Monthly Archives: July 2009

Mike Grier a Red Wing? He’s “interested.”

grier

As I first reported over on Winging It, Mike Grier has “expressed interest” in returning to his hometown of Detroit as a member of the Wings. I contacted his agent, Jay Fee, today and here’s what he had to say about the status of Grier’s negotiations and Mike’s views on the Wings:

“Several teams have contacted me as they see Mike as a very solid asset and a plus for their organization. Detroit is a first class organization in which Mike has expressed interest.  I believe the Red Wings respect Mike as a player and true professional. We’ll have to see where it goes from here.”

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Grier in Detroit, as he provides the grit the Wings need, while adding some scoring, all with the right price tag. Once this Jiri Hudler mess is over, the Wings can finally start filling some holes, and it sounds like Grier could be one of those pieces.

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Filed under I (Kinda) See the Future (Maybe), If you didn't know now you know

An All New “Low”

yCharlesWoodsonUM

For those of you that aren’t aware, I spent the better part of six years living in the Southeast region of our fine country. Two years in Florida, four in Georgia. I loved my time there. The people were great, the food is and will always be my favorite and everybody is amicable and welcoming.

Until college football season starts.

One of the first lessons that I learned is that you don’t even try to argue with anyone about the SEC or any of their member teams. When it comes down to it, you can’t spell “supremacy” without S,E or C, and I’m a pretty strong believer of that (on the whole.) Top to bottom, the Southeastern Conference is a ridiculous mess of teams who can take each other out on any given Saturday, but who will also be almost guaranteed to send their conference champion to the BCS title game. It’s a fact and we all just need to get on board with that.

But sometimes that pride and entitlement gets taken a bit too far. Combine that with any one of the fan bases that feels like they have been “screwed over” in the last 20 years, and all of a sudden the hard feelings show up and the venom starts flowing. What’s the point of all of this? Glad you asked.

Over at ESPN.com, SEC blogger Chris Low posted a piece about the effort that is underway in Knoxville to hype up Eric Berry for the Heisman trophy this year. Nothing wrong with that. Berry’s a baller, but unless his team is better than everyone thinks, he’s going to have to have an OUTSTANDING season to make a real charge for the hardware. Anyways, in the midst of Low’s discussion of Berry, he decided to start launching salvos across the better part of a decade at Charles Woodson’s 1997 Heisman run.

Per Low:

The Heisman Trophy has been a dirty word on Rocky Top ever since Peyton Manning was jobbed of college football’s most prestigious individual award back in 1997.

I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists, but there sure seemed to be a movement by some in 1997 to keep Manning from winning the award. Part of it was his being forced down everybody’s throats for four years, and part of it was the fact that he was winless against Florida.

Never mind that he delivered Tennessee its first SEC championship since the advent of the league championship game, was the driving force behind the Vols’ remarkable 45-5 run from 1995-98 and threw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns his senior season.

He was saddled with the label of not being able to win the big one — and despite his enormous talents — became that guy some voters took glee in voting against.

How else do you explain 93 of the 921 electors that year not even having Manning on their ballots?

Seriously?

OK, before we go through this, let’s go ahead and just toss out the “it’s been 12 years and it’s time to move on” argument. I’ve highlighted above that SEC fans can hold a grudge longer than eternity, so I won’t waste my breath on that. With that out of the way, let’s get down to it.

First of all, I LOVE that this slam of Woodson is cleverly hidden inside of an article that is supposedly highlighting the efforts of the University of Tennessee to promote a star player. Those efforts garner a whopping 5 SENTENCES in this piece. The Manning/Woodson argument? Double that. Hey Low, next time you want to piss and moan about one of your sore spots, maybe you should think about backing it up with more than just “feelings”. According to Low, Peyton got “jobbed” out of the award, even thought the winner is determined by handing ballots to live human beings to vote for the most deserving player. It’s not like there was some magical BCS formula where Woodson, Manning, Ryan Leaf and Randy Moss’ stats were tossed into a computer, and after some complex calculations were finished, the winner’s name was spit out on a piece of paper.  And if you want to tell me that hundreds of coaches, former players and media members got together in some sort of secret “cabal” to vote against Manning, then I want to tell you that there’s a job at the National Enquirer that you would be perfect for. People voted. Woodson won. Deal with it.

