Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Detroit Tigers off season: These should be the priorities

The first Las Vegas odds are out and have the Tigers as a 6-1 favorite to win next year's World Series.
Their starting pitching, even if they can't re-sign Anibal Sanchez, will be among the best in baseball. They'll have Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister leading the rotation. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly are young and have an upside. Austin Jackson, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

What is unusual about Jim Leyland's contract



Deal works for both Leyland and Tigers

The Tigers won the pennant. In those circumstances, the manager doesn't get fired. What is different about the Tigers and their situation with Jim Leyland is they do it on a year-by-year basis.
Normally, a manager on a one-year deal is considered a lame duck, who is doesn't command much respect in the clubhouse because the players figure he won't be there

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Bitter end shouldn't diminish an otherwise sweet season for the Tigers

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/29/sports/doc508e0f82966bc342510556.txt


Tigers were far more good than bad in '12

Thoughts after 8 innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 4, World Series

- So far, so good for the Tigers bullpen. It's always a danger zone when it is put in charge of a game. It was important to get through the portion of the Giants order with Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey.
- Miguel Cabrera's wind blown home run aside, both he and Prince Fielder have just not performed up to expectations so far in this series. The back to back strikeouts in the eighth inning were

Thoughts after 3 innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 4, World Series

Finally. Miguel Cabrera came through. Will it be too late? It might have been wind blown home run, but at minimum, it will help Cabrera save face for what has been a tough World Series for him thus far.
- The Tigers are streaky offensively, granted, but the depths they've fallen offensively in the World Series had been ridiculous.
- The bunt play by Quintin Berry was extremely dangerous. Great

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions live to fight for a playoff another day

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/28/sports/doc508db95c7e1a4530524898.txt



For Stafford, Lions it's never too late

Thoughts after 3 quarters, Lions, Seahawks

- Safety Louis Delmas has hurt his knee again. While the Lions defense had played much better since Delmas' return, Ricardo Silva did made did make two nice plays in the third quarter.
On a quick read with the Lions in an all-out blitz, Silva made a nice open field tackle on Seattle running back Robert Turbin. If Silva hadn't made that play, Turpin would have been off on a long gain, possibly a

Thoughts halftime, Lions, Seahawks

- That was a great throw by quarterback Matthew Stafford to Titus Young, producing the Lions second touchdown. You still see flashes of brilliance from Stafford this season. It's been his consistency that's been the issue. But that was by far the best first-half of football the Lions' offense has played this season.
- Seahawks' offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has chosen wisely to avoid

Thoughts after 1 quarter, Lions, Seahawks

- Excellent scoring drive by the Lions. Amazingly, just their second TD in the first half of a game this season, the first since the opener. They mixed run and pass well, and took advantage of the middle of the field being so wide open.
- The penalty on the punt to extend Seattle's scoring drive was disappointing. The Lions continue to shoot themselves in the foot with too many foolish mistakes,

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Cabrera, Fielder, Verlander - Detroit Tigers World Series troubles as simple as 1-2-3

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/28/sports/doc508cb6db7cf0d039391205.txt


Everything that can go wrong has for Miggy, Tigers

Thoughts after 8 innings, Tigers, Giants, World Series

- The Giants are just another example of how important defense is when it comes to winning baseball games, and probably in this case, a championship. When Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford made an error in the eighth, it was almost surreal.
- Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have been beyond disappointing in this series, but especially tonight.
- For the leading hitter in the major leagues this

Thoughts after 6 innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 3, World Series

- Two outs, bases loaded, down two runs, the fifth inning, the pitcher on the ropes...Miguel Cabrera couldn't have been at the plate in a more ideal situation. He just didn't get it done. Not a good series for Prince Fielder, either.
- Quintin Berry sometimes struggles as a hitter, but he usually doesn't get himself out. Plate discipline is normally a strength. Tonight, that has not been the case

Thoughts after 3 innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 3, World Series

- There were a lot of things the Tigers wanted to see from Quintin Berry in that situation. Swinging at the first pitch wasn't one of them.
- Anibal Sanchez's lack of command tonight is alarming and surprising. The Giants seem to be recognizing his pitches well. They are getting good swings off him. The Tigers bullpen better get ready. It looks like they will be getting plenty of work tonight.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

If Detroit Tigers don't win World Series, decision to send Prince Fielder home will live in infamy

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/25/sports/doc508a121eca7f0009656882.txt


