Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Knee Jerks: "It Gets Me In The 'Roids" Edition (But We Don't Stop There)

Get your jerks on!

It's Thursday, and for you newbies out there, that means it's time for my weekly spirited discussion with the MVP of the MVN, Big Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience.

This week, we dump on A-Roid, er A-Rod; lament (AGAIN) the passing of the Pistons as we once knew them; laud the Red Wings' courting of Marian Hossa vis-a-vis a contract extension; wonder about the team's goalie situation; and the usuals are in the house: Word Association and Jerk of the Week.

WELL? What are you WAITING for? Get in there!


Eno: It's with condolences that I welcome you to Thursday, and another webisode of "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno & Al". As usual, it's a gabfest featuring me – Eno, aka The Journalist, and Big Al, aka Mr. Big Shot. Welcome, Albert/Alfred/Allan/Alan/Aldo.....

Big Al: Call me anything but late for the Knee Jerks! (that's an inside joke, folks!) I'm currently stationed at the northern most TWFE outpost, aka my girlfriend's house (yes, even geeks can get the women), so I'm feeling a little out of the sporting loop. So you may have to carry this chat on your extremely broad shoulders, Mr. Journalist. So what's on your mind on this wet, soggy, foggy, and warm Michigan day?

Eno: Geeks?? So what does that make me, a Geek-commiserater? Well, I think we ought to talk, as much as I hate to, about A-Roid, I mean A-Rod. Your take on Alex Rodriguez's steroid-injecting?

Big Al: We're elite sports geeks, that's what! As for Mr. Rodriguez, A-Rod/Roid/Fraud is as phony as one of Creed Bratton’s $3 bills. I never understood “I didn’t know what I was taking” excuse athletes give. Hell, I take several meds and supplements (one is an injection I give myself), and I know what they are, why I need them and what side effects to expect. For a pro athlete to supposedly ingest/inject whatever is given to them willy nilly, and do so without question, when their body is their main source of income, requires a level of belief I just don’t have. He knew EXACTLY what he was taking, and why he was taking it. Rodriguez is a BS artist of the highest magnitude.

Eno: I have heard a lot of things about A-Rod, behind-the-scenes, way prior to this, and none if it flattering. I also think of that sorry moment when he yelled at an infielder who was waiting for a pop-up to come down. It's too bad that this maybe-next-HR champ is a man of this character. Where have you gone, Hank Aaron?

Big Al: The rumors you mention hearing about A-Rod don't really surprise me. I doubt there is a sincere bone in his 'roid riddled body. He comes across as smarmy and narcissistic. Even during his ESPN mea culpa (which I could only see bits of on-line, as I have no ESPN here in Girlfriend-land...weep for me...She's a sweetheart, so I can deal with it) he didn’t come off as very convincing. He said he was "naive?" Don't BS me; no MLB ballplayer is THAT naive.

Eno: Yeah, his "apology" was BS. Then again, they almost always are from those types. What, if any, fallout do you see? Does this create problems for the Yankees, or no?

Big Al: If the Yankees can deal with the Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi steroid "scandals", and Joe Torre's new "view from the inside" book, they can deal with this latest controversy. Hell, this is just another normal day in the New York sports world. The fans in NYC won't care either, as long as A-Roid hits. The Yankees will be fine. But anytime the Yankees and the East Coast Axis of Evil are knocked down a few pegs, it's fine by me.

Eno: Well, I'm not one to think of these kinds of things with a man at the plate and runners on second and third with one out in any game I'm watching. I'm still able to separate this crap from the game itself, but it gets harder and harder to do so. I think we should all just accept that tons of players were juicing and as far as how that impacts the game's numbers and records, well, that's for each of us to reconcile, I guess.

Big Al: I agree. The business of baseball often overwhelms the greatness happening on the field. I LOVE baseball, it's the first game I ever took seriously, and the game I played the longest (in one form or another). So to see the players themselves sully what should be a respite from real life is, well, disappointing. As for the records, I'm to the point where any stats/records put up between...say 1994 and 2004...are to be taken with a huge grain of salt. As Bob Wojnowski would say on the now-dead-to-me WDFN, "Tsk, tsk, tsk, asterisk!"

Eno: OK, your turn. What does the self-described sports geek want to talk about?

Big Al: Let's move on to, as we always do, the Pistoooooo...(sorry, Oreo, the GF's cat, just hopped in my lap!) Pistons. They blew another very winnable game to the Bulls Tuesday night, blowing a late 15-point lead in the process. The team is only three games over .500, Michael Curry doesn't know what buttons to push, the team is in turmoil as no one really knows their status, and the trade deadline is coming up fast. There's even a on the Internets, so the fans are running out of patience. The Pistons are in a downward spiral. Can they pull out?

