Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weekly Jerkosity: A Fiercer Lion; A Scary Lyon; Meek Pistons; Smarmy NHL Commishes, And More!

Brace yourselves! It's Thursday, time for your weekly dose of "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al."

Every Thursday I get my sports chat on with the MVP of the MVN, Big Al from The Wayne Fontes Experience.

This week, we weigh in on the Lions' new logo; play our hunches on the No. 1 draft pick; crab about the Pistons' lack of heart and laud the Red Wings' ability to stomp on the Jackets' tickers; cheer and jeer the Tigers; and the usuals show up: Word Association and Jerk of the Week.

As you will......

Eno: It's another Thursday, another week to suffer us Knee Jerks! It's "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno & Al." I'm Eno, aka The Journalist, and he's Big Al, aka Mr. Big Shot. Happy Thursday, your Al-ness!

Big Al: Yo, Eno! Hey, that rhymes! I'm a poet and didn't know it! Hey, that rhymes too! But this isn't a poetry slam, it's a chat about Detroit sports. Anyway, it's a sorta happy Thursday. Detroit had two playoff games Tuesday night, but only one team came through with flying colors, the Red Wings. The Pistons, on the other hand... Let’s just say the starting five is playing like they have tee times the day after Game 4.

Eno: Ha! Exactly what I wrote about the Pistons at OOB on Wednesday. But before we get to the playoffs, let's start with something REALLY important, like the Lions' new logo and unis!! Your thoughts?

Big Al: I like them. I really do. As I said on TWFE, they are an evolution, rather than a revolution. There's something to be said for keeping the Honolulu blue and silver, despite what some media hacks may say. *cough*doofs on 97.1*cough* In the end, as nice as the new logo looks (especially the updated typeface, as I HATED their former circus-like font), in the end it's just a money grab; an attempt to boost merchandising sales. All teams do it, so why not the Lions? I was more perturbed by the fan base uprising at the uniform introduction. [Aaron] Curry, [Matthew] Stafford, either one would look good in the new uni.

Eno: Yeah, I was there, and the first time the "Curry! Curry!" chants came, it was kind of funny and cute. But then it kept going, and there even was a "DON'T DRAFT STAFFORD!" chant. I guess I was also taken aback by the degree of pro-Curry, anti-Stafford sentiment out there among the fan base. And the folks showing up at a uniform unveiling are, to me, pretty representative. Because that's going above and beyond, to traipse out there on a Monday afternoon.

Big Al: I'll give them credit for showing up. The Lions, despite a near decade of trying to kill off interest, still have a dedicated fan base. That being said, the chanting for Curry was out of line. There's a time and place; this wasn't it. And speaking of Curry. many fans want the Lions to draft the MLB out of Wake Forest, but it's for ALL THE WRONG REASONS! They are scared of another skill player failure. But any Number One overall pick is a crapshoot! There is NO guarantee Curry will be worth the huge contract the top pick gets. I'm leery of playing $30 million-plus for a two-down defensive player who is not a pass rushing threat. The money would be better spent on a QB, Stafford, or an OT, Jason Smith. From all accounts, the Lions feel the same way, and are using Curry as leverage toward a more reasonable contract.

Eno: I totally agree. I think the chants happened because the unveiling was held the week of the draft. Anyhow, the new Lions logo is indeed fiercer and I like it. Not as crazy about the "Lions" font, which is a little too feminine for me, but whatever. As for Curry/Stafford, you're right that picking Curry would be like "trying not to lose." As you know, I was anti-Stafford for the same reason: the Lions' history of drafting QBs is rather inglorious. But I've been converted. Bring on Stafford! What the hell? Sadly, if there wasn't a $30 million bonus involved, I might still stick with Curry. But it's hard to justify that kind of jack for, like you said, a two-down guy.

Big Al: That's the thing, when given a choice between someone who handles the ball every snap, and another who will likely leave the field on passing downs, who's giving you more for the money? The last thing the Lions should do is draft scared. As you say, going with Curry is drafting "not to lose." He'll be good, but will he be GREAT? The jury is out, and will be for a long time. But if you are going to roll the dice, and the draft is nothing but a big gamble at every selection, I'm going for a home run with the first roll. The Lions still have two more picks in the first 33 choices to get a MLB. Would either Rey Malaluga or James Laurenaitis be that big of a drop in talent over Curry? I seriously doubt it.

