Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The NBA pre-foul: Don't you dare smile, mofo

It finally happened. Rasheed Wallace has had a relatively smooth two seasons in Detroit, becoming a vital part of a perennial NBA championship contender. He's been embraced by fans and media here, but I think there's always been an underlying fear that 'Sheed might somehow go off the deep end and become the menace to society he was portrayed as in Portland. Well, that may have finally happened. And it was a good thing NBA referees were on hand to quell the incident before it grew into a full-blown eruption.

Thank you, Jack Nies. Thank you for keeping our 'Sheed in control. Thank you for keeping the NBA game - our NBA game - clean and morally upstanding.

What indignity did 'Sheed commit to warrant the stern (pun intended?) reprimand of a technical foul, inching Mr. Wallace dangerously close to a season total that, pending an appeal, will result in a one-game suspension?

That crazy mother#$@%er laughed! And he didn't just laugh, he smiled, showing all of his teeth to Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

(Photo by Mark Duncan/ AP)

In fairness, Nies and his colleagues were probably watching out for any retaliation that might result from 'Sheed's elbow to Ilgauskas' head on Sunday, which opened a cut that required five stitches to close. So the whistle lips were probably a bit itchy when Ilgauskas threw 'Sheed to the floor in Monday's rematch with the Cavaliers. It's also possible that the refs were on a high state of alert after seeing signs in the crowd that said "'Sheed Must Bleed!" (Who knew Cavs fans were so bloodlusty? Of course, they did boo LeBron last week...)

But still, we're talking about laughing. We're talking about a smile. (Would we have Need4Sheed without that smile?) What exactly are the refs trying to legislate on the floor? It's like Minority Report officiating - they'll whistle you for a pre-foul, because you may have been thinking about doing something that could escalate a touchy situation. What would you do if you were whistled for a foul you had not committed... yet?

"No laughing in basketball," 'Sheed said to the Detroit News, "it's a serious sport or you're going to get thrown out."

No kidding. It's so serious, by the way, that referees have called 10 technical fouls on the Pistons in their last three games. (Who knew Scott Skiles had so much pull with the league?)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Lazy Friday

It's looking like a Links Day, here at Sweaty Men Endeavors. Despite my best efforts to stay healthy, it's beginning to feel like I caught the cold I was trying so hard to avoid. But I'm still fighting. Tea, orange juice, vitamin C, zinc, and all that good stuff is being utilized. Anyone have a good cold remedy (or even better, a preventer)? I love hearing old family formulas. ("Oh yeah, take ginger root, grind it up with mayonnaise, a fifth of whiskey, some lemon juice, and some Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk, and you'll feel great the next day.")

Plus, I have a project I need to work on. So following the pointing finger around these internets...

▪▪ Of the relatively minor trades made yesterday at the NBA trade deadline, only one raised my antenna a little bit. The Miami Heat acquired Derek Anderson from Houston. Should this concern Pistons fans? Well, no. Anderson's a good player (or was, especially five or six years ago, before injuries caught up to him), but he's not a difference maker. Is he?

▪▪ So the Knicks really are going to play the rest of this season with Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, and Jamal Crawford (along with Jalen Rose, Nate Robinson, and Quentin Richardson) on its roster. Were the other GMs in the NBA too busy laughing to pick up the phone when the secretary said, "Isiah Thomas on line two"?

▪▪ Isiah says Larry Brown pushed for the Steve Francis trade. Really? Hey, Larry - Isiah's doing a terrible job on his own. He doesn't need your help.

▪▪ What were the Pistons offered at the deadline? Here's a great quote from Flip Saunders: "We're not into waste management." Awwww, snap!

▪▪ Okay, no more worrying. The Pistons didn't get another point guard to replace Carlos Arroyo. Outside of a waiver wire pick-up, the roster looks set (unless you'd like to engage in the Grant Hill speculation we flirted with yesterday). Are you okay with that? Were those of us anxious over depth behind Chauncey Billups making too big a deal out of the situation?

▪▪ Oops, check that: A. Sherrod Blakely says the Pistons are looking at Tony Delk if the Hawks cut him.

▪▪ Our friend Kevin Antcliff is back online, "live" from the Rocky Mountains. Hopefully, he'll be able to maintain his DEE-troit fandom while surrounded by Broncos, Nuggets, Rockies, and Avalanche. And he's finally ready to make his promised big announcement.

▪▪ Greg Eno has one of those touching stories that makes us feel good about sports at Out of Bounds. It's a scoring binge we can all get behind.

▪▪ Pub of Knowledge live-blogged last night's Olympic figure skating program. Check it out. Reading about it won't risk your Man Card. By the way, one of our good friends gave away the results beforehand at my other blog. But it's okay. I see what was going on. This was a test of the Man Card committee to see how I'd react. And maybe a buddy was just making sure I'd keep my Man Card. Either way, it worked out.

▪▪ Not to be outdone with the live-blogging, House of 21 Thieves covered Aerial Skiing. Or whatever it's called. (How drunk would you have to be to try that? The skiing, I mean. Not the live-blogging.)


