Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Marv Albert and Steve Kerr. Kerr is unbelievably good as a color man. He picks up on all those niggling little details that a color man should and explains things clearly--he and his TNT crew were all over the strange situation with Indiana's timeouts last night and the technical foul that was upcoming at the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Ultimately, it was a useless piece of information but I'm willing to wager Bill Walton wouldn't have mentioned it until the free throw was actually occurring and then he would claim it was because someone mouthed off to the officials. Kerr noticed something unusual and interesting and told me about it. Now I am smarter about basketball. Kerr does this all the time.
Kerr's also funny, and I have high standards for funny. He and Albert have great chemistry, bouncing insults off each other with a casual aplomb that lets you know that they actually respect and like each other--night and day from earlier this year when Mike Fratello was part of the broadcast crew and would sit there the whole game pissed off and bitchy. Now Kerr and Albert merrily insult each other and throw in the occasional shot at "the Czar" that can be interpreted as innocent fun but probably shouldn't be. (It's clear that everyone who worked with Fratello hated his guts. I would pay to see TNT studio dude Ernie Johnson go twelve rounds with Fratello.) That's the best part--envisioning Fratello stewing at home, gripping the armrests of his solid-gold armchair with a white-hot fury and frantically calling the TNT studios to threaten slander suits aplenty.
Marv Albert is Marv Albert, with just the right level of idiosyncracy to be weirdly entertaining but not grating and a honey-smooth voice that makes him one of the top play by play guys working today in any sport. Plus every once in a while you get to think to yourself "I can't believe Marv Albert likes biting hookers' asses really hard."
It gets no better than this. Other than Keith Jackson and anyone circa 1997 and maybe Gary Thorne and John Davidson there is no broadcast team better that Kerr and Albert anywhere.
In a related story, Charles Barkley. The man is a national treasure. Clear, blunt, hilarious, and completely un-PC, somehow the exact opposite of both Bill Walton and Stephen F-minus-minus Smith. Please go into politics, Charles. Please.
White bench scrubs beating the Pistons. That's right, I love it. Largely because every night that some floppy-haired guy from somewhere like Pepperdine does not start raining threes and dropping dimes like he came straight out of Compton there is an 80 percent chance of a Pistons victory. And even when that happens it's sort of amusing, because fans of the opposing team immediately make the scrub out to be the next Larry Bird until the Pistons crush his soul the next game and he shoots 2 of 14. (Don't worry, Mr. Scrub, they do that to Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant, too.)
The list here is getting pretty long: there was Brian Scalabrine and his weird red halfro, Luke Walton making me want to strangle his father even more than usual, Austin Croshere and his bald spot raining threes, and now Jeff Foster and his rebound machine. The Sixers would have taken their first round series against the Pistons to six games if they just had the common sense to start Aaron McKie and bring Korver off the bench for thirty minutes a game.
Darko. Darko was dubbed the "Human Victory Cigar" by Bill Simmons but I prefer to think of him as a seven foot two middle finger extended towards the rest of the league. Let me get this straight. The Pistons blow the second overall pick in the best draft since Jordan entered the league, missing out on Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and DWAYNE WADE in the process, and then proceed to steal certified lunatic Rasheed Wallace from the Hawks in exchange for about four Zeljko Rebracas and the stick of gum that came with the pack, rally back from a 3-2 deficit against the Nets, win the ugliest playoff series in NBA history against the Pacers, and then annihilate the Lakers to win the championship anyway? It was as if Joe Dumars decided this whole being a GM thing was just too easy so he needed to handicap himself because he couldn't put the thing on "Heisman."
In all seriousness, has something like this ever happened before? Usually picking the total stiff in a draft that good tanks your team for a decade or more as a sort of "We could have had him?" malaise sets in and everything the team touches turns to lead. The Stiff becomes a tragic story retold again and again by drunk fans of that team wherever they gather. It's late, the entire world is dark and you're with a bunch of guys so you can't cry about your wife leaving you or whatever, so you recount the Tale of The Stiff. It's practically guaranteed.
Not so with Darko. Even if Darko never turns into anything approximating an NBA player (and the returns at the moment do not look good), the Tale of Darko will be a merry comic farce. Chad Ford telling the world that Darko was a cross between Kevin Garnett and Jesus. The tape over his newly pierced ears in last year's playoffs. The rise and fall of the crowd with every Darko shot with two minutes left in a thirty point game. It would all be darkly comic, except there's no darkness here. Because no Piston fan will ever recount the Tale of Darko without remembering that he hilariously broke his hand in garbage time of game five of the 2004 Finals. The same game five that destroyed the Lakers once and for all, soured the entire country on Kobe Bryant, and ended with Ben goddamn Wallace holding the NBA trophy above his head and nobody rioting anywhere. That felt good. That felt Inigo Montoya "I want my father back, you son of a bitch" good. And Darko was the icing on the cake.
