Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
They say hindsight is 20/20. To make the obvious joke, our Michigan Football Roundtable series showed foresight so poor it needed some JoePa glasses. Few Michigan fans were able to predict just how poor this season would turn out to be, but some of our predictions were comical, even though we didn't get our act together in time to post a final season record prediction. Judging by our other previews, it's a damn good thing we didn't try to pick the Wolverines' final record. That could've been embarassing.
Anyways, for the purpose of comic relief, here are our preseason roundtable predictions, in all their misguided glory:
Joe and Webstarr: Darryl Stonum. Not a terrible choice, considering he finished with 14 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown. However, he was never a huge part of the offense, disappeared for long stretches (although that can be blamed on the general ineptitude of the passing offense), and showed a troubling propensity for dropping passes.
Sam: J.B. Fitzgerald. Finished with 8 tackles, and saw playing time almost exclusively on special teams.
Ace: Terrence Robinson. Damn, wrong pocket-sized slot receiver. Robinson took a redshirt after injuring his knee before the season. I did include this caveat:
[Note: If Odoms beats out Robinson as the designated slot guy/returner, just switch my vote to him. You can basically just swap "Odoms" for "Robinson" for that entire post and it would still ring true. I'm totally cheating, but you get the idea. Slot guy = big deal.]However, this is called "hedging your bet" and is totally cheating.
The Actual Impact Freshman: Martavious Odoms.
Sam McGuffie showed early flashes of brilliance (mostly in the Notre Dame game) and finished second on the team in rushing (486 yards) but faded quickly down the stretch. Michael Shaw seemed to have a big impact any time he touched the ball (5.1 yards per carry), but that didn't happen very often (42 attempts in 10 games). Boubacar Cissoko saw the field sporadically, and traded decent plays (3 pass breakups, tied for second on the team) with coverage blunders one would expect out of a true freshman.
Ultimately, Odoms was the freshman with the biggest impact. He led the team with 49 catches, 443 receiving yards, and 1040 all-purpose yards, and the offense's ability to move the ball often relied on him to turn bubble screens into first downs. He also returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown in the Purdue game. Yes, he had some major issues holding on to the ball on punt and kick returns, but it's hard to argue against him being the best freshman on the team this season.
Joe: Kevin Grady. Joe certainly went out on a limb here, and the gamble didn't really pay off. Grady was a seldom-used short-yardage back, carrying the ball 14 times for 33 yards and a touchdown. It is clear that he doesn't fit in to RichRod's offense.
Webstarr: Brandon Graham.
More on Graham later.
Sam: Stevie Brown. If this award went to the player who caused the most fans to "break out" their inner demons and do serious damage to property, people in the vicinity, and unfortunately placed pets, Brown would win in a landslide. However, we were looking for something different. From Stevie and Sam. Sorry, guys.
Ace: Carson Butler. Caught two passes all year, was in the coaches' doghouse for blowing assignments and punching opposing players, and eventually moved to defensive end. Epic fail on my part.
The Actual Breakout Player: Brandon Graham.
Went from a pass rush specialist (8.5 sacks in 2007, but only one other tackle for loss, and 3.5 of those sacks came against an incompetent Notre Dame line) to a full-fledged beast this season. Led the team with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, had 46 total tackles and forced two fumbles. Despite facing constant double-teams, BG lived in the opponent's backfield. Graham was by far the best player on Michigan's defense, and was named second-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.
Joe: Tim Jamison. Jamison had a solid season, with 5.5 sacks and 10.5 TFLs, but had nowhere near the impact of Graham.
Webstarr: Wasn't in the article, but knowing Noah the pick would have been BG. Too bad he didn't send me anything before the season. Children, this is why you shouldn't be lazy -- you lose the right to gloat if there's no proof you were right in the first place.
Sam: Morgan Trent. Sam made the argument that Trent was the most proven player on the roster in the preseason, and used this pick as evidence that Michigan was not going to be very good. The overall point was correct, but Trent actually seemed to regress this season after a solid 2007 campaign. He did intercept three passes, but nobody in the Wolverine secondary can escape the fact that as a whole they gave up way too many big plays to considered anything but a liability.
Ace: Carlos Brown. Oops. Brown was limited by variety of injuries throughout the season, and rushed for 122 yards on 29 attempts, all but six of which came against Northwestern in his lone game as the featured back. My visions of Brown as a 1000-yard back and part-time QB could not have been much further from reality.
The Actual Team MVP: Zoltan Mesko.
Yeah, I said it. Our punter is my pick for MVP this year, and only partly because I already named Graham as the breakout player of the year. Brandon Minor, who one could argue was the most valuable player on offense, only ran for 533 yards this season. The rest of the offense teetered somewhere between surprisingly mediocre and epic suck. Besides Graham, nobody on defense can claim that they performed consistently well this season. K.C. Lopata hit only two-thirds of his field goals this season, and blew an easy chance to tie the Toledo debacle.