But for the sake of this discussion, let’s look at Low’s reasoning for the so-called “Manning conspiracy”.

“Part of it was the fact that he was winless against Florida…He was saddled with the label of not being able to win the big one.”

I’m sorry, Chris, but give us a break. Woodson cemented his name on that trophy with an incredible performance against Michigan’s biggest opponent in the biggest game in over 50 years for the Wolverines. With a conference title, and undefeated regular season and a shot at a national championship hanging in the balance, all Woodson did was set up Michigan’s first touchdown with a long catch, return a punt for a TD and make a key interception to preserve the Wolverines’ lead. Manning against Florida? Two interceptions (one an 89 yard “pick six”) and a 33-14 hole that was all but insurmountable in an eventual loss. Yes, Manning added some garbage stats at the end of the game, but on the biggest stage against their biggest opponents, one player dominated and the other choked. Low wants you to forget that fact and side with him because of Manning’s 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns through the air. And while those are great numbers, they didn’t translate into a crucial win over Florida, where the play of Woodson did over Ohio State. Woodson delivered. Manning didn’t. Deal with it.

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OK Chris, what’s the point of the the reference to the 1998 season? I’m sorry, but did Peyton Manning lead that team to a national title? No. It was Tee Martin, lest we forget. So the whole “laid the groundwork” for that team’s success may be true in a sense, but has NOTHING to do with the 1997 Heisman voting. That is, unless the voters had a time machine to go into the future, see Tennessee win it all, and then say “OHHHH, better give Peyton the trophy since he paved the way for this title.”

After laying out such a thoughtful and well crafted argument, Low decides to slam home his point by giving you a (questionable, at best) statistic about Manning being left off of 92 of the 921 voter ballots, therefore confirming a conspiracy was in the works all along. That’s great Chris. But a closer look shows that while Manning was actually left off of 97 ballots, Woodson was left off of 75 ballots as well. Might this be an argument if the voting was closer? Maaaybe. But Woodson cleaned house, locking up 5 of the 6 regions and coming in second in the (you guessed it) South. But even in the South, Woodson finished only 79 points behind Manning, whereas Manning was the runner-up in the Midwest to Woodson, but by a whopping 137 points. Even in Manning’s back yard, voters knew that Woodson was the real deal, and Peyton couldn’t do enough to rally voters.

Yes, Tennessee fans will continue to whine and complain and declare Woodson’s win a “fraud.” Whatever. That’s mostly the pride of a great state with a great player on their team. This argument will live on in bars and pool halls for another 50 years more than likely, but that’s exactly where it should live. Not on the SEC blog on ESPN.com. Low: If you want to enlighten us on how the school plans to promote a great player, feel free to do so. But if you want to piss and moan about Manning’s loss, head to your nearest watering hole, grab a frosty beverage (your choice), turn to the nearest local in a Vols hat and let ‘er rip. But spare the rest of us. We’ve moved on.

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The Truth about Hossa’s Shoulder “Injury”

kronwallhossa

In case you couldn’t tell from the above picture, Niklas Kronwall has added another victim to his hit parade. Yes, I know this looks like a harmless celebration between two teammates. However, I doubt you are aware of  what Kron was actually saying to former teammate Marian Hossa. Fret not, oh faithful readers. A full transcript is below:

  • Kron: Nice shot.
  • Hossa: MONEY!!!
  • Kron: Listen d-bag, I know you think you are something special, but if you decide to cut and run after this season, there will be hell to pay.
  • Hossa: MORE SUITS!!!
  • Kron: Dude, are you even listening to me? You don’t mess around with Detroit fans. This is a proud hockey town and these fans expect you to stand by your statement that you want to come back next year. Got that?
  • Hossa: MORE TRASHY BLONDES!!!
  • Kron: You are such an ass. I am totally onto your game and I know what you are going to do. You are going to hold out on us, stringing us along with false promises of “loyalty”, and then dash off to a division rival like Chicago or something, lugging your life partner Kopecky with you. I can see it in your eyes. I am Kronwall and I see your soul…
  • Hossa: Don’t talk about Tomas like that! You don’t know what we have together! He stood up for me after Francois Beauchemin called me a weak piece of euro-trash who couldn’t deliver in the playoffs! I am indebted to him eternally for his valor!
  • Kron: He got KTFO out dude. He’s a pansy. Just like you. You know what happens to pansies? Especially ones that ditch for more money? No? Here, let the Kronwall enlighten you…

