Saturday, April 26, 2008

Detroit Lions Make Crucial Mistake in Round Two of NFL Draft

Using their second round pick to address their glaring need at linebacker, the Detroit Lions selected Jordon Dizon, a very productive linebacker from Colorado. And I'll leave the debate over whether Penn State's Dan Connor would have been a better fit for another day, because honestly, I don't know which of the two would have been best, and I'll take the Lions coaching staff and scouting department's view that Dizon fits their scheme best.

But the big mistake was not trading back into Round 2 and picking up running back Ray Rice. Rice would have filled a desperate need for them and is an all around back who could have stated from day one for the Lions. And the Lions have extra picks (the third rounder they picked up in the Shaun Rogers trade and the fifth they got today from Kansas City) they could have used to move up. Instead, they sat back, and now who knows which running back will be available when they pick tomorrow. They could have come out of today with a starting offensive tackle, starting linebacker, and starting running back. They failed at getting a running back, and whether Dizon will be good enough to start right away is a serious question.

This was not what the Lions needed coming out of Day One.

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First Round Could Not Go Worse For Lions

You can't blame Matt Millen for this one. The Detroit Lions did not get the player they needed or the player they wanted with their first round pick, but it has nothing to do with Matt Millen's incompetence. It was a confluence of events which could only happen to the Detroit Lions, taking any chance the Lions had of getting the starter they needed away.

It started going bad when the New England Patriots traded down from 7 to 10, because you had to know that they were targeting the Lions dream pick, inside linebacker Jared Mayo, and 10 was a much better spot to take him at than 7. Then Carolina moved way up to take defensive lineman Derrick Harvey (the other dream pick for the Lions). And in between, Keith Rivers was taken by the Bengals. Absolutely screwed on defense.

So let's take Jonathan Stewart, the running back the Lions really liked. Nope, he was gone too.

So they did the best they could with a trade down, moving down two spots with Kansas City, picking up an extra fifth round pick and moving up 10 spots in the third round in the process.

And for the pick itself, they took an offensive tackle, and some guy, I'll be honest, I've never heard of. Gosder Cherilus. He was a first round talent (apparently) but who knows. If they were going to take an offensive tackle, I would have almost rather seen them take Alberts, the guard who is converting to tackle in the NFL. Yes, offensive line, and tackle especially, was a need for them, but running back and linebacker were bigger needs and they have no help there right now.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Almost Time For the NFL Draft

This is perhaps my favorite weekend of the year (and we'll ignore for the moment the Detroit Pistons trying to ruin it by sleepwalking through Philadelphia -- Like the Tigers 0-7 start, I'm not upset or panicked because I just can't see the Pistons losing to Philadelphia in the long run, but if they play like they did Friday night, it'll be over, and not in a good way, by this time next week. Okay, speech over.) The NFL Draft, and even though the format has been tweaked a bit (Rounds 1 and 2 start 3:00 Saturday, Rounds 3-7 start bright and early at 10:00 Sunday) and the Detroit Lions, for once, aren't drafting in the Top 10, it's still veyr exciting.

And very nerve-wracking at the same time. This time last year, the debate was whether the Lions would stay where they were and take Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson (or even perhaps offensive lineman Joe Thomas) or trade down and take defensive end Gaines Adams or linebacker Patrick Willis. My top choice, at the time, was to trade down and take Willis who was a monster of a linebacker coming out of college. The Lions chose not to do that, Johnson was injured most of his rookie year with a back problem, and Willis won Defensive Rookie of the Year and was everything people thought he was and more. And linebacker continued to be a glaring need for the Lions.

Which is why the Lions can't make the same mistake again. If Keith Rivers or Jared Mayo are still on the board when the Lions draft at 15, unless Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey is too, you can't pass either one of those two players up. Yes, the Lions need help on the offensive line and a running back would be a sexier pick, but I'm so tired of the Lions drafting offensive skill players in the first round. I don't think it's a coincidence that Matt Millen's only successful first round draft pick (okay - Maybe Roy Williams should count as "successful") was a defensive standout, linebacker Ernie Sims. Paring Sims with either Rivers or Mayo would put bite into a Lions defense which really needs the help right now.

