Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Friday, July 15, 2005 at 9:36 AM

Random thoughts.

Well, I will be on vacation, yet again, next week with the family here. My family and I are all packing up the old minivan and heading out this evening. So, once again, this site will be lonely for about a week. Hopefully when I get back the Pistons will have their man, the Tigers will still be alive, the Red Wings will finally be old news again and the Lions will be ready to start it up. So, just to take a moment here to talk one last time before I hit the road, here are some random thoughts on the major Detroit sports, and the Red Wings as well.

The Pistons:

The Larry Brown saga continues. Look, all I have to say is let it go already please. Did Brown do anything wrong during the season? I don't know, for me it is hard to say yes or no either way. He has serious health issues, anyone who denies that or doesn't believe that is fooling themselves. To me, I look at his "flirtation" with the Cleveland Caviliers as no big deal, believe it or not. The dude got us to within minutes of winning back to back championships, on the road the second time no less. If anyone truly believes we would have accomplished what we have the last couple years with Rick Carlisle or anyone else I say again, you are fooling yourself. The Pistons are what they are today because of LB, you can not deny that. Did he maybe flirt a little to closely with the Cavs? Maybe, but the guy is a basketball man for life and he saw what may be the end of his coaching career on the horizon. I truly believe him when he says he would only coach the Pistons next year, if healthy, and nowhere else. I look at it like a free agent in any sport in the final year of his contract. Don't tell me that a guy who is a free agent isn't already telling his agent "Man, if I can't be here next year then here is a list of teams that I want to go to.". What is so different for Larry Brown? Granted he still has three years left on his contract, but did any of you actually expect him to stay here for all five years of his contract? I didn't and, once again, if any of you answer yes then you are still fooling yourselves. Look, the man was in pain all year long last year on the bench and was uncertain if he could return and give 100%. He said if he could give 100%, or close to it, he would be back on the bench. If not, so what if he was thinking ahead and looking for what he would do in his retirement from coaching. That is his right and I truly have no problem with it.

Lastly on Brown I would like to echo something I said yesterday in a comment on another sports blog. People have been saying that Flip Saunders would be a down grade from LB. Well, pardon my french here people, but no shit! Really? Look, LB is the greatest coach in the game today - period, point blank, end of story. (And, for the record, if any of you even mention Phil Jackson as a "great coach" and put him in the same breath as LB, go get your head checked, you know less about sports then my friends dog!) Any coach would be a down grade from LB, I mean how do you replace the best in the business? You can't, it is impossible. The Sports Pig had a good analogy on his site, it is like going from Bowman (best in hockey) to Lewis a couple years back for the Wings. There is not a coach in the game that can even carry LB's resume, so of course the next guy will be a down grade. All I am saying with Flip is can you name me a better option? You can't, there are none. He is young, he is a proven winner and I think he would succeed here. If I had my way, of course LB would remain, he is the best at what he does. Would I rather have LB then Flip? Damn right I would! But would I rather have Flip then say Gar Heard or some other assistant coach out there right now? Damn straight! I hope that if Larry can stay they can work it out, but it is just nice to know that Flip really isn't going anywhere fast - that 5.5 million he is owed by the T'Wolves all but guarantees he will wait this out as long as the soap opera continues. All I want, and all that any Pistons fan wants, is closure. Hopefully by the time I return it will all be resolved.

Lastly, here is an interesting take on ESPN by Jason Whitlock looking at the whole thing from the other side. Great article, give her a read.

The Tigers:

Well, let's just hope that last nights return was more rust than signs of things to come. I really have high hopes for the Tigers in the second half, for some strange reason that is! If the surprise of the season, the pitching, keeps it up and the bats get healthy and stay healthy (Guillen, Ordonez mainly) I think they can make some noise. Of course the question is can they or will they? I like Polanco and I hope he does stay after this season. Furthermore, how about that Chris Shelton cat? He is fun to watch and should be a Tiger main stay at either first base or DH for years to come. The Tigers finally have some young talent, in the field and on the mound, something you couldn't even whisper a few years ago. That is all kudos to Dave Dombroski and the fine job a "real" baseball executive can do when given the chance. However, don't you miss Randy Smith trading with the Astros and Padres just about every other week? All right, I really don't either, but I thought I would bring it up anyway.

The Lions:

Well, the countdown to benching Joey Harrington is about to be under way! I still stick to my guns and say three games, but that is just me. Yes the dude put up some impressive numbers the last three games last season, but they didn't transpire to any wins. Look, I just don't think he has that thing everyone always talks about, you know, he just doesn't have "IT". If I am wrong and he leads us to the playoffs, does a little of the Drew Brees thing from last season, I will gladly eat my words on the whole bench Joey subject. I want my Lions to do well, I would love to see them in the playoffs again, and if Joey is the guy to do it then I will gladly choke on all the bad things I have said about him. But, for whatever reason, I just don't see him being anything but a back up QB in this league for life. He has no excuses now, let me tell you that! Even though the three big receivers are all young (Williams, Williams and Rogers), can you name me a three receiver set more potent then that in the NFL? Plus, Kevin Jones looks like a dependable 1300-1500 yard back, Marcus Pollard is a great upgrade at TE and the defense is younger, faster and appears to be healthy going into next year. No excuses now Joey, no excuses now!

The Red Wings:

Well, I guess they are back, except the roster won't look like the Yankees of hockey anymore! I guess they hired a new coach, I hear the news conference on the radio right now. Oh, and lastly, I guess I still don't give a crap - just like the majority of the people out there who didn't even know the NHL was gone!

