Monday, January 07, 2008

Above the Fold - Weekend in review

I'm trying something new with today's "Above the Fold." Every Monday I'm going to look back at the weekend, taking a look at each local team. Let's see how it goes...

Detroit Pistons:

The Pistons lost their rematch with the Boston Celtics Saturday night, 92-85.. From all reports, the Celtics treated the matchup like game 7 of a playoff series, while the Pistons claimed they treated it as just another game. Considering Detroit's mistake filled 4th quarter, they actually treated the game like last season's game 6 against the Cavaliers.

As Nat does after every game, Need4 Sheed breaks out the bullet points. One being Flip Saunders odd non-use of Jason Maxiell, who was dominant in the 1st half. And I agree, Garnett was not fouled...

I love McDyess, but he was a dud last night and Maxiell was HOT. Please tell me why Flip didn't ride the hot hand. We know the players do it on the floor, why didn't our coach? It was Jason who sparked the Pistons to a 17-0 run in the first. He finished with 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, 4 boards, a steal and 2 (I'm counting the Garnett foul block).

Is Flip the Pistons' Achilles heel? I have a bad feeling that he just may be...

Matt, of Detroit Bad Boys fame, has been posting more of his Pistons game thoughts at Hoopsworld, Here, he writes of Paul Pierce's unbecoming braggadocio at game's end, talking trash to the Pistons faithful, and popping his jersey.

After the game, Paul Pierce was seen celebrating the victory, telling the Detroit crowd that the Celtics were the best team in the league. When asked about Pierce's reaction, Chauncey Billups acknowledged that this game may have meant a little more to Boston than Detroit. "They're a little more happy than we was when we won our game out there," he said. "It was just like a regular game for us. Two good teams playing. They're kind of playing like it's the Super Bowl, man. It's just a regular game, two good teams playing. There's a little more at stake for them and their psyche than [for] us, but they won, it's cool."

It was obvious that the game meant TONS more to the Celtics. Was it a big game? Of course. But was it also a statement game? Not in early January. I can't help but hope these 2 teams meet in the Eastern Conference finals. It'll be a 7 game war, much like the bloody Pistons-Celtics battles of the late 80's. Now those WILL be statement games...

Detroit Red Wings:

The Red Wings continued their march through the NHL, much the same as Sherman's army marched through the south. Taking no prisoners, and leaving nothing but scorched earth in their wake. They beat Dallas 3-0, and Chicago 3-1, in back to back games.

One of my favorite Detroit sports sites, period, is Abel to Yzerman. Bill is a kindred spirit, as we both have utter disdain for the MSM, or in derogatory A2Y parlance, the "deep diggers." Here's his thoughts before the Blackhawks game, regarding their odd dominance over the Wings...

I’m done trying to figure it out. Done with that. I’ve claimed it was youth, speed, mental breakdowns, Hasek’s poor play. Whatever. Done with it. I’m not smart enough and my attention span won’t allow that kind of analysis. A must-win tonite? Ummm, no. Just a game the Wings would like to dominate (and actually win) that would temporarily shoo away one of the fruit flies that is bothersome but not threatening.

The Wuings did shoo away the 'Hawks, much in thanks to Chis Osgood winning for the 19th time. That's not a typo! The once much maligned Ozzie is 19-2-1 this season, and should be an All-Star.

At Behind the Jersey, Christy delves DEEP into the Red Wings current attendance woes. She looks at past history, ticket prices, fan income, win/loss percentages, the euro influence on the roster, the lockout, damn near any influence you can think of that would affect attendance. There's charts and graphs aplenty for the reading impaired. You need to put on your thinking caps for this post folks...

For a small taste, here's Christy on the Red Wings ticket price conundrum.

Another excuse for the Red Wings’ attendance problems is that their ticket prices are too high in today’s poor economy. When fans have the option to attend a sporting event for teams that are close in terms of success, the fan may choose the best bang for their buck. The Wings’ overall ticket price average is 26.8% greater than the Pistons’ average and 65.1% greater than the Tigers’ average. While the Tigers have a considerably larger stadium with almost twice as many seats, the Pistons only have a couple thousand seats more than the Wings’ Joe Louis Arena and thus the disparity in ticket prices is somewhat surprising.

The Wings have been long known for their raping the wallets of fans. They've done little for a highly supportive fanbase. The most blatant cash grab being their thoughtless post lockout move of keeping ticket prices the same while their payroll was essentially cut in half. Things aren't helped by their playing on a drab concrete bunker. A bomb shelter has more personality than the Joe.

