BroFest 2009

April 29, 2009

Looking forward to more sunsets this weekend

Looking forward to more sunsets this weekend

Two months of planning and plotting finally comes to a head this weekend in Charleston. Four of my best friends are coming in from all over for BroFest 2009 and, along with some local buddies, we are renting a big house out on the ocean for the weekend for a little ‘bromance’. Homosexual references aside, anyone that knows me even remotely knows how important my friends back home are. I’ve known these four guys for years and years and they are some of the most important people in my life. The fact that they are taking time out of their busy schedules and flying in is a testament how integral our relationships are. It is true that the older you get, the farther apart you become with your friends you had while growing up. But we are exceptions to that rule. It seems that as time goes by, our bonds become stronger. Going from seeing each other every day to only seeing each other a couple times a year, we make the most of our time together when we are lucky enough to get it. I can go months withouts seeing some of these guys, and no matter how long it has been, we never lose a step. No strange “how’s it goings”, no awkward silences. We just pick up where we left off from the last time. No matter where I have moved to and lived, I’ve never had a problem making new friends and fitting in, and I treasure the friendships I have made outside of my hometown clique. During my days at Western Michigan University, I always found it interesting that my college buddies always wanted to be around when my hometown friends were back in town, yet it was never a big deal to hang out with their friends. Not to say we are the coolest people in the world (maybe we are, I don’t know). Either way, this weekend is going to be unbelievable. The sun will be shining, the waves will be crashing, the drinks will be flowing and the women will be shunning us. But I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else. Here’s to the weekend fellas!

Maybe Matt Stafford will soon be hoisting up an MVP trophy rather than kegs

Maybe Matt Stafford will soon be hoisting up an MVP trophy rather than kegs

Another draft is in the books for the Detroit Lions, and that means another high pick that will undoubtedly be scrutinized and scorned by pundits and fans alike. After the worst record in NFL history, a truly forgettable winless season that saw the Lions rank near the bottom of most major statistical categories, Detroit selected Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford with the first overall pick in the draft to begin a long rebuilding a process once again. ‘Rebuilding process’ is a term that Lions fans have been used to. Over the past few years, the much-maligned franchise has missed the mark on most of its top picks, from Kevin Jones to Charles Rogers to Joey Harrington. Just when things look as if they are getting better, they seem to get worse. Stafford has all the tools to become a successful NFL quarterback, but the question is whether the Lions have the tools to utilize him correctly. He is big, strong, mobile and has a rocket for an arm. His passes are precise and he can hurl the deep ball like few can. Coming from Georgia and its pro-style offense, Stafford is also familiar with the types of sets he will see under center for his new team. But no matter how talented a quarterback is, his success will only be defined by how well his offensive line can protect him. He won’t be able to get those beautiful passes off if he is constantly being laid on his back or chased out of the pocket. Which is the real problem with this pick. Joey Harrington, who was 20-2 as a starter at Oregon, failed to live up to expectations, not because of his lack of skill or leadership, but because of the inability of his teammates to provide him with the protection and support he required to be a successful quarterback. This position has always been a thorn in the side of the Lions franchise. Not since Bobby Layne in the 1950s has Detroit had a reliable starter for successive seasons under center. Not ironically, that was the last time the Lions ever even came close to smelling a championship. For Stafford to be a success, two things need to occur. First, he cannot just be thrown into the fire from day one. He needs to learn the ropes first and play a season behind Daunte Culpepper, who from reports has lost 30 pounds and has looked sharp in spring drills. Culpepper has the tools to be a reliable starter for another year and has the experience to help Stafford get through the growing pains of his first professional season. Culpepper is also teamed back with his former offensive coordinator from Minnesota, where he enjoyed his best years. Second, the Lions need to shore up their offensive line positions, most notably left gaurd. This will help protect their quarterback’s weak side and provide them with ample to time to make reads and the correct throws. Picking offensive lineman Gosder Cherlius from Boston College last year has yet to pay dividends, so free agency may be a route to look into for that. The offense has the weapons to be potent, especially after drafting tight end Brandon Pettigrew from Oklahoma with the 2oth pick. This was another interesting pick from the front office, but it did fill a void. Tight ends are much-needed security blankets for quarterbacks, and the Lions haven’t had a solid man for that position in some years. Coupled with Calvin Johnson, who might be the most gifted reciever in the league, Stafford will have a solid 1-2 punch to throw to once he is handed the reins to the offense. Given time and some development of other younger players on the squad, Stafford has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback. The question is is this the right franchise for him?

