Category Archives: This is a rant

Breaking the Silence

RichRodriguezconfuzzled

It’s been awhile. Nice to see you again.

First, an apology: For those of you that know me well, it comes as no surprise to you why I haven’t been posting much here at SIM. During the summer, I took a position as the lead blogger at Motown Wings and now that hockey season has started, I’m dedicating most of my time to that site. Combine that with a real job and wanting to have some sort of a life outside of blogging, and you can see how SIM gets the short end of the stick. It’s probably going to be like this for some time, so if I lost any of you readers out there because of it, I’m sorry.

However, SIM will continue to serve as my mouthpiece for all sports things unrelated to the Wings, and will continue to be updated, just on a much more limited basis.

That said, it’s time to talk about the Rich Rodriguez experience. Over the past month or so, I have to guess that between phone calls, text messages, IM’s, tweets and discussions on MGoTalk, I’ve discussed Rodriguez’s role as Michigan’s head football man at least a hundred times. Now, I love a good discussion as much as the next guy, but what these are turning into borders on what I consider a “discussion” and lists dangerously towards to side of “whining”. We’ve all heard it: “Fire Rich Rodriguez.” “He sucks.” “He’s not a Michigan Man.” “He can’t cut it here.” “His schemes don’t work.” “His staff is terrible.” “He just doesn’t fit.” “He was a mistake.”

Here’s my thing: You can have whatever opinion you want. I have many of them and that’s A-OK. But if you want to bitch and moan about someone or something not living up to your expectations or letting you down, and then call for that person to be removed, you BEST have a solution or replacement option that is not Brian Kelly or Les Miles coming out of your mouth right afterwards. Otherwise, just STFU and don’t waste my time. For all of you asshats out there that want Rod canned, you need to step back off that ledge my friend. Don’t you get it? Rodriguez is exactly what you asked for three years ago when Lloyd decided that he had better things to do than coach and recruit, and now you want to go through that shitstorm of a coaching search process again? Oh wait, you want to do it with an outgoing athletic director just to up the ante and make it a little bit more fun this time. Gotcha.

Can it.

Here’s what you need to do.

Stop acting like we are entitled to some magical football experience just because the team wears winged helmets and touches a banner before the game. My biggest beef with this whole thing is when I ask someone why these changes need to be made and all I get back is “Well, because we’re Michigan and we should be better than this.” What better? 9-3 better? Maybe 8-4? Because, lest we forget, that was the “better” everyone was complaining about when Lloyd was at the helm. We wanted “better” then as well, in the form of undefeated seasons, non Rose Bowl blowout losses and an innovative playcalling scheme that overhauled the “run, run, run, punt” scheme that permeated Schembechler Hall for so long.

You got that coach. You just expected him to turn water into wine and take a group of athletes that either have A) No business running that scheme or B) Are freshmen and work a dynamic and complex scheme to perfection. It’s like driving a pickup truck and then having someone hand you the keys to a jumbo jet with nothing more than a smile and a “Good Luck!” It’s called unreasonable expectations, and all you haters out there are struggling to grasp that concept. Change takes work. Success takes work. If you don’t believe our guys are putting in the work to make it happen, then I have some great property down in Florida I’d love to talk to you about as well.

Basically, you wanted all of the glory with none of the work or sacrifice.

It’s time to get with the program. I can’t make you like or even support Rich Rodriguez. All I can do is make a case for patience and logic and hope that it resonates with a few people. If it does, awesome. If not, fine. But if it turns around and the success happens, then don’t even bother coming to me with anything that resembles praise for the man. You doubting Thomas’ out there can all get together and pretend like you “knew all along” that it would work, but don’t even try and come to me with that routine. I’ll simply point back to the article and go on my way. And if I’m wrong, I’ll write anyone that asks a letter of apology and will eat my crow. But I’ll do it knowing that I stood behind the Michigan Football program and the head coach, one Rich Rodriguez and that I endured the whole thing believing that it was all for the best.

Besides, I’m enjoying all of the leg room I have on the bandwagon right now.

