Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's the Winning, Stupid -- Not The Sunny Skies And Warm Temps

It's not the weather, as some would have you believe. It's not the city. It's nothing personal that way. It's the winning, stupid.

When the Pistons were a sorry basketball team, in the interval of time between the Bad Boys and the Right Way Boys, their inability to attract quality talent, whether thru free agency or trade, was blamed on the above factors. Mainly the cold weather. There were traces of racism in those beliefs, said with a wink sometimes, but they were sort of brushed aside, conveniently.

But funny, when the Pistons became championship contenders again, suddenly the weather was as much of a factor in attracting good basketball players as Neifi Perez was to the Tigers' pennant run last September.

It wasn't the cold weather, which the African-American basketball player supposedly universally detests, not at all. It was the winning -- the chances for a ring.

The Tigers are now a point of destination for some of the higher profile players in the game today. Two big free agent signees of recent years -- Pudge Rodriguez and Kenny Rogers -- have both gone on record the last few days. Their words were similar: I want to finish my career in Detroit.

Rodriguez echoed Rogers yesterday, a couple days after the lefthander told the questioner that his desire to finish it up in Detroit was "self-evident." Well, now it is, for sure.

And, last I checked, despite Al Gore's warnings of global warming, the mean temperature in Detroit has stayed about the same since those two veterans joined the Tigers since 2004. So it's not the weather that's been keeping players away, it's the opportunity to win and be successful consistently. The Tigers have that now, and so no wonder Pudge and Kenny want to retire here.

Gary Sheffield, the new Big Bat in town, was enamored with the fans' reaction and warmth during the team's bus caravan last month. And the temps were far from balmy when he professed his beliefs. Shef knows that this is a baseball hotbed when the team is going good, and what he saw was unbridled affection for a team that is the defending American League champion. Nothing was said by him about how cold it was outside that day.

Winning provides its own warmth and pleasant climate, year round.


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