Can anyone explain this? Can anyone explain this site? It appears to be a deranged twelve-year-old Japanese girl's tribute to the 2004 NBA Champion Pistons. I'd be cynical and horrible about it, but that's exactly how I feel about Ben Wallace so I think it is the best website ever.
Sweet fancy Moses.
There's a line-band-thing of the piping on the back. Someone shoot Phil Knight. The official site has an article headlined "New U-M Football Jerseys Blend Tradition, Technology" which means there's an iPod in there somewhere I guess. I'll probably get over this about ten seconds into the NIU game but right now this is an atrocity on the level of... well, not the Holocaust, but something pretty bad.
A couple of readers pointed out that the new away jerseys being sold on the M-Den look like this:
Instead of this:
Obviously the color on the first one is due to some weird lighting instead of a complete break with Michigan history. (Either that, or I have to raise a robot army to kill whoever's responsible.) I heard about the stitching change for the front numbers a while ago but didn't think they would change the collar, number position, and sleeves. Taken all together it's a pretty noticeable difference. I don't know what I think of it yet... I thought the new hockey jerseys they introduced a few years ago were going to look ridiculous but ended up liking them a lot. So judgment will be reserved.
Wow, that was a lot of free advertising for the M-Den. You can't buy this sort of publicity, mostly because I'm not selling it.
(Thanks to readers Douglas Dillon and Brent Accurso for the heads up.)
Update: Jesus Christ, there's a yellow stripe on those things. Look up at the shoulder... I completely missed it before. New opinion: goddammit.
Bob McKenzie reports on TSN.ca that the Canadian Junior system will be radically revamped. Included in the revamp is apparently going to be some kind of limit on the number of Americans playing for CHL teams located in Canada. I blogged on this topic before and pooh-poohed the idea. Egg on my face? Maybe. We'll see what the limit is set at. If it's one, that's major news. If it's two, that's a minor inconvenience. Anything higher and it's basically a cosmetic gesture. I'm betting the limit is something like four per team.
There are a slew of other changes that were in the works but probably had their skids greased by the overwhelmingly negative reaction of the Canadian press to the OHL's decision to allow 14-year-old John Tavares into the most recent OHL draft. OHL teams will be limited to two 16-year-olds per team--approximately 120 across Canada--and the remainder would play midget AAA. There is also a proposal to block 15 year olds from transferring to the United States like Sydney Crosby and Angelo Esposito have to play at Shattuck.
In summary, the changes basically say: stay and play at home until you are 17 unless you are one of the top 120 16-year-olds in the country. I don't have any OHL numbers that indicate how many kids this will impact, but assuming that it's a significant number the changes proposed are a step in the right direction.
The impact on colleges will probably be minimal unless the CHL really clamps down on the number of Americans allowed, in which case a few players will probably end up in the NCAA instead of the CHL.
It's too bad I can't take NationalChamps.net seriously, because they just declared Michigan's offensive line the best unit in the country. Unfortunately, an Estonian turnip farmer apparently wrote the article. Seriously:
Often, youth movements are also a precursor for more beneficial times, as we will soon see in Ann Arbor, where four of five "hulksters" return for '05.
...oh God. I think I'm going to pass out... can't... breathe... laughing... too hard SPOCK!
Sorry. Sorry. I've composed myself now. Fear the mighty Hulksters of Michigan!
What are you going to do when the Hulksters of Michigan run wild over you?
mgoblog has adopted a new piece of obscure lingo:
Hulkster (n.) - an offensive lineman, esp. one who is suspected of being on steroids and having silly facial hair. Example: Kyle Turley.
Update 5/16:Added note that Michigan leads for KY DT Corey Peters based on post from KY Rivals guru Jeff Drummond. Used header of Scout article to assert that Nebraska leads for CA WR Menelik Holt.
Small update but one with some actual news in it. Rumours that Michigan leads for Corey Peters of Louisville Central have been out there for a while but when the UK site's recruiting honcho says it that qualifies as news. Peters is a solid four star that may inch into the bottom of some top 100 lists by the end of the summer. He played next to James McKinney last year and some observers claimed that he outperformed the Michigan freshman-to-be. Worth keeping an eye on.