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The State of the Union address is an address made by the President of the United States to Congress and the entire nation via broadcast television. The address takes place inside the US Capital in Washington DC. Attendees include Congress and all members of the President’s cabinet except for one, who is told not to attend in case something happens to the building. This year, the address takes place on January 30th.
I’m giving my own sports-related twist to this address. I live in Michigan and follow Detroit sports very closely. Admittedly, I am a fan of these teams. With the SOTUA close, I figured I would give a State of Pro Sports in Detroit Address. This piece will soley focus on where I think the Detroit Lions, Pistons, Red Wings, and Tigers currently are and what my take on their future is.
Let’s begin with probably the most successful team in Detroit since the start of last year.
Current State: The Lions started 2017 losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card Game and finished the year beating the Green Bay Packers in a meaningless home game. They finished 9-7 but missed out on the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. The Lions will begin the 2018 season with a new head coach and other coaching changes.
They have their franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford, the league’s only 1000 yard receiving duo in Golden Gate and Marvin Jones, an underrated pass catcher out of the backfield in Theo Riddick, and a steadily improving offensive line lead by franchise left tackle Taylor Decker and Pro Bowl guard TJ Lang.
On defense, they have an elite corner in Darius Slay Jr, an up and coming safety in Quandre Diggs, an established leader in Glover Quin, and good looking pieces on the defensive line including Anthony Zettel (who once tackled a tree, by the way) and A’Shawn Robinson.
Future: The Lions have a legitimate talent base in place. This should make the job an extremely attractive one. However, it is hard to give an outlook of their future without knowing who their head coach is. Based on the talent they currently have, I say the team is trending upward. They have holes to fix, without a doubt. However, general manager Bob Quinn is going to pull out all the stops to get this team to where it should be. Staying healthy will also be huge. The next four to six years should be fun for fans.
Detroit Red Wings
Current State: The Red Wings are experiencing what a lot of teams experience after prolonged success and that is the slow, dark descent into mediocrity or worse. The Wings finished 33-36-13 and 14th in the Eastern Conference last season and currently sit at 16-16-7. Last season ended their historic 25 year streak of playoff appearances and was their first losing season since 1990-91.
The Red Wings do have guys with high upside including forwards Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Martin Frk, and Andreas Athenasiou, as well as goaltender Petr Mrazek. They still have captain Henrik Zetterberg who is an icon in Detroit and a huge fan favorite. Defenseman Mike Green, who is a potential trade candidate, has found his game again and turned into a good defenceman.
However, there is a lot holding this team back. The contract of goaltender Jimmy Howard, for example, is one. Defenseman Trevor Daley is also a bit of an anchor, however, his three year contract is somewhat designed to be a two year deal and the third year is a formality.
Other than the players, I feel that head coach Jeff Blashill and long time general manager Ken Holland are also holding this team back. Blashill can’t seem to steer this team in the right direction most of the time and when he does, they almost immediately take two steps back. Holland favors, and has favored, veteran players to a fault. He’s traded away promising players like Callie Jarnkrok (Nashville) and valuable draft picks for the sole purpose of making the playoffs. This has now put the team in their current meddling position.
Future: The future looks better for the team than most will admit. They have promising players in their farm system like defensemen Robbie Russo, Vili Saarijarvi, Joe Hicketts, and Filip Hronek as well as forwards Michael Rasmussen, Matt Lorito, and Evgeny Svechnikov. The team will probably move on from both Holland and Blashill and I think that is in the best move. Bringing in a GM and coach who both understand how the game is evolving is vital in restoring the former glory of the Red Wings.
With all that said, these next few years will be painful.
Current State: The Pistons failed to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year last year as they finished 37-45 and 10th in the East. This year they got off to a hot start but have fallen back down to earth and sit at 20-16.
The Pistons best players include center Andre Drummond, forward Tobias Harris, and guard Reggie Jackson. Guard Avery Bradley has emerged as a leader for this team and is one of the reasons why they aren’t below .500. Guard Ish Smith has also been a great addition to the team, performing extremely well when in for Jackson.
This team is lacking consistency. They seem to be able to beat everyone at times, then can’t beat the worst teams on their best day. Take this as an example: Earlier this season, the team defeated the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Earlier this week, they got blown out by the Orlando Magic.
Future: Their future, as of now, is murky at best. I like first round pick Luke Kennard, but they’ve whiffed on their first rounders the previous two years, Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson. Their murky future isn’t really due to anything they’ve done, however. The league looks to be dominated by Super Teams for years to come, so unless there’s an injection of parity sometime soon, the team is destined to finish at the middle of the pick or lower.
Current State: Oh, what can I say about the current state of the Detroit Tigers? They finished last in all of Major League Baseball and launched a massive rebuild last season. Trades of stars J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Alex Avila, Justin Wilson, and Justin Verlander during the season have began to replenish a heavily neglected farm system.
There are two players I can look at as positives: third baseman Jeimer Candelario and right handed pitcher Michael Fulmer. These two are cornerstones for the next Tigers teams that can contend. Fulmer won the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year and despite an injury plagued 2017, he’s still poised to anchor this staff through what is sure to be dark seasons ahead. Candelario has potential to be an everyday player at the hot corner and will play his first full season as a starter in 2018.
Future: The next five years for the Tigers and their fans are going to be absolute hell. However, beyond that, the sky is the limit. First overall pick this June and other top picks sure to follow combined with already promising prospects including Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron, Matt Manning, Jario Labourt, Alex Faedo, Beau Burrows, and Joe Jimenez give the team hope that they can return to contention soon. Manager Ron Gardenhire is a bit of a sacrificial lamb to the rebuild, but he’s a great teacher and will mentor these players through his contract. Hopefully, for their sake, they listen to his teachings.
Featured Photo Credit: Detroit News