Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sports Today

Because this worked so well the last time...

First, check out this blog by Curtis Granderson about the moth/gull invasion. If only because being urinated on by a dog is apparently the new good luck charm.

Bondermania. I can feel it. He's 7-0 now.

I remember when the Tigers traded for him. He's, of course, infamous as the “how not to” example from Moneyball (Which is great not only because it's about innovating in the face of convention. But because it's also about continually innovating as such. Oakland, arguably, gained an advantage from using Moneyball techniques but, inevitably, other teams and managers were going to catch. Rather than whine about it, rather than sit on their techniques and try to keep them hidden, mystery secrets, they worked to refine those techniques. To find new and better ones that would keep, grow, that advantage. They didn't just sprint out to the front of the pack and start celebrating, in other words, they kept their legs churning.). Bonderman was Oakland's big waste of a draft pick and he was shipped off to the basement dwelling Tigers. For, if memory serves, Jeff Weaver - which hurt at the end of last year, sure, but he would have been gone from the Tigers before too long, anyway.

Everyone was thrilled at the time because, you know, it was the Comerica Kittens. What else did they have to be excited about? Because the guy was a stud prospect to say the least. Then he promptly went out and almost became the first pitcher in roughly forever to lose 20 games – it took benching him to avoid that – in the Tigers' worst season, uh, ever. What a difference a few hard won years of experience can make, huh? So, yeah, I can feel the Bondermania now.

Starter today, by the way, is the Miller. I've got somewhat of an eye on him as he's supposed to be the next next big thing – along the lines of Randy Johnson. He made one start last year at the tail end of the season while, I believe, was contractually mandated. And he had some gems in his few major league starts this year. That he's starting today is a sign of just how chewed up the Tigers pitching has been so far this year. I'd rather he was back down in the minors, growing and a-learning because he's not quite there yet. But he's also ready to make the leap sooner rather than later.

Speaking of the minors. Elsewhere in Tiger Nation, Kenny Rogers in his minor league warm-ups:

Wait, no, sorry. Wrong footage. The persons responsible would be sacked but I'm not paying them anything.

Yeah, so he was on the wrong side of a 10-0 loss. But, really, sounds like he was pitching fairly well. It's hard to win without any run support, after all, and he only gave up one earned run over five innings. The win loss doesn't matter so much as his steady progression back to the bigs. More troublesome are the walks and loss of control, sounds like he was struggling to get into form at time but, well, that's what these tune-up games are for. Still, it looks like he's about ready for a return. In more ways than one.

Next, instead of a return, let's talk about a departure. No, not that one although we'll get to it. I'm talking about Dave Lewis being let go from the Bruins head coaching job after only one, mediocre season. Lewis, if you'll recall, was the coach of the Wings before Mike Babcock. And he was an integral part of the Cup winning coaching staff under Scotty Bowman before that. So, like many of the personalities from that era, I have a soft spot for him. He took over the head coaching job when Bowman left because that seemed like the best way to continue that legacy. It's always hard to replace a legend and while the Wings were still good, they lost something under Lewis. For whatever reason, and there were many of them, it didn't quite work out. And now it's not working out in Boston. Lewis might not be at the level of a Scotty Bowman but I think he's got what it takes to be an NHL head coach. So, hopefully, he'll land somewhere he can succeed this time. You know, a place where ownership takes their team seriously – unlike Boston – and where the expectations aren't so high – unlike Detroit.

Now, the other departure to mention is the Delfino trade. In case you don't want to follow the link, he's being sent to Toronto for a pair of draft picks. Next year and the one after that. Since I'm one of those who think the best move at this point is to blow up the team and rebuild, I'm not exactly unhappy. Delfino's an okay player but he wasn't exactly setting the world on fire. The Pistons need to shake things up if only to get over the complacency which lets series like the Chicago one this year almost slip away (The Cleveland one I blame on a) the Bron-Bron factor and b) horrible coaching, especially in Games 5 and 6 and when you're matching wits against Mike Brown, that's saying something. Pistons could have had that series, too, but the reason they didn't wasn't because they weren't trying.). And, yeah, he's going to go on to become another promising player who just couldn't make it in Detroit like Okur or Mike James or, yes, even Darko.

But, of course, the reason this stings is because it means the 2003 draft, that loaded year that produced LeBron and Carmello and Wade among others and which the Pistons went into with such high expectations, robbing the #2 pick from Vancouver (Or Memphis...wherever they were at the time.) and holding a late pick of their own all while coming off an unexpectedly successful season of their own has produced absolutely nothing. Darko was traded not even for another player but this year's 15th pick. That 2003 draft looked like it was going to be a great opportunity to stock some reserves in the pantry to reload down the line. But, hey, that's the draft. You're trying to tell how 18~20 years olds will pan out years down the line and that's not an easy thing. Sometimes you guess wrong. And holding a few extra draft picks isn't a bad thing, they can be used to facilitate, for example. And, you know, the Grant Hill trade to Orlando looked like a rip-off at the time, too, so you never know. But, man, be nice to have some stud players just coming into their own now, wouldn't it?

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