Changing of the Guard

April 25, 2009

Rodney Stuckey is part of the future of the Detroit Pistons. Who else will be??

Rodney Stuckey is part of the future of the Detroit Pistons. Who else will be??

I haven’t seen much of the NBA playoffs this season, partly because working at a private club in the Deep South doesn’t lend itself to too much television air time at my place of employment. And also because the Detroit Pistons haven’t put up much of a fight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons are down 3-0 in the best of seven series and its beginning to look as if they will be going home after the first round after advancing to six straight conference championship series. After Boston won the NBA title last year, and with Cleveland’s dominance this season, it definitely looks like Detroit is the former Beast of the East. This shift in power is partly due to the emergence of superstar LeBron James and the Kevin Garnett-Ray Allen tandem in Boston, and also due to the significant improvement of several other teams in the conference. One can also look to the much-maligned Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson trade that occurred in the first week of the NBA season. The Pistons won 59 games last year, but that mark dropped by some 20 wins this season. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are currently about to close out the New Orleans Hornets in the first round out West. Adding Billups to the Nuggets provided that squad with a solid floor leader, a former All-Star and NBA Finals MVP, and gave the team some stability and a clutch peformer down the stretch. Billups is from the Denver area and was a star at Colorado, so seeing him do well in his hometown is a feel good story in its own right. Most Piston fans were and still are upset about this trade. AI was definitely not “The Answer” in Motown, and he will most likely never wear a Piston uniform again. But this trade was not made for this season. Dumping Billups’ contract frees general manager Joe Dumars of a large contract and the ability to go after some of the league’s young guns. The summer of 2009 sees the likes of Ben Gordon, Shawn Marion, David Lee and Carlos Boozer enter free agency status, and the following summer is arguably the greatest free agent class ever. LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson all will be available to sign with other teams. This is the reason the trade was made. Detroit will have more money to offer than most other teams in the league, and with a championship pedrigee and a loyal hometown following, it will be an attractive destination for one of those big names. I wouldn’t put too much hope in seeing LBJ in a Pistons uni, but I could see the team signing Carlos Boozer this summer to give it more inside presence after the decline of Rasheed Wallace, who will also most likely be let go. Adding a Joe Johnson in the next season is also a possibilty. I believe Joe Dumars has a plan, and before too long, Pistons fans will once again see their beloved team mentioned as one of the league’s elite franchises.

311 rocks the Music Farm

April 24, 2009

Jump up! Jump up! Jump up! Get-Get-Get Down!!

Jump up! Jump up! Jump up! Get-Get-Get Down!!

