. There is a great rivalry between Plymouth and Windsor to begin with. They certainly play each other enough. Major junior hockey is terrific - and this will be it at its best.
By the way, Hall is the best of the three prospects in my opinion. Has best overall game.

- I think the most fascinating position in the upcoming NFL Draft is running back. My best guess who will ultimately be the best back out of this class is Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews. He did play some of his best football against BCS teams. A very productive player.