Next shift:

kronwalled

  • Kron: KRONWALLED!!!
  • Hossa: *Gulp* Is he dead?
  • Kron: No, Havlat is simply a pawn in the greater mission of educating you of the fate that awaits a traitor. Therefore, I have spared his life. However, he will be relegated to the fields of Minnesota, never to set foot in this city as a Blackhawk again. His spot is likely to be filled by someone just as cowardly and meek, someone who will also surely feel the wrath of the Kronwall.
  • Hossa: How could you possibly know that?
  • Kron: Because I am the Kronwall. I feed on the fear of men. My destruction is legendary. And should you be the one chosen to fill that weakling’s spot in the Chicago lineup, your destiny will align with those who have faced my wrath before you.
  • Hossa: But what about all of that money? I have to support Tomas…er, my family!
  • Kron: Do what you must, Marian. In parting, I give you these words of wisdom: Don’t f**k with me.
  • Hossa: Oh I don’t know what to do!!!
  • Kron: The lords of hockey have already made it known to the Kronwall that we will open JLA next season against the ‘Hawks. Might I suggest a shoulder injury? Perhaps a rotator cuff “tear”? It would require surgery, you would still get paid, and you could avoid the wrath of the Kron.
  • Hossa: Now that you mention it, my shoulder has been a little sore recently…
  • Kron: Exactly.

There you have it, folks. Hey Chicago: Enjoy watching that multi-million dollar investment start the season sitting  in the stands in an ugly ass suit with some blonde that serves about as much purpose as Tomas Kopecky in a fight (or on the ice, for that matter.) Hey, if Kopecky doesn’t pan out in the lineup for you guys, at least you know Hossa will have someone to spoon with keep him company while he recovers.

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Centennial Celebration.

100th post

So I’ve been MIA for the past few days trying to find the right way to commemorate the 100th post for SIM. I’ve kicked around a ton of ideas. I thought about pulling in some friends to comment on the miserable predictions I’ve made over the last 99 posts. I debated tossing out some more ridiculous predictions that will fail miserably and only serve to further damage my sports writing credibility. I even thought about using the 100th post to call it quits and spare each and every one of you from the endless drivel of Michigan sports that (of late, rarely) graces this site.

But then I started thinking about all of the times we have had together. Yes, things got off to a rough start as Michigan football bumbled their way to the worst record in school history. Michigan hockey looked to carry the banner for the maize and blue, but a disappointing NCAA loss to Air Force ended the season on an incredibly sour note. You hung with me as I divorced that joke of a team that marauded as the Pistons. And you bravely hung with me as I watched my beloved Red Wings come within a game of raising their 12th Stanley Cup, only to be denied on home ice.

Yes, it wasn’t pretty at times. But let’s not forget that, despite some rough patches, there were also quite a few highs. For the first time in over a decade, Michigan basketball made it back to the NCAA tournament, even giving us a first round win. The Tigers, a middle-of-the-pack pick by most experts at the start of the season, currently lead the AL Central. Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge all made it to the All Star game. And, despite not bringing home the Cup, the Wings gave us a heck of a fun run through the Stanley Cup playoffs.

We’ve had our good and we’ve had our bad. And while it’s true that no championships have come home to Michigan since the inception of this blog, that doesn’t mean we won’t see any in the future. Winning a championship is an incredible feat and it never comes easy. If anything, the losses and shortcomings make you cherish those championship moments even more. They will come. And we will celebrate.

But in the meantime, I’m committed to enjoying the ride with all of you. These writings have forged new friendships and facilitated endless discussions. They have opened the doors to new opportunities and helped me embrace the passion of sports fans outside of the state of Michigan. But mostly, they have given me the chance to share something that I strongly believe in with a group of folks that share the same ideology: that sport can unite us, bring us together and provide us with incredible experiences and memories.

