Oh, and next week we'll debut another new feature called The Jerk of the Week.
Eno: Well, lookie there – it’s Thursday, and time for Webisode #6 of "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al." At the risk of being like a game show host who announces the rules every week even though everyone knows them, this is where I verbally tussle with Big Al of the Wayne Fontes Experience. I'm Eno, aka The Journalist, and he's Big Al, aka a man who's Daunte Culpeppered Out. Welcome to the show, Al.
Big Al: Thank you. It's almost always a pleasure. And yes, I'm feeling a bit Peppered and Answered out!
Eno: Well, we'll bury Daunte till later. I suppose we should talk about The Trade. What does a card-carrying Knee Jerk like you think about Allen Iverson, Detroit Piston?
Big Al: I've always LOVED The Answer as a player, but not because he can be a prolific scorer. I've always admired his toughness. I think Iverson, pound for pound, may be the toughest player in the NBA. He's fearless.
Eno: That's what they used to say about Isiah Thomas. I like the trade. I wrote that the Pistons could actually use a ball hog in their midst. You gotta have a "go to" guy in today's NBA. Now they finally have one.
Big Al: And it's been long overdue. I don't want to slight Chauncey Billups as a player, but I think Iverson may be just what the Pistons need: a player HUNGRY to win a title.
Eno: Well, ask yourself this: did Chauncey REALLY elevate his game in the playoffs? If anything, he regressed. He got burned several times by inferior point guards. And yes, AI's hunger is a big factor. If he's on a mission, I love it.
Big Al: I agree. Billups looked old and slow during the last couple of playoff runs. He's no longer the same player who won the NBA Finals MVP. Billups is still a productive player, but considering the Pistons' weak spots (someone who can create his own shot, a sense of urgency), Iverson may be the better fit.
Eno: I also think the Mr. Big Shot thing was more of a
Big Al: Which is something Joe Dumars realizes. He saw first hand as a player, the Bad Boys Pistons grow old and stagnant. He's not going to let that happen under his watch as GM.
Eno: What do you make of all this talk that the AI trade is part of Joe's grand plan to land LeBron James AND Chris Bosh (your man) in 2010?
Big Al: I think it's a little too early to get wrapped up in future free agent classes. But it's beyond obvious Joe D has a plan. Having cap flexibility is the best hole card an NBA GM can have at his disposal. When you look at the 2010 free agent class, you don't necessarily need to sign LeBron to make your team a juggernaut. Hell, I'd be happy with just Bosh!
Eno: I was interested by Rasheed Wallace's seemingly non-committal attitude when asked about the trade. He even seemed kind of leery. Almost like he wasn't sure it was a good thing.
Big Al: He's a hard cat to get a read on, period. But I think ‘Sheed realizes a couple of things. One, this year may be his last shot at a title, and two, this is likely his last season as a Piston.
Eno: Could be. OK, let's bottom line this. Does this leapfrog the Pistons over the Celtics? Why or why not?
Big Al: Over the Celtics? No. But I sure think they, along with the other East contenders, became much more leery of the Pistons. I don't think we'll ever see any of those ten-minute long scoring droughts with Iverson on the floor. That alone makes the Pistons a much tougher playoff matchup.
Eno: So the Celtics won't have that complacency that sometimes nabs defending champs? You just mentioned Iverson's hunger!
Big Al: Complacency is the bane of any title-winning team. We've seen it with the Pistons. It's hard enough to repeat as it is, so I expect the Celtics may no longer have the same hunger of Allen Iverson.
Eno: Well, I think this DOES put the Pistons above the Celtics, if only because it gives the Celtics something to defend that they didn't have to last spring. So what else you got for today?
Big Al: The baseball winter meetings are currently taking place. If you go by the rumors, the Tigers' first priority may be finding themselves a shortstop. The two names prominently mentioned so far have been Rafael Furcal and Kahlil Greene. Think the Tigers are getting an itchy trigger finger, looking to make a trade?
Eno: Yes, I've been saying that, for sure. Standing pat isn’t an option, when everyone's on the hot seat. I like both guys you mentioned. Too bad Edgar Renteria went sideways on us. What about a closer, though?
Big Al: I doubt the Tigers go for an expensive free agent closer. I could see them looking at someone who is coming off an injury and/or an off season, like a Chad Cordero. Unless the Tigers trade Magglio Ordonez, I can't see them having the capability to add much salary.
Eno: Ahh, Maggs. His agent says he won’t be traded. Can you believe an agent? Plus, Maggs is a 5-and-10 guy now. He can veto any deal. I truly hope he won't be dealt. He's grown on me!
Big Al: I'm with you, Eno. The Tigers are going to have a few offensive black holes (3rd base, catcher, and depending on whom the Tigers go with, short), I'd hate to lose the firepower Ordonez adds to the everyday lineup.
Eno: I know you're not crazy about him, but I still like what Gary Sheffield can bring. I think he's healthy. I think he might surprise some folks. I still don't like the catching situation. Dusty Ryan?? Cripes sakes!
