Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday = Knee Jerks (Webisode #10)

Rut-roh, Rast-ro. It's Thursday, and you know what that means. It's time for "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al," my weekly sports gabfest with the purveyor of The Wayne Fontes Experience, Big Al himself -- or as he likes to be called here, Mr. Big Shot (now that Chauncey Billups is gone). This week? We take on the Lions' chances of going oh-fer 2008; rag on Sean Avery; wonder who will play shortstop for the Tigers; and as they say, much, much more! Oh, and there's WordAss and Jerk of the Week, of course!



Eno: Goodness gracious, it's Thursday again. That means another webisode of "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al." I'm Eno, aka The Journalist, and he's Al, aka Mr. Big Shot. Good afternoon, Al!

Big Al: Yo. I always have time on my oh-so-busy schedule in making fun of the Detroit Lions to chat!

Eno: I'm sure. OK, gonna start off with those Lions, after all. #1, do you feel in your gut they'll pull off the 0-16 thing, and in all seriousness, what does that mean to the franchise in terms of how history will treat it?

Big Al: At this point, the opinions of the fan base, let alone of the football nation, couldn't be any lower. So finishing 0-16, 1-15 really doesn't make that much difference. It'll be another in a long list of stains upon the franchise. Even if the Lions go 0-16, I don't think they’ll be remembered as the worst NFL team ever. That will always belong to the 0-14 [Tampa Bay] Buccaneers of 1976. But the Lions are in the conversation.

Eno: I think they'd be worse than the Bucs because at least Tampa had the excuse of being an expansion team. Of course, those Bucs lost 26 in a row, and the Lions aren't there, yet. How ironic, in a twisted way, that it would be the Bucs in that mix because of all the ex-Bucs on this roster! I personally think 0-16 would hurt Bill Ford deeply, though we'd never know it because he's a hermit. Clearly 1-15 isn't much different as far as draft position, etc, but it's a world of difference from being the first team to go 0-16.

Big Al: You do make a good point; the Lions could be considered the worst non-expansion team ever. They may have that designation locked up even if they do somehow manage to win a game. But if being the "Worst Team EVER" means the Lions will finally do the right thing, and blow the entire organization up, and start from scratch with the right people, I can live with it. Of course, their being the Lions, there is no guarantee they will do the right thing or hire the right people. I don't trust William Clay Ford's instincts when it comes to, well, anything!

Eno: I got a kick out of the list of supposed GMs the Lions might hire that you posted on Wayne You're right – a great list if this was 1995. But you're also right that those guys might make good consultants.

Big Al: We can only hope that is what Pro Football Weekly's list actually was, possible consultants. But again, we're talking Mr. Ford, so no one knows what he may be thinking. The man never shows his face to the public, and worse, the media. I'd LOVE to know what he thinks of the whole cluster that has become his Lions.

Eno: Like I wrote at OOB, the biggest indictment of any owner is that he/she doesn't care. And whether he cares or not, perception is reality. All Ford needs to do is show his face and people would feel better. Anyhow, what do you make of Marinelli finally bringing 0-16 up to his players, as he did Monday at practice?

Big Al: It was the final card he could play. The "You don't want to go down in history" card. I think Marinelli's long been out of ideas. He's now in desperation mode. Marinelli doesn't want to see his name in the record book as the worst head coach in NFL history.

Eno: Switching gears big time – I gotta bring up Sean Avery, our old pal from his Red Wings days. Seems Sean, now with Dallas, is truly losing it. Now he's suspended by the NHL for comments he made about his former girlfriends who are now dating other players in the league. What's up with this guy? He's like the Dennis Rodman of hockey.

Big Al: That's really what he is, the NHL's version of Rodman. Why the Stars felt the need to sign that loon to a long term free agent deal is beyond me. His antics make me appreciate the professionalism of the Red Wings all the more.

Eno: Like what he did to Marty Brodeur in the playoffs – waving his stick in his face. Totally bush. Even his teammates are fed up. Even BRETT HULL, no less, is urging restraint. Maybe wearing a suit and tie has mellowed The Golden Brett, eh?

Big Al: It may have mellowed him (Hull mellow? Never thought I'd see those two words together!), but just because he's "Brett Hull" doesn't make him a good GM. Signing someone the likes of Avery shows he has plenty to learn.

