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A lengthy wish list in Motown

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell watches during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

If such a thing as New Year wish lists existed, Detroit professional sports would rank high on the totem pole.

Right now, there are so many things wrong in Motown sports that it would require a full-page ad in the daily newspapers.

Take the Detroit Tigers for example. General manager Al Avila had a firesale late last season, getting rid of most of the real talent he had on hand.

That included ace pitcher Justin Verlander, who was mercifully traded to the Houston Astros in time to play a big role in their run to the World Series. 

If anyone deserved a World Series ring, it was Verlander, who certainly wasn’t going to get one in Detroit, where the window of opportunity closed shut two years ago.

Avila has left the team with a roster of unproven youngsters, with the exception of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, who are pretty much nearing the end of their careers.

He has even indicated a willingness to part with Michael Fulmer, the only tested hurler on the staff.

If there was a wish for this team, it would probably start with firing Avila. New manager Ron Gardenhire is noted for his work with young players, but even he will have troubles with this group.

The same is true with the Lions, who continue to show how not to play in important games.

Coach Jim Caldwell and his staff did such a lousy job of preparing his team for the horrid Cincinnati Bengals last weekend that they lost a game they needed for any playoff hope.

Caldwell is so bereft of coaching ability that he again neglected to challenge a play late in the game. Would the call have been overruled? Maybe not. But in the topsy-turvy world of NFL officiating, it was worth losing a timeout.

The Lions also didn’t receive a top effort from quarterback Matthew Stafford in the game, either. For a guy making the money he is, Stafford often doesn’t show up when the game — and season — is on the line.

A wish list would include the immediate firing of Caldwell and his coaching staff. It won’t ever happen, but maybe Stafford should be traded to a team desperately in need of a QB (Houston or even Dallas). Get some linemen and draft picks in return and then start over with a journeyman signal caller like Kirk Cousins. They could finish 8-8 a lot cheaper.

The Red Wings and Pistons are hovering around .500 for the season, but they also need help.

But the Wings likely need to get rid of coach Jeff Blaishill, who really hasn’t proven anything in the coaching box since he arrived.

The team also needs a solid goaltender, not the kind who give up five or six goals (or even 10). Unloading some over-the-hill veterans is another step needed for the Wings to advance.

The Pistons sometimes show some promise, then turn around and lose five in a row.

Coach Stan Van Gundy seems to think he can funnel his offense entirely through center Andre Drummond. While Drummond has his nights, he can also be inconsistent against the class teams of the NBA.

The main problem with the Pistons is that they don’t have the stars to go head-on with the really good teams.

All in all, it’s a lengthy wish list and one that doesn’t portend for good things in the future.