March 31, 2008

Yeah but they suck at free throws

I've been away for a few days, but I still wanted to get in a couple sentences on Michigan State's humiliating exit this past weekend.


Spartans 74-92 Memphis

And here I was, all prepared to jump onto the State Bandwagon yet again as this team was headed for the 5th Final Four in the Tom Izzo era. And then after only 20 minutes, all of that was gone. Wow. What a beat down. The score doesn't even come close to doing justice of just how awful the Spartans looked for the majority of this game. Had I been told beforehand that State was going to put up 54 in the 2nd half, I would've liked our chances (I know the whole "if you told me ___ then ___" thing is a ridiculous way of analyzing things, but come on now: 50 to 20 at halftime? Seriously?) Not only was it a 30 point lead at the half, but I nearly turned into my father and just turned off the game and went to bed. He's done this something like 2,000 times in his life....I'm convinced that he's never actually witnessed one of his teams lose a game live. He's the type of a guy that turns a baseball game off after the 8th inning because the losing team is down a run and therefor has 0% chance of winning. I've tried explaining the rules of sports to him, and that sometimes there are like dramatic things that happen in certain scenarios that he would typically refrain from watching, but to no avail. For all I know he might be living under the assumption that the Patriots are the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Anyway, I tried my damnedest to soldier on and watch the rest of the game, because, you know, I didn't want to be the only dickhead on this campus that missed the greatest comeback in college basketball history, but that obviously didn't happen. Memphis looked insanely good in the first 20 minutes....some of the best basketball I remember seeing on the college level against relatively equal competition. The difference in the athleticism was staggering, and it was also laughable when MSU was trying to respond to one of Memphis' scoring possessions with a pathetic 14-foot brick from Suton or Naymick. It looked all the more embarrassing when put up against what appeared to be this generation's version of the MonStars. Yes, that's right, a fucking Space Jam reference. THAT'S how much college hoops I watch.

Also, I feel like I'm the only MSU fan/student/apologist who isn't madly in love with Drew Neitzel. He's a leader and he's tough and as every single announcer was seemingly required to say during every State telecast this year, he's a "gym rat." But other than that, I don't know. After watching him for 4 years, I see him as a streaky shooter who can gets open shots when coming off screens, and that's about it. He can't make space for himself off the dribble and he doesn't attack the basket terribly well, and on top of everything he lacks size. For the first few years he got by on the shooting alone, but this year he was clearly the subject of every opposition's defensive game plan. And because of the year he just had, he went from possible 2nd round pick in the NBA draft to having close to no shot at getting drafted at all.

Things looked a little better in the 2nd half for MSU, and they made the score look more respectable, which is probably all that Izzo was pleading from his lifeless team at halftime so that he isn't exposed as just an above average basketball coach.

March 26, 2008

Cancel the Tigers' season

- Because SI just fucked us.

- I'm looking forward to this playoff season -- both NHL and NBA -- more so than any other year I can recall. As I've mentioned before, or maybe I'm crazy and was just thinking it to myself, this has been my favorite Pistons team. Everybody is likable in some way. Even Flip.....if nothing else, it's fun to consistently talk about how ugly the guy is. And regardless of how this season ends, whether it's another shit-storm against Cleveland, an apocalyptic slugfest against Boston, or maybe even a 4th NBA championship, we're all going to feel a little spent once July rolls around.

As for the Wings, I'm not so worried about the first round like in recent years. But of course, I still feel the need to try and make myself feel better by conjuring up these random thoughts -- since, you know, the NHL Playoffs are a fucking crap shoot: They play defense far too well to get upset by one of these feisty 8-seeds (God I hope it's Nashville....the irony of this being that, thanks to the way the NHL has scheduled things, the Wings have played the Preds like 30 some-odd times since the beginning of March), not to mention that, regardless of who they play, I literally cannot imagine any scenario in which the Wings are not in the 2nd round. My least favorite matchup would be against Luongo and the Canucks, but even then, I don't see how Lidstrom and Zetterberg and Datsyuk would possibly allow them to lose. On top of everything, as they proved last year, they have just enough grit to avoid getting pushed back to their heels and forced into an early exit like in '06, '03, etc.

The only other teams that worry me are the two obvious ones, San Jose and Anaheim, but what are the odds of having to face both of those teams for a 2nd straight year? If the current standings hold, we'll only have to go through the California gauntlet if all of the top 4 seeds advance -- which, in the NHL, is about as likely as an asteroid hitting the Earth -- and then the top two winning out to meet in the Conference Finals. I like the idea of a Dallas (6)/Minnesota (3) matchup in round one, that might lead to a Wings/Stars matchup in round two.

In any event, I can't wait for the playoffs to start. Playoff hockey is both the most exciting event of the year and the most stressful. Last year provided a wild ride of ranging emotions........there was a sense of incredible relief when Franzen beat the Flames in OT; there was a dramatic 180-degree turn from depression to glee during Game 4 of the Sharks series; I don't even want to get into the whole Anaheim thing......and all of this while the Pistons were headed for a 6-game conference finals exit of their own. Quite honestly, I'm not grown up enough to handle both of these events at the same time.

So for the mean time, I found a couple of clips to tide me over:

- Steve Yzerman's double OT winner against the Blues in 1996. I found this on a sidebar on freep.com......I didn't even investigate why they were linking this, I just clicked and watched. This is probably my favorite game of all time, any sport. That's probably a little weird considering it was only the 2nd round, and they lost in the next round to the Avalanche which prevented what everybody thought was surely going to be the first Red Wings' cup in four decades. But,

A) it was a Game 7
B) it was Yzerman, and
C) it was the game that got me absolutely hooked for life on hockey and the Wings. I can't watch this clip enough.

- Slava Kozlov's double OT winner against the Blackhawks in 1995. When this game was played, I was staying the week at a friend's house while my parents were in Hawaii (thanks, assholes). This was right around my formative years as a hockey fan. We had been watching every game of the series up until this point, and we saw most of regulation of this one -- but because we were fucking stupid little kids, we both fell asleep before seeing the end. Needless to say, we were mad at ourselves for missing this epic moment.

