Good day one for Lions, we are getting ready for a weekend straight out of the 1920s and the Weekly Awards
Lions Fix O-Line
The first round of the NFL draft is done and the Lions didn’t let the night go by without making some big moves. Detroit spent the night making moves to improve their offensive line. The Lions held the 23rd pick in the draft but traded that away to Denver and got back a nice haul. Detroit moved back five spots and received two fifth round picks (one this year and one next year) along with guard Manny Ramirez. With the actual pick the Lions took another guard Laken Tomlinson out of Duke. The trade and the pick both address a big area of need for the Lions who needed help after they allowed 45 sacks a year ago and ranked near the bottom of the league in rushing.
Martin Mayhew is starting to make a name for himself as a wheeler and dealer on draft night. This is his 12th trade he’s made in the seven drafts that he’s led for Detroit. His move last night was rare because it brought back an actual player instead of just more draft picks. It also gives Detroit a fifth round pick this year, something they didn’t have after trading their 4th and 5th to Baltimore in the Ngata trade. The moves last night brought a proven starter to the Lions and brought another player who certainly will be competing for a starting spot next season and could be a long term fixture on the line.
Manny Ramirez is a player familiar to Detroit. He was originally drafted in the fourth round by the Lions back in 2007 and was part of the team that went 0-16. He was released in 2010 and caught on in Denver as the center for Peyton Manning (although he became most well known for being the guy who snapped the ball over Manning’s head on the first play of the Super Bowl). He will compete for a job on the line but if nothing else will likely end up as a back-up for center and both guard spots. Ramirez will add to the depth on the line and will be good insurance behind second year center Travis Swanson.
After the trade the Lions moved back five spots and then took Laken Tomlinson. They took Tomlinson even though one of the top defensive tackles in the draft, Malcom Brown, was still on the board. Tomlinson is perhaps even more impressive off the field and became one of the stories of the night after he was drafted. He is a mature young man who was born in Jamaica, came to the United States at age 10, graduated from Duke with two degrees and has plans to one day be a neurosurgeon. On the field he’s known as a guy who has a nasty side to him, something you like to hear from a guard (maybe not something you want to see out of a neurosurgeon). Tomlinson is expected to compete for the starting left guard spot next season. All in all, the Lions had a good day one and filled two big holes. They did as well as anyone could expect on day one and now they can turn their attention to filling the defensive line and running back needs.
Taking a trip back to the 1920s
This weekend seems like a weekend straight out of the 1920s. Pull out your fedoras and make sure you go get a newspaper on the corner from a newsboy because we are ready to have a throwback weekend. We are going back to the days when baseball, boxing and horse racing ruled the day.
Tigers Fall to Royals
The Tigers opened one of their biggest early season series of the season last night by getting thumped by the Kansas City Royals 8-1. The defending American League Champions pounded Alfredo Simon for six runs on nine hits and chased him in the fifth inning. The Tigers offense had a tough go of it with just seven hits off starter Danny Duffy. The win allows the Royals to pull ahead of the Tigers by a half game for first place in the division.
Every one of these series between these two will be huge this year. The reason the Tigers won the Central last year was because they dominated the Royals in the regular season. That certainly wasn’t the case last night. The Royals are playing with a chip on their shoulder this season and that was evident in their first meeting. They were better than Detroit in every facet of the game last night. The Tigers need to get better pitching this weekend and they need to find a way to hit. Most importantly they need to score runs early. That game may have ended 8-1 last night but it might have been over in the fifth inning when Detroit was down 3-0 and the KC bullpen was looming. Last night was just one game of what will be a season long battle between these two.
Run for the Roses
The most exciting two minutes in sports comes about this weekend as the best three year old horses in the world run for the roses at Churchill Downs. It’s horse racing’s biggest stage and the only day of the year most Americans will turn their televisions on to watch the sport. The sport is coming off a year where California Chrome captured the hearts of Americans in his quest for the Triple Crown. This year’s field offers a much tougher field than last year and a Triple Crown winner will be hard to find. There is a very good depth of quality horses who will be challenging for the roses and the champion could very well be a surprise.
The top horses in the field both come from the same trainer. Bob Baffert is one of the best in the world and he has built up both American Pharaoh and Dortmund who no doubt will be the betting line favorites on Sunday. The field is far from just those two though. They will get strong challenges from the likes of Carpe Diem, Materiality, Frosted, and International Star. The key for this race may be who cannot get caught up with the speed up front, which will be very good, and who can stay out of trouble. American Pharaoh and Dortmund may very well be there in the end but it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see a less heralded horse come out of nowhere to win the derby.
Boxing Match of the Century
The fight of the century takes place on Saturday night in Las Vegas when Floyd Mayweather takes on Manny Pacquiao. I just touched on a sport which is nothing like it once was, and boxing is another. Gone are the fights between the great heavyweights. These days most American’s can’t name more than about two or three good fighters. This is being advertised as the fight of the century and that’s a problem for boxing. Not because of who is fighting but rather it’s about the only fight anyone can even remember in the last century. This fight is also occurring about five years too late, something that is also a problem for boxing. These are still two of the best in the world but they aren’t in their primes any more. This is still a huge fight and it’s very good for boxing that people are actually talking about a big fight this weekend.
