Friday, January 18, 2008

Above the Fold - Columnists say the darnedest things

I'm contemplating having the tour of Detroit columnists becoming a Friday "Above the Fold" staple, delving into what wisdom they are dishing out. Why? One, it's a day many fishwrap columnists are active, so there's always some asinine opinion in print, and two, Rob Parker is not spewing his ill-thought out opinions on Fridays. It's a win-win, in my mind.

On with our tour of the fishwraps!

The Freep's Michael Rosenberg gives us his thoughts regarding yesterday's Lions presser, and he ridicules the entire exercise. The coaching staff tried to sell to the masses that the Lions have the players to compete. Rosenberg isn't buying any of it...

And never mind that the Lions have a long, storied history of falling for players who play well in a few games at the end of their contracts -- think Cory Redding and Kalimba Edwards, who failed to earn their sizable paychecks after they signed new deals.

And never mind the absurdity of bringing back all five players -- including four veterans -- from a mediocre line. Guess what? Coach Rod Marinelli said the Lions have "a good offensive line." They just didn't play so well, and guess why? Yup! It was Martz's fault!

According the Lions coaches, everything is in place to make a playoff run in 2008. How gullible do the Lions think we are? Your QB is aging, and threw more picks than TD's. Your starting RB just had ACL surgery. The O-line they raved about couldn't run or pass block. Yet they want to keep the line together? The defense was the worst in the league. Yet all is well, and getting better.

Talk about Lions logic at it's most typical, clueless and wishful. To Rosenberg's credit, he calls them out on it.

At the News, Bob Wojnowski deigns to write about Rich Rodriguez shredding files, which as been news for over 3 days now. I normally enjoy Wojo, but this column just rehashes a story that has been already reported to death at Mlive, and commented upon endlessly by Michigan blogs. Despite those facts, he throws his 2 cents into the fray.

We've warned of growing pains and this is part of it. But I guarantee the only document fans care about is the letter-of-intent for prep quarterback star Terrelle Pryor. Ohio State was considered the front-runner for Pryor, but Rodriguez has a chance to beat the Buckeyes on this one, and fierce competition is what this is all about.

Rodriguez is here to push Michigan higher, and he isn't bashful about stamping his imprint. He retained only one member of Carr's staff, Fred Jackson, and he was frank in his assessment of departing players, eager to go forward.

West Virginia needs to do the same. The school absolutely is entitled to pursue the $4 million, but making public suggestions of thievery and destruction of property sounds desperate.

Wojo isn't saying anything new or enlightening if you've been keeping track of the shredder "scandal." Actually, he should have gave us his opinion on RichRod vs. WVU a day or two ago, as it's just old news at this point. To do so now just confirms my opinion that the local papers are forever a day late, and always dollars short.

Lynn Henning also commences beating a dead horse, with his quite tiresome crusade, the quad-annual "Comerica Park is TOO BIG" column.

It's just that the field and the seats were messed up so badly. They were constructed almost as a stick in the eye to those who loved Tiger Stadium's intimacy.

Ridiculous expanses in the outfield; upper decks that are swept back so far they might as well be in Livingston County; lower-deck seats that are too exposed to the sun and have too little gradation between rows.

This is an awful indictment of a ballpark built in a baseball town, particularly when superb examples of new structures -- Camden Yards and Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) -- already were open and being greeted with glee by fans and ballpark critics.

Henning is good for a few columns complaining about Comerica's size every year. His favorite dead horse being "left field is unfair to batters." (Didn't seem to hurt Magglio Ordonez any) This being his first of 2008, I'd say we'll see 3 more before the year is out.

Even 7 years after opening, in some ways Comerica Park is a work in progress. I agree with Henning in that Comerica should have been built with different dimensions, closer to the Tiger Stadium we all loved. Yes, left field was insanely deep (Of which Juan Gone would complain about daily, and would use as one of his many reasons to leave), and the upper deck is too far away. But what's done is done. To continue harping about it year after year after year? Come on.

Even Henning admits the Tigers have made changes that have helped batters, and added more seating. The Tigers are aware of their need for more seating, and I expect we'll see it.

Mlive's Wolverines mouthpiece, Jim Carty, writes a rebuttal to all those who ripped him for his Wednesday "Rodriguez must apologize" column.

What he still doesn't seem to get, though, is that the main reason he's being smeared is because he behaved so poorly on his way out as West Virginia football coach.

Michigan fans want to overlook that. They want to circle the wagons around their guy, even though he's a guy they hardly know.

If you're inclined to do that, if you believe Rodriguez is in the right, and deserves the benefit of the doubt, ask yourself how you'd feel if the tables were turned.

This is one of those signature stories about how college sports has become a soulless, money-driven game, and you're wrong to ignore it just because this time around Michigan benefits from a coach's willingness to jump at the next big job and trample everyone who rooted for him and believed in him at his former school.

I don't think Michigan fans are overlooking anything. To say that they are uncomfortable with the accusations and innuendo against RichRod is an understatement. This is uncharted territory for 80% of the Wolverines fanbase, for those of us of whom Michigan football begins and ends with Bo Schembechler and his lineage. We aren't used to coaches jumping jobs for outrageous sums of cash, then dealing with an jilted fanbase who make Glenn Close's antics in Fatal Attraction look like something from a Dr. Seuss book.

Could Rodriguez have handled his resignation better? Hell yes. Is he going to apologize? Hell no! Will anyone in Wolverine-land care about shredders, cell phones, and resigning by proxy if RichRod lands Terrelle Pryor? I think not. That's today's college football landscape...

Pat Caputo, lead columnist at the B-list Oakland Press, also writes about Michigan. Michigan Wolverines hockey, that is. Hey, I like college hockey as much as the next guy. OK, maybe a little less than the next guy. But honestly, I'm really not interested in reading about some blueblood Wolverine hockey player who went to school at preppy Cranbrook.

That's "Above the Fold" for Friday, 1-18-08!

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