Plan the Parade! Who is Detroit’s Next Championship Team?
We invited some special guests to talk Red Wings, Pistons, Lions, and Tigers...plus a surprise 5th team!
You have 5 seconds to get on your best behavior and make yourselves presentable because COMPANY IS COMING.
That’s right, Peter and I decided it was time to invite the family over for a soirée and have a calm, civil, and feelings-free discussion about the state of professional sports in Detroit.
Ok, there may be some crying, yelling, and void-gazing involved. A handful of sparkles here and there, you know how I am.
Maybe even a shirt rip or two.
I’m not saying it was Peter but I am saying I’ve heard he buys shirts with weakly attached, aerodynamic buttons.
Anyway, we are very excited to welcome our friends from Pride of Detroit, Detroit Bad Boys, Bless You Boys, and one more guest who has been aggressively ringing the doorbell and threatening to kick down the door if we don’t let them in.
All sections in quotation marks were written by the writers from their respective teams. Anything else was written by Sara or Peter. It should not be too hard to tell the difference...
We’ll start with the devil we know...
The Red Wings
Dead Wings 2 PREPARE FOR GLORY. Here come Larkin’s Red Wings, brought to you by Steve Yzerman.
Our glorious team was founded in 1926 as the Detroit Cougars. In 1930, they changed their name to the Detroit Falcons, and then in 1932 they became the Red Wings.
Act like you’ve been there before:
The Wings have won 11 Stanley Cups so far, most recently in 2008. (1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008). Plus, according to the championship t-shirt hanging in my closet, we also won in 2009. #BACK2BACK baby!
State of the team: For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic
The playoff streak limped to a close after 25 years in the 2016-2017 season, thus signaling that it’s time to go all in on the rebuild. The Ken Holland era has formally ended, thus beginning a golden era under the leadership of Steve Yzerman, who has already proven he is a genius GM during his time in Tampa (barf).
We’re seeing some strong young players emerge from our last few drafts, and next year’s draft class is already looking really strong. (un)Luckily, we are in position to grab some early picks (translation: we are going to be bad at the hockey).
More good news is that Larkin and Co. should be entering their prime just after we drop dead weight contracts over the next two off-seasons. Plus with a new arena -- and new players -- not having a playoff game yet, the Wings will be extra hungry to show that this new generation is far from Dead Wings 2: The Cursed Bugaboos.
How will the Wings be the next champion from Detroit?
Defense. We haven’t had even one truly strong defensive pairing since the Lidstrom era, let alone a whole crew, and with the loss of some of our strongest two-way forwards (COUGH ZETTERBERG COUGH COUGH) we’ll need a solid blue line to hold down the fort while our speedy forwards go skate skate skate. Not that Larkin is defensively irresponsible. HE WOULD NEVER.
Ahem...should our three favorite Fils (Hronek, Zadina, Larsson), Cholowski, Seider, and Prospect(s) TBNL all meet expectations then we could be in excellent shape to sneak into the 2022 playoffs and hoist the Cup in 2025. Even if it’s 2030 we still get the next parade; the rest of Detroit’s teams are in worse shape than we are in this biased writer’s opinion.
So make a plan to start planning to plan the parade, Wings are the next Detroit champs!
We asked Sean Corp from Detroit Bad Boys to give us some insight on DEEEEEEEE-TROIT BASKET-BAAAALLLLLLL, how things are going for the Pistons, and whether to hope for a championship soon.
Originally the Fort Wayne Pistons, they played in Fort Wayne, Indiana in the NBL. They moved to Detroit in 1957.
Act like you’ve been there before:
NBA Titles: 1989, 1990, 2004. They also won the NBL championship in 1944 and 1945 as the Fort Wayne Pistons.
State of the Team: A Man of Constant Sorrow
“The Pistons are currently on the dreaded treadmill of mediocrity. The latter Joe Dumars years were not kind (they wanted to be good and couldn’t even rise to the level of medicore) and the Stan Van Gundy years were hamstrung by poor personnel decisions even as the level of competency markedly improved.”
How will the Pistons be the next champion from Detroit?
“The new era, led by Dwane Casey and a new front office is a good team, and its only avenue to be great is a slim chance that Blake Griffin doesn’t break down, Andre Drummond becomes an All-NBA big man and a young prospect comes out of nowhere.