But the strange thing is, I have never seen a single fucking highlight of this goal......ever. I have no idea why. I've been watching Red Wings games ever since; I've watched pre-game/post-game shows; I've watched that Goddamn Red Wings Weekly on numerous occasions; basically, I've been a fucking Wings fan for a long ass time now.... and, somehow, I've never ONCE seen this clip. Isn't that a little bizarre? It was an Overtime goal that sent the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Finals.....it just seems like I would've seen it at least one time by now. Even though, it turned out to not be as epic as it could've been since they lost to the Devils in the Finals, I still made attempts via Internet to search for this goal on a few occasions, and it wasn't until today that I just happened to come across it. Anyway, I was happy I found it.


Detroit Shock 82-89 Toronto Raptors

That may be a little harsh. I mean, the Shock could probably get at least 90 against the Raptors'
defense, so that's sort of an insult to them. They could probably move the ball better at least.

- I don't quite know how to react to this. In the end, the Pistons are locked up in that 2 seed anyway, they were without Rip (his mid-range shots were really missed during those prolonged scoring droughts), and they're in the middle of a 3 games-in-4 nights stretch with the Cavs coming up this weekend. But I also wish that I had those 2 1/2 hours of my life back.

- I was really impressed once again with Rodney Stuckey. Not so much what he did early on, but in the 4th quarter he looked terrific....not just with the ball but on defense as well. Both he and Aaron Afflalo have looked really solid, minus the usual rookie blunders, but those are obviously expected.

- Amir Johnson was a defensive force in the 4th quarter. He finished with 7 boards and 2 blocks in 19 minutes.

- 51 points through 3 quarters. I don't even have a coherent remark for this.

- The Chauncey Billups that we saw against the Suns was not to be found against Toronto. You know how something can be so stupid or frustrating that you just laugh? I did that on the play near the end where he drove the lane and tried to theatrically draw the foul instead of looking for a shot. At times it looks like he's participating in a high school production of Hamlet instead of playing basketball.

- The Pistons are hit-or-miss to recover and beat the Heat tonight............they've either played themselves into a weirdo slump or they're embarrassed about last night and are primed to win by 30. I won't be surprised either way.

March 24, 2008

Pistons 110-105 Suns (OT)

My bracket looks like shit.

I gave half a thought to putting it on here just for the hell of it, but then I changed my mind once I realized how pointless that is. I can now say that I made the wise decision, or at least the less embarrassing one. For a year in which I picked a 13 over a 4 (Sienna), and had both Davidson and Kentucky making the Sweet 16, I'm still doing deplorable. My lifelong dream of correctly picking the entire Final Four went down in flames in the first round as Clemson sucked a dick against Villanova, who barely made the tournament. I haven't even come close since I picked 3 out of 4 in 2002, including the champion Maryland. I've still got Stanford and UCLA (just barely), and North Carolina. Although I pretty much just hope UNC wins so that we can see my favorite victory dance of all time once again. Hansbrough's celebration is awe-inspiring, emotionally moving, astoundingly humiliating, mentally debilitating, and personally insulting all at once. It's already a timeless American treasure.


Pistons 110-105 Suns (OT)

Due to the Jesus festivities on Sunday, I (thankfully) missed the Pistons bang-up job against the Wiz. Not real sure how we could lose to that team by 12.....I'm sure Gibert Arenas had like 60 points or something. Oh wait -- he's been injured for months? Hmph.

Anywho, I don't want to get Stuck on the negativity (yay puns!). Tonight provided a clear example of what it takes to get this Pistons team to play at their highest level: supreme competition. I didn't see tonight's game until the start of the 4th quarter, but fortunately I caught the rest of what turned out to be an excellent game.

- The Pistons really got away with a bad no-call with about two minutes to go in regulation, when Shaq was hacked on the forearms under the basket, which led to Shaq turning into a rogue elephant and caused the ref to piss his pants. I would've felt a little guilty had we gone on to win, but they got one back on Steve Nash's ridiculous "I'm obviously passing but that would be so awesome if you would somehow interpret this as being 'in the act of shooting'" foul. Although, there was a questionable blocking foul called on Nash when Chauncey knocked him over.........but you know what -- fuck it. This is all moot because the refs tag-teamed with the Cavs during last year's playoffs in that ridiculous handicap match of a conference final. Yeah, call me bitter.

- How close was this game? 60 lead changes.

- I loved when Sheed hit the fade away against Stoudemire and was yelling "you can't stop me" back up court. But I was confused as to why he seemed to be signaling with his hand that Amare has a tiny penis.

- The Question of The Night thing on the broadcast was "who is the best point guard in the Western Conference?" It was a close race between Nash and Chris Paul. I bring this up only because everybody should know by now that the only correct answer to this question is Chris Paul, with Nash on the downslide and Paul on his way to being crazyinsane good, and a Top 10 All-Time point guard.

- Stuckey looked like he was having his best pro game to date. 13 points in 30 minutes and played some solid D; had a couple of boards and steals, even a block. I wish that Tayshaun would've pulled the trigger on his original look on the last possession of the 4th quarter, where he got a nice setup from Rodney.....I thought it was encouraging to see him have the composure to pump-fake Grant Hill, then take a few steps toward the basket to hold Steve Nash there long enough to give Prince the open chance (all of this with time running out). Sure, I'm probably looking too much into a situation that amounted to completely nothing, but I like his flashes of veteran court vision nonetheless.

- Chauncey was superb, minus the outside shooting. He played exactly how you should play when going against the Suns -- ram it down their throat. He kept getting to the line (15 for 16 FT) and gave himself opportunities for easy layups.

- According to the folks broadcasting the game, the play of the game was Sheed's amazing block against Stoudemire in the final seconds. That was huge, no doubt, but I thought Sheed's 3-pointer with about 2 minutes to go in the 4th when the Pistons were down by 5 was the most important play of the game. If that shot doesn't go down, Detroit goes into their fall-back/panic plan of jacking up rushed, unnecessary 3's and we end up losing by like 10 points.

March 21, 2008

Red Wings 6-3 Nashville

*****************************************

As I mentioned a few days ago, I suffered the traumatizing experience of writing something as trivial as a post for a sports blog only to have it erased because of a little glitch in my internet connection (thanks Comcast!!!). So for me, writing today is all about gettin' back up on that horse. In the aftermath of this travesty, I apparently tried to hastily write some kind of fucked up word scramble to make up for it, but even with that, I still want to comment on a few things from the last two Pistons games + the Wings/BJ's game before getting into last night's contest vs. the Predators:

- It obviously wasn't the best game of the season, but the game against the Nuggets was maybe the most entertaining one.

