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Have a happy new year

4:30 pm in Uncategorized by Bruce Bentley

Well another year has passed and as always it seems a little quicker than the year before.

For us fans of teams from Michigan it has been a pretty good year. Really, it has been a year to remember.

The Detroit Red Wings, Tigers and now the Lions all qualified for the playoffs this year. Michigan and Michigan State both made the NCAA basketball tourney and have double digit wins on the gridiron.

Success was abundant for most teams except the Detroit Pistons. Although, they did get a new owner so hopefully the tide will turn.

My last column of the year is typically reserved for new year wishes for myself, various sports teams and athletes.

Before that, to my family, friends and all of you I wish for a healthy and happy 2012. With that being said, a quick toast… Here’s to the Mayans being wrong! Happy New Year.

I wish for a quick and mild winter, preferably, with as little snow as possible.

For our area athletes, I wish for success on and off the field. Remember, hard work does pay off.

For Lions tackle Ndamukong Suh, I wish for controlled aggression of the football field. That means no stomping, punching, tearing or anything else that gets the yellow flag in the air.

For new Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, I wish for a team of professionals that will listen, work hard and do what is asked of them. The last few years have been ridiculous.

For Red Wings defensemen Nick Lidstrom, I wish for one last skate around the rink with Lord Stanley’s Cup high above your head.

I wish for a complete opposite spring than the one we had in 2011. That means less rain, which in turn means less high school cancellations.

For Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, I wish for the media to find someone else to focus their attention on and to allow you to just play football. It has been long enough.

For Miami Heat forward Lebron James, I wish for at least one team that is better than the one in South Beach. I was trying to be nice.

For Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, a Commissioners Trophy to sit between the four Stanley Cups you already own. Ilitch will turn 83 this year.

For former Tigers pitcher Joel Zumaya (an annual wish), I wish for a full season of health, regardless of the uniform you will be wearing.

I wish for a Tigers opening day (vs. Boston) with temperatures in the 60s and sunshine. It’s been cold and rainy the last few years.

For former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell, I wish for an increase in Hall of Fame votes if not enough for election. Your numbers are as good, if not better, than some shortstops already in Cooperstown.

For Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, I wish for a streak-snapping win against the team from East Lansing. Yes, that also qualifies as a personal wish for me.

Last and certainly not least, for the Detroit Lions, I wish for a trip to Indianapolis in early February. If Arizona can make it there is no reason the Lions can’t. Then again, a Super Bowl win might just prove the Mayan calendar to be right.

Piling on Detroit, again

3:27 pm in Uncategorized by Bruce Bentley

I’m heading down to Detroit this weekend for my first Lions game since the infamous 0-16 season of 2008.

We went to the Nov. 9 game against Jacksonville, otherwise known as loss No. 9. Jacksonville beat the Lions 38-14.

The game also featured the debut of Daunte Culpepper. He was 5-for-10 passing for 104 yards. Drew Stanton was 6-for-8 for 94 yards and a touchdown. Funny, everyone thought Culpepper would get a win for the Lions that year.

You know what else is funny? The fact that the Indianapolis Colts (0-12) are well on their to a winless season. But all you hear about is Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.

In 2008, no one ever let you forget the fact the Lions were winless. That is all they (media) talked about. Why aren’t the Colts getting the same treatment?

Because everyone loves to hate Detroit and 90 percent of them have never been to the city. It’s not just the Lions, but the Tigers, Pistons and even Red Wings.

Twice in the last five years no one gave the Tigers a chance to beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Twice they did. The Tigers, or at least Justin Verlander, received some respect when voted the league’s MVP.

The Pistons haven’t been very good lately. When they were good no one outside of the state wanted them to win. During the 2004 finals on ABC I could have sworn announcer Al Michaels was being paid by the Lakers.

I haven’t had the same amount of respect for Michaels since.

All the Red Wings have done is win multiple championships the past decade and a half. What do we hear about? Sidney Crosby. Yes, he is probably the best in the league, when healthy. But so are Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

And now the Lions. After a 5-0 start they are now 7-5. That’s not the biggest problem because they have lost to some good teams.

The problem is the penalties and extra on field activities (you know what I’m talking about). Because of this the media feels as if they should follow Ndamukong Suh around like he’s Paris Hilton.

