Thursday, February 18, 2016

The state of Detroit sports

In a few words -- it's not very good. Chances are slim that Motown will be having a championship parade in the next year. Consider the teams:

Detroit Red Wings

Much has been made that the Wings have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs 24 years in a row. And they'll likely do it again this year. But making the NHL playoffs is a watered-down stat. Half the teams in the league make it every year. In other words, a team has to be pretty bad not to. They have a young wunderkind goalie but -- oops -- he's got shelled in the last few games. Also a home grown rookie that has far exceeded expectations. The heart of their roster remains in flux, due to injuries, who's playing well (or not), and the Wings have a couple aging superstars that are very much on the back side of their career bell curve. Yet of all professional sports, the Stanley Cup playoffs remain the biggest crap shoot. Barring a complete collapse, not likely, the Wings will get in again. Their chances to win? They've got a shot. Not a good one -- but a shot.

Detroit Pistons

Currently about a .500 team in the rather weak Eastern Conference, the Pistons could sneak into the playoffs as a lower seed. Many things about them are head scratchers. How can it be that the head coach is also the President with two general managers in between? A logical question would seem to be.......  who, exactly, reports to who? Their owner recently poured millions of bucks into upgrading their already world-class arena in the burbs, but now he's thinking about moving the team back downtown? Does that make any sense? This is the same guy that lives in a mansion in Beverly Hills, California, but has pledged to try and raise $10 million to help the citizens of Flint with their water crisis. Well gee. How magnanimous. The dude's worth about $3 BILLION. Do the math. Ten million to him is like me or you giving a homeless person on the street a few bucks to help them along. And his contribution would be tax deductible. But no, he wants to coax others into ponying up via some sort of fundraiser in his name. He gets the credit while others ultimately pay for it. It's shameful. Nevertheless, the Pistons aren't a very good basketball team in the whole scheme of the NBA. They have exactly one really good player on their roster. Their chances to win a title this year? Zero. And make that another nada any year soon.

Detroit Tigers

As always at this time of year, the Tigers have shuffled a few pieces and hope springs eternal. Oh my, they acquired a couple starting pitchers, bolstered their sorry bullpen, and even added a good hitter to the middle of their batting order. Thing is, the Tigers (and their ever-faithful media) always seem to assume every player on their roster will perform at peak efficiency. Not long ago, the Tigers had the "best starting rotation in baseball", and a regular "murderer's row" batting lineup. They didn't win anything. Now they're assuming the new guys will come in, be at their best all season long, and the old guys that slumped last year will return to peak form. That sounds great -- in a perfect Motown world -- but it usually doesn't work out that way. Forget the post-season, last year the Tigers found themselves finishing in the cellar of their own division. And last time I looked the reigning World Series champion Kansas City Royals (and other good teams in the American League) hadn't exactly folded up shop and gone away. The Tigers' chances of winning their first World Series since 1984? If everything goes according to their usual Pollyanna plan -- maybe one in ten. The Tigers made a few moves. So did every other team. We shall see how all that turns out in October.

Detroit Lions

Nobody can blame longtime owner William Clay Ford for the Lions decades-long ineptitude any more. The not-so-slick Willie passed on to the land of Edsels and Pintos in the sky a couple years ago. But yikes!!  That leaves the Lions in the hands of his 90 year old widow Martha and her glorious band of daughters. To their credit, they finally purged the front office. The president and general manager were fired. This was long overdue. The former was little more than a company man bean counter, and the latter had horribly botched drafts/other player personnel decisions/coaching hires in recent years. In short, the team was running on their usual koolaid factor. Their local media would continue to hype them and the ever-gullible fans would keep showing up hoping every year would be the one. But it never happened. Not even close. Just recently, they brought in a guy to oversee the team who learned under the New England Patriots system. Smart move. Love them or hate them, few could question the success of the Pats in recent times. This guy's making all kinds of staff moves, but seems to have overlooked the obvious. The current Lions' head coach has a proven track record of being mediocre at best when first put in charge, but eventually being a loser. So why is he still there? Because he sucks up to Martha and she "loves" him? Hey, such cronyism and misguided loyalty in the face of incompetence is likely a large part of why the Lions have been so bad for so long. If they ever want to truly compete at the highest level of the NFL, this head coach has to go too. He may continue to charm the local media and spout politically correct platitudes -- but he will never EVER lead them to the promised land. Nothing against the dude -- it's just not in his DNA to accomplish such a thing. At that, the Lions are quite predictable. After a bad year they'll get an easy schedule, maybe make it to a wild-card playoff game. They'll lose. But because they made the playoffs, the next year's schedule will get tougher. They'll finish under .500 -- like last season. This year they get another easy schedule. Maybe another wild-card berth, but nowhere close to being Super Bowl contenders. And the beat goes on. Other teams have gone from top to bottom to the top again over the years. A sine wave, if you will. The Lions seem to remain eternal flat-liners. Their chances of hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy next February? One word. Please. If one needs further evidence of the Ford curse continuing, they only need note that Martha and her brood brought in the family accountant to be president of an NFL team. And said accountant freely admitted he knew nothing about professional football. Wow!!. Could this ever happen any place except Detroit?

1 comment:

  1. Fortunately, accountant Rod Wood is taking a hands-off approach. The Mighty Bob Quinn is the real president of the franchise. He has the final say in everything.