Archive for January, 2013

Jan
10

Unseasonable, Insatiable

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It doesn’t take much to give us Spring Fever in Michigan.

It’s cold and flu season, but some of us will be coming down with an incurable case of Spring Fever as the temps are expected to hit and surpass 50 degrees on Friday and Saturday. That’s all it takes, you know—a day or two of 40+ degree weather to make us think of baseball, Easter and flowers.

Get ready to see folks in shorts and flip flops this weekend. I only partially exaggerate. Flip flops, maybe not, but certainly shorts. I have joked with out-of-towners who live in warm weather climates that while they may think of temps in the low-60s as being “cool” this time of year, people in Michigan would be walking around naked if the mercury touched that mark in the dead of winter.

Just a day or two, that’s all we need, of unseasonable warmth and you can get a new lease on life. Your countenance changes. You become more optimistic. You wonder whether Punxsutawney Phil will need shades and a glass of iced tea when he pops his head out on February 2.

Even though we know the balminess won’t last long—maybe 48 hours, tops—it doesn’t matter. All things are possible. You wonder if the tulips will be popping out before MLK Day.

We starve for anything above 40 degrees right about now. The holidays are over, there’s a hangover about that, and a whole winter is still ahead of us. Bone-chilling cold is certain to get us, sooner or later. So a forecast like this weekend’s, when 50 degrees looks like 80, is a great elixir. The snow will melt before our eyes but we won’t see it actually happening, much like how a clock or watch’s minute hands move as if by magic. All of a sudden the grass will reappear.

We see these temps coming a mile away, once they appear on the 5-day forecast. There’s a buzz created.


“It’s going to be 50 on Friday!” we say on Monday.

“50 degrees on Friday,” we say again on Wednesday, to which someone says, “55 on Saturday,” as the 5-day is updated.

We say it with excitement. We say it with amazement.

It’s bound to be fleeting but that’s OK; we would be happy with just an hour of it, truth be told.

Yes, it’s just the second week of January and no matter how warm it gets this weekend, the whole winter, just about, is staring us in the face.

We’ll worry about that come Monday.

Categories : Enotes, weather
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Jan
08

Late Freeze

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How long before video stores go the way of travel agencies?

Remember the local travel agent? They’d advertise on local TV and they had tiny offices with globes on the signs and maps on the walls. You’d ring them up if you wanted a surrogate to get you the best deal on a hotel in Chicago or a rental car in Boston.

Then the Internet struck, with its multitude of websites, and the American traveler became his or her own travel agent. The middle man, as so often has happened after the Internet, was cut out, like a tumor.

Why pay someone to do something that we could do for free, and still get discounts to boot?

So I wonder about the fate of the corner video store.

Actually, you may have to drive past quite a few corners before you find a video store these days.

NetFlix, the Red Box kiosks, the Internet (of course) and more people owning BluRay discs than DVDs, are all contributing to the slow death of the local video store, I’m afraid.


But some of it is the video store’s own doing.

Take late fees. Please.

One of the allures to the above alternatives to renting movies is that none of them will charge you a late fee. And late fees, if we’re just talking between us, is surely a big revenue gainer in the video rental business.

One of the reasons why late fees are so common is that the due dates for the movies are all over the map.

This one’s due in two days. That one’s due in three days. You have a full week on that other one. Oops, better get THIS one back TOMORROW. Or else.

We used to run a late fee balance at one of the local stores like a drunk would a bar tab.

Even asking for a printout of the due dates, which the store gladly provided, didn’t always prevent Video A, B or C frome being brought back tardy.

But here’s the deal: video stores must be feeling the heat from their competitors. So why not back off on the late fees? And I have just the idea to make that happen, and make the video store more attractive.

If I ran a video store, I’d advertise that every movie in the joint, from A to Z, was a one-week rental. Every single one.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a “new release.” Doesn’t matter if it came out on Tuesday, or 12 years ago. Every one of my films, you can have for a week.

Simple. Easy to remember.

Will people still be tardy, even under that arrangement? Sure. But that’s on them.

I’d even call my place One Week Video. Seriously.