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Do you think Matt Millen is a Knicks fan?

With five hours until the NBA trade deadline at 3 p.m. EST, I'm trying to give Isiah Thomas the benefit of the doubt. My inner Little Ian is also reminding me that I loved Isiah as a kid, often risking ridicule by putting my pasty white torso in a Pistons #11 jersey whenever I played basketball. Right now, those sentiments are all that's keeping me from joining the pitchfork-and-torch mob decrying Isiah as the worst executive in professional sports. (Matt Millen, put your pitchfork down. You're still on the hook, pal.)

Isiah has to be working on something else, right? Tell me this Steve Francis deal is the precursor to bringing Kevin Garnett to New York. Because that's the only way yesterday's deal with Orlando makes any sense. Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury, two shoot-now-pass-later point guards, in the same backcourt? Francis, Marbury, and Jamal Crawford on the floor at the same time?

(Image from the New York Daily News)

I have friends in New York, so I hope they're reading this now. Mis Hooz, if you see an older, bespectacled gentleman standing along 7th or 8th Avenue outside Madison Square Garden, muttering "Joe fired me, I didn't quit... Joe fired me, I didn't quit," and staring at the oncoming traffic, hold him in your arms and don't let him go. He needs your help.

Here's the lead of Frank Isola's story from the New York Daily News, which also has a hilarious back cover today:

By early morning Larry Brown was talking about the Knicks potentially adding a player with a defensive mind-set, who is unselfish and owns a high basketball IQ.

It's on you New Yorkers to watch out for the poor guy. We can't help Larry Brown here in Detroit. Not just because of the geographical distance, but because we're too busy pointing at him and laughing the laugh of schadenfreude. We're nice people here, but you're dead to us when you'd rather go someplace else.

(Photo by G. Paul Burnett/ New York Times)

Oh, Isiah! Even your mother has to be saying that with tears in her eyes right now. And my Isiah jersey shrunk and ratted up years ago.

▪▪ Complete Sports points out that the Knicks actually have five shoot-first point guards, and has many links from the national (ESPN, etc.) perspective to browse.

▪▪ The New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence and Father Knickerbocker both think Isiah is doing a great job... of improving the other teams in the NBA.

▪▪ Greg Eno wonders if Isiah ever had a plan in New York, and also has a very intriguing proposal for his next career move at Out of Bounds.

▪▪ The NBA Source proposes five trades that could realistically be made by the deadline today.

▪▪ In case you were thinking the Knicks were the only team being criticized, Peter Kerasotis of floridatoday.com asks what the Magic have to show for Tracy McGrady.

▪▪ Who else could be on his way out of Orlando? Grant Hill.

(Updated at 5:30 p.m.)

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Man Card in jeopardy?

So somebody you know watched the ladies' figure skating short program from the Winter Olympics last night. No wife, girlfriend, or other woman made him do it. And he was dumb enough to write about it on his other blog.

Details at the mother ship, Fried Rice Thoughts.

Was it a subconscious response to Big Al's post yesterday? Well, possibly. I... um, er... He That person will have to ask himself such a question tonight.

Hey, anybody wanna shoot animals and watch action movies (and maybe porn) tonight?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The sound of crickets chirping

Okay, I try to be as tuned in as possible when it comes to sports. Makes the whole "writing a sports blog" gig seem more credible. But sometimes, I'm a little out of touch, especially when my attention gets sidetracked by things like the NBA All-Star Game, Ricky Williams' drug tendencies, and America's new sweetheart, Tanith Belbin. I'm not too proud to ask people who might be more tuned in if I'm behind the times on a particular subject. So may I ask you something?

Am I supposed to give a $#!+ about this Barry Bonds thing?

Over the weekend, Bonds told USA Today's Bob Nightengale, "I'm not playing baseball anymore after this," meaning he was retiring the 2006 season. Just as baseball fans tried to decide if this was a good or bad thing, if Bonds is someone we wanted to see break the all-time home run record or just go away and shut up, he tells MLB.com, "If I can play [in 2007], I'm going to play; if I can't I won't."

Bonds points the finger of misunderstanding at Nightengale, claiming he thought they were having a personal conversation and was just explaining his state of mind. Oops. Looks like a tape recorder was running, Barry. Okay, so the tricky reporter chose not to write about where you like to eat dinner during Spring Training. What were you really saying?

"If my knee holds up, I'll keep on going. I'm playing psychological games with myself right now. I don't want to set myself up for disappointment if things don't work out this season. So I go back and forth. Back and forth every day. These are the things that are going through my mind. This is what I'm struggling with."

And oh, by the way, he wants to remind you that he's clean. He's really, really clean.

If he walks like a drama queen, and talks like a drama queen, does that mean Barry Bonds is a drama queen? My Magic 8-Ball says "All signs point to yes." He sounds like someone who wants a "farewell tour," like Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar received when they retired from the NBA. Teams all around the major leagues could thank Barry for a great career and give him farewell gifts like motorcycles, saxophones and rocking chairs. But what if Barry hasn't broken Hank Aaron's career home run record by the end of the 2006 season? Somebody needs a little wiggle room there.

