By: Eric Thomas
If you’re a fan of most sports in Detroit, this week has been swell. Optimism rains down on many fans who smile in spite of Monday’s frigid temperatures and the up-until-Thursday suffocating blanket of overcast gray—things are looking up in Detroit. Pay no attention to that bankruptcy behind the curtain. The Tigers traded for the José Iglesias, the Pistons shuffled out Brandon Knight and began the Jennings administration. Many of us heard news of the two deals with wide eyes; staring at the radio or Twitter with ears perked like a confused dog. The Pistons are watchable again. The Tigers acquired a possible future All-Star.
Pistons first. Brandon Jennings isn’t a revelation but it’s a sizable step in the right direction. The Pistons have their most talented team in years, but largely everything else is up for debate. Pistons projections range from the second round of the playoffs to “just good enough to deny themselves a draft pick next year.” Dumars is trying to improve the team through trades—a break with the “draft a superstar and hope his kids make a lot of friends” strategy popular in most NBA cities. It’s unclear if that strategy can work again, but it’s far better than watching the team lose by twenty or thirty every night. Poor Lawrence Frank must have Joe D’s picture on a dart board, “Thanks for nothing, Joe!”
The Tigers deal is spectacular. Some have expressed concern over the strength of his bat. Those concerns are justified. José Iglesias is an easy out. He’s bad at the plate (he doesn’t walk much) and once on base he has a curious lack of speed, perhaps because he’s not used to being on the bags often. If you’re only concerned about the offensive side of the game, you’re not going to be a fan of Mr. Iglesias. If you’re a fan of defense, this guy is special.
José Iglesias is a special shortstop. His highlight reel plays like a Michael Bay film. He’s the kind of defensive player that makes you stand up, jaw agape, eyes as big as billboards and point at the screen while text your friend and call your wife into the room to watch. Tigers fans haven’t seen a defensive player like this since…well, it’s been a while. Let’s avoid comparisons, they aren’t fair to Iglesias. This is the kind of player that’s worthy of a popcorn bowl and a chair scooted a little closer. Suffice it today that the Tigers pitching staff popped bottles over news of his acquisition.
Press pause and let’s have a nice hand for Dave Dombrowski. Over the last three years he’s proven to be the smartest guy in the room. Fans had every reason to question him for some moves, but the guy has been rock solid. We haven’t even mentioned the trade for José Veras; a rather capable reliever in exchange for a bag of rocks. Every Tiger fan should clap whenever his picture comes on TV. Do you remember that he replaced Randy Smith? Talk about an improvement.
It’s been a good summer so far. The Tigers haven’t spent much time struggling, the Pistons have been getting incrementally better and the Lions look like they’ve learned their lesson. When Martin Mayhew allowed that to reporters that he hoped to “cool his seat down” with the upcoming season, you could almost hear arms raise in Honolulu blue sleeves from 313 to 248. The Lions developed an infuriating hubris in 2012, both before the season and after. At times it wasn’t so much that they didn’t seem incapable, it seemed like they didn’t understand there was a problem. When Jim Schwartz said he was humbled by the 2012 season, it should give Lions fans hope that maybe last year was merely a squished squirrel on the road out of incompetence. Perhaps that should be a lesson to all present and future executives and coaches to the Detroit Lions: Never have confidence. Ever.
This is one of those rare weeks in sports where everything is going great. There’s optimism for your favorite team. Unless you’re a fan of the Red Wings. Not a lot going on there right now.