Showing posts from 2012

Big Ten Basketball - Making up for Bad Big Ten Football

I don't know if it has been the lackluster season that the Big Ten just endured - what with the underperforming Michigan teams, the Penn State and Ohio State bowl bans, and the rise one - but I am really looking forward to the NCAA basketball season. It was quite a shock for me to see Michigan ranked fifth in the nation at the start of the season. They shared the Big Ten regular season title, but ended their 2011-2012 season so badly - with a first round upset by Ohio - that my expectations were low. But apparently my expectations were the only low ones around. With the crop of new freshmen and the loss of only two seniors, the national peoples have high hopes for this team. I was able to watch their two games this week in the NIT Season Tip-Off, and I am now impressed. On Wednesday they struggled a bit against Pittsburgh, but their defense was fun to watch. They played man-to-man and a 2-3 zone, and it actually looked like they had a defensive scheme. Today against Kan

Big What?

Fourteen? And we're still going to call the conference the Big Ten? After rumors persisted over the weekend, Maryland has voted - and approved - to leave the ACC and join the Big Ten conference in 2014. Rutgers is also talking to join the Big Ten as well. There was eighteen years between teams joining the Big Ten conference - Penn State in 1993 and Nebraska in 2011. Now there's only three. Is this how it's going to be? Teams jumping into the Big Ten like it's the Big East conference? I remember being pretty excited about the idea of Nebraska joining the Big Ten conference. My mouth was watering at the prospect of Michigan-Nebraska football games. Nebraska fit the mold of a Big Ten team: Midwestern, tough-as-nails, grass-fed beefy guys. When I heard about Maryland and Rutgers, I was a surprised, and not thrilled. Neither team is impressive, and the only championship of late was Maryland's basketball championship back in 2002. Neither is a team you'd thin

It's Called "Valuable" For A Reason

Hey everybody! Miguel Cabrera won the MVP! For all of the hype and hoopla over whether Mike Trout was going to unseat Cabrera due to his dynamic June, July, and August, the end result was a little...lacking. 22 first place votes to just 6? Is this the battle of the old fogey sportswriters against the Internet stat masters? If this vote had been 10 years in the future, would we be talking about the result being far different? Well, it doesn't matter. Cabrera won. Whenever an MVP debate surfaces, I always ask myself, "It's called the Most Valuable Player ." What exactly does that mean? Well, it means that the player has the ability to lift his manager, teammates, and city up to the caliber that is expected of them. That can be through offense, defense, and being the leader in the clubhouse. When it comes to stats, each side will find the numbers to support their man. Yes, Cabrera won the Triple Crown. Yes, Trout won the battle for Wins Above Replacement. But w

When Our Outlet Fails Us

You unwrap the new video game. You turn on the sporting event. You go see the movie. You tinker around in the garage. We do these things because they relieve us from reality. On a day where work, home, family, or friends disappoints us, we have that optional list of things that keep us from thinking about reality for a while. Some people call it their "outlet." But what happens when the thing that causes us to jettison out of reality abruptly crashes to the ground? Or - even worse, slowly sinks into oblivion. What happens then? I am asking myself that question tonight, on a night where my outlet - sports - failed me. Michigan couldn't score a touchdown in a 23-9 loss to Nebraska, and the Detroit Tigers couldn't score a run in a 2-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants. My night ended with a bad taste in my mouth, when it could have just ended on a good, relaxing note simply by ignoring both games. Instead, I listened to the Tigers game on the radio (I refu

Let's Get This Thing Started!

On Thursday, the prospect of playing the National League champion felt completely manageable.  On Friday, it got cloudy.  On Sunday, it got scary. And on Monday, it got scarier. Now I don’t know what to think anymore.  On one hand, the Tigers have dominant pitching and the Triple Crown winner. On the other hand, the Giants are riding the most giant wave of momentum there can be, with their aces and shortstop taking them off the cusp of elimination…again…and into the World Series with just a day’s rest.  The Tigers will be forced to go against the trend - in the three times where one LCS champion has swept and the other one won in seven, the one that went the distance won the World Series. Including 2006. I want to believe that the writers and analysts will pick the Giants to win on the basis of which they can’t be eliminated. They’re like the John McClane of baseball right now. The problem is, the media isn’t. They are declaring that while the Gian

Celebration Time is Over.

