I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
UV a couple days ago:
Also there is this [picture from the Carr Wash] in which Ryan Mallett looks like an extra from Top Gun with the callsign "Stork"
Today, Michigan Against The World provides:
Offsides needs to die. Hockey offsides, that is. It is sort of required in football and soccer. But it is not in hockey, and every time the rule is invoked a little part of me dies. Entertaining rushes are blown dead because one player strayed a fraction into the attacking zone. Power plays go from excitingly set up to regrouping because a defenseman can't hold the puck in the zone. Defenders can stack the blue line and enforce a dump and chase strategy that's about as interesting as watching the Spurs play basketball. And for what? I can't figure it out. It's true the rule gives a certain structure to the modern game, but what would the consequences be if offsides did not exist?
Cherry-picking is not likely. No team is going to voluntarily put themselves a man down in the defensive zone in the vague hope a long lead pass goes tape-to-tape and puts a player in alone. The continued existence of the two-line pass would make the offensive zone verboten until the defending team had cleared their zone with control of the puck. At that point, players could go where they pleased with incurring the wrath of a whistle and a boring neutral-zone faceoff. No, the framework for a penalty-kill-and-breakaway based offense has been in place since the NHL adopted the collegiate two-line pass rule, but no one has seriously attempted to deploy it save for some Swedes in the Olympics. Breakaway passes remain difficult, low-return things; removing offsides is not going to change that.
So, then, what are the negatives? The ability of a team to remove pressure around its own goal by desperately poking the puck out past the blue line has always seemed a cheap maneuver, and there's nothing I hate more in hockey than the whistle that disrupts an interesting rush for no reason. (Except the delay of game penalty you get when you accidentally fling the puck into the stands in your defensive zone. Worst rule in sports? Other than "Anderson Varejao is allowed to participate in them"?) Those are the ways offsides inflicts itself on the sport. Removing both of these things would improve the game
The benefit is obvious: hockey gets to play to its strengths. It's always been a game of flow up and down the ice, players approaching and retreating. One of my favorite sequences in all of hockey came in Michigan's 3-2 overtime loss to BC in the NCAA tournament a few years ago. Michigan had been dominated the entire game until a gorgeous nine minute-plus stretch of nonstop end-to-end action unsullied by whistles. Michigan started to emerge. You could feel the momentum shift. The Wolverines re-asserted themselves as equals, and you could feel the tenor of the game change. By the time it ended and the freaked out network cut to commercial, the tension drained from the room and real-life reasserted itself after what seemed like a lengthy ten minute vacation. (This being Michigan sports in the past half-decade, Boston College would bat in a rebound off the offensive zone faceoff and go on to win in overtime; yea, Angry Michigan Hockey Hating God was wroth that day.)
Dropping offsides would not turn all games into that ten-minute pressure wave but it might do that for some. It would reduce whistles, kill deadly dull neutral zone faceoffs, and make it harder to stand up offenses at the blue line with impunity. It would make hockey awesomer.
Okay, okay: while I would be happy to see offsides disappear entirely, I do realize most observers of the game would file that under lunacy and move on. But there are less radical alternatives:
- Widen the blue line, which is actually part of the offensive zone when you want it to be -- holding a puck in or gaining the zone -- and a part of the defensive zone when you want it to be -- skittering along the edge of the zone with one skate precariously onside.
- A more extreme version of same: make the "blue line" functionally extend all the way to the red line. Once you have gained the zone the puck must pass the red line for it to be lost. When you are taking the puck up ice, once you pass the red line you are permitted to pass to anyone.
Any of these suggestions would be somewhere between a moderate and a drastic change, but... um... they're embiggening the nets in a desperate attempt to increase scoring. Drastic measures are called for.
Everybody loves Rutgers. Good find by Varsity Blue to plumb the depths of the San Antonio Express-News for this scheduling morsel:
Michigan has a hole in its 2008 football schedule, preferring an opponent for the first or fourth weeks of the season. The Wolverines likely won't play a Mid-American Conference school after already booking two games with teams from that conference.
