Sunday, December 4, 2016

Detroit Lions, playoffs, and the NFC

It certainly appears as if the long forlorn Detroit Lions will make the playoffs this year. Barring a complete collapse down the stretch, and even if that happened, they should make it into the postseason. Is it because the Lions are playing outstanding ball? Not really. They've been fortunate on a number of fronts, not the least being having many breaks go their way and a rather easy schedule, but more importantly, the NFC as a whole. Consider the competition ---

NFC East
At 8-4, the NY Giants record is deceiving. They're a slightly better than average team, but at times Eli doesn't seem to know whether he's coming or going, Odell is a wonderfully gifted if childish, tantrum prone wide receiver, and the defense surely ain't what it used to be. Grade B-

The Redskins putting the franchise tag on otherwise mediocre quarterback Kirk Cousins speaks volumes that they don't have star power anywhere else. Grade C

In Philly they started off hot. But a new coach, which means new system and coordinators, combined with a rookie quarterback in Wentz was bound to catch up with them. It has. Grade D

The South
Like the Eagles, Atlanta jumped out of the gate. But we all know the Falcons have long been prone to late season swoons and early exits from the playoffs. It's happening again. Grade C
Sean Payton may be the highest paid coach in the league, and Drew Brees a future shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. Yet the New Orleans Saints have been trending downwards since the heady days of Bountygate. Things will only get worse. Grade C-
The Tampa Bay Bucs are capable of playing well on occasion. They're also capable of stinking it up. Does anybody seriously consider these guys to be contenders? Please. Grade C-
Cam and the Carolina Panthers have taken a nosedive since the Super Bowl beatdown they suffered 10 months ago. From penthouse to outhouse in a hurry. Grade D-

The West.
Not long ago, the Arizona Cardinals were considered as an elite team. No more. Coach Bruce Ariens' mind-numbing game mismanagement and otherwise sub-par performances from many of their players have brought them back down on the express elevator. Grade D
The recently re-transplanted LA Rams are trying to find their way in la-la-land. It appears their GPS system has totally winked out. These guys are not good. Grade D
And speaking of terrible, the San Fran 49ers epitomize it. Since Jim Harbaugh left, the Bay Boys make Pepe LePew smell like $500 an ounce perfume. Grade Z.

The North.
The Minnesota Vikings got it done with smoke and mirrors for a while, but like Philly, it was a train wreck waiting to happen. With QB Teddy Bridgewater going down, then superstud running back Adrian Petersen, combined with a mishmash ineffective offensive line and no better than average defense, it was only a matter of time as well before they headed south. It has come to pass. Grade C-.
Something strange happened in Green Bay and it isn't good for the cheeseheads. The Packers have become decidedly mediocre at best. True, they've had their share of injuries and seen key players bail to free agency, but the standard of excellence in Packerland is sorely being tested. Grade C
What can you say about Chicago? It's another year of Da Bears. Not pretty. Grade D-

You will note a few teams have been omitted from the above. In no particular order, consider---

The Seattle Seahawks. After a sluggish start, they appear to be rounding into the fearsome bunch we have all come to love -- or hate. At any rate, these guys are the real deal, have the been there done that factor on their resume, and will be a tough out in the postseason. Who needs Marshawn Lynch when Thomas Rawls can step in and be as good, if not better? Combine that with the rest of their cast of characters, on both sides of the ball, and another trip to the Super Bowl is definitely a possibility. Grade A-
Down in Big D, after losing their opener, the Cowboys have ripped off 11 wins in row. Color Tony Romo gone. Dak Prescott has future star written all over him. Remember when they lost the league's leading running back, Demarco Murray to free agency not long ago? Enter rookie Buckeye Ezekiel Elliot to more than fill the void. With their usual mammoth and efficient offensive line, weapons like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten to throw to, and a pretty stout defense, it appears the one-time so-called America's team is back. Oh yeah, throw in one of the best placekickers in the league, Dan Bailey, to boot, no pun intended. At 11-1, they've all but sewn up home field advantage in the playoffs. Beating them in Jerry Jones's palace will be a formidable task. Grade A

That leaves the Detroit Lions. At 8-4, they've certainly exceeded the expectations of just about everybody. Most of the pundits figured them to be a 5-11, maybe 6-10 team in early predictions.

