Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The 5 most loved men in Detroit sports

As I did the most hated in Detroit sports yesterday, I figured we needed to see the flip side of that list...

Honorable mention: Matt Millen, as we LOVE to hate on the 'stache.

5. Chris Osgood: Ozzie is the Red Wing most loved by puck bunnies everywhere. They have an intense passion for the dreamy, uber-cute, long time Red Wings goalie.

He's considered a deity by the most aggressive and vocal of the Detroit puck bunny subculture, the Downriver bunny. The Taylor/Wyandotte/Woodhaven/Southgate puck bunnies think "Ozzie is just sooooo cute!" They are easily spotted at sports bars and the Joe by their tight jeans, big hair and white Osgood sweater.

Obviously, Ozzie is, by far, the puck bunnies favorite, but cases can also be more a certain few other Red Wings. Puck bunnies also have been known to have unrequited crushes upon Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and Brendan Shanahan. In fact, the day Shanny left the Red Wings, a day of mourning was declared Downriver.

4. Joel Zumaya: Zoom, the Tigers relief pitcher with a 103 MPH fastball, and a knee buckling curve, is the closest thing we have to a folk hero in Detroit.

Zumaya is young, talented, and maybe just a little crazy. Add in his love for playing "Guitar Hero," and you have the most eccentric, and possibly the most freakishly talented, pitcher to wear the Olde English D since Mark Fydrich.

His lore was cemented during the Tigers 2007 playoff run. Zumaya entered late in game 2 of the ALDS against the Yankees with his fiery attitude, flaming forearm tattoo, furious arm pumping, and a case of pink eye. Zoom made New York baseball pretty boy Alex Rodriguez look absolutely foolish at the plate, striking him out.

A-Rod never had a chance...

Fans are currently pining for Zumaya, desperately missing his 100 MPH heat, while lamenting the demise of the Tigers' bullpen, much in thanks to his unfortunate stint on the DL with a finger tendon injury. He's due back in August, but cannot come back soon enough for Tigers fans whom are stuck watching the likes of Zach Miner and Jason Grilli attempt to fill Zumaya's huge shoes, with not nearly the same success.

Zumaya is is sorely missed, and not only for his pitching ability.

3. Drew Stanton: If all goes as planned, Stanton will be the Lions' backup QB in 2007. The backup QB is the most loved Lion, just as the starting QB is the most hated.

Stanton will be the most talented, most capable, the Lion who will take them to that promised land, one that is only a rumor to Lions fans, the Super Bowl.

Then Jon Kitna will be injured or get benched. Stanton will become the starter, and it will all change. Quickly.

Previous most loved Lions have included Charlie Batch, Mike McMahon, Ty Detmer, and Jeff Garcia. All of whom quickly became the most loathed Lion, then moved on to other NFL teams, to then become their most loved/loathed player.

It's the never ending circle of NFL QB life.

1b. Jim Leyland: In early 2006, the gruff, straight talking, smokes like a chimney Marlboro man took over the long time bottom feeding Tigers, and ended 2006 as the MLB manager of the year, the highly acclaimed leader of a pennant winner, and a God amongst fans in Detroit.

Is Jim Leyland a God? I'm not sure if that's 100% true, but after the miracle of last season, it's the most logical explanation.

Leyland built up enough fan goodwill to last the rest of his career. He actually needed some of that equity this season, when some of the unorthodox lineup decisions that worked in 2006 (Starting Alexis Gomez during the ALCS left everyone scratching their heads, but after a home run and 4 RBI in game 2, the word "Genius" was used), didn't work quite so well in 2007. (The Todd Jones vs. Cleveland debacle)

Despite the occasional misstep, and several injuries, Leyland has the Tigers in the thick of the Central division race, and if the season ended today, the Tigers would be in the playoffs. The take no shit from anyone Leyland is the the antithesis of the jokesters, buffoons, and PR hires that managed the Tigers in the dark years after Sparky Anderson's retirement.

In any other city, Leyland would stand alone as the unquestioned number one. Not so in Detroit. Thanks to...

1a. Joe Dumars: The classiest sports figure in Detroit, "In Joe we trust" is the Pistons fans mantra. Dumars took over a Pistons team that had become irrelevant in Detroit, let alone in NBA circles. They are now one of the NBA elite.

What more can you say about Joe D? A career Piston whose number 4 is hanging in the Palace rafters, Dumars won 2 titles as a player, 1 as GM. A member of the basketball Hall of Fame, the the NBA's sportsmanship award is named after the much admired Dumars.

I can't bring myself to say anything remotely snarky or derogatory about the Detroit Pistons President and GM.

I mean, come on, we're talking about Joe Dumars! Joe D IS the Pistons.

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