Monday, February 2, 2009

Yet Unnamed Monday Weekend Sports Re-Kap

An All-Time Classic

Is it just me or did it look like Santonio Holmes right foot never hit the ground, and instead was atop his left foot throughout the entire sequence? While he was dragging the feet, it looked to the naked eye that the left foot was clearly down, and the right foot very well might have been resting on top of the left without ever touching solid ground. Even when Holmes hit the ground following the grab, the right foot seemed to still be chilling comfortably atop the other hoof. It will go down as one of the best grabs in NFL history, if not the best. And rightfully so. But I still think the jury is out on the call. Like Eugene Levy's character in "Best in Show," Santonio seemed to have two left feet on the play...and only one of 'em came down in bounds!!

There is one, and only one, good thing about winters in Michigan. Cold pop all the time. Whereas a bottle of Coke in the garage during the spring/summer months forces the usage of ice and ultimately a watered down beverage, that same bottle during the winter is cold on its own and allows a free pour into the cup without any added cooling mechanism. Life is all about simple pleasures, and this one is right at the top of the list.

At one point during a break in the action, the conversation turned to the upcoming 'digital transition' of televisions, where TV's with antennas will no longer run effectively. My dad pointed out that the switch would effect about 6 million people. To which I responded, "That's a pretty anti-Semitic figure, isn't it"? Possibly a tad off color on my part, but when you're rollin', you gotta let it fly.

I know it is not as simple as some casual fans make it out to be, but I'm sorry, it took waaaay too long to get Larry Fitzgerald involved in that football game. It clearly does not matter how well the guy is guarded (see first TD on the fade route), or how short the initial throw is (see 2nd TD with huge run after catch). He has cemented himself in the last month as the best receiver in the NFL, and quite possibly the most dominant player at any position. To wait until the game's late stages to start feeding him the ball and allowing him to make big plays is a classic case of over coaching and ending up outsmarting yourself. Ken Whisenhunt and Todd Haley did an outstanding job with their offense throughout the year, but sometimes football is as simple as, "This guy is the best player on the field. Let's just throw it to him 40-50 yards downfield and see what happens." After all, his long TD's throughout the playoffs were generally not on balls where he had any kind of daylight. For the most part, he was well guarded throughout, but managed to outjump and shake off defenders to snatch the ball and make the play. Whether he could have done it against the likes of Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and Ryan Clark is anybody's guess...but it would have been nice to find out.

I probably put away about 8-10 cheese sticks during the game. Alright, it was all basically during the 1st half. And it might have been closer to 20-25. Solid performance out of me on that front. At one point, when I realized I was the only one still attacking the Stix, I grabbed the marinara sauce and brought him over to spend some time with me...alone. This move brought some jeers from the others in attendance, but the truth is, with salsa or any other dipping condiment, if your seat is too far from the action, you are not able to dip on a consistent basis. Every time you get up to grab a chip or stick, you get 1 good dip and then you have to return to your seat so as not to interfere with someone's view while you wait for a repeat dip. By bogarting the marinara over to my territory, I was able to limit the amount of times I had to stand up, while maximizing my personal time with the sticks and sauce. Not gonna lie, after the creativity I displayed with this move, I was semi-surprised not to be mentioned in the discussion for Super Bowl MVP.

All game long, my boys Aubrey and BK were hyping up the big "One second commercial." I really couldn't imagine how any one-second spot could be that entertaining. They kept waiting for it, until finally late in the 2nd half, it appeared. The Miller High Life dude comes onscreen and shouts "High Life"!! Yeah, that was it. I think most of us were relatively disappointed, but the two of them reacted as if they'd just won the Super Bowl. Screaming how great it was, repeating the punch line...I'm pretty sure at one point an emphatic high five was exchanged. It was similar to the scene in "Coming to America" when Eddie Murphy jumps to his feet in wild celebration during halftime of a basketball game. He explains that it's his favorite part of the game. Despite the high drama involved in this classic Super Bowl and the countless memorable plays from the game, I'm pretty sure that this one second advertisement was the highlight of their day. Needless to say, they were eliminated for any possible MVP candidacy.

