Edson: A Promising Sports Weekend That Fizzled

The weekend started on a high note.

It was Fan Appreciation Weekend at Comerica Park and the Kansas City Royals were playing a listless game on Friday night as the Detroit Tigers rolled to an 8-3 victory.

As we drove home after the game, we were sure the Tigers would increase their wildcard lead to 1.5 games since the Baltimore Orioles were losing to Arizona, 2-1, entering the ninth inning.

But as we drove north, the weekend went south.

Baltimore rallied to win in 12 innings. The next day, the Tigers suffered a crushing loss in the ninth inning when the Royals bombed closer Francisco Rodriguez. Baltimore proceeded to win.

Surely the Michigan sports gods would smile on us Saturday, right?

Well, we batted .500.

Michigan crushed Penn State 49-10 but Michigan State was overwhelmed by unbeaten Wisconsin 30-6 as the Badgers relied on first-time starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook to quiet the partisan fans at Spartan Stadium.

So where did that leave us?  For me, it means Michigan is for real. I had my doubts about the Wolverines even though the final scores of their first two games were lopsided. But the Penn State victory solidified in my mind that this team is ready to contend for the Big Ten title.

Even though Michigan State took a tumble Saturday, I still believe they hold the key to the championship. In other words, I don’t think they’ll win it, but I think they will have a big say in who does since they have both Michigan and Ohio State at home.

So after Saturday’s jolt of reality – the Tigers lose in shocking fashion and our Big Ten teams split- it was time to hope for the best on Sunday.

You would think after 45 years as a Detroit Lions fan I would know better. I’m a slow learner.

We watched the Green Bay Packer offense – which looked inept through the first two games – come alive against the Lions, 34-27. Aaron Rodgers shredded the Lions defense. And even though Matt Stafford and the Lions offense scored enough points to win, it just wasn’t enough.

Until the Lions figure out how to stop people, they can’t be considered a dangerous team.

One last final hope for the weekend was the Tigers trying to salvage the final game of their three-game series against Kansas City. If you tuned in early, you saw the Tigers pitching get battered again in falling behind 7-0.

So as we head into a new week, both the Lions and Tigers are on the outside looking in.

Why? Defense.

In football, that means being able to being able to come up with big plays. In baseball, that means shutting down the other team and giving your offense a chance.

This is the time of year when defense matters most, both in football and baseball.

The best teams know that.

Our Detroit teams are still searching for that.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.