Mesko, however, averaged 43 yards per punt, nailed 24 kicked inside the 20-yard line while kicking only three touchbacks, boomed 24 50+ yard punts, forced 21 fair catches, and was the biggest reason why Michigan spent much of the season as the top net punting team in the country (we're currently #5). Zoltan the Inconceivable was able to almost single-handedly change field position, and with the 111th ranked offense in the country, field position was at a premium. He was the lone Wolverine to garner first-team All-Big Ten honors.
That should really tell you all you need to know about this season.
Lil' Wayne Lyric:
Before the season, we all tried to choose the Lil' Wayne lyric that would best describe the season. I won't do the rundown, but all our quotes essentially talked about overcoming adversity to achieve great success. In the long term, this should be the case, and I certainly believe it will be. However, if you were to take a Weezy quote that summed up the general Michigan fan's reaction to this season, I would go with:
"And man I miss the times, we would shine, you would keep me on your side
You would teach me how to ride and you would teach me how to pry
Then we get on the line and go over our lines
We were in the same position and that's when you change positions, shit
I never change and I miss ya, and its strange but I never forget ya
say that ain't you in them pictures"
--Lil' Wayne, "I Miss My Dawgs"
Friday, November 21, 2008
Oh, and Stu Douglass officially has a license to shoot.
Regardless of how representative of the team this game really was (no, I don't believe we're a top-5 team, obviously) it was incredibly refreshing and encouraging to see Michigan close out a game like this. Too many times in the past few years we've taken good teams down to the wire, only to falter down the stretch. Tonight Michigan finished, and now we have a signature win and two cracks to upset Duke in the next five games.
For tonight, I am happy. Just don't drop the f-bomb (football) on me for the next 24 hours. I want to enjoy this one.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I've gotten a few comments about this recently, and they are completely valid.
The banner at the top of this website is completely cursed. Chauncey Billups was traded. Joel Zumaya's arm may fall off before we ever see him have another productive season. Mike Hart is (1) no longer a Wolverine, and (2) is out for the NFL season with a torn ACL. Roy Williams pouted, took plays off, and was then traded (although one could argue that worked out great for both the Lions and Roy). Only Pavel Datsyuk remains untouched by The Ace of Sports Banner Curse (TASBC, for short).
I might throw up a temporary replacement soon, just to ensure that Datsyuk doesn't get run over by a runaway Zamboni. However, I am not a graphic designer, by any standard. If any enterprising reader has the ability to create a banner for the website, I would be forever indebted.
If you are interested:
- The banner must have "The Ace of Sports" prominently displayed on it somewhere, since that's the name of the blog and all.
- It should incorporate images somehow involving the Pistons, Red Wings, Lions, Tigers, and Wolverines.
- The dimensions are 1000 x 200 pixels.
- Other than that, go wild.
Many thanks in advance.
Yikes. Take a couple (unannounced) weeks off, and shit really starts hitting the fan. We lost to Northwestern during a miserable day at Michigan Stadium. I left at halftime while we were ahead, something I could never have imagined doing just a short few months ago. I was too numb, in every sense of the word, to willfully stay while every fiber of my body screamed for a warm couch, some hot food, and a clear view of an HDTV. I watched the rest of the second half, still caring about the outcome, but for the first time as a Michigan fan also caring about my sanity, and whether this was all worth it.
I guess I wasn't the only one feeling like that. Zion Babb got kicked off the team, Jason Kates has decided to transfer, and there is rampant speculation that Artis Chambers and Sam McGuffie will also finish their collegiate careers elsewhere. From a completely nonpartisan standpoint, I can't say I blame them. It's easy to sit here, quote Bo, and dismiss the players as not tough enough, mentally or physically, to play for Michigan.
Except, as much as I can, being a 5-11, 140 pound bespectacled aspiring writer, I understand why these guys would leave. Nobody signs up to play for Michigan player thinking 3-8 (and in all likelihood, 3-9) is within the realm of possibility. Recruits weren't thrown into the middle of a Mike Barwis workout on their official visit. Most of this team signed a letter of intent to play for Lloyd Carr. Many of these players saw their positions disappear, or other players leap them on the depth chart, and have little hope of seeing the field is they remain Wolverines. To see the end of your playing career when you're 20 years old can't be easy. I'd be looking for ways to extend it as long as possible, too.
It doesn't just end with football. No matter how much help these guys get, Michigan classes are hard. Nothing in high school prepares you for your first week of midterms, or having hour-long tests that count for 30% of your overall grade, or how hard it is to write a five-page paper when you know your friends are just ten minute walk away, getting drunk at a house party. The flip-side to being a great school academically is, well, that it's a great school academically. I can't imagine how poorly I'd be doing in school if I had to juggle academics with a sport as time-consuming as football.
It's not just the academics. Ever been through a Michigan winter? It sucks. You go outside only as a last resort. The wind cuts straight to your bones at every corner, and it always seems to find a way to blow right into your face. Nobody wants to party anymore, since cabs are expensive and there's just no way you're walking across campus. All the pretty girls in tank tops and miniskirts you saw during welcome week are replaced by an army of puffy Northface coats, scarves, and sweatpants. You're pretty sure there's a girl in there somewhere, but there's just no way to be sure.
