Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jerks of the Knee: It's Hard To Be A (UDM) Titan; Even Harder To Be A Goalie; And Even Harder To Watch Nate & Dontrelle

Scared colleges; scared goalies (?); scared Knee Jerks of a Lions uniform change; scared QBs (?); scared managers; scared Knee Jerks of the Tigers' rotation...

A lot of fear going on this week, which is yet another webisode of "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al."

For the newbies, every Thursday I chat up the MVP of the MVN, Big Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience. What results is a sometimes ribald, ALWAYS sardonic take on sports.

Everything in paragraph #1 is included in this week's package, plus the regulars -- Word Association and Jerk of the Week.

Keep reading....


Eno: Happy Thursday, you Jerksters! It's "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al." I'm Eno, aka The Journalist, and he's Big Al, aka Mr. Big Shot. Greetings, oh Al one...

Big Al: Oh Al one? As in 0Al1? So what's up, Eno-sabi? Lots going in the sporting world as of late, with all of the local pro and college teams making news of one sort or another. Anything in particular on your investigative journalist mind?

Eno: Well, I caused a bit of a stir at OOB when I wrote what was called a "scathing" piece about why UDM won't play Oakland University, according to OU coach Greg Kampe. What a shame that UDM and EMU continue to scrape the bottom of the college basketball barrel, eh?

Big Al: Unfortunately, as the part of the Detroit area mid-major contingent, they are always going to be part of the bottom of the barrel. It's too bad they don't play each other, as it would do nothing but good, publicity-wise. The Detroit media all but ignores UDM, Oakland, Eastern, Central and Western, unless they are in a conference tournament game of some importance (such as OU losing in the Horizon final Tuesday night). Actually, the Wolverines and Spartans should be in the mix as well, playing many of those teams fairly often. This isn't a huge college hoops market; anything these teams can do to get attention, in a good way, is the right thing to do.

Eno: But UDM HAS tasted success – that’s the thing. They USED to be good and USED to be able to recruit the area. Personally, I believe that Calihan Hall does NOTHING for recruiting. Have you been there? It's like a glorified high school gym. They're never on TV, either, but if the facility were better...Now, I know [UDM alumnus and NBAer] Willie Green paid for a kick ass locker room, but the arena itself is ancient. I don't know. Seems like with all the talent in Detroit, you'd think they could be more competitive.

Big Al: I have to admit, Calihan is one of the few local arenas I’ve never visited (I know, I'm being generous, as Calihan is a glorified gym), but I'm your typical Southeastern Michigan sports fan. College hoops is low on the totem pole – below the four pro teams and college football. College basketball only starts to truly pique my interest now, as we are close to tournament time. Sure, UDM was once relevant, but that was over thirty years ago! It takes someone with the charisma of Dick Vitale to raise the profile of a school like UDM. Hell, I couldn't even tell you who's coaching them now. Have no idea. (Hey, I do know OU is coached by Greg Kampe, but he's made the NCAAs in recent memory) It's sad, but those are the facts of life, coaching at a low mid-major school.

Eno: Ray McCallum is the coach at UDM, succeeding Perry Watson. Oh, and EMU's coach is Charles Ramsey, for the record – until HE gets the ziggy. OK, what's on your agenda of items for today?

Big Al: The Lions continue to keep themselves in the news, with word leaking about a possible color and logo change. As I noted on TWFE, there was a Twitter post stating an unnamed media member as having seen the new look, and wasn't impressed. I realize the Lions do want to move merchandise, and the best way to do so is to change the unis. Am I a bad fan if I say that I like the old Honolulu Blue and Silver? That the “Bubbles the Lion” logo doesn't bother me? That I like their old uniforms? Uniforms and logos don't win games, and isn't there something good about tradition, even if it isn't exactly glorious?

Eno: No, I'm with you, Al! Keep the color scheme! Keep Bubbles! Someone made a comment on your blog about the Pistons' horrifying teal experiment. Seems that when the traditional look is changed, it's always for the worse. Though, as I commented, just because a "media person" says it doesn't look good, doesn't mean that it doesn't look good. But I admit that the change, if it's true, scares me. Of course, if the Lions start winning, the new look will be unjustly credited!

Big Al: EXACTLY! I thought Matt Millen's adding black accents and the all-black alternate jersey was silly. The Lions are one of the NFL's longest-tenured franchises, and should behave as such. Changing the colors would be like the Tigers getting rid of the creamy whites or the Red Wings wearing those God-awful black sweaters I see fans wearing occasionally. They can tweak the logo, if the Lions have to do something. They’ve done so in the past, but leave the colors be! And don't get me going on those mid-1990s teal MONSTROSITIES of the Pistons.

Eno: The funny thing is, the first season the Pistons wore teal, they got off to something like a 26-6 start (actually 24-8 in '96-'97). I asked one of the dudes in marketing, who I knew, if he thought it was due to the new uniforms. Naturally, he said yes! Anyhow, I hope the Lions don't change. The Packers didn't change. Neither did the Vikings or the Bears – at least not significantly. And the Red Wings and Tigers? It's SO cool to look at photos from the 1940s or earlier and see mostly the same look!