So here we are again. Back to another World Series, six years after we experienced an eerily similar situation. Survived an ALDS, swept the ALCS...and a little under one week before the first World Series game. I remember having a week of glee, of giddiness. The Tigers are going to the World Series! Just the fact that they were going was enough to make the city of Detroit beside itself with joy. The team had just endured over a decade of bottom-of-the-barrel failures, including the infamous 2003 season that saw them nearly break the record for most losses in a season. So the fact that 2006 brought so much joy in the first two postseason series was enough to lift the spirits of the city (and the fans all over) for another few years. The Tigers were finally relevant again. Comerica Park wasn't a sellout for just Opening Day anymore. The summer once again revolved around the Tigers. I printed out the Tigers' season schedule so I could keep track of where they were (and what

A National Mystery

Amidst the media crisis that is the Yankees, there only seems to be three markets that remember that there is another Championship Series going on in baseball right now: San Fransisco, St. Louis, and the MLB Network. I have been prone to dismissing the National League Championship Series, simply because my Tigers aren't in that league, and barely plays any of the teams in that league. Such dismissal happened back in 2006, when I was wrapped up completely in the Tigers' improbable World Series run. That was a big mistake - the St. Louis Cardinals kept cruising after a 7-game series with the New York Mets and beat Detroit in five games. I forgot that not every team was going to roll over for the Tigers in that postseason. I barely heard much of anything about the NLCS this morning as I prepared for work. Actually, I barely heard anything about the ALCS, either. Any baseball news was all about instant replay and how Joe Girardi - who three years ago was insistent that it not

Which Team Does Derek Jeter's Injury Hurt More? (I'm Serious!)

In the top of the 12th inning in tonight's game, Derek Jeter was going for a routine grounder to short that went to his left side. But he didn't get up. He ended up fracturing his left ankle, and his manager is reporting that Jeter is out for the rest of the postseason. Tigers fans might initially say, "Yess!!" Jeter is gone! We don't have to face him in the lineup! The gold-glove infield has a hole in it! But take a step back. Teams that lose their captain usually rally very well. They get behind the team. They regroup and strike back with a force previously unseen. And the Yankees aren't a sub-.500 team who might just collapse and give up the rest of the series. These guys won the Eastern Division and fought back to win a series against an upstart Orioles team. They aren't just going to roll over. I could easily see Alex Rodriguez suddenly be inspired to hit again...if Joe Girardi even puts him in the lineup in this series. But then again, the Ti

Baseball...It Prevents Us From Going Crazy

You may think that the title of this blog is a little off. After all, the four series that took place this week all went to five games. A fan of any of the eight teams might be feeling a little crazy right now! Between the team that lost two games at home but managed to win all three games on the road (in a row!) to the teams that kept going into extra innings, to the team that just had to win one on the road...and it took them three tries and an inconceivable performance by their ace to do it. But could you imagine a fall season without baseball? It has happened before - but that was eighteen years ago, in 1994. Sportscenter was just beginning to become the regular hangout for people when they woke up in the morning. ESPN2 was still the place for skateboarding shows and men lifting tractor tires. Our normal lives kept the human race from going nuts. But in the days of 24-hour sports networks, Internet blogs (like this one!), and the constant barrage of social media, baseball is t

9.79* Reflection

If ESPN is doing one thing right, it has to be their 30 for 30 documentary film series. 30 films on 30 different subjects by 30 different directors. Each documentary that I have watched has been very compelling and informative, and I highly recommend watching them when you can. Tonight's doc featured the eight athletes who participated in the 100m final at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. This was the race that featured Ben Johnson's unprecedented demolishing of the world record and subsequent gold medal. It also brought on the most thorough and media-scrutinized doping scandal in the days following, also featuring Johnson. The 30 for 30 film interviewed all eight athletes, and each of them got into the sport in their own way. But each of them (except Johnson, who has already admitted to doping) talked about training "clean," even though half of them had been implicated in doping either in 1988 or following. It was a little disheartening, as an Olympics fan, to see

Educate, Don't Condemnate

The Kansas City Chiefs fans are getting a lot of flack today for how they reacted to their own quarterback's injury. When Matt Cassel went down with a possible head injury, the KC fans cheered the injury instead of showing the normal respect shown to a player on either the home or visiting side. These may have been the same Kansas City fans who, earlier in the week, came out in droves to cheer on Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera as he accomplished the Triple Crown. What makes the two of them different? I believe that it all depends on how you teach. People were keenly aware of the magnitude of Cabrera's accomplishment - and instead of booing an opposing player, they cheered the accomplishment. On the other hand, Chiefs fans were expressing frustration in a way that may have been inappropriate - especially if Cassel's injury had been worse. But they didn't know how bad the injury was. And maybe - unfortunately - it was because these fans hadn't bee

MLB Postseason...A Whole Other Animal

You always hear that the postseason of any sport is the "second season." All the work over the long regular season has subsided, and a new method of playing the game has to be implemented. But let's face it: baseball is waaaay different from any other sport. When the NBA or NHL seasons begin, it's hard to tell that the regular season has ended until a few weeks into the playoffs. The NFL has a one-and-done playoff method that keeps the desperation of the end of the regular season at full tilt even as the playoffs begin. But when it comes to baseball, the regular season and the playoffs are so different that you can't help but notice the contrast. The game is the same between the foul lines, but the energy can't be more diverse. Take the crowd. For a normal Major League Baseball game in the middle of June, you'd normally find several groups of people present: regular season ticket holders who follow their team all year, groups who have purchased tic

I Am So Sad. Winter Olympics, Please Come Quickly!