Katrina Hancock, the host of WDIV's "Sports Final Edition," is the rare sports anchor that seems to be doing a Saturday Night Live bit with her sportscast, only she is actually doing it seriously and to the best of her ability. The best word I can use to describe my feelings when watching her is "uncomfortable." She blends a monotone delivery with a limited knowledge of sports, all combined with a vanilla personality. In other words, the total package. So when Hancock awkwardly announced during the highlights that Larry Fitzgerald "took it to the hizzouse," I was disturbed. When she commented later in the show that Allen Iverson drove by Anderson Varejao and "ate his lunch all the way to the basket," I became physically ill. And when I realized that I'd been watching her show consecutively for over 10 minutes, I had a good cry and went to bed.

Can We Just Take Our All-Star Break Now???

When will things start to turn around for the Detroit Pistons? Or will they at all? This weekend provided the Pistons the perfect opportunity to wake up from their season-long doldrums and knock off one of the NBA's elite, as they took on the Celtics and Cavs at the Palace. In both games, they fought hard, battled into the 4th, only to have nothing left in the game's biggest moments. That's four straight home losses, the longest such streak in 8 years.

It's a sad sight right now. Maybe it is the Rip Hamilton situation, and the team adjusting to his coming off the bench for the first time as a Piston. Maybe it is the inconsistent bench minutes and production. Maybe it's just the fact that Tayshaun Prince gets routinely abused on both ends whenever he has to match up with Paul Pierce or LeBron James. Bottom line...this team is sorely lacking in the chemistry department. You rarely see guys whooping it up on the bench or celebrating with each other after a big play. It's almost all business for the most part, which is alright if you're taking care of that business. In this case, the Pistons are struggling to keep their head above water, and find themselves buried in 6th place in the Eastern Conference.

Maybe it's time they loosen up a little bit and try to turn this season around. Not to go all "Little Big League" here, but it just doesn't look like these guys are having much fun out there. In that movie, as the manager of the Minnesota Twins, the legendary Billy Heywood said, "Maybe the problem is, you guys forgot how much fun this is. You're major leaguers. You're on baseball cards. What could be better? Don't worry about winning and losing. Just go out and play, have fun." It's obviously not that simple, but I don't think it could hurt for these Pistons to take that advice and try to relax a little bit and find their old groove again. The season is in no way lost yet. But if they don't start enjoying themselves and picking up their play in the near future, things could go from bad to worse. And that wouldn't be fun for anybody.

An Errant Elbow and a Season Slowly Slipping Away

Last week, I wrote how important it was for Michigan to try and secure at least one road win between the trips to Columbus and West Lafayette. Not too surprisingly, the Wolverines came up empty in both games. The Purdue loss was marred by the ejection of Michigan's best player, Manny Harris. Most who saw the play agreed an ejection was an overreaction to an offensive player in Harris trying to clear space. No doubt, he brought the elbow up too high and made contact with Chris Kramer's nose, but ejections are normally reserved for deliberate attempts to injure or an obviously dirty play. Along with John Beilein, I did not think this was the case here. I have seen that play happen countless times in college and NBA games, and certainly cannot remember any of them resulting in the player getting tossed.

Regardless, Harris was playing poorly (once again), making numerous turnovers and forcing bad shots. He is clearly Michigan's most talented player and the one they most need to perform well to get big wins in tough settings. To have him play an atrocious 1st half with Michigan somehow clinging to a lead, only to see him make a foolish play and get ejected (right or wrong) to start the 2nd, you really can't get any less from your best player.

This team is still probably 1-2 years away from surrounding Harris and DeShawn Sims with a solid cast of supporting players. In the meantime, they must carry the load on most nights, especially against the upper echelon teams of the conference. Two for seven shooting, with four turnovers, and a disqualification, all in 18 minutes of play. What's worse, that stat line or his "triple double" from the Ohio State game when one of his 3 categories was an astounding 10 turnovers? The Wolverines are capable of regrouping and finishing the year on a strong note, but Manny Harris must be the one leading the way. Otherwise, those three letters that are dreaded in Ann Arbor will come calling once again...N I T.

