Fans can't give up on Verlander

Verlander: 6-7, 4.98 ERA so far in 2014

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - Of all the disappointments to emerge from the Tigers' month-long slide, the worst is that fans have already given up on Justin Verlander.

Yes, we get it. JV has been just terrible. In his last seven starts, the ace has a chubby 7.83 ERA.

On Monday, Verlander gave up seven earned runs in six innings in a loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Now, many fans have given up hope that Verlander, 31, can get back to form and be the dominant pitcher he has been for most of his nine-year career.

The main concern, though, is the effect his struggles have on the team as a whole. Fans can't honestly believe that the Tigers are going to reach their ultimate goal - winning the World Series - without Verlander.

The chances of winning it all without your No. 1 starter contributing are slim to none.

If you're giving up on Verlander, you are basically giving up on the Tigers.

That's a tough pill to swallow. After all, the Tigers were trying to win the AL Central for the fourth year in a row and get back to the American League Championship Series for the fourth straight year as well.

Before the season, Vegas odds-makers picked them as the favorite to win the title.

Verlander has to get righted and be productive for the Tigers to have any chance.

The Tigers start a nine-game road trip tonight in Cleveland. It's an important trip after they lost three of four and let Kansas City leave town with first place in the AL Central.

Verlander pitches in Game 2 of the series.

LeBron James Coming back to Central?

Pistons fans might not want to hear this, but LeBron James should be moving closer.

James' next move is an easy one. He should pack up his talents and move back home, go to back to Cleveland.

The Miami thing is beat, over. Even if Pat Riley tried to inspire the Big 3 to stay put and keep fighting.

The way the San Antonio Spurs embarrassed the Heat - with a plus 70 point differential, the largest in NBA Finals' history.

The Spurs' waxing in just five games denied the Heat a chance at greatness, of winning three straight NBA titles. Plus, the Spurs exposed that team as a has-been. The Heat crashed and burned in three straight games for all to see.

Rightly so, James, who left Cleveland via free agency in 2010, was noncommittal about his plans for next season. He can opt out of his contract with the Heat that would pay him $20.6 million next season.

"I will deal with my summer when I get to that point," James said to the media after losing to the Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. "Me and my team will sit down and deal with it. I love Miami. My family loves it.

"But obviously right now that's not even what I'm thinking about."

If James was so in love with Miami and believed in his team, he could have simply said he's committed to the Heat and was staying.

Simple. Easy. No more questions. Debate over.

James, though, knows Miami can only be a bad place for him from here on out. There's no help coming if the Big 3, including Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The three, if they all opt in, would eat up just about all the salary cap and there would be almost nothing left to add the players this team would need in order to make another real run to win a championship.

And forget that pipe dream of adding free agent Carmelo Anthony. It's called unrealistic by most in the league.

The last thing James wants is to be on the team that he helped construct to win titles not winning titles. It only takes away what they accomplished to this point, winning two titles in four straight Finals appearances.

Hello, Cleveland.

Going back there makes perfect sense on two fronts.

First, James can go back to where it all started, where he was drafted and beloved.

Yes, Akron's own can go back to Ohio and make everything right again. He can be forgiven for running out on them when things got tough.

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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