From Portage Northern.
4/25/2006 - Edmonton 4-3 Detroit (2OT) - Edmonton leads 2-1
First perhaps I must explain something, having received a request or two to turn my attention Wings-ward during the collegiate-sports-free zone we have now entered: I hate the Red Wings. This came as a bit of a surprise when it first happened. I had never disassociated myself from a team solely because I found them distasteful, but after a long series of futile deadline deals and outlandish contracts for elderly stars I found that I could stands quite a lot but I could stands no more. The acquisition of Chris Chelios, who was a dirty hateful hack in Chicago and still is, was the powerful last straw that severed my last tie to the Winged Wheel.
Why? One theory is the baseball theory. I have long harbored no interest whatsoever for baseball except a violent hatred for the Yankees and everything they stand for. By the time I had divorced the Wings I had taken to calling them the New York Hockey Yankees. I know, it's weird, and you can probably defend a lot of things short of spending sixteen million dollars -- half Edmonton's entire payroll -- for Dominik Hasek and Curtis Joseph as wise moves that weren't out of whack with NHL pay scales, but then you'd have to ignore that $80 million total and stick your fingers in your ears and go "la la la can't hear you" whenever someone tried to explain basic concepts of economics to you. And you don't want to do that, do you?
However, I think that was probably just a cover. Fans, like extremely political people, can justify just about anything if they have a mind to. Rationality and balance have no place in sports fandom, so there must have been something emotional at the root. You can find that root in the fans. Consider, for a moment, the two arenas: the two games at the Joe were tepid affairs with a lower bowl just as half-empty as it is during the regular season. Lawyers chat on the phone with trophy wives. Real estate agents look bored, holding daiquiris. The biggest reaction from the crowd comes when an obese man named "Mo Cheese" pretends he's in a paint shaker for 30 seconds. Rexall Place is full to the brim with howling banshees attempting to scream the opponent to death.
Never ever would have happened without the lockout.
All hail the lockout. Long live the lockout.
One place -- the one with the half-empty lower bowl -- has the audacity to call itself Hockeytown and then studiously ignore all in-state hockey that is not the Wings despite having two of the top programs in college hockey. Meanwhile, in Minnesota they sell out the XCel center for high school games. One place is the northernmost city with a professional sports team in North America, a place that scrapped year after year to keep a team and the memory of Gretzky. The Oilers are owned by thirty-four Edmonton businessmen. Before the lockout, every year they were called up and asked to put in tens of thousands of dollars to keep the club going. Without that lockout there would be no hockey in Edmonton today, and no one would ever again wear a jersey that looked like Gretzky's. The profligate spending of the Red Wings and other teams of their ilk contributed greatly to that.
No other team, however, was as successful, as profligate, and as local to me as Detroit. So you'll forgive me if I find Red Wing fandom fundamentally shallow, false, and destructive. It obviously isn't. But it's hard to see that when Doug Weight gets traded for bits and pieces. The thing begins to grate on you after a while.
OMG I love the Wings!!! An' an' an' daquiris an' an' my lawyer husband. We go to nearly a third of the home games... well, we go to about half of a third of the home games.
Ma'am, I'm sorry, but you're going to have to eat this Dennis Dodd.
My hate waxes and wanes based on the current lineup on the ice -- I feel downright heelish about it when Yzerman is out there, but whenever Chelios or the ghost of Darien Hatcher is present my hate grows strong like bull -- but hate it is. And it just so happens that stripped of my NHL fandom, the wheel spun and landed in a strange place that happens to be the home of the team the Wings are currently down two games to one to: Edmonton, a place I have never been. At the time I had never been within 500 miles of it.
No doubt the primary reason for this affection was the presence of Mike Comrie, who was Michigan's star for my first two years at Yost Ice Arena. Comrie was an impossible whirling dervish of a collegiate player who, despite being small and slow, was an audacious stickhandler, passer, and shooter who almost won the Hobey Baker as a sophomore. The Mike Comrie experience was an overwhelming one for someone who had never seen hockey in person before, especially not seven rows from the ice. When Comrie bolted for the OHL for bargaining leverage, I was mildly upset, but knew that he would be in the NHL sooner rather than later.
By the time I had finally kicked the Wings to the curb, Comrie was the Oilers' second-line center mere months after signing a pro contract. College guys like Comrie, Weight, Poti, Horcoff, Grier, and Marchant littered the roster. The trap is still a dirty, controversial word in the city to this day. In the playoffs they faced Dallas, and easy target for transitional hatred as an ex-Wing fan. It was all lined up, and when the CBC announcers had to strain to make themselves heard over the crowd, well, I was sold. At the start I watched to see Comrie, but it mattered little that a couple years later he would hold out for buckets of money Edmonton didn't have and get traded. I was rooting for the jersey by then, because I felt it stood for something other than "we can pay these guys a buttload of money."