I’ve been listening to 311 for about 15 years now and they’ve always been one of my favorite bands. Their mix of rap, reggae and rock isn’t my typical genre of choice, but the fact that all the members are talented musicians comes across on their numerous albums, and even more so in their live shows. Last night’s show at the Music Farm, a tiny club in Charleston with great acoustics, was no exception. The show sold out in a matter of hours and approximately a 800 people crammed into the Music Farm to see our heroes from Omaha. Openers The Urgency played to a packed house and seized their moment. The band wasn’t all that impressive and sounded a lot like Hoobastank. You remember that horrible band from the early part of the decade. The crowd response was friendly, but those on stage and those in the pit knew the night was all about 311. After a short break, the house lights went down and the vibe went up. Fans pushed their way up front in the pit and the band came on stage to a thunderous roar. Opening with Freeze Time, the first track off of 1999’s Soundsystem, set the tone for the rest of the evening. The band simultaneously headbanged to the opening riff and the crowd followed suit. The band has been around for over 20 years now, and they haven’t lost their penchant for an energetic stage presence. The rest of the set was a solid mix of classic jams and radio hits, with highlights being Uncalm, Hydroponic, Visit, Creatures and Lose, which they haven’t played in two years. Applied Science saw  drummer Chad Sexton’s usually stellar drum solo accompanied by the rest of the band on their own tom-tom and cymbal sets. The solo lasted a good ten minutes and the crowd approved with a long applause afterward. The band even peformed a new song, Hey You, off their upcoming album. The song was a dramatic improvement over their previous album, Don’t Tread on Me, which didn’t receive a great response from critics and fans. In fact, that was the only album that wasn’t represented on the set list. The encore was a bit weak, in my opinion. Amber was the opening song of the encore, and even though the crowd responded well, it was a downer as far as the energy and pace was concerned. The crowd chanted for the band to play Who’s Got the Herb? but bassist P-Nut chose to play What was I Thinking instead. A great track, for sure, but not something I would put in the encore. The band closed with Down, the song that put them on the map. I was surprised that they didn’t close with Fuck the Bullshit, which is what they ended their shows with the three previous occasions I have seen them and has always been a fan favorite. That didn’t stop me from crowdsurfing, however, and I even shook hands with Tim Mahoney as the bouncer struggled to push me back into the throngs of clammoring fans trying to get a high-five or a drumstick. Walking out of the show, drenched in sweat and sore from head to toe, I realized I had witnessed another impressive showing from 311. Anyone that has any interest in the band should definitely check them out live, you will not be disappointed.

Click the link for a setlist from the show!

http://setlist.com/311/2009/4.23.09.html

Happy Days may return to Comerica Park this summer

Happy Days may return to Comerica Park this summer

It has just been over three weeks since the 2009 MLB season kicked off and I’ve been impressed with how the Detroit Tigers have looked so far. The Tigers sit tied atop the AL Central along with Kansas City and Chicago and rank fifth in the majors in RPI. They have a run-differential of plus-17 through 13 games and have one of the league’s most feared hitting lineups in all of baseball, led by all-everything Curtis Granderson and MVP-candidates Miguel Cabrera and Maggilio Orodonez. Given that this same team started 0-8 last year, the early success has come as a bit of a surprise. The Tigers were all but written off before the season started, as the other teams in the division all seemed to improve, whereas Detroit dropped off. Three of the Tigers’ biggest arms – Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis and Joel Zumaya – started on the DL, and the fastest bat in baseball – Gary Sheffield – was released and picked up by the Mets. Pitching was going to be a big question mark this summer. The D-Train experiment has been nothing short of a disappointment, with his pitching mechanics just as much a problem as his mental health. He currently is on the DL with “anxiety disorder”. Bonderman and Zumaya, who was supposed to be the next dominant closer in the league, both have noodle arms and are constantly under the knife to surgically repair themselves. Which has left the door open for young pitchers to come in and hold their own,and that they have done. Armando Gallaraga, a rookie last year who became the Tiger’s most reliable starter, is off to another fantastic start, and despite giving up three runs in a no-decision last night in Anaheim, the 27-year old from Venezuela holds an ERA under 2.00. Rick Porcello, a 20-year old with a rocket arm, has also looked like a force on the mound. And after a disastrous 2008 season, Justin Verlander has looked somewhat steady, despite a 0-2 start. The former AL Rookie of the Year, has a lot of miles on his young arm but is supposed to be the ace of this staff. He does lead the team in strikeouts and his velocity hasn’t dropped off, but he still is having control issues. The addition of Edwin Jackson has also helped settle down a shaky starting rotation.

Early returns on the rehab progress of the injured pitchers seems positive, with Willis being the major surprise. He went seven innings recently in single-A Lakeland, a no decision that saw Willis give up four runs, but the lefty’s control seemed to be returning and he was hitting the low-90s on the radar gun. Both Bonderman and Zumaya are also off to good rehab starts and all three could see there way back into the rotation in a week or two. This might seem like a problem for Jim Leyland, as he would have to find some way to gel in his veteran pitchers with the young arms that are now on the mound. If Leyland can succesfully integrate all the pitchers in a type of revolving-door rotation, the tired arms will hold up much better throughout the season. A starting rotation of Verlander, Gallaraga, Bonderman, Jackson and Miner would work well, with Willis and Porcello available to be plugged in on any given day. Willis, if he can stay healthy, would be an essential addition, as he is the only lefty on the roster that will get extended experience. And Zumaya’s return can help shore up a bullpen that has had problems holding leads in late innings. Most experts agreed that the Tigers would be able to generate enough runs, but that the opposing teams would generate just a little more. If the young pitchers hold strong and the injured guys can return, mix themselves in succesfully and hold their own, Detroit will remain a contender throughout and the summer and can compete with any of the teams in the league.

