Friday, November 26, 2010

Maybe This Michigan Team Can Be Better

In a year in which  the Michigan basketball team relied on two players to get by, the loss of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims may be addition by subtraction. This year's edition of young Wolverines could be better than last year's.

Don't get these words twisted. I still don't know what to make of them right now. After seeing them in three blowout wins and a hard fought loss to Syracuse, they look more like a team than they did last year. With Harris and Sims, they looked disjointed and waited around for something to happen. Now it looks like anyone can be looked to as a go to guy. As the season goes on I suspect that guy might be Tim Hardaway Jr. The jury is still out, but I like how Jordan Morgan is playing right now. He gives the Wolverines a rugged inside presence they've been missing the past few seasons. I think he could've been a help last year. Point guard Darius Morris looks a lot more comfortable after struggling in his freshman year. If the shooters can come through (this means you Douglass, Novak, and Vogrich), Michigan could be a dangerous opponent to go against this year. The only problem I have is when they keep jacking up threes when they could go for a higher percentage shot (layups). I know Beilein doesn't mind his players taking the shots, I just see that this team passes on a lot of layups to take a three.

Hill Says Patriots Are Dirty

Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill said that the New Engalnd Patriots are a dirty team. Not a stretch since they once employed the services of Rodney Harrison.

Hill said that when the Lions were on New England's 2 yard line and called for a sneak play. As he extended his arms toward the goal line, Hill said he felt Patriot defenders trying to break his arm. The same arm Hill had broken against the New York Giants.

"That's why I eventually gave up the ball," Hill said. "Somebody was down there [in the pile] literally trying to break my arm, which is already broken. Literally, trying. And, uh, y'know, I guess [it] wasn't seen [by officials]."

I know lots of things go on in a pile up. Trying to break one's arm isn't one of them. I won't call the Pats a dirty team, but I wouldn't put them in the clear when trying to keep someone from scoring or to cause a fumble. So far the Patriots have no comment on the accusations levied against them.

Maybe that's what contributed to the late game scrums.


Tigers Still Need to Round Out Their Team

The Detroit Tigers have made the first major free agent signing of the year by bagging Boston Red sox free agent catcher Victor Martinez. This does help their team as he can catch or DH. They also need a few more signings or trades that can round out their roster. They signed Tampa Bay reliever Joaquin Benoit to a 3 year $16 mil contract and they're not sure that they will offer Joel Zumaya arbitration. The Benoit and Martinez signings are solid, but the Tigers need to do more if they are to be thought of as serious contenders for next season.

First, I'd try to find a starting pitcher. Someone that may be a reclamation project or a solid number five that can eat some innings. I'd even look at the number four spot in the rotation since I'm not sold on Phil Coke as a starter. Maybe a Chris Young, Erik Bedard, Jon Garland, Jeff Francis, Jorge De La Rosa, or Vincente Padilla could help. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but who else do you have. Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner aren't ready and you never know what you're gonna get from Armando Galarraga, Alfredo Figaro,etc. I say look for someone on the cheap that could actually help.

Maybe try to get another reliever. Right now I call it a long shot since they signed Benoit and they will see what they can get out of Zumaya. Throw a bone to Octavio Dotel, J.J. Putz, or Kerry Wood and see what happens.

Last but not least, try to get an affordable position player or two on the cheap. They won't get Adam Dunn. I'd be shocked if they do. But how about Xavier Nady, who can play the outfield and give Miguel Cabrera a day off every once in a while. They do have a need at second base and Orlando Hudson is available. Maybe David Eckstein could work out. If they fall out of the Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth sweepstakes, which i suspect will happen, Pat Burrell, Bill Hall, or Austin Kearns could go platoon in left. In right try to bring back Magglio Ordonez at a reduced price or throw an incentive laden deal at Andruw Jones or Jeff Francouer.

It's not my money so I can't spend it. I'm just saying that if you can catch the big fish, look at possible lower cost alternatives. If they suck, cut bait with them and move on. If they can get the job done it buys time for a pretty bad minor league system to grow. It may not be the most practical solution, but it can't be any worse than what they did in 2008.

Lions Frustrations Boil Over

Anyone hoping for some past Thanksgiving magic the Detroit Lions provided were greatly disappointed once again. The Lions dropped their seventh Thanksgiving game in a row, 45-24 to the New England Patriots. I hate to sound like a cliche' but the game was closer than the score indicated. That was until Tom Brady carved the Lions up with precision in the fourth quarter. Later on their frustration came out on the field and the locker room.

As it always seems the Lions can go toe to toe with some of the NFL's better teams. I happen to think their problem is more mental than it is physical. They've shown that they game after game. It always comes down to some critical errors, namely penalties, that derail them on a crucial third down. Offensively and defensively, there have been more dead ball penalties than I've ever seen from a Lions team, even in the past they weren't this bad before the snap. False starts, encroachment, offsides. You name it they've done it. After that, it seems like they just wait for the walls to cave in on them, and that's exactly what happens. It looks like they have no confidence in themselves when things start to go wrong. Here are a few quotes from yesterday's game.

Corey Williams: "Man, there's a bunch of guys that need to be called out," said Williams, a Lions defensive tackle. "A bunch of guys need to look in the mirror, realize that there's more to it than just playing in the NFL. There's more to it than getting paid. You got guys, everybody out here got their career on the line, you know what I mean? You can easily take your last snap at any moment, so I think guys need to take it more serious. I don't think guys take it serious enough."

I believe Williams means well and maybe a few guys do need to call themselves out. But he has to do the same because I've seen him guilty of more encroachment or offsides penalties than anyone on the defensive line.

Here's more from Chris Houston: "Yeah, lack of heart," Houston said. "When adversity hits, everybody can't hold their head down. Leaders got to step up and lead. When adversity hits on the team, you kind of see it in some guys' body language, here we go again. You can just tell. So we just got to have heart and know that when adversity hits we got to keep on fighting."

Whatever Houston. It's not like you've been a major playmaker since you've stepped into the league.

It just seem like this team right now looks like it's been Lionized. I've been saying this for years, it's like a bad horror movie. Once you go there you become one of them. No matter how much current Lions claim they're not part of the past or they're not the same old Lions, they keep proving themselves wrong. It's hard to change the culture of losing when the players haven't gotten rid of the bad habits that contribute to it. They are indeed a frustrated team and it shows. Players and coaches. Jim Schwartz benched cornerback Alphonso Smith for the lack of tackling and being beat on some big plays. To Smith's credit he did man up and said that if he were the coach he would've pulled him too. He didn't blame anyone but himself because he knew he had a clunker of a game. He admitted he gave the Patriots the game.

Later that frustration spilled out onto the field after the Patriots last score and extra point. There were some squabbles on the field because the Lions were being trucked once again and they were frustrated. They knew they were right there with of one the NFL's best teams and let the game get away. Its been built up throughout this year. The Chicago game, the Eagles game, the Giants game, Green Bay, and it goes on and on. They were right there in a lot of their games and couldn't finish, couldn't make a crucial stop, get a first down, or just let things get away from them. This game was a culmination of everything that has gone wrong this year. It seems like the Jets choked whatever life this team had left. In my opinion, they haven't gotten over that loss. They need to overcome some things to try to salvage something positive out of this year. Or else it will be the same old Lions.