Monthly Archives: March 2009

Changes.

Between the complaints about the font being too small, a run-on layout, and my incessant need to change things, this site now looks different.

It may change again, I don’t know.

Have an idea for a design? Like to make pretty pictures that have something to do with Michigan sports? Send me a layout and it might just make it on here. Otherwise, you will have to suffer as I change it up.

Don’t like it? Then click on one of those fancy looking new links on the right.

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Filed under For the Good of the Masses

See ya, Sheff.

In what can be considered nothing less than a surprise move, the Tigers cut Gary Sheffield this morning. From MLive:

Sheffield was released this morning in a surprise move by the club, and told reporters that Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland informed him that they wanted to go with a more versatile lineup.

Sheffield, 40, said he did not see the move coming.

This is especially strange, considering Sheff was finally healthy and looking like he might be ready to make a strong contribution with his bat. However, this also makes some sense out of the Tigers’ trade for reserve outfielder Josh Anderson, who came over for Rudy Darrow on Monday.

This is definitely disappointing, as Sheffield never really lived up to his hype in the Motor City. Expect his DH spot to be filled by Marcus Thames, and the final roster spot to be claimed by Jeff Larish.

 

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Contractual Obligations

stuckey 

This is technically a blog about Michigan and Detroit sports. As such, I have made a (sorta) binding agreement to provide you, the reader, with my observations, thoughts and occasional analysis on the teams that comprise this landscape. That said, I have not been living up to my promise to you; I’ve left someone out in the cold.

(No, not the Tigers. I am getting ready to get cranked up on them next week.)

I’m talking about the Detroit Pistons.

Honestly, I haven’t been able to get excited about this team. I don’t know why, but it just hasn’t happened. But, under the terms of my “contract”, I owe you a post on this team. So here goes.

I find them to be a boring squad, lacking the unity that seemed to exist when they were winning games and going to Eastern Conference finals. Apparently, I’m not alone:

(From Bob Biscigliano, of Detroit4Lyfe fame)

The passion that may have existed before no longer shows in the Pistons. They are boring, lethargic, and boring. When Iverson came into town, the Pistons stopped winning.

I think I have watched about three quarters of Pistons basketball this year. It was all I needed to realize that this team is awkward. It’s sort of like that moment in Gone In 60 Seconds when all of the old car thieves meet the new kids, and  are arguing about who-can-do-what and why they should be included in the plan. (FTR, Walter Hermann is totally the guy that sucks at everything but can “order a mean pizza.” I’m not really sure what he does.)

gonein60

Statistically, the Pistons are boring. Offensively, they are in the bottom half in pretty much every meaningful category. Defensively? The same.

Alot of people want to blame rookie coach Michael Curry. Fair enough. He has pretty much the same talent that his predecessors had (if not better), and the Pistons have floundered around the bottom half of the East for most of the season. But it goes deeper. Nobody likes to hear this, but it’s about time Joe Dumars was held accountable too. Yes, he has drafted some pretty good talent (i.e. Rodney Stuckey). And yes, he has tried to shake up the makeup of this team by dumping Chauncey Billups and bringing in Allen Iverson. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out Iverson is not the answer, in either the short or long term.

Deeeetroit Basketball currently exists in a state of transition and it is not easy to watch. Curry and Dumars want to give the young guys a chance to learn and grow, which is the right thing to do. But when you have a nucleus of “champions” still hanging around, they won’t willingly hand over the keys to the Jeep. And a superstar like Iverson wants his minutes, no matter how many times he tells us he is “OK” coming off the bench.

In the end, we’ve all seen how this movie ends. The Pistons will probably get bounced in the first round of the playoffs and ESPN can ramp up the hype machine for the Cavs-Celtics Eastern Conference Final that they desire so much. But hopefully Dumars will be cranking up the cap-clearing machine by dumping ‘Sheed and AI at that point too. Yes, we will have to suffer through another lackluster season next year. But in 2010: Oh boy. The young kids will have another season of experience under their belts and Detroit can hopefully bag a sweet free agent or two. Then the fun can really begin.

Can I have my money now?

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Filed under This is a rant

Prepare Thyself: March 30 – April 5

After a week hiatus, PT is back and ready to enlighten the masses, albeit with fewer teams to pull for.