And thus we get to why I'm worried. While the Lions top choice, the aforementioned Derrick Harvey, is almost certain to be gone, and Rivers is too, Mayo seemed like a sure bet for the Lions at 15. Plus, because he's the better middle linebacker prospect, which is a more valuable position in the "Tampa 2" he may even fit the Lions scheme better. But, in recent days, as some players tend to do, Mayo has shot up the draft boards, and some have him now going in the Top 10 picks. It's very possible that Harvey, Rivers, and Mayo will all be gone by the time the Lions pick. And it's not like taking one of the better offensive lineman in the draft would be all bad (we do need a right tackle) or a running back (otherwise, as it stands now, Tatum Bell will be our starter, which doesn't inspire a lot of confidence) but we need such help on defense, it's imperative that Harvey, Rivers, or Mayo slide to 15 or the Lions consider trading up. To get Harvey, we'd only have to jump up 3 or 4 spots (he's likely going to Carolina at 13, two picks ahead of us) so maybe we can trade the third round pick we got in the Shaun Rogers trade, and slide up a few picks.

In the first three rounds, the Lions have four picks, and I would select Linebacker, Defensive End, Running Back, and Offensive Tackle, in that order. And if any other position is drafted in the first four picks, even cornerback, it's a mistake. LB, DE, RB, OT. Those positions have to be filled and have to be filled with players who can play.

Will the Lions do it, or will they take another wide receiver? In just over twelve hours we'll find out.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Are The Democrats Asking The Wrong Question?

The more I think about the current campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the more I become convinced that Democrats may be asking the wrong question when it comes to weighing which candidate is more electable in the fall.

The main storyline, despite Obama's large delegate and popular vote lead, is can he win blue collar white males? Will white women vote for John McCain or not vote if Hillary is denied the nomination? These are the questions everybody has been looking at. And with the exit polling from the various states, especially in the South, showing Obama having a very hard time with these voters, it's a legitmate quesiton.

But, at what point does the question change to, if Hillary Clinton somehow gets the nomination, can she win the votes of African Americans? While white males almost always vote for the Republicans in the Presidential election anyway (so how useful it is a measure in the primary is dubious at best) Democrats absolutely cannot win without a large turnout from African Americans, who vote some 90% (or higher) for Democratic presidential candidates. And while there is a lot of hand wringing about how Obama can't seem to break 40% with white voters, what about the fact that Barack Obama continues to pound Hillary Clinton among black voters with some 90% of the vote? Early exits tonight in Pennsylvania show that Obama is winning 92% of the black vote.

And it's too easy to say "well, he's black, of course he's going to get 90% of the black vote." After all, Obama started behind, some 20-points among black voters at the start of the campaign. He worked hard for their votes (as he has for all votes) and the Clintons did themselves no favors with their numerous racially-tinted statements.

And so the question needs to be asked, will these voters come back to Hillary Clinton if she becomes the Democratic nominee? Especially when taking the nomination away from Obama will be so controversial. And if the answer is no, then the Democrats are doomed if Hillary Clinton is the nominee.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's Official: Democratic Campaign Now Bad For The Party

Despite worries from Democratic operatives and predictions from the media that the long Democratic campaign was going to tear the party apart, I never really bought into that completely. John McCain has been unable to get any real media coverage while the Democrats fight it out, and by spending millions of dollars in Pennsylvania and other states, the Democrats have really been putting a down payment down on the general election. They've gotten people excited in states which they would have never even visited had the primary campaign ended months ago, and because Clinton and Obama are such different candidates, it would force McCain to run a vastly different campaign against the eventual Democratic nominee, both message wise and geographically. Against Clinton, he runs as the Maverick/change candidate focusing on picking off previous Democratic strongholds like Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Oregon, while fighting strong Hillary charges in Ohio and Florida; Against Obama he's the experienced steady hand trying to hold on to Republican strongholds like Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, and Iowa but with little fear of losing Florida, and a better chance to hold on to Ohio. So, keeping McCain off-balance, without knowing which persona to create, and which states to focus on, is not all bad.