So how has it come to pass that they sit atop the NFC North with such a lofty record? To watch them in any given game, they don't project an aura of greatness by a long shot. It's almost as if they mundanely plod away but somehow wind up winning in the end. As mentioned at the top, they've caught their share of breaks. (For those who would claim a team makes its own breaks -- yours truly would offer the Vikings' place kicker, Blair Walsh, missing a point after touchdown, which ultimately resulted in a Detroit overtime victory, instead of an almost certain loss. That's just luck).

Further, if things hold true to form, the Lions will get a playoff game at home. In that contest, they would likely face either a wild card winner from a watered down field, or perhaps another division champ with a lesser record. They could win that and advance.

But somewhere along the line, likely either Seattle or Dallas will stand in the way of the Super Bowl. Depending how the last four games play out, Detroit could actually host the Seahawks. If the Lions stay on a roll and the Seahawks stumble, they could be at Ford Field again. How the Lions would respond under such huge playoff pressure remains to be seen. After all, it's not like they have a wealth of experience in such contests. A meager one playoff win total since Super Bowls started 50 years ago speaks for itself. Yet perhaps it would be doable.

It's also unlikely anybody's going to waltz into Big D and knock off the Cowboys. But that's not impossible either. Stranger things have been known to happen in the postseason, not to mention whatever injuries could arise in the next month as well.

What will be truly interesting is when the Lions go to Dallas for a Monday night game on Dec. 26, the day after Santa has headed back to the North Pole. The whole country will be paying attention to that one, and it could well be a preview of a playoff match-up to come in late January.

Could the Lions actually pull off such a Herculean task and defeat the Cowboys in their own back yard? The final springboard to a -- gasp -- Super Bowl appearance?

Holy cow. Wouldn't that be something?

But hey. Nothing's impossible, right? Witness the recent Presidential election. Who saw THAT coming? And how 'bout dem Cubbies? 108 years in the making.

If the Lions go from a predicted 5-11 team all the way to the Super Bowl, one thing is for sure.

From coast to coast, people will be putting their right hand over their heart, their left arm extended and flailing, and all the while screaming in a Fred Sanford moment---

I'm coming Elizabeth!!!.

The big one indeed.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Bonehead Files. Tiger Woods - again

Sound the trumpets, gild the primrose path with rose petals, and keep 70 virgins on standby. His Highness Eldrick Tont Woods, sometimes known as Tiger, is making his triumphant return to grace us with his royal presence again.

Well then. What manner of lunacy is afoot THIS time?  Wasn't the Presidential campaign enough to satisfy the idiots for a while?

It appears not. They're back to root for their hero, boneheads such as they are.

Granted, from roughly 1998 to 2008 Tiger Woods put up arguably the most dominant decade of any athlete in any sport (though a case could be made for the likes of George Herman (Babe) Ruth from the mid 20s to mid 30s and certainly sprinter Usain Bolt of late, among others).

At that time, Woods was seemingly winning everything in sight. Tournament after tournament, breaking records, and few doubted he would pass Jack Nicklaus's all-time major mark. It wasn't if, but when.

Then the wheels fell off and he was exposed for what he had been all along, the latter likely heavily contributing to the former. Because while Eldrick had been tearing up the golf courses and enjoying the hero worship that came with it from certain quarters, he was, at heart, far from an upstanding young man.

His serial infidelity with his wife finally blew up in his face, and the public to date likely knows of only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. While he was Mr. Congeniality in front of the cameras, it became known that Woods and his then caddie Steve Williams were tyrants on the course regarding the paying galleries that had shown up to see him in good faith.

"Out of the way, peasants. Can't you see royalty is coming through? And don't you talk, much less try to take pictures. Just bow and scrape like the worthless peons you are."