The Main Blurb Blahblah Closing Ceremony blahblah basketball game blahblah DID YOU SEE THAT VOLLEYBALL GOLD MEDAL MATCH? I really hope you didn’t just tune in for the basketball game and then delete the rest of the recording. Because that was a brilliant gold medal volleyball match played by the Russians. To get you up to speed, the Russian men’s team was playing Brazil in the match. Brazil, whose women’s team had already won gold the day before, quickly went up two sets to none. As a matter of fact, Brazil had Gold Medal Match Point twice ! But the Russians wouldn’t quit. Their coach changed up all of their positions, and the Brazilians weren’t prepared for that. Russia made it a late set, but won the third set. Now they were down two sets to one. Brazil just had to win the fourth set and they’d be champions. Did they do it? No! They lost the fourth set! Giant player Dmitriy Muserskiy – who could be the younger brother of Noah Emmerich – was crushing the ball, and the o

A Diving Final that Deserved its Primetime Spot

The Main Blurb Diving is Chinese. The Chinese are diving. When you watch diving, you hear about the latest Chinese phenom. And more than likely, that Chinese phenom takes the gold medal. There are eight diving events. In Beijing, the Chinese delegation won seven of those golds. The only non-Chinese gold was won by Australian Matt Mitcham in the men’s 10m platform, the Olympics’ final diving event. This Olympics was slightly different. The Chinese dominated in the golds again, but before the 10m platform, another non-Chinese Olympian took gold. Ilya Zakharov of Russia won the men’s 3m springboard with a huge amount of difficult dives. And – finally! – in the diving Olympics, the divers to watch in the 10m platform were not Chinese. Well, there was one Chinese diver in contention – Qin Bo. But the other two divers in the spotlight – Great Britain’s Tom Daley and USA’s David Boudia – were able to step up and make this final the most exciting final in diving that I’d seen.

WARNING: Obligatory "Girls Rule" Article Ahead

The Main Blurb It’s Ladies’ Night! I got to watch the women’s 4x100m relay live this afternoon, and then again tonight. Wow – what a race! After watching the baton drop from their hands back in Beijing, it was refreshing to see their handoffs so crisp and clean. One of my fears coming into these Olympics was that China was going to take the medals count again, like they did back in 2008. Technically we haven’t led a medals count and the gold medal count at the end of two weeks since 2004 in Athens. Germany won total medals in 2006, China won the most gold medals in 2008, and Canada and Germany finished ahead of the US in golds in 2010. It looks like by the end of the night Sunday we will be in the lead again. Most of it, actually, is thanks to the ladies. Out of 41 gold medals, 27 of them have been won by women. In team events, the women have done far better than the men. Soccer won gold, water polo won gold, and volleyball plays tomorrow for gold. Water polo and volley

A+B-the square root of pi(x+1504) = gold medal!

The Main Blurb What is up with the decathlon? People say it’s the event that finds the world’s best athlete. To me, it’s the athlete that is adequate at the most events – maybe the “most well-rounded” athlete. If you put up the decathletes against the premier athletes in each of those ten events, they would be blown out of the water. But since decathletes can do all of them pretty well – and in two days! – they are very much appreciated. This isn’t a railing on why the media hypes the decathlon – I really think the decathlon doesn’t get enough coverage during the Olympics. There are just a few details about it that confuse me. The points system kind of reminds me of Around the Horn, a show on ESPN where four sports writers talk about sports. The crazy thing is, the host (Tony Reali, look him up) gives the writers points. It usually is supposed to be for a good point the writer made, but sometimes the points are given and taken away for no real reason. Actually, the motto o

Track and Field Madness!

The Main Blurb Track is awesome. I wish I could be at the Olympic Stadium this week to watch it. I am enjoying the evening feed online, because it is bouncing everywhere! Take tonight: I was able to watch it in my classroom in its entirety – from 11am till it was done. I saw decathlon high jump, decathlon 400m, men’s 110m hurdle semifinals and finals, women’s 200m, women’s 400m hurdles, men’s 200m semifinals, women’s long jump, men’s javelin throw, and the men’s 800m semifinal! Boom! We’re on the track! Boom! We’re watching long jump! Boom! We’re back on the track for the first semifinal! Boom! We’re watching javelin! Boom! There’s another semifinal on the track! Boom! There’s that Chariots of Fire music signaling another medal ceremony! Boom! There’s that really cute mini remote-controlled Mini Cooper fetching the field items like hammer throw and shots! You really miss out on that when watching the NBC TV coverage. They make you watch one event at a time, take frequent breaks