Three classic streaks...all going on at the same time! Let's hit it.
Imperfection at Last!
Chances are, if you are a professional sports team in the city of Detroit and you have a player listed in the box score as "D. Bing," and it is anyone but the legendary Dave Bing of Pistons fame...you are in serious trouble. Well, on Sunday, the much less legendary "Darnell" Bing recorded his only tackle of the season for the Detroit Lions. Needless to say, they tallied their 16th loss of the season, becoming the first NFL squad in history to achieve the ignominious feat. It took a collective effort this year to accomplish such a horrendous task.
First, much credit has to go to Rod Marinelli and his "We will stay the course" approach. Other coaches might have tried changing things around after so many consecutive losses. Not you, Rod. With brilliant son-in-law Joe Barry by your side, you guys managed to set defensive football back centuries with your "Bend, but don't break...well, we're not gonna break right away, but probably sometime in the very near future" approach. Aaron Rodgers might have thrown an INT in 6 straight games heading into the finale against the Lions, but no such issues yesterday. This is a franchise that once branded 8th round pick Willie Clay with the moniker "Big Play Willie." In other words, DB's for the Lions making big plays are few and extremely far between.
It's hard to name everybody who had a hand in this train wreck 2008 campaign. The receiving corps, minus Calvin Johnson, must be noted. By the end of the year, there were so many guys jumping into the fray straight from the NFL scrap heap that I fully expected to see a "Rison, #80" lining up in the slot during a big 3rd down on Sunday.
The quarterbacking was a group effort. Daunte Culpepper was signed up to see what he had left. Turns out the only thing he ever had was an unbelievable group of receivers in Minnesota for a few years that made him look a LOT better than he really was. Dan Orlovsky was able to absolutely master the game where he looks alright, doesn't really wow you, but you walk away thinking, "I guess he earned another start next week." I don't think I was ever over or underwhelmed by any one of his games. They all leave you with the same empty feeling inside. Big ups to Orlovsky as well for somehow managing to play the last three games of the season without registering a single rushing attempt. Way to keep those linebackers on their toes, DanO!
And how about that kickoff return game?? The only time I can ever remember a less intimidating threat there was when Lloyd Carr used to have Anthony Thomas run back kicks with the sole intention of him getting it back to the 20 and not fumbling it. What happened to the days of Mel Gray and Glyn Milburn, and even Eddie Drummond before he passed away sometime during the 2005 season? Now it's this bizarre sequence each year when some random homeless fellow, like Brandon Middleton, does the runbacks for a little more than half the year until Aveion Cason returns from wherever he was to handle the remaining games. This has become an annual Lions tradition, along with the Thanksgiving Day game and the "Let's go with the throwbacks this week to try and turn things around!" game. The 2008 Detroit Lions now stand alone in the NFL record books. 0 and 16. It might not be for the right reasons, but this will always be a year to remember.
#1...In Jersey Number Only
Baron Davis refuses to let his streak die. After today's dismal 4 for 13 effort at home against the Mavs, Davis has now failed to shoot over 50% in 47 straight games! 47 consecutive times he has stepped into an NBA arena...each and every time he has failed to eclipse the 50% mark. This is an astonishing streak that is as hard to believe as any stat or figure that I can remember in sports history. The last time he managed to make more than he missed in a game was way back on March 12th. That's last season. There are other interesting facts about that time period for Baron. It wasn't as if that 10-17 shooting night on March 12 was a shock, either. The opposite, actually. With the season winding down, and his contract expiring in a matter of weeks, that game ended a stretch for Davis in which he shot over 50% in 4 of 5 games. Since that fateful March 12th night, he has suited up 47 times...and failed to return to this statistical paradise even once. I guarantee if this were brought to Baron's attention, he would be absolutely shocked. After finding out about his ghastly run of ineptitude, I bet Baron would go out that night, make 2 of his first 3 shots, fake a strained hammy, find a cozy seat on the Clipper bench, and watch this "streak" go up in flames.
Many in the sports world will always believe that Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak in 1941 is the greatest streak of all-time. While I show nothing but respect to Joe D and his miraculous 56-gamer, Baron Davis' nightly bricklaying show is becoming a global phenomenon. Only problem is, Baron's Clippers head up to Sacramento this Tuesday for a showdown with the Kings. The same Kings that rank 29th out of 30 in the NBA in FG % defense. Let's hope the drama does not end here...I'm still enjoying this too much.
(Original piece on Baron's shooting woes can be found here.)
From a Guy Who Can't Make One to a Guy that Can't Miss One
Another fun NBA streak to keep your eye on as we approach the New Year. Jose Calderon, the underrated point guard for the Toronto Raptors, has connected on 69 straight free throws. The NBA record belongs to former Pistons title winner Micheal Williams. The former garbage timer for the Bad Boys once knocked down 97 in a row from the charity stripe. I always enjoy streaks and records like this because it is something we have all tried to do when we're messing around at the gym. Head to the line, see how many you can hit consecutively. For most of us, getting to 10 or 15 is a nice feat. Or, if you are like Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, making 100 without touching any part of the rim while Ramadan is in full force is what you're shooting for.
Jose Calderon is a fun player to watch, and this little run he has going at the line is really not getting much publicity to this point. I know I will be paying attention as he gets closer to the magic number, now a mere 28 away. I'm calling out the pressure starting to get to the Spaniard right around #85, and him leavin' one off the front rim to end the run. When that happens, Micheal Williams will finally be able to sleep peacefully again, knowing his record is safe and that he will continue to be remembered for something besides the incomprehensible spelling of his first name.
What other streaks are out there? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org