Those were my thoughts. Until today. Part of the reason I didn't have a problem with the Democratic race continuing was because the tone, for the most part, was very civil between the candidates. Yes, there have been sharp differences between the candidates, and the daily campaign conference calls and press releases and memos have been sometimes scalding, on television, and in public, the candidates have not gone for the kill. Negative advertising, aside from some Clinton advertisements in Wisconsin accusing Obama of ducking debates, have almost entirely been focused on issues, and aside from some personal attacks in one debate (You were on Wal-Mart's Board! You represented a slumlord in Chicago!) the campaign has been mostly substantive. And especially compared to past contests, which have gotten extremly personal (like George W. Bush's despicable campaign against John McCain to win the Republican South Carolina Primary in 2000 or how the Republicans, to defeat Senator Max Cleeland in Georgia, called the Vietnam veteran and triple amputee as a result un-American) this has been very tame in comparison.

But now, as we head into the home stretch in Pennsylvania, negative ads are flying from both campaigns. Hillary Clinton may have started it (a 527 group supporting Clinton re-opened the health care debate and her own campaign released an ad attacking Obama for an ad in which he said he didn't take money from oil companies or lobbyists) but in being forced to respond, Obama's ads not only attack Clinton for going negative, but attack Clinton for taking money from lobbyists and for forcing people to buy health care even if they can't afford. it. This Hillary Clinton ad, in response to Obama's response to another extraordinarily negative ad, may be the most brutal and hard-hitting of the campaign.

Obama, no doubt, will respond with an ad of his own, like this spot:

This is not good for the Democratic Party. Voters are not going to respond well to these attack ads, and are going to be turned off from both Clinton and Obama. If this campaign has taught us anything, it's that when Clinton attacks, she may hurt Obama, but she hurts herself even more. And she's already fighting off polls which show as many as 60% of voters believe she is not trustworthy. That's an incredible negative. And Obama abandons the premise of his campaign every time he responds to a Clinton attack ad with one of his own.

So what can Obama do? He can't stay silent, and let Clinton's ads dominate the storyline and be the only thing voters see. For one, negative ads, for whatever reason, have a history of being successful. And for another, he has to show Super Delegates and voters that he will respond to these kinds of attacks coming from Republicans, and that he won't be swift-boated. So, I like running ads comparing Clinton to the "old politics" and saying that her negative attacks are desperate and show that she doesn't understand that her ads are exactly what voters want a change from. But, then going further, and attacking Clinton for taking lobbyist money, or forcing people to buy health care, while they may be legitimate points, drags Obama into a fight which even if he wins, will damage him.

That's why this campaign has officially reached its tipping point. The onslaught of negativity today, and negative ads which Pennsylvanians will see for the next 72-hours until the election concludes Sunday night, will harm both Senators Clinton and Obama. And for the Democrats, in a state they must hold on to in the fall campaign, this isn't good for either of them.

And if this is what the campaign will look like until the end of the primary season in early June, John McCain may as well start writing his inaugural address today.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ABC Owes the People of Pennsylvania an Apology

52 minutes into the ABC Clinton-Obama debate. That's how long it took to get a real policy question. 52 minutes. The first hour almost was spent entirely on silly, trivial issues which have ZERO impact on people's daily lives. Bittergate, Rev. Wright, the Weather Underground, Bosnia, and flag pins. I swear, Sean Hannity was feeding ABC the questions. Every question, except the Bosnia one, was attacking Obama for something. His association with Wright and the people from Weather Underground, his statements about bitter small town people, why he doesn't wear a flag pin. No substantive questions, or questions at all on the environment, Iraq, the economy, the housing crisis, poverty, health care, nada. Not a single issue question for almost an hour in a 90 minute debate.