Big Al: Damn straight, Eno-meister. So in news that could actually affect things ON the field, the Jay Cutler rumors won't go away. Word out of the Rocky Mountains is that the Broncos QB is pissed, and may not show up for off-season workouts. That could be the beginning of the end for Cutler, a Pro Bowl-caliber QB, in Denver. As we all know, the Lions were part of a deal that would have sent Cutler to Detroit, but which fell through at the last moment. The Lions have several high draft picks to play with. You think they should make another play for Cutler? Even if the cost is high – say the number one overall pick?

Eno: First, let me thank you for never referring to the Detroit sports teams as "we" and "us". A good, self-respecting blogger will ALWAYS refer to the teams in the third person. Anyhow, YES – make a play for Cutler; why not? He's established, and would be one less thing to worry about. But if you think he's unhappy in DENVER...

Big Al: Thank you. The "we" and "us" thing is a big time pet peeve of mine, and I consciously try to avoid that sort of bush league stuff. But I digress... As for Cutler, I agree. He's far better than anyone the Lions have on the roster, and is already proven, compared to whomever the Lions get in the draft. The first overall pick for a Pro Bowl QB is pretty much a fair deal. But if the Lions could get him with the 20th overall, or the 33rd? Then it truly becomes a no-brainer move. Sure, Cutler might not be happy to know he could end up in Detroit, but at least he would know the organization actually wanted him, and would be the starter for damn near infinity. There's a lot to be said about just plain being wanted.

Eno: True that. What do you think of my assertion earlier this week that there's too much time between the end of the season and the draft? It's still a month and a half away, for goodness sakes!

Big Al: Is it too long for the fans? Hell, yes! Too long for the teams? I'm sure they have had all the info they need for quite some time, at least by the end of the combine. But it's not too long for the media, who live to hype the holy Hell out of the draft. It's not too long for the NFL, as they LOVE the publicity. The draft buildup keeps the league in the news essentially year ‘round. It's all about the business side of things, Eno-sabi, and the NFL draft is big business.

Eno: *sigh* I suppose. But an earlier draft would give teams a tad longer to negotiate with their picks. OK, moving right along...[Tigers pitcher] Jeremy Bonderman says he can be ready by Opening Day. Jimmy Leyland concurs. But WILL Bondo be ready?

Big Al: No. Next question. [pause] Oh, you want more? It's too much to expect a pitcher the Tigers have heavily invested in to rush back from what was a very invasive surgery. I'd want the Tigers to err on the far side of caution in regard to Bondo. Even if that means he stays in Florida for a couple of months.

Eno: I agree that it's not necessary to rush him back; not worth it. But hey, what about this kid Rick Porcello, and that Kyle Perry? Pretty exciting, no?

Big Al: Very exciting! Thanks to the performances, or lack thereof, of some of the veteran pitchers (Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis, to name the most obvious), it's a good thing. From all reports out of Lakeland, Robertson is toast. His slider has disappeared, and he's lost a foot off his fastball. Porcello, on the other hand, has dominated so far. Even though Porcello is young [20], he's already a major league talent. Leyland's job is on the line, and he finds himself in a "win or else" position, and has said contracts won't dictate his roster. If I'm Robertson or Willis, I'm worried. If I'm Porcello, I'm looking for an apartment in Detroit. Same goes for Perry. The bullpen will be on a short leash; Perry will be one of the first called up if someone falters.

Eno: Something tells me Porcello may just make the Opening Day roster. Nate Robertson is certainly not making a good case for himself. If Willis wasn't being paid all that jack, the Tigers probably would have cut him by now. Lost in all this is Freddy Garcia. The Tigers quietly let him go last year. Was that premature?

Big Al: I was one of the many who thought Garcia had shown enough in his September audition to deserve a shot at the '09 rotation. The Tigers thought differently, hoping for rebound seasons from Robertson, Willis and Bonderman. Now Robertson looks washed up, Willis is channeling Steve Blass and Bondo is still hurting, while Garcia is pitching well for the Mets, and is on track to be their fifth starter. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but didn’t everyone but the Tigers see this happening?

Eno: I was shocked, frankly, that they let Garcia go so casually. I just looked him up: three starts, 15 IP, 4.20 ERA, 1-1 record. Not horrible. Oh well. How about some WordAss??


Big Al: Feel free to ass away, sir! Wait, that didn't come out right!

Eno: *wince* OK, first up: the tragic end of Kronk boxer Mickey Goodwin.

Big Al: The first boxer I heard of out of Kronk! I was very saddened to hear of his passing. In many ways, he opened the door that Tommy Hearns and Hilmer Kenty (the first Kronk boxer to win a world title, I believe) burst through. If the term, “I shoulda been a contender" fit anyone, it was Goodwin.

Eno: And Marvin Hagler, according to my friend and boxing referee Frank Garza, wanted NO part of Goodwin. OK, how about...the World Baseball Classic?