Prince Fielder: Inexplicably out at home

Thoughts after 8 innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 2, World Series

- What really hurt both Drew Smyly and Octavio Dotel out of the Tigers' bullpen were the walks. They don't happen, the Giants probably don't get either run.
- You must give the Giants credit for doing what the Tigers don't do well at the plate. That is working the count and being tough outs in clutch situations. Dotel did get the borderline calls before Hunter Pence hit his sacrifice fly, but

Thoughts after 7 innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 2, World Series

- I'm sorry, I just don't see Drew Smyly as a situational left-hander. The bad part is he didn't throw strikes tonight. Usually, he is pretty good about that, but has trouble keeping the ball in the park, but this a park it is difficult to hit homers. But the Tigers don't have many options in these situations. It is one of the downsides to using Phil Coke as a closer. Perhaps Darin Downs should

Thoughts after six innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 2, World Series

- The Tigers are making Madison Bumgarner look like Clayton Kershaw. He has had some big-time success, winning 16 games this season. But his ERA was over 5.00 after September 1, and he was lit up like a Christmas tree by the Cardinals in the NLCS. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder both ripped shots off Bumgarner the second time they faced him. Maybe the third time will be a charm. Omar Infante

Thoughts after 3 innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 2, World Series

- Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont made a mistake sending home Prince Fielder in the second inning on Delmon Young's double, period. I am all for aggressive base running but not with a player that big, that early in a game. If the Giants had executed a simple left-to-short-to-home relay, Fielder would have been out by several feet. The only reason the play was that close is it took Giants left

Why the layoff isn't why the Detroit Tigers lost World Series opener to Giants



No excuse necessary:  Verlander was just hit hard



I don't know if the Tigers will win the World Series. I do know this: It is not over simply because they didn't win Game 1. If they win tonight, the series is even and the Tigers will be in tremendous shape coming home for three games.
But I strongly don't believe they lost Game 1 because they were off awhile after sweeping the Yankees in

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Detroit Tigers better wake up or the San Francisco Giants will roll to World Series title

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/25/sports/doc5088c4ca5a015536935838.txt


Kung Fu Panda and Giants sent a message in Game 1

Thoughts, middle of the 5th inning, Tigers, Giants, Game 1 World Series

- I know people are frustrated by the way this game has gone, but reality is the Tigers were one big hit away in the fifth from being back in it. But they didn't get it...
- All you ever hear about this ball park is how difficult it is to hit home runs. Then Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in his first three at bats of this World Series. Two were off Justin Verlander, truly a great pitcher,  

Thoughts after 3 innings, Tigers, Giants, Game 1, World Series

- Pablo Sandoval is one of those weird hitters, who is impossible to gauge when using basic baseball logic. He was down 0-2 in the count at the most difficult park to hit a home run in the major leagues, while facing the best pitcher in baseball, when he lined a solo home run off Verlander in the first inning. Then an opposite field shot to make it 4-0. What he does best is put the ball in play.

All things considered, it is Detroit Tigers time to win the World Series



Stars are aligned for Miggy and the Tigers

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/24/sports/doc5088414572d75363269620.txt

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Disappointment only begins to describe the Detroit Lions



Jim Schwartz: His Lions are underachieving

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/23/sports/doc50864d3f5d837237606511.txt

Monday, 22 October 2012

Thoughts after 3 quarters, Lions, Bears

 - The Lions defense has held them in this game, but if the offense keeps this up, the dam will break and the Bears will romp. One TD scoring drive, and the Lions would be right in this game.
- The Lions lack of proficiency in the scoring zone is alarming. Where was a lead back in that spot? The Lions do have a package with a tight end leading up through the hole in short yardage situations.

Thoughts halftime, Lions, Bears

- It seemed like Bears linebacker Lance Briggs wanted the ball more than Lions running back Mikel Leshoure, didn't it? And it kind of summed up the first half. The Lions are extremely fortunate to be down just 10-0. Their first-half ineptitude offensively is stunning given their weapons.
- That was a big-time play and clean smack down by Ndamukong Suh on Bears' QB Jay Cutler. His off-the-field

Saturday, 20 October 2012

One close victory, and Michigan Wolverines own Michigan State Spartans again

My column:http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/20/sports/doc50834d23b6acd465593871.txt