With that in mind, the path forward is essentially build for the future, don’t make any dumb long-term commitments, be as good as you can and if an opportunity to radically transform the future presents itself (rebuild or trade for a star) you take your swing. A trade for a Bradley Beal type where you send out some big-time future assets (but not leave the cupboard bare) or a Clippers-to-OKC like offer for Blake Griffin to hoard draft picks for a future champion are the best case scenarios.”
How ‘bout them Lions? Jeremy Reisman from Pride of Detroit took a break from monitoring arguments about the amount of elite contained in Matthew Stafford’s red blood cells to share how the Lions will be the next champions of Detroit.
The team was originally the Portsmouth Spartans, based in Portsmouth, Ohio. The team joined the NFL in 1930 and were sold and moved to Detroit in 1934.
Act like you’ve been there before:
Except they can’t. - Sara
The Detroit Lions have never won the Super Bowl. They have, however, won 4 NFL Championships (before the Super Bowl started) 1935, 1952, 1953, 1957. They are the only current NFC team that has not played in the Super Bowl.
State of the Team: I Just Can’t Wait to be King
“The Detroit Lions are certainly in what you may consider a rebuild. However, I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a talent rebuild or a roster rebuild. It’s more of a culture rebuild.
The Lions had a semi-talented roster when they decided to change head coaches last year. But it’s clear not everyone fit Matt Patricia’s idea of the kind of player to build a franchise around. That being said, this offseason was a particularly fruitful one, and I would argue Detroit’s current roster is capable of making a run at the playoffs, but not likely much beyond that.”
How will the Lions be the next champion from Detroit?
“I do think the Lions have the best chance of being the next championship in Detroit, simply because they have the necessary pieces for a championship team already in place.
Matthew Stafford, in my opinion, easily clears the benchmark needed to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. The defense is filled with young, talented players. Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golladay are two, young weapons that could mold the future of this offense.
The biggest things holding them back right now is a talented division and an unproven, first-time head coach. But if Patricia is as smart as he was advertised, and the Lions can prove last year’s impressive wins over the Patriots and Packers weren’t flukes, this is a team that could finally, FINALLY make some noise.”
Saving the worst for last? Rob Rogacki from Bless You Boys bravely confronted the reality of the Tigers to give us the bad, the worse, and the ugly of baseball in Detroit.
“The Tigers are the oldest continuous single-name franchise in baseball’s American League. The 1901 season (when the American League first claimed major league status) is recognized as their official debut year, but they were actually founded in 1894, where they played in the now-defunct Western League.”
Act like you’ve been there before:
“The Tigers have won four championships in their history: 1935, 1945, 1968, and 1984. Their current championship drought is now the longest in the franchise’s history.”
(Don’t even talk about 2012 or they will hit back with 2009. We’ve been warned, Wings fans.)
State of the Team: Burn It Down
“I think it’s safe to say the Tigers are in the worst shape of Detroit’s four major professional sports teams right now. Like the Red Wings, they are mired in a rebuild, one that has left fans frustrated at times, to put it mildly.
Unlike the Red Wings, however, the Tigers don’t have the same premium young talent a la Dylan Larkin or Filip Zadina that could hopefully carry the franchise going forward. The Tigers’ farm system is especially bereft of talented hitters, which are kind of important when you’re playing baseball. Tigers fans also generally don’t have as much faith in Al Avila as Wings fans do in Steve Yzerman, who has already proven himself as one of the best GMs in the sport.”
(Note: The Tigers’ win percentage is sitting just over 30% halfway through the season).
How will the Tigers be the next champion from Detroit?
“If the Tigers are to become the next champion of Detroit’s four pro sports teams, it will require (a) a combination of things going wrong with the other three, (b) a huge leap forward developmentally by the current talent in the Tigers’ farm system, or (c) a really effing long wait for things to change for all four teams.
Baseball can be a bit random at times, and the formula to create a winner isn’t as concrete as it is in other sports. Still, the Tigers winning a championship before the other three teams in this conversation would be a big surprise, to say the least.”