That's inexcusable.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

John McCain Does the Hardball College Tour

This is not going to be an easy election. That's an obvious point. But after watching John McCain on the Hardball College Tour tonight, it's very obvious that John McCain, especially against Hillary Clinton, could really run the table. He's fiercely independent, heroic, and even if you disagree with him on Iraq or Iran, unlike the current President, you at least know he's knowledgeable about the issues and even if he disagrees with you, he'll honestly listen to your point of view. He sounds like Al Gore when talking about the environment, he's against pork-barrel Congressional spending, and he's anti torture. Somehow, someway the Republicans, in a year they should get absolutely annihilated at the polls, and in spite of themselves due to their own misgivings about McCain, may have nominated the one Republican in the entire country that could win this year.

I watched the Barack Obama Hardball College Tour last week and I have to be honest, I think McCain came off better. He definitely seemed more presidential. When the debates come this fall, there's no telling how they are going to turn out, completely ignoring the actual content. Either John McCain is going to look really old next to Obama, or Obama is going to seem completely green next to the vastly more experienced McCain. No other Republican could appeal to middle-of-the-road voters like McCain, especially those who are bound to be disillusioned after this long Democratic primary race.

McCain, of course, has his problems. While cutting the summer gas tax is one of those campaign promises which sounds great, the money has to be made up somewhere. And he still has severe problems when it comes to foreign policy. The "100 year" comment may have been stretched beyond its intended meaning, but there's no questioning McCain would keep us involved in the Middle East for years to come. And no matter how much he tries to compare our role in Iraq to our role in Japan, Germany, or South Korea, he has no plan to eliminate the casualties in Iraq which would allow him to keep a peaceful force in the region. And add in a potential war with Iran, which would really be the start of Would War III because there's likely no question Iran would use an American attack as an excuse to attack Israel, which would respond and likely get the other countries in the region involved to some extent, McCain's policy positions are problematic.

But tonight, despite those problems, McCain showed why he's such a formidable and tough candidate for Democrats.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

At Some Point, This Detroit Tigers Start Stops Being Cute

Okay. Okay. I have refused to panic despite the embarrassing and inexcusable start by the Detroit Tigers to the 2008 Major League Baseball season. Despite the 0-7 start, I wasn't calling for the Tigers to make a major trade or fire Jim Leyland or anything extreme (aside, of course, from believing the Tigers should let phenom Rick Porcello replace Dontrelle Willis for two starts while Willis is on the Disabled List). After all, the Tigers will turn it around because they will start hitting. These players are too good not to hit. And everyone is banged up a bit, from Placido Poloanco's back to Miguel Cabrera's quadriceps, to Gary Sheffield's finger to Dontrelle Willis' knee to Carlos Guillen's hamstring.

But, at some point, this stops being cute. At some point this stops being a slow start, and turns into a lost season. At some point, the Tigers need to, you know, win. I just turned off the Tigers after they have fallen behind 5-0 to Chicago thanks to a third inning grand slam by Paul Konerko. Nothing is going right for the Tigers right now, but who cares that Kenny Rogers just gave up a grand slam because one run is enough to beat the Tigers right now. The team was shut out three times all of last season. They've already met that mark through just 12 games. And let's not get started on the almost 20 double plays the team has already hit into, almost a half dozen of which have been with the bases loaded.

I still don't want to panic. We still have only played 13 games which in a 162-contest season is practically nothing. But what is so worrisome is that the Tigers are showing no signs of breaking out of their so far season-long funk. And if they don't soon, this season will be too far gone for any late season surge to save them.

4:00 Update: So, having turned off the Tigers game to watch The Masters, I missed the second Chicago White Sox grand slam of the game, which now puts them up 11-0 over the Tigers. Two grand slams in three innings. Wow. And the Tigers still don't have a run. And apparently, Miguel Cabrera botched another play at third base, tripping over the umpire while allowing a pop-up to fall into fair territory. I'm almost at a loss for words at this point.