Big Al: The NETHERLANDS? WTF? They have to be in mourning in the Dominican, after getting knocked out of the WBC, by of all people, Sir Gene Kingsale, the former Detroit Tiger. I haven't been able to see much of the WBC, as I'm at the lovely girlfriend's place this week, but what I have seen, was entertaining. The WBC still doesn't mean much to Americans, but it has been entertaining baseball.

Eno: Wow; thought you'd take the "Who cares?" route! OK, one more: I say Red Wings' chances in the playoffs and you say....

Big Al: They ride on Ty Conklin's shoulders! Chris Osgood hasn't been just bad in net; he’s been embarrassing. Now the Wings want to play Conk-block at home, and Ozzie only on the road? Does that sound like a team confident in their goaltending to you?

Eno: Ahh, Ed Whitson Syndrome! Yikes; not a warm and fuzzy sign, there. OK, fire away, Mr. Big Shot!

Big Al: Ah, yes. George Steinbrenner's favorite high-priced Yankees punching bag! OK, let's begin with Mrs. Hockey, Colleen Howe, who passed away last week.

Eno: I hate to say this, but now Gordie can have some peace, and so can Colleen. She wasted away horribly, and caring for her was easily the biggest challenge in Mr. Hockey's life. She probably pissed some people off along the way, but so has every trailblazer in history. God rest your soul, Colleen – you deserve it.

Big Al: Indeed. She was the business person Gordie wasn't, or didn't want to be. Next, what do the Michigan Wolverines hear on Selection Sunday?

Eno: about: “This is your lucky day.” I have visions of Harvey Two-Face flipping his coin, like in the Batman movies. The Wolves sneak in, their bubble holding, barely.

Big Al: I'm not so sure it's so close. They have signature wins, and good losses. One win in the Big Ten tournament, and the Wolverines are locks. Speaking of which, now that every conference (save the Ivy League) has one, the explosion of conference basketball tournaments is a...?

Eno: Well, since you said "a" instead of "an", I'll go with...a pretty good thing, overall. I have no problem with it. Of course, those bubble teams who won their conference's regular season title may disagree, because a tournament loss might mean no NCAA invite. One more for me, sir?

Big Al: You want it, you got it. As he has been acting up as of late, unfairly ripping the Red Wings, Mr. Xenophobe himself, Don Cherry.

Eno: He reminds me of George Carlin: funny and hip early on, then mean-spirited, cranky and bitter toward the end. I don't pay attention to him anymore.

Big Al: Spot on. I once thought him funny. Now, Grapes is just a sad, angry old man. Anything you want to get off your chest before we name our Jerks of the Week, Eno-san?

Eno: Well, how about the Orlando Magic and their 0-3 against the Pistons this season? Any playoff fodder there, or no? Remember, the Pistons' mastery over the Magic goes back several years. Would that be in the Magic's head if they met the Pistons in the playoffs?

Big Al: Damn, I thought we might have a Pistons-free zone for the first time in Knee Jerks history! As for your questions, you'd have to think so. The Pistons could start Kwame Brown, Will Bynum and three guys out of the stands, and as long as they were wearing the Pistons red, white and blue, would beat the Magic handily. It would be in Detroit's best interest to meet the Magic in the first round of the playoffs.

Eno: Wow....OK, I'll play the #3. I see you as a #4. That leaves Kwame at #5; we need a silky-smooth shooting guard. Terry Duerod, where are you?? I usually don't go for that regular season/past history means anything route, but I tend to agree here. The Pistons would have a mental advantage GOING IN to the series, but that might go away if the Magic win Game 1. You got anything before JOTW?

Big Al: Save for one thing. I hate mock drafts, even though I'm taking part in one. (Hey, they drive traffic!) Trying to predict the NFL draft is as unscientific an endeavor as it comes. Too much can change day to day, even hour to hour. For example, I took Matthew Stafford for the Lions in the mock in which I'm participating. Today, the Jay Cutler story may make everything moot. Much like all mocks. Call me a hypocrite, but mock drafts are a waste of time.

Eno: God, I agree about Mock Drafts!! Sheesh!! OK...your JOTW is....


Big Al: In fact, make THAT my Jerk of the Week. The endless mock drafts by everyone and their sister! (and me!) ENOUGH ALREADY! Or should I say, Jerks of the Week, plural. As for you, good sir?

Eno: Nicely played. My Jerk is the Denver Broncos’ new head coach Josh McDaniels, for managing to alienate his Pro Bowl QB [Jay Cutler] before St. Patrick's Day. Not the best way to start a new era!

Big Al: Let's all get drunk and piss off our Pro Bowl quarterback! Sounds like an exit cue, Eno-sabi. All good things must come to an end. Even though this doesn't fit the bill, this meeting of the Jerks must end too.

Eno: Indeed, sir. See ya next week!

Big Al: Same Jerk time, know the rest!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Big Al: Oakland plays in the Summit League, not Horizon.