I don't quite understand what happened. They were up nine midway through the third, busy choking the Spurs like they were Wayne Brady's ho. And then... poof! Gone.
The Spurs are champions again, and the world is a little poorer for it. Tim Duncan will not parade around with a championship belt next year. Whoever the part-time accountant who does the Spurs' PA can't hold a candle to Mason. And no one in San Antonio wears a mask or looks like a vampire or wears his socks way up high classic style (miss you, Corliss) or busts out a magnificent afro and makes All Star teams on sheer will. And there's no Spurs Darko. Just the boringest superstar in history, a man who should foul out in six minutes every game, a big-nosed salmon ripped from the sea and hurled on the deck of a boat, and a French guy screwing Eva Longoria. Y'all can keep Team Mexico.
I could go into the what and why of it and break it all down but I think that's beside the point. The point is, despite losing a Game 7 that wouldn't have had to happen but for a huge mistake in Game 5, I don't feel particularly crushed. I should, I know, but it's hard to get upset when the Pistons picked themselves up again and again, punch drunk and staggered, but never stayed down. Yeah, the Spurs got to play Apollo Creed but it was Rocky's movie.
That's what I never understood about the media and their love affair with player-hating the Pistons. For God's sake, we've got a guy who wears a mask all the time! And belts, and Cool Hand Chauncey, and a pterodactyl man, and Ben Goddamn Wallace. In the entire scheme of things, has there been a championship team more likeable, more approachable, more admirable than the Pistons in the last twenty years? No. It's all aloof superstars, singly or in pairs, coupled with anonymous role players and usually a prick coach who thinks he's a genius for tagging along with Jordan and Shaq. The Pistons are weird and beautiful, a team that turned me from a lukewarm, fair-weather NBA fan into someone who long after "3" and "1" hang in the rafters of the Palace will probably sit and watch a lottery-bound team with the same anticipation Bill Simmons hilariously gets whenever Danny Ainge tries to screw up the Celtics some more. I love these guys, and will love the team even when they're gone--as long as the teal never comes back.
So. They got up, and then they did it again, and again, and again. They couldn't one final time, down six with the clock winding down and history staring them in the face. But goddamn the last two years were fun. Thanks, guys. Let's do it again in the fall.
Count me in with Every Day Should Be Saturday: I would take a punch for Dr. Z, whose latest article reinforces my slightly uncomfortable love for him. Z writes about some beautiful wackjob who quit his job to compile the most detailed breakdown of NFL passing games ever published. He clearly identifies with the man, relating a story about his own obsessive charting being held up for mockery and a woman who defended it, a woman who cried out "don't you recognize passion?"
That's what I love about Z, passion. I know that when he goes out on a limb to select some who-dat for his All-Pro team that it's backed up with copious research and a knowledge of the game that spans from spinning fullbacks to the modern day. Z goes against the conventional wisdom, and he does it with authority. As mgoblog has noted in the past, the state of sportswriting is generally dire. Z is a shining exception to the dismal rule.
Why? I could say "because he goes against the conventional wisdom," but that's not quite right. mgoblog would like to see a lot of people who go against the conventional wisdom go away. I like Z because he's smarter than I am and he teaches me things. A lot of that is against the conventional wisdom, but only because the conventional wisdom is wrong.
Sounds like I should be right on board Heismanpundit's "Blogger Revolution," but... uh, no thanks.
Lord knows that mgoblog can't stand stupid platitudes, which makes me ill-suited to be a sports fan. I hate witless wonders like Aaron Taylor as much--no, wait--far, far more than the average man. But for there to be an intelligent alternative to the mainstream media it actually has to be, you know, intelligent. I challenge you to find analysis on HP that isn't shallow and facile. The big theory he advocates is that USC, Cal, Boise, Louisville, Utah, and Florida are a sort of new breed of elite college football teams is based entirely on the fact that their offenses are "sophisticated." No justification is given for this. The why and how of the magic beans that makes these offenses go is swept under the rug. There's no explanation of what these offenses have in common, how they differ, and why they're so hard to defend. The whole thing hits about as hard as a schnapps martini. He could be right, but how would I know?
