Long starved for national respect, the Michigan State football team currently finds itself ranked #2 in the country. One question. How the hell can that be? Let's look closer.
They opened up on the road against a minor league (MAC) school in Western Michigan. The Spartans would defeat the Broncos 37-24. Yawn.
The following week Oregon would come a-calling to MSU land. You remember them. They went to the national championship game last year. Though the Ducks had lost Heisman winning QB Marcus Mariota to the NFL, this was supposed to be a big deal. MSU came in #5 and Oregon #7. At home, the Spartans barely squeaked out a 31-28 victory. Better than getting beat in one's backyard, but no way a "statement" win. Number 5 is SUPPOSED to beat number 7, especially at home. Hello?
Then the Spartans hosted the perennial powerhouse (excuse the snicker) Air Force Falcons and prevailed 35-21. Yawn #2.
Next up were the always "formidable" Central Michigan Chippewas visiting East Lansing. MSU would defeat them 30-10. Yawn #3.
It could be concluded that Michigan State has played four patsy teams in a row. Oregon, you say? They just got run out of their own house to the tune of 62-20 by Utah. As in 6 touchdowns worth. It likely could have been 7 or 8 touchdowns had the Utes not sent in their scrubs late in the game. It was a good old-fashioned beatdown. The Ducks may have started out the season ranked #7, then fell to #13, but after that debacle, kiss them good-bye out of the top 25, maybe the top 50. Either Utah's highly underrated (#18) -- could be -- or the Ducks are just plain terrible.
If the latter, then again, how did Michigan State rise in the rankings all the way up to #2, when all they've played is Girl Scout teams so far?
Yes, Alabama got beat at home by Ole Miss (hee hee), so they had to fall. For that matter, #1 Ohio State narrowly got by another minor league team (Northern Illinois). But what of Texas Christian? The horned frogs were the preseason #2 team and, last time I looked, they remained undefeated. Check out TCU's record.
Week one. @ Minnesota. Not a powerhouse, but still a Big 10 team, TCU won 23-17.
Week two. Home against Stephen F. Austin, the equivalent of a MAC team. The horned frogs know what to do with a patsy. 70-7.
Week three. Home again against SMU. A 56-37 victory.
Last night. @ Texas Tech. In a shootout, da frogs outlasted da raiders 55-52. It doesn't say much for the ribbit defense, but at least it was a victory against a semi-decent team on the road.
Four games, two on the road, four victories, a whopping 204 points scored, and they get leap-frogged in the rankings by the likes of Michigan State that has played four gimme games? Again -- how the hell does that work?
Then there's the Detroit Tigers. Though they haven't won a World Series since 1984, at least they were "contenders" in recent years. A close but no cigar team. Always the tease to their faithful.
But 2015 has seen them come apart at the seams. After a brief fast start, Murphy's Law kicked into high gear regarding the Tigers. Be it the lack of quality starting pitching, a woeful bullpen, below average defensive play, and certainly a dearth of team speed, the Tigers slip-slided away in a hurry. Throw in former GM Dave Dombrowski totally looting the farm system for "prized" free agents in a win-now mode that never quite worked -- then losing or trading those same studs not long ago for a few "prospects", and the Motown baseball picture is not pretty. D-ski was finally rightfully run out of town, but too late. The damage had been done. For many reasons, the near future of the Tigers appears bleak indeed.
Consider. They were long ago mathematically eliminated from winning another AL Central division title. Hovering somewhere around 20 games behind will get you there. Then they were eliminated from any wild-card possibility. As if. And just last night, they were also mathematically eliminated from even being a .500 team. They may win a game here and there, but these guys are not good.
So what did the Tigers do? Bring back the manager, one Brad Ausmus, who has presided over the debacle of this season for at least one more year. Remember, Ausmus had ZERO experience as a manager at any level of professional baseball when the Tigers made him their field general last year. Oh, that's right. He was a back-up catcher. Those guys are always so smart. Right.
And Brad said the -- duh -- right thing. He expects the team will be a lot better in 2016. Well, no kidding. What was he supposed to say? I've been a bonehead as manager, the players are either underachieving or pretty much just suck, and we'll be lucky to stay out of the basement again next year? But thank you very much for a few more million bucks, while I continue to spit every three seconds?
Sometimes teams get what they deserve. Not so in MSU's case this year, and they will be exposed eventually. #2 in the country? Please.
Other times teams rightfully reap what they sow. If the Tigers want to bring back the apparently clueless Ausmus for another year to oversee the rag-tag bunch they currently have on their roster -- well -- good luck with that. It ain't gonna work.
Best thing the Tigers could do is clean house entirely. From the front office, down to the manager and his coaches, and trade off whatever players that have value for a slew of hot shot minor league prospects and future high draft choices.
Instead of prolonging the agony of a slow death, why not blow it up completely and start over? Maybe it works out in a few years, or maybe not. But as is, any hope of the Tigers competing for a championship in the near future is little more than folly.
As for those that will believe next spring that "hope springs eternal"?
Well, I would suggest they look back up at the title of this post.