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3:34 am EDT 62°F (17°C) in Darien, WI
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I have a great idea for a sports-page headline in the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press today, as follows:
LIONS AND TIGERS AND BLOWING IT, OH MY!
Jesus H. Christ … Let me tell you, yesterday we got a great display of Detroit sports at their finest. Our erstwhile football team again demonstrated its gift for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, losing to the St. Louis Rams 41-34, and our baseball team proved they’re nowhere near as good as their record by blowing a nine-game lead they had in mid-August and getting swept by the God-awful Kansas City Royals this weekend.
When you have a lead with just over six minutes left to play in a football game, if you’re even a halfway decent team, you go and get at least a couple of first downs and eat up the clock as much as you can. You make it as difficult as possible for your opponent to do anything, by at least leaving them in terrible field position without much time remaining. That’s the mark of even a halfway decent team.
If you’re the Detroit Lions, on the other hand, you immediately go three-and-out, without even taking two minutes off the clock, and give the ball right back to the other team in reasonably good field position. Your Swiss-cheese defense lets them march 70 yards down the field and score a touchdown, and worse yet, make a two-point conversion. You’re too fucking stupid to use the two time-outs you have while the other team has the ball, to try to save some time for your own offense — even when they get down to your 10-yard line and it’s obvious they’re going to score. Finally, when you get the ball back after the kickoff, you’re going to throw the ball right into the arms of somebody wearing the other uniform — it’s so fucking predictable it’s sickening.
Meanwhile, the Tigers entered this weekend having won 14 of 15 earlier this season against the Royals. They still had a one-game lead over the Minnesota Twins coming into the weekend, and because the Tigers had beaten the Twins in that season series, the Twins had to make up two games to win the American League Central Division championship. As it turned out, the Twins could only win two of three against the Chicago White Sox this weekend, meaning all the Tigers had to do to become Central champs was beat the Royals once in their season-ending three-game series in Detroit. What with the 14-1 dominance up to this point, that shouldn’t have been a tall order at all, right?
Wrong. The Royals completed a three-game sweep of the Tigers yesterday, and in so doing put the exclamation point on one of the greatest late-season collapses in baseball history. The Tigers made it look easy until mid-August or so, but when it counts, they’re obviously not good enough to do what it takes to win. In fairness, they are in the playoffs with their best record in 22 years, but instead of getting a very winnable American League Division Series against the Oakland Athletics, the Tigers are now going to get the New York Yankees as their first-round opponent. The Crankees (yes, in case you can’t tell, I despise them for reasons that have nothing to do with this ALDS against the Tigers) spanked the Tigers in the regular season, and that fact combined with the Tigers’ obvious inability to win when it counts certainly does not portend well.
At least you can give the Tigers some credit for finally registering a winning season after 14 straight losing ones, and making their first post-season in 19 years. I get a feeling that they’re on the right track long-term, but this year is just a little bit of a fluke — they’re probably about a .500 team on paper that somehow managed to win 95 games. Being in the toughest division in the major leagues doesn’t help them either; they have to be that much better in the AL Central to contend than in any other division.
That can’t be said for the Lions, who now go to 21-63 during the five-plus-year tenure of the most idiotic general manager in sports history, Matt Millen. I can go on about how sickeningly God-awful the Lions are: Rod Marinelli is their sixth coach in the last seven seasons (Bobby Ross and Gary Moeller in 2000, Marty “I Want the Wind” Mornhinweg in 2001-02, Steve Mariucci in 2003-05, and Dick Jauron for the last five games last year). They are one of only three teams, along with the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals, who have not made the playoffs in this millenium (counting 2000 as part of this one). They have won exactly one — count ‘em, one — playoff game in 49 years. William Clay Ford, who has owned the team since 1964, has truly fashioned the Lions into the biggest joke in professional sports.
If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should happen across my site while pondering what to do about the lack of an NFL franchise in Los Angeles, I have his solution right here. Mr. Goodell, I beg you, give the Lions to Los Angeles. We really don’t want them in Detroit anymore, certainly not under Ford’s ownership. Do whatever is necessary to force Tom Benson to keep the Saints in New Orleans — they need the Saints far more than we need the Lions.