Monday, October 30, 2006

Big Ten Media Day

I told you there would be another post about this weekend and I actually delivered this time. So post-Mudbowl we had our annual Mudbowl party which blew up. So many people, so much booze. Jeff got wasted, and we probably got put on social pro for awhile. But a good time was had by all. So that morning at 5am (I didn't go to sleep, Zac can attest to this as he saw me leave) I drove to Chicago for Big Ten Basketball Media Day. I was going on fumes, I'm really not sure how I did it. But I arrived in Chicago at about 8am central time and ate some free breakfast courtesy of the Big Ten. Basically every top player from every team, along with his coach were there. The format was like roundtable discussions from 9am-noon. Some notables who I actually had one-on-one interviews with were:

Lester Abram, Dion Harris, Courtney Sims, and Tommy Amaker of Michigan: The highlight of these talks was with Courtney Sims. Basically I turned off my recorder and just talked with him for like 25 minutes about nothing. We both agreed that booze needed to be served at stupid media day things like this one. And I forgot to ask lester about his theory on getting more drunk if you take booze up your nose. Also, Amaker told me he was missing the 20th reunion of his 1986 Duke team, to which I gave a look of astonishment. He laughed, I didn't. Go Duke.

Adam Haluska of Iowa: He said Crisler Arena was the toughest place to play in the Big Ten. He lost all credibility with that statement.

Dan Monson, coach of Minnesota: He actually thought his team was overrated when it was ranked 9TH in the preseason BIg Ten poll.

Roderick Wilmont of Indiana: He told me that Michigan was always well-coached. Clearly he hasn't watched Tommy Amaker at work the past six years.

Brian Butch and Kammeron Taylor of Wisconsin: Brian Butch's breath smelled real bad so I tried to avoid talking to him after one question. And then I asked Kammeron Taylor if he gets mistaken for Chris Rock ever. He responded 'No' and that's how the interview ended.

Geary Claxton of Penn State: He didn't know he was voted All Big Ten preseason 1st Team until I told him. He said he was gonna call his mom.

Tom Izzo of Michigan State: I asked him a question and he didn't answer it. My hate for State (haha it rhymes) went up tenfold.

Bruce Weber of Illinois: He said he wasn't going to talk to Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson ever again. Actually he refused to refer to him by name, instead calling him "the Indiana head men's basketball coach". This is all because Illinois had the number one recruit in the nation verballed for next year, but Sampson started recruiting him anyways after he got the Hoosier job. A few weeks ago the recruit bolted Illinois and went to Indiana.

Thad Matta of Ohio State: So to get on his good side I lied and told him that when I was younger I used to go to a lot of GW basketball games, and saw him coach with Xavier. In actuality I've been to one GW game, and he was the coach of Xavier in it. Thad then went on a little five minute rant about how good Xavier is gonna be this year. Now that I was in, I asked if it was fair to compare this year's Ohio State freshman class (with greg Oden and Mike Conley among others) with the Fab Five. He responded, "no because we didn't cheat to get them". ZING! He promptly told me I couldn't print that, but I say fuck you Thad Matta because it will live in eternity on this blog.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mudbowl 2006

Well Mudbowl was this past Saturday, and I'm going to have to say that it ranks up there with any sports moment in my entire life. I exceeded all of the expectations I had for myself going into the game, not to mention we blew out Beta 32-0. I caught the opening touchdown pass from Pete on a nice touch pass over the top of the secondary. It seemed like that ball sailed in the air forever. Did I mention that I was the center and I caught a TD pass. Then, after our unstoppable defense caused a three and out (with Nate giving their QB a concussion) on the next possession, I once again played a role in our TD. Pete broke open a long touchdown run, but the play behind the play was me blocking two Beta defenders at one time. I thought no one had seen my block, but when I looked up at some of the alumni on the sideline, they definitely noticed. And on our third TD, I caught the two point conversion, while also keeping both feet inbounds on a sideline grab. And this was all in the first half. I couldn't have asked for anything more. But then as I walked off the field in the second half (after we were leading 26-0) a large group of the crowd began to chantt 'M V P'. It was surreal. Definitely the biggest natural high I've ever had in my entire life. I'm gonna have another post after other stuff from a truly historic weekend in the life of Mark.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Thoughts on Michigan football