- Jarvis Hayes has turned a corner over the last couple of games. We finally have a solid player to play behind Tayshaun, and according to Chauncey, he's the best shooter on the team.

- The shot that Rip had in the first half where he was left WIIIIIIIDDDE open was a hilarious, stupendous, and even transcendent chapter in the great big book of shamelessly bad defense in the game of basketball. If you saw the game, you know which one I'm talking about: Rip caught a pass in the corner, was wide the fuck open, and not a single Nugget gave 2/7ths of a shit to even look at him let alone challenge the shot. He literally caught the pass, looked down at his feet, stepped behind the 3-point line, thought about shooting, double checked to make sure it was still a 3, and then sank the shot. This wasn't a very important moment in the game, but I'd feel remiss if I didn't put my stamp on this play as being the single worst defensive effort that I've ever seen.. I think Magic Johnson saw tougher defense in the 1992 All Star Game (where everybody was playing 5 feet off of him in fear that they would somehow contract HIV.)

- I'll sum up the Cavs game quickly: the lack of effort in the second half, in a late-season rivalry game, was embarrassing. There are games like the ones against the Hornets and Nuggets where you think that watching a well-executed basketball game is the greatest thing in the world, and then you watch a crap bomb like the Cavs game and wonder why you even waste your time. That's sports, I guess.

- Wings/Columbus: For two and a half periods, this game resembled the type of lackluster play that the Pistons showed in the 2nd half of their game. Then Henrik Zetterberg put on the best 10 minute performance of the season. I'm probably overlooking a few goals, but his first one where he split two defenders and beat the goalie with the backhand was likely the best Wings goal of the season. Then, on the next shift, it was like everybody just snapped into it.....the line was Zetterberg/Datsyuk/and I think Franzen (it was a couple days ago, forgive me) and they were playing with the quickness and alertness that you'd wish they could play with on every single shift -- which is easy for my lazy ass to write from my couch, but still. That shift, even though it didn't result in a goal, was one of the best of the year. I don't think that the Wings take it easy and coast to the same extent as the Pistons do sometimes, but when they really turn it on, it's such a huge jump from whatever gear they were playing at before.


Red Wings 6-3 Predators

I don't like the Preds. Stupid fans, ugly jerseys, annoying players, and the fact that NHL hockey is being played in Tennessee instead of somewhere in Canada are all prominent factors. But really it's the ugly jerseys.

- Hasek was dominant for the first time in a long time. The first couple of goals were fluky, and the 3rd one was on a total screen, but other than that he was in Vintage mode. He doesn't give himself too much help in the positioning department like Osgood does, but when he's locked in he can make up for it with his reflexes and anticipation. He made a few yesterday that took me back to "pre-lockout" Dom. Hopefully this holds up.

- The Nashville players can be rather dick-ish, but these traits tend to come out when you realize you can't match another team's talent. It's fine to get under the skin of your opponent, that's just hockey. But when Henrik Zetterberg harmlessly skates past the your goalie and you start a sequence of events that leads to one of your players punching him in the face, this resembles something close to retardation.

- Franzen has really taken off. 13 points in the last 9 games, increased ice time, and looks to be gaining a ton of confidence. And the timing of it has been the best part, stepping up with Holmstrom and Cleary out. He's playing so well when he gets on the ice with Datsyuk and Zetterberg that it's going to be interesting to see the lines once everyone is healthy; like whether the Datsyuk/Zetterberg/Holmstrom line will still be left together.

- I really like Derek Meech, and I hope they keep experimenting with him at forward. It was great how he was constantly looking for a body to hit every time he entered the offensive zone. I wouldn't mind seeing him take the ice time of, say, Samuelsson or Hudler, but we all know that's probably not gonna happen.

- Even though it would be making way to big of a deal out of something that's not the end of the world, I'll still lose my mind if we lose to the BJ's tomorrow. After losing to them in Columbus and then nearly blowing one to them at home, I'd like to see us completely blow the doors of them for once.

The gayest thing I've heard in years:

*****************************************

From CBS's Tim Brando during the waning moments of San Diego's upset of UConn today...





"This ain't CARMEN San Diego!!"




*************************************

March 20, 2008

Not real happy right now

*****************************************

Uh, so I kinda just got fucked over by blogger and/or my internet, and my like 1000-something word post about the last two Pistons games and the Wings/BJ's game just got erased and I'm not too thrilled about it. I don't know why I'm telling you this instead of just leaving it blank. I guess this feels better than just posting nothing and going to bed. Like maybe .005 % better. Wow am I annoyed.

So basically to sum up what I had written in as few words as possible....

Pistons, Nuggets, entertaining, Jarvis Hayes, bad defense, Rip, Barry Sanders, Henrik Zetterberg, hattrick, jubilation, LeBron, Flip Saunders.....

alright, whatever. Fuck.

March 16, 2008

Nashville 3-1 Red Wings

Yesterday was my first in-person Wings game at the Joe. My first JLA trip was documented here, in case you were reading something relevant that day. Here are some random notes:

- The atmosphere is a wee bit different when you're sitting by senior citizens. After the lone Wings goal, only like half the people around us stood up to cheer, I couldn't believe it. I was nearly compelled to grab one of the old men sitting next to me with a double fisted collar-clinch and scream "WHY DO THEY LET YOU PEOPLE IN!!!" until he died in my arms.

- I don't know how it looked on TV, but my god, Samuellson looked atrocious.

- It was funny how there was a collective groan in the crowd every time Filppula carried the puck into the Nashville zone. There was an amusing amount of people yelling "SHOOOOOT!!!!" and "PAAASS!!!" and "COME ON!!!!" and "I HATE YOU!!!!" (That last one belonged to me.)

- From what I saw, the Darren McCarty jersey was the most popular amongst the fans. And the "What The Fuck" Memorabilia Award went to a dude I saw wearing a Dino Ciccarelli Minnesota North Stars jersey -- that's the most random one I've seen in a long time. Final ranking:

1) Darren McCarty
2) Steve Yzerman
3) Zetterberg
4) Datsyuk
5) Brendan Shanahan

I have no idea what the use for this information is.