So. When Jarrett Stoll shoveled a rebound past Legace in the second overtime last night I had a series of involuntary spasms reminiscent of Elaine Benes attempting to dance. I know it's totally weird, but:
HA HA HA HA HA HA. HA.
We now return to blogging not designed to infuriate most readers.
Does not look at all like Billy Idol.
OMG. Shirtless. I can find no better way to summarize Ryan Mallet's assets than this from John Miller of the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which must have the nation's most unwieldly newspaper name:
Uncle Rico boasted he could once throw a football a quarter-mile and wanted to bet that he could throw the pigskin over a mountain in the movie Napoleon Dynamite.
No one's come anywhere close to that.
But give Ryan Mallett a few years, and who knows what could happen?
The article continues on in that vein: Mallet throws a ball 70 yards in the air, dislocated two fingers on one of his wideout's hands, can throw it "40-50 yards" on a line, shoots lasers from his eyes, etc. He's in Rivals' and (Lemming warning) Lemming's early top ten, is a sure bet for five-star status, and can fix back pain with well-placed throws from the next county.
Two Ts. Just FYI.
Active during the war. On August 4th, 1941, a U-boat sunk a critical shipment of gunpowder destined for the shipyards of London. Private First Class Ryan Mallett was enlisted to hurl flak at incoming bombers, downing six and preserving an orphanage full of strippers. Four years later, he killed Hitler with a well-placed fifteen-yard out.
Sort of like that one other giant white guy... whatshisface. But what about the supposedly-dread spectre of John Navarre? At first glance, the two quarterbacks seem... similar. Hell, this is the second sentence in ESPN's talent evaluation($) of Mallett:
He reminds us of former Michigan QB John Navarre in terms of build and physical tools.
Holy cats! We can look forward to another four years of a giant quarterback with no scrambling ability and a tendency to hurl passes into the kneecaps of onrushing linemen! Abort! Abort!
...or maybe not. This blog came into existence after the Navarre era ended, but had it been around then no doubt I would have pissed off 90 to 95 percent of potential readers with fervent defenses of the Water Buffalo Wonder. Hell, I'm the guy who wrote this article...
John Navarre Blamed For Offense, Defense, Kicking Game, Iraq, 9/11, Everything Else
...after the hilariously mishap-ful 2002 season. By the tail end of Navarre's junior year, he was a very good quarterback. I distinctly remember the 2002 OSU game's offense as two idiotic runs into the teeth of the defense followed by heroic, laser-accurate third-and-long conversions from Navarre. He wasn't Brady, but he was okay by me. The 2003 offense was a machine of epic destruction, and it was helmed by John Navarre. Not bad for a guy recruited as a defensive end by a lot of schools and possessing only one other quarterback offer, that from Northwestern.
So. Take the nonexistent hype surrounding Navarre and turn it up to 11. Turn Navarre from a guy two schools thought could play quarterback maybe to a guy who's going to get the precious fifth star from both recruiting services okay no problem. This... sounds appealing.
You may remember Mallett from such quarterbacks as: other than Navarre your two most cited names are Drew Bledsoe and Ben Roethlisberger, if those are more palatable.
This is not Ryan Mallett. Well, it is, but not that one.
A mysterious traveller. Little is known about Mallett's past -- he was found on the doorstep of Texas High three years ago, swaddled in (copious) rags, clutching a football and quietly muttering about a fusion reactor's backwards flux inhibitor. He asked if there were any games in town similar to the high-paced flarlax he knew and loved so well. After some discussion, it was determined that football was in many way analagous to flarlax... flarlax played by bleeble-babes! Mallett found the game piteously easy -- flarxlax stripped of flaming ninja hordes, roving black holes, and the dread joydlerox is hardly flarlax at all -- but it is the only thing that soothes his raging homesickness for his mysterious homeland... or is it -world?
"Mallett" antonym: "Vick." And he knows it. Mallett on his running ability:
"I can't run at all."
Sounds like we're going to have to radically change our offense to take advantage of his abilities yes this is sarcasm. Except we probably don't have any 70 yard routes in the playbook.
More on what mortals call an arm from that article:
"He's probably got the strongest arm in the history of Texas high school football," said Bobby Burton, Rivals.com recruiting expert.
Coming relatively near relatively soon. Cincinnati-area readers with an obsessive urge can see Mallett play Findlay High at (hur hur) Nippert Stadium on September 15th. Any reports/pictures/video offered will be posted with all haste.