Free Throws Are Not Always Free

Jose Calderon saw his streak of perfection come to an end Friday night. With 87 straight free throw makes in his back pocket, and sitting just 10 away from Micheal Williams' record, Calderon uncharacteristically left one short and wide to the left. It has to be so tough trying to go after a record like that, where no slip-up of any kind is tolerated. Perhaps the most famous streak in sports history, Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak, still allowed the streaker to be unsuccessful 3 or 4 times a game. Just one base knock, and the run continues. Not the case with Calderon's adventure. His streak demanded 100% accuracy and concentration at all times, always making this one of the more interesting streaks to follow when a player starts to get close.

While I applaud his run and appreciate the excitement it provided, I must also give credit to a certain 'Legend' that predicted this epic missed free throw almost perfectly a month back. No, I'm not talking about NBA and ABA Hall-of-Famer Rick Barry, who said two weeks ago, "I believe Jose has a great chance to break Williams' record of 97. Get ready to witness history." I'm talking about yours truly, who on December 29th, with Calderon sitting at 69, wrote, "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." While Barry is likely the better ballplayer of the two of us, there is little doubt that the man is no match for my free throw predicting prowess. Caaaash!!

A Nail Biter in the Nation's Capital

As readers of this space are well aware, I have developed a healthy obsession with Baron Davis and his streak of games failing to shoot over 50%. (Originally introduced in this piece) The dramatic run went on a lengthy hiatus in January, as our hero sat out 13 games with a bruised tailbone. One might think, that after a full month of rest and relaxation, our boy would return with a vengeance. Maybe the time off would allow him to evaluate his horrifying 49-game streak and decide once and for all to put an end to this nightmare. Not so fast.

B-Dizzle came back in classic Baron form, hanging a 1 for 10 on the Bulls in a 20-point loss. His next chance came at Cleveland, where the Cavs are unbeaten this year. Things went just as planned, as Davis knocked down 4 of his 13 shots without even breaking a sweat. Which brings us to Saturday night, where the Clips were set to play the only team in the NBA with less wins than them, the Wizards. About 9:30, I get a text from BK. Bad news, he reports...Baron is 3 of 4 and it's late in the 3rd. Not good. Well, it was fun while it lasted, I thought. But Baron would not go down without a fight. He missed his next two, moving to 3-6. Things looked hopeful for our streak living to see another day, until he dropped in two in a row. He was 5 for 8 now, and we would need 2 misses without a make in the game's late stages, all against the only team in the whole league yet to reach double digits in wins. With under 2 minutes to play, Baron's squad trailed by 11 and he was sitting at a record-breaking 5 for 9 from the field. All of High Socks Legend nation was hoping Mike Dunleavy would leave Baron in during this garbage time, and that somehow he would find the rock in his hands and get that Baron-like urge to hoist up one more ill-fated shot attempt. What happened next almost defies explanation.

Davis found an opening and drove to the hoop, thinking an easy layup was on the horizon. At that same moment, 7-footer Javale McGee was loping across the lane and rising along with Davis, basketball history practically oozing from the hardwood at the Verizon Center. As our boy has been known to do, Baron pulled that trigger one more time. He released the ball, the crowd audibly gasping in anticipation. McGee flew through the air, extended his outstretched arm, and heroically swatted away the potentially history making bucket. Crisis averted. The streak lives on. It has now been 52 straight games that Baron Davis has not shot above 50%. One of these nights, Baron might catch fire and bring all the fun to a screeching halt. But Saturday night was not that night. And for that, Javale Mcgee, we are eternally grateful.

A very entertaining weekend in the world of sports. Feel free to share your thoughts on the Super Bowl and the ups and downs of wherever you ended up viewing the game in the comments section below. Or just bounce me an e-mail at


Anonymous said...

Re Manny Harris you say,"No doubt, he brought the elbow up too high and made contact with Chris Kramer's nose.."


First, Manny's elbow was not above his shoulder. Any lower and Manny would not have been executing a proper basketball move properly.

Secondly, Manny is entitled to turn his body within an allotted space. Had Kramer's right arm been where his nose was, Kramer would or should have been charged with fouling Manny. His nose is no different than his arm.

Manny and Michigan got screwed! The Ref was simply influenced by blood and missed the correct call.

John T. MacLean
Ann Arbor, MI

Anonymous said...

Being uncomfortable with Katrina Hancock's sportscast makes sense. The only people that should be cool with it are other 6'4", 200 lb. lesbians.