Yes, blogs can provide coverage that the MSM has no interest in providing. Blue-Gray Sky does it almost every day with obsessive detail. iBlog For Cookies busts out sweet charts that tell me something interesting about Michigan's past, present, and future. EDSBS swears really effectively (that's no backhanded compliment, mgoblog loves EDSBS). mgoblog has been known to drop knowledge on suckas and fools from time to time. And none of us are so full of ourselves to declare that it's time for "accountability." None of us follow that up with a condescending lecture on what "Independent Knowledge" is. HP helpfully defines it as "coming up with your own, original thoughts." Excellent. Thanks. I was thoroughly enjoying the mindless parroting of Politiburo opinion forced upon us by the big bad MSM but now... I'm free! Free as a bird that is not a parrot!
Meanwhile, HP is posting highly questionable assertions with little to back them up. And I hate to say it, but College Football Resource is following suit. He's on board the Sophistication Bandwagon and believes that Boise's going to take it to Georgia, which would be great if there was some meat in his analysis. Instead it contains a heaping helping of:
"...Georgia is a fairly low-tech outfit, but one blessed with outstanding athletic and talented personnel." ... "If Boise truly believes it's the better team here, this game will be an annihilation in their favor." ... "The other argument is that regardless of conference, any team that has a truly balanced offense (Hawai'i need not apply) and is putting up those kinds of numbers should reasonably be expected to put up similar totals in any other conference."
Sweet Jesus! Those are the kind of statements you can make if you have numbers or film and damn good reasoning behind it. You just can't say stuff like that and then move on without thoroughly justifying yourself. That is exactly what drives me up the wall about sloppy MSM guys like Dodd.
He got linked to on the Rivals UGA board and they gave him both barrels. Then they reloaded and gave him both barrels again in case he was a zombie. A lot of the commentary was pretty thoughtless... but no more so than what it responded to. And then, finally, a guy named Solon burned the Broncos to the ground, noting that Boise played all of four road game last year and the results were not impressive:
...[Boise gave up] 34 ppg against (not including OT), against a relatively weak slate of offenses--by which, I mean these four teams managed a total of 70 pts in 6 games against BCS opponents last season (though their production fattened up while playing WAC opposition).
His analysis is solid and cogent. (Solon! Get a blog!) It shows thought has been deposited into it. This is not the case for the Boise bandwagon.
Look, guys. It's great to want to change the way sports reporting gets done. There's a lot of it that is maddeningly lazy. But to do it you're going to have to break down some film or explain some concepts or analyze some numbers. Waving your hands and talking about how some coach showing up changes everything does not qualify as a revolution. I can get that from anyone. The Emperor's New Punditry ain't gonna cut it.
As Pogo says, "We have met the enemy and they is us." HP left a comment that basically sums it all up a few months ago. After I attacked his placement of Boise State fourth in his preseason top ten, he responded with more of the same sleight-of-mouth, ending up with an exhortation for me to "be BOLD."
No. Be smart. Smart... and humble.
Update 6/25: Linked to Rivals Guru Mike Farrell stating that he believes that Virginia and Michigan are neck and neck for PA QB Pat Devlin. Changed Cobrani Mixon's status to commited. Linked to Neil Caudle article where he names Auburn leader--no surprise there--and CSTV video package (~5 minutes) on Antwine Perez.
The most recent issue of ESPN the Magazine($) has a really interesting article by fellow blogger($) Bruce Feldman on Myron Rolle and the recruiting process that heavily reinforces mgoblog's recruiting philosophy. In one sentence, it's "don't be an idiot."
Unfortunately, there are many, many idiots out there. Like these people:
"...[Rolle] sees 200 new messages have filled his inbox in the past 120 minutes. "BOOMER Sooner!!" "Come 2 Da U!" "FIGHT ON MYRON!" This is the spam the top cornerback recruit in the country gets from fans hoping to show their love, or at least their passion."
