Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lions winning streak no real cause for celebration

Monday, December 27, 2010

Motivation will be Michigan State's biggest edge against Alabama

Michigan State's biggest advantage in the Capital One Bowl: Motivation.
Alabama has the better team, but for the Crimson Tide, this bowl is a huge letdown from the BCS title game of a year ago. Also, in the state of Alabama, there is so much attention on Bama's rivalry with Auburn. And Auburn is getting all the attention for its BCS title game against Oregon.
State, on the other hand, is looking for a signature victory over a national power.

Random Thoughts

- I still think Jim Harbaugh would not turn down what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to coach Michigan, but there are going to be at least 10 head coach openings in the NFL this off season. He will be a leading candidate for most of them. The biggest upset would be if he remains at Stanford.

- It'd be nice if Chris Osgood would get his 400th victory. Also, the Red Wings need to play him more to get him sharp. But I understand why he still isn't playing that much. Only eight points separate the top seed in the Western Conference, the Red Wings, from the ninth and 10th seeds, Nashville and Anaheim. The Red Wings' little rough stretch here lately has brought them back to the rest of the pack - and quickly.


Finally, a reason to believe in the Lions

Sunday, December 26, 2010

All signs pointing to Harbaugh in and Rodriguez out at Michigan

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A special gesture for a special man

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stanton has earned the Lions starting quarterback spot

Any talk of the Lions replacing Drew Stanton as their starting quarterback this week is preposterous.
Doesn't matter if it is to Matthew Stafford, who is the Lions' long-term answer at the position. Certainly Shaun Hill should not be in the equation. Not in regard to starting this week at Miami, anyway.
If isn't broke, don't fix it. The Lions have won two games in a row, snapping monumental losing streaks in the process with Stanton starting at QB (a 19-game losing streak to NFC North opponents by beating Green Bay, and an NFL-record 26-game road losing streak by winning at Tampa Bay).
Stanton's performance was underwhelming against Green Bay, but not at Tampa Bay. He was excellent. His pocket presence was really good. He is no longer running at the first sign of trouble. He was swift and decisive going through the progression of his reads. He threw the ball with velocity and accuracy. He showed proper touch and placement on throws to Calvin Johnson.
Stanton has earned the starting quarterback spot, at least temporarily. Making a change this week would be sending out the wrong message. Stanton has earned his spot with production, and should not replaced until his performance falters and the Lions lose a game.


Win over Bucs biggest building block yet for Jim Schwartz and Lions

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jack Morris absolutely belongs in Hall of Fame

My column in Sunday's Oakland Press (with a video of Tigers radio play-by-play voice Dan Dickerson's thoughts on the subject) http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2010/12/18/sports/doc4d0cc65e01cc8581409280.txt

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On Tigers signing Magglio Ordonez

I think signing Magglio Ordonez will help the Tigers, but it was at a steep price. Couldn't they get two corner outfielders for $10 million if they were creative in trades? Will it hinder them when it comes to upgrading the catcher's spot? Hey, don't they need more depth in the bullpen and a fifth starter?
A lot will, of course, depend on Ordonez's ability to play right field. He used to be adequate there. Not sure that applied the last couple seasons - before the ankle injury. I do believe he can still hit for average, but will he produce 20 home runs?


On Pistons "value" to Ilitch, Bob Feller and Joel Zumaya

Look, my name is Caputo, not Cavuto, but it does seem like much of Pistons' value would be tied to having a building, The Palace of Auburn Hills, which is still state-of-the-art and paid for - free and clear of debt.
And it would seem that Mike Ilitch, as a potential buyer of the Pistons, wouldn't be that interested in that portion of the Pistons' "value" because his avowed goal is build a new arena to house both the Red Wings, and perhaps the Pistons, in Detroit.

- Bob Feller was one of the greatest pitchers of all time, not only in terms of his statistics, but raw ability. It's probably Feller and Nolan Ryan at the top of pack when it comes to "stuff." They are two of the top handful of hardest throwers of all time. And both had utterly knee-bending breaking balls.
You know who should have joined them in that category? Dwight Gooden.

- In the "call me crazy" department, I think Joel Zumaya will remain healthy and pitch extraordinarily well for the Tigers this season.


