It is a Good Friday !!!

Well folks today is certainly putting the Good in Good Friday. It was one of those days where a Michigan area sports fan could certainly smile.

1) Most importantly the Detroit Tigers signed Justin Verlander to a long term contract extension that basically guarantees he will be a Tiger during all of his prime pitching years. The deal averages out to about 28 million bucks a year (not bad cash if you can get it !) and pretty much guarantees that whatever bikini supermodel he decides to date next will have a closet full of high end bikinis. Thank you JV !! This is a ton of money to spend but we are looking at a once in a generation pitcher and to see him leave for a new team in free agency in a couple of years would have truly sucked. That being said, I am saying right now it is win a World Series or else time for this team and I will settle for nothing less. Tiger fans need to demand more from this team because no titles since 1984 is just not acceptable.

2) Speaking of no titles the Michigan Wolverines play their first Sweet 16 game since 1994 (good grief) tonight against the Kansas Jayhawks. I like the chances for the Maize and Blue as long as the offense is similar to what we saw against VCU and it doesn’t involve four guys standing around watching Trey Burke dribble and then shoot a fade away 26 footer. Another little note for Coach Beilein, playing defense is ok. Rebounding does not cause cooties. Making buckets from inside the 3pt line is actually an acceptable way to put points on the board. You are welcome coach and Go Blue tonight !

3) Go Blue, it’s going to be a popular phrase around my house this evening. Because after the Michigan game we will be saying Go Blue for the Duke Blue Devils. I swear I almost threw up in my mouth typing that. Rooting for a team in the Duke-MSU game is like trying to pick your favorite girl in “The ladies of Wal-Mart calendar.” None of the choices are good my friends. Frankly, when a Rodent and an Angry Midget match wits on the hardwood everyone is worse for the experience.

Alright guys, enjoy the games and have a great Easter weekend. Please share and comment and also follow @Craiger211 on Twitter

Tigers defense. I am not concerned.

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130326/OPINION03/303260301

The topic of defense in Major League baseball may be one of the ones I have spent the most time arguing over the last few years. I think most of it started with my running battles with Brandon Inge lovers who claimed his defense could some how make up for a .200 batting average. What everyone seems to forget is that at the Major League level all the players can lay some sort of defense. This isn’t an 8u youth team where you’re hiding kids in right field because they are scared of the ball. When you watch a MLB game you realize that most balls hit are routine plays that any Major Leaguer can field.

I read this article from the Detroit News and I both agree and disagree with some of the points. As a Tiger fan am I happier with Andy Dirks and Torii Hunter in the outfield over Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young? Absolutely, mostly because they should hit a ton better than either Boesch or Young. Young was the least productive DH and 5 hitter in baseball last year. And he was a butcher in the field. Boesch? Don’t get me started, a total liability in the field and at the plate. Even if they were serviceable defensive players it would not have made up for the blatant lack of offensive production. There are very few run and game saving defensive plays over the span of a series of games but there are numerous at bats that can directly affect the outcome of the game.

The other thing in this article that is ridiculous is the thought that the Tiger defense somehow let Rick Porcello down. Rick Porcello stinks because he cannot get guys out, not because of defensive issues. When he was bad last year it was because guys were hitting missiles all over the diamond against him. Shoddy defense does not excuse an ERA north of 4.50 and a Whip over 1.5. It just happens to be a convenient crutch for all the Ricky Batting Practice lovers out there.

Thanks for reading and please comment and share. 6 days left until Opening Day! You an also follow on Twitter @Craiger211

Sweet indeed !!!