Wonder if a Big 12 team would be willing to accept the challenge of playing at the so-called "Big House?"
The most likely team would be KSU, particularly as OSU already has a tough home game assured with Georgia as the return from their game this season.
But Michigan athletic director Bill Martin told the Detroit News that his preferred opponent would be Rutgers, particularly if a return game could be arranged to play the Scarlet Knights at the Meadowlands in a later season.
(Somehow I missed that News article.) That's an encouraging indication that Michigan will not go for three patsies and ND after this year's anomalous Oregon game goes by the wayside. If the road games end up in 80k pro stadiums instead of 40-60k mid-level college ones, that's fine with me as long as we get the stench of I-AA off of us, especially because tomato cans are becoming less attractive options. The Georgia Sports Blog has an interesting look at the increased demands of patsies. The near future will hold such oddities as Texas at Central Florida, Michigan State and Minnesota at Florida Atlantic, and Virginia Tech at East Carolina (four times!) as a result; hopefully the not-so-near future will be filled with more interesting games as a result.
Sidenote: It's somewhat surreal that Rutgers is suddenly being bandied about as a potential schedule upgrade after years and years of being one of those teams you pick in Dynasty mode when you want to spend a few years toiling before your eight national championship run. When Michigan State managed to coug it against Rutgers a few years ago, everyone laughed at the Spartans for falling to lowly Rutgers. Now the shoe would be on the other hypothetical foot.
NCAA. The game, that is. The revamped dynasty mode will rope me into buying it, though I still harbor severe EA-related suspicions about it. Are my fears assuaged or reinforced by the first quarter of this Michigan-OSU game?
I'm not exactly sure. I didn't notice any linebackers leaping tall buildings in a single bound to knock down what should be complete passes, and finding a fullback open on a crossing route tantalizes. I am tenuously encouraged. There is more if you are so inclined.
Jimmah! I was going to write something about the Jimmah's-hurt-no-he-ain't-then-why-surgery thing, but both SMQB...
The Worldwide Leader - on the heels of Log's Blog [courtesy The Wizard of Odds, as usual] - goes the anonymice route to confirm Clausen had a "procedure" performed on one of his elbows, backing up the Miami Herald report in January that Clausen had bone spurs in his right/throwing elbow and Father of Jimmy's interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in March, when he said Jimmy was "losing velocity" at the end of his senior season due to a vague arm injury. It directly contradicts Charlie Weis' spring assurance that Clausen was "full go," much to The Wiz's consternation, and the hopes of the many, many partisans expecting Clausen to start from day one against Georgia Tech.
...and the Wiz...
Weis was miffed when asked about Clausen and interrupted a reporter:
Question: "You say everyone is full to go, and last time we talked, you said Clausen ..."
Weis: "He's full to go. Contrary to recent reports, he's full to go, too. By the way, just so we can clear that one up, the only one who will answer for the health of our players will be me. So next time, we can just keep it that way, because I'll do the answering for the health of our players."
So there you have it. Can you believe anything Weis says from now on?
...beat me to it. Generally you take the prognoses offered up by schools at face value, but ND has established that they might be something less than truthful when it comes to the golden calf. My money is on Demetrius Jones against Michigan.
Etc.: Naked guy w/ strategically placed sock runs around Michigan Stadium for reasons best described as obscure.
Sorry: late. My laptop keeps shutting off unprompted. I think the heat disagrees with it. Or it's just tired of letting me inflict pain on Michigan sports teams. Either way.
I have received a number of concerned emails about the Big Ten Network's potential failure to exist this fall; some of these have relayed information that may help clarify the situation. Go, readers, go:
Speculation but a reasonable one: it's highly likely that the "40 companies" have all the reach of Earl Boykins.
One of the many, many Andrews/Anthonys to comment asked Chicago Comcast about the potential of adding the network and got this response:
Thank you for contacting Comcast Cable. Currently, there are no plans to
carry the Big Ten network at this time. However, when new programming
and products become available, we will notify Customer's via DCT
messaging, bill inserts, and direct mailers.