Denard Robinson exorcised MSU ghost

Thoughts after 3 quarters, MSU, Michigan

Time is running out on Denard Robinson. Michigan desperately for him to make a play, the type he has made so often against every other conference or rivalry opponent the Wolverines have faced since he became the starting quarterback except Michigan State.
- It was a horrible missed call by the referee. Anthony Rashad White clearly should have been flagged for hitting Robinson late, and to the

Thoughts MSU, Michigan halftime

- The Wolverines are winning this game, but the story of it so far is how well the Michigan State defense has throttled Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. This game very well could determine Robinson's legacy at Michigan. So far, the Wolverines' defense and a missed field goal by MSU kicker Dan Conroy has helped Robinson. Upcoming: The most important half of football Denard Robinson has ever

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Baseball tidal wave carried Detroit Tigers to World Series

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/18/sports/doc5080a79a33a8b823987980.txt




Tigers peaked at just the right time

Thoughts after 8 innings, Tigers, Yankees, Game 4, ALCS

- If the Tigers close in the ninth, enjoy this moment. The Tigers will have won just six pennants in the last 72 years. They also have proven to be superior to the Yankees in the last seven years. They may be lacking a world title since 1984, but the Tigers have still established themselves as one of baseball's best franchises.
- I can tell you this: There is no way Jim Leyland would ever handle

Thoughts after 4 innings, Tigers, Yankees, Game 4, ALCS

- This is now officially a beating rather than a ball game.
- You don't see Miguel Cabrera pull too many fastballs into the left field seats, but he really did a tremendous job of turning around a cutter by Yankees' starter C.C. Sabathia. It was a majestic home run that was remindful in terms of its distance, location and trajectory of Magglio Ordonez's pennant-deciding homer in the 2006 ALCS off

Thoughts after 3 innings, Tigers, Yankees, Game 4, ALCS

- People bemoan about how high the pitch counts for Tigers starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer get early in games. I look at it more as accepting a minimal downside for something that is exceptionally good. They both throw hard and miss a lot of bats. In their case, it is a sign of how difficult they are to hit. Also, there is nothing that can benefit a pitcher more than the

Thoughts after 2 innings, Tigers, Yankees, Game 4, ALCS

- Andy Dirks has been a terrific offensive player for the Tigers this season, but there were times when his defense seemed to dropoff. He played more of a speed game in the past, too. Perhaps that's because he had an Achilles tendon issue during the season. He is running better now. That was a terrific running catch he made in the second inning on Mark Teixeira. He has also proven he can hit

Thoughts after 1 inning, Tigers, Yankees, Game 4, ALCS

- I don't hear anybody complaining about Delmon Young swinging at the first pitch too much now. He is on fire, and has now started to use all fields.
- The crowd here today is excellent. No dropoff in noise from last night. There is not an empty seat to be found. People have still managed to find their way to this game.
- The Yankees have virtually no fight left. You can see it in their body

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Detroit Tigers postseason run of incredible stories

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/17/sports/doc507f606ad0248421776140.txt


Phil Coke: Sweet revenge after bitter regular season

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Detroit Tigers are inferior no more to the New York Yankees

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/16/sports/doc507e2ed73d605832548169.txt


Justin Verlander was brilliant - again

Thoughts after 5 innings, ALCS, Tigers, Yankees, Game 3

- I've defended Curtis Granderson's defense a lot down through the years. He has made some of the best catches I can ever remember, especially at the wall. But he badly misplayed Miguel Cabrera's drive. Between that and third baseman Eric Chavez's error on Quintin Berry's grounder have given the Tigers another break. But to their credit, Cabrera did hit that ball relatively hard, and Berry did

Thoughts after 4 innings, ALCS, Tigers, Yankees, Game 3

- I watched Delmon Young take batting practice today, and he hit a couple low rockets over the left field wall, which were just like the shot he slammed off Yankees' starter Phil Hughes in the fourth. For all the angst about Young, you must give him this: When he's hot, he can carry a team. He did carry the Tigers at a couple key points this summer, and he is doing the same in this series. He has

Thoughts after 3 innings, Tigers, Yankees, Game 2, ALCS

- The Yankees did not get good swings at all on Tigers starter Justin Verlander the first time through the order. At this early stage, it appears like a total mismatch. Yankees starter Phil Hughes is a solid major league starter. He has a good fastball and mixes his pitches well. Still, the gap between Hughes and Verlander is amazingly wide. Before the game, former Tigers star Jack Morris said

Monday, 15 October 2012

Why it's wise Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't write off Jose Valverde