Think of it. You come in, browse, grab a bunch of movies, pay me and know that everything is due one week from today. Simple. No muss, no fuss.

I’d even have seven different types of bags, each with a day of the week on it. You come in on a Monday, you get a Monday Bag. And so on.

“Honey, when are these movies due back?”

“What does the bag say?”

See?

Of course, you go beyond the seven-day limit, and we have a problem. But I won’t tag you for very much. Promise.

It’s an idea that makes far too much sense, which is why it won’t be adopted.

Which is part of why the video store will join the travel agent, the drive-in movie and mini-golf in the Dungeon of the Forgotten.

Sooner, rather than later.

Categories : economy, Enotes, Internet, society
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It’s a question that has tantalized the football fans in these parts for some 55 years (and counting).

“What’s wrong with the Lions?”

At this point in their inglorious history, I can give you 1,964 reasons why the Lionsaren’t winners.

That number, 1,964, happens to be the total yardage rolled up by receiver Calvin Johnson in the 2012 season. It was record-setting stuff. More yards than any NFL pass catcher has accumulated in a single season. Ever. The previous record holder was the great Jerry Rice, no less.

It’s a remarkable achievement, for sure. The 1,964 represents over 120 yards per game. Just call him Two Yards a Minute Calvin.

Opposing defenses looked at the Lions offense this year just like they did in the 1990s, when they looked at the Lions during Barry Sanders’ heyday. Opponents looked at the Lions in 2012 and in one sweep of the arm, knocked all the skill players off the board and honed in on stopping Johnson, just as they did with Barry some 20 years ago.

With Sanders, sometimes it worked, to focus strictly on him. Barry was the most elusive, trickiest, slippery runner of his time. Of any time, truth be told. Jamming seven defenders near the line of scrimmage, each with the expressed assignment of getting their hands on No. 20, sometimes worked. But not very often.

Johnson, it can be argued, is the Barry Sanders of receivers in today’s NFL. Just as Barry was better than any other runner at avoiding tackles and thus was frequently able to make defenses designed primarily to stop him look silly, so does Calvin Johnson make defensive coordinators’ game plans as ineffectual as a breath mint after limburgercheese.

Every week the charge to the defense was “Don’t let Calvin Johnson beat you.” Sometimes coordinators settled for “Don’t let Calvin Johnson humiliate you.”

It clearly didn’t matter that Johnson was the only player on the Lions offense that you had to worry about. He got his yards anyway. 1,964 of them, shattering the record set by Rice some 17 years ago.

Here’s another number that, when combined with the 1,964, hints at why the Lions won just four games in 2012, a year after winning 10 and making the playoffs.

That number would be five.

Johnson scored just five touchdowns to go with his 1,964 yards. In 1995, when Rice caught passes totaling 1,848 yards, the 49ers receiver caught 15 touchdown passes.

The 1995 49ers won 11 games and captured their division. They were the defending Super Bowl champs. And Jerry Rice scored three times as many touchdowns with his 1,848 yards as Johnson did with his 1,964.

I started this by saying that there were 1,964 reasons why the Lions didn’t win diddly-poo (to steal from Jim Mora’s lexicon) in 2012.

As yet another lousy Lions football season went down the drain, the focus became, yet again, on hollow personal stats.

Would Johnson break Rice’s record? Would quarterback Matthew Stafford throw for 5,000 yards again? Would he set a record for most passes attempted in a single season?

These are questions asked by losers, as the calendar flips to December.

Rice’s 1995 season notwithstanding, the NFL’s pedigree is such that, for the most part, seasons of terrific individual accomplishment are generally not paired with team success.

The Packers of the 1960s featured the running back tandem of Paul Hornung (Mr. Outside) and Jim Taylor (Mr. Inside). Taylor did have a monster year in 1962, when the Packers finished 13-1 and won the NFL Championship: 1,474 yards rushing (5.4 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns. Hornung never rushed for more than 681 yards in any given season of his career.

Taylor’s individual auspiciousness and the Packers’ great team success in 1962 is an anomaly. And even so, the Packers’ emphasis wasn’t on Taylor leading the league in rushing or scoring more TDs than any running back in the league. Their coach, Vince Lombardi, would have none of that. Taylor’s numbers were a byproduct of the Packers’ system and their Hall of Fame-laden offensive line.

