Monday, October 31, 2016

The Book of Lions

According to the Detroit Lions, most of their media, and certainly the die hard fans, their week to week status is a crazy roller coaster ride. Up and down they go. One extreme mood swing to the other. It could be called the Lions Game, but that's a book by Nelson DeMille -- and a mighty good read of a thriller at that. I highly recommend it. You'll be surprised who triumphs in the end.

But back to the puddytats that play football in the NFL.

Opening the season, the Lions beat the Indy Colts and the much overrated Andrew Luck. Turns out the Colts aren't and weren't very good. But the fever was on in Detroit. Here we go. Up.

Then bang, bang, bang. Three losses in a row to Tennessee, Green Bay, and Chicago. Oops, there goes another season. All is lost. Down.

The Philadelphia Eagles had gotten off to a mini-fast start and most thought they would dispatch the Lions in Week 5. True to their confounding form, the Lions pulled the upset. Now 2-3, the Honolulu blue and silver masses yearned for more. Please let us go up again.

And they got it. Two more wins against a pretty bad LA Rams team and an average Washington Redskins squad. These three victories all came at home for the Lions. But that didn't matter. The koolaiders were back on the bandwagon. At 4-3, playoff talk started again. Some even dared to whisper -- shhh --  Super Bowl. 

Then back on the road to face the mediocre Houston Texans. Dad blast it, Detroit's heroes came up short. But wait, they SHOULD have won it -- according to the sentiment around Lions land. If only head coach Jim Caldwell had managed the game a little different. Right. And if only the sun went down at noon, it would be dark outside at 2 PM. It's comical how the team, media and fans always take the good breaks in stride like they are supposed to happen, but will scream bloody murder and point fingers when things don't go their way. Going down.

Nonetheless, the Lions sit at 4-4. Smack dab average. Not a likely candidate for the playoffs, but not totally out of it either at the half way point of the season. There is hope. In Detroit, there is always hope, however misguided and foolish it has been over the many, many years. They find a way to be up, but always wind up down in the end.

The next game, on the road against the Minnesota Vikings, could be considered somewhat crucial. Or at least as crucial as it gets in the magical kingdom of the Lions. A win would put them at 5-4, and the infernal band of hard cores would start beating the drums again. Playoffs, here we come. Up.

But a loss to go 4-5 would have the opposite effect. Even given the Lions ridiculously easy schedule this year, it's difficult to imagine a scenario of them recovering to go on a hot enough streak to reach the post season. Down.

Thing is, the surprising Vikings had been winning even without the services of stud running back Adrian Petersen. True, their starting QB Teddy Bridgewater went down for the season with a freak injury, but Sam Bradford has stepped in. Call that a push. But they just got clobbered by the lowly Bears, so they're going to be pissed when the Lions hit town next week. At that, Detroit has an advantage, Minnesota having played on Monday night. Will it be up or down for the Motown 'tats? In the whole scheme of things -- does it even matter?

The only thing consistent about the Lions is inconsistency. Actually, that's not entirely true.

They are rock solid consistent in one other aspect. Giving the fans just enough to keep them hooked year after year. It's amazing when you think about it.

Calvin Megatron Johnson played for a decade and never experienced a single playoff win. Neither has so-called hot shot quarterback Matthew Stafford. In fact, the Lions have a grand total of ONE playoff victory since Super Bowls started fifty -- count-em -- FIFTY years ago.

Still, the media keeps churning out the hype and the fans keep gobbling it up like Joey Chestnut does hot dogs. Countless coaches have come and gone. The front office has been shuffled and reshuffled. Players have been born, gone through el-hi, college, and had long pro careers before mercifully retiring, and still nary a sniff of a single Super Bowl in Detroit.

Up and down they go indeed. But, like a typical carnival ride, the Lions always seem to wind up right where they started. Watching the conference finals and certainly the Big Dance on TV.

This year looks to be no different than all the rest.

In that respect, they're the same old Lions.

The more they change -- the more they stay the same.

Don't forget about the Lions Game by DeMille. It really is a page turner that will keep you in suspense until the very end.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Lock of the week

Between Michigan and Michigan State, yours truly has always been a Blue fan. Beats me why. I never went to school there. Neither did anybody in my family. Sure, I have friends that are alums, but know just as many that went to State. Or root for the Green for their own reasons. Lots of trips to the Big House in Ann Arbor over the years, but I never set foot in Spartan Stadium. Maybe it's like being a Republican or a Democrat. Half the hard core partisans probably don't know why either. They just ARE.

This author has been known to place a wager here and there on a game. Ya win some and ya lose some. But every once in a while, what appears to be a "lock", given the point spread, will pop up. Such was the case this week with the annual Mich/Mich St. contest.

At last look, the bookies had the Wolverines spotting the Spartans a whopping 23 points. Definitely an eye opener. Sure, Michigan is all that this year, even #2 in the country, and State has been floundering something awful -- yet to win a single Big Ten game. But 23 points? Dang, that's a bunch. Especially between these two schools.

So I was talking to my neighbor, also a Michigan fan, and told him I didn't think the Wolverines could cover that. He proceeded to point out that the Sparties have owned the Wolves lately, having won 7 of the last 8. Including a fluke play that gave them a win at Mich last year as time ran out. Michigan is now vastly superior. It's payback time. And they'll going to roll.

All of which was no doubt true, except maybe that last statement about rolling. I had my doubts. There's just something about this rivalry, where blowouts hardly ever happen, especially of late.

Look at the results since 2008. .

2008.  MSU 35. UM 21
2009.  MSU 26. UM 20 in OT
2010.  MSU 34. UM 17
2011.  MSU 28. UM 14
2012.  UM 12. MSU 10
2013.  MSU 29. UM 6
2014.  MSU 35. UM 11
2015. MSU 27. UM 23

Two things jump out. State's dominance over that time, and only once in those nine years was there a difference of over 23 points. At that -- barely. And that was when MSU was a national contender and UM was stinking it up under the woeful guidance of Brady Hoke.

True, Jim Harbaugh is the real deal. He's been a proven winner wherever he goes. Also true is UM, for the most part, has been steamrolling opponents this year. But as bad as State has been, this was the Michigan game, dammit. And head coach Mark Dantonio is no Brady Hoke. If the Spartans were ever going to play a decent game, this would be it.

