Notes from a crazy sports weekend:
The seasons ended Sunday for both the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Lions.
The Tigers ending was official – the end of the regular season. The Lions ending was unofficial – the end of any realistic hope of being an NFL playoff team.
THE TIGERS – The final two games of the season – both losses to the lowly Atlanta Braves – was so typical of this frustrating Tigers team. After Friday night’s impressive 6-2 win, all they had to do was win twice more to quality for a makeup game on Monday at home against Cleveland. But the offense went south and now we’re left to wonder, will manager Brad Ausmus be back?
THE LIONS – When former Michigan State Spartan quarterback Brian Hoyer lights you up – as he did Sunday for the Chicago Bears against the Lions – it’s time to question what’s going on with your team. Looks like this could end badly for coach Jim Caldwell. The Lions simply underperform week after week. Give the Bears and Hoyer credit for a solid performance. Hoyer doesn’t have the physical tools of injured starter Jay Cutler, but his Bears teammates respond so much better to his leadership.
MOVIE TIME – A couple weeks ago the movie “Sully” was released and was atop the box office with Tom Hanks in the starring role of the heroic pilot. Well, I’m thinking that Major League Baseball should have followed with a movie of its own – “Scully” – about Dodgers legendary broadcaster Vince Scully, who retired after Sunday’s game. The best piece of trivia about Scully’s career is that he got his big break with the Dodgers in 1950 when Ernie Harwell – yes, THAT Ernie Harwell – moved from the Brooklyn Dodgers broadcast booth to the New York Giants booth. That cleared the way for Scully.
BEST FINISH – Hands down the best finish I saw to a game all weekend was Saturday’s college football thriller between Georgia and Tennessee. The Bulldogs seemingly pulled the game out with 10 seconds to go. But they were flagged for a celebration penalty. The Vols got the ball around midfield after the kickoff and then threw a successful Hail Mary pass into the end zone for the winner. You have to feel good for former Central Michigan coach Butch Jones, now at Tennessee.
STATE RIVALRY – Speaking of Central Michigan, Saturday featured the OTHER state rivalry, Western Michigan and Central. This one was no contest. Coach P.J. Fleck’s team simply dominated the Chippewas 49-10 and moved up to No. 25 in the weekly Associated Press rankings.
A TALE OF TWO TEAMS – Speaking of impressive, Michigan won the battle of unbeatens in a crucial Big Ten matchup over Wisconsin, 14-7. With the victory, the Wolverines moved to No. 4 in the A.P. poll. Staying in the top four is the challenge, since the top four teams at the end of the season qualify for the college football playoff. Michigan State was in the final four a year ago and had been a top six team the last three years, but this isn’t going to be one of those years. An overtime loss to Indiana Saturday night dropped the Spartans to 0-2 in the Big Ten and 2-2 overall. However, I’m still holding to my prediction that Michigan State will have a say in who wins the Big Ten this year.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
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