Eno: I think Stafford's their guy, I really do. I think we may even find that out by Friday; it might be leaked. Speaking of QBs, I know you had a burr up your rear end about Daunte Culpepper, but I looked at some video of the mini-camp, and the guy really does look good. He's excited and re-invigorated. His teammates notice, too. I know it's just mini-camp, but at least DC's coming into the new season with the right attitude and he appears to be ready to be a leader.

Big Al: We can only hope. But it's awfully easy for Culpepper to look good when no one is wearing pads, and there's no pass rush. Meaning there's no pressure. Sure he lost weight, but it was because the Lions inserted a weight clause in his deal. You’re asking to suspend my belief in thinking a QB who hasn't had a good season in five years will suddenly recapture his youth. [New offensive coordinator] Scott Linehan may help, but only if he can lay hands upon Culpepper and miraculously make him 25 years old again. Attitude is great, but I like talent even more. That's where Culpepper is now lacking.

Eno: We'll see! OK, what's on your Big Al kind of brain today?

Big Al: I read your Twitter tweet (I'm Big_Al_TWFE and Eno is thegregger63. FOLLOW US!) stating you haven't watched a single minute of the Pistons-Cavs series. I was surprised, but then again, maybe not so much. We all knew going into this series the Pistons had two chances in this series, slim and none. After sleepwalking through two games, they now have one chance: none. The Pistons’ starting five was awful Tuesday night. I never want to say anything about a team's or player's heart, but in this case, I might be willing to make an exception. It's always sad to watch a once great team decline, but this is embarrassing. The Pistons, as we once knew them, are long gone. I'm ready for the off-season to begin. Apparently, so are the Pistons.

Eno: Yeah, I said as much at OOB. No pride. No self-respect. I expected a little piss and vinegar, but nothing. This can’t possibly help Michael Curry's status as an NBA coach. He may never get another crack at it after this. Do they STILL bring him back? This is awful, unless they turn things around in Deeeetroit in Games 3 and 4.

Big Al: If this team is Joe Dumars's vision, I think he needs glasses. Dumars made his bed with Curry, now he has to sleep in it. There's a lack of chemistry on the roster, and with the coaches. Obviously, the roster is going to change, big time. That's the only thing saving Curry—the hope that he can click with a new core. Plus, the Pistons are still paying Larry Brown and Flip Saunders. I doubt Pistons' ownership wants a third ex-coach on the payroll.

Eno: Wow. What a web Dumars has weaved, eh? How does he get himself out of it? The national scribes are beginning to look at Joe D cross-eyed, as if he's now one of the worst NBA execs, instead of one of the best. Is he making this up as he goes along, or is there a grand plan in there somewhere?

Big Al: I hope Joe D has a plan. What that is, other than signing a couple of high-priced free agents with all the cap room, I don't know. He best strike gold in free agency, be it with a big name or how he did by finding players ready to break out (as he did with Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups), or his team will sink DEEP into the lottery next season. I'm souring just a little on Dumars myself. He signed Amir Johnson to an extension, and he can't stay in the rotation. Jason Maxiell, another from whom Dumars expected big improvement, has hit his plateau. Rodney Stuckey, after setting the NBA on fire after Billups left, has regressed. He is looking more and more like a shooting guard, not a point guard. And of course, the Allen Iverson deal destroyed what chemistry the Pistons may have had left. What I'm saying is Dumars has been in a slump, and he needs to step up his game after the season.

Eno: Another interesting thing, before we move on: the death of Bill Davidson and its impact. Apparently his widow will run things, but with Mr. D gone, how does that impact Dumars's job security, if at all?

Big Al: I think he's safe for the time being. I really doubt the Davidson family wants to shake up anything at the Palace, in basketball operations or on the business side. They have a well oiled machine, run by men (Dumars and Tom Wilson) who have, for the most part, sterling track records. But time, as always, will tell.

Eno: OK, some Tigers talk! Tough loss in L.A. Tuesday night (ed. note: but a big WIN Wednesday night), but Curtis Granderson got off the schneide and hit two homers. They're 7-6 as we do this chat. For the most part, the bullpen has been good. What bothers you, and what makes you happy about the Bengals, 2009?