O.J. Simpson became the first rusher in NFL history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark for a single season, in 1973. His team, the Buffalo Bills, missed the playoffs.

Eric Dickerson was the second runner to hit 2,000 yards, in 1984. His Los AngelesRams lasted one playoff game.

The Lions’ Sanders rushed for 2,053 yards in 1997. Those Lions didn’t win a playoff game, either.

Even Rice’s 1995 49ers lasted just one playoff game in his record-setting year.

The racking up of yards by Johnson and Stafford in 2012 and the questions about whether they’d be record setting in nature (Stafford had the chance to become just the second passer in league history to throw for 5,000+ yards twice in his career), became annoying and, worse, were symptomatic of the Lions’ problems.

Break Rice’s record? Become the first receiver to hit the 2,000 yard mark? Throw for 5,000 yards again? Throw more passes in one season than anyone else?

I have one more question for you, to go with those.

WHO CARES?

We were down this road before with the Lions. It happened, ironically enough, during Rice’s great 1995 season.

The ’95 Lions had Sanders running the ball, Scott Mitchell throwing it, and Herman Moore and Brett Perriman catching it.

Sanders had 1,500 yards rushing, on the button. Moore caught 123 passes for 1,686 yards. Perriman had 108 catches for 1,488 yards. Mitchell threw for 4,338 yards and 32TDs. Moore and Perriman became the first teammates to each have 100+ catches in one season.

Yards, yards, yards. And more yards. Bodacious in nature. A whole lotta yards.

So the Lions took all those yards and went into the playoffs against the Eagles in Philadelphia. That was the embarrassing 58-37 loss, a game in which the Eagles once led 51-7.

Yards, shmards.

The Lions in 2012 once again became a team boiled down to a couple of individuals chasing hollow records. Johnson’s achievement was noteworthy, but what did it do for the team’s fortunes?

1,964 yards. Five touchdowns. A TD every 400 yards, just about.

Whoopee.

Categories : football
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Jan
03

Location, Location, Location

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Well, that didn’t take long.

The year 2013, the year of the next Detroit mayoral election, was hours old when the first salvo was fired by a candidate at another, and—surprise—it had the tinges of race baiting to it.

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, by all indications a pretty smart guy, said something un-smart that was clearly aimed at presumed candidate Mike Duggan.

Napoleon told a reporter that Palmer Woods, one of the city’s jewels when it comes to neighborhoods, wasn’t really a part of Detroit.

Come again?

Palmer Woods is where Duggan has recently taken up residence as he presumably prepares for a run at Dave Bing’s job—whether Bing runs for re-election or not. Duggan, as we all know, is white.

The day after saying flat out that Palmer Woods is not Detroit, Napoleon backpedaled.

“Palmer Woods is not Detroit? Nothing is further from the truth,” Napoleon wrote on Facebook. “It is one of our prized neighborhoods. However, the Palmer Woods experience is far different from that of the average Detroiter’s neighborhood experience. Most Detroiters, including those in Palmer Woods, understand that without clarification. But to set the record straight, I believe Palmer Woods is not only Detroit, it is what we want Detroit neighborhoods to aspire to be. And our city won’t be transformed until the Palmer Woods experience is one that is shared by all Detroiters.”

Nicely played. For now.

It didn’t figure to take long before Duggan, aiming to become Detroit’s first white mayor since Roman Gribbs left office on December 31, 1973, was taken a shot at by the (so far) rather small field of fellow candidates. And it wasn’t surprising that the shot taken focused on Duggan’s choice of residence.

Duggan lived for years in Livonia, which is as white as salt, for the most part. He moved to Palmer Woods last year.

Wayne County Sheriff and Detroit mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon
Napoleon recovered nicely, for the most part, from his gaffe. But it still displayed, within him, the old refrain.

You’re not a Detroiter unless your trash doesn’t get picked up. You’re not a Detroiter unless your street lights are out for months. You’re not a Detroiter unless you live among abandoned homes and crack houses. You’re not a Detroiter unless you are out of work and are bereft of hope.