Now that the Iowa game is out of the way, I think it's appropriate time to start the countdown to what could be the most anticipated college football game in the last 25 years. No. 1 Ohio State vs No. 2 Michigan. Both team essentially have chumps the rest of the way, so they'll both enter the game 11-0 unless some sort of fluky upset happens. Michigan might have the best defense in the country, but the BUckeyes isn't that much worse. Ohio State's offense definitely trumps Big Blue's right now with Smith, Pittman, Gonzalez and Ginn. But if Michigan gets back Manningham (which will hopefully happen) the Wolverines offense is pretty dynamic as well. I think the key to the game is going to be the Michigan front four. They've got four guys on that D line who will eventually be playing on Sundays, and they've been terrorizing quarterbacks the whole year. Iowa QB Drew Tate called Michigan's D the best he's faced and the Hwakeyes have already played Ohio State. If Michigan's D line can get consistent pressure on Troy Smith, and allow the linebackers to stay back in coverage, Ohio State will be shut down. And I think, with Michigan in a hostile road environment like Ohio Stadium, that Lloyd Carr will simply pund the ball down the BUckeyes throat with Mike Hart. But I think without a healthy Manningham, Michigan's offense will not be able to produce enough points.

So that makes two keys to a Michigan win:
1. The D line has got to produce again
2. Mario manningham needs to be healthy

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fall Break

I'm writing to you from the familiar surrounndings of my computer room in my house in Potomac, MD. It was a pretty eventful weekend so let me break it down for you.

Me and Kovel ventured down to State College, PA on Friday afternoon, so we could watch Big Blue play the Nittany Lions. Matt came up from College Park for the weekend too. On Friday night me, Matt and Jeremy went out on the town. State College is a pretty sweet little college town, but it's a bit too spread out for me. And by the way, this needs to be said: Jeremy, you can do way better than that rebound girl.

The game at Beaver Stadium was awesome especially since Michigan won and went to 7-0. I definitely thought Beaver Stadium was real loud, but I think it shouldn't count because of all the artificial noise in the stadium. A real college football team, like Michigan, and a real college football stadium, like the Big House, only have the noise of the crowd and the marching band. And that roar of the Nittany Lion before every big play is the most redundant stadium noise since Fedex Field used to play 'Who Let the Dogs Out' after every other play.

I then drove home at 230am and got back to Maryland at 530am. I did all of this in order to catch the Skins game at 1pm on Sunday. And I get rewarded for doing so by getting to watch us lose to the Titans at home. That was a sorry excuse for a football team out there. They had no energy, and they got rightfully booed. They gave up 178 yards to Travis Henry when Vince Young doesn't even know how to throw. Watching the game live, it was apparent how many times Young overthrew receivers. Yet Travis Henry had 178 YARDS! I've always trusted Gibbs, but the defense and offense look out of whack. Because the team's defense is subpar this season, they shouldn't be doing all this passing and cute stuff. They should be pounding the ball down the gut every play and running clock. They have five running backs that can do it. Portis, Betts, Sellers, Duckett, and even Cartwright if necessary.

And don't let this signing of Troy Vincent fool you. He's like an older version of Mike Rumph these days. I know what this secondary needs. They need to get Darrell Green back in uniform. After watching that debacle of a game, something needs to be done.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Should be a sick weekend of football

I will be leaving for State College, PA tomorrow morning, as I follow the now 6-0 Michigan Wolverines on their journey to Penn State. It's definitely going to be a tough game, no doubt about that. But it better be a Michigan win considering I paid 150 bucks for a ticket. It looks like a complete role reversal from last year's Michigan-PSU classic, where the NIttany Lions lost star wide receiever Derrick Williams to injury early on. This year, Michigan's star receiver, Mario Manningham is out. Also, last year the Lions came in undefeated just like Big Blue this year. But the one key difference between this year's game and last year's was that last season, despite how disappointing they were, Michigan had the better talent than PSU. And it's the same this year. Penn State just doesn't have the personnel to compete. Hopefully, Chad Henne will not do anything to lose us the game, because I'm pretty sure the Penn State offense won't be able to move on our D. Michigan is only allowing 40 yards per game rushing, and I expect that to continue. They are going to force Anthony Morelli to win the game himself, and I just don't see that happening.