Big Al: Dusty Ryan? I'd use something stronger than "cripes sakes!" I hope you're right about
Eno: OK, here's something. The Phillies are World Champs! Is this a parallel universe?
Big Al: Quite possibly. Hell, this could be one of many, if you believe Star Trek! Is this Evil Spock's universe? I wonder! Sorry, I'm a closet Trekkie.
Eno: And you're admitting it on National Internet? Gutsy guy. Sorry, but I can't hold off any longer. Let's play Word Association. Ready?
Big Al: Yep.
Eno: Daunte Culpepper.
Big Al: Desperation.
Eno: Dan Orlovsky.
Big Al: Backup.
Eno: Drew Stanton.
Big Al: Mistake. OK, let me try. Rod Marinelli.
Big Al: Calvin Johnson.
Big Al: I saw that one coming. One more. William Clay Ford.
Big Al: That he is, that he is. Speaking of misguided, do you think the Lions’ signing of Culpepper is misguided or a smart personnel move?
Eno: Hmmm..... I think it's a smart personnel move by a misguided organization. How about that? Meaning, that for their situation, it's really a low risk move. I just wonder why no one else was as "smart" as the Lions and signed him earlier. But we'll see
Big Al: If you go by [offensive coordinator] Jim Colletto's comments about
Eno: I'm glad you mentioned the "E" word. I thought at first that it was OK, then after reading
Big Al: It's probably the worst thing a coach could say about a player in public. It's one thing to use such an inflammatory word behind closed doors. But to use the "E" word while speaking to the assembled media? Let alone making the
Eno: Do they MAKE brooms that big? They also don't know what to do about running back. Sometimes it's Kevin Smith, sometimes it's Rudi Johnson. They have NO idea who they are or who they want to be
Big Al: We already know who they are: the worst team in the NFL. But playing Johnson over Smith makes no sense. Same for Jordon Dizon being deactivated every Sunday, or keeping 35 defensive linemen on the roster. They compound one mistake by making three more!
Eno: Or not keeping gosh darn Gosder Cherilus in the lineup and let him make mistakes and learn! Sometimes they act as if they're some contender who can afford to let young guys sit!
Big Al: Amazing. The Lions are 0-8 with one of the older starting lineups in the NFL. It's not as if the kids would do any worse. Save for "embarrassing" themselves.
Eno: Alright, I'm getting a headache. Change of subject. Red Wings. What’s up with their goals agaynst, as they say in
Big Al: Cup hangover. It's fun and easy to play offense, but hard to play good defense. Nothing to worry about. Now if we're still seeing this in March, then it's time to be concerned.
Eno: True enough, I suppose. I never asked you about the shootout, btw. Do you like it?
Big Al: I'm old school. It's fun to watch, but it's too gimmicky. And it totally screws up the point totals. The Gary Bettman-ization of the NHL is a horrible thing.
Eno: You mean expanding into cities that have no business having hockey teams?
Big Al: Or moving TV coverage to a network no one can find on their cable? Keeping the Red Wings in the West? Yeah!
Eno: RIGHT! And no, I don't like the shootout either. Let me ask you: what's so bad about a STINKING TIE?
Big Al: Unless it's the playoffs, not a damn thing!
Eno: I NEVER liked the notion of getting a point for losing. Jack Adams must be spinning in his grave.
Big Al: You, me, fans in Original Six (even Twelve) cities, and every single Canadian agree. We hate what's happened to the NHL.
Eno: I must also rant here that there are wayyyyy too many power plays. Special teams are on the ice almost half the damn game. Ted Lindsay once told me that if there were two or three 5-on-3s in a season, that was a lot. And the person responsible for the second penalty would be in the minors the next day!
Big Al: In my mind, the worst thing ever is the instigator penalty. I'm not for goonery, but fighting has its place in hockey. Jeez, we're both sounding like Don Cherry, save for the xenophobia!
Eno: Aka the "anyone who isn’t Canadian must suck" attitude! Cherry, I used to listen to him. Now he's just a cartoon. Almost literally, with those jackets he wears. Speaking of cartoons, what chances do you give our old pal Barry Melrose in succeeding in
Big Al: Let's just say he best not have quit, but only taken a leave of absence, from ESPN. Don't lose the hockey hair, Barry! Hard to believe he was once thought to be the heir apparent in
Eno: I know! Hey – you know those types. There's always a headset and a makeup artist waiting for them should they fail!
Big Al: Exactly.
Eno: Yeah, me too. I guess once a coach....anyhow, must be the Dick Vermeil thing, sans the tears. OK, almost time to go. Any final thoughts/rants?
Big Al: Final thoughts? The Lions signing Culpepper is placing a Band-Aid on a compound fracture and [U-M football coach] Rich Rodriguez is sooo on my @# !&*O!* list!
Eno: Ahh, THAT will have to wait for next week! My finals are: Iverson rocks and let's hear it for 11-0
Big Al: Oooh, I can't wait! Much like I can't wait for our next "Knee Jerks!" Till then, aloha!
Eno: Thanks, Jack Lord!