  • Michigan Hockey: 0-1
  • Red Wings: 1-3
  • Pistons: 2-2
  • Michigan Baseball: 2-2

Grand total: 5-8

  • Michigan hockey got bounced out of the NCAA tournament by fourth seeded Air Force. Awesome. 
  • The Red Wings struggled their way to a 1-3 record behind playoff “anchor” Chris Osgood. Oh wait, their only win this week came with Ty Conklin in net. Right. I’m officially worried now.
  • The Pistons did something and apparently won two games. I think AI is back too. More to come on the Pistons later this week.
  • Michigan baseball lost to Eastern Michigan (whoops),  and then went on the road to Iowa and took 2 of 3.

Team of the Week is something you are totally not prepared for. Since all of the local teams failed to impress, especially hockey, my team of the week award goes to the Bemidji State Beavers hockey squad.

bsu_d_deterding

After Michigan got bounced unceremoniously from the dance, it looked as if Notre Dame would laugh their way to the Frozen Four as we sat at home and watched. WRONG. Bemidji State showed up and absolutely WHOOPED the ‘domers, deflecting most of the attention away from our loss. Apparently that wasn’t enough, as the Beavers then went on to upset Cornell and secure themselves a berth in the Frozen Four.  For a team that NOBODY believed could even give ND a test, this is pretty friggin special. It’s also fitting as the program is basically fighting for its life as their conference dissolves next year and they might not get into the WCHA. Might be time to think twice about that. Anyways, I’m throwing my support behind the Beavers for the rest of the Frozen Four, and I hope they bounce Rico Blasi and Miami and get to tangle with BU in a David v. Goliath battle for the title.

The matchups:

Red Wings

  • Thursday, April 2 vs. St. Louis – 7:30 PM (FSN Detroit)
  • Sunday, April 5 vs. Minnesota – 12:30 PM (NBC)

NOTE: Remember that prediction I made about the Wings and the Sharks and the end of the season?

  • San Jose wins 83% (7 wins) of their remaining home games and 54% (6 wins) of their remaining road games before March 31st.
    • Projected point total: 111 points
  • Detroit wins 75% (6 wins) of their remaining home games and 57% (5 wins) of their remaining road games before March 31st.
    • Projected point total: 106 points

Well, the Sharks play tonight, and if they win, they will be at…111 points. Wings currently sit at 107. The stats don’t lie folks.

Pistons

  • Tuesday, March 30 at Cleveland – 7:00 PM (FSN Detroit)
  • Wednesday, April 1 at New Jersey – 7:30 PM (FSN Detroit)
  • Saturday, April 4 at Philadelphia – 3:00 PM ESPN
  • Sunday, April 5 vs. Charlotte – 6:00 PM (FS Plus)

Michigan Baseball

  • Tuesday, March 31 vs. Bowling Green  – 3:05 PM
  • Wednesday, April 1 vs. Oakland – 3:05 PM
  • Friday, April 3 vs. Penn State – 4:00 PM
  • Saturday, April 4 vs. Penn State – 1:05 PM
  • Sunday, April 5 vs. Penn State -  1:05 PM

Tigers SPRING TRAINING fun continues with matchups against…honestly, who the hell cares. Consider the Tigers shelved until opening day.

Game of the Week

NONE OF THE ABOVE!!!

09FinalFour

Watch the Final Four. And the Wings game on Sunday. Hey, it’s on NBC, why not? I might even crank up a live blog for it. If not, I’ll definitely be twittering, so check me out @chollis.

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Filed under Prepare Thyself

FAIL

Maybe I jinxed the Wolverines, but man did that suck. From the preview that posted earlier today:

The Spoiler: Tourney experience can never be substituted for, and Air Force has plenty of it. If they can lock down the Michigan offense and get solid goaltending, don’t be surprised to see them pull an upset or two.

Well they didn’t really lock down the offense, but Andrew Volkening got very hot and shut us down between the pipes. Yes, the refs sucked, but Michigan was totally uninspired and deserved to lose.

Enjoy the offseason.

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Filed under Argh!

Road to the Frozen Four

*Originally posted at PuckScoop

FrozenFourLogo

The road to DC kicks off today, and this year’s edition of the NCAA Hockey Tournament is loaded up with quality teams and promises the potential of an upset or two just when you aren’t expecting it.

While you won’t find incredibly in-depth breakdowns and analysis from me (I recommend checking out Hoover Street Rag for such things), here is a quick ‘who’s who’ of this year’s tourney, as well as some opportunities for me to look pretty stupid come Monday morning.