North Face, the official sponsor of the least-titillating winters of your life.
Although I didn't intend this when I started writing tonight, this has essentially become an open letter to the fans who make personal attacks on the players.
Get a life.
I'm assuming most of you readers, since you are reading an online blog, know who Bill Simmons, aka "The Sports Guy" for ESPN.com is. He is probably the most famous sports blogger ever, and is a champion to any one of us typing away at our keyboards to probably no one just because we have opinions. He's the one who "made it," not because he had connections or because he had the right internships, but because people really loved reading what he had to say. In the blogging world, at least in my blogging world, he is king.
That said, there are a few drawbacks to his writing, the first being he is an unabashed Boston sports fan. We all know how obnoxious they are -- they are the ones who somehow perfected the art of being whiny and arrogant at the same time. Part of me actually likes this aspect of his writing, and it is refreshing to hear him just come out and say it, because he sounds like me writing about my teams. He covers the Boston teams with the same love and affection we at the Ace of Sports do for Detroit teams. However, there are times where it is so glaring he actually makes himself look bad. Here's the example I'm getting at (watch out -- this is pretty long. You know how he can be):
Random tangent since we're here: I want to come back in my next life as Joe Dumars. He should have broken up the Pistons after they folded in the 2007 East finals against the Cavs, but instead, he waited an extra 16 months, overpaid Chauncey Billups, then killed this season's team by getting out of the Billups contract by dumping his salary for Iverson's expiring contract, only nobody in Detroit caught on because, "Hey, we got Allen Iverson!!!!!" Meanwhile, he has the media convinced Rodney Stuckey is headed for the Hall of Fame, and the Pistons have a chance to land LeBron in 2010. Really? LeBron is going to drop a nuclear bomb on Cleveland by ditching it for a division rival? That's happening? Last time I checked, free agents were fleeing Detroit (Allan Houston, Grant Hill, Ben Wallace) and not signing there. And if you really think Detroit is landing a marquee guy in 2010 when big markets such as New York and L.A. and warm-weather cities such as Miami, Phoenix and Orlando will all be throwing money around -- not to mention deep-pocketed Portland, which will have assembled a contender at that point and remains the most logical destination for LeBron if he only cares about winning titles and nothing else (and also, Nike is right there) -- then you're obviously in denial. Chris Bosh loves Toronto. He's not leaving. Dwyane Wade isn't leaving South Beach so he can wear a parka and live in Michigan. And LeBron wants to be the next Jordan and/or the most famous athlete on the planet; these things aren't happening in Detroit just because Worldwide Wes likes the Pistons. Come on.
Here's what that cap space will get Dumars: Maybe a discount superstar like Dirk Nowitzki (who's about three months away from turning into the 1991 Tom Chambers) or a nonsuperstar free agent like Carlos Boozer. That's about it. As for the Pistons fans, Dumars might be better than many GMs in the league, but remember, he's the same guy who botched the Darko pick, hired Flip Saunders, overpaid Nazr Mohammed, shoved Carlos Delfino down your throats, pushed out Larry Brown and badly misjudged Mehmet Okur. He's not a genius. He's a solid GM who made some good moves and some bad ones, and he definitely held on to the 2004 nucleus for about 18 months too long. It's OK to lightly question the direction of this team without feeling like an ingrate. Really, it is. You are within your rights. The five-year grace period is almost up.
And there it is: the fear. Can you smell it? It practically oozes from his words. The best part is when he tries to convince himself that Portland is more of a contender in the hugely competitive Western conference than Detroit is in the much weaker Eastern conference. Bill, I'm sorry Joe D can't make all the right decisions. Your squad has been known to blow a few big ones as well (Antoine Walker, anyone?). The fact is, we in Detroit trust him. All he's done is win us a championship with one of the most likable and truly team-first teams in recent memory, certainly a more legit project than your Celts, who were gift-wrapped, packaged and sealed for you by a former player in a trade that should have been vetoed by the Commish. So good job Danny Ainge, you've built a winner, at least until the aging Ray Allen slows down (which he already did against, ahem, Detroit in the playoffs. It's only a matter of time), Kevin Garnett gets a little older and loses some of his defensive quickness, and Paul Pierce decides he's done enough and starts mailing it in. That day is rapidly approaching. The point is, your team may be good now, but they're OLD. OLD, OLD, O-L-D OLD. And who do you have waiting in the wings? The great Rajon Rondo, Big Baby Davis, Eddie House (truly a joke of a player), and Kendrick Perkins (nothing but a body). The only legit players you got are Tony Allen ( and that's stretching the definition of "legit") and Leon Powe, who is, admittedly, a beast. Good luck with that team in five years. Hell, three years.
