Weekly sports ramblings - March 4, 2009
First off today, I’d like to send out my condolences to the families of the Cory Smith and the other 2 former-South Florida football players lost out at sea. It’s such a tragedy for these young men to have been lost so early in life. I’ll be hoping for a miracle but with the conclusion of the Coast Guard search, the outlook is grim.
Next, I’ll be delving into the Lions, Michigan and Michigan State basketball, and the Tigers.
• College basketball is at that time of year again when 65 teams ensue in mass chaos for four extended weekends.
For the first time in a long time, Michigan Basketball looks poised to be in a position to squeak its way into madness. That’s not a guarantee but from most analyses, a good showing in the Big Ten tournament would get Michigan in. I have to say, although I’m a big State fan, I’ve always rooted for Michigan as well. I cheer for the State when it comes to college sports; that includes, CMU, EMU, WMU and even Oakland (they’ve made a couple NCAA tournaments recently). U of M Coach John Beilein is most likely the culprit for this team’s success. Beilein came, two years ago, from West Virginia and any fan can see the turnaround happening. Michigan Basketball, whether or not they make March Madness this year, instead of the usual NIT, is on the verge of returning to the glory days of the ‘90s. The Wolverines have a solid group of talent, most of it being underclassmen as well, that could begin a slew of interest from top talent in future years.
MSU clinched the Big Ten yet again yesterday as it brushed Indiana to the side. State, unlike Michigan, has obviously clinched a spot in the 65-team field and its only worry is about which seed it’ll be handed down from the Bracket gods – a 1, 2, or 3-seed.
Kalin Lucas is the leader of this team, no matter what anybody says. He is far and between the key player for the Spartans this season – as State struggles when Lucas struggles. If Izzo and the crew hope to make a memorable run this season and get to the Final Four at Ford Field, they’ll surely have to rely on Lucas to be crucial in crunch-time and in quarterbacking this team throughout the game. Unlike the Wolverines, the Spartans have deep talent throughout the lineup and on the bench and Izzo is a tournament extraordinaire, guiding past MSU teams farther than they should have made it. There have been a few let downs during Izzo’s tenure, but they remain few and far between.
• The Lions have made a few acquisitions this free agency so far. As their promise stated, they didn’t overindulge in free agency, ala the Redskins every season, and are continuing to search for decently young talent. So far, they’ve acquired CB Anthony Henry from Dallas, WR Bryant Johnson from SF and RB Maurice Morris from Seattle (he’s actually a duel-threat HB/FB hybrid). Also, what I like is that Mayhew and Lewand have actually looked into some big names but for one reason another shied away. They — reportedly — looked into acquiring: Jay Cutler from Denver in a three-way trade proposal with NE in which Cassell would have been sent to Denver in exchange for Detroit’s second-round pick (eventually traded to Kansas City for its second-round pick); Albert Haynesworth via free agency (not the right fit); and OG Derrick Dockery via free agency (signed with another team for less money than the Lions offered). I can’t say anything bad about the front office. They Lions are also looking at TE LJ Smith from Philly, QB Chris Simms from TB and OG Daniel Loper from Tennessee (an OG and OT).
Although, I do have a couple of suggestions I’ve thought of since the day after the Lions last game:
MLB Mike Peterson (Jaguars)
OT Tra’ Thomas (Eagles)
1-1 Aaron Curry OLB WF
1-20 Rey Maualuga MLB USC
2-1 CJ Spillman Marshall
3-1 OG to compete with RG Peterman
3-20 TE Casey
5-1 WR/KR or HB/KR
• In 2003, the Tigers lost 119 games. By 2006, they made the World Series and in 2008 they missed the playoffs all together and finished 4th in the AL Central Division after spending millions upon millions of dollars to bring in SS Edgar Renteria, 1B Miguel Cabrera and SP Dontrelle Willis.
In 2009, the Tigers have made a commitment to putting TEAM first and not overindulging in what the fans want, but what makes baseball teams great – good fielding, good pitching, and good coaching. That being said, this Tigers team doesn’t have a shortage of hitting ability either. Throughout the lineup, the Tigers have players who hit good averages and/or power. Granderson, Thames, Inge, Cabrera, Guillen, Ordonez have all hit more than 20 HRs in at least one season.
Still, pitching could be the biggest factor contributing to the turnout of the ’09 season. The past two years, the Tigers have displayed poor pitching in their starters and relievers, especially the relievers. I’ve seen about 30 different guys in and out of the bullpen the last two years. That may be a stretch but I bet at least 20, which is way too much. If this team is going to compete for the AL Central, they are going to have to shut down the traditionally strong-hitting teams in our own division.