Northeast Region

BU

  1. Boston University – 31-6-4
  2. North Dakota – 24-14-4
  3. New Hampshire – 19-12-5
  4. Ohio State – 23-14-4

The Skinny: BU comes into the tournament as the number one overall seed, and is an offensive juggernaut. They are the 3rd ranked offensive and defensive team in America. They are also the 2nd best team in the country on the power play, and 11th on the kill. However, the Terriers got the shaft a bit, as they will have to play this regional in New Hampshire, with the UNH Wildcats the three seed and playing in their own backyard.

The Spoiler: Even though New Hampshire gets the home ice advantage, I still think North Dakota has the best chance at knocking off BU to advance. The Sioux always seem to get hot heading into the tourney, and if they can push the right buttons, they could punch their ticket to DC.

Result: BU is too much and too talented and skates their way to DC with a win over North Dakota.

Midwest Region

ndhockey

  1. Notre Dame – 31-5-3
  2. Northeastern – 25-11-4
  3. Cornell – 21-9-4
  4. Bemidji State – 18-15-1

The Skinny: Notre Dame does everything well, except score. Jordan Pearce is disgusting in net, and their defense is impeccable. The Irish are fresh off of winning the CCHA regular season and playoff championships, and will be tough to contend with.

The Spoiler: I have to go with Northeastern here. The only way I see Notre Dame getting beat is by a team that plays tough, gritty hockey, and Northeastern fits the bill. If they can grind down the Irish and get some cheap, dirty goals, the upset could happen.

Result: Despite my claims that Northeastern stands the best chance of pulling an upset, I like Notre Dame to beat Cornell and take the Midwest.

West Region

du

  1. Denver – 23-11-5
  2. Minnesota Duluth – 21-12-8
  3. Princeton– 22-11-1
  4. Miami – 20-11-5

The Skinny: Denver has struggled with injuries, Duluth has hot goaltending, Princeton is heating up and Miami is anything but predictable. Consistency is not the strong suit of these squads, so this region could offer some surprises.

The Spoiler: Any of these teams have the ability to foil Denver’s top seed, but Minnesota Duluth has arguably the hottest goaltender in the country right now in Alex Stalock. If he stays hot, an upset could be brewing.

Result: Duluth rides Stalock’s hot goaltending to a minor upset over Denver and advances to DC.

East Region

Forwards Matt Rust and Carl Hagelin play for Michigan against the Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha on Friday, February 13, 2009. The Wolverines won 8-3. (ARIEL BOND/Daily)

  1. Michigan – 29-11-0
  2. Yale – 24-7-2
  3. Vermont – 20-11-5
  4. Air Force – 27-10-2

The Skinny: Michigan limps into the East regional after taking a thumping from Notre Dame in the CCHA Championship. However, the Wolverines pack a dangerous scoring punch, and are usually well-balanced on defense. However, several inconsistent performances this season are cause for concern, as any of the other three teams are balanced enough to cause problems for the maize and blue.

The Spoiler: Tourney experience can never be substituted for, and Air Force has plenty of it. If they can lock down the Michigan offense and get solid goaltending, don’t be surprised to see them pull an upset or two.

Result: It’s a dogfight the entire way through, but Michigan tops Vermont to make the Frozen Four for a second year in a row.

Semifinals

  • After a 7-2 beatdown from BU earlier in the season, Michigan makes the right adjustments and hangs tough with the Terriers. But in the end, too much scoring talent leads BU to the title game
  • Notre Dame’s tough defense keeps Duluth at bay and the Irish do just enough to solve the riddle of Alex Stalok and get back to the national championship game.

Finals

  • Again, BU has too much firepower up front, and the Irish find themselves watching another team from Boston take home a national championship.

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Playing Catch Up

So I went on vacation, came back and the real world punched me straight in the grill. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and breathe, let alone write, so please forgive me.

That said, it looks like I have a BUNCH to catch up on from a series of sports goodness over the last few days. Before I start offering up my thoughts and analysis, let me just preface with something: I have watched ZERO games over the past few days. ZERO. (Save ten minutes of the Michigan/Clemson game.)

There goes the shred of credibility I was hanging on to…

I promise, I was doing something really, REALLY cool, so go easy on me. Don’t believe me?

nimitzchris

That’s me sailing around on the USS Nimitz. Yea, SAILING on the Nimitz. Be jealous.