Is that how we want the next mayor to look at things?

We’d rather have him (or her) look at the city the way Napoleon did in his backpedaling statement on Facebook.

To wit: “But to set the record straight, I believe Palmer Woods is not only Detroit, it is what we want Detroit neighborhoods to aspire to be. And our city won’t be transformed until the Palmer Woods experience is one that is shared by all Detroiters.”

Too bad that’s not what Benny Napoleon said the first time around. Then again, political candidates often need two tries to get it right. At least.

Categories : culture, Enotes, Politics
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It’s become an annual tradition. Look back at 12 months of tripe and pick out the stuff that I either got very wrong, very right, or that makes one think I might be onto something (or on something, whichever).

So without further ado, here’s the Best (and Worst) of Greg Eno for 2012.

January

On the state of the Lions after their 45-28 playoff loss in New Orleans:

“There needs to be more roster massaging before the Lions can truly call themselves Super Bowl contenders. No one gets bumped out of the playoffs in the first round, as soundly as the Lions did, and comes back with the same cast and crew and expects to make progress.”

Yet that’s exactly what GM Marty Mayhew did, for the most part, as his draft was less than spectacular. And you saw what happened.

On what the Tigers should do in the wake of the Victor Martinez knee injury:

“Is there a Martinez on the list?

The closest is Prince Fielder, and while it’s intriguing to imagine Cecil’s kid accepting a one-year deal in Detroit before testing the market again for 2013 and beyond, it’ll take a boatload of cash and quite a payroll hit to make that happen. Not likely to transpire, but fun to think about.

The next closest, perhaps, is Vlad Guerrero, coming off a so-so season in Baltimore.

The rest of the list contains some acceptable names, but not all of them would one consider to be enough protection behind Miguel Cabrera. In fact, few of them would be.

So the Tigers have to realize that they just won’t go out and pluck another V-Mart from the tree.

Guerrero would be a fine addition. He is strictly a DH at this stage of his career, so in that way he’s a tit-for-tat replacement for Martinez, who even before this latest injury wasn’t going to play in the field anymore—not with the Tigers signing Gerald Laird to be catcher Alex Avila’s backup.

But Vlad won’t hit .330, and he’s not a switch-hitter, another thing that Victor has over the available free agents.

Still, a Guerrero who can hit for power but not threaten .300 would make opposing managers at least think twice before issuing Cabrera the four-finger pass.

My money is on the Tigers signing Guerrero for a year.”

They didn’t sign Guerrero for a year. They signed Fielder for nine.

February

On the Red Wings’ Tomas Holmstrom playing in his 1,000th career game:

“Holmstrom is the crazy guy in the war movies who tosses himself onto a grenade in a fox hole. Only the fox hole, in this case, is the goal crease. The grenade is the puck. And Holmstrom has allowed his body to be battered and bruised all in the name of moving said puck across the red line—for 1,000 games.

You figure that if Holmstrom plays about 15 minutes a night, then his 1,000 games represents 250 hours of punishment in front of the net. Can you imagine being slashed and cross-checked and making yourself a target for shooting pucks for over 10 days straight?”

Sadly, Holmstrom hasn’t been able to add to his total, thanks to the lockout. And it’s no sure bet that he’ll be back, anyhow.

On the status of Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch:

Jackson shouldn’t be batting leadoff any more than Ben Wallace should be the Pistons’ new starting point guard.

Why not make Boesch the new leadoff hitter?

Dump Jackson down to ninth, where he belongs.

Boesch IV, the leadoff version, will likely hit .270-plus, start the occasional game with a home run, and—most importantly—he won’t strike out 175 times. He’s got some speed, is a competent base runner and he won’t strike out 175 times. He’ll get on base with surprising frequency. Did I mention that he won’t strike out 175 times?”

Jackson had a breakout year of sorts, and Boesch…didn’t. Shows you how much I know.

March

On the off-season (up to that point) of Lions GM Mayhew:

“Martin Mayhew seems to be the guy that can take this thing from 0-16 to the Super Bowl. He has done a marvelous job of drafting, trading, signing and re-signing.