Detroit Tigers:

The only hot topic recently has been the Brandon Inge issue. Now a man without a position, will he stay, or will he go? Should the Tigers keep a $6 million a year bench player who believes he should be starting? will they trade him for pennies on the dollar, while eating a considerable amount of his salary?

Billfer looks into the "Inge situation" at The Detroit Tigers Weblog. Inge wants a trade, but Bill thinks he's better off staying with the Tigers, at least till Inge proves he swings more than just a wet noodle at the plate.

I understand that Inge wants to be a full time player, but he also needs to realize how unlikely that is unless he can show that he can hit like he did in 2004 through 2006. Versatility and general athleticism is what kept him the league when Pudge Rodriguez was acquired and that same versatility is his best hope at finding a starting job at some point in the future. With a DH that hasn’t played a full season since 2005, and a first baseman with creaky knees, there is a decent chance that there will be significant playing time for Inge even as a reserve (not implying that he’d play those positions, but it would create other oppotunities). Not to mention the Tigers might be kind of good this year and even a bench role isn’t exactly a death sentence.

Would Inge accept coming off the bench? Personally, I'd love the Tigers to keep Inge as a super-sub. The Marlboro Man would find a way to get him 400 AB's. Leyland would also play Inge in situations where he'd be most effective. Seems like a win/win to me. I doubt Inge thinks so, unfortunately...

Detroit Lions:

For the most part, everyone has washed their hands of the Lions, happy the season is over. But some are still poking at their corpse.

Lionbacker takes a long look at the Matt Millen era, and finds plenty of blame to go around. They start with William Clay Ford...

You would think by now Mr. Ford might have figured out how to hire someone experienced and knowledgeable to run his football organization; but clearly, that’s not forthcoming. Matt Millen represents not only another failed attempt to turn the beleaguered franchise around - but also the least experienced to try it. Calling Matt Millen an NFL General Manager is like calling a grave robber an archaeologist. Millen’s career on the field and in the broadcasting booth did not prepare him for the task of leading any sports franchise. That fact is reflected in virtually every aspect of the organization today.

Rod Marinelli doesn't get off scot-free either...

Rod Marinelli is a thoughtful, hard working, disciplined Head Coach who had no more business being promoted to that position than Millen had when he was given his title. While I like and even admire Marinelli’s work ethic and message to his players - he was never qualified to go from a Defensive Line coaching role to the Head Coach of this team. I think that‘s evident in how he‘s handled some of his players; personal decisions; game plans; choosing and dealing with his staff; and in how he‘s addressed the media.

I think this says it all...

These are all people who don't know what they're doing - hiring people that don't know what they're doing.

Truer words have never been spoken.

Michigan Wolverines:

With John Beilein struggling to implement his system, Wolverine hoops are off to their worst start ever. Their latest loss being 65-58 to Purdue Saturday.

In another through and well thought out post, Motown Sports Revival looks at the future of Michigan basketball under Beilein. Jake's look into the crystal ball is not a pleasant one, as it shows Michigan may be quite happy to be "respectable," rather than "elite."

The program will likely improve to the point of being a perennial upper-half Big Ten-team. Once he gets the right players to run his system, he should have no problem replicating his success at West Virginia. Honestly, that’s all I want at this point. However, I don’t think there is any question that his system is built for less-talented teams. Beilein admits as much. Hiring Beilein was somewhat of a concession by Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman that the Ed Martin-scandal had permanently reduced Michigan’s status in college basketball or at the very least they were going to act as if it did. I don’t believe that anyone was under the allusion that Beilein was going to come in and out-recruit Tom Izzo. I also don’t believe anyone thought that Beilein was going to come in with anything other than his trademark reliance on three-pointers and his 1-3-1 zone defense. Beilein was brought in to implement his system. With it came a program-shaping tradeoff. The school traded the compromising ways of a “win at all costs" coach and the resulting elite status said coach could bring in exchange for a "by the book" X’s and O’s wiz who will likely rebuild the program with less-talented players.

I think it's a given that we'll never see the recruiting hauls of Steve Fisher ever again at Michigan. We'll never see the headaches that come along with those high-level, high-risk recruits, either. To be honest, I think the powers that be are happy with basketball remaining under the radar. Michigan being a middle of the pack Big 10 team that makes the NCAA's every couple of years will be just fine with the administration. "Once burned, twice shy" should be the motto for Wolverines basketball.

That's "Above the Fold" for monday, 1-7-08!


  1. Did the Spartans play last weekend? Why would you want to talk about a top 10 team? Nice recap on Michigan though.

  2. I had to work and didn't get to see the Pistons game. I wish Detroit BadBoys did more recaps. I'm not a big fan of MSM or N4S "Maxiell is an amazing dunker" bullet point style recaps.