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McCarty Scores For Wings, Who Take 2-0 Series Lead

Good for Darren McCarty.

The Detroit Red Wings took a 2-0 series lead over the Nashville Predators on Saturday and if one just looked at the box score, it would be easy to confuse this Wings team with the title team in 2002. Dominik Hasek made 25 saves. Your goal scorers? Darren McCarty, Nick Lidstrom, Kris Draper, and Thomas Holmstrom. And why is it not a surprise that McCarty was the first Wing to get on the scoreboard?

McCarty, who put the Red Wings on the road to their long-awaited Stanley Cup victory in 1997 by famously pummeling Wings arch-nemesis Claude Lemieux, always seems to be in the right place at the right time during the playoffs (who could forget his goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals or his hat trick against Patrick Roy in the 2002 Western Conference Finals?) and Saturday was no difference, picking up a rebound and easily finding a practically empty-net. And what vindication for McCarty who may have been hurt by the 2004 NHL lockout more than any other player.

The lockout forced the Wings to buy-out McCarty's contract and despite singing with the Calgary Flames, McCarty never regained the magic he had in Detroit. He suffered both professionally and personally (due to a battle with alcoholism) and found himself out of the NHL at the start of this season. But McCarty never gave up, and worked his way back into shape and back on the ice, first with the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League (who are, not coincidentally, owned by former McCarty line-mate Kris Draper) and then, towards the end of the regular season, back with the Wings. And there he was Saturday, putting Detroit on the board early, exciting the Joe Louis Arena crowd just as he used to back in the late 1990s.

And this is not the first time the Wings have found success bringing back an old favorite. During their first cup runs a decade ago, the Wings were aided by another former bruiser who returned to Detroit, Joe Kocur. Kocur was rescued from the "beer leagues" by Steve Yzerman, and he was an important part of both the 1997 and 1998 Cup championship teams. The Wings hope that McCarty will play a similar role this season, and so far, the addition is paying quick dividends.

The Predators aren't out of this series, despite being down 2-0, but the Wings have played good, smart hockey (well, mostly...Anytime Hasek decides to leave the goal crease, it gets a little hairy as we saw yesterday) and if they continue to do so, they shouldn't have any problem wrapping up this series by this time next week (if not sooner). And given the way the Tigers are playing, and their high payroll, owner Mike Ilitch is going to need a long playoff run from the Wings this season.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

If Willis Moves Onto DL: Tigers Should Call Up Porcello

The Detroit Tigers (who as of this writing are actually winning, 3-2, over the Chicago White Sox) need not panic or make any major moves because of their incredibly horrendous and embarrassing start to the season. Yes, the bullpen may need a tune-up or two, but the offense will come around (eventually).

One move the Tigers may be forced to make though, is to call up a pitcher from the minor leagues to replace Dontrelle Willis, who left to tonight's game with a hyper-extended knee. And even though they probably won't, the Detroit Tigers should call up phenom Rick Porcello to take his place.

With all of the moves the Tigers have made the past two years (trades for Gary Sheffield, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Cabrera, and Willis) no part of the Tigers farm system has suffered more than the starting pitching depth. Humberto Sanchez, Jair Jurrjens, Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, others, are all gone. As

As for current Tigers who may be able to replace Willis, Jordan Tata himself is on the Disabled List after struggling this spring and taking his frustrations out on a steel door. The only real option in either AAA or AA is Virgil Vasquez, and while Vasquez is decent, and has started a few games for Detroit before, he's very bland. And if there's something the Tigers need right now to snap them out of think funk they have started the season in, it won't be found with Virgil Vasquez.

But it may be found in the phenom Rick Porcello, who many believe, despite not yet turning 20, could be a successful major league pitcher. In two starts in Class A Lakeland, Porcello has yet to surrender an earned run (he gave up four unearned runs in his last start) and has struck out 7 in 10 innings while walking only two. And this would be very much unlike the call up of Andrew Miller a few seasons back. Porcello would know, no matter how well he pitched, he was going back to Class A as soon as Willis was healthy. This would allow him to gain some invaluable experience without any real pressure.

