DETROIT -

In honor of the late, great Joe Falls, it's a Fish Fry Friday ...

Mo Cheeks is the new Pistons coach.

Yes, there have been many Pistons coaches the last seven years -- five, in fact.

But expect Cheeks, 56, to stick around a while as the Pistons try to turn the franchise back into a winner. He has a three-year contract, with a team option for a fourth season. Better than that, Cheeks has some of the things important to be a successful coach in the NBA.

Cheeks, who also coached the Trail Blazers and 76ers, is classy, a well-respected coach and has the ability to relate to the players. Those things attracted president Joe Dumars to Cheeks, a former All-Star point guard.

"You have to have a coach that makes that connection with today's players," said Dumars to the media. "I think Mo has proven that throughout his career.

"He's proven that in Oklahoma City - the ability to connect with today's players. I think that's important."

Cheeks is ready to change the mindset of the younger players here. That's a good start.

Valverde Should be Released

The Tigers should have released Jose Valverde on Thursday.

Instead, they will continue the try to prove everyone is wrong and they are right.

This isn't just about Valverde giving up a game-tying, two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth against the Royals on Wednesday.

That happens to the best of closers, few can log a perfect season and secure every victory.

It's just that Valverde isn't the closer he once was. His meltdown started last year in the postseason and has simply continued.

The eye test tells you that.  His control and splitter just aren't good enough.

The results tell you the same thing. Last season, in 71 appearances, Papa Grande gave up just three homers. In his last 5 1/3 innings, Valverde has allowed five home runs.

The bottom line is that GM Dave Dombrowski, manager Jim Leyland and the players all know they won't win a World Series without a dependable closer.

Valverde -- who in the last week has allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings with a bloated 7.36 ERA -- hasn't been that guy for some time. Hence, the Tigers should simply cut bait and move on.

Mockery of Justice

Chad Johnson has done a lot wrong -- both on and off the field.

But Johnson, the former standout NFL wide receiver, did nothing wrong in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida courtroom on Monday.

What happened to Johnson, 35, was nothing short of a mockery of justice. Not only should Johnson be mad at what happened, but every honest, level-headed person in this country should feel the same way.

Enter Broward County Circuit Judge Kathleen McHugh.

McHugh should be ashamed at the very least.

Let's get this straight. No jail time for the domestic violence charge against his now ex-wife, but a 30-day jail sentence for a pat on the butt to his lawyer.

Both sad and sick.

And nobody wants to hear about courtroom decorum. That's total nonsense.

First, this judge had already agreed to a no-jail plea deal. This, even though Johnson had head-butted his then so-called reality TV star wife, Evelyn Lozada. Did we mention that he was on probation when he did it? Yet, McHugh was going to let him waltz out of court a free man.

Then this wacky judge praised Johnson's attorney, Adam Swickle. She even asked Johnson if he was satisfied with job Swickle had done for him.

Johnson, in the most harmless way, said to his lawyer, ''good job'' and patted him on the backside, a common practice in the pro sports business Johnson comes from.

The courtroom erupted in laughter and this judge had her feeling hurt, as if they were laughing at her or Johnson was somehow showing her up.

It was a total overreaction. McHugh pulled the plea deal back and said no deal.

"I don't know you're taking this whole thing seriously. I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this?," McHugh said.

Sadly, misguided sports writers and analysts, of course, played the pile-on game. It was easy to blame Johnson and try to use it as another example why some owner in the NFL shouldn't give him a chance to keep his playing career going.