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An Overreaction to the Game 1 Loss

Tigstwinsgame1

(Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/DFP)

This morning at the gym I couldn’t help but be captivated by the sight of the jubilant Los Angeles Orange County Angels of Anaheim and Surrounding Neighborhoods and Communities celebrate their AL West championship last night. The champagne, the beer, the jumping around. It looked like alot of fun.

Of course, the next clip just HAD to be a preview for the Tigers-Twins series that got cranked up this morning following a rain delay last night. My excitement quickly turned to nervousness and then to jealousy, as I wanted to watch MY team jump around and pour booze all over each other and watch as Leyland smokes 16 packs of Marbs in celebration.

That’s when the sinking feeling started crawling in. That’s where this blog gets its name. It’s that feeling that keeps you awake at night and you spend the rest of the day trying to shake it off and pretend like it’s not there. It gets in your ear and tells you to stop pretending, you won’t be good enough to win this series. You try to flick it away with a shrug, but it’s always right there. Telling you that those pinstriped jackasses from Minneapolis are about to swipe another division from right under your nose. Now you’re getting frustrated, and you just want the game to start so you can prove that feeling wrong. So you yell and cheer and get pumped up for your team and the belief starts to get stronger and that nagging in your ear gets quieter.

And then you jump out to an early lead and now you are ready to start telling that whisper in your ear to “shove it” because we came to play today and we are taking this division tomorrow night. And the feeling is quiet. And the innings drag on. And you are still confident because, guess what, you are playing just as good (if not better) than the other guys, and it’s YOUR team’s time to win a division, and nothing will stop them.

Then the game is tied. But that’s OK, we’ll get through it. And we do. On defense.

The offense is a nightmare though, and you can swear that you hear the entire Twins nation laughing at how incompetent your team’s batters are, as their pitcher sits down hitter after hitter. Meanwhile, your team is dodging bullets just to stay alive and it feels like they are losing control of the situation. but just when it looks like it’s all going to come crashing down, Nick Punto “puntos” a sac bunt and the DP is turned and now, NOW it’s time for us to step up and fulfill our season of destiny.

We get a runner on. now the excitement builds. That voice of negativity is awful quiet at this point.

And then, of course, the rest of the lineup lets you down. From cloud nine back to earth, but that’s OK, because we are still in this and wrestling control back.

And then Brandon Lyon happens.

BRANDON F**KING LYON HAPPENS.

Two, not one, TWO wild pitches that put the go-ahead run on third and a single later put the Twinkies up 2-1. A sac fly later and it’s now 3-1 and all of a sudden that feeling is back, telling you that it’s your team’s destiny to fail down the stretch, just like they did in 2006 and just like they will do this year. And you IM your friend and say how much this sucks and “watch, Grandy will probably homer just to give me a sense of false hope here” and sure enough, Grandy pops one out of the park, but all you can do is curse under your breath because you know that it was just a flash in the pan and nothing more.

One.

Two.

Three.

And just like that it’s now ONE with SIX to go.

Get it together Tigers. We’ve already done this once with you in the last five years, so why don’t you just man up and win the damn division already? Because I’m sick of hearing about the “CHOKE” and the “CHOKE” that’s about to happen this year. Prove ‘em all wrong, eh? Whaddya say boys? How bad do you want it?

************

Game 2 is in 3 hours and 10 minutes. Let’s hope the post following the game is a little “happier” than this one.

LET’S GO TIGERS!!!

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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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Take It or Leave It

hossa_celeb_112906

The negotiations are continuing. Red Wings fans are still hoping. But the outcome is becoming to look inevitable: Marian Hossa will not be a Red Wing next season.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been down this road. And it won’t be the last. But when it comes to superstar athletes and money in Detroit, people get upset. As far as players go, nobody has been this polarizing for Red Wings fans since Sergei Fedorov decided to hold the Wings hostage with his salary negotiations in both 1998 and 2003. When Fedorov finally spurned the Wings for the Ducks, he effectively sealed his fate as a player who will eternally be despised in Hockeytown. However, the Hossa situation is a bit different. Where Fedorov actually took less to play for Anaheim, Hossa is all about the cash. Or at least that’s what his agent Ritch Winter is leading us to believe. According to a whole slew of reports, the Wings have offered Hossa somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million, but Winter wants closer to 6 million for his client. That’s a pretty big gap when you stretch it out over the long term, and Hossa could potentially lose out on alot of guaranteed money.