The latter—re-signing—has been far more important to the Lions’ future than any free agent from outside the organization they’ve signed in recent years.

Mayhew wanted to keep his own free agents in the fold, and rework the contracts of some of his star players to create the financial space in which to do all that re-signing.

His off-season, thus far, has been A+.”

That was BEFORE the draft, which wasn’t very good, to say the least. And Mayhew is suddenly on the hot seat, perhaps.

On Pistons (then) rookie point guard Brandon Knight:

“Coach Frank, speaking basketball-ese, put it this way to the Free Press the other day.

“I think a big part of it is when Brandon is playing north-to-south and not east-to-west. He has those, we call them ‘rack attacks,’” Frank said in that East Coast dialect that all pro-basketball coaches seem to have.

“That’s vital, especially for a primary ball handler, you have to be on the attack and put pressure on a defense,” Frank continued. “When you do that, it might not be your shot, but you’re going to collapse (the defense) and force help.”

There you have it. The Pistons are better off when Mr. Little makes those big rack attacks.

Only time will tell if those rack attacks, and his growing chemistry with Greg Monroe, will put Brandon Knight on the path of Dave Bing and Isiah Thomas-like greatness.”

Knight this season, at times, appears to be regressing, or at the very least, not progressing as much as hoped.

May

On the dreaded retirement of Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, after it was made official:

“You don’t replace Nick Lidstrom. Let’s get that straight right now.

All the Red Wings can do is cobble together as much talent as they can on defense and hope for the best, really. They’re a much worse team now than they were yesterday, no question.

But all is not lost. Plenty of teams have won the Stanley Cup without the greatest defenseman in NHL history on their roster. I mean, look who’s playing for the Cup right now (LA and New Jersey).

The sun will rise tomorrow. It’s just hard to imagine that it will, after it set on Nick Lidstrom’s career today.”

And there STILL haven’t been any games played since, to see what life post-Lidstrom is like.

On Pistons big man Greg Monroe, as said by frequent “Knee Jerks” guest and former Pistons player and coach, Ray Scott:

“It was then when Scott said something that would have caused me to bop the speaker in the mouth—had the speaker not been Ray Scott.

“With Greg Monroe, we finally have a big man in Detroit who we can throw the ball into for all four quarters and make something happen and we haven’t had that since Bob Lanier,” Scott said of the kid from Georgetown who just finished his second season for a bad Pistons team, which Scott and Lanier know all about.

For full disclosure, Ray wanted us to know that he serves on the board of Monroe’s charity foundation. That’s OK; what he said didn’t smack of shilling. Ray doesn’t roll like that.

Monroe, to hear Scott say it, might become the best NBA center from Georgetown since Patrick Ewing. No less.”

Nothing that Monroe has done this season indicates that Coach is wrong.

June

On the Lions’ consistency:

“So far, the lack of football heads rolling in Detroit since 2008 seems to be working. The Lions seem to be getting better. Schwartz is on the last year of his contract, but that will soon be ripped up and an extension signed, I would imagine.

All of a sudden, the Lions are a model of consistency in today’s NFL. An improved won/lost record has been concurrent with that consistency.”

Never mind.

On the hype over Quintin Berry:

“Jackson, one of the premier center fielders in baseball, went down, and here came Berry, riding in from Toledo on what some people thought was a white horse.

Berry did his best at being Jackson’s stand-in. For a few games the Tigers got a lift from the journeyman. It didn’t hurt his standing that, at the time of his promotion, Boesch and Young were terrible.

But let’s not get carried away. Berry may not even be with the team come September. He might be long forgotten by then, as the Tigers, it is hoped, scramble for a playoff spot. Or, his speed alone may keep him on the roster. We’ll see.

Who will not be forgotten, who will not be a footnote to this season, is Jackson. And, I submit, Boesch and Young, when all is said and done.

Jackson has the potential to be the best all-around center fielder the Tigers have had since Al Kaline roamed there in the late-1950s.”

Berry faltered, as I expected, though his spot on the 2013 roster seems secure, for now.

