ALVAREZ WOULD LOVE TO SEE A BIG TEN HOCKEY LEAGUE

     I spoke earlier today with Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez about a variety of issues-- hard for me to believe his school's hockey team averages 15,000 fans per home game.  He'd love to see the five Big Ten teams all play for a league title-- which they used to unofficially do.  I 'd love to see that as well.  Michigan and Michigan State, for instance, could both play in the CCHA, as they do now and also play in the Big Ten.  Some games would count double,  since they'd be from both leagues.  Alvarez thinks it would help with fan interest and MSU can surely use that if you check out crowds in Munn Arena the past few years.

     The Pistons say their home opener was a sellout of 22,076 at the Palace on Wednesday, but television views showed plenty of empty seats for the game with the Indiana Pacers.  Not to worry about revenue-- the Pistons have just ponied up $20 million to extend Jason Maxiell's contract another five years.  He could have become a free agent after this season.

     The pre season coaches men's basketball poll has Michigan State ranked 7th.  I claim the Spartans' key position for that ranking to either be better or worse through the course of the winter is at guard.  Drew Neitzel is gone-- but there are four guys ready to share playing time-- senior Travis Walton along with sophomores Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas and freshman Korie Lucious.  Lucas and Lucious, if they get on the floor together, could be the fastest guard tandem of any team anywhere.

     When you watch Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge, you see what the Detroit Tigers didn't have this last season and clearly what they need next year-- a guy of his talent.  The Phillies never lost a game this past season where they were leading after eight innings.  Lidge is that good.  The Tampa Bay Rays couldn't hit him and few others could either.  For the Tigers, in my opinion, their future begins with finding a decent closer to replace the tandem of Todd Jones/Fernando Rodney.  Those guys were closers on a middle of the pack team or one in the basement and that's where the Tigers finished.

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