Committing to someone any time now. Who could it be?
Update: Done be us.
Notre Dame has their new golden boy, Jimmy Clausen:
No one with that hair can be good at football.
He's slated to win 5 national championships over the next four years, but there are Citrus Bowls to win, motherfucker, and Michigan needs a giant, immobile quarterback who can throw a football through three guys -- sort of like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade -- to do it. 6'7" Ryan Mallet appears to fit the bill and is deciding within the week according to Florida State's Scout site. The finalists are Michigan, Florida State, Alabama, and Oklahoma. How should you feel about this?
Um, good. Perhaps very good:
Florida State has been moving up his list but many feel Michigan is the team to beat because that's the school that he has visited in person.
"I don't need to take any more visits," he said. "I pretty much know about all the schools from talking to all of the coaches on the phone. Academics will be in important along with where I can see myself fitting in. Being able to gel with the coaches is a big-deal."
Strange hyphen in "big-deal" sic. This decision would appear to be analgous to that of Pittsburgh wide receiver Dorin Dickerson, who decided around this time last year between Pitt and Michigan without ever having visited Michigan. He chose Pitt. No one was surprised.
Tom Beaver of GBW spooked a bunch of message board denizens with an appearance on WTKA, but I would avoid picking up a case of residual panic from them. We're probably addressing need #1 in the 2007 recruting class with option A-1. Notre Dame's quarterback of the future has name with superior unflattering nickname potential ("Jimmah! JimmahJimmah!"), looks like a cross between Billy Idol and a kid playing with static electricity, and comes from a family of certified football retards. Good times.
4/23/2006 - Pistons 92-74 Milwaukee - Pistons Lead 1-0
Having secured the top record in the league, the last week of Pistons basketball was bizarre lighthearted fun except for the bits where Lindsey Hunter shot a lot. Free to play glorified preseason games, they did, and the games had all the entertainment value of any hopeful, future-looking enterprise. It was fun to see Jason Maxiell attempt to dunk it every time he got inside the three-point line. It was fun to see that Delfino guy. It was novel to watch the Pistons lose by a ton.
However, the Happy Fun NBA Games were a cause for some consternation: what if they're off because of this diversion? 1000 words on that:
They didn't have a good headshot, but the important portion of the picture extends from Ben Wallace's headband up: 'fro. Much like Michigan hockey's propensity for breaking out the super-cool maize jerseys when a statement needs to be made*, the Ben Wallace 'fro is a talismanic declaration that someone's ass is going to get kicked. During the year the 'fro was stowed away, though, as the Pistons went about their asskicking in a methodical, somewhat bored fashion. There was no need to get the emotional amperage up. But the playoffs are another matter.
And lo, it was good despite an alarming Bucks push that had Mental Rewrite showing up and revising this column-thing. That just shows fans are less smooth than the team is. After the Bucks came clawing back from 18 down to 4, you could feel the Palace tighten up... until the Pistons scored close to a dozen consectutive points and the 'fro was once again poised, ready to crush Michael Redd's neck with sheer force of awesome.
Ben finished with a quintessential Ben line: 4 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals. The Pistons won by 18 despite long stretches where they played like poop. It, as they say, is on.
*(usually this statement is something other than "we are not a good hockey team despite wearing the super-cool maize jerseys," but this year was not a kind one.)
- I think I can trace my complete 180 on Brent Musberger back to his open container citation in Nebraska, as the next week Musberger actually brought it up on national television in order to make fun of himself. In one moment Musberger went from the overbearing guy who gave the world "holy Buckeye" to a dude who slams beer in his car and isn't afraid to let you know it.
The point? At some point during the Clippers-Nuggets game, Musberger brought up this quote from George Karl:
"A win in the playoffs is better than sex... I'm old."
I know a lot of guys in the NBA are like "what are you talking about?"
...and I got a little teary from laughing so much.
The YouTube find of the week-ish follows. Warning: NSF people who go into seizures at emo.
That's right: there's no awnser for the victors valient. Suckas. There's also no mention of the horrible calls against Iowa in that game. But highlights of one of the scarce wins from last year + hilarious, hilarious misspellings == ratings gold.
Also from the same guy: NSFWSJ*. More bad emo and chestpounding.
*(2000 Orange Bowl, which is Not Safe For Warren St. John.)
Scheduling later. Now: diatribe. With swearing. I tried to ignore this guy at first but he keeps appearing in the freaking newspaper, which still has more readership than I do for some unknown reason.