Mark my word, at some point the Red Wings will need Chris Osgood

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Message to Karen Davidson: Sell the Pistons NOW!!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee is overrated, but Yankees needed to sign him

Cliff Lee is one of the most overrated pitchers in the major leagues. He is very good, but not one of the premier pitchers of this generation as is, strangely, his reputation. Lee's greatest asset had being available, which is no longer the case now that he has signed a long-term, $100 million contract with the Phillies.
He had one great year - when he was 22-3 for Cleveland. He had done exceptionally well in the postseason, at least until the 2010 World Series.
But he is not a dominant starter. He was 14-13 and 12-9 the last two seasons. In 15 starts with Texas last season, his ERA was just a little under 4.00. His career ERA is 3.85.
So in a way, throwing $150 million at Lee, and being turned down, isn't necessarily a bad thing for the Yankees, although they clearly have good money to throw after bad.
It's just that it is another sign the Yankees aren't necessarily the team everybody wants to play for any more. They lost out on Lee and Carl Crawford. It's the Red Sox who are making the much bigger splash this off season.
Alex Rodriguez's numbers are waning, and Derek Jeter is on the downside of his career. The Yankees still have a formidable team, but the mystique is beginning to wane. They are vulnerable on a number of different levels.

Random Thoughts

- I think it's cool what the Big Ten is doing with its divisions. Like the idea of the individual awards, although having two names on each one is a bit much.
It would have been a lot more fun and conclusive this season had their been a conference championship game. Can't wait until next season.

- I find the hype about Monday's game between the Vikings-Giants at Ford Field odd. Much of the media coverage made it sound like there was this mad crush of fans heading into the game. You know, like some of out of control English soccer match. So I was shocked when I put the game on TV and saw how many seats were empty. It looked a Pistons game these days at The Palace. And yet, we're still hearing these things about how it shows how football mad Detroit is. I'm sure the weather held down the crowd some, but it wasn't the second coming of the Super Bowl, either.


Monday, December 13, 2010

There is no such thing as an "ugly" win for the Lions

Friday, December 10, 2010

On Denard Robinson, Red Wings-Canadiens and an ideal fit for Tigers

I do think Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was the best player in the Big Ten during 2010, and did deserve the conference's Player of the Year award. Even in the games the Wolverines lost, he did make spectacular plays, but wasn't able to overcome the Wolverines' incredibly soft defense and the mediocre talent around him on offense. But Robinson is a special player. A truly great runner, and a much better passer than he is given credit for by many fans. He needs to develop more command of the team. Leadership, if you will. But that will happen in due time. I doubt if, say, Jim Harbaugh were to become Michigan's coach, he'd waste his best weapon.

Random Thoughts

- I'm looking forward very much to the Red Wings-Canadiens game tonight at Joe Louis Arena, but do agree with Mike Babcock's notion it would have been perfect as part of the Big Chill in Ann Arbor.

- I love "Hard Knocks" on HBO. Hope the four-episode series on the Penguins and Captials leading up to Winter Classic is as good. Bet it is, not because of Sidney Crosby, but because of Alexander Ovechkin. His demeanor is perfect for that type of thing.

- I do think Ryan Ludwick would be a great fit for the Tigers. Too bad they didn't keep him around when he was in their system in the first place.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Just thoughts on Jim Schwartz's "news" conferences

There are those in the media who tend to dwell on the good old days, I suppose, in part, because change often leads to trepidation.
I like the way things are now far better. For example, it's much easier to gather information. I didn't have any great love for my "Baseball Encyclopedia," for example. Took too long to look things up. I love the overload of information and columns and stories from great writers - and Twitter and that I can watch virtually any game any time on television or my computer or my phone. The latter when I eventually get the right one with the right applications on it.
What I don't like is the new ways of the NFL, and more specifically the Lions' news conferences with the head coach.
Look, there is so much made about every word said at those things. And especially when there is a losing team involved like the Lions, there isn't that much needed to be said. Hey, they are 2-10. Kind of says it all.
Reporters become the news because of the questions. I've been on that side of it a couple times, and to be honest, I was just asking questions that in the past wouldn't have been big deals. I just would have put the answer in my column. It wouldn't have been like, "You were in some showdown with the coach." Or a couple times when Matt Millen was team president. When that wasn't the case at all.
I covered the Lions for five years as a beat writer. The first year was 1998. And you could talk to the players and coaches and club officials pretty much anytime you wanted. Open locker room was actually an open locker room. You get honest answers.
I'd watch practice every day - all of it. Really got a feel for what was going on. And was much better able to convey what was happening to readers and listeners to my radio show. Practice isn't open anymore.
Now you get cliches every where. And a lot of people go into hiding, and when they do talk to the media, they are clearly afraid to say anything. It so bizarre.
The head coach has been put in a difficult spot. You've seen it from Jim Schwartz the last month, even though he is far more media savvy than Lions' coaches of the past. Trying to cover injuries everyone knows about. Calling the media irresponsible for their reporting. Blaming the officials.
Thing is, it's become the nature of the animal these days. Being a head coach isn't just about being a coach anymore. It's about being a spokesman for the organization - literally its face. There is no wiggle room for error.
Sure, it's unfair to Schwartz in a sense. For those of us in the media, it's a pain in the neck because where we used to get honest answers we now get spin. It's like we are always trying to decipher some sort of code.
The media conferences, both after the game and on Monday, are essentially useless.
The real losers are the fans - because it never comes to them straight any more.
And I believe this aura is hurting the NFL. It's media coverage is kind of locked - and is one of the reasons sellouts are not the given they used to be. It's just much harder to present the essence of league than it once was.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Raise me up?" Isn't Rich Rodriguez bringing down Michigan's football program?

