Friday, June 23, 2017

A sorry state of affairs

They may have once been "sleepless in Seattle", but they're no longer "sweepless". The Mariners just broomed the swooning Detroit Tigers in a 4 game set.

After a semi-decent start to the season, the Tigers now find themselves in last place of the entire American League, and seem to be on a mission to see how low they can go.

When they pitch OK, the Tigers can't hit, and vice-versa. Witness Michael Fullmer throwing a beauty of a game at San Diego, only to lose 1-0. Justin Verlander, once considered an "ace", remains mired at a mediocre 4-4, over 60 games into the season. When JV pitches well, count on the bull-pen to come and pitch batting practice to the opponents in the latter innings. It must drive him crazy.

Color manager Brad Ausmus, a "lame duck" on the final year of his contract -- good-bye. It's not his fault the team has been performing so poorly in most every phase of the game, but he'll take the fall.

I never did much care for Danny Kanell. True, he was quite the jock in college and even made it to the NFL as a starting quarterback for the NY Giants. In other words, he beat out thousands of others to progress that far, so credit where credit is due. But at the highest level, the Peter Principle finally kicked in and Danny didn't last long. A mediocre player at best.

Fast forward a few years and lo, there's Danny as a talking head on ESPN. He had replaced Scott Van Pelt as a partner of Ryen Russillo on the afternoon talk/radio show that was/is still show on TV. Evidently, SVP got his own show. though being bumped to the wee hours of the morning when only drunks staggering home after closing time, and insomniacs are watching didn't seem like much of a promotion.

Nonetheless, Danny was plugged into his place. And oh man, could he yuk it up. A regular Mr. Chucklehead. Thing is, DK always came across as thinking he was the smartest person in the room, and certainly far intellectually superior to any knuckleheads out there in TV or radio land that happened to be tuned in. And then his role was expanded. Danny walked from set to set on ESPN giving his "expert" commentary on a variety of blab-a-geek-a-thons as the afternoon progressed.

Until the axe fell. Kanell got canned from ESPN in their latest purge. Does anybody really miss his smug, holier-than-thou presence? Not me. Good riddance. For that matter, it seems astounding that Ryen Russillo, who has continued with a whozit co-host of the day format, continues to be on the air. For THREE freaking hours every day. The ultimate bore-a-thon. I've tried to watch it, repeatedly, but it doesn't take long to start sounding like the proverbial fingernails scraping on a blackboard. RR has an uppity nature of his own, and loves poking fun at many others while not realizing he's a colossal bore -- or is that boor? --  himself. On and on he'll blather -- about nothing remotely newsworthy. Three hours? Give us a break ESPN. Surely you can do better than that. You lay off a 100 people considered dead-weight, but the viewing/listening public is still stuck with inane gas-bags like Michelle Beadle, Rachel Nichols, Marcellus Wiley, Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, LJ Granderson, and whatever duh ex-jocks they can lure onto their programs for even more idiot-speak? A sorry state of affairs in Bristol indeed.

Speaking of gas-bags, for a minute there yours truly thought he had witnessed an actual miracle. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated had kept an article to only 5 pages. Glory hallelujah, There was hope, Alas, it was short-lived. Immediately following that article in the latest issue was another one, by the same VV -- Verbose Verducci. Alas, another 5 pages. He may be a fine writer, and SI has never spared any praise exalting his journalistic talents, but the man seems to be unable write anything without going on WAY too long. Anything that starts out with Tom Verducci as the author is a guaranteed 3-4 sit-downer on the throne to finally slog through. I wonder if he's any sort of relation to James Michener or a descendant of Leo Tolstoy? Now THOSE guys could ramble on.

Can that be right? Louisville head coach Rick Pitino got suspended for five games because it was discovered he was complicit in providing an escort service -- see hookers -- to members of the hoop team? Well now. How stupid is that?

To bang Pitino, who has long raked in millions of dollars every year, for five games, is a bit like grounding a delinquent teenager for 5 minutes. Do you really think either serves as a deterrent in the future? They scoff at such a notion, and well they should. It's a joke to them. If you want to get a teenager's attention, take away his smart phone and make him/her sit in their room with no TV for a week or so. Go to school, come home and have dinner, then go sit, alone, with no entertainment. They'll be begging for leniency after a couple days.