To each and every one of you that read this: Thank you. For all of those who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through SIM and Winging It: Thank you. And for those of you that have passed my little corner of the blogosphere along to others: a HUGE thank you. The first 100 posts have been great and have led to wonderful experiences. Here’s hoping to even better over the next 100.

OK. Enough of the sappy shit. Let’s celebrate!

dave-chapelle-as-rick-james

**Apparently, the Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t wait to give us our first present! According to Wyshynski over at “Puck Daddy”, our good friend Marian Hossa could be out until December with a shoulder injury. Which they knew about when they signed him. So basically, the ‘Hawks drop an injury risk in Martin Havlat to sign damaged goods in Hossa, all while shelling out more cash for him in the process.

*Slow Clap*

He’s the gift that just keeps on giving, ‘Hawks fans. Until you get to the playoffs, that is. ENJOY!

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Filed under Hooray!, State of the State

Mail Time! (Sorta.)

mailcat

In an effort to become more “in touch” with the community that follow along here at SIM, I have decided to go ahead and start up the ol’ mailbag feature, where you, the readers, send in questions about anything at all, and I answer them in a slightly amusing, yet informative way. There will be no set timeframe for when I will answer these questions, but if it’s important to me, then it will get answered more quickly than someone who wants to know “Why is the sky blue?” or “Is Greg Robinson’s hair real?” (The answer is yes…for both.)

For today’s inaugural edition, it’ll be all questions that I have been asked in person or via twitter (@chollis), as opposed to the e-mail stuff. However, if YOU have a question you want me to ponder and subsequently address, shoot me an e-mail at sleeplessinmichigan@gmail.com. Now then, on to your questions.

Chris,

What do you think about Hossa/Kopecky/Samuelsson/Conklin/Hudler all leaving the Red Wings this off season? Who’s the biggest surprise in your mind?

-Steve

Seattle, WA

If you’re surprised about this being the first question, you obviously don’t A) read the blog enough or B) follow Detroit sports. The Red Wings off season has been dissected more carefully than a frog in a freshman biology class. Opinions range from “extreme anger” to “they deserve this” to “they could lose everyone except Zetterberg and Franzen and STILL win the Cup.”

I’d say I am somewhere in the middle. I never had any doubt that Tomas Kopecky  and Mikael Samuelsson were out the door. Initially, I really thought we would keep Ty Conklin, but as the numbers situation kept developing, it quickly became obvious that we had nowhere to stash both him and Jimmy Howard, so losing Conks isn’t a huge surprise in the end. Which leaves us with the two head-cases: Marian Hossa and Jiri Hudler.

marian-hossa jiri-hudler-26

Quite frankly, we should have seen this coming with Hossa. He’s been a mercenary pretty much his whole career, and with the Wings inking Zetterberg and Franzen to long term deals, the writing was pretty much on the wall for Hossa. Except he started talking about wanting to stay. And we got greedy. Then, like a bad one night stand, Hossa rolled to our division rival, and the media claimed we were taking the “walk of shame.” Spare me.

Look, I can admit guilt and say I wanted Hossa to stay around. But as this mess dragged on, I quickly lost respect for him and realized that he wasn’t sticking around. Ken Holland and the Wings organ-i-zation did everything they could to keep him, and he just wasn’t willing to take the hometown discount. So be it. Happy trails.

Now, about Hudler…

MC,

Hudler? WTF?

David P.

Westland, MI

Look, WTF is right. Yes, I said I thought he was gone when the season ended, but that was under the assumption that we would get Hossa to stay. When Hossa jumped ship, Hudler seemed to be a pretty sure bet to stick around. Then Sammy bolted, and Hudler looked even better. Next thing ya know, we have arbitration on our hands. OK, it could be worse. Then, BOOM! Here comes the KHL throwing around boatloads of tax free money to a kid like Hudler, and he is outtie 5000. But before Wings fans can even be pissed, the NHL and USA Hockey are claiming foul and a hearing is in the works with the IIHF. Meanwhile, the Wings can’t sign any free agents because we still have to go to arbitration with Huds to determine his future contract, since he is still our property, plus the stink the NHL and USA Hockey are raising could wind up bringing “Happy” back this season. A bonafide “Hockey Cold War” is underway and the Wings are stuck watching the free agent market deplete.