Michigan-58-Michigan-State-57-28_thumb<a href="

You will rarely find me agreeing with Drew Sharp on basically anything but I do agree with most of this article. “>http://www.freep.com/article/20130324/COL08/303240296/Drew-Sharp-U-M-in-Sweet-16-worth-celebrating-but-not-ultimate-goal”&gt;

Getting to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1994 is a big deal for the Wolverines. It’s a testament on how far the program had sunk but it is true nonetheless. Would I love to have the Sweet 16 as baseline goal every year ? Absolutely. Are they there yet ? Nope. I can only hope now that the team doesn’t lay back and rest on their accomplishment and then come out and play poorly next week against either Kansas or North Carolina. Getting crushed by either one of those elite programs would be a bitter pill to swallow after a nice run this weekend. My opinion is that this next game will be a good test of exactly where coach Beilein has this program heading. Playing well and losing to a very good Kansas team would not be a crime but if they show up unfocused and undisciplined then I think it will be perfectly ok to ask exactly how much this program will be able to achieve with Beilein at the helm.

Please comment and share folks and thanks for reading. You can also follow on Twitter @Craiger211

Is Tiger back ?????

http://www.cbssports.com/golf/blog/eye-on-golf/21937589/tiger-woods-shoots-third-round-66-leads-at-bay-hill

Well everyone it certainly appears that Mr.Eldrick Woods has got his golf game back on track and in a big way. After a blistering 66 yesterday he has vaulted to the lead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and is looking for his 3rd title early in the 2013 season.

I have never been one to worry too much about world wide golf rankings but if Tiger wins today and gets back to #1 I do think it is significant. He has clawed back from the lowest of lows and the world of golf is much more interesting when he is playing well. I realize the Tiger haters will say he has brought it upon himself and that is certainly true. Frankly, I wasn’t married to him so I could really care less if he chased skirts all across the USA. By the way folks, athletes in general and PGA Tour stars specifically are well known for chasing the ladies. I see you Fred Couples !!! The bottom line is that Tiger is great for the sport in the same way that the Yankees are great for baseball and the Heat are great for the NBA. Love them or hate them they attract attention and people watch to either root for or against them. I am sure Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan are all great guys and wonderful players but no one is making Sunday afternoon appointment TV to watch them in a final round. When Tiger is around the lead it is the closest thing golf has to must see TV outside of the majors.

Have a good Sunday everyone and please share and comment. Also follow on Twitter @Craiger211

Saturday Madness !!!

Well, it is big day in the state of Michigan as the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans play back to back games today at the Palace of Auburn Hills as both teams fight to make it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. It will be a glorious day in the Great lakes state as both Wolverines and Spartans band together and root for each others school to move on in the tournament ! All across Michigan rabid Spartan and Wolverine fans will be bonding over chicken wings and beer and mutual best wishes will be shared.

Ok, stop that nonsense. It is a huge day in hoops but let’s not kid ourselves. As a Michigan fan my perfect day involves watching Michigan beat VCU and then seeing MSU get stomped by Memphis. I am sure any self respecting Spartan fan will be hoping for the exact opposite and loudly cheering for the VCU press to crush Michigan. Don’t fight it people, it’s natural. These schools are arch rivals, neighbors, hated enemies. It is perfectly ok to root for the destruction of the other team. Don’t you want to walk into the office on Monday and smile smugly at the fans of the other team as they sit and lick their wounds after a tough loss ? Of course you do. It’s ok, embrace the hatred !!! As a Michigan fan you know you love to see the Angry Little Fella on the MSU sideline turn beat red, screaming and flailing as the Spartans get rocked by Memphis. C’mon it is the stuff dreams are made of. Do you think your MSU friends don’t want to see Coach Beilein staring blankly on the sideline as VCU dismantles Michigan? Trust me, they do. And it’s ok. In this case there is no point in being the “bigger man” or woman in this rivalry. You know someone from the other side is eventually going to push your buttons so you might as well go ahead and get prepared now. Reach inside of yourself and find that spot of red hot hatred for the other school and let it out ! All of this nonsense of, ” I root for both teams.” or “I always root for the Big Ten” is a complete and utter farce. Remember this, no matter who wins the National Championship they are not going to get less of a title because the rest of their conference teams did not play well in the tournament. So, get out there and root for your team and cheer for the destruction of your rivals !!!! That being said, Go Freaking Blue !!!!!!

