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A weekend of sports thoughts

September 19, 2011 - Steve Murch
(Just a warning, this week will be filled with sports musings. Trying to get a better handle on writing regularly, so I'll go to the old standby to get into the swing of things.)

Just some random thoughts on the last several days:

* It's week 2 and the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions are both in first place. When was the last time that happened?

* The Lions are beyond just winning games, they have looked incredibly impressive. As long as Matthew Stafford stays healthy the offensive will purr. The defense still worries me if teams can give their quarterback time. Stopping that defensive line is tough, but if they do the Lions secondary is mediocre.

* I'm still a little concerned about the schedule for the Lions. It's tough and loaded with teams that either should, could, or think they should, make the playoffs. We'll know how good they'll be by the week of their bye.

* I have a sinking feeling that Jose Bautista will win the American League MVP. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera will cancel each other out, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira will cancel each other out and Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez will cancel each other out, leaving Bautista to slide in there. Forget the “pitchers shouldn't win the MVP award,” Verlander has meant more to the Tigers than the others have meant to their team aside from Bautista, but Toronto wasn't a factor in the AL. Verlander stopped losing streaks and could wind up with 25 wins. While he might not have played every day, he directly won those games; how many games did Granderson, et al, win directly.

* The Tigers are in a tricky position having clinched the AL Central so early. Manger Jim Leyland can rest some guys to get ready for the playoffs and get his rotation in order, but he can't take the foot off the pedal just yet. The Tigers are just three games behind the Yankees for the best record in the AL, which brings home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they would meet the Yankees in the ALCS, wouldn't you rather have games 1 and 2 in Detroit than New York?

* Michigan might be back, but it isn't all the way back. The defense is still just OK, and having their last 6 games at Michigan State, Purdue, at Iowa, at Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio State could be a test. Fortunately the Wolverines don't have to play Wisconsin.

* Here's the problem with the new Big Ten alignment: Michigan isn't scheduled to play Wisconsin again until 2015. That's crazy. A 9-game conference schedule would alleviate that big of a gap and guarantee playing a team every four years at the most. With one guaranteed rival from the other division (in Michigan's case it's Ohio State), an 8-game schedule means only playing two other teams from the opposite division per year.

* So was the Notre Dame loss an aberration or the real Michigan State? The defensive losses from last year's team caught up to the Spartans Saturday.

* It's hard to believe the start of the NHL season is drawing near. It just doesn't seem like we should be even remotely close. I'm still in the mood for shorts and T-shirts.


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