Saturday, April 23, 2016

Detroit sports. Not good

The Detroit Red Wings were dispatched in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs -- again. Though they've been mediocre for the last several years, the Wings appear to be trending downward for the future. In other words, it's probably going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

The Detroit Pistons -- who haven't played in Detroit since Jimmy Carter was the President (1978) -- will soon be eliminated as well from this year's playoffs. The only question would seem to be Cleveland's to answer.

Now up 3-zip over the out-of -Motowners, how do they approach game 4? Would it be better to go for the sweep, hence giving their players several days of rest before the next series? Or should they dial it back and maybe let the Pistons win a game? If the latter, Cleveland gets another home playoff game -- a major cha-ching for owner Dan Gilbert. Strangely enough, DG has recently been investing big bucks to rebuild the downtown area of -- Detroit?? Huh? No wonder he can't win anything. The dude doesn't even know what city his loyalties lie with.

After a quick start, the Detroit Tigers have thudded back into their own reality. Maybe a .500 team or a little better. While hope always "springs eternal" -- and anything can happen -- they don't appear destined to be a serious contender, much less an elite team. True, they made a few off-season moves attempting to shore up various deficiencies -- and they had a lot of them last year -- but the chances of them making any noise in the post-season likely aren't good. They still have too many flaws, and potential ones, that will likely be exposed as the dog days of the long season drag on. Hey, last year they were cellar dwellers in their own division. Maybe they move up a notch or two, but thinking the puddy-tats are championship material this year is -- well -- far-fetched.

The Detroit Lions? What can you say that history hasn't already spoken volumes of? Every pre-season they'll trumpet their draft choices to the heavens. Maybe land a free-agent or two that is a "game-changer". Every few leap-years they might shuffle the front office personnel. Along the way they've gone through more clown coaches than the Shriner's circus. One generation after another of players has come and gone. And in the last six decades -- count-em-- SIXTY YEARS they've won a grand total of ONE playoff game. Fifty Super Bowls have been played and the Lions are one of only four teams to have never even gotten there -- let alone won it. The other three are expansion teams. The "new" Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Like Barry Sanders before him, Calvin "Megatron" Johnson had had enough and retired rather than continuing to play for a lost cause. Both left countless millions of dollars on the table with likely a few very good years still in their gas tanks. Barry could have set the all-time rushing record so high it would never be approached again. Calvin was their go-to guy. When in doubt, QB Matthew Stafford heaved the ball in the general direction of Johnson, and he'd find a way to catch it. Barry's in the Hall of Fame and Calvin likely will be someday. It truly is a shame such magnificent talents trudged for so many years without ever getting within sniffing distance of the "promised land".

The Lions aren't going anywhere this year either. Besides the absence of Calvin Johnson, they have deficiencies galore. The O-line is still in flux. Nary a feature running back. Lots of tight ends, but this one can't catch, that one can't block, and the other can't stay healthy. The D-line holds its own, but is hardly ferocious. A linebacker corps that is average at best. Their secondary remains somewhat Keystone Koppish. Even head coach Jim Caldwell is a dubious presence. He has a long history of being a great "coordinator" working under other successful head coaches elsewhere, but his track record suggests he doesn't have the "right stuff" to be the guy calling the shots. Call it the Peter Principle if you will. Give him another year -- maybe two -- and he'll be on his way out of town as well. The scrap heap of Lions head coaches is sizable indeed. What is interesting is that none of them in the past -- not a one -- has ever gone on to become a head coach elsewhere in the NFL. In the modern world of the "good-ole-boys" head coaching carousel going round and round, that's a glaring statistic. Translation? Detroit is where head coaches go to do two things. Make a bunch of money from the Ford family, and watch their head coaching possibilities in the future go poof.

All in all, things aren't looking good in the Detroit world of professional sports these days. Or likely in the near future either.

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