This is probably the biggest fight in boxing since Mike Tyson fought Lennox Lewis in 2002 or since Tyson and Holyfield fought back in the late 90s. Boxing’s problems lie in the fact that boxing is rarely found on television anymore and unlike MMA, which makes the best fight the best, the best in the world can dodge each other forever. That’s precisely what these two have done until now. If boxing wants to help itself then build off of the energy they’ll get this weekend. Get more fights out there for people to see. Americans love fighting (it’s why so many fans go to hockey games). They love it even more if it’s put on a channel they can see.
I’m not going to break this down a lot because I really don’t know that much about the ins and outs of boxing. I’m like most Americans and rarely watch boxing. I will say that both of these guys give the other the toughest opponent either has ever faced. Mayweather is very well known for staying out of trouble but he will have a lot to deal with from Pacquiao. Manny will be able to hit Floyd better than most have but it will still be a matter of how much. If Money-May gets the Pac Man chasing the whole fight he’s going to come out on top. I’d expect this to be a great fight that will have a good chance of going the distance. I really don’t think either will knock out the other. If I’m going to make a prediction I’ll say Mayweather will win. It’s hard to pick against a guy who’s never lost. Regardless of who wins though there will likely be a rematch and we could see two more fights between these two.
Wooden Shoes Award
This week’s Wooden Shoes Award goes to man who isn’t even in season right now but still very deserving of the award for his leadership and showing us what a coach should be. This week’s award goes to Michigan Basketball Coach John Beilein. We all know how good he is as a coach but over the last two years we’ve seen the human side of Beilein with his handling of Austin Hatch. Hatch was once a touted recruit from Indiana and his story is well known now as he has survived two plane crashes. Hatch laid in a hospital bed and it was unknown if he would even survive and walk again, let alone play basketball. Beilein never left his side though, held up his end of the bargain and still gave him that scholarship even though he wasn’t going to have any sort of on court impact on the team. In a day in age where scholarships are gold to a program and most would have pulled out a long time ago, Beilein never left Hatch. His fatherly instincts took over and Hatch did indeed come to Michigan and achieved his dream when he appeared in five games this past year.
This past week Hatch announced that he would be stepping down from the Michigan basketball team and instead would turn his focus to the coaching side. He will receive a medical redshirt and now will serve a role as a student assistant for the program. Hatch still gets to keep his scholarship which will become an academic scholarship now. He will still get to walk away with a degree from the University of Michigan and will get to learn to coach under one of the best in the game. College sports have become synonymous with greed, and cheating coaches. At times we begin to wonder if any of them are clean. John Beilein showed his true colors over the last few years and for one of the few times in college athletics those true colors are good. It may have only been about one player but it’s a story that should have a profound impact on all of us.
Congratulations to John Beilein for winning this week’s Wooden Shoes Award
Justin Bieber Award
This week’s Justin Bieber Award goes to the NHL. Every year we can count on a few things from the NHL. They always give us the best playoffs of any professional sports league. On the other side they are always sure to market their league in the worst way possible and make sure the games are put on channels no one can find. Beyond that though we can also always count on the NHL to give us the most inconsistent officiating and discipline both on and off the ice. Game to game it’s hard to know what actually is a penalty and not. And team to team it’s hard to know what is worthy of a suspension and what’s not. It seems Gary Bettman is playing favorites and he doesn’t even care that anyone notices.
This past week was the prime example of everything that’s wrong with the NHL. There were several dirty hits that were delivered. Tampa Bay’s Jason Garrison launched himself off his feet with his elbow up and directed at the Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader’s head. Montreal’s PK Subban had a dirty slash on Ottawa’s Mark Stone early in their first round series. Neither of those along with many others were worthy of suspension though. The one they did pick out was Nik Kronwall who delivered an open ice hit that was extremely borderline of whether it was even a penalty. There was no intent to injure, and the Lightning players didn’t even take offense claiming it was a good hit. When it comes to how dirty a play is these plays don’t even compare, but somehow the NHL decided it was enough to suspend Detroit’s best defenseman for game seven of a series. Boneheaded is the right term to use here. Tossing out a guy with a good hit for the biggest game of the series is insane for a league. This would never happen in any other league because they all realize it’s smart to market your best players in the biggest games. Meanwhile guys who clearly are trying to injure others on the ice are allowed to skate free. It’s the definition of holding a double standard and those inconsistencies are a problem the NHL seems to have no problem with. Fixing it would be a good choice. Then again, there’s a lot that needs to be fixed in the game and Bettman doesn’t seem in any hurry to do anything to make his game attractable. That includes throwing out the best players for the biggest games.
Congratulations to the NHL for winning this week’s Justin Bieber Award
On Tap for the Weekend:
Tigers @ Kansas City. 8:10. Lobstein (2-1, 3.50) vs. Chris Young (1-0, 1.86)
Kentucky Derby. 6:34
Tigers @ Kansas City. 7:10. Price (2-1, 3.48) vs. Edinson Volquez (2-2, 1.91)
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. 11:30
Tigers @ Kansas City. 2:10. Sanchez (1-3, 5.46) vs. Jason Vargas (2-1, 5.95)