Monday, August 17, 2009
The Lions continued their dominant run of pre-season play by engineering a 4th quarter comeback victory against the Falcons. Matt Stafford (can't we all agree to drop this 'Matthew' thing?) looked solid in his debut, and further solidified his case to be the starting quarterback in the opener of the real NFL season. I said it once, I'll say it again. I can't understand how as an 0-16 team, with holes all over the field, you could possibly draft a player with the first overall pick in the entire draft and not have him start at his position. You were the worst team in football history, and you have your choice of any amateur player in all the land...how can that guy not come in and play immediately?
It'd be one thing if there was already a legitimate quarterback on the Lions roster to challenge Stafford for top billing, but in this case, there is not. You have Daunte Culpepper, a shell of his former self, a man that has not experienced success in the league for what seems like a good five years now. He was undoubtedly an explosive player during his first few years in Minnesota, but it looks now like that was more a byproduct of the enormous talent surrounding him than Daunte actually being an All-Pro QB. Remember, aging vets like Randall Cunningham and Jeff George experienced similarly eye-popping seasons flinging it around to Cris Carter and Randy Moss on the speedy carpet of the Metrodome. Towards the end of his time in Minny, Culpepper became more turnover-prone, suffered a horrible knee injury, and was in essence finished as a top-tier NFL signal caller. He made his way to Miami and then Oakland, both franchises hoping he could return to his former glory, only to see that these wishes were now unrealistic. But as is often the case in this league, the Lions are last to arrive at the party, and thus somehow offered Culpepper another chance to find himself. He got his shot in last year's winless campaign, and did very little to make any Lions fan feel like he could actually be the starting quarterback for the next couple years.
Fast forward to the present. You have the top pick in camp, looking solid in his first real action, and brimming with enthusiasm on a team that normally has none. How can he not be under center on September 13 when the season opens in New Orleans? It's the first opportunity for new boss Jim Schwartz to prove that he is actually somewhat competent, unlike his predecessors that lacked any real ideas or even an iota of common sense. Let's hope he does not miss the boat on this one.
-Is there any event in sports more terrifying to watch than a pitcher taking a line drive off of his head? Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers took an absolute scorcher on Saturday night off the bat of Diamondbacks rookie Rusty Ryal, and no matter how many times they showed the replay, I found myself wincing in my chair on every single one. The ball was hit so hard that it ricocheted off of Kuroda's dome and flew all the way back on one bounce into the stands for a ground rule double. Kuroda was down on the field for several minutes, but thankfully, appears to be alright and wants to return to the hill as soon as possible. Strangely enough, whereas I always judged the severity of the blow by the distance the ball traveled after contact, it turns out there is more danger when the ball goes nowhere. Dr. Mickey Collins of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said of the Kuroda shot, "Typically, when the ball ricochets like that, there is a better outcome than if it drops near the mound. That means the ball was on the head for a shorter period of time." So I guess Kuroda's got that going for him, which is nice.
-Reading USA Today on Friday afternoon, I couldn't help but be intrigued by a small article on Gina Carano, touted as the best woman fighter on the planet and also a former Maxim model. Pretty interesting combination. She was to headline the Saturday night MMA card on Showtime, and even though women's boxing/fighting has never been my thing, I made a note to possibly check it out. Well, Carano ended up headlining the card all right. And in the process, she was absolutely manhandled (used appropriately here) by a very angry looking Brazilian female referred to simply as "Cyborg." Carano was knocked silly at the end of the very first round, while Cyborg gleefully celebrated her win and her place among the elite in the female fight game.
Naturally, at the same time of the bout's climax, the final scene in the movie Enough was rolling on TBS. Talk about a dominating performance. After years of threats and harassment by her psychotic husband, J-Lo decided enough was enough. She took up martial arts, sent little Gracie off for the weekend, and took up residence in Mitch's crib, ready to put an end to the madness. And she didn't disappoint. Donning an all black ninja outfit, brass knuckles covering both hands, and an unrelenting determination, she put a beating on her old man that rivals any KO in the sport's long history. It was the perfect finish for this movie, where as a viewer you built up so much anger and hostility for Mitch throughout that you could not imagine leaving the theater with his pulse still active.
(And yes, I do find it difficult to believe that Billy Campbell played Mitch when he is the same guy that once played underrated flying superhero The Rocketeer in a career-defining performance in the early 90's. I know people change...but I didn't think they could change that much.)
-Nice acquisition by the Tigers in grabbing 6'4 slugger Aubrey Huff from the Orioles. Huff is coming off a career year, where he smashed 32 homers, drove in 108, and batted over .300, all good enough for a 16th place finish in the MVP voting. This year's been a different story, however. Huff's average has sunk toward the .250 range, and his power numbers have dropped off precipitously. In fact, in Mr. Huff's last 150 trips to the plate, he has mustered just two long balls, while hitting at a woeful .212 clip. Perhaps the change of scenery and being thrust into a pennant race will do him some good, as he has spent the majority of his career wasting away on also-rans in Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Regardless of whether Huff can return to last year's top form, he will still be a dramatic improvement over the 'Raburn-Thomas-Ordonez-Thames' group that tends to provide a spark one out of every ten nights.
(It will also be nice to finally have a new Aubrey in town, as it has been years since old Aubrey Mathews was lining up in the slot for the Honolulu Blue, botching slant routes and getting chased down by overweight linebackers. Who would have thought those would wind up as the 'good old days' of Lions football??)
-I'll be the first to admit that I have some very strange dreams sometimes. But the one I had the other night had me wondering where these images came from, and why? Somewhere in my deep slumber, I began dreaming about Baron Davis. He was in the process of bolting from the Los Angeles Clippers, on his way to sign up with the Indiana Pacers. Next thing I knew, Baron was flying down the court in Pacer gold, tossing a picture-perfect alley-oop to the not so legendary Josh McRoberts. Soon thereafter, I awoke from my fantasy/nightmare in a cold sweat and pondered how my mind had cooked up such a bizarre little scenario during what should have been a pleasant, uneventful night's sleep. None of it made sense. The Baron part I could identify with, since I was briefly obsessed with the man over a 3-5 month period last winter. But Josh McRoberts?? The two-bit player from Duke that has never made so much as a whimper in the NBA?? If the dream had to include a fellow Pacer hooper on the receiving end of the dunk, why couldn't I have gone with Danny Granger? Or even Roy Hibbert? Was this a semi-racist dream? Finally, I came to four possible conclusions on why the dream happened and what it might mean.
a) I have an obsession with Baron Davis that used to be funny, and is now bordering on creepy.
b) If I'm going to continue to have dreams like this, it's probably not a good idea for me to go to sleep...ever.
c) Maybe the dream really isn't weird...maybe there are other people out there having the exact same one, but are just too embarrassed to admit it. Or maybe not.
d) There is no valid explanation or excuse. I need a full psychiatric evaluation as soon as possible.
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