Detroit Pistons have real chance to move forward

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

On Thursday, the Pistons fired coach Lawrence Frank.

It came as little surprise. Pro sports has a short menu: wins and losses. Frank, who coached the Pistons for two seasons, just didn't get enough wins.

The Pistons were 54-94 (.365) under Frank and failed to make the playoffs. Pistons owner Tom Gores said he wasn't happy about the team's record on Monday at The Palace before the Pistons' last home game, a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We want to thank Lawrence for his hard work and dedication, but we feel it is in the best interest of the franchise to make a change at this time," president Joe Dumars said in a statement. "Decisions like this are never easy and we wish Lawrence well in the future."

Granted, the Pistons (29-53) are a young team and rebuilding. And yes, it's tough for fans to see the team in this position, an NBA also-ran.

After all, it wasn't long ago this team was a model franchise, going to the Eastern Conference finals year after year and winning a title in 2004.

And while it's probably not all of Frank's fault, there was no feeling that he was the long term solution. There were problems with some players and there just wasn't enough winning going on, although the Pistons won four of their final five games.

This is a huge offseason for Dumars. Not only will he have to hire a new coach -- former NBA coaches Nate McMillan and Mike Brown are apparently on the short list -- but the Pistons have a top lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft and the Pistons have plenty of money under the salary cap to lure the star they are looking for.

Dumars -- who has been criticized of late by some fans and radio talk-show hosts for some of his personnel decisions -- has the confidence of the owner. Gores believes Dumars can rebuild his team into a winner like he did when he first took over in 2000 and the Pistons were in worst shape then they are now.

For sure, it's no easy job. But Dumars has done it and won a championship. It only makes sense to give him more time and he did draft Andre Drummond in the last draft. He's a star and the cornerstone to the franchise's future.

Plus, from Gores standpoint, it's hard to find a GM with a title in his back pocket out there to replace Dumars.

JV's Struggles vs. the Bottom

Justin Verlander might be the best pitcher in baseball.

But he certainly hasn't looked like it early on this season, especially when he faces the bottom of the lineup.

After a 2-0 loss to the Mariners in Seattle on Thursday afternoon, Verlander is 2-2 this season and both losses came after the bottom of the lineup roughed him up.

Granted, in both losses, the Tigers were shutout, a miracle when you look at the offensive firepower the lineup has.

Still, JV let Jason Nix, the ninth place hitter for the Yankees, blast a two-run homer against him in a home loss to New York. In the Seattle loss, it was the bottom of the order that did all the damage with three straight hits after two were out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

So far, batters in the ninth spot are hitting .400 vs. Verlander, the best of any position in an opponent's batting order.

It's puzzling. You would think JV would be able to dominate light hitters push to the bottom of the lineup.

Lions on Primetime

The thought was that the Lions would get shutout of any national TV games this coming season after losing their last eight games and finishing 4-12.

But when the NFL released its schedule on Thursday, the Lions had a Monday night tilt against the defending NFL Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens at Ford Field on Dec. 16th.

Of course, there is the annual Thanksgiving Game that the nation sees. This year, it's Nov. 28th against the Green Bay Packers.

So the Lions have some tough opponents when many eyeballs are one them. It will be interesting, no doubt.

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