Monday, January 28, 2008

Above the fold: Detroit weekend in review

Has there been a more boring Detroit sports weekend in recent memory? The Tigers and Lions are in a state of off season limbo, the Pistons have been off since Thursday, and the Red Wings are idle thanks to the NHL being on their All-Star break.

The only sports event of interest was Michigan taking on Michigan State, as the rivalry moved from the football field to the basketball court. But that game, as we all expected, was a Sparty beatdown...

The only game going on in Michigan, other than the blow out in East Lansing, was the media playing "Where's Kwame?" When the silhouette of Detroit's slick, philandering, embattled, currently in hiding mayor being visible inside the Manoogian Mansion is big news, you know there's not much going on.

Let's break down the weekend that was in Detroit sports...

College basketball: Sparty continued their dominance over the Wolverines on the hard wood, with a 77-62 win that wasn't as close as 15 point difference.

Spartans Weblog has the game recap, and thoughts on Sparty's Big 10 chances...

All things considered, I’m feeling more upbeat about MSU’s place in the world than I was a week or two ago. We’re now one loss back of a single team ahead of us in the conference standings. IU and Wisconsin play each other this Thursday night in Madison, so one of them will pick up a loss in that game.

We need to take care of business at home against the Illini Wednesday night.

This just in, Michigan State is DAMN good, even more so with Drew Neitzel seemingly recovered from his slump. Sparty is deep, well coached, and going to do well in March. The Wolverines are a couple of seasons away from being competitive in the Big 10, and a few recruiting classes away from even thinking about being a threat to MSU. (As long as Tom Izzo is around, I doubt that's possible)

Tommy Amaker left John Beilein with 2 Big 10 caliber players, DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris (Both whom struggled against the Spartans), and not much else. It's going to be a long, hard struggle for Beilein to recruit players that actually know how to shoot, replacing Amaker's good athletes who aren't very good basketball players.

The Wolverines will improve, as Beilein's too good a coach for them not to, but I doubt the maize and blue can get the cream of the Michigan high school crop to attend school in Ann Arbor, when there's an elite program, led by a dynamo hall of fame caliber coach, up the road in East Lansing.

Detroit Pistons: With the Pistons having the weekend off, there's not a much to report. The only news tangentially involving the Pistons was word that Chris Webber, once thought to be interested in rejoining Detroit, is now close to signing with the Golden State Warriors. So much for Rob Parker's misguided claim that C-Webb and the Pistons should and would join forces.

Natalie voices exactly what I'm thinking at Need 4 Sheed.

I know many of you want C-Web back, but I'm not heartbroken. Sure he did great things for us last season, but look how our Championship run turned out. Most of you called for a change at the end of last season, so what would bringing Webber back do? That's more of a backwards step if you ask me. I'm willing to roll the dice with our youth movement as long as Saunders will actually decide to trust them.

No matter what the worst columnist in America believes, with the emergence of Amir Johnson as the 4th big man in the Pistons' rotation, and playing quite well in his 8-10 minutes, there's absolutely no need for Webber on the roster.

Detroit Red Wings: While Mike Babcock, Chris Osgood, and Nick Lidstrom were taking part in the NHL All-Star game, the local fishwraps took at look at Red Wings past, and possibly future.

The Freep ran a long feature story on former fan favorite Darren McCarty, recounting his struggles with substance abuse and bankruptcy, and his ongoing comeback attempt with the the IHL Flint Generals. You can't help but wish for the best for McCarty, who'll always be loved in Detroit for being a great blue collar role player on 3 Stanley Cup winning teams, and unforgettably pounding Claude Lemiux into a bloody pulp.

Though it's very early on in the comeback, it's looking good for McCarty, as the News' Ted Kulifan reports it's likely he will soon be taking the next step, and joining the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. Kulifan says it'll be a better test as to where McCarty stands...

He's playing a lot of hockey, which is helping him get in shape. We'll get a little truer indication of where exactly he's at physically in the AHL. Certainly, it seems, a lot of fans are pulling for him.

I know I am...

As for future Red Wings? In their (mostly successful) attempt to slowly drain Sweden of all their best hockey talent, the Wings may be the favorites to sign Swedish Elite League star, and NHL free agent, Fabian Brunnstrom.

The Wings are one of five teams that have made contract offers to Brunnstrom, a 22-year-old forward, an undrafted late-bloomer who has become a star playing for Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League this season. Detroit, Toronto and Vancouver are believed to be the frontrunners to land his services.

Reports are mixed as to where the wooing of Brunnstrom stands, as the Freep implied that he will be a Wing, while the News is saying, "Not so fast!" As the Wings have 35 guys whose names end in "strom" on their roster, and the 2nd biggest population of Swedes in the western world, I think the odds are damn good that we'll be learning to correctly pronounce "Brunnstrom" sooner, than later. Let's hope he has as hot a girlfriend as Henrik Zetterberg...

Detroit Tigers: The only news over the weekend was broken, once again, by the Freep's Jon Paul Morosi. (The "Winter of Morosi" continues) The Tigers have begun preliminary negotiations with Curtis Granderson's agent, hoping to sign him to a long-term contract extension. The Tigers blogosphere is already speculating over possible contract terms...

Bless You Boys: Where would the two sides start? Maybe with the six-year, $31 million deal Troy Tulowitzki signed with the Colorado Rockies last week.

D-Town Baseball: It will probably be closer to Grady Sizemore’s 6-year $23.45M deal signed before the 2006 season when his situation was pretty much the same as Granderson’s is currently.

Mack Avenue Tigers believes this is just another sign of the Tigers commitment to compete at a high level.

A heady player who decided he had to cut his strikeouts down and did, I expect we’ll see Granderson make adjustments as need be and continue to be an upper tier player.

This is just continued confirmation the Tigers aren’t going to have a dropoff anytime soon with this management team in place.

Personally, I'm all for this, as Granderson could be the next Yzerman, Sanders or Trammell, Detroit's "It" player. If I was going to pick the face of the Tigers for the next several years, it's unquestionably Curtis Granderson. Yes, even over Miguel Cabrera...

Breaking news: Brandon Inge will report to Tigers training camp with the pitchers and catchers. From all accounts, Inge is back in the Tigers plans for 2008. A very interesting development in the Inge saga, to say the very least. I'll have more thoughts on this later...

Detroit Lions: Not God damn thing. The Lions are quieter than Matt Millen would be on Jeopardy.

That's "Above the Fold" for Monday, 1-28-08!

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