Thank you for choosing Comcast.
I love "thanks, go to hell" answers. I have read elsewhere on the internet that this is the standard response Comcast and other cable companies offer whenever anyone asks about any new channel, whether or not they end up carrying it, so Andrew's supplement to the Comcast response...
I'm sure you have received a lot of these, but here is info directly from Comcast's mouth when I submitted a question about the Big Ten Network last night. I live in Chicago, where the BTN is, like, based and all, and things look very, very dim in getting it on cable here. I would assume the response below would be the same for the large number of Comcast subscribers in Michigan. I also called to ask and the Comcast representative I talked to had not even heard of the BTN.
I also received a message on my digital cable that Comcast Chicago will be carrying CSTV soon, albeit on their pricey Sports and Entertainment digital tier. In the meantime, keep up the drumbeat against the BTN.
...may be a little pessimistic, but the whole calling-and-not-even-having-heard-of-it is disturbing.
Mike Brennan has something more hopeful:
I just spoke with Bill Martin on the phone. I'm going to be in touch with Mark Silverman of the Big 10 Network tomorrow. My gripes against the channel arise from your analysis (along with that of the other U-M blogger that addressed this) and aren't so much focused on the possibility of my cable rate going up a few dimes, but rather that there's a chance that this extra channel might result in me being unable to watch some Michigan football games. Judging from the general tenor of your replies and the message board threads, it seems that most people are with me on this.
So he started to explain about how it won't raise cable rates so much before I stopped him and explained that we don't care about a small rate hike; we just want to be sure we'd have the games available on basic cable. At that point he completely and unequivocally assured me that, before the season begins, all the major cable providers will be on board and that the Big 10 Network will absolutely be a basic-cable channel. He said the lawyers have told him that this will go down to the final days before a deal is struck, but that a deal will absolutely be struck.
I feel a lot better. He said they're talking about a monthly boost of $.75 to the cable bill, but this is a small price to pay considering that I would actually watch this channel a lot all year.
Hope this is useful to you. Let me know if you have any questions.
So... hurray? We can expect brinksmanship on the part of both sides as they try to work out a deal; Bill Martin insists a deal will get done. If it does, I get to retract all the nasty stuff I said this summer. This I will gladly do if the reward is a Big Ten Network I can watch, preferably one with lots of hockey. Clarification: road hockey games.
Mike's email makes me feel a little better, but waiting for this eleventh hour deal will be at least mildly nerve-wracking. Only mildly? Well, the network kicks off with its two Ohio State games: Akron and Youngstown State (via SMQB). Expect our riveting clash with Eastern Michigan to be one of our two featured, um, contests.
Postmortem. Game two against Oregon State, for anyone perusing the carnage below, was just as frustrating as game one but in the exact opposite way. As a result, Michigan's baseball season is over. But if you can get past the frustration of watching the flurry of walks, wild pitches, balks that put the season to the sword, the baseball team still appears to be on the upswing.
Most of the team returns next year. Gone are centerfielder Eric Rose, the #9 hitter, rightfielder Brad Roblin, and #3-4 starter Andrew Hess. Juniors Nate Recknagel, Doug Pickens, and Derek Van Buskirk are probably going to return. Only Pickens was drafted, and that was in the 50th round. Without question they'll be the favorites in the Big Ten and should make their fourth consecutive NCAA tournament. Rich Maloney, pictured at right with the late Faz of Hello Faz Pizza for some reason (ask the Daily), has recruiting and onfield momentum, an $11 million stadium renovation on the verge of completion, and his top players returning. Onward and upward. Hopefully someday in the near future we can say hello to Omaha.
