By DENNIS CHASE
---- — Around the horn:
Mark Dantonio surprised many when he stepped to the podium at Tuesday's weekly press briefing.
The Michigan State football coach was back at work, 10 days after suffering what was described as a mild heart attack.
The fact Dantonio was with his team this soon stresses the importance he's placing on Saturday's Big Ten opener with Wisconsin.
In other words, the non-conference tune-ups are over, it's time to get down to business.
This is a pivotal game for Michigan State. The Spartans need to protect the home turf because they still face treacherous October road dates at Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa. It will be a make or break month for the Spartans.
No wonder Dantonio was back at work so soon.
LionsWell, at least, the Detroit Lions are competitive. They might be 0-3, but they've been in every game. That's something you couldn't have said in the past.
The Lions need quarterback Matt Stafford back in the lineup ASAP. Shaun Hill has been a better back-up than Daunte Culpeppper, but he's failed to deliver at crunch time.
It's really unbelievable how this franchise disintegrated under Matt Millen. Now those pre-Millen years, when the Lions made the playoffs six times in 10 years, seem like the glory days.
What's tough to swallow is that two of the front office guys who left — Kevin Colbert and Ron Hughes — landed in Pittsburgh in 2000. And we all know how successful the Steelers have been the past 10 years.
You wonder what would have been had Detroit entrusted its future to those two.
TigersThis much is evident as the Detroit Tigers put the wraps on the 2010 season — they desperately need two more dependable starting pitchers. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello form a dynamic three-fifths of the rotation, but Jeremy Bonderman and Armando Galarraga have been too inconsistent.
There's been talk the Kansas City Royals will entertain offers for last year's Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, whose ERA has doubled from 2009 (2.16 to 4.23). The Tigers, according to reports, could be a suitor.
One thing we know about Dave Dombrowski, Detroit's GM: He's not afraid to take chances. He dealt several prospects for Gary Sheffield. He did the same to acquire Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Say what you want about Willis' ill-fated tenure in Detroit, that deal was a steal for the Tigers. Cabrera has been that good.
The Tigers would have to surrender prospects, probably prized pitcher Jacob Turner, but I don't think Dombrowski would flinch if he thinks Greinke can return to 2009 form or something close to that. Greinke is locked up for the next two years at $13.5 million, which isn't bad if he can bounce back.
Detroit will be shedding a lot of payroll after this season — $18M for Magglio Ordonez, $12.5M for Bonderman, $12M for Willis, $10M for Nate Robertson, $8M for Johnny Damon, $6.6M for Brandon Inge and $3.95M for Gerald Laird. Now, they could bring Ordonez and Inge back, probably at cheaper rates, but there will be money to spend. And I think Dombrowski will go for quality or quantity.