Here's the thing: Bill knows all of this. This is not new to him. That's why he went on his "tangent." It was written as much to reassure himself as to demoralize Detroit fans. You can hear it, especially when he talks about free agents leaving Detroit instead of going there. Good argument, Bill. Every team lets free agents go. It's not like players look at teams that have let a few go and say, "oooh, they let those guys go, I don't want to go there." Each case is different, and the players know that. Also, Allen Houston? Grant Hill? Really? I think I was nine when the Houston was here, and only a little older during Grant Hill. You're showing your age, Bill. Maybe you should take some of your own advice that you give Charles Barkley in the paragraph before the one I posted. Another good part is when he says the weather is one of the top reasons players decide where to go. Here's a revelation for you. Real players care about two things: money and rings. If the Stons got the money and the team, there should be no problem whatsoever signing a top-notch free agent.
And excuse us in Detroit for being excited about landing the player with the third-best average of all time. I love Iverson. He truly showed me what the NBA could be when I was in sixth grade and he took the Sixers to the finals when the second-best player on the team was Aaron McKie and he was THIS CLOSE to winning the first two games in L.A. against the mighty Lakers. I will always be grateful to him for what he showed in that series. And you know what's funny about Allen Iverson? I've never seen him cry and be wheeled out of the gym in a wheelchair from a fake knee injury. Even you, Bill, had to see the sapiness in that whole act. The Celts were praised and hyped and fawned over and dramatized (Bill Russel's televised conversation with KG, anyone?) by the media that whole season, and Pierce wanted just a little bit more, so he sold his dignity for a chance that a few people would believe he was actually hurt and he could pretend he was a hero. One problem: he lost the respect of countless fans. Congratulations, Paul.
So there you have it: the unflappable Bill Simmons, he of the boundless ego, is officially scared. I am looking forward to the rest of the season like I have never before. Go Pistons, and God Bless Joe Dumars.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I loved watching him play during his Sixers days, when he single-handedly carried terrible teams way further than they ever should have gone. Remember, Aaron McKie was Philly's number two scoring option when they made the NBA Finals in 2001 (I guess you could argue Dikembe Mutombo was, but he mostly just cleaned up what AI missed...it's not like they ran the offense through him). Iverson's step-over on Tyronn Lue remains one of my favorite highlights from my lifetime.
It's going to be fun watching AI suit up for Detroit Friday night at New Jersey, and for the rest of the season. Now that he is not burdened with carrying a team, or the growth of another superstar, we may just see a reenergized Iverson. If we do, this Detroit team will be one to watch out for deep into the summer.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
From ESPN via DBB: Detroit has just signed Rip Hamilton to a three-year, $34 million extension.
I'm going to wait for someone who knows more about the salary cap to break this one down. I'm still recovering from the AI trade. My initial reaction is relief that there won't be a total overhaul of the roster after this season. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to eat lunch. Um, dinner. I need to get away from my computer now.
Lost in all the hoopla of whether the Chauncey/Dyess/Samb-for-AI deal is good for the Pistons is the fact that, well, Detroit is trading Mr. Big Shot. This may seem dumbfoundingly obvious, but it seems that the fact hasn't sunk in yet that Detroit is trading a fan favorite, as well as a superb basketball player.
I have to get this off my chest: I don't believe in clutch. There's a multitude of reasons, but here's my argument boiled down in to a couple of sentences. Check out 82games.com's "Clutch" statistics (they use the quotes too). Notice something about the top of the leaderboard? It's just the league's best players, with almost no exceptions. To me, "clutch" falls in to the same category as "grit" and "being a winner" as terms thrown around by sportswriters because they're easier to say than it is to actually break down why a player is good.
However, I never had a problem with Chauncey's "Mr. Big Shot" moniker. Why? Because the dude had cajones. Detroit did not have a go-to scorer during its run to six straight conference finals appearances, but Chauncey was always the man in big-time situations. Whether he made the big shot or missed it, a Pistons fan was never unhappy to see the ball in Billups' hands with the clock winding down. Many will call that clutch; I prefer to say that Chauncey just has no fear.
I've already said I love the trade, from the standpoint that the Pistons have a brighter future and a great present as well. Still, there's a heavy feeling in my gut, one that knows that number one in the Red, White and Blue won't be suiting up for the D again. "Allen ... I-I-I-Iverson" just doesn't have the same ring as Mason's "B-B-B-Billups" introduction. And so, I'll be pouring out a beer for Chauncey tonight (and probably drinking a couple as well).
They say the mark of a great GM is the ability to make personnel moves without letting sentiment get in the way. Good think Joe Dumars is our GM, because this is a trade most Pistons fans would have a really hard time making.
Just look back and appreciate some of Chauncey's finest playoff exploits:
Stephen A. Smith is reporting on Sportscenter that a HUGE deal is near completion in Detroit. The Pistons will reportedly send Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess to Denver in exchange for Allen Iverson.
My first instinct is to say I like the trade. AI is still a go-to scorer who is as hungry as anyone in the league for an NBA title. He can play both guard spots, and with Rip Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey will form one of the most potent backcourt rotations in the league.
The trade, if it goes through, is bittersweet. Chauncey has always been a fan favorite, and it's always tough to see an NBA Finals MVP go. However, he is going to his hometown team and a playoff contender, so as a Pistons fan I'm happy for him.
