Monday, January 14, 2008

Above the Fold - Weekend in review

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons finished off a rough, 4 games in 5 days, swing through Texas, then to parts east, ending in an ugly loss in New York Sunday night.

Detroit Bad Boys puts into words what certain sports talk radio hosts couldn't, that it was just "one of those games."

Maybe the team was caught looking past the Knicks, or maybe the dreaded “complacency” bug reared it’s ugly head. Or maybe, and this is the most likely scenario, the team simply entered the game on fumes and ran out of gas early. It was their fourth game in five nights, and for whatever it’s worthy their arrival to NYC on Saturday night/Sunday morning was pushed back when the Bobcats game went into overtime.

If the rest of us mortals had to keep the insane travel schedules of NBA teams, we'd be running on fumes after 1 game, let alone 4. All in all, I'll take a 2-2 Pistons road trip that includes games against the Mavericks and Spurs.

The Pistons beat the Bobcats in OT Saturday night, and the silliest thing I heard all weekend was Charlotte wanting a "do-over." In more official terms, they thought about protesting the game, as they mistakenly believe a late in OT offensive goaltending call was incorrect, thus a win was "taken away by a whistle." Um...yeah...sure.

And just to make sure the point was made, Vincent advocated protesting, to force a last-minute do-over similar to one the NBA will stage between the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks.

"I'm sure we'd like to contact the league," Vincent said. "I'd like it to be like Miami (when center Shaquille O'Neal was incorrectly charged with a sixth foul). Play the last minute; that would be justified."

Now that we are back on planet Earth... I've never heard of any league overturning a judgment call after the fact. I'd hope that was just emotion talking, and Sam Vincent wasn't serious. If he went through with the protest, Vincent would get laughed right out of the NBA offices.

Detroit Red Wings: In a battle of teams contending for the President's Cup, the Wings lost a close game to Ottawa Senators Saturday night, 3-2. Yzerman is God says the loss exposed a Red Wings weakness, and also suggests how to fix it...

The Wings defense was nonexistent against Minnesota, and they got shoved around against Ottawa. The folks at the HNIC Hotstove brought it up, and I agree wholeheartedly that Rob Blake should be the Wings' target. He would bring physicality and defense and would make for a stellar Top 4 D. Imagine what he would do for the second PP unit, which at times looks completely inept.

That's a move I'd have to seriously think about. Blake is going to be available, and would probably come cheap, if KAHN! is to be believed.

Blake, 38, would be a strict rental and would come much cheaper. The Leafs' asking price for Sundin is sure to be a hefty package of young players and/or prospects and draft picks. I don't see the Wings, who believe they have all the pieces in place to win the Stanley Cup, mortgaging their future for him. I think the Wings are more concerned about improving their defense than adding a top-six forward, and Blake would be a big upgrade over Andreas Lilja on the second pairing.

It should be another fascinating trade deadline for the Red Wings. I'm sure we'll hear daily rumors about Blake and Mats Sundin as the deadline approaches. Same goes for "The Red Wings are just like the Yankees" cry from the rest of the NHL.

On the Wings noticed that the Wings were shoved around quite a bit by Ottawa, and the solution is already on their roster...

The Wings have become much more physical than they used to be, but the fact that they were knocked around by Ottawa, of all teams, is pretty embarrassing. I found myself thinking more than once that it would have been nice to have had Aaron Downey in the lineup. Perhaps he could have awakened his teammates. Perhaps not. I don’t know. But when Chris Kelly gets away with knocking Dallas Drake in the back of the head, you know something is wrong.

I really like what I've seen of Downey. But as the Wings get healthy (Zetterberg and Holmstrom are back from their health issues), will Downey remain on the roster? Sad to say, I doubt it...

Detroit Lions: No news from the Lions proper, but a couple of the Lions bloggers had something to say...

Lionbacker writes an open letter to the old man, with 2 scenarios as to how to improve his moribund franchise...

Scenario One is to simply fire Matt Millen; now and without hesitation. There are several knowledgeable football people available who have real experience, credibility and a passion for excellence. You've just missed an opportunity to hire Bill Parcells, please don't allow the next terrific football mind to pass us by. Matt Millen has made Jessica Simpson look like Steven Hawking, so almost anyone will be an improvement provided they have a vision for a successful football team. Bill Cower, for example, would be my first choice and he'd undoubtedly rejuvenate this franchise and the entire city but he's not the only person who knows how to win. If you don't like him there are others who could turn this beleaguered franchise around, I'd be happy to help you locate such a champion.