From Penn State, I will be driving back to Maryland in order to catch the Redskins-Titans game. It's obviously a must win for the 2-3 Skins, seeing as they are facing an 0-5 team at home. A loss here ends any mention of playoff talk. And honestly, I think this team realizes how important this one is, seeing as a trip to Indy looms large next week. I will be sporting the Cooley jersey at the game like I did for the Jacksonville game. For some reason, I switched it up for the Giants game and went with one of my Skins long sleeves, but obviously that was a huge mistake. The goal for the weekend is to go 2-0.

Go Blue
Go Skins

Monday, October 09, 2006

A little more Yankees

I just thought I would add these two links onto my last post about Torre. One by Jon Heyman of pretty much reiterates that Torre has been sucking ass since 2000. And the other talks about possibly trading Jeter.

Joe Torre should be fired

I know I'm in the minority here, but I am putting the blame for the Yankees woes this season squarely on the shoulders of Joe Torre. I realize he's won a whole bunch of World Series with the Yanks, but that was then, this is now. Back then, Torre did a lot with a little. Remember guys like Scott Brosius, Joe Girardi, and Jim Leyritz. They were all heroes back in the day for those great Yankee teams, and they are all bums other than that. And now for the past six seasons Torre has had a lot and done so very little. Yeah they make it to the playoffs every year, but they should with the amount of money they spend. Personally, I think this year's Yankee team had the talent to win the World Series. It's just that Torre didn't utilize the talent properly. Everyone can say how it was A-Rod's fault, but the bottom line is that A Rod felt way too much pressure in the fourth spot to succeed. Rodriguez is clearly the best player on the Yankees, no matter what anyone wants to say about Jeter. The bottom line is that when A Rod is rolling, the Yankees are too. I thought it was ridiculous how Torre moved A Rod down to sixth and then eighth in the order against the Tigers. That's how you reward your best hitter for batting .380 in September? In addition, there's Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano. Wright was a 16 game winner before he came to the Yanks from the Braves. Leo Mazzone clearly did something that worked, and Wright consistently pitched 5 strong innings a game. Yet, somehow he was always unsuccessful. As a manager, it is your job to put your players in the best situation to succeed. And with Wright and A Rod I felt like that never happened. Then there's Pavano, who clearly has been a huge bust. But you still don't call out a player like that to the media. Here's a guy who could be a solid pitcher for you next season, and now he's alienated from the rest of the clubhouse. Not to mention how Torre is notorious for decimating a bullpen. Farnsworth, Procter, Villone and Rivera all missed time over the course of the regular season due to being overworked by Torre.

But, when it came down to it I think this team was just totally mismanaged. This wasn't like thoe teams from the 90's where Torre was mister laid back and the veterans just did their business. From listening to the Yankees, I feel like this is a team that wanted to be challenged by their managers. Intense personalities like Giambi, Sheffield, Johnson and Jeter want to be challenged. They perform better that way. This team clearly had chinks in its armor judging from comments in that SI article a ways back. And by not addressing them directly, Torre let the problem fester. I think getting rid of Torre is the best direction for the Yankees to go in right now. The team they have right now is good enough to win the World Series in 2007. I would pick up Mussina's option, but only if he is willing to sign for 2-3 years. And I would let Sheff go. They have Andy Phillips in the system, who I think would do a lot for their chemistry at first base. This World Series drought has been due to so many different factors. So many players have come through that Yankee clubhouse, so many teams have ended their season, but one thing has remained the same: Joe Torre. In the words of the great Bret Hart, "Enough is enough and it's time for a change."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tigers win game 2

