The Detroit Lions have one playoff win in the last 51 years. There's no reason to think they're headed for the Super Bowl.
No reason but this one: Clint Hurdle says the Lions of 2007 were a lot like his Rockies of 2006. And the 2007 Rockies, as you may remember, made it to the World Series.
Hurdle was born in Michigan, and he remains a big fan of the state's teams. With the Rockies in Detroit this weekend, Hurdle had a chance to speak with long-time Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell -- and also with Lions coach Rod Marinelli.
"I felt the same way about the Rockies as I feel about the Lions, that they'd have their day, and then they'd be off and running," Hurdle said. "Rod and I talked about the common fabric of their '07 season and our '06 season. Because in '06, we were on top of the division after the All-Star break, and within a three-week period we had fallen to the bottom of the division."
The Lions started last season 6-2, then lost six straight games before finishing 7-9.
"I told him we'd get together and share some of the lessons I think I learned from that ('06) season," Hurdle said. "You never know how close you really are."
The Cardinals lost two of three this week in Detroit, but they left an impression.
"The Cardinals are a much better team than I thought," Tiger manager Jim Leyland said. "I think they're really good. I was really impressed. They run the bases better than anyone we've played. They compete as good as anyone we've played."
Leyland was especially impressed that Albert Pujols was able to go 4-for-4 in his first game off the disabled list.
"That's the worst thing that could have happened to general managers," he said. "Now nobody will want to go on a rehab assignment."
One thing to think about as baseball discusses the future of maple bats: Some players could have trouble making an adjustment.
One hitting coach said that maple distorts hitting almost the way that aluminum bats do, because maple is a harder wood than ash. Some hitters have been using 31-ounce maple bats, and because the wood is so hard they can still make solid contact when they get jammed.
"With ash at 31 ounces, you've got nothing," the coach said.
Trot Nixon is just 5-for-32 in his first nine games for the Mets, so it's hard to say he's made much of an impact. But there are those in Cleveland who think the Indians miss his presence, if not his .251 batting average.
"We've struggled to get an identity this year," third baseman Casey Blake said. "I think last year Trot Nixon really helped us."
Last August, the Tigers' Carlos Guillen hit a 3:30 a.m. walkoff home run to win a rain-delayed game against the Yankees. Wednesday night against the Cardinals, Guillen went 4-for-5 in a game that included a 2 1/2-hour rain delay.
Is there a connection?
"Someone told me a long time ago that a lot of guys waste time during rain delays," Guillen said. "A lot of guys just play cards. I try to stay loose. I ride the (stationary) bike. I stay focused. In this game, you've got to take advantage of anything you can."