So it was go Blue, for sure, but keep it within reason -- OK? We know how it turned out. UM prevailed 32-23. A comfortable enough win on the road that shouldn't hurt them in the national standings. But that nine point difference is a far cry from 23. As in two touchdowns worth.

Which turned out to mean earlier this evening my neighbor had to give me a piece of paper with Andrew Jackson's picture on the front of it. As Hannibal from the A Team was fond of saying -- I love it when a plan comes together.

And who knows? With any luck, I'll get my weed whacker back from him next spring.

Friday, October 28, 2016

World Series bytes

Gee, that wasn't so hard. Before Game 3 of the WS, some white (not that it matters) guy walked out to sing the national anthem. He had a wonderful voice. With his hands clasped behind his back, he proceeded to belt out The Star Spangled Banner.

Every note just perfect. No missed or bumbled words. No gyrations. No "statement" shirt. None of that take a knee stuff or other such nonsense. And he sung it just as Francis Scott Key originally wrote it while not jazzing it up to show off his vocal talent.

Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? Sometimes keeping it simple is just better.

The announcers from hell are still at it with their insane stats. It's like they can't shut up for more than 3 milliseconds and let the game carry itself.

No, they have to inform us that the current batter is only the third guy since Mickey Mantle's rookie year that popped out to shortstop with 2 out in the bottom of the fourth inning of a WS game, runners at second and third, and who also has a cockapoo named Mutz back home in Peoria.

Where do they get this stuff? What kind of super-geek nerds are looking it up for them? And does anybody really care? These people should be rounded up and collectively euthanized for the good of mankind. Or at least have to spend an hour on The View. Horrors!!

If they want to give us some off the wall stat, how about the player that was the first guy to backstroke over Niagara Falls, while eating a whopper, juggling six scorpions and having sexual relations with a Kardashian at the same time?

Now THAT would be noteworthy. Hear hear.

The home plate umpire was interesting. At first, he was calling pitches that were at least a couple inches off the plate and barely above the ankles strikes. They weren't even close. Then there goes one right down the middle of the plate at waist level for the other team -- and it's a ball? Say what? Who was this clown?

Turned out it was one John Hirschbeck. He's from Connecticut and has umpired in both the American and National Leagues, so it's hard to see where favoritism might play a role.

But wait a second. Hirschbeck? Isn't he the same guy that supposedly called Roberto Alomar a foul name and got spit in his face in return back in the day? The same hothead that has had a habit of escalating what should be a minor player/official disagreement into full-fledged hot blooded screaming rhubarbs? The very one that has taken repeated criticisms not only from players and management, but even his own umpire's union over his competence or lack thereof on several occasions? THAT guy?

So what in the name of Stevie Wonder was he doing behind the plate in a World Series game? Arrgh.

And now the Cleveland Indians are up 2-1 in the Series. Advantage Tribe. No, it's certainly not over, but having to win only 2 out of the remaining possible 4 is a whole lot better than needing to win 3 out of 4. And the Indians have only lost one game since the post season started.

Nothing against Cleveland -- they've gone a good while without a WS championship themselves -- but it would seem almost a shame for the Cubs -- 108 year dry spell and counting -- to get this far only to fall short at the end.

Both teams are really good and certainly deserve to be there, but alas, somebody's gotta go home a loser in the next week or so.

We'll see. Let's hope it goes 7 games -- either way.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cubs/Indians -- and Lovie?

We know the Cleveland Indians advanced to the World Series a couple days ago. Yay, Lake Erie. Now the Chicago Cubs have joined them and they did it fair and square by beating the LA Dodgers with ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Here, here for the north siders.

The question now becomes -- who to root for? Neither has won a World Series in quite some time. The Indians over a half century ago and the Cubs over a full century. Both are long overdue.

Having grown up and currently still living in a northern Detroit suburb, yours truly finds himself almost equidistant from the two cities so there's no geographical/proximity loyalty. To boot, I like both teams. The players, the managers, the works. I would root for either against just about anybody else, but this match-up is unique. Still, somebody's gotta win the WS and somebody's gotta lose. The curse will go on in one city, while the other will be delirious with joy. So let's look at other factors. Which city is starving for a championship more?

Cleveland is fresh off a somewhat improbable NBA championship. True, the NFL's Browns have long been terrible and absolutely stink this year as well. And they don't even have an NHL team. Still, it would be cool to see the Indians (ala the movie "Major League") get over the top. Give em the heater Rickey.

Conversely, the Cubs have gone a whopping 108 years without a title. Before World War One. Definitely a long time.

But Chicago has had its share of champions in recent years. The dominant Bulls of the Michael Jordan era wren't all that long ago. And the Black Hawks have hoisted three Stanley Cups in the last six years. That's a lot of banners, trophies, and parades for one city. But c'mon man, it's the Cubbies -- right? How can anybody outside of the immediate Cleveland area root against those guys?

Still, it's a tough call. Here's hoping the WS goes seven games and one of them wins the finale 15-14. In at least 12 innings.

Speaking of Illinois, what can the Illini possibly have been thinking? They hired Lovie Smith as the head coach of their football team? Isn't this the same guy that sleep walked through nine long years of mediocrity as the Chicago Bears coach before finally getting fired? The very same that then promptly put up an 8-24 record with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the last two years before getting run out of that town too?

And the Illini grabbed him to turn their program around? Does it get any more boneheaded than that?

First of all, guys with names like Lovie aren't supposed to be football coaches. Neither are Romeos (see Crennell -- another loser). This is a MAN'S game, dammit. We don't need any Wilburs, Dilberts, Theodores, or Felixs either.

Worse, just the very look on Smith's face is enough to give one pause as to his competency. To the average eye, he comes across as----

A. Having just woken up in a strange new alien world.

B. Stewed to the gills and/or stoned to the bone, or

C. Gee, that lobotomy was fun. Who am I now?

In other words, he doesn't exactly project an aura of superior command of what is going on around him with a football team.

To compound their problem, the Illini now have Jeff George Jr. quarterbacking their team. He appears as clueless as his old man. Good luck with all that.

Nevertheless, bring on the World Series. This should be really good, and either way a franchise that is long overdue for glory will finally taste it.

The loser? Sad, but it's not like they haven't experienced it before. Maybe next year.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Boogering the call

Now that was an interesting name. A man named Booger McFarland, evidently a former NFL player and currently one of those dreaded "analysts" was on TV giving his -- what else? -- expert opinions.