Eno: No. They're done like dinner. I wrote an obituary at OOB Wednesday. The Pistons are dead. They can't even win the games that have already been won. They had a 10-point lead with 3:30 to play. Even the bad teams can hold on to those leads. They're out of sorts and I wouldn't be surprised if they are meek first-round roadkill for someone. This is the step backward we have been bracing ourselves for. Will it be followed by a giant leap forward? We can only hope. But [team president] Joe Dumars is having a bad year. This is his mulligan year, too. He was due. It started with hiring a rookie coach, extended to trading for Allen Iverson, and I'm afraid of what's next. Joe D's image has taken a big hit here. He's most culpable. Followed closely by the players. I know some may say that it's vice-versa, but does it really matter?

Big Al: At this point? No, it doesn't. There's plenty of blame to go around, but the normally Teflon-coated Dumars will end up taking some hits from the media, the bloggers, and fans. Personally, I honestly don't see how Curry can come back for another season. Dumars has canned some top-flight coaches in the past, and Curry has proven to be anything but. Dumars is also not one to keep a player or coach who is not pulling their weight, no matter what the situation may be. So even though Curry was hand picked by Joe D, I have to think he's hanging on to his job by a thread.

Eno: I, frankly, wouldn't be surprised to see Curry get the ziggy before the season is out. I'm telling you, Dumars should pull a Gregg Popovich and move to the sidelines himself. It's worked before. I have long suspected we might see that one day. Maybe the only coach Joe Dumars can abide is Joe Dumars. Plus, it would be like a landlord being forced to live in his own squalor.

Big Al: No kidding. Give Dumars a taste of the head cases and mismatched parts he's saddled his coaches with. Do you think a trade is in the works, or do the Pistons stay the course, let the expiring contracts of Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson walk, and set themselves up for 2010?

Eno: Stay the course. It's too late to save this mess of a season. This is the proverbial one step back, as I said. As bad as it is, it's no time for total panic. Dumars is allowed this mulligan. He was long overdue, as I said. Sometimes the worst part of a bad situation is over-compensating for it. I think Joe D has a Grand Plan, and while this might not have been part of it, I don't think 2008-09 should send him careening off course. How about you, Ali?

Big Al: The only trade I would think of making would be for the Suns' Amare Stoudemire. But if it takes Rodney Stuckey to get him, then I'm with you, stay the course. As nice as a trade for an offensive force as Stoudemire sounds, I don't think the Pistons have the ammo to get him, unless the Suns are happy with 'Sheed's expiring contract. It's going to be an interesting second half of the season, to say the very least.

Eno: What can you really do at this point? Make it into the second round before becoming roadkill for the Cavs or the Celtics? Who needs that?! I, too, am interested to see what goes down from here on out. We usually don't have such drama this time of year, do we, Al?

Big Al: It's been a long time since either of the winter franchises have had to struggle to make the playoffs. At least the Red Wings are still elite. and speaking of such, word is that Marian Hossa and the Wings are trying hard to agree to a long term deal. I'm geeked to see Hossa extend what was supposed to be a one year marriage. He fits the Red Wings like a glove. Even if he gives the team the hometown discount, Hossa returning would make for a very different looking team in 2009-10. some familiar names may have to move on. Hossa, yay or nay, Eno-sabi?

Eno: Oh, yay, big time! My goodness, this guy's one of the best players in the universe. I'm thrilled that the Red Wings and he are talking long-term. It's true that someone is going to have to be let go due to the salary cap, but at least it won't be Hossa, apparently. GM Ken Holland (who is a future HOFer in my book) looks to be on the verge of doing it again. Amazing.

Big Al: The Wings' GM can apparently do no for finding a goaltender. The controversy between the pipes continues, with Mike Babcock taking some not-so-veiled shots at Chris Osgood, Ozzie deflecting blame, and Ty Conklin playing well and obviously having the confidence of Babs. Do you think Osgood is starting for the Red Wings in Game One of the Stanley Cup playoffs?

Eno: Gosh....that's a toughie. Yes, I do. I think Babs goes with Cup experience over NOT Cup experience. But that hook will be conspicuously present behind the bench with the coach, and he won't be afraid to use it. But there's this, from Osgood: "I know how to win playoff games." I love that kind of swagger. Ozzie, as you know, has never been short on confidence, even when common sense dictated otherwise.

Big Al: No kidding there; Ozzie still believes he's the man for the Wings. But he better start playing like it, or he'll find himself in the same position Dominik Hasek found himself in last season: getting pulled in the first round, and riding the pine. My confidence in Osgood is damn near at an all-time low. He has to do more than talk the talk from here on out. He can start by stopping a few pucks.

Eno: Yes, but he HAS stopped pucks in the past, and I don't see why he can't do it again. He's only 36, which around here qualifies you for being a spring chicken. The regular season in the NHL, Al, is to the playoffs what sunset is to sunrise. They're polar opposites. You've been around long enough (Lord knows!) to know that!

Big Al: Huh? I'm only dog years. Are you ready to try a little WORDASS?

Eno: Fire away!


Big Al: Here goes... Let's start with the man who (supposedly) retired on Tuesday for what seems like the 20th time, Brett Favre.

Eno: Favre has retired almost as many times as a professional boxer. Bottom line: I don't care anymore. Whatever.