If you want to get a major college coach's attention -- fine him 10% of his salary for every game missed (in this case Pitino would forfeit 50% of this year's salary), and make him spend that time with the Amish learning how truly humble people get along in life. After a week or two of that, Pitino would see the light indeed, and likely not re-offend. And there's way worse things than learning how to build a barn or pilot a horse-drawn carriage to get from place to place, including cleaning up the "droppings" enroute. Oh yeah, Tricky Ricky might just straighten right up and fly right, as they say. If he is so incorrigible and arrogant enough to be a repeat offender, give him a full year of the same -- no pay -- while wearing a GPS tether to make sure of his whereabouts at all times. Just the thought of the possibility hanging over his head would be enough to ensure model citizen behavior, which any coach making that sort of obscene money should have been exhibiting all along.

I fail to see the problem with such potential punishments. It's supposed to be hard, not laughable.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More idle thoughts

Alas, my dear friend Mel, long known as the Chrome Cowboy (see post of Sept.19, 2011 on this page -- stage right)  has passed away in Florida. A more kind-hearted, generous, finer man and better "bro" never existed, at least in my world. I shall miss you, your wisdom, and infectious laugh terribly. The times we had...... what a hoot. RIP, my friend. You were the best.

So some window joint is advertising every second one is free. Dang, what a deal. Yet it makes one wonder --- you just know they're still turning a tidy profit -- how ridiculous was the standard mark-up before this "super-duper" special? Can you spell g-o-u-g-e?

Paul George of the Indianapolis Pacers has let it be known he will be leaving the team -- after next season. Well that's pretty stupid. Now he'll go through a whole year at Indy being known as a "traitor" that has spurned the team and their fans. Good luck with that. Why not wait until his contract was officially up before flapping his gums? Duh.

You know your team is really bad, or the reporter has WAY too much time on his/her hands, when a feature story appears in print about the head coach's adopted dog. No, not a leader dog. Stan VanGundy of the Detroit Pistons isn't legally blind -- though opinions have varied on his ability to judge talent -- but if this is the best they can come up with in Motown regarding their pro hoopsters, oh yeah, they gotta be fairly awful. Talk about going to the dogs.....

After getting torched by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, rumors abound that Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers may be leaving his "home" team (again) and heading west. Maybe to the Lakers or Clippers. This would definitely upset the applecart in the eastern division. Cleveland without Lebron becomes quite ordinary.

But there would be hell to pay from a public relations standpoint. Remember when he left Cleveland originally to "take his talents to South Beach", the Lake Erie-ites burned his uniforms and regarded him in no higher regard than your average turncoat hooligan.

Then he was hailed as a hero when he returned home to bring the Cavs their first NBA title ever.

Imagine the reaction if he were to ditch them again. Oh my, how ugly would that get? Hey, either he has a sense of loyalty to Cleveland -- or he doesn't. He's already got three NBA championship rings and, lord knows, more money than he'll ever be able to spend. For him to leave Cleveland again would prove him to be nothing more than a title-chasing charlatan, with no loyalties whatsoever. And he would absolutely deserve all the abuse that would be piled upon him. Good man, faithful husband, and devoted father aside, this would be a bad, repeat, BAD move. One would think he's smart enough to realize that. He made his bed, to great fanfare, a few years back. Now he can lie in it or risk the wrath of the masses -- including many in the media.

Oh man, Tiger Woods is back in rehab -- eh? This time apparently for opioid addiction. Sadly, it happens a lot to people that have undergone multiple surgeries and become dependent on pain killers in the aftermath. In a recent article on the back page of Sports Illustrated, former Kentucky and NBA player Rex Chapman made an astounding point. The United States represents roughly 4.5%  of the world's population -- but consumes 99% of the hydrocodone, a generic name for Vicodin. As Chapman asked -- are Americans really in that much more pain than everybody else in the world? Probably not, but just have access to more pain-killing pills. Hence, so many more deaths and addictions result. Scary.

Yours truly has never been a Tiger fan, even back during his hey-day. For some reason I could never warm up to him -- something seemed fishy. Turned out, it was. His multiple extra-marital affairs have long been public knowledge, and his boorish behavior on the course evident -- though the media was wont to downplay it.

Then the DUI affair hit. No, he hadn't been drinking, but DUI is Driving Under the Influence. That can include drugs, even legally prescribed ones. Take too many, get loopy and pass out behind the wheel, and Eldrick was darn lucky he didn't run over somebody, seriously hurting or even killing them. He could have been slam-dunked for years in a penitentiary somewhere. Instead, he'll likely get off with a fine, joke probation, and maybe some "community service".