There may be a point Jose Valverde is needed

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/15/sports/doc507c9b2cad9ab567813338.txt

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Detroit Tigers more good than lucky vs. struggling Yankees



Phil Coke: Now he is a fan favorite

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/14/sports/doc507b5845667b5598562900.txt    Video streaming by Ustream

Thoughts after 8 innings, Tigers, Yankees, Game 2, ALCS

- The Tigers got a huge break on the call at second base. Second base umpire Jeff Nelson blew that call badly. Robinson Cano tagged Omar Infante out. It was clear. But Nelson is the same umpire, behind the plate in the game at Fenway Park in Boston this season, who ruled a foul tip strikeout was not valid because it hit the dirt before it landed in Tigers' catcher Gerald Laird's glove (after

Thoughts after 7 innings, Yankees, Tigers, Game 2, ALCS

- The Tigers hitting is amazingly spotty (although it was ridiculous to believe Hiroki Kuroda was going to throw a perfect game today on three days rest), but what we are seeing this postseason is that starting pitching remains the most important element in the game, despite the death of the complete game. This game will, however, come down to what the Tigers do out of the bullpen. It's

Thoughts about the Lions 26-23 victory over the Eagles



Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions character victory

 - The Lions season was on the ropes. They needed a victory in the worst possible way. Even though it wasn't pretty, it was definitely a sign the Lions have made great progress. This is not the "same old franchise." They responded very well under pressure in a classic "must win" situation. The Lions are now very much still in the race for a

Thoughts halftime, Lions, Eagles

 - The Lions should lead this game by at least a touchdown. It's on the offense. It has become increasingly inept as the game has moved on. The last drive of the half was particularly disturbing.
- Wide receiver Titus Young and tight end Brandon Pettigrew are in a neck-and-neck race to be the Lions' MDP (Most Disappointing Player) this season. QB Matthew Stafford made a great, long throw, which

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Detroit Tigers so hot right now even Jose Valverde can't spoil it



Prince Fielder and Tigers winning despite their closer

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/14/sports/doc507a5469ebbaa791357168.txt

Thoughts after 8 innings, Tigers, Yankees, Game 1, ALCS

- Baseball can be extremely weird. Among the Tiger's heroes tonight: Jhonny Peralta (as a defensive stalwart), Phil Coke (getting out Mark Teixeira while he was hitting right-handed) and Avisail Garcia (as a clutch hitter). Hey, is there still room on the postseason roster for Ryan Raburn (I'm kidding). For all the justifiable complaints about the lack of balance in the Tigers' lineup during the

Thoughts after 7 innings, Tigers, Yankees, Game 1, ALCS

- It was inevitable the Tigers had to go to their bullpen tonight. Phil Coke wasn't good in the seventh. He was brilliant. Getting Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira back-to-back like that was incredible given Coke's struggles this season. And Cano really fought him hard in that at bat, too.
- Doug Fister has a tremendous competitive heart. Even when he was
coming off an injury earlier this season

Judgment day is here for Denard Robinson and Michigan Wolverines

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/13/sports/doc507a031001c22717860329.txt


Beating MSU a must in many ways for Robinson, Michigan

Thoughts halftime, Michigan, Illinois

- Michigan fans can't help it. Many of them bemoan the idea of Denard Robinson as their quarterback, but today they got a dose of life without him. The offense wasn't nearly as threatening, was it?
It also brought in the question: If there is a long-term injury, does Devin Gardner go back to QB? I would have to belief that is the case. He is a good receiver, but not great there. It wouldn't hurt

Friday, 12 October 2012

Justin Verlander perfection could propel Detroit Tigers to world title



Justin Verlander is the ace in any playoff deck

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/12/sports/doc5077c55941413136318085.txt

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Thoughts after 7 innings, Tigers, A's, Game 5, ALDS

 - It's amazing how much better the Tigers play when expectations are dropped. In the seven years they have been managed by Jim Leyland, they have seldom played well as front runners. They are much better coming from behind or with their "backs against the wall."
- Finally, the offense has broken through. It shouldn't be considered any kind of fluke. Ryan Cook had been as effective as any

Thoughts after 4 innings, Tigers, A's, Game 5 ALDS

 - Justin Verlander has been brilliant in this game. He is mixing his pitches well. The A's are extremely unbalanced. Perhaps he can give the Tigers a complete game to avoid the bullpen. Oakland's hitters, with the exception of Yoenis Cespedes, appear overmatched. But we all know about the A's propensity for unlikely comebacks.
- There has been a classic example in this game how not play catcher