Yet his groupies, egged on by the media blitz, kept coming back for more. And quite the blitz it was. During any given tournament, and even those in which Woods wasn't competing, the replays of his "highlights" ran in a continuous loop. There was no such thing as Tiger over-saturation. See Tiger smile. See Tiger putt. See Tiger eat a banana. See Tiger curse. See Tiger pump his fist. See Tiger pound a club. All of this was force fed to the viewers while other worthy to see action was going on all around him. And the public, bless their gullible souls -- ate it up. The TV folks could hardly be faulted. Hey, if they determine ratings will be higher by airing such nonsense as opposed to the sporting event itself -- that's exactly what they're going to do. They prey on the boneheads. How else to explain so many commercials featuring various wonder-products that would normally cost a consumer $200-300 -- right -- but every one of these things is now $19.95?  Call now while supplies last, boneheads.

But it is what it is and Eldrick is back again at something called the Hero World Challenge. Well, of course he would choose a tournament with a name like that. Hello?

Even back in his heyday, yours truly smelled something fishy about this guy, so no, I never became one of his legions of fans. The politically correcters, boneheads that THEY are, would and do accuse me of being a "hater". I guess because I refused to fall in lock-step with their vision of Woods, yours truly became a target of THEIR hate. It really is boneheaded logic if one thinks about it. Just because I chose or choose not to root for a person, while smelling a rat, means I must hate him/her. This author is probably one of few in the world that doesn't care much for coffee either. Because my taste buds preferences differ from most, does that make me a beanophobe on some level? See how ridiculous that sounds? Worse yet, if I'd rather watch an Indy car event than one of NASCAR, which is true, in the truest sense of the word have I now become a, gasp, racist? Argh.

Thing is, like a lot of sports junkies, I watch ESPN for the recaps to catch up on many events. It was noted that Woods was hacking his way around at the Hero tourney during his first round. To nobody's surprise, the TV folks were all over it. See Tiger hit one into the sand. Then again, and again. See him chip up a hill to a green, only to watch it roll back. Oops, there goes one in the drink. He must have hit some pretty good shots in between to salvage a one over par 73. Still, that left him a whopping 9 strokes back after a single round while the other guys were carving up a fairly easy course under ideal weather conditions. What WAS surprising is instead of seeing the Tiger highlight reels we've become accustomed to in the past, this time it was like a blooper show.

To his credit, Eldrick would come back (where have we heard that phrase before?) to post an impressive 6 under par 65 in the second round. Only 6 shots behind.

It used to be that the weekends belonged to Tiger. Even when trailing, Saturday was "moving day" to zoom up the leaderboard, and Sunday was time to break out the red shirt and black pants to polish it off. Not so in recent years.

Though he's been sidelined with various injuries, real or excuses for lack of a competitive game, even when he was "healthy" his record was far from admirable, much less worthy of the lofty position so many want to return him to. Ten missed cuts. A few quits when things were going even worse.

And these days, at age 40, with the wreckage still very close in his rear view mirror, does anyone really think he can storm back to recapture the glory of days past? At last look, Woods was ranked somewhere around #198 in the world. Not even on the radar screen of competitive golf at its highest levels. The young studs have blown by him like he once did to the generation before him. And those guys are going to keep on coming. They no longer fear Tiger, but view him as a washed up has-been that can't come close to challenging them.

Idle thought. In the second round of the current tourney, Brit Justin Rose, paired up with Woods, withdrew. Did he really have a bad back, or did he just not want to put up with the media circus, and Tiger himself for the day? Hmmm.

Here's wishing Eldrick Tont well in whatever the future holds for him. Many have said that Woods was good for golf, making it more popular. Perhaps. But there are us that got turned off to the game BECAUSE of him and only jumped back in when other stars emerged while His Highness was out taking a powder somewhere.

Yet to those that still hang on to the notion that their hero will once again assume his rightful throne and rally back at this stage of his career to win a bunch of tournaments and finally eclipse Jack's major record, I can but humbly offer only one word.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Feeling for Hue Jackon. Not

Just when you think you've heard every possible variation of limp-wristed and whiny apologetic rhetoric, a story like this comes along. We should all feel so, so sorry for poor Hue Jackson, head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

To which yours truly says -- shut up. Not a chance.

True, the Browns have long been a woeful NFL franchise, but Jackson knew that going in when he actively campaigned for the job and finally got it. Nothing much was expected of them this year and, as it's turned out, they've provided even less.