Does this John Pollack guy run around calling newspapers or something? Pollack, who found himself in the New York Times for no discernible reason, managed to get the Detroit News to write another article on him and his very silly crusade. And what a terrible article it is: sloppy, anecdotal, and ridiculous. This is your reporting for you: quotes from Bill Martin and a couple of luxury-box critics and no sense whatsoever of the general opinion of Michigan fans. Check this header:
Opposition is on the rise
No justification whatsoever is provided for this. The closest thing to it:
In March, Pollack's group among others opposing private suites sent a letter to the regents stating their objections, including the "sad corruption" of the university's "defining traditions" and urging them to reject the idea.
First of all, anyone who uses the word "sad" as a tsk-tsk adjective is a holier-than-thou asshat. I'll give you ten to one that the letter also contains the word "laughable." Mostly, though: a letter does not consitute a grass-roots movement, especially when it's signed by a former University president.
Kupelain doesn't even bother to comment on this assertion from Pollack:
"This is absolutely a battle we're going to win because a majority of Michigan fans don't want private luxury boxes in Michigan Stadium," said Pollack, 40, a business consultant who was a speech writer for former Michigan Congressman David Bonior and President Clinton.
"Letters keep pouring into the Web site. The eloquence of people on this subject is truly impressive."
Emphasis mine, as that's a perfect example of quoting substituting for reporting. Kupelain listened to a bunch of unsupported talking from people, played stenographer, and we have this: a squeaky wheel and its unnecessary oiling. This would be a perfect opportunity for a resource-laden newspaper to call up a polling company and get some survey data. Instead, we have nothing but a bunch of quotes from people who make HULK SMASH. So angry am I that I must break out the fisk:
"What we wanted to do was make it convenient for people who cared about the issue to speak out and stay informed," Pollack said.
Aaaaargh. "Speak out." "Stay informed." The duplicitious words of a politician (which is no coincidence) designed to befuddle instead of clarify.
"Everybody wants to see the stadium renovated," Pollack said. "What we don't want to see is private luxury boxes."
The anti-suite forces argue that private seating would divide fans and establish a class mentality where, Pollack said, Michigan fans "have always stood together, cheered together and won together. Shoulder-to-shoulder, standing -- that's the game-day experience at Michigan."
You'll see that this grass-roots movement is so devoid of actual ideas that they resort to hilarious lies constantly. The idea that a football game with 50 dollar tickets and 500 dollar PSLs for the excellent seats which are doled out to people who write huge checks to the university is some sort of proletarian rally where all men are created equally patchouli- scented and be-dreadlocked is beyond inane. And standing? When I stand, I am crabbed at. What Pollack describes is Michigan Stadium in the mirror universe where Paris Hilton is a nuclear engineer, Dennis Dodd is competent, and Ohio State is a university. It's not just wrong: it's the exact opposite of reality.
Jonathan Stone, class of '94, said the intimacy is what makes the Ann Arbor experience special.
"Creating a separate seating area is contrary to one of the basic values the University of Michigan ensures its students learn to appreciate equality," said Stone, who lives in Alexandria, Va.
You. Fucking. Hippies. I do not remember an "appreciating equality" requirement as an undergraduate, and good fucking God, what is the point of going to Michigan if you can't lord it over MSU grads? More proletarian bullshit. These people are delusional.
Apparently this guy doesn't get the pamphlet from the University that details the dozen or so donation levels and the various perks you get at each one every year. Or he can't read.
"Why tamper with the appearance of one of America's true icons of architecture?" Schultz said in a letter to the regents. "The thought that changes are needed to Michigan Stadium so as to keep up with the Joneses is ludicrous."
Example #2 of the mirror universe. Good God. I love Michigan Stadium, but it's a hole in the ground. It's not exactly Solider Field. This man can't be serious. I'm really at a loss for words... where to start? The press box best described as "festering"? The insufficient bathrooms? The fact that I have to battle the fat guy in seat 7 for the inch that decides whether I walk out hale and hearty or crumpled like a submarine at the botom of the sea?
The hippies are on LSD, man.
Pollack said interest and support has been spiking since recent publish accounts of the campaign.
"I know everybody on both sides of this wants what they think is best for Michigan."
First of all... "recent publish accounts"? I thought they had copy editors at the News. And indeed, the people on both sides of the issue want what they think is best for Michigan. It's just that some people live in this universe, and others don't.
It seems that the issue here is less what Michigan Stadium is going forward but more what it is right now. Either it is an idyllic place that cannot be improved upon, or it is not. This has been a rather juvenile post, but what's more juvenile:
- swearing and taunting in the service of a realistic portrayal of the class structure already imposed at Michigan Football games, or
- pretty, dishonest language in service of a fairytale?
As the old commercials used to say, you make the call.