Blog

With Replacements Looming, Veterans Step Up

While comfort and job security have always been the norm to Joe Nathan and Justin Verlander, the 2014 trade deadline opened the veterans’ eyes to the possibility of being replaced.

Between Verlander and Nathan, the two have combined for eight All-Star games and nine postseason appearances. Verlander has held the ace role in Detroit for over half a decade, and Nathan has been the perennial closer for his team — whether that be Minnesota, Texas or Detroit. While their personal accomplishments are impressive, one looming statistic has evaded them throughout both their careers: zero World Series rings.

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Why Detroit Can Celebrate

After seven years of Rodney Stuckey, Detroit fans can say “goodbye” to another Joe Dumars draftee that failed to reach his full potential and “hello” to a Stan Van Gundy-approved line up.

Dumars drafted Stuckey No. 15 overall in the 2007 NBA draft to play as a point guard. The Pistons spent the next seven years gradually transitioning him to a shooting guard with mixed results.

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Top MSU Hockey Players of All Time

The MSU hockey team has had a great history in college hockey. With their fair share of conference, regular season and tournament titles, three NCAA National Championships, and two Hobey Baker award winners, the Spartans have some great accomplishments under their belt. None of those accomplishments would have been possible if it were not for the hard work and dedication put in by countless MSU hockey players over the years.

Over the next five weeks, Behind the Mask will be releasing each of our  top five greatest spartan hockey players of all time. Starting with No. 5 and working all the way up to No. 1. Each of us giving our own reasons on why each player deserves to be there.

Who will claim the top spot on the countdown?

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Way-Too-Early Predictions: Nebraska (Oct. 4)

The Spartans will open Big Ten play with a night game at home against Nebraska. In 2013, MSU went on an unprecedented 9-0 in conference play. The 2014 season will prove difficult, if not impossible for Michigan State to remain undefeated in the Big Ten — having to open up against Nebraska, play Michigan and Ohio State in back-to-back games, and traveling to Maryland and Penn State.

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The Impact of Joakim: Tigers Acquire Soria, Look to Patch Reeling Bullpen

The Detroit Tigers bullpen currently holds the worst batting average against at .272 and the least strikeouts of any bullpen with just 243 strikeouts. Match that with the collective 4.41 ERA, and one could argue that the Tigers own the worst bullpen of all contending teams; a huge point of contention over the past three season.

However, Dave “Clark Kent, Superman, X-factor” Dombrowski came to the rescue once more. He and the Detroit Tigers received closer Joakim Soria in their second big deal of the season with the Texas Rangers for two pitching prospects, relievers Corey Knebel and Jason Thompson, and a draft pick.

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D.J. Augustin and Caron Butler Added to the Roster

Twenty-six year-old guard D.J. Augustin has signed a two-year,$6 million deal with the Detroit Pistons. The former No. 10 overall pick has had anything but a spotless career, but could be on the verge of a comeback after a successful season with the Chicago Bulls. Joining Augustin will be veteran forward Caron Butler, 34, who is set to make $4.5 million next season with the Pistons.

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Why Austin Jackson Will Be the Key to Detroit’s Success in Second Half

When the Detroit Tigers acquired Austin Jackson from the New York Yankees in a three-way trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks (who received Edwin Jackson and traded pitcher Max Scherzer to the Tigers) they saw their center fielder of the future.

Anyone who is touted as one of the top prospects for the Yankees has a lot of promise, and Dave Dombrowski wasted no time in his efforts to attain him.

Following his 2010 rookie season, it appeared as if Detroit had struck gold. Jackson was one of the top rookies in the league, hitting .293 in 151 games played, with 27 steals and 48 extra base hits while finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

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The Dirks Dilemma

At some point this season, Detroit fans have called for the heads of all three outfield starters: Rajai Davis, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter.

Other times, those shouting expletives in June were shouting approval in July.

All three players have looked valuable to the Tigers at some point during the first four months of the season, and while their sporadic play may have satiated fans, Brad Ausmus may not be convinced.

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More Former Dumars Employees Leave

When Stan Van Gundy accepted the job as President of Basketball Operations and head coach for the Detroit Pistons he made it no secret that he would make the team his own. Almost immediately Van Gundy let go five staff members, including assistant coach Rasheed Wallace. Various men who had worked with Van Gundy in the past replaced them.

Continuing to surround himself with people from his past, Van Gundy next hired old college basketball rival Jeff Bower as the organization’s general manager.

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Detroit Well-Represented in 2014 All-Star Game

Miguel Cabrera. Duh. Max Scherzer, of course. Victor Martinez, another no brainer.

When the fan voting was finally over, the Detroit Tigers had three players selected to the 2014 All-Star Game in Minnesota: Cabrera coming off an MVP season, Scherzer after his Cy Young season, and Martinez who has continued his torrid pace since July, 2013.

Let’s take a look at these guys by the numbers through the first half of the season.

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Early Summer League Success for Caldwell-Pope

A Piston is back on top of the leaderboards. It may only be the Summer League, but two games in, Detroit’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is leading the Orlando Summer League in points per game(28) and is top-five for rebounds per game (8.0). During Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Caldwell-Pope averaged a basket for almost every two minutes he was on the court.

The 2-0 Pistons should welcome these stats after a disappointing rookie season for their shooting guard.

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Opinion: A Plea for a More Informed MSU Fan

The NBA Draft has come and gone, and once again, I am reminded why I loathe sports from time to time.

I could spend more of my time talking about how gross I find mock drafts and that every single “source” mentioned by people such as Chad Ford are most likely lying. Something that Ford has joked about on Twitter, but I will not.

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Fino’s Rant: Lansing United and mid Michigan Soccer Haters

Fino’s Rant is back hosted by Fino, host of The Pact, Monday’s from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

This week, Fino takes on the soccer naysayers in the mid Michigan area as he rants about one the newest NPSL teams, Lansing United, and its local success.

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Wings Rejected in Free Agency, Still Optimism for next Season

The Detroit Red Wings were rejected at the start of free agency on July 1, 2014. The team went after four different players that ended up elsewhere for a variety of different reasons.

At the beginning of free agency, general manager Ken Holland understood that he needed to acquire a middle-tier winger along with a top-tier right-handed defender, but the Wings came out empty handed.

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Friday’s Future Red Wing: Alexey Marchenko

The Detroit Red Wings have a organization full of developing prospects that they have either drafted or picked up internationally throughout the years.

Alexey Marchenko is a 22-year-old, right-handed defenseman who has accumulated a plus-two rating and two penalty minutes against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 4, 2014.

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Fino’s Rant: Critics of Soccer and the Loss to Belgium

Fino’s Rant is back hosted by Fino, host of The Pact Monday’s from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m on 88.9FM.

This week, Fino goes absolutely off on the critics of U.S. soccer and the sport in general, and he also recaps the FIFA World Cup from the United States’ perspective.

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Meet J. D. Martinez

Hobbies of new Detroit acquisition, JD Martinez, include dancing, long walks on the beach and knocking the pulp out of the baseball.

Julio Daniel Martinez, the 26-year-old bombshell, has been the lightning bolt in a Tigers team that was desperate for an electric player. Originally Houston’s everyday left fielder, Martinez’s mediocre numbers in 2013 led to multiple trips to the minor leagues, with an eventual release from the Astros organization.

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