Joe Nathan struggles are a long-term concern

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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In honor of the late, great Joe Falls, it's a Fish Fry Friday...

You can pooh-pooh Joe Nathan's recent struggles all you want, but if you're the Tigers, you should be concerned.

The Tigers won't get to the World Series, never mind win it, without Nathan being the Nathan of old, when he was a seven-time All-Star.

Sure, Nathan picked up the save in Thursday's 5-4 victory over the Oakland A's. But his performance was shaky at best.

Nathan allowed two runs in the ninth inning and the game ended with the tying and winning runs on base.

That followed Nathan's Wednesday night disaster when he gave up a three-run, walk-off homer.

MLB closers are going to have some ups and downs through the course of a long season. But Nathan is trending down big time and we're just in May.

And at age 39, you can't honestly expect him to get better as the season goes on. The Tigers have to be worried he won't be there at the finish line.

Here are the facts: Last season with the Texas Rangers, Nathan blew just three saves and gave up just two home runs. So far this season in Motown, Nathan has blown four saves in 17 opportunities and allowed four homers.

Nathan has a bloated 5.23 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 20 2/3 innings. Bad numbers, indeed.

Nathan's strikeout and walk rate is also bad, at 2.22 Ks to BBs. Last season it was 3.32.

Nathan's velocity is down three miles an hour from 2012, according to a story.

You have to wonder if Nathan will be the closer come October, if the Tigers make it to the postseason.

This is Tigers' fans worst nightmare. Last year, it was the bullpen that failed the Tigers against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

Nathan was supposed to be the answer. Yet, two months in, he's actually the problem.

Sterling Entitled to Loot

It's not a popular position. Still, Donald Sterling deserves to reap all the money from the sale of his Los Angeles Clippers.

Sure, it appears as if he is being rewarded for his racial rant caught on tape.

Media reports say that the Sterlings have been offered $2 billion dollars for the Clippers, a team Sterling bought for just $13 million back in the early 80s.

Despite his actions that led the NBA to take away his controlling interest in the club, Sterling is legally entitled to cash in on the current value - even if it looks bad or unfair.

The league has no right to hamper the sale or limit the amount of cash Sterling can get for his property. If the NBA did, it would lose in a court of law.

Sterling, however, shouldn't be allowed to own a team. That's the only way the NBA can punished Sterling after hearing his racists view on a tape recording.

And while Sterling stands to get a great cash windfall, you can bet losing his team still hurts.

Sterling is a wealthy man. He's already a billionaire. So it's just more money when the sale is final.

For Sterling, the prestige of being an owner is gone. His name has been stained forever. In fact, in a recent poll, he was named the most-hated man in America.

Sterling may get richer, but he has been punished for sure.

Fight for Ages

Somehow, Bronco McKart is still fighting.

In fact, McKart, 43, fights tonight at Cobo Center. He takes Tony Harrison (17-0 with 14 knockouts). Harrison is 20 years younger than McKart.

Most are shocked the two will square off as the main event. It appears to be McKart's swan song, his final fight in a long, great career.

I covered McKart often 20 years ago when I was the boxing columnist for the Detroit Free Press. The former light middleweight champion, had an incredible career.

McKart said in a recent interview he's not fighting for the money, but the love of the sport.

We can only hope this is, indeed, McKart's last fight. Better yet, we should hope McKart doesn't get hurt.

Rob Parker and Mark Wilson co-host Sports Night with Parker and The Man weeknights from 7-10pm on WDFN AM-1130 The Fan.

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