- After watching the quality of play yesterday, I'm beginning to think that the Red Wings and the Pistons are competing with one another to see who can play down to weaker opponents more shamelessly. While the Pistons put up a shit-fest against the 76ers this past week (and then just beat the Hornets by 20????), the Wings looked out of it from the start. They looked slow getting out of their own zone, simple passes were bouncing off sticks one after the other, and there was little if any traffic in front of the Nashville net. Aside from the Kronwall goal and some chances on the 4 minute power play, there wasn't too much to get excited about.

- I got my picture taken in front of a case full of historical Wings memorabilia. My favorite random item? Mike Vernon's helmet that he wore during the 1995 Finals.

March 13, 2008

2008 Tigers Season Preview

********************************

Alright, finally. Baseball. I know it's still 3 weeks away, but I just couldn't hold off any longer from doing this epically mammoth Detroit Tigers season preview.

Just as a disclaimer, I'm not going to be like this year's typical Tigers fan and proclaim that we're gonna win 119 games, rack up 1200 runs, and win the AL Central so convincingly that the rest of the division will be forced to disband and start a Canadian-based competitive kite flying league in the most baron regions of the Yukon Territory. Two reasons for this: First, while I'm not a heavy believer in luck and karma and the like, I try to refrain from assuming the best when it comes to sports. Numerous first round exits by the Red Wings and pretty much every single Lions draft in my lifetime have brainwashed me into having this mindset. After the Cabrera/Willis deal, I was talking with a friend he asked me if I was excited for the Detroit Tigers World Series championship parade next Fall. I humored him of course and chuckled it off, but inside I was still thinking about how old Kenny Rogers is, the fact that Todd Jones is still alive, Joel Zumaya's latest obscure injury, and every other pitfall that I fear will mar the upcoming season. Now don't get me wrong, I was fucking ecstatic about The Trade.....hell that night was so exciting that I remember it more clearly than the shit I just did 3 hours ago. In the big picture, the most important thing is that baseball is relevant here in Michigan and we have something to talk about other than what day the Tigers will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. But that doesn't mean I'm going to go crazy about World Series talk just yet -- there's still a few question marks out there.

But enough of the downer shit. We have Miguel Cabrera! Without further ado....



Position Players:


Catcher -- Ivan Rodriguez

When I was growing up Pudge was without a doubt my favorite player. Being a catcher myself in little league, I tried to model my defensive game after his unquestioned awesomeness. I took pride in throwing out every pompous ass who thought he could steal a base on me. I'd frame pitches that were an inch and a half off the plate. I tried to pick off runners on 1st when they led off too far, sometimes from one knee. And in practice I'd try to throw the ball down to 3rd after a strikeout as hard as could, just to be a dick.

Pudge can still do all of those things, but unfortunately, he's become a fucking sideshow when he has a bat in his hands. Not quite "Craig Monroe" status, but a circus act nonetheless. There were stretches during the 2007 season where Pudge would go weeks without a walk. He finished the season (the entire season, people) with just nine of them. Nine, for fuck's sake. I think Magglio had more walks than that during batting practice. His hacky-ness at the plate inspired me one night in August to poor through his gamelogs to see just how long it had been since he last felt the patience to take the ever elusive base on balls. And when you provoke me to look through game-by-game individual statistics myself, you've really started to suck.

For whatever reason (cough-STEROIDS-cough), Pudge's offense has declined drastically during the last three seasons. Of course catchers are supposed to regress with age at a greater rate than most, but starting in '05 he was teetering on a cliff, recovered slightly in '06, and then apparently said, "fuck it, I'm tired of hanging on to this bitch and I'm just gonna let go." It's amazing to think that just a year and a half ago, Pudge was batting 3rd for a World Series participant, and now he might be an opening day starter batting last in the lineup. So what's in store for this season? Well, when you add Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria and a healthy Gary Sheffield, opposing pitchers are going to give him his fair share of good pitches to hit. Well on second thought, why would they when he'll embarrass himself by swinging at a 2-0 slider in the dirt?


First Base -- Carlos Guillen

Out of everyone on the entire roster, Carlos worries me the least. I don't know what it is....I think it's the, "I just don't give a damn" facial expression that never changes. He looks the same in the dugout during a rain delay as he does at the plate in the bottom of the 9th. The only thing I worry about is the injury possibilities. It's unbelievable that he's played in 304 games the last two seasons given his rickety knees and everything else, but what are the odds that he plays 140-150 games again this year? If he doesn't spontaneously combust or anything, I think he'll have a slight drop in his power numbers but, for the most part, he'll be the same old Carlos.


Second Base -- Placido Polanco

Alright, I take it back -- Polanco worries me the least. The only thing that concerns me is if he can make it through the entire season without his head exploding. Honestly, it keeps me up at night. But other than that -- he had career highs in like 10 different categories, he plays stellar defense, and he never does anything that makes you want to pull out your hair. If he makes it through another catastrophe-less season, you know what he's gonna do: He'll move the runner, come up with timely hits, and continue to grind his teeth to oblivion.


Third Base -- Miguel Cabrera

I'm a bit of a stat nut, and my favorite baseball site is baseball-referense.com. On the day that I discovered it, I spent roughly 15 hours with my eyes glued to my computer looking up stuff like previous years' MVP voting, Pythagorean Win/Loss records, OPS+'s and any/everything else that would expand my baseball vernacular (speaking of which, if any of the jargon is unfamiliar to you and you aren't a tool that hates stats, I would suggest reading up on this stuff. It's fun and interesting, and it will improve your sex life. Except that last thing.) And on this site, on the player page of one Jose Miguel Torres Cabrera, it lists what player's stats are the most similar to Cabrera's over the first four full years of his career. Who is that player, you ask? Well, running it down by year/age:

2004 (age 21): Hank Aaron
2005 (22): Hank Aaron
2006: Hank Aaron
2007: Hank Aaron

So batting 5th for the Detroit Tigers this year is a slightly heavier, Venezuelan Henry fucking Aaron. I think he'll start slow the first couple of weeks and then take off....I really don't put much stock in that bullshit about how switching leagues has a dramatic affect on a hitter. I mean, if he was used to seeing pitchers throw with their assholes, that would be different. After all, Vlad Guerrero didn't seem to have that much of a problem adjusting leagues in 2004.