Big Al: What bothers me is Jim Leyland's use of Brandon Lyon. He's Todd Jones redux. A one inning pitcher. Yet whenever Leyland has let Lyon go more than one inning, Tuesday night being the latest instance, bad things happen, man. Bad things. What's making me happy are a couple of things. Overall, the pitching staff, from the starters on down to the mop up men, looks much improved. All the Tigers need is league average pitching, and they'll contend in the Central deep into September. Also, Miguel Cabrera is the next coming, period. I'm thrilled Dave Dombrowski came out this week to nip in the bud (Channeling Barney Fife: NIP IT!) the asinine "Tigers will trade Cabrera” rumors. You NEVER trade a young talent like him. NEVER. It'll take a complete and utter economic collapse of unheard of impact for the Tigers to even consider a trade. Mike Ilitch has more money than, well, God. The Tigers will be fine, and keep Miggy. What makes you sad and happy, huh? Talk! Tell me! NOW!

Eno: Where the HELL did that rumor come from, anyway? Sheesh! I'm surprised DD even acknowledged it with a reply. Whatever. As for me, I'm with you on Lyon (Jones redux). Seems to me that managers are yanking their starters too early, consistently. I guess I come from the school of, "Let the starter get into some trouble before you pull him between innings." Are they SO wrapped up in pitch counts that they manage for that instead of the game situation? Texas's Ron Washington lifted Kevin Millwood against the Tigers when he was humming along. Why do your opponents a favor like that? When a guy is going good like that, your opponents will take their chances with ANYONE. In no other sport does this happen. It'd be like a hockey coach changing goalies in the third period while the guy is standing on his head. Why take your opponents off the hook??

Big Al: Hey, you didn't tell me what makes you happy! You holding out on me?

Eno: Ah....OK. Brandon Inge not striking out once every three at-bats. Ramon Santiago driving in runs. Cabrera, of course. Armando Galarraga. Rick Porcello. Fernando Rodney. Not a bad list, eh?

Big Al: Considering how many of those on the list were question marks going into the season, not bad at all. Though I continue to wonder what the Tigers have against Santiago. He's outplaying Adam Everett, who's been underwhelming in the field and THE SUCKAGE at the plate. Everett couldn't even get a bunt down against the Angels on Tuesday, helping to nip in the bud (NIP IT! NIP IT!) a possible ninth inning rally. Which does lead me to another concern—that Leyland will go overboard on the “small ball”. It's overrated, though some fans eat it up like so much candy. I HATE giving away outs, I HATE sacrifice bunts and I HATE going for only one run!

Eno: Conventional wisdom says get the runner into scoring position, but Josh Anderson also screwed things up by getting picked off. And he's the fastest guy on the team. But I see what you're saying. Keep the outs and see if you can get a bigger inning going. How about some WordAss?

Big Al: Fire away, dude!


Eno: The Red Wings in the playoffs, first round version.

Big Al: Curb stomping. That's what they've done to the Blue Jackets, crushed their hopes, dreams and souls. It's been a slaughter. A laugher. Sheer domination. I'm running out of words....

Eno: Then we'll move on! Goalie Chris Osgood.

Big Al: He was right, everyone else was wrong! Ozzie can flip the proverbial switch! He's been a brick wall against the BJs; the Red Wings’ MVP in the three wins.

Eno: Two more. First, John Madden, newly-retired broadcaster.

Big Al: Great broadcaster...till he got bored about 10 years ago, more or less. He's been going through the motions for quite some time. He set the bar, then lowered it as he aged. Great career as both a football coach and color man, but his time has passed.

Eno: Finally, I say the Red Wings will either play Vancouver or Anaheim in Round Two and you hope for......

Big Al: I'll say...The Canucks. The Ducks, for whatever reason, always scare me! Mallard, Daffy, Donald, Mighty, Howard the, Anaheim...

Big Al: OK, ready for a few?

Eno: Hit me, I’m open!

Big Al: Let’s start with the man the Pistons cannot stop, LeBron James.

Eno: The King, and he's making the Pistons look silly. A man among the boys. But this series shouldn't judge him, for the Pistons are no competition.