And so it will be the Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander vs. the Oakland A's destiny



Tigers fighting destiny

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/11/sports/doc50766b901e883902111790.txt

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Thoughts after 7 innings, Tigers, A's, Game 4 ALDS

- Getting the first out in any inning means even more to Al Alburquerque than other relievers. His velocity is down from last year, and there isn't quite as much bite on his slider, but he does ride his confidence well, and there is still plenty of "stuff" there. He did extraordinarily well under a lot of pressure in the seventh, given how he is loathed in Oakland after kissing the baseball in

Thoughts after 4 innings, Game 4, Tigers, A's, ALDS

 - Max Scherzer isn't throwing as hard as usual, but plenty hard enough. There is still enough separation in velocity between his fastball and his off-speed pitches to be effective. Also, there seems to more late movement on his fastball at 92 mph and 93 mph than at 95 mph and 96 mph. And he still has his share of strikeouts. The A's have helped him out with pitch count. Scherzer has thrown just

Detroit Lions great Alex Karras always had a flair for the dramatic

I have two older brothers, and remember distinctly as a kid how they and my father would wax poetic about Alex Karras firing his helmet at Lions quarterback Milt Plum, reputedly barely missing his head, after Plum threw a late interception that cost the Lions a victory in Green Bay in 1962.
As the Lions were losing continually throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, it was like this prideful moment

Detroit Tigers become kittens on the road



Coco Crisp: Goat in Detroit, hero in Oakland

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/10/sports/doc5075206e80af4225746981.txt

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Thoughts after 7 innings, Tigers, A's, Game 3, ALDS

 - Big inning by Detroit reliever Octavio Dotel. Tigers manager Jim Leyland rolled the dice having him pitch to the left-handed hitting Seth Smith. It worked. There is concern about the lack of a situational lefty in the Tigers' bullpen, though. In the long run, it could hurt them.
- If there was an example about just how much importance fielding plays in the game of baseball, it is this series

Thoughts after 4 innings, Tigers, A's ALDS

- Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp made up for his horrible play in Game 2 of this series on Miguel Cabrera with his great play on Prince Fielder in Game 3 tonight. The A's, overall, have been much stronger defensively tonight than during the two games in Detroit. The Tigers are hitting the ball hard tonight. They should have more to show for it. They will if they keep putting these type of

Monday, 8 October 2012

Sunday, 7 October 2012

On a team of stars, it is Detroit Tigers role players keying postseason run

My column: http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2012/10/07/sports/doc5071f9363591c680852313.txt    Video streaming by Ustream


Thoughts after 8 innings, Tigers, A's, Game 2 ALDS

- Oh boy. Phil Coke...Yikes. He does have postseason experience...
- It wasn't luck the Tigers pushed the tying run home. They did get two hits in that inning. They did get a sacrifice bunt from Andy Dirks. They forced Oakland's hand with the wild pitch. Oakland's Ryan Cook has been as effective as any reliever in the AL lately.
- The home run routine is getting a little stale with Tigers' setup

Thoughts after 7 innings, Tigers, A's Game 2 ALDS

- That was a monumental error by Coco Crisp in center field on the ball hit by Miguel Cabrera. It could ultimately cost the A's this series. They continue to shoot themselves in the foot defensively. In fairness to Crisp, he was playing unusally deep because Cabrera was at the plate. But come on, that wasn't a difficult play.
- That was a huge two-strike hit by Omar Infante with two outs. It set

Thoughts after 6 innings, Detroit Tigers, Oakland A's Game 2 ALDS

- A's right fielder Josh Reddick has just horrific at bats in this series. The A's as whole just don't look very imposing offensively. But the Tigers pitching has a lot to do with it. There have been excellent starts from Justin Verlander and Doug Fister at the top of the rotation. It'd be difficult to ask for much better. The Tigers have been doing their part behind their aces with a solid 

Thoughts after 3 innings, Detroit Tigers, Oakland A's Game 2 ALDS

- It looks like if Miguel Cabrera batted 10 times against Tommy Milone, he'd get eight hits, all of them doubles up the left-center field gap.
- Avisail Garcia is still developing as a hitter. The A's are playing him to swing late and he has displayed little power. Yet, his throw, nailing Coco Crisp at the plate in the third inning, proves the value of his defense. He is the only Tigers'