Meat Swap Musings

April 20, 2009

Another successful Meat Swap is in the books. A day dedicated to pure gluttony, the Meat Swap is the brainchild of Dan Aylward, who loves his meat as much as he loves his authentic Kevin Garnett jersey. The premise of the Meat Swap is quite simple. Meat, meat, meat and more meat. And booze. Vegetables, starches and fruits are forbidden, with meat being the only menu item. Yesterday we saw a forray of dead animal, from steak and lobster, alligator bites, deep fried shrimp, pigs in a blanket and meatballs, among other delicous treats. The day was also spent playing the world’s greatest drinking sport: Polish Horseshoes. Our friend J.T. introduced us to this gem of a game. For those who like bags, or baghole, or cornhole, as some call it, this game is for you as well. Each team of two places a ski pole in the ground with the handle up, placing an empty beer bottle on top. You must always have a drink in your hand, and the goal is to take turns throwing a frisbee at the pole, hopefully hitting the bottle of the pole. You can negate the points by catching the bottle before it hits the ground, but defense can prove to be a little tricky with a drink in your hand. Things got a little out of hand towards dusk, where we really couldn’t see the frisbees whizzing at us. At that point, we were more concerned with just getting out of the way and not taking a disc to the face or shin than we were with saving the bottle from hitting the ground. Good times.

I woke up this morning, sore and tired, and cleaned the kitchen as my roommate Brad slept on the sofa. I attempted to make as much racket as possible, blaring the TV and clanging pots and pans together, but he didn’t budge. I was hoping to wake him and guilt him into helping. Oh well. The story of interest on Sportscenter is the recent hire of Isiah Thomas as the Florida International men’s basketball team. This is the same man that is widely considered one of the worst general managers and head coaches in the history of the sport. He single-handedly destroyed the once-proud New York Knicks by signing free agents to overpriced contracts and missing the mark on draft day. Not that I really cared, I loved seeing the Knicks flounder for years. His private life was also marred with distress, mostly due to a sexual harassment charge that cost him and the franchise millions. The publicity stunt has paid off for FIU, however, with season ticket sales almost doubling from last year and former players, some 350 of them, contacting the program to inquire about the controversial hiring. Equally humorous was the footage of the official announcement as Thomas as coach, where the athletic director introduced him at a press conference as “Isiah Thompson”. Zeke played it off well, but you know it probably chapped his ass. Ladies and gentleman, your 2009 Golden Panthers!

I am going to go take a nap now. Good journey.

My brain is not working for some reason today. It might be the fact I stayed up till 4 am for the third consecutive night. Not really sure. But anyway, I am submitting a blog I wrote this past November after Michigan lost to Ohio State in football. Enjoy…

Oh, how I long for the days of Mike Hart...

Oh, how I long for the days of Mike Hart...

Michigan Football.

Always been a sense of pride for me, but this season has been rough to say the least. After a drubbing at the hands of Ohio State, Michigan closes the season a dismal 3-9, an all-time worst record in our 129-year history. It came as no surprise that this was to be a rebuilding year and we would go through some growing pains, but nothing like this was expected. It’s not like Lloyd Carr left the cupboard bare. We’ve had top 10 recruiting classes year in and year out. The failure to utilize the talent that we have on our roster has put us in the position we are in now. We lead the nation in three and outs. We are in the bottom ten in the nation in offensive categories like total yards and turnover margin. We’ve fumbled what seems to be 100 kickoffs away. The stubborness of this coaching staff is maddening. Why run a spread offense with a 6-6 white guy that can’t run? Or a former walk-on? The spread might have worked at WVU, but the Big East is no Big Ten. The defenses in this conference are much quicker and much more stout. WVU dominated the Big East, but only after powerhouses like Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College left to join the ACC. Losses to Toledo and Northwestern could have been avoided if the coaching staff would adjust each game plan to the team’s strengths and the opposing teams weaknesses. Platooning quarterbacks rarely works unless both players are talented and offer a change of pace from each other (i.e. Chris Leak and Tim Tebow in 2006). And our defense, which was supposed to be our backbone this year, was continually torched by lesser competition. C’mon, we gave up almost 50 points to Purdue, who statistically was about even with us as far as offensive futility goes. No adjustments were ever made to correct our inability to tackle in the open field and to contain mobile quarterbacks.