The Lions are not the only team with a penalty problem, but you wouldn’t know it. The Lions have an up and coming team now and all we hear is the bad. They are young and I think things will change.

I will be in the endzone come Sunday. I will be wearing my Suh jersey and I bet everyone in that stadium will be going crazy for their Lions.

Sunday is a must win. It’s almost like a playoff game. I was 3-0 during Tigers playoff games this year (4-0 all time) so I’m putting my playoff record on the line even though it’s not really a playoff game.

It’s time for the Lions to man up and play like they are capable. Then maybe the media will stop piling on. They are waiting for the Lions to make a mistake and then pounce on it. Don’t give them the chance.

Hating Tim Tebow

3:14 pm in Uncategorized by Bruce Bentley

It seems like everyone loves to hate Tim Tebow. That is, everyone outside of Jacksonville, Gainesville and Denver.

I don’t hate Tim Tebow and I can’t understand why so many do. The more I hear people talk about Tebow the more I find myself rooting for him.

Disclosure: I’ve been a Denver Broncos fan since I was a little kid. John Elway is one of my favorite athletes of all time. His poster covered the back of my bedroom door and there are more than a few childhood photos of me with a Broncos jersey on.

So I guess it would be easy for you to think that is why I like Tebow. True, but that’s not the only reason, although I would love to see a Broncos/Detroit Lions Super Bowl one day.

I like Tim Tebow because he is who he is. He doesn’t hide anything.

I’m not a very religious person, but Tebow is. That is perfectly fine. He feels he is here for a reason and it’s not necessarily to play football. His goal and role on Earth is to help people and if that is through football, than so be it.

Maybe that is why people hate him?

He can’t even kneel on the sideline and pray without it becoming instant fodder. Right now the 24/7 sports news cycle is Tim Tebow and occasionally the rest of the Broncos. It’s a team sport and Tebow understands that, even if the national media doesn’t.

All Tebow does is win. He won in high school (state title), he won in college (two national titles and a Heisman Trophy) and he is winning in the NFL (7-1 as a starter this year and 9-3 overall).

He is one of the hardest working players in football and has a will to win. He played half a football game in high school with a broken leg. What’s that say about dedication?

He is not the only reason the Broncos are winning. It’s a team sport and everyone fills in. But with six wins in seven games he has helped put the Broncos into first place in the AFC West.

Maybe being a winner is why people hate him?

We have athletes testing positive for performance enhancing drugs (Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun, 2011 NL MVP), college basketball teams getting into brawls, coaches being charged with sexual abuse of minors, professional leagues locking out to decide on who becomes more of a millionaire or billionaire and much, much more.

With Tebow on your team you know you will be getting 100 percent. I bet you won’t see Tebow taunt, stomp on an arm, scream at his coach or holdout for more money. But we love the ones that do.

Maybe that is why people hate him?

Tebow has been picked apart and dissected more than any other player I can recall. They (media) said he wouldn’t succeed. They (media) bash him for every incomplete pass. They (media) focus on anything negative possible.

What does Tebow do? He goes to work. He talks with the media. He gives honest answers. And he does it because he wants to and not because he is forced to. He does it with a smile and sincerity.

With all the, and I will say it, idiots in professional sports, Tim Tebow is far from it.

Maybe all of the above is why Tim Tebow is hated? It is why I am a Tim Tebow fan and always will be.

2011 Football playoffs: Let the fun begin

5:15 pm in Uncategorized by Bruce Bentley

The MHSAA football playoffs begin today across the state. Just 256 teams get the opportunity to play and only eight will end their seasons with a win. The next five weeks will be a fun, emotional, intense and physical challenge for everyone involved.

Bruce Bentley

Just one of our area teams gets the chance to compete for a state title. The Montabella Mustangs (8-1) will travel to Burton Bendle (8-1) tomorrow.
I’m not going to predict the winners in each division. Lack of knowledge about every team would make that difficult, although, there are a few teams in each division that usually make it to the end. State final predictions will take place the week of the finals, so look for those later.
After looking over the pairings here are some thoughts on the MHSAA playoffs.