And who knows, maybe he can provide the Tigers a spark. And besides all of that, he may, honestly, be the Tigers best minor league pitcher right now. The most capable of being successful in the major leagues. And while that may not be a great sign for the Tigers farm system at the moment, it should not be ignored by Jim Leyland when he considers whether Porcello or Vasquez should get the call should Willis be placed on the Disabled List.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thinking About Condoleezza Rice John McCain's Vice President

The big headline on the Drudge Report tonight is "Vice President Rice" in reference to the growing chatter that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has an interest in joining John McCain on the Republican ticket this fall. While Rice has continually said she has no interest in becoming an elected politician, her recent moves (such as speaking in front of fiscally conservative groups, like Americans for Tax Reform, which have little to do with her role as chief foreign policy adviser to President Bush) have raised the suspicions of political reporters.

“Condi Rice has been actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning for this,” Senor said this morning on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

According to Senor, Rice has been cozying up to the Republican elite.

“There's this ritual in Washington: The Americans for Tax Reform, which is headed by Grover Norquist, he holds a weekly meeting of conservative leaders -- about 100, 150 people, sort of inside, chattering, class types,” Senor said. “They all typically get briefings from political conservative leaders. Ten days ago, they had an interesting visit -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- the first time a secretary of state has visited the Wednesday meeting.”

Rice is a very intriguing choice as Vice President for a number of reasons. First, there's the obvious. One of two politically powerful and critical groups of voters will be very disaffected by the result of the Democratic primary. If Barack Obama wins the nomination, women may recoil, and may reconsider voting for the Democratic nominee. If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, especially if she wins by use of Super Delegates, African Americans could bolt the party as well. Rice's addition to the ticket would make McCain much more palatable to either of those groups than he would be otherwise.

But her gender and ethnicity are just a bonus, made more relevant because of the strife within the Democratic Party. She's a strong candidate regardless of whom the Democrats nominate because she's very bright, well-regarded (despite her connection to President Bush and the Iraq War), and in a "change" election, certainly would be a nice complement to the Washington-insider McCain. And if McCain didn't have a big enough advantage among neo-conservatives and war hawks, Rice doubles down that bet.

But, that's also her biggest weakness. Rice, more than almost any other Vice Presidential nominee, would make this election even more about the Iraq War than we previously thought possible, and that's not a smart battle, especially against Barack Obama, who so eloquently and almost eerily predicted the chaos the Iraq would would bring in a 2002 speech where he proclaimed that he was "not against all wars" simply against "dumb wars." Rice's closeness with President Bush and the Iraq War, with both so unpopular heading into the 2008 election, may sink McCain's candiancy.

Rice has other negatives as well. While she has incredible national security and foreign policy bonafides, that's not exactly an area John McCain needs help with. Rice also brings nothing to the table as it regards the electoral college, as she is not a big enough star to bring her home state of California into the Republican ranks, and she no pull in other states. And in an election focusing more and more on the economy, and away from foreign policy, she doesn't help McCain in that regard either.

Now, compare her to Mitt Romney. Romney has gotten a lot of attention lately, as despite his ice-cold relationship with McCain during the Republican nomination fight, Romney has raised money for McCain and has done everything possible since dropping out of the race to make himself an attractive VP candidate. And he brings a lot to the table. While many have said his Mormonism may be a negative, in crucial swing states in the fall, like Nevada and Colorado, Romney's popularity and religion may push McCain over the finish line, especially against Barack Obama, whose electoral strategy relies much more heavily on non-traditional Democratic states like Colorado and Nevada than on the traditional swing-states of Florida and Ohio. He also puts Michigan in play, because of his family history in the state, and may aide McCain in New Hampshire, neighbor to Romney's home state of Massachusetts. Plus, who better to balance McCain's foreign policy knowledge with a mastery of the economy than a former financial guru who made hundreds of millions of dollars on Wall Street. For the same reason Michael Bloomberg makes a lot of sense for Barack Obama, Romney makes a lot of sense for McCain.