Eno: The shame is, Sean Avery can be an asset as a kind of modern day Theo Fleury or Kenny Linseman – guys who should be in the Pest Hall of Fame. Avery is a talented, hard-nosed kid who I thought was going to make Detroit go crazy one day. But now he's just being outrageous for the sake of it, and that's just not acceptable. I'm sure this isn't the kind of publicity [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman is looking for!

Big Al: I don't know if I'd go THAT far. The NHL is a forgotten league in the big sports picture. Any publicity they may get, even for the antics of Avery, or their over the top suspension of him, at least gets them noticed. Too bad it takes off-the-ice BS for the mainstream media to put the NHL above the fold.

Eno: Exactly. OK, what's on Mr. Big Shot's mind?

Big Al: What's NOT on my mind! I have to wonder what's going on with the Detroit Tigers, and their not offering arbitration to [shortstop] Edgar Renteria. It seemed like a no-brainer thing to do. If Dave Dombrowski would have done so, he would have either ended up with one year of Renteria, which considering the lack of shortstops on the open market wouldn't have been a bad thing, or if Renteria moved on, two relatively high compensatory draft picks. Do you think the Tigers are in such financial straits that they couldn't risk paying Renteria $9-10 million?

Eno: It's not that they're in financial straits, it’s just that, where do you draw the line? Sometimes it's just the IDEA of paying someone that kind of jack. Renteria has seen better days, and I don't see him bouncing back all that much. He's kind of like a super ball that's been left out in the cold, if you know what I mean. It looks like Jack Wilson of Pittsburgh will be Renteria's replacement. I personally think it was a smart thing not to offer ER arbitration. They can't do much worse at SS in 2009, I wouldn't think.

Big Al: Not that Wilson is all that cheap (I think he's making around $6 million), and he would cost the Tigers player/players in trade. All Renteria would have cost is money. I think money played into the decision, we just don't know how much. Considering the Tigers get plenty of financial support from the auto industry in one way or another (ticket sales, advertising, suite rentals, so on), they may be wary of spending any more than they have to in acquiring players.

Eno: Well, I think it's pretty simple: Renteria was horsepucky here, and didn't rate another $9 mill to come back. He had a bad year in Boston a few years ago, too. Maybe he's not an AL kind of guy. So what else you wanna talk about? You said there was a lot on that twisted mind of yours!

Big Al: Thanksgiving wasn't a bad holiday for just the Lions. The Pistons had themselves quite a holiday weekend. We saw head coach Michael Curry call a Thanksgiving Day practice the morning after a win. Allen Iverson decided he had better things to do, and cut practice. I thought Iverson had changed his stripes, so to speak. Now I'm not so sure.

Eno: I think A.I. was testing the new coach, and the coach passed. That said, I think a Turkey Day practice might have been pushing it, though Joe Dumars was there in support of the coach. I think Curry is trying to show that he's the boss, but it's a fine line. He needs to pace himself, though. There are still 65 games left, plus the playoffs.

Big Al: Exactly. As I wrote on TWFE, Curry needs to pick his battles. This was a battle he didn't need to fight. But that wasn't all Curry did. He also benched Tayshaun Prince for the 4th quarter of Sunday's loss. He then called Prince out in front of the media. It seems to have worked, as the Pistons had a very nice win in San Antonio Tuesday night. I'll say this for Curry: he's not afraid of shaking things up, and if there was a roster that needed a jolt of reality, it was the Pistons'.

Eno: Yes, this is true. Everyone said Flip Saunders was too easy on them; no accountability. But I have a problem with calling out your players to the media before you talk to that player. And just because they got a nice win in San Antonio doesn't mean that Curry didn't wound Prince a bit. Like I said, a fine line. But I think I'll err on the side of Mr. Tough Guy right now, coming on the heels of easy-going Flip. I guess we just can't be satisfied! Bottom line: Curry's style is probably the best one for now, but he has to be careful.

Big Al: If there is someone Curry should have called out in private or public, it's Rip Hamilton. He hasn't been the same player since Chauncey Billups left. The Pistons need Rip if they are going to have any shot at winning the Eastern Conference. The man needs to step up, and get over it.