Booger? Really? Who might they trot out next? Puke Johnson? Farts Lonnegan? May we someday be treated to the infinite football wisdom of Dingleberry Jones? Please.

If anybody noticed, the WNBA season has officially ended and a champion crowned. These poor girls can't seem to catch a break. It's bad enough they play in mostly empty arenas, are seldom if ever on TV during the regular season, and make a fraction of the minimum wage of any NBA player. Now they appear to have nitwits in charge of their own league.

Why else would they schedule the deciding game of the WNBA Finals in the same time slot as when Thursday night football was airing, and the Cubs and Dodgers were slugging it out in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series?

But hoo boy, they weren't short on controversy. In the end, the LA Sparks would win the Championship over the Minnesota Lynx. But the Lynx got robbed, jobbed, screwed, like that.

With a little over a minute to go in a tight back and forth game, an LA player put up a shot that went through the net. Two points. But it shouldn't have been. The shot clock had clearly expired before the ball left the shooter's hands.

The Minnesota coach noticed this of course and complained loud and long to the officials. Check out the replay, she demanded. But they didn't and the game went on.

In the end, the Sparks margin of victory was a mere one point. If the prior two points had been nullified, as they should have, a different champion (Minnesota) would have resulted. This was the ultimate of the refs deciding not only the game, but the series and a title.

Of course, the league sent out a memo acknowledging the mistake after it was all over. But what good does that do? And naturally, the apologists try to gloss it over as "just one of those things".

But this is not acceptable. It was a reviewable play that should have been, but wasn't. Fining or even firing the incompetent refs does no good either after the fact.

In a perfect world, with so much at stake, both teams should have been put back out on the floor with the score as it was before the blown call and the same amount of time on the clock, even the following night if necessary. Those who were in attendance would be able to come back and sit in the same seats to watch how it played out. Tell me the 4-letter network wouldn't have jumped at the chance to televise it, and I'll tell you you're crazy. They would have hyped it all day today.

True, LA might have still won, but at least the game, and result, would be fairer than how it played out the first time.

It's almost beyond belief such a scenario could happen in, say, the deciding game of the World Series, Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, or the NBA for that matter. The "guys in the booth" would study the replay continuously from all angles until they got the call right. This one was a no-brainer -- not even close. The refs just colossally blew it. Worse, they didn't even bother to check the replay in the first place.

But it will blow over shortly as the next news cycle kicks in. Only because it was the "girls" in a league that continues to struggle for exposure and popularity. But that doesn't make it right. Had the same thing happened in one of the above male mega-events the viewing public would be outraged and heads would roll.

So while the Sparks celebrate and will get their parade -- hope somebody shows up for at least that -- it probably won't be on TV either -- the Lynx are left to wonder what could, and probably should have been.

Yet there are worse things. At least none of the girls was named Booger.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Drake and the Cubs

It seems a whole lot of athletes are tuned into Drake these days.  Though I had a pretty good idea, I wasn't sure so I looked it up. Yep, my suspicions were confirmed. Turns out, it is what it's always been. Which means----

Holy Huey, Duey, and Louie. All these jocks are walking around listening to a duck? Wow. This concussion syndrome is worse than we thought.

Uh oh. The Chicago Cubs find themselves down 2-1 to the LA Dodgers in the NLCS. This wasn't supposed to happen. Aren't the Cubbies the best team in the majors this year? Didn't they win 8 more games than anybody else?

That evokes a sobering thought. What happens if the Cubs, gasp, actually lose? Will the ghost of Mrs. O'Leary's cow come back to start another huge fire and burn the city down? Will all the north siders in the windy city march like lemmings into Lake Michigan to their watery doom? That could get ugly. Would cut down on the crime problem, though.

To pull this off, not even counting the World Series against likely Cleveland, the Cubs need to win 3 out of the next 4 against the Dodgers. That's a formidable task, given the dreaded Clayton Kershaw will start at least one, and possibly two of those games.

For whatever reason, the Cub bats have gone cold in this series. And it turns out the Dodgers are a pretty good team after all. They can hit, pitch, run, and field with the best of them.

As a midwesterner, it's hard to get behind the Dodgers, or anything LA for that matter. And doesn't Magic Johnson hold an owner's stake in the team? More money and fame are the last things he needs. And the last thing WE need is seeing his smiling mug on TV celebrating a championship. Yuck. Anybody but LA.

Boys will be boys

If it wasn't so pitiful, it would be funny.

Exhibit A.

Watching NY Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. celebrate after scoring a touchdown. He appeared to be madly in love with the kicker's practice net. The same one that bonked him in the head a while back, by his own hand, when things weren't going well for the poor dear.

One of the announcers generously said Odell had a little maturing to do. Right. Yours truly thinks he looked more like a bi-polar 4 year old that was off his meds.

Exhibit B.

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback snafu. Dak Prescott, a fourth round draft pick and merely the eighth QB taken overall last spring has done quite well filling in for the injured Tony Romo.. Da Boys are a surprising 5-1. But there's a fly in the ointment. Owner Jerry Jones says the QB job will return to Romo when he's healthy again.

Some pundits are outraged. Given Romo's age (36), history of injuries, and perceived lack of success, they find it unacceptable that Romo should automatically get his job back. Dak is not only the future, they claim, but should retain the starting job now.

Well then. They seem to forget that the owner can play anybody he damned well feels like. And the coach will go along with it if he wants to keep his job. Though not overt, it feels like an undercurrent of racism is being suggested.

Idle thought --- pretend the colors of the "players" involved in this little dust up are reversed. White is black and vice versa. Would this conversation even be taking place? Hmmm.

Exhibit C.

Cam Newton. Mr. Pouty is at it again. We remember his post Super Bowl press conference when it looked liked somebody had stolen his lollipop. After a loss to the Saints, Cam and the Panthers are now 1-5. Kiss returning to the Super Bowl goodbye. Enter Cam with his best impersonation of a spoiled rotten kindergartner that has been told he can't go out and play. Pout, moan, stomp off to his room. And for whatever reason, he seems to insist on wearing clown clothes. A gansta hat with a goofy looking bow tie? C'mon dude.

What is it with these guys?

Can't they act like grown-ups every once in a while when they don't get their way?

Boys. Boys.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Odds and ends

The Houston Texans have a player named Mercilus (Whitney). Now that's a pretty cool name for a linebacker. It probably wouldn't work so well with, say, a babysitter or a grade school teacher, but not bad at all in the NFL.