Yesterday, as I watched the Yankees play the Tigers, I made my typical call that as soon as that Yanks lineup got their second ABs that the game would be over. And although Damon did have a huge jack, other than that they really didn't. The Yankees did exactly what they wanted to do in making Verlander throw a lot of pitches, and he was shelved early because of it. But when they got to the bullpen nothing happened. There's a lot to be said about that Tigers pen. Walker, Zumaya, and Jones were lockdown out there. I was thoroughly impressed. You gotta give credit where credit is due. The Yanks just don't look as invincible as they once did. But I do think they are gonna win game 3 tonight for two reasons. 1) Kenny 2) Rogers. As evidenced by Verlander and Zumaya, a lot of the Yankee hitters have trouble with power pitching. Notice that Sheffield, Giambi, ARod, and cano were held hitless in game 2. But Kenny Rogers is anything but a power pitcher. In order to hold down this Yankee lineup he better be perfect. Because if he misses any of his spots it's gonna be a long night. If I were a Tigers fan, I would much rather see Bonderman take the mound tonight. Power pitchers like Bonderman and Verlander can miss sometimes and still get away with it because they are throwing straight gas.

And the Yankees better hope this doesn't go to five games, although it would mean they could throw Wang back out there. And if I were the Tigers, I would tell Verlander right now that they need him to start game 5 on short rest. It was pretty obvious Robertson had no answer for the Yanks.

I'd also like to wish a happy 21st to Greg Goldring. He came, he saw, he hookahed.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Stealing music

Like I said, I'm gonna try and blog a little more, so I figured while I'm sitting here in the library stumped on this assignment that I would talk about how much fun it is to take music from other people's itunes. I've literally used this mytunes redux thing the past two days and added about 800 songs to my music library. The things you can get from people are amazing. For instance, I now have most of Saigon's (from Entourage) album. It's not too shabby, but I still haven't found the song from Queen's Boulevard. It's probably the only thing keeping me going what with this terrible Michigan weather. I don't know if I've ever seen it rain so many times in a one month span.

MLB Playoffs: Day One

So I'm pretty much having one of the busiest weeks school wise in a long time. Why I'm telling you this is because I didn't get to watch as much of the 1st day of the MLB playoffs as I would have liked. But here are just some general thoughts I had from seeing highlights/real live action:

1. The Twins, who I thought would fo sure beat the A's in the division series, are in a lot of trouble. They had the best home record in the majors this year and still lost in game 1 at the Metrodome. Not to mention that Johan Santana, who is key to their success, lost. Basically they needed two wins out of him in order to even think about the championship series. A's are going to win this one in 4 games.

2. Speaking of which, where the fuck did Frank Thomas come from? Quietly he had a sick year and then put the A's on his back today. That would be two times now where the Big hurt has re-incarnated himself from the dead. If you watch the A's any more this postseason, make sure to look at Thomas' head. It is seriously the biggest head I've ever laid eyes upon.

3. I don't care what happened in game 1 of St. Louis-San Diego, I'm still sticking with the Padres as my team to make it to the World Series. You know Boomer Wells is going to come out firing tomorrow. He's just a big game pitcher. And after Chris Carpenter the Cards literally have no arms. Fucking Jeff Weaver is going on the hill for game two tomorrow. The same Jeff Weaver who was cut from a non-playoff team (Angels) earlier this year.

4. By the way...memo to Mike Piazza: you are the worst fielding catcher ever.

5. The Tigers do not stand a chance against the Yankees. Every game is going to look like tonight's contest. The Tigers will breeze through the first three innings. I'd even say they might be able to grab an early lead in most of the games. But then, as soon as that Yankees lineup comes through a second time it will be demolition time. Just like tonight when in the third, Damon came to bat again. Instantly, he gets a single, gets moved to third on a nice hustle double by Jeter. Then Abreu drive them in with a bases clearing double. Boom...2-0. And after that Sheff comes up with a nice single and Abreu is in. And then (I love this) Giambi comes up and I turn to Pete and go "Giambi is gonna hit this one into the right field seats because Robertson is gonna throw him a fastball" and what do you know it happened. And there you go 5-0 Yanks...essentially game over.

6. Terrible decision by Joe Torre in taking Chien Ming Wang out with two outs in the sixth inning. The Tigers got a couple lucky runs because of it.

I realize I've been real inconsistent with these blogs so far this year. I'm hoping now that basketball season is upon us, I'll be around a computer more often due to my newspaper obligations. But something to look forward to is that I'm gonna try and blog a bunch at Big Ten Media Day in a couple weeks. It should be sweet.