This is definitely a huge vote of confidence for Stuckey, Amir Johnson, and Jason Maxiell, all of whom are in line to play even bigger roles with the team if this trade goes through. Losing Ben Wallace to free agency was one thing, but trading Chauncey really signals the beginning of the end of the old guard (the core of the team that won the 2004 title) and the start of the youth movement in Detroit.
More on this later, after it is (and IF it is) confirmed.
UPDATE: Tom Ziller at the Fanhouse posts another reason why this deal makes a whole lot of sense for Detroit:
This deal isn't about tomorrow or April, though: it's about July. Iverson is a pending free agent, while Billups and Antonio McDyess will take up $19 million of cap space next season. If Dumars lets A.I. flee and fails to re-sign aging forward Rasheed Wallace, the Pistons will be looking at upwards of $20 million in cap space in the summer of 2009. The free agent crop is solid -- not replete with superstars, but solid. Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Hedo Turkoglu, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Ben Gordon ... there's a chance Dumars could pick up two of those guys with all his space. (UPDATE: Rip Hamilton could also opt out this summer, if he wants to pass up $11 million in exchange for long-term security. That'd give Dumars more than $30 million to play with.)Don't doubt Joe D. This move doesn't severely cripple the Pistons' chances this season (in my opinion), and gives up a hell of a lot more flexibility down the road. If we pick up a superstar or two in a couple of years, this will be looked at as possibly the best personnel move Dumars has ever made.
Or -- and here's the scary thought for non-Pistons fans -- Dumars could let the freedom ride til the summer of '10, when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire hit the market. Atonement for the '03 draft debacle, perhaps?
UPDATE 2: Damn, take a nap, and things get all official. Yes, this trade is actually happening, and there's seemingly hundreds of reactions out there on the internets already. True Hoop loves the deal for Detroit. So does Ball Don't Lie. Kevin Sawyer at DBB is less enthused (still waiting to see what Matt thinks). ESPN's Chad Ford and John Hollinger weigh in, as does Keith Langlois at True Blue Pistons. Also, Dave Dial at MLive's Full Court Press blog has a great breakdown of the salary cap ramifications of the deal, as well as a list of potential free agents for next offseason, if Detroit chooses to use its cap space on the class of 2009.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I mean, seriously. Scott Shafer, please stop single-handedly raising my blood pressure to Old Faithful-esque levels. The last time the Wolverines gave up 48 points to Purdue? Um, never.
Have I mentioned their quarterback played running back two weeks ago? Ugh.
Time to block this out of my mind and attempt to enjoy the rest of Halloween weekend. Heavy drinking is absolutely inevitable.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
They sure don't make glass like they used to...that hit wasn't even that hard.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
I will say this. Van Ryn did a great job of playing the puck out of the zone despite knowing that a big hit was coming. I just don't think he expected quite THAT big of a hit.
First of all, many thanks to all of our readers who have been leaving comments, questions and suggestions. It is very much appreciated, and it also gives us an idea of what you guys want to read about, which helps us in our endless pursuit of making you happy. Seriously, I eat these questions up like Gosder Cherilus at an all-you-can-eat before he shows up to training camp out of shape and overweight, so keep 'em coming.
Reader Zac brought up three very good draft options that would fill the Lion's most prevalent needs. Here's what I think of each one.
Sam Bradford/Matt Stafford, QB's for Oklahoma/Georgia- I have to agree with Zac and go with Bradford on this. I think he and Stafford are equally suited for the pro game, but what's wierd about Stafford is that he really hasn't imporved much since last year. He is on pace to throw fewer scores, and only one less pick than he did last year, and so far a much-hyped season has been pretty unremarkable. I don't know anyone who would pick a player who seemed to have peaked his junior year and then didn't do much his senior year (oh wait, that's exactly what the Lions did with Gosder. Awesome). Now, Stafford is only a junior, and if he stays in school this is a moot point, in fact, Bradford is a year younger, so this may all be moot, but Bradford to me is the better choice. He's going to throw for almost twice as many touchdowns as Bradford, and less picks, and while he is younger, he's simply more talented. If Bradford waits and Stafford leaves though, take Stafford. We can't afford to wait.
(Quick note-anybody else confuse these two because their names are straight out of a Shel Silverstein poem? I can imagine Joe Buck, when both quarterbacks are in the NFL, "It's Stafford against Bradford! Hello everybody, we are just about ready for kickoff!" Wouldn't he just get a kick out of that? Also, really glad I finally dropped Shel Silvertstein in a blog post)
Vontae Davis, CB for Illinois- If the Lions picked their quarterback first in the draft and this guy is still available by the time they get to their second pick, they would be lucky. I think the best-case scenario is either getting Malcom Jenkins out of OSU or Macho Harris of Virginia Tech, possibly the owner of the coolest nickname for a cornerback of all time, with apologies to Neon Deion Sanders. However, both will go very high. Realistically, if the Lions are using this pick as their second of the first round, they might be able to get Deondre Wright, a lockdown guy out of New Mexico, or maybe that kid out of Western Michigan, Londen Fryar. Both would be very good alternatives. The great thing about corner is it is one of the surest positions in the draft. If you were the best corner on your team in college, you were always one the other team's best receiver, who was probably NFL-caliber himself if you were playing at a big-time school. Generally, if you're fast and have good instincts, you can't go wrong. Good hands are a plus.
