Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Holy Crud!

  I don't have a smart phone, so I sorta felt like those people in the advertisement that hear, "That was so 5 minutes ago".   I'm not getting the up to the nano-second info from ESPN or FOX that my sports fan brethren do with their i-phones.  
  That being the case I got the news of Chip Kelly's imminent departure at a birthday party I attended.   Pretending to have heard, I argued the case for him not going to the NFL, all the while acting as if the news didn't startle me.   It did, it shook me up for a second, and like A.D., Rob Mullens, I went into damage control (in my mind).   Who will fit as the next head coach?   Can they run at the pace we become accustomed to?  Will we lose recruits or current players?   A few hours later my fears were squelched (the 4G'ers knew at least an hour before me), Kelly said he had unfinished business.


Thanks for bringing back my acid reflux.

    I just got word that my Tigers have signed Prince Fielder. Really? I didn't even think they were in the running.  I found this out from my son-in-law (yep, I am sure he found out from updates on his phone).  Sorry, still obsessing about lack of instantaneous news.   If anyone knows how to sign players to long term contracts, it's Mike Ilitch.  His long-term contracts with Red Wings  Hank Zetterberg (12 years, $73 million) and Pavel Datsuyk (7 years, $46.9 million) are indications that Mr. Ilitch wants to keep talent in Detroit.  

  Prince will get (can you imagine?) the reported sum of  $214 million over 9 years.   All eyes will be on the second generation Tiger to bang out big shots next year and put them on course for their first World Series crown since the Roar of '84.  

   I can't wait until Spring Training, February 18th is just a few weeks away.  Sock it to 'em, new era Tigers!

  Finally, sports photographer John Sperry has agreed to allow my use of his photo's from court side at Matt Arena.   Here are a couple to whet your appetite.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thanks For The Memories

Among many, two of my favorites called it a career this past year.

First, the final member of the Red Wings vaunted "Grind Line", Chris Draper retired. 

His 20 year career was highlighted by 4 Stanley Cup Rings and the '03 Selke Award for best defensive forward.  Detroit got all this for value menu price of $1 in the summer of 1993.  A fan favorite due to his work ethic and drive, Draper played in over 1100 games.  A blue collar guy in a blue collar town, Detroit fans appreciated his "never say die" attitude, playing all out until he hit the bench.  Unofficially, #33 is credited with participating in more interviews, charity events, youth clinics, and hospital visits than any other Red Wing.  From a personal stand point, when my nephew was in a Detroit hospital, Drapes was one of the players who visited him.  

Players like this are few and far between and maybe he won't have a plaque in the NHL Hall of Fame, but he will always be remembered as one of the Red Wing greats.   Nice guys don't always finish last.


Second, LaMichael James ends his Duck career.

We knew it was coming, but hoped he might change his mind.   Had it not been for the elbow injury, we might have had a chance at seeing #21 back on the turf at Autzen.  But off he goes and we all wish him well, hoping he can find a niche much like Darren Sproles has at New Orleans.  He truly was a great running back at Oregon from his lighting long runs to his grinding one yarders, we all were LaMichael fans from the first time we saw him in 2009.   We were witness to over 5,000 rushing yards in just 3 seasons, 53 of those attempts finishing in the end zone with his patented frog leap.  


A two time All-American, LaMike has so many Oregon and Pac-12 records it's hard to list them all with out missing one.   Here's hoping he is drafted by a team that knows how to use him and that we see him on ESPN's Top 10 Plays next season.  As was my texting custom on long runs for TD's, for the last time as a Duck, AMF (Adios My Friend) LaMike.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Surprised? You Betcha!


Did anyone see this one coming?   Darren Thomas opts for the NFL draft?   Can't say that this was one announcement I was looking for.  I have to believe he got some incredibly bad advice to go in this year's draft.  Does he possess the tools to make it in the NFL at this time, most observers say no.   Listed at 6'3" he has the height, but at 215 lbs. (did he have weights in his pockets at the weigh in?), can his build take the shots from NFL rushers?   His accuracy has been questioned and throwing mechanics needs work.  I can't see him being drafted and will have to go the free agency route, a tough way to get your foot in the NFL locker room door.   Maybe the CFL will be a way for him to develop the skills necessary to be a candidate for NFL playing time.   I just see this as a bad move on his part.   With so many if's, it would have better suited him to continue at Oregon, hope for a great senior year, work on his graduate degree (just in case this NFL thing doesn't work out), and then take his shot.   Thomas compared himself to Cam Newton, but look at the physical difference between the two.  Newton looks solid at 248 lbs. and Thomas looks slight at a questionable 215.   Newton possess receiver speed while Thomas is so - so.   Yikes, well good luck.   I haven't always been a great fan of his, but he was a winner and pushed the program up to the next level.   I wish him well and hope he has a back up plan.


Should we panic with his loss?   I don't believe so.   We saw what Bryan Bennet can do in relief of Thomas last year.  His arm strength and running ability were impressive.

And all sources say red-shirt freshman Marcus Mariota is something special.  I actually think we take a step forward with these two at QB.

Could be an interesting Spring Game.   One worth going to, I thinks I'll be there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lions, The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

     The Lions looked GOOD for one half of football, but Drew Brees exposed the weaknesses of the Detroit D in the second half.   It got as BAD as it could when 2 TD passes were caught by uncovered Saints receivers.   Leaving those guys that wide open is nothing less than embarrassing.  Finally, Mathew Stafford made the UGLY mistakes of throwing 2 interceptions when there was still time left to mount a full on comeback.   Don't get me wrong, the Lions had an incredible season and did the city proud.   All Motown fans should be proud of how far they have come in such a short time.  Now it's time to take the next steps to furthering their playoff run in 2013.  My humble analysis includes these needs:

1) Go out and aggressively obtain some quality corners and safeties.   They have to be able to defend the pass better than their showing this year.  The Lions ranked 22nd against the pass, giving up 239 yards per game through the air - stinko!


2) Get more help at linebacker.   23rd, that's where they rank against the run.  More putrefied air.

3) Pick up a quality running back.   How low do they go in the running game - 29th, at less than 100 yards per game.   There is no smell adjective to adequately express their pathetic and anemic ground game.  I still hope to broker the deal of Nick Fairely for Jonathan Stewart (the Panthers will have to throw in a high round draft, as well), I'm standing by for Carolina GM Marty Hurney's call.

4) Develop Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew into serious pass receiving threats to take the pressure off Calvin Johnson.


5) More live tackling drills, the playoff game showed definite lack of technique.

That's my take on it, we'll see how prophetic I was when next year rolls around.

Monday, January 2, 2012


"Hey Coach Z, how's your sports year going?"

"Well, thanks for asking."
The Ducks played for the National Championship in football.

The Red Wings made the playoffs (again).

The Duck Men won the CBI.

 The Tigers made the MLB playoffs.

The Lions are in the NFL playoffs.

I'd say "my" teams did pretty well over the past 12 months.  Howzit with you?