Big Al: No kidding. It's laughable how easy the Pistons are making it for him. Next, this is just being reported as we are chatting Wednesday afternoon, Lions are close to a deal with Stafford. First thing that comes to your mind is?

Eno: My suspicions confirmed. Good choice. I hope the kid does well. He wants to be here. Rock on.

Big Al: Hey, he did say he'd trade in his Chevy for a Ford! I think that closed the deal! Back to the Wings-BJs. [Columbus coach] Ken Hitchcock pulled a Michele Therion, claiming the Red Wings "cheat” on face-offs. You say?

Eno: Hitchcock is Scotty Bowman Lite! Whatever. And some Columbus writer wrote that Osgood looked "shaky" in Games 1 and 2. Again, whatever.

Big Al: Well said. The BJs are grasping at straws. Desperation city. One more, in honor of the draft this weekend. The king of the draft-niks, Mel Kiper.

Eno: Mel Kiper?? You mean the dude who comes out every year, like a groundhog? He means nothing to me. He's been as wrong as all the others in the past—maybe wronger.

Big Al: Agreed; Kiper is better at self-promotion than predicting the draft. But he does have an amazing head of hair! Anything else on your mind before we talk about our Jerks of the Week?

Eno: Well, just that with MLB recently honoring Jackie Robinson by having every player wear No. 42 on the same day, there are the usual calls for other numbers to be retired. I read at Bleacher Report where someone wants MLB to retire Roberto Clemente's No. 21, universally. I was afraid this would happen once the can of worms was opened. I agree with the Robinson retirement, but are there indeed other numbers that should be retired? Seems you can now make compelling cases for several players, now that we've done Jackie. Thoughts?

Big Al: Clemente died selflessly, as he was on a mission to help earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He deserves all the accolades he received posthumously. But to do the same thing MLB does for Robinson devalues it. Why not do the same for Hank Aaron, the true home run king, who battled racism in his struggle to top Babe Ruth? Why not honor Willie Horton, who was a peacekeeper in the Detroit riots? Why not Ted Williams, who served heroically in not one, but TWO wars? Isn't being honored by your own team enough? It should be.

Eno: That's what I mean. The can of worms has been opened. When does it end? You can make compelling cases for all those guys you mentioned. I think individual teams retiring numbers is a hell of an honor. The bottom line is, only one man could do what Robinson did (break a color barrier). Sometimes, though, I wish MLB had honored him differently, so we wouldn't have to contend with all these numbers that everyone wants retired.

Big Al: Let alone it gets confusing as all Hell when there are 50+ players running around a stadium, all wearing 42! The fact Robinson's number was retired throughout MLB is honor enough. As for retiring numbers, it's great, it should be the end all honor for an athlete, but it can be run into the ground if over done. See Pistons, Detroit.

Eno: Yeah! Vinnie Johnson? Hmmmm.....not so sure about that one! OK, who's your Jerk of the Week, sire?


Big Al: Time for the Jerk of...Uh, that came out wrong... My Jerk is a group of jerks. The Lions "fans" who felt the need to make a mockery of the new logo introduction by acting like a bunch of drunks in week 12 of the NFL season. Chanting for Curry, and against Stafford, is so shortsighted, so immature, so Lions-esque. If it wasn't so damn sad, it'd have been funny. I’m no fan of the mob mentality, and those chanting were nothing but blinded-by-fear sheep. SHEEP. You disagree with the draft? Great! Just being more than “Stafford sucks.” I hate to be put in the position to defend the Lions, but they do deserve at least a little benefit of the doubt.

Eno: Well said. My Jerk is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who told the Fox Sports Detroit folks Tuesday night that he doesn't think fans disagree with how NHL games are called. Puh-leeeze!!

Big Al: As I said on Twitter Tuesday night, I wished Mickey Redmond would have given the smarmy SOB that is Bettman a BC two-hander across the chops after their interview. The Mick can still bring it, gang! Bettman is EVIL. End of story. Speaking of the end...

Eno: Yes...we must part ways for the week. Have a great one, my friend, and I'll see you next Thursday for another webisode!

Big Al: Same Jerk time, same Jerk channel, same Jerk attitude! Till next Thursday, and as Jack Lord always said, ALOHA!

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