And, at the end of the season, when we have nothing to play for, except the chance to ruin our rival’s season, we still come up short. We had no game plan today against OSU. We continually ran quarterback sneaks on third and longs. Our much maligned defensive secondary was left in one-on-one situations with the more talented Buckeye recievers. We had to take errant timeouts because our subsitution packages were not called correctly. When players are yelling and accosting coaches on the sidelines, that’s never a good sign.

And also…no one is paying attention on what’s going on behind closed doors and beyond the playing field. We’ve had three players leave the team, one transferring to Ohio State. We’ve had half a dozen high school players decommit, including blue chipper Kevin Newsome. And the comments this week by RichRod about critical fans getting a life doesn’t help either. Last I checked, the alums and the fans were paying your salary AND your buyout when you ditched WVU. Michiganders take their sports very seriously, and in these times of economic depression and real estate worries, U of M fans are supposed to have one ray of hope on Saturday afternoons. Their 50 dollar tickets for entrance to the Big House are paid in the understanding that a quality product will be given to them and maybe for a few hours they can smile and be proud of their home state.

In all of this, I feel sorry for the seniors. These guys gave their all for four, and in some cases, five years. And now they have to take the heat for the worst season in Michigan history. In no way is our abysmmal record an indication of the heart and effort of the team’s seniors, and for the most part, the rest of the players.

For the first time in my life, I will not be able to look forward to a Michigan bowl game come the holidays. And no one is to blame but the coaching staff for this. Their inability to do their jobs cost us a large chunk of our tradition and our history. I will always be proud of being a Michigan fan, and I will always cheer for the Maize and Blue, but patience is not a virtue of mine and I hope things don”t get worse before they get better.

NBA Playoff Preview

April 18, 2009

Will this finally be the year King James is crowned NBA Champion?

Will this finally be the year King James is crowned NBA Champion?

The NBA. Where Amazing Happens. The 2009 NBA Playoffs tip off today and here is one fan’s preview of the first round.

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Cleveland vs. No.8 Detroit

After being bully of the East for the better part of the 21st century, the Pistons are in unfamiliar territory as a decisive underdog in the first round against the Cavs. Detroit limped into the playoffs as the eight seed with a losing record, whereas Cleveland owns homecourt advantage throughout the entire playoffs. They are arguably the toughest defensive team in the league and have Lebron James, the most dominating player in the NBA who as all but sewn up the MVP trophy. LeBron owned the Pistons two years ago in the Eastern Finals, and Detroit has no answer for King James on either end of the court. The Pistons could make it interesting if they could steal one of the first two games in Cleveland, and are capable of doing so with road victories over the Lakers, Spurs, Celtics, Magic and Nuggets in the regular season. I’d like to say this series will be competitive, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Cavs in 5 games

No. 2. Boston vs No. 7 Chicago Bulls

This series just got more interesting over the last few days when the Celtics announced that Kevin Garnett, the heart and soul of last year’s title team, might miss the entire postseason. The Bulls played well down the stretch, have a deep bench and added some much needed firepower in a midsseason trade by adding Brad Miller and John Salmons, but I feel that the Celtics’ home crowd and the savvy of veterans Paul Peirce and Ray Allen will be the difference. Another interesting matchup will be two of the best young point guards in the league, Rajon Rondo against Derrick Rose, who is likely to be named the Rookie of the Year after a sensational season. The chance of an upset is likely, but Chicago would have to steal a game or two in Boston, which I don’t see happening. Another interesting stat of note: Chicago has never beaten Boston in a playoff series.