But who is calling the shots here? As this saga drags out, the finger of blame is quickly being shifted to Winter and fans and media alike are portraying him as the major hurdle to retaining the service of Hossa. Winter finds himself in the crosshairs of fan anger right now, simply because he has laid out a number that the Wings can’t match. Here’s the thing: I don’t blame Winter. I blame Hossa.

Throughout this entire process, where has 81 been? We haven’t heard anything from him. This was the guy who decided Detroit offered him the best shot at a Cup, and seemed to be buying into the mindset that Detroit continues to carry with them: play our system, respect our decisions and you will win. Now all of a sudden, the man who was interested in winning a Cup and settling down for the “long term” has continued the vanishing act that he started all throughout this year’s playoffs. Meanwhile, Winter is charged with not only securing a contract for Hossa, but also being the face of the entire Hossa camp, since his client has the gag in his mouth. For the time being, let’s table the frustration, and look at this in the way that Winter is. Last year, his client missed out on a huge guaranteed payday to follow through on his dream to win a Stanley Cup. Winter watched the money slip away once, and he won’t let that happen again. Add to that the fact that Hossa’s value dropped as a result of his Houdini like disappearance in the playoffs, and Winter has a responsibility to lock up as much money as possible, and to do it right now. That’s what an agent does and that’s all Winter is doing here: his job.

Sometimes, the passion of the fans clouds the fact that this game (and many others) are a business. In the end, it’s all about the money and less about the championships for some players. And while we in Detroit are insulated from alot of that because of the Kris Drapers and Nick Lidstroms of the world, we occasionally run into a player who is so talented and effective, yet is usually all about the money, that we put away our better judgment and throw ourselves behind their attempt to “help the team.” I’m not saying that Hossa didn’t genuinely try and make the Wings better or try and forge friendships in the locker room. I’m just saying that we should have seen this coming. Hossa has been about the payday his entire career, and just because he had a moment of “clarity” and acted as if he wants to play the game simply for the love of the game, we should have known that his loyalty only ran so deep. Now, Hossa is on the verge of dashing for the cash and jilting the Wings organization and fans.

But let’s be fair, here: Hossa hasn’t gone anywhere. I could just be sitting here spewing my frustrations, while Hossa is putting his name on the dotted line of a 10 year deal with the Wings. If Hossa does re-sign, great. It will be a true testament to the power of the Red Wings brand, as well as a testament to the character of Hossa. But if he does leave, don’t act surprised. Ever since he came here, my excitement has always been slightly tempered by the fact that he has been all over the NHL and hasn’t stayed put. Yes, his quotes about wanting to stay here for the long term got me excited, but there has always been a sense of unease when I think of Hossa and this situation has done nothing to quash those feelings.

So where do we go from here? Hossa technically becomes a free agent on July 1, at which point he can take the highest bid from any NHL team and the Wings would be out a 40 goal scorer with no compensation. However, Ken Holland is no fool, and if he feels that this situation isn’t workable, he will do everything he can to trade Hossa’s negotiating rights and at least get some form of compensation. Right now, the Los Angeles Kings appear to be the top choice, as they have plenty of cap room and are very interested in adding Hossa to their lineup. But here’s the thing: the Kings aren’t going to win a Cup anytime soon. Both Hossa and Winter know this. Now, this doesn’t mean Hossa is guaranteed to sign with the Kings, but their price would likely be in the ballpark that Winter has suggested, Hossa would immediately be billed as the top player on that team and he would likely be paired up with the exciting Anze Kopitar to form a formidable scoring tandem. But the Kings are a work in progress, and it would be a long haul with alot of losses before Hossa would get another shot at the Cup. If Ken Holland feels that Hossa is a lost cause, he’d be well served to get something from the Kings and let Winter and Hossa figure out the rest. If Hossa is serious about making more money while still competing for a Cup, he won’t play in LA. If he does, then we know EXACTLY what Hossa is all about.