Big Al: Well said, Eno-meister. Just go away. Your legacy is set; don't degrade it by hanging on and bouncing around the league. Next, another QB, one who was given the franchise tag by the Patriots, and is rumored to be of interest to the QB-starved Detroit Lions, Matt Cassel.

Eno: Cassel is either a modern day Scott Mitchell (who thrived briefly after an injury to Dan Marino) or a modern day...Matt Cassel. I think he's the latter. He'd look good in Honolulu Blue and Silver.

Big Al: I get the Mitchell vibe as well. Though he did have a couple of great statistical seasons at the Silverdome. But if the Lions do sign Cassel, at least the QB controversy goes away. One more for you – the Lions' long-time logo, rumored to be on his last legs, "Bubbles" the Lion.

Eno: It might go? Say it ain't so! The Lions, if nothing else, have one of the coolest color schemes in the NFL, and that includes the helmet and logo. Then again, the last time the Lions won a championship, Bubbles didn't even exist! Still, I vote to keep him. You ready, Ali Baba?

Big Al: Yep, Bubbles may go, as there are rumors afoot the Lions may be making uni changes for 2010. They best keep the colors; I really like the Detroit unis. At least the black abominations are no more (much to the distress of some TWFE readers.) I'm ready, Eno-san.

Eno: OK, let's start with the currently out-of-work, 37-year-old catcher, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.

Big Al: Will work for steroids, unlike Gerald Laird. Pudge will hook on somewhere, he's still a decent talent, and as you know, catching is becoming a rare skill set.

Eno: Ya think so? I think he might be done. OK, next up: MSU hoops beats U-M hoops in Ann Arbor Tuesday night.

Big Al: NCAA vs. NIT. Sparty is stepping up, the Wolverines have hit their plateau. Michigan is still short a couple of players, but they are FINALLY headed in the right direction. Tom Izzo's Spartans look to be capable of one of their patented long tournament runs.

Eno: I agree re: Izzo's bunch. Sticking with this theme, Indiana Hoosiers basketball.

Big Al: Notre Dame football. Once elite, now struggling to win and find an identity. Izzo's protégé, Tom Crean, has his work cut out for him in Bloomington.

Eno: Two more: first, when I say Jim Leyland you say....??

Big Al: Marlboro reds. Seriously, win or else.

Eno: And when I say Michael Curry you say... ??

Big Al: Dead coach walking.

Eno: Nice! Anything else before we talk Jerks of the Week?

Big Al: Thoughts on the Lions' retaining the services of Stan Kwan, who ran the worst special teams squads we've seen in the D in decades? You know my feelings, and they aren't fit for polite company.

Eno: OK, I'm warning everyone: SEND THE KIDS OUT OF THE ROOM!! Are they gone? OK, here are my thoughts: #$@!&$ Oh well, the censors got me after all. But at least Jim Colletto is gone. But Keeping Kwan is downright...bizarre. Maybe The Schwartz knows something we don't?

Big Al: Or he feels Rod Marinelli was more to blame for the Lions' special teams failings than Kwan. Or Kwan gives great interview. Either way, The Schwartz made a misstep with this hire. I've had no issues with the other coaches brought to Detroit, but keeping Kwan was a step in the wrong direction. But only time will tell if The Schwartz made the right call. But for now...FIRE KWAN!!!

Eno: I agree. If you're Kwan, how do you even plead your case for another shot? Well, Kwan is officially the luckiest assistant coach in the NFL; let's see if he parlays his second chance into something good. Of course, he'll look a lot better if you get him a bona fide return man. OK, ready for Jerk of the Week?

Big Al: Jerk away, my good man.

Eno: EXCUSE me? That sounds awfully dirty!


Big Al: Ahem...Uh...Well...Get your mind out of the gutter! So who's your Jerk, Eno-sabi?

Eno: If my mind's in the gutter, it's sharing space with yours, my friend! OK, my Jerk is Chicago Tribune sports columnist Rick Morrissey, who absolutely lambasted U-M football coach Rich Rodriguez for being a money-hungry “villain” and, basically, an all-around bad guy. I don't know what RichRod did to this dude. He's not even from Ohio, this guy!

Big Al: The ignorance of the MSM amazes me sometimes. RichRod is no different than any other football coach who leaves a position to take a better job. Where's the hate for Nick Saban or Bobby Petrino? My Jerk is, for the first and what I hope is the final time, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. I just had to give him JotW for retaining Stan @#^&$&+@@%& Kwan on his staff. My disgust for Kwan, who ruined what was once an excellent special teams squad, knows no bounds. The Lions have a long history of good to great special teams. The only special Kwan brings is of the “rides the short bus” kind! Final thoughts, oh gutter bound one?

Eno: My, it didn't take long for The Schwartz to appear here as a JOTW, did it? Have a great week, Ali Baba!

Big Al: You too, sir! From Girlfriend-land, this is Big Al signing off. FIRE KWAN!!!

Eno: Hear, hear!!!

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