On Tommy Hearns’ induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame:

“Hearns fought all the big names: Sugar Ray Leonard (twice), Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez and Marvin Hagler. The opponents were always the best that boxing had to offer at the time. Tommy didn’t always win, but even in defeat, he fought a hell of a fight. The Hagler bout is legendary for its fury.

He did all this mostly in the first half of the 1980s, at a time when Detroit needed a champion and a figure of respect in the worst way. The 1979 depression, which hit the Big Three automakers hard, had sapped a lot of the spirit out of Detroiters.

But then came Tommy Hearns with his long arms and his wicked right, and in a way, when Tommy kicked the ass of Duran (in 1984 with the hardest punch I’ve ever seen thrown, by the way), we felt like we were kicking ass, too. And when Tommy lost, most famously to Leonard and Hagler, we felt like we got slugged in the gut as well.

Tommy Hearns was more than a boxer. He bridged some of the gap between team champions (1968 to 1984) and made Detroiters proud again.

For that alone, he should be in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.”

 I think we can all agree that this was long overdue.

August

On the worry over the Lions’ lack of a bona fide running attack:

“With Matthew Stafford throwing and Calvin Johnson catching, plus all the other competent receivers on the roster, it really won’t matter if the Lions run the football well or not.

The Lions’ fortunes, make no question, will ride on Stafford’s golden arm and Johnson’s Velcro hands. They are the best QB/receiver tandem in the NFL, bar none.

Why force-feed a cache of questionable running backs the football, just for the sake of laying claim to running and passing balance?

It makes no sense.”

 I stand behind this, despite 2012′s 4-12 record.

September

On the MVP race between Miguel Cabrera and the Angels’ Mike Trout:

“Cabrera is having a season that would be a runaway MVP year in just about any other, except for the kid Trout and his highlight-reel play in center field, which has combined with the power and cunning batting eye to give Cabrera a run for his money.

Trout has dropped off, however, at the bat in recent weeks. He hit .284 in August and is at .257 in September. His team is still in the playoff hunt, as is Cabrera’s, so that’s mostly a wash.

It would be easy for MVP voters to become enamored of Trout’s position of glamour, to recall the feats of derring-do he’s accomplished in center field, look at his total offensive numbers (not just the ones since August), and award him not only the Rookie of the Year, but the big enchilada, too.

Those voters will try to justify their vote by pointing to Cabrera and his sometimes uneven play at third base, which isn’t as sexy as center field to begin with, and offer that up as a reason to go with Trout as MVP.

If a man can win the Triple Crown, or come so damn close to it that we’re still wondering if he can do it on Sept. 22, his defense would have to be a combination of Dave Kingman and Dick Stuart’s to cancel it out enough to take him out of the MVP race.”

Thankfully the right decision was made!

September

On the future of Lions RB Jahvid Best, and his role in today’s NFL, when it comes to concussions:

“Some have suggested that Best hang up his spikes and call it a career, despite his tender age and this being just his third pro season. The brain is nothing to be trifled with, they say. Maybe because of Best’s youth, he should consider retirement.

Best has given no indication that he will retire. Lions fans, eager to see what Best can do for an extended period of time, haven’t exactly blown the horn for retirement, either.

No matter what Best’s fate turns out to be—short-lived career or full recovery and longevity—the NFL has a problem on its hands.”

The NFL needs to work on better helmets, among other things. Best won’t be the last player imperiled.

October

On the Pistons using big men Greg Monroe and rookie Andre Drummond at the same time:

“Two years ago, GM Joe Dumars selected Greg Monroe, a scoring big man, from Georgetown University, which has been known to produce a good NBA big or two.

Monroe has developed to the point where, heading into his third season, he is considered a team leader and on the verge of stardom. He’s the first scoring big man on the Pistons since Rasheed Wallace, only Monroe doesn’t treat the key as if there was a force field around it.

Neither does Andre Drummond, the Pistons’ rookie center from Connecticut, a seven-foot, shot blocking kangaroo who, at 19 years, is tender in age but loaded with skills, some of which still need to be harnessed, and refined.

Pistons fans are daft. They are beside themselves in wonderment of what they could be seeing on the floor, with Monroe and Drummond running side-by-side. Never before have the Pistons possessed two athletic men of this size, at the same time.