No matter what happens, remember this: When a true champion gets close to their goal, they do whatever it takes to get back and get it done. If Hossa’s goal is a Cup, then he’ll be back because the Wings are a constant threat to get there. If the goal is more money, then don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

The clock is ticking and there’s only one person who can make this decision. So what’s it gunna be ‘Hoss?

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“The Call Out”: Red Wings Game 4 Edition

If you’ve watched the Red Wings for any length of time this season, you are painfully aware of a few flaws that just won’t go away. Like the Wings penchant to get lazy “comfortable” when they don’t feel challenged. Or how about the penalty kill giving up a power play goal at the most inopportune times. Or the Wings’ restraint in not punching Pierre Maguire in the mouth when he sits between the benches and incessantly gushes about whoever their playoff opposition’s best player is.

Look, I get it: nobody is perfect. Not even me. But there are certain times when a little “encouragement” might be needed for certain individuals to help them…”find their way.” I’ve kept myself in check for as long as I can, but for some reason, last night’s loss just set me in a bad mood. And now you all get to bear witness to my frustrations and growing concern.

The list is made. There is no turning back. The “call outs” begin now.

Pavel Datsyuk

I get it. Foot injuries suck. I’ve had my share. But what I’ve never had is the opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup. And I guarantee you that if somebody said to me, “Hey, we’ll give you a shot to play for the Cup, but first let me break a couple of bones in your foot”, I would go get the hammer myself. But me on my best day is nowhere near as good as Pasha on his worst day, broken foot or not.

Look, Datz, we love you. We really do. But we’ve been hearing about this foot for the entire series, and each day is another “we’ll see” from you. Meanwhile, your fellow Hart trophy contender Evgeni Malkin is running around just waiting for the opportunity to strike. MVP’s thrive when the going gets tough. And sometimes that tough is an injury.

It’s time to suck it up. Babcock has already told the media that it’s up to you. Well here’s a kick in the pants to try and help you along. If you even THINK you can play, then get into the locker room tomorrow night, strap up that foot REAL tight, shove it into your skate, take a painkiller and go dangle yourself all over Mellon Arena. Not only will it give the Pens another player to worry about, it might even remind some of your teammates on how bad some guys want to win the Cup and what it ultimately takes to do so.

I fully expect to see you on the ice tomorrow. Don’t let me down.

The Penalty Kill

Holy buckets is the PK bad. And when I say bad, let me be very clear: I mean abysmal. The PK is a staggering 71.4 percent this postseason, and an even more jaw-dropping 65.5 percent away from the Joe during these playoffs. These are not good numbers. And it cost them last night, giving up two PP goals to the Pens, including the game winner.

But it gets worse. These numbers are down from the regular season totals that found them ranked 25th out of 30 teams on the kill. The 78.3 percent PK rate that they had during the regular season would almost  be a dream come true for this team right now.

But what’s worse is the perceived lack of effort from the guys on the kill. I conducted a random, COMPLETELY (un)scientific polling of a random number of individuals about what they see from the Wings PK. The number one response? “Alot of stick waving.” Or as the team calls it “Getting in the lanes.”

Look, simple fact is that this team is too good to be this bad on the kill. But when you watch the kill, it seems as if the Wings try and think too much and do too much guesswork on where the puck will go, rather than just going out and playing. And while guys like Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski are cagey and crafty, maybe it’s time to shake it up a bit and put another energy guy like Justin Abdelkader out there. Or how about…

Mike Babcock

You told us after Game 2 that Kris Draper has been ready to go for a few days now. You told us you didn’t want to shake up what was “working.” We gave you the benefit of the doubt and trusted in the plan. Well guess what? It didn’t work.

IT’S TIME TO SKATE DRAPER!