Line of the day. Former wide receiver turned announcer Cris Collinsworth. The situation ---
Indy Colts playing at above mentioned Texans on Sunday night football. Clinging to a narrow 13-9 lead at the time, the Colts have fourth and inches at the Texans' 5 yard line. Mysteriously, the Colts line up in the shotgun formation. QB Andrew Luck fields the snap, drops back -- and is sacked. No points.

The line --- "Somewhere Vince Lombardi is turning over in his grave". You betcha CC.

What's worse, the game wound up going into overtime, and the Colts lost. Had they booted that gimme field goal.....

This is the kind of thing that gets coaches fired. And Chuck Pagano was already rumored to be on the hot seat.

Interesting some of the pundits are picking Alabama (1), Clemson (2), Ohio State (3), and Washington (4) to make it to the college football playoff for the national championship. Are all worthy teams indeed. Yet there is one glaring omission. Michigan.

Then again, the Wolverines travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes in a few weeks. Somebody has to lose. Guess who they think that will be? And it's probably not a bad call. As good as UM is, it's hard to imagine them knocking off Urban Meyer's bunch in their own back yard. Those guys are most definitely the real deal. We'll see.

Afterthought. OSU was terrific last year, lost 11 players to the NFL draft and is even better this year? That's some kind of program Meyer's put together.

And don't look now, but his initials (UM) are pretty ironic. Um.....

You gotta give it up to the Minnesota Vikings. They lost their starting QB (Teddy Bridgewater) before the season started. Also superstar running back Adrian Petersen and their starting left tackle. Yet they're cruising along at 5-0, the only undefeated team remaining in the league. My friend Scott, who was killed (along with his wife) in a horrible motorcycle accident last year, was a lifelong Vikings fan. Wish he was around to see this....

Not to jinx them or anything, but are the Cleveland Indians ever going to lose a game in this postseason? Even the mighty Cubbies have dropped a couple.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Michigan State blues

In the last several years, Michigan State has been somewhat of a football powerhouse. They've certainly owned arch rival Michigan, either won or been in the hunt for the Big Ten championship and once even made it to the Final Four.

And now it appears the wheels have fallen off. Any championship aspirations, Big Ten or otherwise, have gone up in smoke. Before this week's home game against Northwestern it was said the Spartans were just playing to get into the best bowl game they could. But not so fast. More on that later. Let's look back at what happened.

A season opening victory against lowly Furman. The usual patsy.

Then off to Notre Dame, a ranked team (#18) at the time. They would defeat the Irish for what looked then to be a "signature" win. But was it? Turned out, Notre Dame was WAY over rated. They've been clobbered by lesser teams since. So MSU winning at ND wasn't such a big deal after all. And the Spartans haven't won since.

At home, they were shelled by Wisconsin 30-6.
@ Indiana, they came out on the losing end of a 24-21 game -- in overtime. Indiana? Really?
Back home again, BYU would thrash them to the tune of 31-14.
And the Wildcats of Northwestern just went into East Lansing and thoroughly thumped the beleaguered Spartans 54-40. Dang. 54-40 or fight rings a bell. Didn't that have something to do with a dispute over the Oregon border in the pre-civil war days? At any rate, it doesn't appear like MSU has any fight left in them. You don't give up 54 points to an unranked team on your home field and expect to be considered a half way decent football team.

Which brings me back to the bowl game. There's so many of them these days, a team has to be just about awful not to make it into one of them.

But there's the thing. Typically, a team has to win a minimum of 6 games throughout the season to qualify. And there's no guarantee MSU will even make that low standard. Consider their remaining schedule.

@ Maryland. The Terps aren't world beaters, but they're certainly respectable and will be playing at home against a reeling MSU team. Call that iffy for MSU at best.

Then the rejuvenated Michigan comes to town. Ranked #4 nationally, the Wolverines are a great team this year. And nobody wants payback worse than UM. That game could get ugly.

Illinois isn't very good, so the Spartans should probably handle them, even on the road. Maybe.

Rutgers is gawd-awful. Chalk up a win.

Then they get Ohio State. No introduction necessary. The Buckeyes at #2 are definitely the real deal. That game could also get out of hand.

They finish up on the road at Penn State. Certainly no gimme. The Nits can play well at times and their home crowd could easily carry them to a victory.

So add it up and what do you have?

It's entirely possible MSU could wind up 5-7, even 4-8.

Remembering MSU was ranked around #13 nationally in the pre-season, who would have thought it even possible they might not make it to ANY bowl game?

My, how far and how quick the mighty have fallen.....

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Closing the deal

If this were about politics, I'd pose the following question---

Switch the parties (or candidates) whereby Trump is a Democrat and Clinton a Republican. What percentage of blind loyalists do you think would still cast their Presidential ballots along party lines?
Betcha a lot of them. They just don't know any better.

But it's not about politics. It's about the recently concluded NLDS. The LA Dodgers have eliminated the Washington Nationals. Because the Nats have a few guys that can't close the deal.

Start with Dusty Baker, the manager. He's been a skipper for 20 years and had a lot of talent on different clubs. But his teams could never get over the top (win a World Series) even when they were favored to do so. The man with the toothpick has caught some flak over the years because of his tendency to overuse pitchers to the point of burning them out. This can loom large in October after a long regular season. His career managerial record is just a shade over .500. Nothing special by any means. True, the players play the game, but for whatever reason, those on Baker managed teams always seem to come up short in the post season.

Same with start pitcher Max Scherzer. A former Cy Young winner, MS can be as dominant as anybody out there. Yet he can't seem to carry that dominance into the post season. He was the starter earlier tonight in the deciding Game 5. As we know, the Nats lost. The same guy throwing the same stuff can be super tough from April through September, but seems to turn into a journeyman when October rolls around. Go figure.

The story of pitcher Stephen Strasburg is well known. Like Scherzer, SS can be lights out with his commanding stuff, but he only seems to be good for a half, maybe two thirds of a season before his arm gives out every year. It's great that he can rack up the wins and strike outs for a few months. But not so great when he's always on the shelf with a bad wing come crunch time.

By all accounts, Bryce Harper is an extraordinary, if hotheaded player. The outfielder is a premier defender, has a great throwing arm, speed on the bases, and can hit for average and power. Yet his collar seemed to get a little tight when he stepped into the batter's box this postseason. Could it be the usually superior pitching batters face in the playoffs is too much for him?

