Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sheffield is Long Gone

This news just hitting the wires....the Tigers have released slugger Gary Sheffield. This took some general managerial balls but it's the right move. Sheffield is a has been, and has been an albatross around the last two teams he's played for, locker room poison and brings nothing but bad vibes, even when he is hitting decently. (According to the Detroit News this is stunning because the Tigers will eat his $14 million contract.)

Granted, I had a different opinion when the Tigers first acquired him after the 2006 season. As I remember it, he was crying about his contract in New York, threatening to hold out unless he received an extension. The Tigers off their magical 2006 season gladly swallowed him up in a trade, surrendering promising prospects in the process.

As we all know the last two Tigers seasons have went south and though Sheffield has hit well at times, he's mostly been injured or pissed off, or both. This is pretty much the way it went down when he was with the Yankees. He is living proof that baseball is the most individual of the team sports.

It will be much easier to pull for the Tigers this year with Sheffield gone. It's nice to know that Leyland's buddy was not cut a break (another guy who has lost much of his magic over the past two seasons.) I will say it is admirable that Sheffield never did take steroids (as far as we know) and I'm sure he'll hook up with a new team but good riddens and I'm glad the Tigers made the brave decision to move on.

With the Lions, the Draft is a Warm Gun, WIth No Safety

After the majority of early mock drafts indicated otherwise, it now turns out the "experts" think Detroit will not draft the golden boy quarterback and instead play it safe, and pick a left tackle or this can't miss linebacker prospect

They base this on the new coach Jim Schwartz being smart and thinking things through. According to Peter King of SI, ""Schwartz won't be cowed into drafting Georgia's Matthew Stafford just because he's a good quarterback...If Schwartz has sincere doubts about any aspect of Stafford's game, he'll take someone better at his position."

You would think after eight seasons of horrific drafting preceded by merely bad drafting, it would be old man Ford begging for the safe pick. Not the coach who just rode into town and needs a quarterback. The new guy can afford to gamble. If history serves, his career is over anyway.

And this whole off-season I've been driving myself crazy, silently pleading, whatever you do, just do not draft a quarterback at #1. Especially this one. The guy didn't even finish his senior year. With all due respect, he almost lost a bowl game to Michigan State in 2009. I am State fan and grad and I know that's not good.

But, little by little, I have come to accept the fact that maybe we'll draft the quarterback #1. The guy does have a rifle for an arm and it would be nice to see him thrown downfild to CJ. So whatever happens, I'm at peace.

p.s. And this just came to me. In 2008, Matt Ryan beat Michigan State in a bowl game and went on to become the Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback and led them to the playoffs. Maybe now that Stafford did the same against State in 2009, he can write this same script for the Lions. Heheheh...Yeah, like that'll happen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Golden Age for the Red Wings?

As a fan of the Wings since the Dead Things era, and growing up with their rise in the 90s, I always thought the two Stanley Cup seasons of 1997 and 1998 would stand as the high water mark of recent Red Wings history. And those were special times, no doubt, as the Wings drank from the cup after a 40 year plus drought. It was a long road to respectability and to finally get there and stay there, a city went crazy in its adoration.

Then we continued to win and brought home another cup in 2002. That was awesome. Because it's great to win but it's even better to bring it back home again. This also coincided with an ever increasing payroll and some accused us of buying championships. Then we got into some early round exits and the lock out, and then the new salary cap and everybody began to think that the era of Red Wings dominance was coming to an end. But let us consider this.

  • The Wings will qualify for their 17th straight post-season, the longest current streak in professional sports

  • They will reach the 100-point mark for an NHL-record 9th consecutive season

  • And, it is probable, they will put together their 4th consecutive fifty win season, tying an NHL record held by Montreal and Boston

And let's not forget we are defending Stanley Cup Champions. It's always a hard and uncertain road to the Cup especially when you are trying to repeat, but this team may be the most talented ever. We've got Zetteberg, Hossa and Datsyk. That is one ass kicking trinity. And if we can lock up Hossa into a long-term deal, we can ride this thing way into the future.

The only problem with all this success, is we Wings fan take the regular season for granted. I'm just dusting my hat, reading about what's going on with the team because I know they will take care of business in the regular season. It's automatic. They are money. They're golden.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Could the Pistons not make the playoffs?

It's a bit hard to reconcile after six straight Eastern conference championship appearances, two Finals appearances and a championship that the Pistons may be sitting out the 2009 playoffs. But the controlled demolition of the Pistons roster this year by Joe Dumars and injuries makes this a real possibility.

To be honest, I'd rather get a lottery pick than suffer through a first round exit to the Cavaliers or the Celtics. So I am going to be the anti-fan and hope that the Pistons cast themselves out into the wilderness. That would give a huge mandate for change which is going to happen anyway with the expiring contracts of Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson.

The likely outcome is the Pistons back their way into the playoffs because Charlotte, Milwaukee and New Jersey are just too sad sack to make it happen for themselves.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Make the Best Business Decision

It's more a curse than a blessing. But the Detroit Lions have been "rewarded" for their historical 0-16 season with the first pick in the NFL draft. The question now becomes who will they draft. The top candidates are a pair of left tackles (Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe), a middle linebacker (Aaron Curry) and a quarterback (Matt Stafford). I'm not quite sure who the best player of the four is, but I think the Lions should make the best business decision and everything else will fall into place.

The #1 pick is not desirable because the team will have to pay a LOT of money for the player, much of it guaranteed. Last year's #1 pick left tackle Jake Long contract was immense (5 years @ $57.75 million with $30 million guaranteed) and the year before that quarterback JaMarcus Russell (6 years $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed) hit the friggin lotto.

Right from the get go you will make an unproven rookie one of the highest paid players in the league. So you need to be absolutely sure the guy is going to work out. (Which they never do for the Lions.)

Also, since you will be paying a new rookie more than $11 million a year, it needs to be at a position where teams typically pay that kind of money, which is quarterback, left tackle and maybe defensive line and #1 wide receiver. So, for instance, if the Lions draft Aaron Curry, a linebacker, they will need to pay him at least $10 million a year. The highest paid middle linebacker in the league is Brian Urlacher who is paid a bit less than that amount.

So that's the dilemma right there. The Lions need a linebacker bad but it makes more sense to draft the best player at left tackle or quarterback (given the names at the top of the board.) So, the best business decision, is to sign Jason Smith for a five or six year contract somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million per year with $32 million guaranteed. It will be interesting to see how my amateur opinion holds up over the next month as this deal gets done.