I don’t care where he goes, just get him on the ice. Draper has been begging to get out there and play, and you know an energy guy like him is going to come out full steam ahead. Stick him on our absolutely *mesmerizing* PK unit and watch him chase the puck around like a jackrabbit and win those crucial face offs to help clear the zone. Tell him to go out and lay a hit or two on some guys. Have him chase Sidney Crosby around for a bit to give Henrik Zetterberg a rest. Hell, have him run into the stands and throw an octopus on the ice. Just have him do something. In a series that is going to be won on will and determination, Draper might have more than any other guy on the ice. Make it happen, Mike.

Marian Hossa

Hoss: You need to forget about all of the talk about revenge and contracts and how you only score goals in Game 4 and just go out and play. Go talk to Darren McCarty before the game. Dude was on the down and out, pulled himself back up and is back with a Cup worthy squad. He’ll show you real quick how to have a good time on the ice. So relax, stop worrying and, most importantly, score a boatload of goals have some fun!!!

In Closing…

Look guys, consider this nothing more than some tough love from someone who is probably WAY too invested in what happens this series. But no matter what happens, please don’t forget that you have an entire legion of fans that are dreaming of another Stanley Cup win, most of them residing in a place where the only good thing they might have right now is Red Wings hockey.

Look, this isn’t a “win one for the fans” speech or anything like that. Just remember that you represent a great city and great people who do what it takes to get it done. Maybe just use a little of that as motivation and channel that hard-working mentality into your play the rest of the way.

Grind it out, boys. Get this one done.

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Odds and Ends From Game 6

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(Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press)

A TON happened last night, so don’t expect these thoughts to go in any chronological order. Onward…

The Effort

Even before this game started, I had a feeling that something was off, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Perhaps it was the fact that everyone was ready to move on to the Western Conference Final between Detroit and Chicago. Or maybe it was the fact that Detroit has closed out every playoff series they have won since 2002 on the road. But it seemed like everybody and their brother was ready to write off the Ducks and advance the Red Wings. In the end, these Wings looked like the Wings that we saw at the end of the regular season: bored, disinterested and waiting for the game to get handed to them on a silver platter. Only after Anaheim got ahead by two did the Wings finally decide it was time to shoot like crazy on Jonas Hiller. And, like the end of the season, the Wings rally came up short and this team was victim to their own laziness and lack of determination.

The Extracurricular Activity 

In a move that was a surprise to nobody, the Ducks reverted back to “gooning” it up after the final horn to try and get under the Red Wings skin. Normally, as Wings fans, we’d complain a bit, sling some taunts, and then move on to Game 7.

But last night was ridiculous. It all started with Ryan Getzlaf giving Marian Hossa a hook as the final horn blew. Hossa pushed Getzlaf, who immediately started throwing punches. Meanwhile, a nice pileup was taking place around the two, allowing Corey Perry to jump the recently returned Brian Rafalski. When Hossa got loose to try and help Rafalski, Getzlaf came after Hossa (while probably telling him how to play the game cleanly.) In the meantime, Pavel Datsyuk and Scott Niedermayer  were tied up along the boards, when Niedermayer through a nasty reverse elbow to the head of Datsyuk. Datsyuk went down, popped up and the fight ensued. As the scuffle went on, Todd Marchant showed up and tried to sneak some shots in on Datsyuk, but Nick Lidstrom came in and got him wrapped up, which pretty much ended the festivities.

Now then, what came of this whole mess? Here you go:

Corey Perry

  • 2 Minutes: Roughing
  • 5 Minutes: Fighting
  • 10 Minutes: Misconduct

Scott Niedermayer

  • 5 Minutes: Fighting

Todd Marchant

  • Game Misconduct

Ryan Getzlaf

  • 2 Minutes: Hooking
  • 2 Minutes: Roughing

Pavel Datsyuk

  • 5 Minutes: Fighting

Brian Rafalski

  • 5 Minutes: Fighting

TOTALS

  • Anaheim: 26 minutes, Game misconduct
  • Detroit: 10 minutes

A couple of things here:

  • Somebody please explain how Rafalski getting jumped equals him fighting. I’m not sure if anybody else noticed, but the guy has been out this ENTIRE series, so why bother getting into a fight?
  • The misconduct penalties basically mean nothing here. They don’t carry over to Game 7, so why bother assessing them? Hell, if that’s the case, I don’t see why Hossa didn’t just two hand baseball swing his stick into the back of Getzlaf’s knee. Or better yet, Datsyuk should have just used the butt of his stick to full force jab Niedermayer in the jaw and spill his teeth all over the ice. What does it matter, it’s only a misconduct for THIS game, not the next…
  • Niedermayer basically goes un-punished for the elbow.

