If you look hard enough, you can find something incredibly ridiculous in the sports media just about everyday. You provided us with just that on June 9th when you typed An Open Letter to the City of Detroit. I’m not familiar with your other material so you might be an otherwise fine writer but this particular column was one of the worst I’ve read in any forum ever. If you’re going to pick a sports city to rip on, why not start with New York (or Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Los Angeles etc.)? What cities are Detroiters supposed to be envious of in the sports world? I have no idea how someone could get something so wrong. Only you can answer how you came to such an erroneous conclusion. In the meantime, I’ll quickly rundown what Detroit fans have to look forward to because there is plenty of it.
The Red Wings
This is a great place to start. You said, “Enjoy this Cup. It may be a rocky road for a while.” If by “a while” you mean “not a while” then you might be on to something. If you hadn’t noticed, the Wings will return every major contributor from their Cup-winning team next season. That means more Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Lidstrom and all of the other players who just finished waltzing through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Maybe the idea of a repeat slipped your mind but the Wings will likely top 100 points for the 9th straight season and be the odds-on favorite to win the Cup again.
If you polled the GMs in baseball asking them which roster they would choose for the next ten years, who do you think they’d pick? If you don’t think the Tigers would be one of the top five teams mentioned, then you’re crazy. Curtis Granderson, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander are three of the brightest young stars in MLB. The Tigers will shed $50 million in payroll over the next two years. They are two years removed from going to the World Series with a roster nowhere near as talented as the one they have today. Do you really think Detroit baseball fans should envy the Yankees and their $207,000,000 payroll? They’re barely playing .500-baseball. In fact, the Yankees have spent $1.4 billion on payroll over the last eight years and have no World Series Titles to show for it. The Yankees and Mets have a combined $347 million payroll this year and have a combined 71-68 record. The Tigers are on the cusp of becoming one of the annual powers in MLB. Maybe you have a short-term memory issue but the Tigers lost 300 games from 2003-2005. Are we really supposed to be depressed about a team that has underperformed for 70 games? The season isn’t half over and you’re ready to throw the Tigers into the same underachieving-boat as the Yankees? Sorry Bauer, but by my calculations, the Tigers still have roughly $1 billion to go before they are that pathetic. To suggest that the future isn’t bright for the Tigers regardless of their poor start is to declare your ignorance. Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to manipulate short-term statistics to “prove” my point as you did. You said, “The Tigers are currently 24-35, losers of three straight and 3-7 in their last ten.” Well, the Tigers are currently 32-38, winners of six of seven, and 8-2 in their last ten. Also, the Tigers have been playing above .500 since April 8 (yes, that would be the second week of the season). Does that mean they’re going to win the World Series?
The Pistons are in line for a fire sale? If by “fire sale” you mean they’re “exploring trade options to improve the team”, then you’re correct. Do you really think Joe Dumars is going to cash-in his best players for nothing? An outsider like you might look at the fact that Joe D is looking to make a trade as a bad sign. For Detroit fans, it’s a godsend. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to root for a team that may or may not show up on any given night? Detroit might not make the Eastern Conference Finals next season but if you don’t think the Pistons are in excellent shape for the future with a bounty of young talent and cap-room to burn, then you aren’t paying attention. Have you heard of Rodney Stuckey, Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson? I guess we should wish the Pistons were more like the Knicks. Parlaying $90 million—$30 million over the salary cap mind you—into 23 wins is not easy to do. Although, I must give the Knicks credit for improving on their 2006-effort that saw them turn $130 million–$80 million over the cap—into 23 wins.
Nobody in Detroit is going to spend more than 10 seconds defending the Lions on any front but you’d have to be awfully naïve not to see that Rod Marinelli is slowly but surely putting together a defense that might actually be able to stop people. That’s more than I can say for any other Lions team of my lifetime. The Lions are certainly in no worse shape now than they’ve been in a decade.
Do you have any idea how excited people around here are about Rich Rodriguez? There is more excitement surrounding the Michigan football program right now than at any point in the last 20 years. I love how you focused on the fact that Michigan “lost” Pryor but failed to acknowledge that Rodriguez secured a top-ten recruiting class in just two months on the job and already has another one lined up for next year. Rodriguez has also secured commitments from two of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country for 2009. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that they are immediately the mostly highly-touted QB recruits Rodriguez has ever signed. So yeah, things are just absolutely dire in Ann Arbor because Rodriguez wasn’t able to sign the #1 recruit in the country. I guess that makes every other program in the country—with the exception of Ohio St.—a disappointment. There is this thing called “the spread”. Rodriguez nearly won a National Championship at West Virginia with it. Michigan > West Virginia.
Michigan St. Football
Heck, people are even excited about Michigan St. football. You do realize that Mark Dantonio coaches MSU now, right? You may have also wanted to mention in your letter that Michigan St. went to a bowl game for the first time in four years last season. Or, that MSU lost its six games (all against teams .500 or better) in ’07 by a grand total of 31 points. Rutgers—is that the team New Yorkers claim now days?—lost to Louisville by 30 points. If you don’t think Spartan-fans are excited about the future of the program, then you did absolutely no research before typing your letter.
I’m amazed that you were permitted to publish an opinion that reflects such a skewed view of reality. You probably couldn’t find two or three sports cities with more promise for the next 5-10 years than Detroit. Detroit has the best front-office personnel in sports. If you want to know what the future looks like, look no further than its coaches and GMs. The list is impressive. Ken Holland, Dave Dombrowski, Joe Dumars, Rich Rodriguez, Mark Dantonio, Tom Izzo, and John Beilein are all universally considered among the best at their respective positions. Do you honestly think that all of these established winners are just going to start losing at the same time? Other than the Lions, there isn’t a single major sports team in the area that people aren’t excited about. Your letter was an overreaction to a poor start by the Tigers. How you made the leap from that to “Detroit sports=doomed” is a mystery. Then again, you get paid for overreactions, right?