2009: Detroit’s Close Calls and Memories

Happy Holidays to everyone! 2009 has been a year where the resiliency of Detroit’s spirit has been tested over and over again. From losing some close games to losing some of our closest heroes, we look forward to 2010 with a hope that things will be better for our city and its teams.

Lions – When the year began some 360-plus days ago, Detroit was welcomed into the new year with the NFL’s first 0-16 team. That was no small feat and it set in motion a slew of events culminating with the Lions first victory in 20 tries on September 27. Jim Schwartz is no Rod Marinelli, a blue collar coach with an idea on where his playmakers are and QB Matthew Stafford may be one of such individual after a tough performance against the Browns weeks later. This team will limp with injuries into 2010 and hope to improve on what is still a sub-par record.

Pistons – For the first time in many years, the Pistons resemble closer to the lowly Lions than the 2008 Stanley Cup champs. At the beginning of the year, Detroit had Allen Iverson in the starting lineup and Michael Curry on the bench as coach. While the wins have not come quickly in return for this team, John Kuester seems like a decent answer in the short-term for this team. His willingness to go nine and ten deep into his roster will pay off with huge dividends down the road. It is also refreshing to see Ben Wallace back in the Pistons uniform after a short layoff.

Tigers – We started the 2009 Tigers season with guarded hope. After all it was the 2008 roster that drew huge crowds, a huge payroll and many losses. The team enjoyed first place for one week after another, until a final series mess that involved a drunken evening on the town by Miguel Cabrera and some shoddy hitting. The tiebreaker at the Metrodome still brings out raw emotion, as the Tigers led during the game and in extras before squandering a lead to the Twins. We will undoubtedly look back on this season’s Granderson/Jackson trade as a success or a disaster depending on the outcome of all players involved.

Red Wings – The team had signed Marian Hossa to a one year deal, Chris Osgood was doing some of the best goaltending of his career and the team was poised to follow the 1997-1998 model of repeating as Cup champs. Much like the Twins in baseball, the Penguins series had been lining itself up for months and came to fruition in late spring during the Stanley Cup finals. Yet again, the hockey was as good as it gets and Wings players may kick themselves for years to come after not clinching Game 6 in Pittsburgh or Game 7 at the Joe. The names Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin stir up similar emotions to Joe Sakic or Claude Lemieux of the 90’s.

Memories – While we remember the 2009 season with fond memories of what happened with our teams, we cannot forget those four local heroes that made an impact on our community well beyond their time spent in our beloved sports arenas. George Kell, Bill Davidson, Chuck Daly and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych will remain in our stories and memories for years to come.