Cleveland was a very bad 3-13 last year. So far in 2016, they're 0-12, and could well match the Detroit Lions' futility of a winless season. I mean, who are they going to beat? They're just -- that -- bad.

Put another way, Jackson and his staff have not only failed to improve the Browns, but have somehow managed to make them even worse.  You, I, or one of our pets could coach a team to an 0-12 record. That's some kind of seriously ugly.

Though this author tried to discover the terms of Jackson's contract, he was unable. It's like it's a big secret. Classified. Yet we can likely assume that as an NFL head coach, Jackson's making in the millions of dollars for contributing to what amounts to a gross display of incompetence. Further, it's almost a certainty his contract is for multiple years. Guaranteed, of course. No new head coach and/or his agent is going to sign on for a single season. It just doesn't happen.

At a recent press conference, Jackson was even more pitiful than his team has shown so far this year.
He stated that he hadn't even begun to open up his bag of tricks. To which one could logically reply, "Um, Hue, if you've got any football goodies you haven't shown yet -- now would be a good time. And BTW, where the hell have they been for a last three months?"

Another pearl of Jackson wisdom --- "Being 0-12 is the hardest thing ever". This, as his eyes appeared to well up with tears.

We should feel bad, just awful, that poor Hue is being made to go through such an ordeal.

NOT. Did I mention the millions of dollars he's making as his team has become a total embarrassment? The laughingstock of the league? Bet you wish you had a job like that. Screw up everything you touch but continue to rake in megabucks. You wouldn't cry, but rather jump for joy. This is hard???

And what is the alternative? If the Browns fire him, they're no doubt on the hook to pay him even MORE millions to sit around doing nothing at home.

Speaking of fired, Jackson's track record speaks for itself as well. He spent several single seasons with various other NFL teams as an offensive coordinator. The key word, of course, is "single". There's usually a good reason a coordinator is let go after one year. They aren't any good.

He also spent, you guessed it, one season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Though the black and silver crew went 8-8 on his watch, much more was expected of them. Therefore, Jackson was fired from there as well.

Why any team would want his services as a head coach would seem to be an interesting question. But hey, it's the Browns -- right? Just when you think that things can't possibly get any worse, they'll go out and put some guy like Hue Jackson is charge. Good grief.

And we're supposed to feel sorry for this dude? The multi-millionaire and counting that's presided over one of the most inept teams in the history of the league? And the worst that can happen to him is losing the remaining four games -- likely -- then being fired to collect piles of free money?

I think not.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Big 10 playoff jumble

This turned out to be quite the mess. In no particular order, consider the following:

In a game most of the country watched closely, Ohio State, at home, barely squeaked by Michigan. The contest could have easily gone either way, given it took 2 overtimes to decide, but for the sake of argument let's say the best team prevailed. After all, the bookies had OSU as a 5 point favorite going in.

But the Buckeyes didn't even win their own division in the Big 10. That's because they were beaten on the road by Penn State earlier in the season.

Conversely, Michigan had hammered PSU weeks ago. So who's the best team?

Just last week, OSU eked out a victory at Michigan State. The Spartans are awful this year. They aren't even bowl eligible. Yet it was a game the Buckeyes could have -- likely should have lost.

Meanwhile, Michigan had semi-convincingly defeated MSU -- at MSU -- just a couple weeks ago. But the Wolverines dropped a game at Iowa a few weeks back. True, it was a nail biter, and again could have gone either way. But UM came up short. This loss has come back to haunt UM in the playoff picture. Any team purporting to be national championship contenders isn't supposed to drop a game, regardless of venue, to an unranked opponent. Period.

Michigan got by Wisconsin at home.

The Buckeyes beat them on the road.

Both were hard fought close contests, and these are the only blemishes on the Badgers' record. Other than that, they've pretty well rolled after an opening narrow win over LSU, a quality team.

But as things worked out, neither Michigan nor Ohio State will even compete for the Big 10 conference championship. That honor will go to Penn State and Wisconsin -- both ranked below UM and OSU. Weird, huh?