Short Stop -- Edgar Renteria

I'm cool with Renteria. I wasn't one of the people bitching about his defensive abilities after the trade (even though Carlos was moved to first because of his decreasing range, but whatever.) I also don't subscribe to the ludicrous Red Sox Nation thinking of how big a douche bag Renteria was when he was with the team in 2008 -- his only other season in the AL -- when he had similar if not better overall numbers than their previous short stop, Orlando Cabrera (no for real, ask one of those fuckers what they think about Renteria. You'll need like 3 days to hear the whole thing.) There's no way he'll approach the .332/.390/.470 and career high OPS of last year, but even if he comes within shouting distance of those stats, it will be a nice compliment to the lineup and nobody will complain.


Left Field -- Jacque Jones/Marcus Thames

Statistically, Jones was pretty much a left-handed Pudge last year with a bit more patience at the plate, putting up a career low .400 SLG. It was his worst season since 1999 (although that's kind of like picking the worst season of "The Wayans Brothers"). If he can improve even a tiny bit from that embarrassment, and still remain decent in the field, that would be dope. A stacked lineup with a so-so Jacque Jones at the end isn't too shabby. As for Thames, well.....lucky for him he can hit lefties (.927 OPS). Together, these two make up an entity that is not Craig Monroe, which is the most important thing of all.


Center Field -- Curtis Granderson

The "Granderson or Sizemore" debate is sure to play on for the next several years. Maybe I'm just a tad biased, but I'll take Curtis. They've got nearly identical HR/RBI numbers, but Curtis' slugged nearly 100 points higher last year because of all those extra base hits. Sizemore has better plate discipline, but I think Curtis will improve and we'll see an increase in walks. They're pretty much a wash defensively, both are really good (Curtis had three of those "Why the Fuck Don't I Have Tivo Yet" catches last year -- a diving grab against the Red Sox where his feet came flying over his back; that ridiculous homerun-saving, over-the-wall snag that was replayed 700 times on FSN commercials; and that jaw-dropping diving catch against the Indians in left-center field that made me shit my pants.) The only thing is Curtis' ineptitude against lefties, but I don't see how a guy with his work ethic won't improve in that department too.

Computer nerds are saying that he's going to come down from his stratospheric 20/20/20/20 season, but I'm going to go out on a limb and make a bold, official TD Prediction and say that he's going to do it again.


Right Field -- Magglio Ordonez

In my old blog I essentially made myself out to be a raging homosexual in my praise for Magglio. I'm not gonna lie -- it was downright gay.......just flat out indefensible for an allegedly straight man with a girlfriend of 3+ years. So I'm going to try and stay away from my talking about his luscious, curly black locks and stick to the baseball stuff.

Before I start, I want to tell Jose Canseco to fuck off. I'm sure he's self involved to the point where he Googles his own name enough times to stumble across this blog at least once during one of those sleepless nights when he's going through old team photos, trying to find who he can fuck over next. He can eat shit. And die. Magglio didn't take 'roids, and I know this because I asked him about it personally. After the rumors started, I broke into a cold sweat thinking about what life would be like if I found out my favorite player was a cheating dick. So to get to the bottom of things, I stayed up one night writing a letter to Maggs himself, stating:

"Hey Magglio, my name is Tyler. You don't know me but I'm like you're biggest fan. I'd totally turn for you. Even when you went through all those injuries when you first got to Detroit and people were like, 'Fuck that fag!" I stood up for you and said, 'hey guys, don't worry....I guarantee that he'll hit an ALCS-winning homerun in 2006, and then he'll probably hit like .363 or something in 2007. He's the man.' Yeah, I said those things for real. Did I mention I'm from Venezuela too? Anywayz, I heard those nasty rumors that Dickface Cansecofuck started about you and I just know they can't be real. So, just to confirm to me that those accusations are erroneous, I want you to NOT respond to this letter. Repeat: DO NOT RESPOND if you didn't do it. Just ignore it. Only if you actually did it, then in that case I want like a reason why or something. And 500 dollars. But I know you didn't do it because you're the best! So I guess I WON'T here from you soon, huh? Have a great season!

--BFF, Tyler"

So yeah, you can see how that pretty much proves it. Not only is he clean, he's going to have another monster year with Cabrera batting behind him. 32 HRs, 123 RBI, .330 AVG and OPS+ of 151, just to make an off-the-cuff prediction for no reason. All guaranteed or your money back.


Designated Hitter -- Gary Sheffield

I have absolutely no clue what to expect from Sheff this season. All I keep thinking about is how old he is. I'm pretty sure that this is going to be the year that his arms come flying off after one of his murderous hacks at a high fastball. He only played 39 games with the Yankees in 2006, then he played 133 with the Tigers last year but he wasn't as effective because of the bad shoulder. Not only that, he's getting more and more insane. I mean that thing with Scott Boras was just fucking bizarre. We could find out tomorrow that Sheff has been eating kittens his whole life and I wouldn't bat an eyelash.

The big debate for the batting order is whether it's him or Cabrera batting third, the other to bat 5th. Leyland has said it's Sheff batting 3rd, and as long as he keeps up the walks and the craftiness on the basebaths, I think he should stay there. I just hope he can play at least 140 games.
_________________________

Starting Pitchers:


Justin Verlander

This will be The Year for Justin, similar to C.C. Sabathia's leap last season. The only thing he needs to do I think is get a little meaner. He seems like too nice of a guy right now for somebody who throws 100 mph and has a wicked breaking ball. If he adds just a tiny bit of snarl to his upper lip, that's like an extra 5 wins right there. He also needs to make an example out of someone....I think he should bean A.J. Pierzynski in the head, like, with the intent to kill. I really do. The collective fear of the AL hitters would generate at least 2 more wins. And then finally, when Pudge makes hist first trip to the mound to talk strategy, he should kick him straight in the dick. Then he should probably spit on him. This will let the entire league know that nobody fucks with Justin, not even his own catcher. If he can do all of these things, he'll finish with 35 wins, 500 Ks, and at least 4 more no-hitters.