Still, it would appear any chance of him returning to a prominent role on the world golf scene is officially over. Even if a magic wand could be waved getting him totally clean, sober, and fully healthy, it's highly unlikely he can compete with the array of young guns out on Tour these days. Too many guys with way too much game for a forty-ish guy coming off rehab with questionable physical problems always lurking in the works. Ain't gonna happen. Color Eldrick "stick a fork in him" done. I never rooted for him, but it's sad to see how fast it all went south into crash and burn land.

Speaking of SI, their legendary jinx has struck again. The latest issue offers a feature story on world #1 ranked golfer Dustin Johnson and his brother Austin, his caddy. Not sure how many words it was, but let's just say it was 3-4 sit-downer on the throne to slog through. The article mentioned that DJ was attempting to become the first golfer since Curtis Strange, way back in 1989, to win back-to-back US Opens. That pretty well sealed his fate. Johnson wouldn't make the cut at this year's Open. Not even close.

Holy cow. Justin Verlander, once the ace pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, took a perfect game into the 6th inning against the Seattle Mariners with a 4-0 lead. The Virginia horse was back on a roll. Until the bubble popped. Enter the infamous Tiger bull-pen. By the time it was over, not only would JV not get a win, but the Tigers would lose 7-5.

After a fast start to the season, the Motown puddy-tats are now in a fight for dead last place in the entire American League.

Oh my indeed.....

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The thing about Brad Ausmus....

Detroit Tiger manager Brad Ausmus may be a lot of things. Certainly a handsome middle aged man. Most would consider him fairly intelligent. A nice guy, who's friendly and open to the local media.

And it's not his fault he's stuck with the proverbial hand of players he's been dealt. That blame lies squarely at the feet of general manager Al Avila, and his predecessor Dave Dombrowki. Ausmus can only try and make the best out of the players he has available.

True, he's made seemingly bone-headed managerial decisions here and there, but those calls are easily second-guessed when they don't turn out well. Who bats where in the Tigers' lineup, which starting pitcher takes the mound every day, and when to bring in which relief pitcher can go either way. When it works and the Tigers win, Ausmus gets little credit. Yet when it blows up and backfires, he'll be sure to get the blame. He can't make the hitters hit better or the pitchers become more unhittable. Such are the perils of a major league manager.

And he's also a "lame duck" on the last year of his contract. Given how the team has performed so far this year, it is entirely likely Ausmus won't be back for the 2018 season.

Thing is, it doesn't much matter who the "brain trust" -- and I use that term loosely when it comes to the Tigers -- hires as his replacement. They'll be stuck with the same mess that Ausmus is now.

Several aging players on the back side of their bell curves that make obscene salaries, even as their production continues to wither away.

Ausmus can't be blamed because his team is poor defensively all over the field. Hey, these guys are major-leaguers at their respective positions. They're supposed to know how to field them properly. Good grief, in his rather average, at best, major league career, Ausmus was a catcher. He does't know squat about being an outfielder or shortstop, etc.

Nor can he blamed for the lack of any sort of team speed on the basepaths. It's not his fault the Tigers' bullpen has been in kamikaze mode of late, where no lead is safe. He didn't go out and sign these clowns, Al and Dave did. He inherited it, like I did the bald spot on the back of my head from my father, and his father before him. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do about it.

Ausmus certainly can't be held accountable for the fact the Tigers' front office had the dubious wisdom to gut their entire farm system, trading away top prospects for short-term impact players in a "go for it now" mode, that never quite got there. Like Mother Hubbard, the cupboard is all but bare and poor doggie Brad is hard pressed to even get a bone.

But there is one thing that is extremely annoying about Ausmus and is entirely his fault.

What is it with him spitting through his teeth every 3 seconds or so? It's such a disgusting habit and totally unnecessary.

I mean, c'mon. Does he do this at home while watching TV -- or at the dinner table with his wife and kids? At a restaurant? While driving in his car? How about in church, if he goes there occasionally? It's probably a pretty safe bet the presiding clergy and fellow congregation would not be amused.

So for that very reason, I agree with a local columnist that recently suggested Ausmus should be fired.

It has nothing to do with his baseball acumen, or lack thereof, it's just a matter of common decency. If the Tigers are going to be a ho-hum team, which has become painfully obvious, the least their fans can expect is the manager to act like a semi-gentleman.

Screaming at umpires is OK -- even getting tossed out of a game for the usual ballistic, spoiled first grader hissy fits is acceptable.

Spitting every 3 seconds for absolutely no good reason is not.