As it stands, Alabama and Ohio State are in regarding the Final Four. Likely too is Clemson. The fourth spot is up for grabs, and Washington out west can make a legitimate claim to it. But wait a second, they got hammered at home themselves a couple weeks back by unranked Southern Cal. That's not supposed to happen. So do the Huskies deserve a spot? Maybe, maybe not. But if not them -- who?

Michigan is likely out, though could arguably be considered among the best four teams in the country.

Of course, even Bama and/or Clemson could lose their own conference championship games next weekend. Not likely, but possible. How would that jumble the standings for the selection committee? What a nightmare.

Would UM get back in by default? Or might they be chosen anyway, even given the close, but fresh loss at OSU? Also possible.

Meanwhile, Ohio State's in the catbird seat. They don't even have to play next week, hence no chance of a loss, but are a virtual lock to be in the Final Four. While other teams, technically better qualified than the Buckeyes slug it out, OSU gets a free pass into the playoffs. Does that make sense?

The current four team playoff system is certainly better than the old ways, just two schools being selected to play for the championship -- and far more desirable than even further back, a mish-mash of various bowls, not always featuring top contenders squaring off. A champion was crowned by a vote, rather than being decided on the field. It's looks so dumb in hindsight, but the powers that be have always been resistant to change. Unless it means more money -- lots of it -- they'd just as soon sit on "tradition", which could quite possibly result in a very questionable outcome regarding a national champion.

The solution? Though it righteously should have been this way all along, this particular year begs for it.

Expand the playoff format to eight teams. Sure, numbers 9 through probably 12 would likely squawk they were underrated, hence jobbed, but the line has to drawn somewhere. And it's highly unlikely anybody not ranked in the top eight at the end of the year is worthy of a championship shot anyway. And heck, it's just one more Saturday of games. After the conference championship games, the teams in the hunt have over a month off to sit around. They'd love to play an extra match and the participating schools would get another huge payday. On that note, spare me the argument that this would cut into the studying time for the precious "student-athletes". Good grief, a lot of the poor dears at huge collegiate football factories likely couldn't pass a seventh grade algebra exam. Who's kidding who?

This would also solve the dilemma of this year, and likely in the future. Take the following eight teams, and put them in a three game playoff.

Ohio State
Penn State
And throw in Colorado. Though flying under the radar all year, the Buffs appear worthy as well.

Better yet, don't seed them where #1 plays #8, 2 versus 7, etc.

Draw the potential matches out of a hat and let the chips fall where they may. But nobody gets to play a game in their home state. Match them up to various bowl sites accordingly. How cool, not to mention fair, not to mention inclusive, would that be?

And isn't inclusivity the latest rage in America?

Well then, make it so when it comes to the playoffs.

And all the above mentioned items about team A beat team B, B beat C, and C beat A -- so who's best wouldn't have to be arbitrarily chosen for the chance at big time glory.

It would be decided on the field, with every worthy contender getting a chance.


Heck, every other sport does it that way, both in college and the pros. Have since forever. Even the lower divisions in college football have a better playoff system. Just not the big boys. How the hell can that be?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Joe Buck and the Lions

Football announcer Joe Buck has a book out. It's called "Lucky Bastard". Yours truly has yet to read it -- probably never will -- but presumably the title refers more to his good fortune than dubious parentage.

Assuming that to be true, Joe is the son of long time play-by-play man Jack Buck, recently deceased. Old Jack had made quite a name for himself and is still considered somewhat legendary in the talking head community.

By "lucky bastard", we might also assume young Joe is referring to the job he has. In other words, he acknowledges he might not have got it if not for his daddy, else he be slinging fries or mopping floors somewhere. You know -- horrors!! -- a real job.

Like Jeremy Schapp, son of sports media pioneer Dick, by pure dumb luck -- nepotism notwithstanding --the young Buck is rolling in the dough. Hmm, there's a pun in there somewhere. Nevermind.

Which brings me to the Detroit Lions. They've been experiencing their own share of dumb luck lately as well. Now at 7-4, they lead the NFC North by a full game, actually two, given they hold the tie-breaker over the Minnesota Vikings.

It's long been the habit of Lions' fans, and their local media, to take good breaks in stride when they happen to their team -- almost like they're supposed to happen. A given. But they'll scream foul and bloody murder when yet another happenstance goes against them. It could certainly be argued that in the whole scheme of things, breaks usually have a way of evening out eventually.