And McCain has to think about the Republican Party too. If McCain, 71, plans on only serving one term because of his age, his choice of Vice President has to be somebody who can win in 2012. Can Rice? Can Romney? Or would somebody like Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty make more sense as a natural successor?

In the end, while Rice is a very attractive VP candidate because of both her tangibles and intangibles, I don't think she makes a lot of sense for McCain. Doubling down on the Iraq War, when the county wants out, and when the economy and the financial crisis is ever deepening doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But, her selection certainly would shake-up the 2008 election, and may help ensure Hillary Clinton is on the Democratic ticket, in one position or another.

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Lighting Round: 21, Detroit Tigers, and More

So you start a new job, in the real world, after four years of undergrad followed immediately by three years of law school, and suddenly you lose track of your blog. Well, let's not make that a habit. So let's catch up on what I've missed.

* 21: The Movie - Good but not great * Last weekend I went and checked out the new movie, 21 based on the great and best selling book Bringing Down The House. For those unfamiliar, the movie, based largely on the book, follows a group of MIT whizkids who, with some help from one of their professors, put together a very successful card-counting operation which make them hundreds of thousands of dollars before the Vegas establishment catches on. The movie, staring Kevin Spacey as the morally suspect ringleader/professor, was good, and exciting, but could not hold up to the greatness of the book. And maybe I have been spoiled by NBC's great Las Vegas so casino-themed movies have a hard time measuring up. Las Vegas did such a great job of capturing the casino and Vegas atmosphere, I almost walked out of 21 thinking that had the TV show done a mini-movie with the same storyline, it would have been much better. That said, it was still a good movie, maybe a bit long, and yet with some storylines not fully fleshed out as they could have been (which probably tells you there's a bit of dead time in the movie which could have been better spent elsewhere) but in the end, worth seeing.

* Detroit Tigers start 2008 season 0-4 * Well, at least Jason Grilli is in mid-season form, giving up three straight hits in the seventh inning of yesterday's game against the Chicago White Sox including the game winning three-run home-run dropping the Tigers to 0-4. Obviously, this is not how the Tigers, who have the second highest payroll in baseball, and who have expectations through the roof, wanted to start the year. I refuse to panic though. Even though Nate Robertson struggled yesterday, for the most part, the problem has been the offense, and the slow start Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Gary Shef...Well, everyone has gotten off to except for Clete Thomas, the kid who never played above AA before Curtis Granderson got hurt. The offense is too good to not turn around. So, let's not panic and get concerned. We'll turn it around. A month from now, if we are 5, 6, 7 games under .500, then we can talk, otherwise...

* NFL Draft Coming Up * I had a dream the other night (I wish I weren't kidding) that I missed the NFL Draft (which would never happen in real life) and as I was struggling with my cell phone to find out who the Lions drafted, I found out they traded up to the #2 pick in the draft to take some running back I had never heard of. I remember being so furious. Then I woke up, thankfully. The Draft is less than a month away, and I keep hoping the Lions don't waste their first round pick on another offensive skill player. Yes, we need a running back. But we need linebackers and defensive lineman and offensive lineman much more. I'm getting very nervous though it's going to be offense, offense, offense again.

* NHL and NBA Playoffs on the horizon * I haven't written much (if anything) about the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons in a long time, but now that the meaningless regular seasons are nearing their end-point, and the playoffs get ready to start, I'm excited to start really paying attention again and blogging again. Both teams have had great regular seasons, and the Pistons have really seen growth in their young stars, which has allowed them to rebuild without anybody noticing. It's amazing. But no matter how great the regular seasons were, if they don't win the playoffs, it won't matter at all.

And with that, time to see if the Tigers can win a game. Eventually we do, right?

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