Yep, ptui. He's gotta go.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The genius of Danny Ainge

Once again, Boston Celtics' Prez/GM Danny Ainge has made a shrewd, if controversial move.

The Celtics had the #1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Besides a little luck in the draft lottery, this was the result of Ainge's maneuvering in recent years past.

Years ago he realized the Celtics were pretty much dead in the water. Too many aging players at ridiculous salaries. So he traded them off for future draft picks while clearing a ton of salary cap room in the process.

Sure, he knew the team would stink for a while -- and it did. But he was looking years down the road. By stockpiling draft picks and making the Celtics a much younger team -- not to mention hiring a super-bright young mind in Brad Stevens as head coach -- Ainge was planning for the future.

True, the Celtics compiled the best regular season record in the NBA's eastern conference this past season. But few would doubt, likely including Ainge himself, that the Beaners weren't on the same level as Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Indeed, come playoff time, the Cavs slapped the Celts aside 3-1 in the eastern conference finals. When crunch time came, the Celts, though very good in their own right, weren't up to the task -- just yet.

And now he has traded that overall #1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers. Who would do such a crazy thing?

But that is where Ainge's genius is showing once again. In return for that #1, Boston got the #3 overall pick in return -- PLUS another first round pick from Philly next year. Add that to the Celtics already having yet ANOTHER first round pick they acquired from the New Jersey Nets a couple years ago. Chances are, both Philly and NJ aren't going to be very good any time soon, so those picks will be high.

It's widely assumed the 76ers will go after one Markell Fultz, deemed the best overall player. At the #2 pick in the draft, the LA Lakers are assumed to have locked in on Lonzo Bell. Whoever Ainge and the Celtics determine to be the third best college player in America, or a foreign national for that matter -- you can pretty well rest assured that he will be yet another very solid brick in the house that Ainge is slowly building.

Even if Boston had a shot at Bell, chances are they would pass. Lonzo and the daddy-circus he would bring to town just wouldn't fit in Boston. The Bells are much more suited for a circus-like atmosphere -- hence the Lakers are perfect.

Hark back to the 80's, when both the Lakers and Celtics had formidable teams, though of very different natures. Out west, they even called themselves "showtime". High profile, lots of glamor and glitz with such players as Jabbar, Magic, and Worthy. Movie stars galore at courtside.

Meanwhile, the Celtics featured a more blue-collar, down and dirty going to work trio in Parrish, McHale, and Bird. It remains debatable which teams of that era were the best overall, but it could fairly be said they had some epic battles between them. And yes, back in those days, there was none of this nice-guy fraternizing with the competition. They flat-out didn't like each other and made no bones about it. Period.

But back to Ainge. He realizes that though his team is pretty good, they're not likely going to be able to compete with Lebron and the Cavs for the next couple years.

And there's the thing. James is getting up there is basketball years and it won't be long before his skills start to diminish. Father Time plays no favorites. When that happens, the Cavs will start trending downward quickly. Delete LJ from the equation and Cleveland becomes a rather ordinary team at best. At the same time, Boston will be on the upswing given all the draft picks Ainge has stockpiled and used wisely to date. There is no reason to think the other ones he amassed in this recent deal won't be used to procure not only talented players, but those that fit well within the system Brad Stevens has installed. Philly can make a splash with Fultz as the #1 pick, but given the rest of their roster, they're not going to be serious contenders any year soon.

Bottom line? Nope, the Boston Celtics won't be winning the NBA championship next season either. And as long as the Golden State Warriors can keep their team together, no given in future years, they'll remain a formidable opponent for any team that emerges from the east.

But make no mistake. Danny Ainge is quietly, shrewdly rebuilding the Boston Celtics, and they will be a force to be reckoned with in a few short years.

Brick by brick might not be sexy, but in the long run it usually proves to be fairly durable.

We'll see......

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Brooks Koepka -- US Open champion

Hats off to Mr. Koepka, the 2017 US Open champion, and a worthy one at that.

This is what happens when a player puts up three solid rounds of golf from Thurs thru Sat, then comes out on Sunday to blister an already ridiculously long and difficult course with a 5 under par 67.

While others were either treading water or falling back, BK hit seventeen out of eighteen greens in regulation, and made a fabulous sand save on the remaining one.

Throw in the fact that he was deadly with the putter. With one lone exception, he pretty much drilled everything from within 15 feet of the hole. Also add a couple long bomb putts -- OK -- a little luck doesn't hurt either, but it WAS what he was aiming for, and this is the stuff of champions.

