Monday, April 17, 2006

Hot button topics in the D

Rod Marinelli and his "Discipline." How much difference can Marinelli actually make with his military style breaking down of players? Sure, the Lions need a swift kick in their collective asses, but how far can that take you? Remember the last "Kick ass and take names" coach the Lions hired? Using the bus ticket out of town threat didn't work in the long term for Bobby Ross. All it did was run Barry Sanders straight to retirement, and turned Bobby Ross into a candidate for the looney bin. We all remember Ross' "I'm a GOOD coach," "I don't coach that stuff," and "Abandon ship" quotes. At that point, the entire roster had grown tired of Ross' military style bluster and just tuned him out. Ross had lost the team and damn near lost his marbles. So with that in mind, Marinelli has to walk a fine line between motivating his players or browbeating them into submission. Marinelli may have better luck in the long term if he can use his drill instructor style into making the Lions into a better run organization. Improving game and clock management, for example. Eliminating the defense vs. offense cliques and taking control of the locker room, for another. What really gets my hope up for the season is with Mike Martz, self styled offensive "Super Genius." If the Lions are going to make the playoffs, it won't be due to Marinelli using the sledgehammer of discipline, but because Martz makes better use of the so-called offensive weapons.

Current Pistons vs. the "Bad Boys" Pistons. With the current team bettering the '89 Pistons season win total, we've been hearing comparisons between the two teams. First off, let this current Pistons team win another title first, then let's talk hypotheticals. But...If we had use of Sherman and Peabody's "Wayback Machine" and the '06 and '89 Pistons could play each other, it wouldn't even be a contest. The "Bad Boys" win any series in a walk. The "Bad Boys" might lose a game, but talent and a Hall of Fame coach wins out. The current Pistons go 7 deep, if you feel like being generous. They also play in a watered down version of the NBA. The late 80's Pistons went 9-10 deep, and that's not being generous. My God, forget that the old school Pistons had a Hall of Fame backcourt, but they had a should be Hall of Famer, Dennis Rodman, coming off the bench. That alone should tell you that the NBA may have been at it's talent peak during the Celtics-Lakers-Pistons-Bulls era. So all the young whippersnappers that think the current Pistons are the best ever need to get up to speed on their basketball history.

Is Chris Shelton a baseball GOD? No. Is he for real? Yes. Will he lead the majors in home runs and RBI? No, especially if Jim Leyland inexplicably keeps batting Shelton 6th. Do the Tigers have their 1st baseman of the present and future? Damn straight. All Tiger fans were hoping that Shelton would turn into the kind of player that could consistently put up a .300 average, 25-30 home runs, and 100 RBI. Looks like that's what the Tigers have on their hands. Shelton won't be the next coming of Babe Ruth, but more like the next coming of Norm Cash. In other words, an All Star caliber 1st baseman who mans the position for the next decade. There's not a damn thing wrong with that...

The Red Wings win the President's Cup and clinch playoff home ice, but no one seems to care. I wouldn't say that no one cares, but the buzz sure isn't there. There is a knowgeable core fan base in Detroit, more so than most any American city. But that fan base isn't near as large as the other Big 3 sports in town. For the most part, nearly all of us have played competive baseball, football, and basketball, up through high school and/or rec league level at least. But how many of us have played any type of hockey? Not me, and I'm not counting floor hockey in gym class. Hockey's a great sport, probably the best to watch in person. But it's still a niche sport, even in what's considered a "Hockey Mad" town. Once the playoffs start, interest in the Wings will ratchet up considerably, even if some of their games will be broadcast on a network that's best known for covering bike racing and Ted Nugent reality shows. I also don't think it's a stretch to say that the Wings will, deservedly or not, take a back seat to the Pistons playoff run. But could you picture the insanity if the Lions or Tigers had the best overall record and had home field thru the playoffs? There'd be 10 times the interest. Hell, maybe 50 times. Just look at the excitement the Tigers 5-0 start generated. Detroit, as much as hockey, and basketball for that matter, is loved here, is a football-baseball town. So people do care, just not as much as the hardcore hockey fans and puck bunnies would like to think. Steve Yzerman may be #1 in a Detroit fan's heart, but his sport isn't.

1 comment:

  1. I think some of the "tempered" excitement from Wings fans comes from the fact that we've seen this movie before once or twice. Wings win President's Trophy then proceed to lose in the first or second round of the playoffs to LA/Calgary/Anaheim, etc.

    They've been so successful for so long, it doesn't make sense to get worked up until they reach the conference finals really. And the fact that the fan base is so knowledgeable (for the most part) and realizes what a crapshoot the NHL playoffs really are just adds to that probably.