It’s enough to make one dare murmur those two words.

Twin Towers.

About time the Pistons tried it.”

Coach Lawrence Frank has been trying it more, with success, and to the pleasure of the fans.

November

On Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who I obviously soured on after the beginning of 2012:

“But Schwartz, acting as impulsively and with the same lack of discipline and brains that his team frequently shows, whipped out his red challenge flag and slammed it into the Ford Field turf, a move as illegal as going through a red light, according to the NFL rule book, which states that attempts to challenge a touchdown play are as against the rules as they are unnecessary.

Now, you can say that the rule is silly. You can say that it would be nice if the referee, Walt Coleman, would have sidled up to Schwartz and said, “Jim, put the flag away. The guys in the booth will take a look at it.”

But Schwartz should know the rules. Of all the boneheaded moves the Lions (and their coaches) have made over the years, Schwartz’s blunder might be at the top of the list. It’s right up there with Marty Mornhinweg taking the wind and Bobby Ross going for two.

“I was just so mad, I had the flag out before (Forsett) got to the end zone,” Schwartz told the media after the game.

The Lions are undisciplined, mouthy and in a freefall.

Just like their coach.”

It’s been reported that Schwartz’s job is “under review” by the Ford family, largely because of this kind of stuff.

On Matthew Stafford’s inconsistency:

“The concern, and it’s a valid one, is that Matthew Stafford this season has been too erratic. His once accurate arm has betrayed him too often, and not just with difficult throws. Basic tosses are going astray. High, just out of the reach of wanton fingertips. Wide, too far for even the longest of arms to grab. Low, skipping off the turf into the receiver’s belly.

Too many errant throws.

It doesn’t matter how much the Lions run the football. They are, not yet, a team that is going to ram the ball down anyone’s throats with any consistency. The Jacksonville Jaguars, it should be noted, are not exactly a league powerhouse.

The Lions will only go as far as Matthew Stafford’s golden arm will take them. That arm, so far this season, has been puzzling in its too-often inaccuracy.”

Though I certainly didn’t foresee an 0-8 second half.

December

On the Tigers’ signing of pitcher Anibal Sanchez, and the future of Rick Porcello:

“High profile, expensive free agent pitchers, as soon as the ink dries on their signature, become as unpredictable as tomorrow’s weather. Their arms get fragile. They need a GPS to find home plate. They spend more time on the disabled list than eggs on a grocery list.

But if you’re going to have an embarrassment of riches anywhere on your roster, then it may as well be in your starting rotation. You could do worse.

The Tigers can now trot out, weekly, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Sanchez, and a pitcher to be named later, who might as well be Dontrelle Willis. The critique is that they’re all right-handed (except for Willis). But that’s like saying the one thing wrong with Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady is that they all wear number 12.

In a business where teams struggle to even name four starting pitchers, the Tigers have four who could lead many rotations in baseball. The Tigers are so rich in starting pitchers that they actually have six of them.

Ricky Porcello, the oldest 23-year-old pitcher in baseball, will apparently battle it out with lefty Drew Smyly for the fifth spot in the rotation. But there should be no battle here. Keep the southpaw Smyly, whose ceiling is ridiculously high (witness what he did in Game 1 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium, after the Tigers were waylaid by Jose Valverde in the ninth inning), and trade Porcello.”

Time will tell, but I maintain that Porcello is more valuable as trade bait than as a long reliever.

On the city’s two octogenarian sports owners—Mike Ilitch and Bill Ford:

“The two octogenarian owners in town, Bill Ford and Mike Ilitch, each have white whales. One is bereft of a Super Bowl, the other a World Series.

Both are proud, loyal and considered to be very nice men who are respected within their respective circles.

But when compared, side by side, it just isn’t close when it comes to rendering a verdict as to which man has the stronger sense of urgency to win.

Does Bill Ford want to win a Super Bowl before he dies? Of course he does.

Mike Ilitch just seems to want to win a World Series more.”

Anyone want to disagree with that?

 

So there you have it. The highlights (and lowlights) of another year of scribbling.

Hope you have a great 2013!