The Lions have been fortunate indeed this year to date. When it comes to breaks, they've fallen into the tall cotton side of things much more so than the proverbial briar patch.

Several instances could be cited over several games, but for the purpose of this article let's just consider the two games they've played against the Vikings -- both Detroit wins. While the Lions and their fans take it in stride, the Vikings and their own followers must feel cursed. Both were games the Vikings could have won, and likely should have. Had that happened, Detroit would now be 5-6 and the Vikes 8-3. A huge swing in the standings, not to mention playoff implications.

In their first meeting in Minnesota, all Vikings' place kicker Blair Walsh had to do was boot an extra point. Had he done so successfully, there would have been no overtime, which the Lions came back to win in. The Vikings would have won the game in regulation. But he missed it. True, they've moved the "spot" back on PAT's but they're still no longer than a chip shot field goal. NFL kickers are expected to make them on a regular basis. If they can't, they won't be in the league for very long.

The Lions did nothing to win this game, and should have lost. But by a stroke of sheer luck, they came away with a W.

In the recently concluded Thanksgiving day game, at Detroit, the score was tied, and Minnesota had the ball with a minute and a half left, a couple of time-outs, and decent field position. With Detroit playing a loose, not quite "prevent" defense, it didn't seem too much to expect the Vikings to gain a couple chunks of yardage to get into at least long field goal range. The Lions had to try and hold on and hope for OT again.

Then somebody extraordinary happened -- again. Detroit cornerback Darius Slay intercepted a Sam Bradford pass, and it was the Lions in field goal position to win the game. Which they did as time expired.

As it was written up by some Detroit area scribes, Slay had made a brilliant play, the Lions had "made" their own break yet again, and all was well in Honolulu blue and silver land. Chalk up another W.

Nothing could be further from reality regarding that particular play. Slay may be a decent corner, but he takes chances and oftentimes gets burned.

Much more so, that particular pass was a boneheaded decision by Bradford. A throw that never should have been made. Bradford knows it, as do his coaches. The Lions didn't earn this W, they lucked into it. Again.

Barring a total collapse, Detroit should be able to cruise into the playoffs, even have a home game as division champs. Though certainly stranger things have happened to the Lions -- one never knows what they might stumble into next -- given their relatively easy remaining schedule it's unlikely even the Lions could find a way to screw it up. But their history tells us not to hold our breath. It IS still the Ford owned Lions -- right?

One can't help but feel a bit for the Vikings. First they lose their starting QB Teddy Bridgewater, then all-world running back Adrian Petersen. Also their starting left tackle, who protects the QB's "blind" side on pass plays.

And in head-to-head match-ups with the Lions, the Vikes had one win in the bag and another within reach, only to have Murphy's Law kick them in the head both times. Two Ws became two Ls. Their own spot in the playoffs is very much in jeopardy. 8-3 would look a whole lot better than 5-6.

But the Detroit Lions merrily skip along, oblivious to just how lucky they were in those two games.

Here's hoping that if and when the great wheel of fortune lands on a bad break for the Lions -- it'll happen eventually -- we won't have to listen to the cacaphony of "we was robbed" that we've heard so often in the past.

They'll understand that not everything is destined to always go their way and accept it in the spirit of fairness in the real world.

But don't count on it.....

On that note, perhaps some aspiring author will come along and write a book on how the Lions' season has played out so far, particularly the Minnesota games.

Add an "s" to the end, and it could be titled the same as Buck's book. Who's your daddy indeed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

'Nuff said.

The Tom Gores betrayal and poppycock

So the Pistons are moving back to Detroit. Somewhere, their late former owner Bill Davidson is likely rolling over in his grave. More on that later.

Current owner Tom Gores cited three reasons for the move. To wit:  "Why? One, it's great for the Pistons. It is the right call for our fans, our players, how we can impact the community. Two, the arena. Three, the Ilitch partnership". 

All of this is a betrayal and poppycock of the highest order. Let us examine it a bit further. 

First, it is not the right call for the fans, nor players. The public has dutifully attended games in their current residence, The Palace, in Auburn Hills for almost 30 years. They have packed the house at exorbitant prices when the product was good, and shied away when the team stunk -- as they rightly should. 