Add it all up and the Nationals now find themselves on the outside looking in. There's no shame in losing to a quality team like the Dodgers. And any team can beat any other team on any given day in the majors. But the Nats were slight favorites, playing at home, and had their remaining ace (with SS out again) on the mound (Scherzer). Meanwhile, the Dodgers were forced to pitch the game by committee, having already taxed their starting rotation in earlier games. Washington couldn't have asked for a better scenario.

And now they scatter and go home.

Because they couldn't close the deal -- again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ronda, Tiger, and Barry

At long last, at least for some, Ronda Rousey is going to step back into the octagon again (December 30). The lovely, if somewhat conflicted Ms. R won't have fought in over a year. Not since last November when one Holly Holm knocked her into next week, has she faced "live" competition.

Her opponent this time will be Amanda Nunes -- no slouch. After all, she is the current champ in that weight division. Whether or not Rousey can get by Nunes is a good question. Many say she will have her hands full with AN.

But always the plotter, honcho Dana White is saying is Rousey wins, next up she'll face Cris Cyborg. Wow. A cyborg? This competition is getting rough. Actually her name is Cris Justino, a Brazilian, who sports a gaudy 17-1 record with 15 knockouts. In fact, she hasn't been beaten since way back in 2005  -- her first fight. This is the contest UFC fans want to see.

CC has called out Rousey in the past to no avail. She maintains Ronda has been ducking her. It's true in recent fights Rousey slimmed down to 135 lbs. which got her out of Justino's 147 lb. class.

Assuming RR can defeat Nunes, no given, she will most definitely be stepping up against the likes of Justino -- depending on how the fight would go. Rousey is known as a grappler, quickly getting opponents to submit via her signature arm bar. On the other hand, the Cyborg is known as a striker. She hits. Hard. And breaks things, like noses and jaws. So if Rousey can't get her on the mat, she might get her face rearranged. That would not be a good thing for one who seemingly aspires to an acting career.

Dana White confidently predicted such a fight would set an all time record for pay per view hits. That would seem to be a stretch, but hyping is his job.

On another note, Tiger Woods has pulled out of a tournament -- again. After his latest rehab, Eldrick says his game isn't up to snuff well enough yet to compete against top competition on the PGA tour. Well gee. Tell us something we haven't known for the last few years. You can bet Tiger will do two things. Find a way to play a couple of tune-up tournaments before, and definitely make it to the Masters in April. But it's also a possibility, perhaps a good one, that we have seen the end of Tiger's glory days. He's 40 now and hasn't played well in recent years, even when he was healthy. To expect him to return to his old form at this stage in his career is a HUGE stretch.

Thing is, if Tiger can't cut it with the big boys on the regular tour, that leaves him in limbo. It will be a decade before he can play the senior tour, even if he were to be interested in doing such a thing. And it's hard to imagine Woods going out to play if he's going to embarrass himself (tarnish his legacy). He most certainly doesn't need the money.

Here's wishing him well, but methinks the twenty and thirty-somes will eat him alive.

Parting thought. The NHL got underway today. Of course Barry Melrose was amped up. Yet the Canadian might want to consider most folks south of the border aren't much interested yet.

Major League Baseball is in it's most exciting time of the year. The playoffs with the World Series on deck.

NASCAR has their chase for it's own Cup going on.

The ever present gorilla in the room of sports, the NFL, is in full swing.

Like the NBA, which will be starting soon, many all-around American sports fans don't warm up to hockey until after the Super Bowl is over. Or the Stanley Cup playoffs start. Sure, by that time, baseball in underway again, but few get excited over IT during the early months of such a long season.

Luv ya, Barry, you da man. But not just yet, hoser.

And first things first. Bring on Ronda and Amanda, hopefully followed by a fight with a Cyborg.

Somewhere, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud.....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Amazing stuff

Evidently, after a ball game, some fan had a seizure. Tim Tebow to the rescue. He laid hands on the stricken, said a prayer and, presto, said fan was cured. That's pretty amazing stuff. If TT could learn how to hit a curve ball, he'd REALLY be on to something. Ahem.

Say what you will, but Greg Hardy is an amazing individual. Not just anybody can become an All-Pro after being drafted in the sixth round (175th overall). The dude was a regular terror on the football field.

Alas, he had a dark side. Not just anybody runs around strangling their girlfriend either. Or is chronically late, a locker room cancer, and gets busted for cocaine possession. Yeah, I know. Details, details, but perhaps they should be considered in the whole scheme of things.

Now that he has put himself into the twilight zone of the NFL, as in radioactive, no team will touch him, the good Mr. Hardy has decided to become a mixed martial arts fighter.

To which yours truly says -- good luck with that, pal. Though he's big (6-5, 280) and definitely ripped, he'd be climbing into the cage with guys that have spent their entire lives training for such combat. And unlike opposing quarterbacks, said guys hit back. Hard. Also no pads or helmets. MMA is most definitely the real deal.

One never knows how Hardy might fare in such an adventure, but methinks he'll get a whole new perspective on life the first time he gets kicked in the head. Or, fittingly enough -- choked out. When he's lying face up, or down, wondering what just happened, if he's still even conscious, perhaps it will dawn on him another career move is in order. Guys can get hurt in the octagon -- seriously. Especially novices with an attitude like Hardy. We shall see.

Wow. After trailing 5-2 in the ninth inning, the Cubbies roared back to knock off and eliminate the SF Giants 6-5?  Amazing stuff. Wait a second. Aren't the Giants supposed to win the World Series in even-numbered years? Something is wrong with this picture.

What could the honchos at ESPN have been thinking when they hired Danny Kanell as a talking head? Sure, the guy he replaced, one Scott Van Pelt (AKA Peanuthead), could be a little uppity at times. But can there possibly be a more smug, self-righteous, holier than thou, I'm the smartest guy in the universe person out there than DK? If so, yours truly doesn't want to meet him/her, or listen to them on radio and/or TV either. Him and co-host Ryen Russillo make quite the pair. People actually tune in to this stuff every day?


Monday, October 10, 2016

The ALDS. Sweeps and chokes

With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer -- alas, there will be no joy in Mudville, or at least Fenway, mighty Boston has struck out. Yep, the Cleveland Indians dispatched the Red Sox in three straight games. A sweep.

Also, there will be no storybook ending to the illustrious career of David Ortiz. Big Papi be gone. Too bad indeed. He was truly a joy.