To get to the point: let Hudler go. He wants the jingle, so let him make his jingle. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If a guy doesn’t want to be here, show him the door. We have so much talent waiting in line, and I guarantee you those guys will work for every friggin’ inch on the ice. Get Hudler out of town, sign a free agent like Mike Grier or P.J. Axelsson and get back to work.

Chris,

Are the Tigers the real deal this season? Is this the year we finally win the division? And what do you think our chances are of doing some damage in the playoffs (if we make it)?

Ace

Toledo, OH

So we are at the All Star break and are hanging on to a 3.5 game lead in the division right now. 75 games to play. I’m not convinced we win the division.

The Tigers have the talent to do it this year, and they very well may take the Central, but they have been plagued by inconsistency this entire season. Some nights, this team looks like world beaters. Other nights, they couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag. I think the starting pitching gives them a shot to win on any given night (except Armando Galarraga, who is so up and down that I am getting whiplash), but the bats still aren’t instilling alot of confidence in me. Here’s the good thing, though: Leyland has had plenty of time to get a good look at some of the younger guys, and he knows he has options as we head into the division race.

As far as the division goes, it’s all about who gets hot at the right time. The White Sox made a steady push heading into the break and we know the Twins will be lurking the entire rest of the season. But is it ours to take? Absolutely. Solid pitching and some consistent hitting should give us as good a chance as anyone else at winning the Central.

As far as the playoffs go, I think it’s too early to tell. If they started today, I don’t know that we make it out of the ALDS. The Red Sox, Yankees and Angels could all easily take us down, and the aforementioned inconsistent play would do us no favors. That said, there are 75 games to go and alot could happen. Let’s see how the division shakes out first.

Let’s wrap it up on a fun note…

Dude,

Worse GM: Glen Sather or Dale Tallon?

J

Scoreless tie.

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Series Wrap-Up: A’s – Get it out of your system, boys.

43-35, 1st in AL Central (3.0 GU on MIN, CHI)

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(Photo courtesy of Anda Chu/MCT)

Well, the struggles on the road continued for the boys from Motown, dropping 2 of 3 to the AL West bottom-dwelling Oakland A’s this week. The Tigers struggled to find their offense, just like they have on the road much of this season, and subsequently lost yet another series away from Comerica Park.

However, the boys have had an off day to clear their heads and find their focus, as a HUGE matchup with the Minnesota Twins starts tonight. Currently, the Tigers hold a three game lead over the Twins and the surging White Sox, so it’s needless to say that this series holds some importance. This will be a great test for the Tigers, though. Even though they are in first place, there are many fans and experts alike that are questioning whether this team has what it takes to be relevant in the playoffs. And while we are still half a season away from the playoffs, tonight should give us a good look at how the Tigers will handle the pressure of a meaningful road series. It will surely be an uphill battle for Detroit, especially in tonight’s game, where rookie Luke French will make his first career start against Twins ace Kevin Slowey. How the boys handle the pressure of protecting a division lead on the heels of a rough road trip will be must watch TV, and you can bet I will be tuned in.

Honestly, I could sit here and go on and on about where the Tigers are struggling and what it’s going to take to win this series against Minnesota, but what’s the point? We know the deck we are playing with and we know what we have to do to get it done. Now it’s all about the execution.

I hope you got all of the road woes out of your system, boys. It’s time to bring it.

On Deck: Minnesota Twins

  • Record: 41-39 (3rd in AL Central, 3.0 GB of Detroit)

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Friday, July 3

  • Tigers – Luke French (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 SO)
  • Twins – Kevin Slowey (10-3, 4.41 ERA, 71 SO)

Saturday, July 4

  • Tigers – Edwin Jackson (6-4, 2.49 ERA, 84 SO)
  • Twins – Francisco Liriano (4-8, 5.62 ERA, 80 SO)

Sunday, July 5

  • Tigers – Rick Porcello (8-5, 3.90 ERA, 44 SO)
  • Twins – Nick Blackburn (6-4, 3.10 ERA, 45 SO)

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