Anyways, like I was saying, important things were a-happening, even as I sailed the ocean blue and subsequently putzed around San Diego.

Michigan basketball in the NCAA Tournament

gibson lee

After my prognostication that this hoops squad was “destined for the NIT”, I decided it would be best to quickly eat my crow, say sorry and hop back on board the Beilein Express. Call me fair-weather if you want, but it isn’t true. It was just hard to be excited for this team for the longest time.

Then they took the floor against Clemson. I was like a little kid all over again. After hanging on to win, I was completely giddy. I knew that Oklahoma would be a huge test, but I didn’t care. We had WON in the dance. Anywho, we know how the rest of the story goes: Blake Griffin dominates, he dominates some more, and Michigan’s season comes to an end.

In the end, this was a remarkable season for the Wolverines, one which obviously blew alot of people’s expectations (including yours truly) out of the water. This team should be very proud of their accomplishments. They are relevant again, they have one of the top coaches in the game and they have some tournament experience now.

As for next season, pretty much everyone returns, including most of the core players. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims have both stated that they will be returning, and will help the already maturing freshmen to keep growing. Hopefully, next year will give us the chase for a Big Ten title and a top four seed in the NCAA tourney.

My ship is burned. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Michigan Hockey in the CCHA Tournament

While the hoops squad was doing their thing in St. Louis, the hockey squad made their annual trek to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA tournament semi-finals and finals(sans me and my usual crew). After a workman like win over Alaska to advance to the finals, the Wolverines jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Notre Dame and looked to be in great shape.

Whoops.

Five unanswered goals later, Notre Dame was hanging a banner in the rafters and the Wolverines were headed out of the Joe on their way to a first round NCAA matchup with Air Force. Not quite what we had in mind.

Despite losing the championship, the Wolverines still managed to secure a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and look to have a favorable region…(more on this later today.)

Red Wings

For those of you who read this blog frequently, you know I recently announced that most of the hockey chatter would be moving over to my new hockey home at PuckScoop. In my first column over there, I took a look at how, over the span of one week, Chris Osgood had unseated Ty Conklin for the starting spot in net come playoff time. Pretty much everyone in Detroit was crowing Ozzie king again due to a strong week that included two shutout performances. Manna was falling from the heavens. World peace was imminent.

Not so fast my friend…

leecorso

After a Friday game against Atlanta, the Wings hit the road, heading up to Canada for showdowns with Calgary and Edmonton, both playoff contenders in the West. Against hard-charging Calgary, Osgood fell on his face. Against Edmonton, Conklin stood on his head and got a win.

Look, I am not trying to say that a win from Conklin and a loss from Osgood this week should determine who starts in goal come playoff time. And I am definitely not trying to call out Chris Osgood. My point is simply this: both of these guys were solid this year in net. Not spectacular, but solid. And no matter who we draw in the playoffs in whatever round it may be, we will more than likely be at a perceived ‘disadvantage’ in a goalie comparison. IMO, it doesn’t necessarily matter who we have in net; the key will be how well our defenders play and if we can score goals. (For what it’s worth, I think Conklin should get the nod. However, I expect to see a pseudo “platoon” system, with both netminders on a short leash. Think “Hasek/Osgood last year.”)

In the meantime, San Jose continues to find ways to make this race for the West interesting, and currently finds themselves tied with Detroit at 107 points, with only one game in hand. Should be an interesting last couple of weeks, as Detroit continues to methodically “reel in” the Sharks (BOOM!).

GK

Finally, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t at least make mention of the passing of one of the greats of the game, both on and off the field, HOF third baseman and former Tigers announcer George Kell. A true gentleman and one of the best to ever play third base, Kell’s legacy is one that will never be questioned.

Personally, (with no offense to Ernie Harwell), Kell will always be the voice of the Detroit Tigers in my mind. I used to watch Tiger games on TV in my living room, and it would always be Kell and Al Kaline bringing the action right into my home. Kell’s easy going, southern gentleman delivery is one that will never be matched in my own mind, and will always take me back to being a kid in Michigan watching the Tigers on a hot summer day.

God Bless you, George Kell.

kell

Well then, it looks like everything is back in order. Check back later today for my NCAA hockey breakdown, and I might even see if I can find some time to toss up a post over at PuckScoop.

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Filed under State of the State