Celtics in 6

No. 3 Orlando vs No. 6 Philadelphia

This is another matchup that could turn into a snoozefest. Orlando swept the season series in convincing fashion, has the game’s most dominant big man in Dwight Howard and are one of the league’s best three-point shooting teams. Orlando is dealing with injuries to Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, but unless they disappear throughout the entire series, this one will be over quick. Philly has had little luck in the playoffs since getting rid of Allen Iverson, and that trend will continue this year.

Orlando in 4

No. 4 Miami vs. No. 5 Atlanta

This could be the most entertaining first round matchup in the East. Miami has an MVP candidate in Dwyane Wade, who is playing at the highest level in his professional career, and after an entire regular season to work in rookies and role players, the unit is finally playing with a cohesivness that is integral for postseason success. The Hawks, on the other hand, are virtually the same team from last year that took the Celtics to seven games in the first round. Atlanta has the firepower and swagger to strike fear into any playoff team, and did win three of the four games against Miami in the regular season. I think this series will go the distance, with several thrilling finishes, but in the end Wade and the home crowd in Miami will get it done and advance.

Heat in 7

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 8 Utah

The talent gap between these two squads is not as wide as some might think looking at their seedings. Utah is one of those teams out West that can man up to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. But the Jazz have limped into the playoffs and have lost their swagger as of late. Utah took LA to six games in the second round last year in a very entertaining series, and if the Jazz can get their act together and play well as a unit, they can make this interesting as well. In the end, I just don’t see them having the defensive consistency to limit Kobe Bryant to subpar numbers or contain the twin towers the Lakers possess in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who has been lighting it up after missing a good chunk of the regular season due to injury.

Lakers in 6

No. 2 Denver vs. No. 7 New Orleans

Denver is arguably the hottest team in the league coming into the playoffs, finishing the last few weeks of the regular season with a 14-3 mark. After the addition of Chauncy Billups from Detroit, the Nuggets made the NBA’s biggest winning turnaround and locked up the No. 2 seed. The Hornets, a preseason title contender, are another team to limp into the playoffs and were stung by the injury bug throughout the season. New Orleans does boast the best player in the series in point guard Chris Paul, but their streaky shooting will cost them. Denver has the firepower and the physical style of play to intimidate the frontcourt of New Orleans, and the play0ff-savvy Billups will be his usual dependable self.

Nuggets in 5

No. 3 San Antonio vs No. 6 Dallas

This intra-state matchup will prove to be another tossup. The teams split the regular season, with each winning a road game, and both finished the regular season strong to sew up their respective seeds. San Antonio, however, is hobbled by injury. Tim Duncan’s knees are frail and Manu Ginobili is out indefinitely. Still, the Spurs have been the West’s most dominant team in this decade for good reason. When one of their stars goes down, someone else will step up in their absence. The Mavs also have no answer for Tony Parker, whose quickness will generate problems in the lane for them. Dallas has a strong squad, but the Spurs are tougher mentally. If the Mavs can get out and run, they can steal this series. If the Spurs set the tone with a physical, slow-paced style of play, then it will be over for Dallas.

Spurs in 7

No. 4 Portland vs No. 5 Houston

Another exciting matchup in the first round pits the experienced Rockets against the young upstart Blazers. The teams statistics practically mirror each other and they played pretty evenly in the regular season. The Rockets have not advanced out of the first round in the past seven years, and this may be their best chance to do so with this squad, led by Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Yao is an elite center who will pose problems on both ends for Portland, whereas the Blazers’ best player, Brandon Roy, will be marked by defensive specialist Ron Artest. However, the most important player on the court might be Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks, who took over midseason and has been playing lights out. Foe the Rockets to win, Brooks will have to push the pace and not turn the ball over. If the Blazers can win the first two games of the series at home in front of their notoriously raucous fans, their chances of moving on improve dramatically.

Blazers in 7

Note: I will have a second-round preview coming after the first-round is over.