Andre Smith, OL for Alabama- This guy is a certified monster. He just eats people alive. He would be especially important because he plays the all-important left tackle position and protects the quarterbcak's blind side. In fact, if he is available by the time we make our second pick of the first round (I love saying that), take him instead of a cornerback. Definitely. I just think this position is more important. One good young left tackle is going to be more effective in improving the offense than one good young cornerback is in the defense.
The question, as Zac points out, is: who is running the Lions scouting? If it is the same people who landed such gems as Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Teddy Lehman, Drew Stanton and Gosder Cherilus (yeah, I'm already considering him a bust. If you disagree, check beck with him in three years when he's desperately trying to make a team as a 480-pound convicted felon), then the Lions are in trouble again. All I know is that the guy currently in charge of college scouting is dome dude named Scott McEwen. Whether or not he's a new guy I have no idea. Hopefully he was hired yesterday.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Roy Williams was traded from the Lions to the Dallas Cowboys. Yeah, you already know. Midterms may be taking over Ace's life, but I'm an English major. Needless to say, midterms are relatively light. This means I will try to take over posting duties while I can.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Photo courtesy of The Detroit News
Something just didn't seem right from the start. We arrived at our seats five minutes to noon, and entire blocks of the student section were completely empty. Kickoff came and went, but still many of those seats remained unfilled. Unless I was unaware that Saturday was "Disguise Yourself As a Blue Metal Bench Day", something was amiss.
As for the noise, well, there was little to speak of. I realize that it's hard to put your heart and soul behind a struggling team, but I'm pretty sure Northwestern fans would have been disgusted with the sound output of our student section. There was one kid, standing a row in front of us, who did his best to encourage our section to yell on every defensive play, to do something to help a team that found itself struggling with a 1-4 MAC squad. People looked at him like he had nine heads.
We all know what happened. Steven Threet gifted Toledo a 100-yard touchdown, Nick Sheridan remained Nick Sheridan, and K.C. no longer stands for Kicking Consistency. Now we're 2-4, desperately trying to figure out how we'll win another game, with our bowl streak tenuously hanging by the thinnest of threads and our undefeated record against the MAC shattered like a Bee Gees record on Disco Demolition Night. Holy Toledo, indeed.
But what disappoints me almost as much as our play is the complete lack of support coming from the player's own peers. I was talking on Friday to a woman who works with me at the Michigan Union who is close with many current and former players, all of whom will remain nameless for the sake of this post. After the Wisconsin game, she said at least four current and former players all separately expressed their disappointment in the fans who booed the team after the first half. Not only that, but the bile coming from the fans doesn't stop after the game is over. Students actually have the gall to walk up to players on campus and tell them, in so many words, that they aren't happy with their play on the field. People may not realize it, but these guys actually listen.
This is not a plea to stop booing in order to not hurt these players feelings. However, you have to wonder how hard these guys want to play for a student body in which seemingly 25% of the ticket holders don't show up to games, and half of those that do spend the entire 60 minutes exploring uses for every possible variation of the word "fuck". This may be a lost season from a Big Ten standpoint, but these players still have to show up for six more games, including two more at home. They can't just go "fuck it" and walk out on this season, not unless they want to throw away lifelong dreams of NFL millions, thousands of hours of work, and a huge part of their identity. Our "fans", however, seem to have no such qualms about doing just that, and I doubt that's helping our team in what is already an incredibly trying season.
My one quote for this game comes from the bitter end, overheard as I was ascending the stadium steps towards the exit, readying for a dreary walk to campus followed by a postgame ritual of crappy Chinese food and a much-needed nap. I didn't want to hear anything else. The sound of the stadium announcer proclaiming "Final Score: Toledo 13, Michigan 10" was more than enough for me. Then I heard it:
"I hate to be The Right Guy, but I'm The Right Guy."
It was said so joyfully, with so much pride in the speaker's own greatness and glory, that it HAD to come from someone wearing a Toledo shirt. I was almost too scared to look back, in fear that I would lose what little faith I have left in Michigan fans. Sure enough, I turned to see a guy decked out in Michigan gear, smiling like he had just bet the farm on a Toledo victory. Just to rub it home, he repeated the same statement three more times during the 40-row ascent out of the Big House. I remember the number, because that's how many times I had to count to ten and resist the urge to knock the motherfucker straight to Row B. He capped off his Chronicles of Douchebaggery with a simple "Rich Rod sucks," before disappearing to wherever people without souls go (probably Pike).
I tend to think of myself as a rational, level-headed guy, but at that point I really hoped that man's night would end with a slow ride in an ambulance. My emotions have settled down a bit since then. Now I only wish he is subjected to the kind of toture detailed at the beginning of the song "Method Man" (I'd post a link, but I have relatives who occasionally read this blog, and I'd like to continue to be on speaking terms with them). Hey, it's better than death. Barely.