Back and probably not gone. Adrian Arrington's, um, "rehabilitation" assignment, as noted on the sidebar a few days ago, has been completed and Arrington has returned to the team. He's definitely on double secret probation now -- any extracurricular mention of him in the paper more nefarious than a picture of him huggling puppies means he's gone-gone -- but that's better than the triple secret, stairs-running probation he's been on for the past few months. So bully for all that. Odd that the one guy of the three -- Arrington, Eugene Germany, and Carson Butler -- Carr mumbled into oblivion before spring practice everyone assumed was gonzo is the one guy who made it back to the field. Knock on wood. He sounds like he's learned his lesson:
"I just put myself in bad situations sometimes,'' the receiver said. "I don't know why. Now, I've got to deal with it. My head is in a whole different place right now, going through this. I let a lot of people down. I just have a whole different mind-set right now. I'm packing it in a lot earlier these days."
One thing: if you find a guy named "AAirlines16" on whatever the PS3 equivalent of XBox Live is...
"I just hang out and play some PS3 instead of going out.''
...for God's sake, let him win.
Also on the wide receiver suspension tip: a couple days ago Rob Parker hinted that Mario Manningham was in serious trouble and could miss the season(!!!) on the TV. I can neither confirm nor deny this, having received no inside info on the matter, but immediately after Parker made his assertion, the program had their annual Carr's Wash for Kids charity event and this was the only piece of information dropped on Manningham:
Carr said receiver Mario Manningham's knee "is in excellent shape," but he needs to improve his "football shape."
Given Carr's history of grumbling about pages and such, it's doubtful he's aware of any issues that would keep him from the field. Chances are Parker is way overreacting to some third hand info about that traffic stop a month ago; given his track record with his insider info I don't think anyone should be concerned. You can insert the standard muttering about the media's standard muttering about the trustworthiness of "internet rumors" when they throw out all kinds of unconfirmed, plain wrong stuff every day of the year. Parker's continued employment should tell you all you need to know about how dedicated the local gatekeepers are to having solid information behind the stuff they throw out: not at all.
(Also there is this:
Carr also confirmed that Carlos Brown is comfortable staying in the program at running back and everyone who missed spring practice with an injury should be ready for fall camp.
I am still jumpy about his return.)
On campus! I was flipping through the pictures from the car wash and ran across this one:
Sam McGuffie on an unofficial visit? You make the call. (Obligatory McGuffie youtube link.)
Also there is this one in which Ryan Mallett looks like an extra from Top Gun with the callsign "Stork":
*(You're probably asking "what?" at the moment. Long story short: I was seven, I was living in Denver, the Broncos were in the 1987 AFC Championship game against the Browns, they were traveling to Cleveland, and for some reason one of the enduring memories of my childhood is the local news station closing the week with a highlight montage set to the (in?)famous Kenny Loggins song. Two days and one iconic Drive later, the Broncos were going to the Super Bowl to lose it (and two more), thus establishing both the song and the idea that reaching the ultimate reward only brings you pain -- something Michigan is working on with gusto -- in my head for all time.
We're gonna take it... RIGHT IN TOOOOOOO...
THE DANGER ZONE!)
Also also, this one...
... made me think Jim Tressel had infiltrated us and was sabotaging Shawn Crable with hydrochloric acid until I realized it was Steve Szabo. I don't think he should walk around campus in sunglasses unless he wants to get tackled and locked in a basement until November.
Also also also, I think Johnny Sears wants to be Andre 3000 a little bit.
7:00 PM. Hello, Gary Thorne. Hello, Barry Larkin. Larkin kind of has Marcelo Balboa disease where he just repeats himself over and over and over again, but he's an alum so we forgive him. Also he doesn't rock an ear stud and Slayer hair.
Let's not see if this Stutes kid can do what Reyes did. Because that would be the suck.
7:04 PM. JEBUS! For the record, if you're the kind of person who turns Google's Safe Search off because you don't quite trust it to not throw away useful results in the name of Saving the Children and you type "beaver" into Google Image search, you get:
- Hits 1 & 2: Pictures of actual beavers.
- Hit 3: @ right.
- Hits 4 & 5: pictures of, um... not actual beavers.
Also later there are the infamous pictures of Britney Spears letting it all hang out. And I mean "hang."
Anyway. Baseball. Soon.
