Tigers' bats: Here we go again

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

The Tigers' offense is in World Series form again. And if you remember, they scored just four runs in getting swept in four games by the San Francisco Giants.

In losing three straight to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Tigers were shutout twice, losing 1-0 twice in extra innings. In the 31 innings played in the last three games, the Tigers scored in just one innings.

Yes, the Pirates' pitching has been pretty good, but not that good.

All teams go through scoring droughts during a long season, but this is terrible. The Tigers have a softball lineup, especially with boppers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

The Tigers should almost never get blanked. Twice in three games is ridiculous.

Cabrera is having another MVP/Triple Crown season. The Tigers lead baseball in runs scored and team batting average.

Granted, the Tigers' lineup hasn't exactly been the same without Austin Jackson in it. He's still on the disabled list. ``I think not having Austin is starting to catch up to us," manager Jim Leyland told the media after the game in Pittsburgh Thursday night.

In a long season, this normally wouldn't matter. But because of the flame out and inconsistent offense we saw in the Fall Classic, it makes fans wonder if this feast or famine offense is good enough to win that long awaited championship.

There's a long way to go in the regular season. Still, despite all the great starting pitching and big offensive numbers, the Tigers (29-23, in first place, half game ahead of Cleveland atop AL Central) are a middle of the road team, not elite where they should be.

Wings Choke

Nobody ever wants to use the word choke when it comes to their favorite team.

But that's exactly what the Wings did in losing the last three games to Chicago Blackhawks after being up 3-1 in the best-of-seven semis.

In losing 2-1 in OT in Game 7 in Chicago on Wednesday, the Wings blew a golden opportunity to advance to the Western Conference finals.

Most thought it was a foregone conclusion after the Wings won three straight over Chicago which won the President's Trophy this season.

Many fans made excuses for the Wings on sports-talk radio. Sure, no one expected this team to even have a chance to advance as far as they did. After all, they barely made the playoffs.

Still, once you get in and win, all bets are off. This idea that you're playing with house money after winning the first round is nonsense.

 Plus, it is a choke when all you have to do is win one game and the 'Hawks have to win three straight to advance.

The players, to their credit, were upset and knew they didn't get the job done.

It would have been an incredible upset story had the Wings pulled off a victory Game 7. But they didn't and, instead, summer vacation is here.

History-making NHL Draft

If the NHL wants to get back to being a national sport, not just regional, it has to broaden its fan base.

And it looks as if help is coming to the NHL, something that could pump in life in the sport and get young black kids finally interested in playing the sport. Better yet, view it as an option for a professional career.

Seth Jones, the son of former NBAer Popeye Jones, has the chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Yes, the first player selected.

Mike Grier, the first ever US born and exclusively US-trained African American in the NHL, was drafted in the ninth round (219th overall) in 1993. The Detroiter played 14 years in the league, but wasn't a star.

Jones is a star in the making. Scouts say Jones has the potential to be an elite defenseman. He's 6-3, 200 pounds and an excellent skater.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has to be thrilled. A former NBA player's son picked his sport over the sport his dad became famous in. It's totally head-scratching.

Those who doubt the impact Jones can have should only look back when Tiger Woods came on the scene in golf.

Golf, for the most part, was considered an elitist sport. Sure, there were some black golfers on the tour, but none that moved the needle.

Woods made golf must-see TV and the interest in the sport, especially in the African American community soared.

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