In all seriousness, I have no respect for you if you take joy in watching your team lost just because it makes you right. Do us all a favor and just stay home next time. I'm sure your friends in Round One of the Ninth Circle of Hell will enjoy your company (and yes, I have actually read Dante, so save it). But before you go, try to sell your ticket to someone who actually cares about Michigan football, if there are any of them left.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
From today's Tuesday Morning Quarterback:
Rich Rodriguez Was Behind This Somehow: Reader Brian Lemay of Ann Arbor, Mich., notes the Wolverines were playing well against Illinois in the first half. At intermission, the Michigan cheerleaders donned jackets and pants; in the second half, Michigan was blown out. And about that Gatorade shower Rodriguez received the week before, after the Wisconsin game: Standards are slipping if the coach gets a bucket dunked on his head for reaching a .500 record.This combines all of Gregg Easterbrook's ingredients for his "Things That Piss Ace Off" cocktail. One part creepy obsession with cheerleaders half his age, two parts completely unprovoked potshot at Rich Rodriguez, and one part complete lack of knowledge about college football. I'm sorry, but a Gatorade shower is completely warranted in the case of a young, rebuilding football team pulling off the greatest comeback in the history of a storied stadium in the first conference game of the tenure of their new coach.
Mr. Easterbrook, kindly fuck yourself and die.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Newly acquired Red Wings Marian Hossa (left) and Ty Conklin should be laughing all the way to the Cup (photo courtesy of the Detroit News)
I know, I'm really going out on a limb here. With the Wings opening their season next Thursday against the Maple Leafs, I was going to do a detailed preview of Detroit's team. However, I'm sure Christy at BTJ and Dave at Gorilla Crouch will have me covered on that one, and probably do it way better than I could. Plus, you can sum up this Detroit team in a couple of sentences: They're the same team that coasted through the regular season and playoffs en route to a Stanley Cup. Oh, and they added Marian Hossa. There, Red Wings covered.
With that done, I decided to take a look at the other contenders in the West, to see if anyone has a shot at knocking off Detroit.
Anaheim Ducks: Yes, the Ducks are very solid defensively. Chris Pronger may be everybody's least favorite NHL player, but he's still a very solid presense on the blue line and an underrated offensive threat. Jean-Sebastian Giguere is one of the better goaltenders in the league. Scott Niedermeyer came back. However, they had the 28th best offense in the NHL last season, and only had one player score more than 54 points (C Ryan Getzlaf). Even with the addition of Brendan Morrison, that's not going to cut it. For the Ducks to beat the Wings in the playoffs, they'd need Osgood to turn in a subpar series while Giguere plays out of his mind. Next.
San Jose Sharks: I find this team to be quite similar to the Ducks. Solid defense and goaltending (3rd in the NHL in goals against last season, behind Detroit and Anaheim) with a subpar offense (19th in the league in goals for). Like Anaheim, San Jose relied heavily on one player to carry the scoring load. Joe Thornton had 29 goals and 96 points, and the Sharks next leading scorer, Milan Michalek, had 24 goals and 55 points. If a team can shut down Thornton's line, they'll beat the Sharks. Detroit can do that. Let's move on.
Edmonton Oilers: This is a team that a lot of people expect to make a run in the West after disappointing the last two seasons. They have a lot of young talent up front, led by forward Ales Hemsky. However, their goalies are Matieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson. I don't see this team advancing much further than the second round, if they even get that far.
Chicago Blackhawks: Here's another team being mentioned as a potential sleeper in the West. They have a ton of young talent, with second-year forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews leading the charge. Even with all that talent, however, the 'Hawks mustered only the NHL's 24th best power play. Also, goaltenders Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin both consider themselves deserving of the starting spot, which could prove to be an unneeded distraction on a young team. Chicago will be a team to watch down the road, but this won't be their year.
Dallas Stars: The Red Wings' foe in the 2008 Western Conference Finals look poised to return to the same position in 2009. The Stars are definitely the most likely team in the West to knock off Detroit. They added Brad Richards and Sean Avery to an already potent offensive attack, which features Mike Modano, Mike Ribiero, and Brendan Morrow. However, the concerns for the Stars start on the blue line. Sergei Zubov, who has been a mainstay on the Dallas D since the mid-nineties, is out for at least a month with a hip injury, and at 38 years old, who knows if he'll be the same player when he returns. Marty Turco has always been a great regular season goaltender, but he's been inconsistent in the playoffs (although he has greatly improved in that respect in the last two postseasons). I'll admit that Dallas scares me a bit, but when stacked up against the ridiculous Red Wings lineup, my fears are quelled for the time being.
The Flames, Predators and Wild probably also deserve mention as potential contenders, but let's be honest: if those teams beat Detroit, we've either fallen victim to devastating injuries or a Tim Donaghy-style officiating conspiracy.