Monday, December 06, 2010

On Billy Martin, MSU, Werth and Lions' record

Count me among those who feel strongly Billy Martin should be in baseball's Hall of Fame as a manager. His overall record was considerably above .500. He went to the postseason with four different organizations before there was a wildcard system. He did win a couple pennants and a world title.

As importantly, he was a character whose impact on the game was significant. By every definition, he belong the Hall of Fame as far as i'm concerned.

Random Thoughts

- It's the true. The Michigan State-Alabama matchup is a good one. But it still isn't Pasadena. I still think the Spartans are getting jobbed because they beat Wisconsin head-to-head. By the way, I do think Wisconsin will expose TCU in the Rose Bowl. And yes, I'd be surprised if MSU beats Alabama.

- I don't see how Jayson Werth is going to draw fans to Washington or turn the Nationals into contenders. Could be a decision both parties regret, and quickly.

- Other than the Vikings in the season finale every other team remaining on the Lions' schedule has a .500 or better record. I'd say it's about a 50-50 proposition they will finish 2-14 again. There is no way that can be considered progress, can it?

Lions were not jobbed, they were just beaten

Friday, December 03, 2010

Dunn or Martinez: Who got the better player? The White Sox or Tigers?

Will Adam Dunn signing with the White Sox, one of the Tigers' main rivals in the American League Central, become a nightmare?
Bottom line, it was either Dunn or Victor Martinez for the Tigers. Carl Crawford was unlikely, and probably, too, was Jayson Werth. The Tigers landed Martinez, a solid acquisition, for sure.
All things equal, just based on hitting, I would have taken Dunn, though. He has unique power, maybe the best in the game. And while he strikes out a lot, he walks an inordinate amount as well. That's why his OPS is much higher than that of Martinez, despite a considerably lower batting average. Martinez figures to hit between 18 and 22 home runs with plenty of doubles.
These are two polar opposite hitters. Dunn rarely puts the ball in play. It's either a strikeout, walk or home run. At least it seems. Martinez usually puts the ball in play. He doesn't walk or strikeout that much.
The problem with Dunn is that he no longer is remotely even an average outfielder. He is a first baseman, who doesn't want to become a full-time DH in his early 30s. Martinez still catches well enough to be placed there a few days a week. Obviously, the Tigers are boxed in at first with Miguel Cabrera, who is not only a premier hitter, but has become very good defensively. They aren't boxed in with Alex Avila at catcher. So in that way, signing Martinez instead of Dunn made perfect sense. It's just it's ominous that Dunn has landed with a division foe that plays its games in such a band box ball park.
We'll see how he adjusts to the American League, but he might hit 50 runs this season.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Finally, we will know for sure about Drew Stanton

Drew Stanton may very well go down as the greatest quarterback in Lions' history - regardless of what transpires Sunday at Ford Field against the Chicago Bears.
Well, at least when it comes to preseason games.
He's played well as a third-stringer against other third-and-fourth stringers in exhibition games. In the regular season, it hasn't gone well. Just two touchdown passes. Seven interceptions. He was awful in his one start in '09 at San Francisco. There was that third-down play with the lead late in the Jets' game.
Here's another chance. Stanton is taking all the snaps with the first team this week. Shaun Hill is out. Matthew Stafford is far from ready. It's Stanton or bust vs. the Bears.
I'd like to see him do well. He is an Oakland County kid from Farmington Harrison High School. Do I expect him to do well? Not based on what I have seen in the regular season, although he has played a little better this season than in the past.
Stanton doesn't go through the progression of his reads quickly and naturally. He still has this tendency to just run at the first sign of trouble in the pocket. His pocket presence has been poor.
It will be interesting to see how the Bears approach Stanton. Rod Marinelli and Mike Martz obviously know all about him.