Anyone else heave a sigh of relief when that passage ended without one of the emails being something like "M GO BLUE AND U TOO"? I can't fathom the minds of people that think a) this sort of thing is appropriate and b) that it could in any way help their school. But, then, there are a lot of things I can't fathom, like the popularity of Regis Philbin.
At least these people are probably fast-food workers. They have an excuse. Some people don't:
"A writer for Oklahoma's site tried to coax a quote from Myron about the academic parity between OU and Michigan. "He kept saying, 'there's no difference academically, right?'" Myron says. "I was like, 'What do you want me to say, it doesn't matter? Okay, it doesn't matter.'"
That's awful! What terrible people! At least our writers are fine upstanding Michigan Men who are mentally balanced--
"When McKinley [Myron's brother], who fields most of Myron's interview requests, failed to return the call of a guy from Rivals' Michigan site, he received an email that read as if it was written by an ex: "I just feel hurt. I thought we were friends. I feel like this was a slap in the face to me.""
GODDAMMIT. This is messed up, man. The article had mgoblog doubting its admittedly rather thorough recruiting coverage even though I've never called or e-mailed a recruit asking him to be my Valentine and would never, ever say anything negative about a recruit who wasn't Willie Williams.
Oh, and don't think you guys got off easy, either:
"The give-and-take of the message boards can get particularly personal.... Myron and his family read it all and admit that they are sometimes tempted to take the bait. Earlier this spring, a picture of Myron posing with two girls at a youth conference popped up online. In the photo Myron was wearing a Michigan T-shirt. It prompted one fan from an opposing school to post, "I wouldn't want a kid who hung out with girls like that on my team anyway."
Coaches hate reading that kind of stuff even more than the Rolles do. "Our fans are really negative," says one recruiting coordinator. "If they don't think we're going to get a kid it can get personal. We have to do a lot of defusing." Most schools have someone in the football office monitor what's said online by disgruntled fans."
That's 100% true and desperately sad. mgoblog thinks these people should be publicly flogged. Failing that, please, please, please flame the hell out of anyone who posts something derogatory about any recruit.
Ugh. Whole thing made me feel dirty, and I really, really hope that the accusation leveled at the Michigan Rivals site was either overblown, misconstrued, or mis-identified (as happens sometimes), because I was under the impression that those guys were at least passably sane. If they'd like to respond to it I will post it... and feel much better about the situation, even if the response is something like "our bad." The primary reason I subscribe to Rivals and not Scout is that it's my impression that the Rivals guys are significantly less likely to do all the nasty creepy things detailed above. I would like to be reassured on that point.
In other news from Bruce Feldman's article: said article contains a quote that confirms every nasty rumor you ever heard about Tom Lemming and more. I was going to write about it but IBFC beat me to it with an excellent post and said everything I was going to. Do not give Lemming money. If you see him, steal his pants and run away.
While you're on an anti-Lemming kick, listen to the Booker-Lemming blowup in a new light, why dontcha?
(One final kudos to Feldman. That was a spicy meatball of a story. Too bad he didn't respond to my BlogPoll invitation. He probably never got it; the web-editor demons probably ate it.)
"Dickerson's commitment could have an immediate domino effect on the remainder of Pitt's WPIAL recruiting efforts. Two Baldwin players -- defensive linemen Jason Pinkston (6-5, 275) and Justin Hargrove (6-4, 245) -- will announce their college decisions Monday at South Hills Country Club. The club is hosting Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt's second annual golf outing. Both are expected to choose the Panthers."
Pistons in a bit.
Sorry about the mess. For some reason the end of the first post is coming only after my sidebar shudders to a halt. I have no idea why this is happening, as I made no changes to my template. Lo siento. For now, scroll down. A lot.
Also, any suggestions from the web-wise would kick ass.
I am off to watch THE GAME now. I do not promise anything later tonight; strong possibility I will humorously wander into a pole and be in no condition to write.