As for the East, we beat Pittsburgh last season and then stole one of their top forwards, Montreal starts a 21-year old in net, and nobody else is worth talking about. What does it all add up to? A second straight visit from Stanley.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Photo courtesy of the Detroit News
It was awesome.
Johnny Thompson's 4th quarter interception return for a touchdown set off a raucous celebration in the student section, punctuated by my friends decided it was a good idea to form a giant dogpile in our section. The scene would replay itself two more times, after Sam McGuffie put Michigan up 27-19 and when Allan Everidge's pass sailed out of the back of the end zone on Wisconsin's two-point conversion attempt. I finally learned my lesson during the final celebration, and jumped on top of my 6'2" friend before I could be once again buried underneath the sweaty pile of exuberance.
The scene could not have been more different at halftime. Boos rained down on a Wolverine team that had managed a paltry 21 yards of offense and coughed the ball up five times en route to a 19-0 deficit. We spent much of the halftime show discussing what the post-game meal would entail and how big a deficit it would take for us to leave the stadium. Morale was low.
Since it's Tuesday night, I really don't need to tell you what happened next. The offense came to life, and the defense continued to play the way Michigan fans expected them to play before the season. Steven Threet briefly blacked out and was possessed by the spirit of Randall Cunningham. Brandon Graham unleashed the beast. Travis Beckum forgot the basic rules of football, costing the Badgers the game-tying two point conversion.
Oh, and the student section was louder than I've ever heard it. As the second half progressed, and the tides turned, the fans who remained (and shame on you if you left) brought the noise like Public Enemy, circa 1988. After Thompson's touchdown, you could sense that the students, whose skepticism of this team has been well-documented on this site, finally embraced the team. They certainly seemed to embrace us. On the final drive, Steven Threet spent most of the time between plays with his arms raised, trying to squeeze every last decibal of noice out of the student section.
Our quarterback (courtesy of the Detroit News)
In case you can't tell by now, there is not like the previous "Overheard..." posts breaking down all the stupid things said in the student section last weekend. I will only say that those who booed should feel ashamed for booing their fellow students who were doing all they could in the first Big Ten game of the RichRod era. However, I would rather not dwell on the negative. There were too many positives coming out of this game.
There is a different feeling on campus this week. Despite the struggles, the 2-2 record, the long stretches of offensive putridity, we love this team. People are starting to truly believe that Rodriguez was the right hire, and that we really will be good -- no, great -- in the seasons to come. We've been saying that all season, but the words had rung hollow, like we were only saying them to try to convince ourselves that, if we said them enough, they would become true.
Every week may be an adventure, but now it's an adventure in the sense of a roller coaster, not walking alone through a bad neighborhood at night. I look forward to more dogpiles, chaos, and lost articles of clothing in the years to come.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I dislike Claude Lemieux more than any other sports figure since I've followed sports (around 1994). March 26, 1997 (and no, I didn't have to look that up) was one of the greatest sports nights of my life, because I got to see him pounded mercilessly. Seeing that happen in 2008-09 would not be nearly as sweet, but it still would add some needed spice to a regular season slate that is devoid of the classic Red Wing rivalries of the nineties. If the Turtle gets signed to the Colorado, every Detroit sports fan will have the first Wings/Avs tilt on "save until I delete" status on their DVR.
C'mon Claude. If you come back, it'll be the first thing you ever did that I'll support, even if I absolutely do not have your best interests in mind.
Millen leaves with a career record of 31-84 as a GM. I'm usually reluctant to say this, but that is a record that will never be broken.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
In all seriousness, though, it's about damn time. How much longer can William Clay Ford possibly hang on to Millen if his own son is publicly talking about how he'd fire the guy? It'll be interesting to see if Senior publicly responds to Junior's comments, or if he'll continue his lifelong trend of keeping his head firmly wedged up his own ass.
In other news, Tom Kowalski still makes zero sense.
Monday, September 22, 2008
- Jason Hanson
- Calvin Johnson
- Roy Williams
- Ernie Sims
- Cory Redding
- DeWayne White (when he's trying)
- Dominic Raiola
- Nick Harris
I really hate to say this, but I'm actively rooting for the Lions to go 0-16. If Millen somehow survives an 0-16 season without either being fired or resigning out of embarrassment, then I'll be comfortable renouncing my Lions fandom until his GM-for-life status finally ends. As for Marinelli, I couldn't care less what happens to him. The chances of the Lions picking up a credible coaching candidate while Millen is still GM seem slim at best, so there's no point in starting over with another crappy coach and another crappy philosophy that produces the same crappy results.
If you think I'm sad, or mad, you're wrong. It's become much worse than that. I'm completely apathetic. I've watched every game of the Millen era, and I say that with pride. Each Sunday, however, I find it tougher and tougher to justify watching the Lions take any shred of hope I had left and trample all over it. I've got better things to do. I'm sure most Lions fans do.
Saying "Fire Millen" doesn't begin to cover it. With this ownership, management, coaching staff, and team, we're a solid half-decade away from beginning to think about contending. Will I care about the Lions by then? Who knows. Hopefully, I'll have better things to do on my Sunday afternoons.