Clearing the field by 4 shots in a US Open is very impressive stuff. A final tally of 16 under par (an all-time record) at a US Open course, typically laid out where EVEN par is the standard of excellence, is even more impressive.

Alas, Brian Harmon, the third round leader, and a lefty, would be among those to fall back a tad. In the entire history of the US Open, now 117 years, a southpaw has yet to win one. Of course, there haven't been that many out there over the years. Phil, Bubba, and, hmm, anybody else of note?

What's also interesting is Koepka winning this year's Open makes him the seventh player in a row to be a first time major winner. Be it the Masters, British Open, or PGA, somebody new has been walking off with the title every time. This is great for golf.

It would appear the anti-Tiger age is upon us. No longer is one player so dominant. Even in Woods' heyday, and it was something to behold for a decade or so, Tiger had come along at just the right time.

The old guard of Nicklaus, Player, Palmer, Floyd, Watson, Trevino, and that bunch had aged and were far beyond their primes. By the same token, the horde of young studs like Day, Spieth, Scott, Johnson, McIlroy, Fowler, and THIS bunch had yet to come of age with fully developed golf games.

It seems every week a new face, or three, pops up on tour that can shoot the lights out. In other words, the current competition is FAR more ferocious than anything Eldrick Tont Woods ever faced.

This week it's Brooks Koepka. Next major, or any other tournament, it might very well be somebody else. The game has evolved and is better than ever due to the sheer amount of hot-shot contenders that continue to emerge from all over the planet. And it's not likely to stop any time soon.

Tiger Woods may have rekindled interest in the game after the old stars had faded, but it became boring to watch him dominate weaker fields so much. Then Tiger himself became boorish with his personal behavior, as has been well documented.

In the end, this has worked out very well all around. The players have returned to acting like gentlemen (no club-pounding/cursing, or a caddy that thinks he and his master are royalty while the paying gallery mere peasants), and a wide open competition every week with fields that are well stocked with incredible talent, any of whom could emerge to capture a tournament on any given week.

Seven first time major winners in the last seven such tournaments speaks for itself.

But for now, all hail Brooks Koepka. He's the king of the mountain...... at least until the next tournament.

Let us not forget that the currently ranked #1 golfer in the world -- one Dustin Johnson -- and the defending champion of the US Open -- didn't even make the cut this week. Not even close.

Oh yeah, the competition is brutal out there these days.

And that's a great thing for golf fans.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The amazing US Open

There's a whole lot of stories going on at this year's USGA golf Open. One we won't hear about is how the course at Erin Hills, Wisconsin (a mammoth 7800 yards long) never would have existed if not for one Steve Trattner, now in prison for murder. A golf junkie, but not good enough to play at the higher levels, it was his idea in the first place and, after finding financial backing and a few architects, the former farm land was converted into a world-class golf course. Stuff happens, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

Rickey Fowler started out with a bang, posting an opening round 65 -- seven under par. Alas, he fell back on day two, with a ho-hum 73. But after a third round 68 is very much in contention. Let's see how the orange guy fares on Sunday.

Brian Harmon is atop the leaderboard at 12 under through three rounds. He's a lefty. No lefty has ever won the US Open, not that there have been many southpaws on the circuit. Yes, this is the only major Phil Mickelson has never won, but he skipped it in order to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony. There's a man that has his priorities in order. Bubba Watson can be brilliant at times, but not this week. Could Harmon withstand the inevitable Sunday pressure at a US Open and come out on top? Maybe, but probably not.

Justin Thomas posted an incredible 9 under 63 for his third round. This, despite two bogies along the way, to check in a stroke back at -11. What was truly amazing is he eagled the par 5 18th hole. True, top pros eagle par 5's here and there, but this hole played at a ridiculous 667 yards. His second shot came to rest just a few feet from the pin.

Do the math. Two shots that covered SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN YARDS? That's over 330 on both his first two. Your average duffer would likely take at least three, maybe four shots to traverse that amount of yardage, even provided he/she hit them all straight, and not off into the weeds somewhere. Amazing.

A 525 yard par 4? Gimme a break. I could hit the best drive of my life, tee it up again in the fairway and hit another winner, and STILL not get there. These guys hit driver and maybe 5 iron. Quick, somebody check these dudes out for steroids, or confirm they didn't come from the planet Krypton and have a girlfriend named Lois Lane on the side. Great Caesar's ghost!! It doesn't seem fair.

Dustin Johnson, currently the world's #1 ranked golfer and defending Open champ -- didn't even make the cut. Not even close. Seems strange.