Next up, the Tribe faces the Toronto Blue Jays for the right to represent the American League in the World Series. While Cleveland was busy brooming the Beaners, the Jays had done the same thing to the Texas Rangers. If you count the wild card game Toronto played against the Baltimore Orioles, their post-season record is now 4-0. Perfect.

Being division winners, Cleveland didn't have to play a wild card game. Their mark stands at 3-0. So two unbeatens get to lock horns. It should be quite the series.

Thing is, somebody's gotta start losing. A pick? Not me. No idea. Got a coin?

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs had dumped the San Francisco Giants in the first two games of their best 3 out of 5, and are currently leading in Game 3. Another sweep? Could be. San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner got dinged for a 3-run homer off the bat of his pitching counterpart Jake Arietta. Ouch. That's gotta hurt -- in more ways than one.

So assuming the Cubbies sweep, that leaves the LA Dodgers and Washington Nationals. Both excellent teams as well. They split the first two games. No clean sweep of sweeps.

But you just know LA will eventually prevail. Why? Because Washington will choke. They always choke. Everything in Washington chokes. Besides the Nats, the Capitals choke at playoff time. The Redskins could be renamed the Heimlichs for some of their maneuvers.

Speaking of names, the former Bullets of the NBA choked themselves out of one. They caved to politically correct pressure and became the Wizards instead. Like there's no bullets in DC. Right. Guess what, they're woefully short on wizards too. Seen Congress lately?

On that note, there is a total of 545 people in Washington that choke constantly. 435 Reps, 100 Sens, 9 Supremes (8 for now), and a Prez seem to be choking the very life out of the American people. But I digress.

What's that? San Fran has scored a couple runs to make it 3-2 in the seventh inning? It ain't over yet. Maybe it won't be a sweep after all.

But I dare say I speak for the majority by saying we would be hard pressed to imagine the Giants beating the mighty Cubbies three games in a row. Those guys have got everything. Hitting, pitching, defense, speed, you name it. That's probably why they won 8 more games than anybody else in the majors this year.

Though I don't live there and haven't even been to Chicago for several years, count me a Cubs fan.

As was mentioned in this space a few days ago, there are exactly 108 stitches on a Major League baseball and it's been 108 years since the Cubs last won a World Series.

Somehow, it just feels right this year.

Here's hoping they don't choke.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lions and bookies

The Detroit Lions must drive the bookies absolutely crazy. It's nigh impossible to get a read on those guys. Just when one thinks the Lions will do one thing -- BAM -- they do just the opposite.

Though most pundits ranked them in the bottom ten -- even five -- of the NFL before the season started, the Detroit faithful had little doubt their team was much better than that.

It started well. A road win over Indianapolis. Then back home, but oops, they lost to the lowly Tennessee Titans. That wasn't supposed to happen.

On to Green Bay. They pretty much got blown out in the first half, but rallied (or the Packers got bored) to keep the score respectable. Still, a loss. Now 1-2.

Up next was Chicago. Surely the Lions would right the ship. Nope, Da God awful Bears handed them another L. 1-3. Rumors began to circulate that head coach Jim Caldwell was on the hot seat.

It didn't look good in Game 5. The undefeated Philadelphia Eagles were coming to town. They had recently blasted the always tough Pittsburgh Steelers by 30 points. Even at home, the Lions were rightfully underdogs.

So what did the Lions do? Up and defeat the Eagles. Who saw that coming?

At that, they caught a huge break to pull off the upset. The Eagles had the game all but in the bag. Possession of the ball, time winding down, Detroit out of time-outs, and a two point lead. What could go wrong?

Turned out, a bone-head play by one of their running backs. He fumbled and the Lions fell on it. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was likely beside himself. How in the hell could THAT happen?
Sure enough, Detroit managed to kick a game winning field goal. It wasn't supposed to.

But that's the Lions. Just when even their hard core fans are ready to give up on them and admit still another year is about to go down the drain, the team will pull off -- or stumble into -- a ray of hope. That's all the kool-aiders need to get them amped up again. Their heroes are now 2-3 and anything's possible. Sort of.

Will they finish above .500? Maybe. They couldn't ask for a softer schedule. Make the playoffs? Highly doubtful but ya never know.

Super Bowl worthy? Please. Halley's comet could make a U-turn and come back next week. The Donald and the Hill could ditch Mel and Bill respectively, both drop their Presidential aspirations, and run off to Bangladesh to enjoy the pleasures of each other's flesh. How'd you like to see the video of THAT? Eww. In a stunning turn of events, it could even be that all the peoples of the Middle East will lay down their arms and get along as one big happy family forever after. All theoretically possible.

But the Lions getting to, much less winning the Super Bowl any year/decade soon? Get outta here. Nobody's crazy enough to buy into that. Are they?

Nonetheless, the wise guys in Vegas have to get back to work figuring out point spreads. They must shudder when having to face yet another Lions game. Up is down, left is right, and nothing ever makes sense with the Honolulu blue and silver bunch. Poor devils.

In that respect, it's just another year indeed in the magical kingdom of the Lions. Nobody ever knows what the hell is going on....

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mich/Mich St.

Oh my, how far the once mighty Spartans have fallen. After getting hammered at home by Wisconsin, they lost to lowly Indiana on the road. And now they were just trashed by unranked BYU -- again at home. Yet they somehow managed to beat Notre Dame earlier in the year. How bad are the Irish?

Meanwhile, the bar had been set for Michigan. Just last week Ohio State murdered Rutgers to the tune of 58-0. Now it was the Wolverines turn to see how they'd fare against them. It should be noted the Buckeyes were at home against Rutgers. Michigan was on the road.

In a beatdown of all beatdowns, the Wolverines rolled to a whopping 78-0 victory -- their largest margin of victory against anyone since before WWII. 78-0? Are you kidding me? Wow. It was so one-sided Michigan pulled their starters after the first half. It didn't seem to make any difference. Back at ya, Urban Meyer.

So Rutgers wanted to play in the Big 10 -- eh? Hope the money's worth it because this is getting embarrassing. Two games and coming out on the wrong side of a combined score of 166-0? Sure, OSU and UM are both great teams, but can anybody possibly be that bad?

Given the above it seems almost a given Michigan will finally be able to avenge some of their recent losses to Michigan State when they meet in East Lansing in a few weeks. But ya never know about that game. Strange things, even miracle plays, have been known to happen.