Toughest district

Hands down the toughest district is in Division 1. Canton (7-2) is at Plymouth (8-1) and Northville (8-1) is at Detroit Catholic Central (8-1). The lowest state ranked team is Northville at No. 7. Canton is sixth, Plymouth fifth and Catholic Central is second behind Rockford.
With the way pairings are decided by regions, sometimes this happens and there is nothing that can be done about it. Both games will be rematches from last year’s district finals.
Plymouth defeated Canton and Northville this year by a combined five points. Canton’s other loss was to Livonia Churchill (my alma mater) while Catholic Central’s lone loss was to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (4th in Division 3) by a point.
A state semifinal matchup is in the future for any of these four teams with Rockford. Plymouth defeated Rockford in the state semifinals last year, but lost to Lake Orion 21-13 in the finals.

Most deceiving district

There were 21 teams with 5-4 records to make the playoffs this year and region 2, district 2 in Division 8 has three of them.
Fulton, Merrill and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart are all 5-4. Do not be deceived by these records.
Sacred Heart hosts Merril and is the defending Division 8 state champion. An extremely tough schedule is the reason for the 5-4 mark.
Fulton is at Fowler (7-2). A year ago at 5-4, Fulton made a run to the Division 8 semifinals before losing to Saugatuck 20-14 in overtime.

 

Potential matchups

 

There are some good first round games, but it is always fun to look ahead at possible second round games. Many times these are rematches from the year prior or the regular season.
In Division 2, we could see a rematch of the regional finals between Lowell and Muskegon. Lowell won last year 33-28. Lowell would host is they beat Forest Hills Central (they did 35-6 in the regular season) and Muskegon gets by Mattawan (8-1).
And in Division 3, all eyes are on a Grand Rapids Christian rematch with East Grand Rapids. EGR defeated Christian 49-48 in the district final last year and Christian defeated EGR 50-49 in 2OT a week ago in week nine. This could be one of the best games of the playoffs.
There are many more interesting matchups out there. That is what makes the next five weeks so fun.

What to name a stadium?

6:17 pm in Uncategorized by Bruce Bentley

If you haven’t heard by now, the Greenville Yellow Jackets football team will be playing in a new location next year.
With the season nearly over, there is only one thing left to do — besides finishing construction — and that is to name the field.
Greenville officials (story in Thursday’s Daily News) are asking for help in naming the new facility. They are taking recommendations and will pare it down to the best options and present it to the school board, who will make the final decision.
Some of the names already mentioned include Community Field, Legends Field and Heritage Field.
Of the three, I like Heritage Field best. Part of the definition says something that is passed down from preceding generations — a tradition.
This would be true of the new stadium as it was with Black Field.
A big push is being made by community members and Greenville staff to have the field named after longtime trainer Jeff “Doc” Day. Day has been a part of 486 games at Black Field and will be there for the new one, too.
I posted a question on The Daily News Facebook page yesterday and an overwhelming response was received in favor the naming it after Day.
Day, a lifelong Greenville resident, has made the committment and dedication to the school that rivals few.
Obviously, with that being said, it should make him a candidate. The question is would he accept it?
At the volleyball match the other night I mentioned the buzz to him that has been going around regarding the naming. He acknowledged he had heard and quickly changed the topic and made a joke about naming it Aebleskiver Stadium.
I’m not sure he would want the attention, but is definitely deserving.

Final chance for playoff push

Tonight is a big night in high school football. It is the final chance for some teams to qualify for the playoffs and for others to solidify their position and possibly earn homefield advantage.
The Montabella Mustangs are in. They sit 7-1 overall and are looking for a school record eight wins at St. Louis tonight. Getting to eight wins would improve their chances of hosting the first game of the playoffs, but that doesn’t guarantee it.
The Central Montcalm Hornets are in a must-win situation to guarantee a playoff spot. They have to do it against Morley Stanwood (7-1) on the road. A loss would mean they would have to rely on playoff points to make it as a 5-4 team and it could snap their streak of four consecutive playoff appearances.
Greenville has to win, as well, to at least have a chance at 5-4. They are at Northview tonight.
On a side note, my alma mater, Livonia Churchill, needs to win its final game to qualify, and they have to do it against heated rival Livonia Stevenson. Go Chargers!

MHSAA selection show

The MHSAA football selection show is at 7 p.m. on FoxSports Detroit on Sunday. This is where you get to see for the first time who and where your team will be playing.
The road to Ford Field begins on Sunday.