Other notables like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, and Rory McIlroy have fallen by the wayside. Some Korean guy named Kim has shot his way back into it. Is everybody in the Koreas, north or south, named Kim? Seems like these days.

Given so many players are within a few shots of the lead after three rounds, which will rise to the occasion of the final round remains to be seen. It should be quite the shoot-out indeed. Best guess is anybody that can post a 67-68 on Sunday, given the course will be playing the longest and the pins in the most difficult positions to get close to, will have an excellent chance of becoming the champion.

Meanwhile, Steve Trattner has served 11 years behind bars, only a third of his original sentence. He'll be an old man if and when he ever gets out.

But he saw his dream come true in the golf world. From former cattle ranch, to golf course extraordinaire, to Erin Hills hosting this year's US Open, it's been an unlikely ride in more ways than one.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Detroit Lions. Same old

Though long predictable, it's become a very bad joke. That would be the Detroit Lions and their ever-koolaided media trying to sell them again this year. Let's take a closer look.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been hailed as the best QB since the heady days of Bobby Layne -- way back in the 50s. Probably true enough, but that's a mighty low standard given the QBs they've had in the meantime.

He's thrown for a bazillion yards. Also true, but the lack of a decent running game forces him to throw so much. And after almost a decade, Stafford is yet to win a single playoff game.

Head coach Jim Caldwell has become what he always was. In past years, he was a decent coordinator working under other successful head coaches but, when given the reins of command himself, quickly crashed and burned. The Peter Principle is very much alive and well when it comes to Caldwell. As long as he's there, the Lions have ZERO chance of ever becoming Super Bowl worthy.

Their offensive coordinator is named Jim Bob Cooter. Hey, when a guy named Jim Bob is in charge of formulating offensive strategy and calling the plays, you just might be in trouble.

The Lions and their minions have claimed defensive coordinator Terry Austin is good enough to have been offered a head coaching job himself. So far he's been shunned by all the other teams.

Perhaps there's a good reason for this. In the classic novel "The Scarlet Letter", heroine/bad girl Hester Prynne was tagged with an "A" for adulteress.

Consider that no Lion head coach in history, after cycling through Detroit and inevitably being fired, has ever gone on to another head coaching position. And the list is long. Given the long history of the "good-ole-boy" coaching carousel merry-go-round the NFL has been, whereby most everybody gets another shot or two after being canned, it seems puzzling.

Yet Rooney Rule or not (Austin is African-American), perhaps he's been tagged with an "L". "Lions" or "loser", take your pick. Like Ms. Prynne, others may well see him as tainted goods.

Their offensive line remains a "work in progress". Well gee, when hasn't it been?

They've got one old veteran cast off from another team to anchor their defensive line, another younger player that has difficulty staying healthy, and a bunch of maybes.

No notable wide receivers, nor even tight ends. The running game still projects to be toothless if even their mediocre backs can stay healthy -- no given either,

Other than one semi-decent "cover guy" the secondary remains a work in progress as well.

No linebackers that could likely start for any other NFL team.

And they're still owned by the Fords. Long time patriarch William Clay passed on a while back after over a half century of utter futility, now his 90ish year old widow and daughters are in charge. Good luck with that.

What did they do? Hired an "estate planner" as President of the team. A guy that even admitted he didn't know squat about pro football. Ah yes, the genius of the Ford family when it comes to gridiron matters continues to amaze.

Put it all together and what do you have?

Like natives of the tropical zones in the world can't grasp the concept of snow, ice, and subzero temperatures, or polar residents the idea of air conditioning to cool things down, the Lions, their faithful, if ridiculously gullible fans -- and the local media -- can't seem to get their heads around the idea that some things just aren't meant to be.

No, they won't be going to the Super Bowl again this year either. Or next year. Or the one after that. Or ever. It -- just -- ain't -- gonna -- happen.

From top to bottom, it's still the same sorry bunch.

Until the Fords sell to somebody that not only cares about winning, but actually has a plan for how to do it, and hires competent personnel to accomplish it, nothing's going to change.

Even if that happens, it would take many years to build even a contender, let alone a team with the slightest chance of getting to the Big Dance.

The whole works needs to be blown up and started over.

In the meantime they will continue to plod along, and the suckers will come thinking this just might be the year, while the media eggs them on.

It truly is a sorry state of affairs. But hey, if this is what yanks their crank -- go for it.

Excuse me if I chuckle at it once in a while.....