Assuming they both stay clean, the build up to the Michigan-Ohio State game at the end of November should be really something.

Friday, October 7, 2016

You know you're in trouble when....

You're the Boston Red Sox. You've thrown your two best pitchers (Rick Porcello and David Price) at the Cleveland Indians and are now down 0-2 in the ALDS.
Price was 17-9 in the regular season and Porcello an eye-popping 22-4.
Alas, neither of them could make it out of the fourth inning. Porcello's post-season ERA is now 10.38 and Price's a whopping 13.50.
Anything can happen and sometimes does, but that's a mighty deep hole to dig yourself out of in a best 3 out of 5 series. .

You're the San Francisco Giants. You had to use your ace (Madison Bumgarner) in the wild card game. He came through to dispatch the NY Mets.
Your starter for the first game of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs was Johnny Cueto and he turned in a masterful performance. No runs through over 7 innings.
Oops, a little known infielder named Javier Baez steps up to the plate and cracks one over the ivy to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
And when it's your turn to bat in the ninth inning, here comes Aroldis Chapman out of the bullpen throwing 100 MPH. Then 102. Then 103.
Good luck with THAT.
Cubs 1. Giants zip.

You're the Detroit Lions. (When aren't they in trouble?) You've bumbled your way to a 1-3 record against teams that were very beatable.
Now the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles are coming to town.
You've got an offensive coordinator named Jim Bob (AKA Hoozyodaddy) of all things, and he's counting on wide receiver Golden Tate to turn in a huge game and save the day.
Hope seems to spring eternal in Detroit. So does kool-aid driven insanity.

You're the LA Clippers and think you can give the Golden State Warriors some serious competition even after their acquirement of super star Kevin Durant into an already formidable mix.
In a preseason game the Warriors torch you by 45 points, and it likely would have been even worse if they hadn't shut it down in the fourth quarter.
Um, no. You can't beat those guys.
Besides, you finished a whopping 20 games behind the Warriors in the regular season last year -- before the arrival of Durant. What's it going to be this year? 30?

You're in Florida, or the eastern Carolinas, not sure whether to evacuate as hurricane Matthew is approaching, and find out your government (FEMA) is relying on a waffle house (it's true) to give them an accurate weather forecast.

You're a WNBA player and your team has made it all the way to the Finals.
And still nobody seems to notice........

Thursday, October 6, 2016

It's always something

So Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on Florida, eh? Of course, the watchwords, as always, are be afraid. Be very afraid. It's always something. Well, yours truly says -- forget that. Consider----

If you live in Oklahoma or Texas, you know you're at risk of tornadoes.

If you live in the Keweenaw peninsula in upper Michigan, you know you're going to get bombed with snow blowing off Lake Superior in the wintertime.

If you live in International Falls, Minnesota, you know you're going to get damned cold.

If you live in southern California, something is probably on fire close to you somewhere, and you could get swallowed up by an earthquake any minute.

It all goes with the territory.

So Floridians know, or should, that hurricanes come in the fall. Live there at your own peril. But stop with the whining already. We hear words like shocking, massive, terrifying, the biggest one to come along in ages. Are they talking about a storm or a Kardashian butt?  HORRORS!!!

What's really nuts is they're stocking up on bottled water at scalper prices. Hey, if the storm is going to drop a foot of rain, the LAST thing they need to worry about is running out of water. Whatsamattuh with these people?
On that note, what's the matter with ANYBODY that's dumb enough to pay several dollars for a bottle of water? It's got to be the greatest scam of all time.

Between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox, it's difficult to pick a team to root for. On the one hand, the Indians haven't won a World Series in like forever. True, the Lake Erie-ites recently celebrated an NBA championship, but the World Series is bigger than that.

Yet how does one not get behind the Bosox when David "Big Papi" Ortiz is on his farewell tour? But hey, the Bosox finally ended their curse of the Bambino several years ago. In fact, they've won three World Series' since the turn of the century, including the last just a few years ago.

Boston has the nearby New England Patriots. They're in the hunt for the Super Bowl every year.
Cleveland has long been stuck with the woeful Browns. They're terrible yet again.

Boston has the Bruins of the NHL.
Cleveland has nada.

Speaking of forever, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated pointed out an interesting factoid. The Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. The math is pretty simple. That's 108 years, or roughly the same amount of time William Shatner has been on TV. Seems like.

At any rate, Verducci notes there are exactly 108 stitches on a Major League baseball. One for every year the Cubs have gone without.

There's no place left to put another one.

It must be their time.....

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Detroit Lions foibles

It turned out Andrew Luck and the Indy Colts aren't very good this year. So the Lions' Week One victory over them on the road should be taken with a grain of salt. True, a win beats the heck out of a loss, but it was nothing to get excited about in Motown. Nonetheless, the ever-present Detroit sappies were back on the bandwagon. Here we go, they crowed. This is the year.

Um, no, it's not.

The following week the Lions were back home and bumbled their way to a loss at the hands of the lowly Tennessee Titans. Thud.

To absolutely no one's surprise, the Lions were beaten again in Green Bay the following week.

Well OK, 1-2 is manageable and with the Chicago Bears on deck, maybe the puddytats could get back on track. After all, the Lions have owned Da Bears of late.

Then, not so incredibly, the Honolulu blue and silver bunch went into Soldier Field -- and lost. To the Bears!! Don't look now, but the Lions are taking on water -- again. Even their normally amiable head coach Jim Caldwell was a bit testy at the post-game presser. Old Jimmy might be seeing the beginning of the end of his tenure in Detroit.

And it doesn't get any easier next week. In fact, it could be downright brutal. The Philadelphia Eagles are coming to town. Whatever new coach Doug Pederson is doing in Philly, it's a whole lotta right. For whatever it matters -- it doesn't -- the Eagles went 4 -0 in the preseason.

Then the games started counting and, somewhat surprisingly, the Eagles have rolled through their first 3 games. Granted, beating the Cleveland Browns 29-10 was no big deal, nor was zapping the same Chicago Bears at the same Soldier Field the following week 29-14 particularly notable.

But trashing the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 in Week Three was an eye-opener. Maybe these guys, with rookie QB Carson Wentz, really are pretty good.

To boot, while the Lions head back home after another loss, the Eagles had a bye week. Extra time for their players to rest three weeks worth of bumps and bruises and study/prepare for the upcoming game in Detroit.

