The calendar will flip to 2019 in a few days. Can you believe it? 2019? Still no moon bases, no flying cars. I thought we were supposed to have those by now?
I guess I thought we’d have a Lions’ playoff win by now too.
That begs the question, which will we see first: a Lions’ playoff win or flying cars?
At any rate, 2018 was a tough year to be a Detroit sports fan. But 2019 can be different, especially if the four Detroit teams make some changes. Here are my New Year’s resolutions for the Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons, and of course, the Lions.
Pistons: Listen to the man
We’re about a month away from the NBA All-Star break and the Pistons are treading water. After a fast start, the team is facing some problems. They clearly have a few players who need to be subtracted (Luke Kennard, probably Glenn Robinson III) and a few players who are on their way up (Reggie Bullock, Langston Galloway).
First-year coach Dwane Casey has had a few months to learn about his roster, and he’s given a lot of players time on the floor. Casey likes a deep bench, and he loves to grind down other times with up-tempo and match-up problems. Bullock and Reggie Jackson are thriving under a new coach, and with Blake Griffin leading the way, the Pistons are probably going back to the NBA Playoffs next spring. They won’t go far, but at least their moving in the right direction.
In many ways the Pistons are the most exciting of the four Detroit teams. A new arena downtown, a superstar, and a more interested and aggressive Andre Drummond. That goes along with a coach who hasn’t missed the playoffs in six years. The best thing the Pistons can do is follow Casey’s lead. He knows what he’s doing.
Red Wings: Toughen up
A lot of people join a gym as a New Year’s resolution. The Red Wings may consider that option, as they need to get a bit stronger.
The team consists of two types of players: veteran misfits who don’t figure in the long-range plans, and young players who will still be wearing a Detroit sweater when the Red Wings are a playoff team again. But many of those young players need to get stronger, need to be able to get through an 82-game schedule.
Dylan Larkin is well on his way, at the still-ripe age of 22, to becoming a Red Wings’ great. This year he’s added a co-captain tag and taken steps to become a leader on and off the ice. That’s very Yzermanesque on him. When the Red Wings are back as a playoff team (probably 2019-20), Larkin will need to lead a tougher, more physically strong team.
Lions: Stop the drama
What a year it’s been for Lions fans. The team welcomed a new coach, was embarrassed by a rookie quarterback in the first game of the season, traded their star wide receiver, and squandered several chances to win games.
The team has also been surrounded by controversy. The coach is late for meetings, the coach is giving posture advice to reporters, players are complaining about practicing in the snow, etc. Plus, the team continues to under-perform.
Here’s an idea for 2019: how about you cut the drama and focus on football?
Tigers: Start over from the top
One of the most popular resolutions is to start over.
“Every day is a new chance to begin again.”
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
And so on.
Most of the time that’s ridiculous. But in the case of the Detroit Tigers, it’s appropriate. The Tigers need to admit that they need to start over, the sooner the better. And the higher the better.
The Tigers say they’re rebuilding. They say they’re committed to young players. They say they’re building to be winners in a few years. But, the problem is this: the fish rots from the head down.
The Tigers need new ownership and they need new faces in the front office. This generation of the Ilitch family isn’t committed to winning like Mike Ilitch was. This front office, led by Al Avila, is overmatched. If they remain in place, the future is not bright for the Detroit baseball team.
I don’t know why fans have forgotten this, but when Mike Ilitch bought the Tigers in the early 1990s he was not focused on the club. His attention was on his hockey team. And it showed, the Tigers went through their worst stretch in franchise history, culminating in an embarrassing 119-loss season. That’s what the team was like until Ilitch brought good baseball guys in, until he started to infuse his winning spirit into the team.
The younger Ilitches are like their 1990s old man. They don’t really care that much, they have their eyes on other things. If they keep the team, the Tigers will be irrelevant. The best thing they can do is sell to someone hungry for a title.
What do you think the Detroit teams need to do in 2019? Tell me in the comments below.