Eno: Yeah, I saw what you wrote on TWFE and I totally agree. Grow up; people get traded all the time. I know they had a good thing going, but they have also been bumped out of the Final Four for three years in a row. I suspect Rip will, eventually. He hasn't played horribly; it's just that he's brooding a bit and that can't happen. Like I said at OOB, good thing Joe D. made this trade in November rather than in February. That might have been disastrous. Plus it gives Dumars time to decide whether Iverson is worth an offer for 2009-10.

Big Al: The Pistons are definitely a work in progress. With the Pistons, it's all about the playoffs anyway. It's too early in the season to be overly harsh and judgmental. If they are still having issues like these in April, then we can rip them to pun intended.


Eno: Nice! OK, ready for some Word Association, or as I like to call it, WordAss?

Big Al: Personally, I call it "Eno makes Al's brain work overtime!" OK, let's lock and load.

Eno: Charlie Weis.

Big Al: Five words. Too expensive to buy out.

Eno: Too fat, too. OOPS, did I say that? OK, the Colorado Avalanche (remember them?)

Big Al: Ah, yes. The Nordalanche. Used-to-be's.

Eno: Daunte Culpepper.

Big Al: Backup.

Eno: NBA on Christmas Day.

Big Al: Two words. Meaningless tradition.

Big Al: Ready for a few?

Eno: Sure!

Big Al: OK. Tom Izzo.

Eno: Underappreciated nationally.

Big Al: Totally agree. And since he was called the best owner in sports, Mike Ilitch.

Eno: I'll amend it to Most Committed Owner in Sports. Good for him.

Big Al: I thought it was a tad overblown as well. But we fans could do a whole lot worse than Mr. I. As you mentioned him in a comment on TWFE, Dick Vitale.

Eno: The Happiest Man To See ESPN Be Invented.

Big Al: Very funny. But as a failed coach, the Four Letter truly was his salvation. One more. Lions on Thanksgiving.

Eno: TURKEYS!! And one more for you: Martin Mayhew.

Big Al: Wrong place, wrong time. So what's on your mind? What ya got?

Eno: SO true. OK, I see where some ink-stained wretch who covers ND football says the Irish should replace Weis with....Mark Dantonio!! Thoughts?

Big Al: I told you Dantonio was destined for bigger and better things. Yes, MSU is a good job in a big time conference. But it's not a top tier football program, and I don't think it ever will be. If Dantonio has another good season, I'd expect some very big programs sniffing around East Lansing. Like Notre Dame, once Weis has another five-to-six-win season in 2009.

Eno: I think Dantonio is a helluva coach but also a little...twisted, which isn't bad, necessarily. The guy has a mean streak, I'm telling you. And did you notice how much he looks like Terry Donahue, UCLA days? Spitting image!

Big Al: There's another program that could use a jolt. A hard liner like Dantonio could be the anti-Pete Carroll. Speaking of which, I had to give the USC coach props and admit he has some big cahones, by giving up a time out per half in the upcoming rivalry game with UCLA, all so they could bring back the tradition of both teams wearing home colors. I wish more coaches had his style.

Eno: I hadn't heard that, but I agree. UCLA's home blue is so powdery, you almost don't even realize both teams are wearing dark jerseys. OK, who's your Jerk of the Week?


Big Al: My jerk is Gary Bettman and the NHL for their indefinite suspension of Sean Avery. Yes, what Avery said wasn't in good taste (It was rather vile, actually, saying "sloppy seconds" in regard to another player dating his ex-girlfriend), but the over the top punishment just drew more attention it. Slap Avery with a big fine, call him to the league offices and read him the riot act, but an indefinite suspension? Please. The punishment doesn't fit the crime. I don't want to really go there, but there is a thing called free speech. We all have the right to make an ass of ourselves by what we say.

Big Al: Who's on your list, Eno?

Eno: Well, I sorta agree w/you in that "indefinite" is probably over the top, but Avery definitely should have been disciplined. My JOTW is Giants WR Plaxico Burress, for SHOOTING HIMSELF IN THE THIGH, then getting hit with gun charges, and being suspended for the rest of the regular season. Talk about Sparties with mean streaks!

Big Al: No kidding. Growing up in a rural area, I learned at a very young age how to handle and fire a gun. I also learned there is a time and place for firearms. A nightclub isn't one of them. The lack of common sense shown by supposedly college-educated athletes never ceases to amaze me!

Eno: OK, pal...hope you have a great week and we'll re-convene next Thursday!

Big Al: Works for me, sir. Go do the journalism thing you do!

Eno: If you insist!

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