A CHALLENGER ENTERS THE RING
Ok, if you’ve made it this far you may be feeling a little (or a lot) depressed about the near future of Detroit sports, even you Lions fans because we all know the Lions are cursed with disastrous officiating ruining everything anyway.
However, the Lions aren’t the only (potentially great) football team in Detroit.
That’s right folks, I’m talking about hockey’s favorite warm-up sport...
Detroit City Football Club
HEAR ME OUT. Well, don’t hear me out, but rather our pal Laura (@NGSLoreRah) on why Detroit City Football Club (commonly referred to as Detroit City FC, DCFC, City, or Le Rouge) is one of the good ones, a champion of the Motor City spirit, and why they might just be the next champion of champions for Detroit...
“DCFC is not an MLS/USL affiliated club, but it is going pro!”
The American soccer system is aptly described by Laura as “mad-hattery”, so for uneducated rubes like myself just wave your hands around and yell CAPITALISM and that will explain why it’s hard to define what is or isn’t a professional soccer team and why the leagues are all eating each other.
“Passion for Our City, Passion for the Game” – DCFC Club Motto
“DCFC was born out of the Detroit City Futbol League (created in 2010), a co-ed recreational league formed from teams out of the historic neighborhoods of the city itself. The club first played in the National Premier Soccer League in 2012.
The NPSL has been looking to improve the development of the sport in the country by providing a more viable professional alternative to USL/MLS clubs and now City looks to participate in the 2019 Founder’s Cup, which will help lay the groundwork for Hell Yeah Brother NPSL Pro in the future.”
Act like you’ve been there before:
“City won its first championship in 2017, when they defeated Ann Arbor to win the Midwest Conference Title. They then went as far as the NPSL’s National Semifinals that season. They also have won the Great Lakes Division title by placing first in their group in 2013 and 2019. City has also participated in the US Open Cup in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018, making it as far as the second round in both 2016 and 2018.
They also are the owners of the trophy from the now-defunct Rust Belt Derby, which was played between former division rivals FC Buffalo and the dead-as-of-2017 AFC Cleveland. The derby was played from 2012-2016, with Detroit City FC winning out from 2013-2016.
Fun fact: You can now find that trophy at the City Clubhouse above the bar.”
State of the Team: Movin’ On Up
“At the end of the 2018 season, City saw a change in its Head Coach with longtime coach Ben Pirmann stepped down to serve as an Assistant Coach with USL Club Memphis 901 FC.
City’s current Head Coach is now Trevor ‘Mother F’ing’ James (as so lovingly referred to by DCFC supporters). With the coaching change has come an extremely fruitful NPSL regular season. The club finished as the Great Lakes Division Champions and went to the Midwest Conference Finals with a record of 11-1-4 (Wins-Losses-Ties). The club also went unbeaten for 14 games and a goal differential of +35 (43 goals for, 8 goals against).”
How will DCFC be the next champion from Detroit?
They are They were almost kind of the champs right now.
“A lot of people throw out the ‘DCFC IS NOT MLS/PROFESSIONAL/I AM OLD AND YELLING AT CLOUDS’ argument when City supporters bring up how technically it is the franchise that has most recently won championship titles for the city of Detroit.
Here’s the thing though, they just lost the 2019 NPSL Midwest Conference finals in penalty kicks, but the club looks to bounce back to capture another championship for the City. The season isn’t finished yet, as City now looks to compete in the Founder’s Cup starting in August, which will lay the groundwork for a full professional season in the future.”
Sara Sez: If losing a championship due to something really stupid like a skills competition doesn’t capture the spirit of Detroit and convince you that DCFC has a place in the Motor City pantheon of major league sports, nothing will.
What Have We Learned Today? DCFC Sparks Joy:
“DCFC very much is a team that sprouted from the heart of Detroit, and has taken roots within the community, not just on the pitch during play, but with outreach and programs to help support the city it so lovingly calls home.
Also – for the price of one beer at LCA/Ford Field/Comerica, you can have two at Keyworth. And proceeds go to youth soccer programs.
Just throwing that out there.”
Jump in the comments and let us know who you think will be Detroit’s next champion, your feelings about soccer, what other teams you’d like to put out there for consideration (roller derby???), or any other takes that are too hot to keep to yourself.
Who will be the next Detroit champion?