Jeremy Bonderman

In my gut, I fear that Jeremy is never ever going to turn that final corner and be an elite pitcher. In my head, I see a guy with a devastating slider, a good fastball, and numerous articles about how he's going to eventually develop a changeup. I also try to reassure myself by looking at his improvement over the last few years up until he got injured last season, and it makes me feel a little better (for some reason, in all of the stuff I've read, a lot of people forget to mention that Bonderman was pitching injured during the final part of the season -- as if he just naturally is starting to suck without any significant reason). So, my head predicts a season closer to the good signs we saw in '06 and not the shit-stain from last year....as long as he grows out the hair again. He was doing fine until he went back to the baby whale look.


Kenny Rogers

He's old as fuck.


Dontrelle Willis

I hope that by the end of this year I'll be referring to The Trade as the "Cabrera/Willis trade" and not just the "Cabrera trade." That's like a best case scenario. Right now everybody is excited for the limitless potential of Miguel Cabrera, and hoping that Dontrelle can at least be average so he doesn't fuck anything up. But I just can't see how his numbers are going to stay as bad as they were last year compared to just three years ago, when he was 2nd in CY Young voting:

WHIP: 1.60 (1.13 in 2005)
ERA+: 83 (151)
HR allowed: 29 (11)
Wins: 10 (22)
Complete games: 0 (7. And 5 of those were shutouts)

Now, we can look at this two ways: 1) for a 26 year old guy, he seems kind of old. With that herky-jerky motion and the number of innings he's logged, it's like he has the wear and tear of a 29/30 year old. And he underperformed in a pitcher-friendly park in the more pitcher-friendly of the two leagues, so we can prepare ourselves for the sad decline of Dontrelle in Detroit and not be totally surprised. 2) We can be optimistic, look at how he performed before 2006 and hold out all hope that he can come close to what he once was. I mean, it would be pretty hard for a guy to top out at the age of 23 without suffering from a major injury or prolonged jail sentence, right?


Nate Robertson

He was pretty unfortunate last year. Seemed like every other start he was getting fucked over by his lack of run support, so his 9-13 record is a little deceptive. In fact, you could argue that he was the second best pitcher on the entire staff, which is kind of depressing, but you could make the argument still. He's a solid guy to have at the 4th or 5th spot in the rotation, and it's always good to have a lefty starter who can eat up a lot of innings. It's going to be crucial that he stays healthy this year, and if he can crack 200 IP like '06 it's going to relieve the pressure that will be wearing on the relievers...
_________________________

The Bullpen:

Here's where things get a little hairy --

Todd Jones. There will be plenty of opportunities this year for me to drone on and on about Todd Jones, and we all know what those reasons are, so I'm not going to do that right now. The only talk about Todd Jones this year will be late night rants after he blows a 4 run 9th inning lead after Nate Robertson goes 8 solid innings and they cut to him in the dugout after the blown save and he's trying to make that face like, "OK.....just shake it off...it happens," but inside he's really thinking about the cleanest and quietest way to murder Jones without getting caught...............see what I mean? I can't even say his fucking name without a ridiculous run-on sentence after I said I wouldn't talk about him. Why is he still on the team again?

Injuries to the 'pen, I fear, will ultimately doom this team. I'm not predicting it, but I'm definitely concerned about it. The whole season is going to ride on Fernando Rodney staying healthy (and he's already putting that in doubt before the year starts), and the starters going deep into games to mask the lack of reliever depth. That's it. The hitting will take care of itself, nobody's worried about that.
__________________________

Final Thoughts:

The AL Central is going to be pretty top heavy. The Indians and Tigers will be close at the whole year, the Twins have taken a big step back, the White Sox are weird, and could be anywhere from what they usually are to being surprisingly mediocre. As much as I've expressed concern over the Tigers chances, the Indians are coming off a great year that will be hard to repeat: They got two amazing years out of their best two starters....Sabathia will probably stay in top form but Carmona hopefully will regress a bit, and then the rest of their rotation is questionable. Their bullpen is one of the best, but they basically have their own version of Todd Jones in Joe Borowski. Travis Hafner is coming off of a shitty season, and he hasn't looked the same since getting injured a couple of years ago -- he's the whole key to their lineup and they'll struggle to score runs if he can't get it going (they're also weak in the corner outfield spots). And then on top of all that, it's hard to get to the 7th game of an LCS and then turn around the next year and repeat that kind of success with basically the same players. I don't see it happening.

AL Central Standings:
----------------------
1) Tigers
2) Indians
3) Royals
4) White Sox
5) Twins

March 10, 2008

The Detroit Bay Lioneers

*****************************************

The Lions signed D-lineman Chuck Darby in an effort to replace Shawn Rogers. Now, of all the "analysis" that The Triple Deke provides (given my lack of credentials/intelligence, I'm not allowed to say "analysis" without quotes otherwise they'll make me delete this blog), you will find that I'll spend the least of my time talking about football. My interest in it has waned slightly compared to how maniacally obsessed with it I was during my youth. But I would still describe myself as a blindly faithful Lions fan, which is a concept that I've contemplated at least once an hour every day for the last 7 years. And as a fan, I must question why we continue to sign players who are teetering on the edge of being washed up. I question why we keep signing ex-Buccaneers. I question why we currently have 7 safeties on the roster. I question why it has taken so long to assemble even a JV-level type of offensive line. I question why they added black to the team colors -- a fad that has plagued countless professional teams during the last 10 or so years.

I question many other things too, but I'd like to eat sometime today so I'm going to stop. I'm not even going to start with the whole Millen saga, because there's nothing that I could add that hasn't already been screamed from the rooftop of every other Lions fan in Michigan. It would be a bid redundant, you see. I've become somewhat resigned to the fact that the Lions are never going to be any good, and that they're never going to win a Super Bowl in my lifetime. But for Christ's sake, I'd like to have something to be happy about just one fucking time -- even if it's during the offseason, I don't care. The moves that Millen has made have perplexed me to the point of mental retardation. With the exception of getting rid of Rogers, the Lions have yet to do a damn thing to make themselves potentially better. (By the way, the Rogers thing is still in the process of blowing my mind -- I mean, what could Cleveland possibly be thinking? Do they know that Rogers couldn't go more than 2 consecutive plays without reaching the brink of death due to lack of oxygen? They have scouts for this type of stuff, right? Actually, what I bet happened was that the Browns front office saw that clip of Rogers' INT return for touchdown against the Broncos, stopped the tape on his highlight reel, then popped some champaign and let streamers and confetti fall from the ceiling while the Foo Fighters' "My Hero" blared over the PA system. This is absolutely the only scenario in which this deal took place.)