Well, that is all I got for now, talk to you all when I get back! Later - the sports dude.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 8:50 AM

The ugly step sister returns!!!!

Well, I am a Detroit Sports blogger, so I guess I may as well make mention of it as my duty to the Detroit Sports scene. It appears that hockey is finally back, "GAME ON!" as the headlines read, and the league will return this September. For some this is great news, but for the vast majority of people this is simply a blip on the map.

The NHL has bigger issues than salary caps and missing a year from the lockout. It was already the least popular sport of the "Big 4" in the USA, now it has alienated its fans by wasting a year. Even though the majority of the "hardcore" fans will return, the people that were on the bubble, the ones that just "watched to watch", those fans will all but be gone. They have spent the last year watching teams like the Pistons grow and win championships, they have watched the Tigers actually take steps towards legitimacy, they have seen the Lions.... drop passes?...., they have seen the All-Star game for MLB be a success and the Super Bowl is on the horizon. Where does hockey fit into all of this? It doesn't; for most it was an after thought, for some they remembered but too many folks in this area, just like this country, just don't really care about hockey.

And please don't come to me with all this "Hockeytown" garbage, that is weak and all of you know it. If the Tigers contend for the Wild Card this year, let alone actually make the playoffs, hockey will be on the back burner. This town was originally "Tigertown" and if the damn team gets serious again, it will return to it in a heart beat. Also, don't tell me the Pistons haven't caught up to the Red Wings, especially in people my age and younger and all those "fringe fans" that I spoke about earlier. Lastly, if the Lions do anything remotely close to a playoff run this year this town will erupt more violently than any Stanley Cup could ever bring. Point is hockey, you were only given the opportunity to become "Hockeytown" because there was nothing else. Now that there is, sorry, you will remain the ugly step sister hear in Detroit as well.

Yes, I know, there are many that are probably calling me crazy for saying this, but it is sad and true and you all know it. Go to any high school today and ask kids to put, in order, the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL from favorite to least favorite and I guarantee that the NHL is last about 80 to 90 percent of the time! The point is, except for the few hardcore fans, no one watches and no one cares, while in this city especially the other three (MLB, NFL, NBA) continue to gain more fans while the NHL locked theirs out. And, one last time for the record, in my opinion the majority of the blame goes to the players in my book!

The NHL has no major network to carry it and furthermore no real identity. The NFL, the NBA and MLB are all more popular and draw more ratings. In fact I heard something the other day on the radio that said NASCAR, poker, the Westminster dog shows, the Outdoor Games, golf and tennis all get better ratings on TV then hockey does. And that was on an all sports radio station and was said by a guy who is excited about hockey coming back! The NHL has some serious issues folks, deeper then this lockout and deeper than this CBA can cure. Look, I didn't get it then and I know I won't get it now. As I told my buddy here at work, the only guy out of 100 here that actually cares about hockey coming back, that I would rather watch the grass grow in my front yard than watch hockey live or on TV.

Welcome back hockey, to the few fans you have left and have not alienated, I say "GAME ON", but more importantly I say "Good Luck"! Something tells me you will need a lot of it to just survive. Later - the sports dude.

Monday, July 11, 2005 at 11:36 AM

My beef with the All Star Game.

I would just like to take a moment and talk a little about the upcoming All-Star Game here at Comerica Park. We are only a couple days away and I figure, since I am a Detroit Sports Blogger, I should probably talk about such a huge event taking place downtown. Now, I understand that it is a warm up to the Super Bowl in a few months, but none the less this is a great measuring stick for the city and should be a decent show for all.

Now, I could go into the insults about our “beautiful” down town area, but I won’t… too much that is! What I would really love to see is all those abandoned buildings down there just blown to pieces. Take every burnt out, crack infested building in the area of Ford Field and Comerica and level it. Turn the remaining areas into parking lots, parking garages and parking related things. Then, save enough space for the final piece of the master puzzle – a new hockey arena. You would have the ultimate sports venue, the ultimate sports plaza if you will right there all together. There really is no need for those buildings, unless you are a bum needing shelter or a young, inspiring graffiti artist, so I say level them all! Build a new ice arena, turn the remaining vacant areas into parking lots and structure, and maybe add a new club or something and you have the ultimate sport scene in the middle of downtown Detroit. But start there, let that be the epicenter of rebirth and move out. There is no reason to hold onto the crappy buildings down there and hopefully the city will get a mayor soon that will fight for something other than his own parties and pimp like ways. All I can say is, I truly miss Dennis Archer.

All right, enough with the negative of the city itself let me talk about the game for one second. What really bothers me about the All-Star Game here is this gimmick that Selig came up with, that of World Series home field advantage going to the winner of the game. What the crap is that? That is junk and let me tell you why I feel that way. If home field advantage is going to be decided by the outcome of this game, shouldn’t the best players truly be there? Not the most popular, not the ones who sell the most jerseys, but the ones who happen to be the best in their league at the time? I understand that the league likes to keep the fans involved by letting them vote, but damn let them vote in the reserves then! Home field advantage in the World Series is too big a thing to let the “popular people” decide, there needs to be a better way of doing it. That is why I am saying let the managers pick the starters from the best people in the league at the time, the fans can pick the reserves. That way at least you know that, if you get to the World Series, the best possible roster was on the field when home field was decided, not just all the “pretty boys” of baseball. Who knows, maybe the roster would almost be identical anyhow, but at least make it fair and in my opinion right now it is not.

Well, that is all I have for the time being, maybe we will talk more later. Until then, keep breathing, keep smiling and enjoy the day! The Sports Dude.

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