Top 1. I realize it's relevant to the game, but if they could stop talking about yesterday that would be sweet.
Christian fires the first pitch of the game to the warning track. It's nice that we got a ball out of the infield. I don't understand why the guys hitting like .360 or .370 aren't at the top of the order. I know it doesn't matter, statistically, but it's kind of odd.
Stutes walks the second batter; encouraging notes from last 3 starts: 7.07 ERA, 11 BB, 12 K. Nearly picks the runner off twice, but I like this guy a lot better than Reyes already... dammit. Reck flies out on a hit and run and we get doubled up to end the inning. Strategy grumble grumble.
Bottom 1.Canadian Mike Wilson on the mound. First batter strikes out. That is what I am talking about. That.
Larkin makes a good point that the pitchers aren't pounding the zone quite as much as they were yesterday -- Oregon State isn't, certainly, though Putnam put a few guys on base with walks -- as Wilson runs his guy to 3-2 and then strikes him out with some wicked offspeed stuff.
Falls behind the third batter 2-1, then strikes him out... but the ball gets away and the batter takes first. Pickens didn't do much of a job getting in front of the ball.
Side note: is that not one of the weirdest rules in sport? Dammit: another wild pitch sends the runner to second. Pickens again faulty. Those are charged as wild pitches, but both should have been dealt with.
Cleanup guy walks. Yuck. Behind 2-0 to the next guy. Yuck. Ball well outside the zone swung at wildly; fortunate. Misses inside. 3-1. Fastball right down the middle taken for a strike... payoff pitch; swing and a miss. One inning, 4Ks for Wilson. Not a good start for his pitch count.
Top 2. Putnam goes down swinging kind of weakly. I am enjoying Gary Thorne doing this game, by the way. Some people don't like him; these people are communists.
There are entire families of people perched in scaffolding just outside the ballpark. Larkin compares them to people displaced by Katrina. Um. Long fly out from Abraham; two down. Dude, Pickens went in the 50th round of the MLB draft. He could have been Mr. Irrelevant. After all, he was drafted by the Indians. (ba-dum ching!) Pickens chases high; inning over.
I would like the team to hit the ball.
Bottom 2. I would also like Canadian Mike Wilson to throw strikes. He falls behind 3-0, then throws two strikes right down the middle. Grounder up the middle for the first out. Nice play from Christian.
Larkin starts talking about this weird fieldturf stuff Oregon State plays on. It is slow, as is apparent to anyone who watched the first game and its groundball orgy, and I don't like it much. You're outside, man, play on grass. Hell: you're outside in Oregon. If you can't grow grass in Oregon there is something wrong with you.
Meanwhile: Wilson hits a batter and runs another count to 3-2. Beaver runners terrified of Wilson's pickoff move. Wilson already at 44 pitches; walks the next batter. I should probably throw this out while I still have time:
Aaaand a double steal from Oregon State. No throw? WTF? Wilson has the batter at 3-1. This is going poorly. Walks him. Bases loaded, nobody out, it's talky time. Maybe I should never liveblog again.
Wilson starts the next hitter off with a ball in the dirt. OMG. Ball two. I... strikes? No. Ball three. Ball four. Walked him on four pitches. Has walked a run in. There have been no hits in this inning. 1-0 OSU. Next pitch is way outside, and Wilson is gone. Ugly.
Pitching change: Mike Powers is in. I really hope this doesn't go like that Louisville game yesterday; they kept a play-by-play on the right side of the screen and it seemed like every time I looked at it, it said "pitching change." Powers walks in another run on three straight pitches. What, is this the one year I played little league?
Barney hits a single; 2 RBI in. Now 4-0 OSU. No hitter gone. Drat. Oregon State steals second. Powers throws three straight balls. Greenlighted on 3-0, Lissman fouls it back. And he takes a chop at a fastball way inside, blooping it to Christian for an... out? I think they're called "outs." Unless the language has shifted since the last time we got one. Do we have rocket cars yet?
Powers strikes out the final batter. I can say without reservation that this has been the most frustrating inning of baseball I've ever watched.