Before the season starts, I'll probably do some ridiculous position-by-position team preview that will be of no use to anybody, but for now I'm going to predict that:

1) this is coach Rod's last season, as the team will inevitably quit on him after he writes the words "pound the rock" on the locker room chalkboard for the 97th time instead of drawing up actual plays.
2) Jon Kitna will go from being a devout Christian to an atheist by Week 6 due to the inconceivable lack of pass protection.
3) Jeff Backus will cave under the public pressure and legally change his name to Jeff Sackus.
4) Roy Williams will at some point during the season make a 20 yard with the Lions losing by 4 touchdowns and still do that ludicrous "first down" signal.
5) With the Lions up by 5 with 2 minutes to go at Lambeau Field, Brett Favre will come out of the stands where he was wearing a fake mustache and cheese hat as a disguise, hit Aaron Rodgers over the head with a frying pan, switch clothes with him, and lead the Packers to a last-second victory just to keep me from witnessing the Lions win a road game against Green Bay.
6) The Lions go 0-12, failing to finish the season after a humiliating home loss to the Bears that will result in the fans collectively deciding to burn down Ford Field, thus, getting them kicked out of the league. Millen will be bound and gagged to one of the goal posts inside during the riot.

March 5, 2008

Bittersweet Wednesday

****************************************

I hate thinking up titles.



Pistons yeah-whatever Celtics

That's usually the part where I put the score of the game. But seeing as how I threw a hissy-fit like a two year old during the final minutes and turned it off, I don't really know what the final score was. This will be a quick rundown.

- Flip Saunders: What's funny about Celtics fans (aside from the fact that 85% of them died or retired from watching basketball after like 1993 and then didn't come back until roughly .05 seconds after the KG trade and pretended like they never fucking left..........OK you're right -- that pretty much sums the whole thing up. Never mind. I don't even remember what I was going to say.)

- Chauncey: Two totally different perspectives on the point guard play tonight. First, from Pistons fans, who saw Chauncey demanding a foul every time he made a move to the basket, and Rajon Rondo turning the ball over every other possession -- which drew a humorous "Human Turnover" dubbing from announcer Greg Kelser. And secondly, from Celtic fans, who somehow saw the exact same game and determined that tonight was Rondo's "coming out party". Wha...? I don't know. I think Chauncey played well until late when he lost his head a little bed, but in the grand scheme of things, I think that the mere thought of playing Rondo in a seven game series makes Chauncey's eyes well up with unimaginable glee. Seriously? "Coming out party?" I hate using those words -- really I swear I do -- but as I've read on a couple of Pistons message boards that were littered with drunken Celtic fans who had nothing better to do than find Pistons fan on the internet and shit talk like they just won the 2008 NBA title, there are people out there still saying such things.

- Rasheed: I just don't like when he has the ball late in a game. Maybe if he had even ONE low-post move that didn't result in a fade away I'd feel better, but as you might be able to tell where I'm going with this......................he doesn't!

- And in conclusion..........I'm REALLY trying not to be That Guy who flips out after one loss, because there's way too much of that bullshit out there. But when this team loses close games, it's almost always the same way: guys try to play that one-on-one nonsense and force awkward shot after awkward shot until the other team pulls away at the end. That horrible shot that Sheed took from just inside the top of the arch took at least 4 years off my life. I was in disbelief. The problem has always been than we've never had a guy that can consistently find space to get off his own shot except for Chauncey, but even with him he can only pull it off when he's on fire with his jumper. And if everyone is shooting cold, and nobody's moving around to open up a clear look at the basket.......yeah. You get it.


----------------------------------------------

Red Wings 4-1 Blues

Two game winning streak! If I had a TV show, this would be the part where we would cue the 60's footage of people in Detroit throwing papers and shit out of their office windows after the Tigers won the World Series. By the way, have I ever mentioned how much I hate the Blues? Couple points on this one:

- Rafalski's goal was amazing, and when they replayed it with the "X-Mo" thing, my mind was effectively blown. The puck whizzed by Manny Legacy's ear and only missed his helmet by about an inch, and he never even saw the puck. Not only that, he was essentially fouled on the shot and they should have let him shoot a free throw afterward. Then, he got in a fight near the end of the game which earned a ton of brownie points with me and the Wings' faithful. I missed that guy.

- I love Aaron Downey. He gets put in during the last 20 seconds to make sure the Blues don't get out of hand, makes a regular ass body check, and then the whole St. Louis team chases after him like he just ate one of their young. Not only that, he was smiling during the whole thing.

- The Blues have always had an inferiority complex when it comes to looking up at the Wings. Their fans, the media, even some of their players. That's OK, and to be honest, it maks me laugh a little bit. They're like the stereotypically less talented younger brother in that regard. A retarded brother, though. Like Eli Manning.

(Speaking of young Elias, I'm still in denial of what happened in the Super Bowl. There's just no way that an offense led by Eli Fucking Manning beat a Bill Belichick defense. Maybe if I see that miracle catch another 150 thousand times on ESPN I'll be convinced that what happened actually happened.)

March 2, 2008

Somewhere, Frankie Muniz is crying tonight

*******************************************************

I was about to call it a night and go to sleep, but then again, my readers deserve quality (there's a "if a tree falls in the forest..." joke in there somewhere.)