Have a good day today guys and enjoy the game. Please share and comment and of course please follow on Twitter @Craiger211

Late Porcello News

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130321/SPORTS0104/303210480/Dave-Dombrowski-Tigers-not-proposed-deal-involving-Rick-Porcello?odyssey=tab|

I like the Dombrowski double talk here as he explains that he has not offered any trades involving Porcello. Really Dave, you may not have offered him up but pretty much everyone in MLB knows he is on the market. I am pretty sure scouts have not flocked to his previous Spring starts the way they have this year. I realize he has to play the political game and not come right out and say , ” Um yeah, we would like to trade the stiff.” But the spin here is a little more aggressive than a ride on a tilt a whirl. I would like to see him traded but I see no reason to rush out and dump for anything less than a top notch deal. The Tigers are actually in a positive negotiating position here and they should use it. He is young, he is signed and they can keep him around if need be. The only draw back is watching his trade value fall if he gets off to another bad season.

Please read and share guys and once again follow along on Twitter @Craiger211. Thank you !

Time to Trade Porcello ?

rick-porcello I know it is March Madness but today has been especially full of more rumors regarding the Tigers wish to trade Rick Porcello. As many of you know I am not a big Porcello fan at all and these rumors are getting interesting. It appeared early in the Spring that Ricky batting practice might be part of a package to upgrade shortstop or perhaps bring in a new corner outfelder. Now it appears the trade rumors are centering on the acquisition of a proven closer in exchange for Porcello.

I know what most fans are going to say. He is young, you can’t have enough pitching, etc. While some of this may be true lets dive into the numbers a little bit deeper. Porcello was 10-12 last year with a 4.59 ERA and a whip of over 1.5. An article by Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk points out that of 100 starters who started at least 25 games last year Porcello was 81st in ERA, 93rd in strikeouts and 99th in opponent batting average. Even by 5th starter standards this is monumentally bad.

Every story coming out of Spring Training has talked about how sharp Porcello has looked and my skeptical self has to wonder how much is the Tiger propaganda machine trying to inflate his value during these trade talks ? It’s hard to put a lot of stock in Spring numbers when pitchers are not facing truly loaded major league lineups. Therefore, coaches and media are forced to talk about things like pitch movement, velocity, etc. to prove a pitcher is pitching well. I have no problem with this tactic although so far it appears no teams are biting on Porcello at least at the price the Tigers are asking.

Here is my bottom line. Although not a fan of Porcello I can’t see a reason to rush a trade if the returning value is not there. Until it is proven the back end of the bullpen is a train wreck the race to get a closer is not in crisis mode. The downfall to wating is that it is quite possible that the regular season will start and he will once again start to throw batting practice and his trade value will go poof just like that. The downfall to unloading him for less than a stellar deal is that it leaves you a bit vulnerable in the rotation if someone gets injured. Dombrowski is stuck in a classic case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t so perhaps patience is the best practice.

Feel free to chime in guys and of course share this blog or follow on Twitter @Craiger211

Time for some Madness.

Ok, I set up a separate section strictly for all things NCAA tournament. Please feel free to pass the blog along and have the hoops fans you know comment and post their thoughts on the games.

Pretty much everyone knows by now which colors fly around Casa Del Craig and you can rest assured there is no green or white involved. This has proven to be problematic at this time every year because the damn Spartans have made March their personal playground while my team has been a non entity in college hoops for the better of the last 20 years. John Beilein has helped get the program on the road to respectability but so far that is all we have to show. And yes, I know, they won a share of the B1G regular season title last year for the first time in a bazillion years. Yippee Skippy. College hoops is about one thing and one thing only and that is the tournament. And I am sorry but the regular season title means next to nil when you lose to freaking Ohio in the first round of the tournament. Not Ohio State. The Ohio Bobcats. One word – embarrassing. As I said, Coach Beilein has done a nice job of getting things back on track but another early round loss in March and I am going to be getting close to questioning his ability to get to a next level.