Second, how does Gores figure this is good for the players? Those guys don't live in Detroit, but rather the affluent suburbs, notably to the north. They'll have further to travel to their own home games and practices.

He's impacting the community alright, by taking money away from Auburn Hills and giving it to Detroit. Which of the two do you think would be more prudent -- see honest and transparent --in their financial dealings given such a windfall? Which has had a recent history of corruption, former leaders going to prison, and crashed into bankruptcy?

Two, the arena. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Palace. It remains a world class facility. Once upon a time, the above mentioned Bill Davidson built it out of money from his own rather deep pockets. It's location was such that hundreds of residents and small business owners weren't coerced off their land to make room for such a privately owned project, much less suffer the ultimate insult of also being forced to cough up their tax-paying dollars to finance it. Mr. Davidson did it the right way, truly a rarity in the world of billionaire team owners. 

Further, let's speak a little of the arena even the Detroit Red Wings are abandoning -- Joe Louis. As we know, Joe Louis was a boxer and held the heavyweight championship for over a decade. Impressive stuff, back in the day. Yet he wasn't from Detroit, but rather an Alabama native. Louis was illiterate, and wound up punch drunk and totally broke before he finally died. This is the sort of person a professional Detroit sports franchise named an arena after?  Especially a HOCKEY team? Wouldn't that be a little bit like naming a football stadium after a tennis player? It made no sense whatsoever. Only in Detroit could they come up with such twisted logic.

So now, the brand new boondoggle will be named Little Caesar's Arena. Well, of course it will. This is the pizza outfit that made Mike Ilitch, owner of the Red Wings, rich in the first place. You can bet your last piece of pepperoni that his accountants will figure out a way to find a loophole big enough to drive Chris Christie through, because naming the arena after his company is advertisement -- hence deductible. Subtle, but very clever. 

Three, the Ilitch partnership. Another thing the average citizen can count on, to the same degree as death and taxes, is that when two billionaires get together and collaborate on a business venture, the commoners are going to get screwed somehow. Sure enough, the poor slobs in Detroit, still pretty much a broke city, are already on the hook for over $34 million in future tax dollars. That number is likely to rise due to cost overruns -- which always happen in these sort of projects. That's not even to mention how many folks will be forced out of the homes they've lived in for generations to make room for the shiny new -- and quite unnecessary -- sports venue. 

Current Detroit mayor Mike Duggan rants that the city is the only one that will feature all four major professional sports teams in the downtown area. Well then. First, a lot of cities don't even HAVE teams in all four sports. And second, any owner that cares about his fan base will take his product to them -- mostly in the burbs -- rather than expect them to fight their way downtown hoping they don't get mugged coming or going in mostly a crime-ridden armpit city such as Detroit. 

As if it matters, even former Piston Greg Kelser chipped in his two cents. Never much of an NBA player, Kelser, from the Detroit area, is "all in" with the move. Well duh. He's also a current commentator for the team. If he wants to keep that job, it doesn't take a genius to figure out Kelser will spout the "party line", whether it makes sense or not.

In the end, the Pistons will be headed back to Detroit. As a resident of the northern suburbs, yours truly went to lots of games at the Palace and spent thousands of dollars there. When they move back to Detroit, I'm done with them. Enjoy your new digs but you'll never get another penny out of me. 

And what is to become of the Palace? Will it just waste away like the Pontiac Silverdome did after the Detroit Lions left? All that effort and money that Bill Davidson put into creating such a fantastic facility just gets kicked to the curb? 

One added little bit of hypocrisy is Tom Gores is a Flint native himself. Yet the company HE got rich with, Platinum Equity, is based in Los Angeles. And this is the same man talking about making a positive impact on a community?  For Detroit -- the tail that continues to wag the dog of the entire state of Michigan? THAT guy? Maybe he should go into politics. 

Yet perhaps we should have expected it. This is what can happen when a couple uber-rich guys get together on a project. Combine Gores's hair and Ilitch's pizzas and what do you get?

I don't know either, but you can bet it's going to be mighty greasy in more ways than one.