Pistons 103-73 Clippers


You have to suck pretty bad to lose at home by 30, and only score 73 in the process, even if you are playing the Pistons. If it wasn't for some Chris Kaman rebounding and Cory Meggette getting taking what seemed like 35 free throws, the Clippers would've been mercied mid-way through the 4th. I know a lot of people find these Piston blowouts to be almost boring to watch, but I'm starting to get to the point where I'd rather watch one of these than a pressure-packing, nail-biting, down-to-the-wiring, orgy-of-close-game-clighes type of game. Seeing as how I've raved about the bench, (or as they're called on the Internet: the Zoo Crew.....I swear to god, I watch like every game and I've never once heard Blaha or Kelser refer to the bench as the "Zoo Crew." I've only read it online. Unless I'm completely retarded or deaf or both, I don't think the words "Zoo" and "Crew" have ever been said out loud by anybody as a means to refer to the 2nd string guys -- it's gotta be just web jargon. OK, moving on -- ) I love feeling pressure-free in a 20 point game watching these guys get tons of minutes. I'm pretty sure it beats the relentless butt-hole clinching of a back-and-forth game in the waning minutes of a playoff game....that shit nearly kills me.

I'm not gonna make up any wild excuses -- I actually missed the first part of the game because I bought Techmo Super Bowl today at a used game store. After 15 years of being seperated, we are together again at last. I tried to drag myself away once the Pistons game started, but me and Joe Montana and the rest of the 49ers were tearing up the 1991 NFL competition to smitherines. I can't tell you how good it felt to be reunited with the likes of John Taylor and Tom Rathman again. In case you were wondering, I'm currently 4-0 in my new season and my defense has yet to allow a point in the second half of a game; Montana has 12 TD's w/no picks; Rice is averaging 40 yards a catch; and last I checked, I still somehow have a girlfriend. Fucking amazing.

The 49ers were basically my "mistress" team back in the day (the Lions playing the role of the nagging housewife, of course.) For reasons only known to her drunken self, my mom started taping the Super Bowl every year when I was 2 years old. As sort of a weird habit, I started taping them myself once I was old enough to man a VCR, and ever since I've been taping important games that I might want to watch later, and subsequently I've pretty much been hooked on watching old game footage, regardless of the sport, but I digress: The first one she taped was Super Bowl XXIII, the 49ers versus the Cincinnatti Bengals. As you may know, it was a terrific game capped off by a game-winning Joe Montana touchdown pass with under a minute to go in the 4th quarter, and from that moment on, I was a closet 49ers fan. The next edition of the Super Bowl (and the tapes) was XXIV, in which the 49ers commited the first ever nationally televised rape by beating the Denver Broncos 55-10. Montana threw 5 touchdowns, Charlie Brown danced at halftime, and I was captivated by it all. I thought this team was the shit before I was even old enough to know what that expression meant. And in the following years, I've watched both of these Super Bowls more than any of the other ones I have taped. Yes, that's right, even more times than that amazing Bucs-Raiders Super Bowl, if you can believe it. Anyway, what the fuck was I talking about? Oh yeah, the Pistons, I guess.

- If I could summon John Madden for a moment: Basketball is easy when you shoot well. When you couple that with moving without the ball, and you're playing the Clippers, it's legally impossible to lose. Look it up if you don't believe me.

- Juan Dixon: What in the bloody hell. All we had to give up was Brzzchakfadlichz to get this guy? 6-7 from the floor with 14 points in roughly 20 minutes, with like 5 assists to boot (if you can't tell, I don't really feel like looking up stats that I can sorta vaguely recall from my short-term memory. You can suck it if you take issue with that.) I've always like Dixon. Of course, I haven't seen him play in years, but I do recall having an infatuation with Maryland when we played for them during the early part of this decade......I remember liking them for a while because they were trying to get over the hump of beating Duke, and they lost to them in the Final Four the year before or something. In any event, I liked Dixon because he seemed cool, and I remember CBS kept telling the story about how both his parents died of AIDS or something Shakespearian-ly tragic like that. I don't know why a dude with dead parents seems cool to me, but I was like 15, so whatever. He tore up the Final Four and finally brought home a championship to Maryland, which was something that I had been craving for at least three months before then. As for his play tonight, he looked oddly confident for a guy that might not get any playing time this year, and yet he somehow maxed out his opportunity by being the star of the second half. It was one of those performances where you wanna rush home and call your par...............I mean -- uh, oh fuck. Nevermind.

- Walter Herrmann: Sex machine, or at least one would have to assume. As for his basketball ability: it's a little rough on the eyes, but it's so goofy that it keeps you entertained (I think I just described Gallagher with that last sentence.) It made me laugh how there was such a buzz in the crowd when he got the ball, like he was going to do something spectacular. Oh come on, people. It's Walter Herman for Christ's sake. I will admit though, he made a few Walter-like moves that got the Pistons portion of the crowd -- as well as the bench -- out of their seats. I especially liked his sweet baseline dish that he threw behind the backs of like three people.

- Speaking of which, one of my favorite things in sports is road attendence -- I just like seeing a whole lot of Detroit fans in our opponents' arenas. One of the coolest things about the Tigers resurgence was this very thing.....I remember in '06 when they got off to an amazing start, and the first thing during that season that made me realize how special the situation had become was when they were playing the Cubs in Chicago. There had to be at least 25% Tiger fans there, at a park that sells out every game regardless of who's in town. And it's even better when you've got that many people there during a blowout like tonight, when everybody has left except the Detroit crowd. It makes for a real "Kumbaya" type of moment. Wait no it doesn't.

- If I'm gonna rip Tayshaun for playing like a disinterested stick figure against Utah, I should commend him for stepping into Chauncey's role and playing his best game of the season. He did everything well, all while George Blaha mentioned his "Compton roots" 800 times on the broadcast.

- Ditto Sheed. Kaman only had 4 or 5 buckets the whole night, and by the half Sheed already had 17 points. I don't know how many he finished with because that would require opening up another window and I don't feel like doing that. Seriously why do you read this thing.

- Apparently somebody didn't "take care of it" back in Detroit and Chauncey had to miss the game to attend to a family issue. Come on, you know what I'm talking about -- this man is a gangster. I'm not talking about that cool hippitty-hop slang that you young folk use.....he's a real life certifed O.G. Listen to how he talks and try to tell me I'm wrong.

-- "Wait -- didn't you have to open up a new window to link that video?" Shut the fuck up. No for real though, just picture Chauncey holding a cold 9mm to your temple while he screams, "DOES THE DUMPSTER AT YOUR APARTMENT LOOK LIKE THE FUCKIN DETROIT RIVER?!?" It fits, right?