Arrrgh! I hate you Comcast lady!
Top 3. Oregon State has four runs and one hit. I can't help but notice that I didn't even watch that Vandy game, which worked out just fine.
Hey, a hit. Van Buskirk slaps a single past the shortstop. A desultory cheer from the beleaguered crowd. See... why are the guys batting .385 and .371 7th and 8th in the lineup? Maybe they never walk or something. Cislo strikes out. Rose nearly gets a bunt single, but it rolls foul. Eventually flies out.
Long digression on aluminum vs. wood bats as Christian is attempting to not strike out. He does not succeed at this. EOI.
Bottom 3. Chopper is just over Powers' head and slips into the outfield. Leadoff single. Do I have to institute a basketball-esque mercy rule? Powers strikes the next guy out with a slider. I wonder what would happen if they stopped swinging? Most of the stuff they have taken rips at has been well out of the strike zone. Next batter is a virtual repeat: strikes out on the slider. Two down.
Note from yesterday: OSU's road uniforms are sinfully ugly. Like Terrail Lambert attempting to cover Mario Manningham ugly. The pinstripes, the orange numbers, the white "OSU" across the chest that looks like it was assembled out of construction paper by autistic second graders. What is it with the state and their campaign against your eyeballs?
Lederton (?) fends a pitch off into the outfield for a single; runners on the corners. Powers strikes out the third batter. End of inning.
I can't believe it's the end of the t
hird inning. Yesterday it was the sixth or something.
Top 4. Oh, also: someone left a snarky comment along the lines of "you can't CATCH the ball, you have to BLOCK it." This was two innings and six Barry Larkin mentions of this little piece of wisdom ago. You see what I mean about Marcelo Balboa disease.
Groundout opens the inning. Recknagel pops out. Putnam strikes out. What happened to this .330 batting average?
Bottom 4. That Wong kid who hit the one hit of yesterday is apparently the first base coach's kid. He flies out to Recknagel and his dad looks like he's totally going to give that kid a... piece of his mind later. Single to center.
Coverage of Arena Football! Joy. Barry Larkin seems disappointed there are no rattlesnakes in Oregon.
Abraham muffs a potential DP ball, probably because of the stupid turf, but gets the putout at first. Man on second, two down. Barry Larkin loves fishing. He attempts to relate this to the rattlesnakes comment. I don't think it's working. Larkin does rip on the turf, though, after relating a story -- Powers issues a walk --about the "grass seed capital of the world". I'm with him and wouldn't mind him repeating this eighty times the next two innings.
Ack. Wild pitch, runners now at second and third. Pickens tried to CATCH it, not BLOCK it. Actually relevant this time, though. Powers falls behind 3-0 to the next batter. Woo! Manages to get it full and get a groundout to end the inning.
Top 5. Abraham pulls a potential double just a little foul, then grounds out. Pictures of Barry Larkin from back in the day. Second batter flies out. Cislo strikes out.
THINGS I HAVE ENJOYED MORE THAN THIS GAME SO FAR
- The Offspring
- packing peanuts
- "History Of Africa After 1850", AACS 450, as a freshman.
- getting circumcised.
Bottom 5. Leadoff batter walks on four pitches. Powers is done; Fetter, the scheduled starter for a hypothetical game three, has entered the game. Sac bunt; man on second, one out. AAAAAARGH. Fetter down 3-0 in the count; walks the first guy who's not all bunting at him.
I'm mildly surprised that three of eight top seeds making it to Omaha is regarded an unusually low number. Fetter falls behind 3-1, then just barely gets the corner to take the count full. Fetter walks the guy. Eight walks.
Squeeze play suceeds; 5-0 OSU, second and third and two out.
"Wong is rising to the occasion." Stupid O.
And, hey, we've got to get these runs in somehow, preferably weird... Fetter balks in another run and we've got a double that picks up the other baserunner. Michigan is down 7-0. Mercy rule? Mercy rule.
Screw you guys, I'm going home.