If the Lions slip to 1-4, entirely possible, if not probable -- they can just about pack it in for another season. That would surprise few outside the Detroit area. Most pundits, including the gurus at Sports Illustrated, predicted the Lions would go 5-11, maybe 6-10.

Yet talking with hard-core Lions fans (are there any other kind?) one came away with an entirely different impression. Their heros would surely soar to 11-5, maybe 12-4 with a break here or there. It's somewhere between sad and laughable how gullible these people are. They keep falling for the same hype year after year. Chugging the koolaid the Lions and their media boosters foist upon them.

They're going to win. They're going to win. They're going to win. But they never do. Season after season go by, but the results are always the same. Delusional pre-season expectations. Then there's hope throughout the campaign. Right up until another year officially goes poof. Up in smoke.

It's almost mind-boggling how the Detroit faithful could think the team would be somehow better without the services of the recently retired Calvin Johnson. Hey, they were 7-9 last year and lost their best player. The Lions didn't sign any major impact free agents during the off season -- mostly cast-offs other teams didn't want to overpay for. Nor did they make a big splash in the draft.

So how in the hell do they expect to improve on last season? It defies logic.

Sure, strange things can happen in the NFL and sometimes do. The Lions could go on an improbable run. Given a few breaks, questionable calls going their way, and a rash of injuries to key players on other teams -- and anything's possible.

But left to their usual selves, the Lions are about a C-minus team in the whole scheme of things. Only in Detroit are they perceived as contenders. The koolaid never seems to wear off. Going into the season, people that supposedly know about such things had the Lions ranked around 27th or 28th out of the 32 NFL teams. They got a little bump, maybe up to 24 or so with the win at Indy. But back to back losses to teams like the Titans and Bears will see them tumble right back down, perhaps as low as 30th. Surely, they're better than the Browns and 49ers -- right?

Yep, it could be another long year for the puddytats. Given the level of play they've shown so far, and Jim Caldwell's past track record as a head coach -- not good -- it is difficult to imagine otherwise.

Yet there are still those poor lost souls wandering about Detroit and the suburbs that dare to not only dream of the Super Bowl, but their team actually getting to it and -- gasp!! -- being victorious. Obviously, they are in need of some kind of intensive psychotherapy. They're nuttier than the Planters factory.

It really is a shame. Calvin Megatron Johnson played his heart out for a decade but never tasted a single playoff win. It could well be QB Matthew Stafford will hang around for a few more years to suffer the same fate. How long was loose cannon center Dominic Raiola there? Fifteen years? Though I'm not sure stats are kept on such things, Raiola was likely the losingest player in the history of the NFL.

It's hard to believe, given the parity the league strives for, that the Lions haven't won a playoff game since Bill Clinton was about to start his FIRST term as President. And only one since Super Bowls started over 50 -- count-em -- FIFTY years ago.

Looked at that way, 1-3, likely to soon be 1-4 seems just about right.

They may be a lot of things, but after all, they're still the Lions.

And it's just another year.....

The Tigers. Outta here

The stage was set. Ninth inning, man on first, Detroit trailing the bottom-feeding Atlanta Braves 1-0, Justin Upton at the plate with two strikes. One swing of the bat could make the difference between winning and losing, and the Tigers season could depend on it.

Then came the pitch. A fastball right down the middle. And Justin Upton -- in the words of the late Ernie Harwell -- stood there like the house by the side of the road.

THWAP went the catcher's mitt. STRIKE THREE, roared the umpire.

Yer out.

Game over.

Tigers lose.

And just like that, their season was done. They went out with a whimper, the sometimes mighty bats having fallen silent when they needed them the most.

So what did Justin Upton do?

This clown had the audacity to go back into his dugout and start trading high fives with teammates. At that point, Upton didn't deserve any "up top" action. What he needed was a "down low" scenario. Like a swift kick in the pants -- preferably from the front.

After all the hoopla, there will be no playoffs for the Detroit Tigers. This is likely not what owner Mike Ilitch had in mind when he shelled out over $200 million in player salaries for this year.

Whether or not this spells a death knell for manager Brad Ausmus remains to be seen. But even if the brain trust, and I use that phrase loosely when it comes to the Tigers, decides to fire Ausmus, who can they get to replace him that would be any better? After all, he doesn't bat, pitch, field, or run the bases. The players do. And they weren't good enough this year.

But never fear, the usual gang of suspects were quick to point out the future looks rosy for the team.

Oh yeah? What team are THEY looking at?

Consider the Tigers.

They have two catchers, but neither would likely start for any other team.

Justin Verlander, their ace, is approaching the twilight of his career. The rest of the starting rotation is hit and miss.

The bullpen can be good at times, but pitch batting practice at others.

Nick Castellanos at third is no bargain. even when he can stay healthy, which appears to be not very often.

Shortstop Jose Iglesias is an injury waiting to happen.

Second sacker Ian Kinsler is aging.

Right fielder J.D. Martinez is either very hot or stone cold.

Victor (Methuselah) Martinez is so slow he can turn a triple into a long single. Plus he can't play a position.

Not counting Miguel Cabrera, most of the other Tigers are a mixed bag at best. Their farm system has been decimated by trading away potential future talent in the "win now" mode. And they haven't won. Not even close. Last year, the Tigers finished in the basement of their own division, and they failed to make the playoffs this year.

There's absolutely no reason to think they'll be any better in 2017. So just where is this "bright future" the "homers" are talking about?

Being already eliminated, the Tigers don't even have to play the 162nd game of the regular season -- a make-up game against the Cleveland Indians. And they have nobody to blame but themselves.

All they had to do was handle the lowly Atlanta Braves. Instead, they dropped two out of three. Outta here.

And that's the thing. Had they taken care of business against Atlanta, potentially making Game 162 a "play-in" game for the post-season -- they would have been in good shape against the Indians.

Wait, you say? The Tribe has pretty much clobbered them all year? True enough. But if that game had to be played, Cleveland wasn't going to go all-out to win it. They had clinched their own playoff spot long ago. Chances are, Cleveland would have fielded a squad of B-teamers just to get the game over with. With a patchwork pitching staff trying to get by. At that point, Cleveland would have been far more concerned with setting up their pitching rotation for the playoffs and giving their better players -- and bullpen -- an extra day's rest. It was a game the Tigers had a terrific chance of winning.

But we'll never know.

Because Upton is still out, and the Tigers season is still over.

It wasn't supposed to be like this....