Even Uncle Joey loves the Red Wings

Even Uncle Joey loves the Wings

Living in the South, you almost forget hockey even exists. Southerners adore hockey as much as they adore Lincoln. And I am not talking about the car company. None of the local stations carry hockey games. Fox Sports South has little to no coverage of even their ‘local teams’, Atlanta and Carolina. But now that the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs have started, hockey is somewhat on the radar, even down here. The Detroit Red Wings began their quest to defend their title last night with a dominating 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus was outmanned and outmatched. Detroit has played in over 540 postseason games, where as this was the first for Columbus.

I am not going to pretend that I am a diehard Red Wings fan and I have been longing for the playoffs to begin, but growing up in Michigan you can’t help but get caught up in playoff fever. Watching Red Wings game as a little boy is one of those memories that will always remain for me, from Steve Yzerman to Tim Cheveldae to Sergei Federov, and now this year’s crop of skaters. As I watched the game from behind the bar at work, the patrons gave little notice to what was going on on the screen in front of them. Any comments that were made were made in jest, and one man even demanded that I turn the television off. I did so, regretably, but cut it back on after he vacated the bar. But I knew back home, restaruants and bars across the state would be filled by adoring fans dressed in red and white,  cheering on their beloved hometown team. After the victory, it was good to see the smiling faces at Joe Louis Arena. It sounds cliche these days, but being a Michigander myself, I know my friends in the Great Lakes States have fallen on hard times, and sports can be one of those things that can make people forget about the bad for a few fleeting moments, and focus on what’s good and pure in the world. Here’s to the Red Wings and their quest for The Cup. And here’s to you, Michigan. Keep your head up high.

Greg Paulus loves dancing along to the Village People

Greg Paulus loves dancing along to the Village People

Desperation is a stinky cologne. And Rich Rodriguez must be wearing a lot of it these days. The Michigan football coach, under much fire after ‘leading’ the Wolverines to their worst season ever in his debut in Ann Arbor this past fall, is desperate to turn things around. So desperate in fact, that he has recently offered former Duke point guard Greg Paulus a scholarship and an opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback position for the approaching season. Yes…not only a former basketball player, but a former Dookie. Granted, Paulus was a former Gatorade National Player of the Year under center in high school. He started the US Army All-American game his senior year and threw over 150 touchdown passes in his scholastic career. He was highly recruited to play both sports coming out of high school, but chose to play for the Duke basketball team, which ended with marginal success. He never won a title there and was demoted to the bench his senior year. Now, with a year of eligibility left, Paulus wants to shift gears and come back to the gridiron.

At first glance, this seems like a decent answer to the quarterback quandry facing Rodriguez and his staff. Competing for the starting postion are two incoming freshman, Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier, and a sophomore, Nick Sheridan, who made four starts last year with a minimal amount of success, to put it very kindly. Paulus has considerable skills, but hasn’t played organized football in several years and its questionable to think he can grasp the complicated spread-offense system that has recently been implemented at Michigan. According to sources, Paulus was offered a scholarship without even throwing a pass or running a drill when he attended Michigan’s final spring practice. I don’t know what RichRod is thinking. That’s like buying a used car without even taking it for a test drive or reading the specs. Also troubling is the fact that Paulus wasn’t even offered from his own school. Duke coach David Cutcliffe gave Paulus a chance to try out at wide receiver. Which is sad given that the Duke football program has been a perenial punching bag for opposing teams.

To me, this just seems like a desperate move. Even if Paulus does join the team and wins the starting job, and even if he does excel, the Wolverines will be right back to where the began next spring, with inexperienced quarterbacks running the show. I say this is all just a publicity stunt to give Michigan some good press. Lately, all the press the Wolverines have been getting has just been bad. The better route to go for this program is get the freshman as many snaps as they can take. Throw them in the fire, sure they are going to have to learn quickly and they will take their lumps in doing so, but the program will right itself much quicker this way. Forcier and Robinson have what it takes to be successful in this system, and Sheridan is well-equipped to hold the clipboard and fetch Gatorade for the players on the field. The Paulus experiment just seems to be a temporary fix, at best. This would never happen under the watch of Bo Schembechler or Lloyd Carr.

Just another reason why I think Rich Rodriguez is a bum.