I have been reading a lot of stuff written by the experts and they claim UM has the most NBA talent in college basketball. Let’s just tap the brakes here for a minute. Trey Burke is an NBA player for sure. But I am saying right now that I am not sure who else is a sure fire NBA lock out of the rest of the crew. They mentioned Hardaway, Robinson III as well as Stauskas (huh?) and McGary (puhleeze). Hardaway has a shot at making a roster and Robinson has the body of an NBA player but he is nowhere ready for NBA play. As far as Stauskas and McGary they are so far away I have a better shot at getting that elusive date with Halle Berry then they do going to the NBA. To be honest MSU probably has more NBA ready players right now, they just don’t have one as good as Burke. Payne will probably go and Harris and Dawson both have equal to or better than NBA prospects as the other Michigan kids.

As for the Spartans I will grant some grudging respect for the program and then silently pray that somehow they get beat by Valpo tomorrow. I don’t think it will happen but, hey, stranger things have happened so I will remain optimistic !!!! Watching Izzo in full, red faced, vein bulging, psycho freakout mode is one of life’s great little pleasures although I am afraid he is one more Appling turnover away from a cardiac episode.

I guess we will see if this supposedly terrific B1G season will have helped the teams as they move on to face new opponents. I am very scared for Michigan in round two against VCU and if I was of the green persuasion I wouldn’t exactly be excited to see Memphis waiting for me on Saturday. Oh well, this thing is more unpredictable than a Jim Leyland lineup card so anything could happen. Please feel free to comment folks and of course follow along on Twitter @Craiger211. Thanks !

Brackets ? We’re talking brackets ?

I just wanted to thank Allen Iverson and his awesome rant for inspiring todays headline. What I wanted to throw out today was an invitation for you guys to participate and comment regarding the upcoming tournament. Comment on UM and MSU or the brackets in general. Let us know your sleepers and Final Four contenders.

A couple of things I am thinking regarding the local teams. I think both teams are going to have to play terrific just to get through this weekend. UM is looking at a brutally tough game with VCU in the 2nd round and the Spartans are looking at a matchup with an extremely talented Memphis team in round 2. I plan on doing a little more research for a more in depth look for tomorrow but I tell ya both teams have a brutal path in front of them. The saving grace is being able to play the early rounds at the Palace which should be helpful.

OK folks, here is a perfectly legitimate opportunity to be “annoying bracket guy” and spout off all of your predictions. Tell us why the Angry Little Fella will be able to get MSU back to a Final Four. Let us know if Trey Burke will be able to wake up the rest of his teammates and get Michigan to heights it has not seen in years. Pontificate on why we all hate Duke and want to see them get beat early. Thanks guys and gals and remember you can also follow on Twitter at Craiger211.

Conference pride ? No thanks.

hoops

I know I may be in the minority here but I could absolutely care less how the B1G conference tournament ends up or how the conference does in the tournament. There, I said it. I feel the same way about the bowls during football season. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind if a scrappy Purdue or Iowa plays well but when it comes to Michigan’s main rivals I hope they get their doors blown off every time they take the field or court.

My theory has always been that I hope my team plays well and who cares how every one else does. I mean it’s cute that supposedly the B1G is a power basketball conference this year but at the end of the day who really gives a rip. Regular season college basketball is all about getting ready for tourney time and once you take the floor what conference you played in is irrelevant. Would I rather be Butler making an improbable run to the championship game or be a team who loses in the Sweet 16 but dang it our conference is good !!!! You figure it out. If you think for even one second I will root for Indiana, MSU or OSU to have even one ounce of success starting next weekend, sorry folks, not going to happen. To be honest, I don’t expect hard core fans of those schools to root for UM to play well. Why would you? So they garner national attention? Get positive publicity? Increase their odds of landing top recruits? I want none of those things for my rivals. Nor should you. At the end of March, when all is said and done people will remember who made the Final Four, who won the title and the memories of a strong regular season conference will be long forgotten. Quick, rattle off the last 5 regular season champs in the B1G ?, ACC ?, Big 12 ?, Pac 10 ?. Exactly, no one cares. These days can you even name what schools are in those conferences anymore ??????

Anyway, rant over and I know a lot of people will disagree which is fine. That’s what sports are all about. Thanks for checking in. Please follow the blog and also on Twitter @Craiger211