Batch of pain

Best Local Athlete to Trade
Charlie Batch

Quarterbacking the Detroit Lions is one thankless job. Just ask the parade of almost-was journeymen and hard-luck cases who’ve led the team since the ‘60s: Plum, Sweetan, Landry, Danielson, Hipple, Long, Mitchell. Or ask MT’s Best of Detroit voters. Charlie Batch, current Lions signal caller, “won” the contest as Best Local Athlete to Trade. You could ask Batch himself what’s best about being Lion QB, if you can catch him between hospital stays. He makes the disabled list the way most people make grocery lists. In three years of pro ball he’s suffered neck strain, a compression fracture of the back, triceps bruise, thumb and shinbone fractures, and bruised ribs. He’s a big guy — 6-foot-2, 220 pounds — and was sturdy enough to set most of the career offensive records at Eastern Michigan. I mean no offense, Charlie — and that’s his problem, no offense. I’d like to defend him — but not as an offensive lineman.

He’s had several streaks of brilliance: a 6-2 start in 1999; hope-reviving, decisive wins over the Patriots and Giants last year; three times he’s thrown more than 100 straight passes without an interception. He’s wobbly sometimes (bruised ribs might affect one’s passing). Five-yard-high, -wide or -long misthrown balls eerily recall the bad years of Scott Mitchell. Will the new Lions management take MT fans’ hint and try to trade Batch and his seven-figure contract? The team has played according to MT’s 1999’s Best New Lions’ Slogan (“We suck”), even folding before the lousy Bears to dodge a playoff spot last season. And who could they get for Batch? Two wooden legs and a specialist to be named later? Even worse — Troy Aikman?

Coach Marty Mornhinweg stated last month, “I’m excited about Charlie Batch … tremendous positives … he’s rehabbing nicely.” Lions fans hope these don’t win next year’s Best Famous Last Words award.