Honestly, homerism aside, the NHL has a problem here, and I’m not the only one saying it:

NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell will have some video to watch after Scott Niedermayer elbowed [Pavel] Datsyuk in the final seconds of the game, which led to a fight between the two at the buzzer. But given the fact a precedent has been set allowing players to cold-cock unsuspecting opponents in the face in this year’s playoff tournament, don’t count on anything coming down.

-Ken Campbell/The Hockey News

Hmmm. This is curious, especially for a league that held meetings as the regular season was winding down to discuss how to make the game LESS VIOLENT. But seriously, let’s not kid ourselves: NOTHING will come of this. Why? Because the NHL doesn’t have a clue. All they care about is making a feeble attempt to get TVs tuned into the games, rather than adhering to the guidelines and precedents they are trying to implement. If adding turnbuckles, ropes and metal chairs to the ice surface would increase viewership, Gary Bettman would implement those in a second.

Here’s the thing: I’m all for a scrum here and there after the game. It keeps everybody honest and gives the fans something to think about before the next game. But when two players do enough to get misconduct penalties and another throws a massive elbow, that’s not a scrum anymore. If you want to let Datsyuk and Niedermayer duke it out, by all means let them go for it. But when Marchant sneaks in to try and help, that’s crap and that’s cheap.

The Retribution

The gut reaction of almost every die-hard Wings fan is to come out swinging against the Ducks tomorrow. I couldn’t disagree more. Look, the Wings knew Anaheim was going to throw everything at them in Game 6. They did, the Wings were lackluster, and yet we still only lost by one goal. That should tell you something right there.

So for tomorrow, here’s what needs to happen.

  • Open up the game and have Justin Abdelkader take a run at Hiller. Not trying to hurt him, mind you. Only to send a message. Remember when Mule trucked Hiller in Game 1? Just like that. If he takes a penalty, fine, but the message will have been sent that Hiller won’t have it easy throughout the game, and the Ducks will try and get feisty.
  • Park “Mule”, “Homer” and Cleary right in front of the goal. All night long. Hiller gets in trouble when he can’t see pucks and when rebounds get slammed home. He also likes to cheat hard to his stick side, so having someone over by his glove forces him to be honest, therefore giving up more of the net. The Wings need to pepper him with screened shots all night long.
  • Be physical, but be smart. Grind down the Ducks. Force them to take dumb  penalties.
  • Control the neutral zone with a solid forecheck and backcheck. When the Ducks can’t gain the line, Detroit thrives.

Final Thoughts

This has been an incredible and intense series. Tomorrow night should be no exception. Detroit needs to bring it, and needs to bring it for the full 60. This is where championship teams step up and make plays. Are we a champion or will the cup be leaving Hockeytown for good tomorrow night?

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The Death of “DEEETROIT BAAASKETBAAALL!”

fire1

As you may have noticed, I pretty much gave up on covering the Pistons this year. In fact, I’ve pretty much just flat out given up on the team itself this year. (Don’t know why? Click here.)

No matter what the reason, even the most diehard Pistons fan has to realize  just how bad it was this year. (For every one of you that just thought “It wasn’t THAT bad!”, do all of us a huge favor and go help calm the swine flu fear mongering down. Or become a flight attendant. Because you obviously know how to stay calm in difficult situations.) It. Was. Bad.

How bad?

  • A losing record.
  • Barely squeaked into the playoffs.
  • A terrible-from-the-beginning trade with Denver to rid Chauncey Billups’ contract and bring Allen Iverson to the Pistons.
  • Attendance drop.
  • Getting swept out of the playoffs.

This list could go on and on. But for the educated Piston fan, you already know all of this. Now the question is, “What gets done to fix this?”