The second scenario given is the nuclear option, wiping the Lions from the face of Detroit by moving them to LA. It (sorta) worked for Cleveland, why not the D? Not that either scenario will ever happen, but I'm sure it feels good to get their Lions beefs off of their chests.

Pride of Detroit touches on Mike Martz's statement, his comparing the 49ers situation to the Lions, saying "They're not even close in Detroit."

All I can say to Mike Martz about his comments is that you, sir, are correct. This team isn't close now and probably never will be as long as Millen is here. Rather than work hard to fix this team by signing players in free agency, making smart draft picks, and finding hidden gems on day 2 of the draft, we have to continue to watch Millen screw this mess up. It's not like his profession is rocket science or something like that. I know that being an NFL GM isn't easy, but come on, man, I'm pretty sure my dog could make better decisions than you.

I can't add anything, as I totally agree. Moving on...

Detroit Tigers: The story of the weekend was Saturday's Tigerfest. The big news coming out of the fan festival was Dave Dombrowski's advice to Brandon Inge's best friend. As always, Billfer was all over it at The Detroit Tigers Weblog.

Dave Dombrowski has some advice for Brandon Inge’s best friend:

“If I was Brandon Inge’s best friend,” said Dombrowski, “I’d tell him ‘you should catch.’ I say that, not thinking he can’t play third, but because to me, this guy can be an All-Star catcher."

Pointed words to be sure and you can dispute his All Star candidacy as a catcher, the message is clear. If Brandon Inge wants to play, be it for the Tigers or anyone else, his willingness leverage his athleticism is what will get him that playing time. Dombrowski also reiterated that he felt that they “owed it to him” to try and make a trade, but short of a trade they are a better club with Inge moving around.

Would it upset anyone, other than Inge, if he was on the Tigers roster to start the season as their uber-utility man? Inge is more valuable to the Tigers than to any other team, and we've found out his long-term contract makes him virtually untradable anyway. I have the sneaking suspicion we'll still have Brandon Inge around to use as our favorite punching bag in 2008.

I'll let The Daily Fungo have the last word on what become known as the "Brandon Inge situation."

I realize his world’s been rocked since the trade for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera, but I’m still a little surprised that he’s been so quiet this offseason. He could have pulled an Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh and talked with reporters using nothing but clich├ęs. Instead, he’s said nothing and now must face the questions over and over again in Spring Training. Think that won’t be a bit distracting to him and the team?

Mike makes a good point. Inge could have nipped all the media speculation in the bud if he had made some kind, any kind, of statement. As things stand now, Inge will be the story of spring training.

College basketball: The Spartans lost their first Big 10 game of the season to Iowa, in their worst performance of the season, 43-36. I'm hoping it was just a bump in the road for Sparty on their way to a deep run in the NCAA's. Spartans Weblog gives us the bottom line on what was an embarrassing loss...

Bottom line: We’ve now given up a game to the Badgers and Hoosiers in the race for the Big Ten crown. It’s unlikely either of those two teams will return the favor and lose a game as bad as this one. Here’s hoping Izzo can right the ship quickly. We’ve got 15 games to make up for this loss.

"UGH" was the term Spartan Weblog used to describe the loss. The only redeeming thing you can take from the loss, other than it gives Tom Izzo the opportunity to bust ass on his team in practice, is that no one watched the game, as it was on the Big 10 Network.

Things are looking up, if only slightly, for the Wolverines, as they finally won their first Big 10 game of the season, a 78-68 win over Northwestern. UMHoops has the scoop...

Good win for Michigan (any win at this point is a good one). Manny is really coming into his own and playing within himself. He is going to be a force and every Michigan fan needs to be thankful that he stayed with the Maize&Blue. The last 5 minutes were troubling (letting a huge lead fall apart with the huge run) but that’s a good learning tool for this team. It’s funny because I heard the ESPN crew talking about the same thing happening with the UNC/NC State game. Ekpe also had a monster effort with the double double which is encouraging.

In your face, Jay Bilas!

One more thing before I close. I see that The Bleacher Guy is back, and posting regularly. Glad to see you back in the blogging saddle, Rob!

That's a tardy "Above the Fold" for Monday, 1-14-08

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure Inge will be *the* story - not with the all the new big names coming in like Cabrera and Willis and Renteria. (who I always forget when I think of the new acquisitions.) Will anything overshadow the "HOW MUCH DOES CABRERA WEIGH????!?!?!" story, really?

    Hopefully when we hit Feb, Inge'll say something to take away the distraction, there I totally agree.