The reality? Probably nothing in the short term. Michael Curry will be the coach next season, which pretty much guarantees a sub. 500 record. Joe Dumars has already promised that the whole roster will be evaluated before next season. Whoopty doo. In the end, Joe MIGHT whip up the cajones to dump Rasheed Wallace, but that seems about the extent of it. Every year we hear how “changes will be made” and what happens? NOT A DAMN THING. And don’t even try to point to the Billups deal. What an absolute failure. Any idiot could see that AI was NEVER going to fit with this team. And for those of you that say “well, we needed to dump Billups’ contract”, fine. But at least get a player for it. AI basically came and sat. I can do that. And I guarantee I cost a whole lot less than “the Answer.”

The sad reality of this whole mess is that Dumars has basically written off this season and next season in an effort to redeem himself via free agency in 2010. So strap in for a season full of craptastic offense and dismal defense next season. Yay.

But let’s step back for a second. We need solutions, right? I have one, but i may seem a bit crazy to some of you. It’s built on the idea that the Pistons of yore (the ones that are now dead and gone) held a special advantage when they played at home. They had a special group of people supporting them. It wasn’t just the team that got it done, it was the WHOLE city. Fans, players, coaches, management. Everyone went to work and did their part. That was DEEETROIT BAAASKETBAAAAL!

So my solution is simple.

Mason: Don’t shout those words again.

mason

Get rid of that sing-song phrase that was once the battle cry of the blue collar, smashmouth, in-your-face Pistons teams that did “Go to Work” every night, with the full support of the city of Detroit behind them. To use this phrase now is a mockery of what was once a great tradition.

“DB” (not that db) was built over time. It was built as the Pistons started taking the baby steps by getting into the playoffs. It rose in pitch when we rallied back to beat Orlando when they had us facing elimination in 2003. It reached a crescendo when Tayshaun Prince ran back down court and blocked Reggie Miller’s game winning layup in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals. And it exploded across the country as the Pistons routed the Lakers to win their third NBA Championship. I’ll never forget when ABC showed the Game 3 introductions for the NBA Finals in 2004. Mason got revved up, flames were shooting everywhere, and then the whole crowd let the Lakers know just exactly where they were, who they were dealing with and what was coming next. “DB” was more than a phrase. It was a swagger. It was us knowing that no matter what the Lakers did, that they couldn’t touch us. Hell, it was the greatest taunt I’ve ever heard.

“DEEETROIT BAAASKETBAAALL!” Just try and shut us up. You won’t be able to, but try anyways. And the whole time we’ll just keep reminding you of who we are and what you’re dealing with.

But here’s the sad reality: all good things must come to an end. And it’s time to get rid of that phrase. When I hear it now, there is no passion behind it. That passion started leaving the minute Ben Wallace shirked the Pistons to go to Chicago and finally slammed the door when Chauncey Billups got dealt to Denver. It’s a hollow reminder of what once was great and now is human again.

So Detroit, it’s time to pack “DB” nicely away and not think about it for awhile. But don’t completely do away with it. Rather, use it as a new motivation. This squad is chock full of young players and fresh faces. Let them start building this back up, just like Billups, Hamilton, Prince and Wallace did. Let the fans hit bottom, pick themselves up and start to believe again. We will never have that championship team back. That’s fine. Let the new faces have a shot at building something great.

But, for now, don’t hold them to a standard that isn’t realistic. They are not even close to be championship caliber yet. That’s OK. These things take time. But they can’t be given a real opportunity to forge a legacy while those ghosts of seasons past linger in the Palace. It’s time to wipe the slate clean and start it all over again. And maybe, just maybe, the pieces will start to fit together again and this city can get back behind this team. Then, and ONLY THEN, can we serenade our opponents with the “DB” cheer. We have to earn it by buying into that “hard working” mentality once again.

For now, I will continue to think back to that championship squad and those summer nights where “DB” will always live. And I’ll keep my ears open, listening intently for a new iteration of “DB” to rise; waiting to believe once again.

If you listen closely, you can almost hear the whispers now…

pistonschamps

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