Where does the line of people who would rather not see Bonds break Aaron's record begin? Actually, tell me where it ends so I can join the queue. Sure, as a sports fan, I'd love to see that record broken in my lifetime, especially when I grew up thinking I might never see another guy hit 500 career home runs, let alone 756. It's not so much that Barry is, shall we say, an abrasive personality. That's fine. It has nothing to do with how he hits a baseball. And it's probably helped him achieve everything he has.

But the pink elephant in the room is the S-word. And with that question hanging over the last ten years of baseball numbers like an ominous cloud, I'd rather it not taint one of the most hallowed records in sports.

▪▪ What do Bonds' Giants teammates think? Nothing to see here, move along.

▪▪ Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci abides by the "Things happen in threes" theory, and wonders if Bonds will join Sammy Sosa and Kevin Brown at the retirement home. (Of course, that's assuming that Sosa is really done.)

▪▪ ESPN.com's Buster Olney doesn't take anything Bond says seriously.

▪▪ Olney's colleague, Gene Wojciechowski, wants Bonds to go away. So does FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

▪▪ And the Washington Post's Tom Boswell thinks Bonds will be more warmly remembered if he steps away short of Aaron's record.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Keep off the grass, man

I'm sure we'll see a Dan LeBatard lecture/column about Ricky Williams being a deep thinker who needs something more than pro football to fulfill his soul or how difficult it is to be a professional athlete with time on your hands and money to burn within the next 24 hours. (Shall we take any bets as to whether or not he's the "Five Good Minutes" guest on Pardon the Interruption today?) Until then, we have a chance to point out what a dumbass Ricky Williams surely is. (Lindsey Jacobellis is probably sending him a thank you note for knocking her out of the dunce corner as we speak.)

If you didn't catch the news last night, Ricky Ganjaseed is facing a one-year suspension from the NFL for a fourth violation of its substance abuse policy. KDVR-TV in Denver reported that Williams failed a drug test, while the Miami Herald says he may have missed a required test. Either way, it's a violation. And since it would be his fourth, he's looking at a one-year ban from the league. (As Complete Sports points out, because of Williams' age, such a suspension could mean the end of his NFL career.)

This is following a season in which Half-Baked Ricky rushed for 743 yards (averaging 4.4 yards a carry) and six touchdowns for the Miami Dolphins, statistics impressive enough that the Denver Broncos were looking into trading for him. I imagine Mike Shanahan and his staff are looking into Plan B after these latest developments.

Is it a groaner of a pun if I say "What a dope"? Yes, it probably is.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Secret transcripts!

Noobsports certainly doesn't need any plug-ola from me after getting mentioned on ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" last week, but they posted something that should amuse most, if not all, Pistons fans. If you haven't already seen it, here you go:

Noob Sports Trade of the Week:
Noob Sports has uncovered secret transcripts of this week's trade talks between Magic assistant GM Otis Smith and Pistons president Joe Dumars...

Otis Smith: Everyone makes mistakes, even you, Joe. What if we take one of those mistakes off your hands? We'd be willing to offer you a protected first round pick and Kelvin Cato, who is injured and might not play again this year, for your Serbian gangster and Carlos Arroyo.

Joe Dumars: (silence)

Smith: I know it means that you are admitting that your selection of Darko didn't exactly work out, but Cato offers you cap room so that you can re-sign Ben Wallace...

Dumars: (silence)

Smith: And Arroyo only plays 12 minutes per game, and we both know that Lindsey Hunter is going to steal his minutes come playoff time...Joe, are you there?

Dumars: Uhh yeh, I thought you were Mason prank calling me again. So, if I send you Darko, I'll have enough cap space to keep my team together and you'll give me a first rounder? Wait a minute, your team still sucks and is lottery bound for years, right?

Smith: Put it this way, we are going to give Darko significant minutes...

Dumars: Trade accepted.

Smith: It takes a real man to give away an angel.

T-minus one hour before the All-Star Game, and the Pistons four on the floor. Enjoy the moment, folks.


Read about it in the Sunday papers

While spending most of my afternoon with the Sunday edition of the New York Times, I found some intriguing articles. Just in case you might be interested, I'm passing some links along.

▪▪ If you're like me, this is probably a question that's never occurred to you: Why has The Great American Hockey Novel never been written? Maybe because its North American popularity is concentrated in Canada? Maybe because it's largely become a boutique sport in this country? And is that because we've never had a good hockey novel (or even an essay)? (We've had good hockey movies.) Actually, I can't even think of a good basketball novel. But I thought it was an interesting question.

▪▪ During baseball season, you'll see several pitchers insist on their own catcher. With the Yankees, for instance, Randy Johnson wanted John Flaherty to catch him, not Jorge Posada. While in Atlanta, Greg Maddux asked for Eddie Perez, even when Javy Lopez was mashing the ball. Of course, knuckleball pitchers often have their own catchers, but that's a different story. Some pitchers feel more comfortable with particular catchers, but apparently, there's no good statistical evidence to endorse such moves. Should catchers have an E.R.A.? Or is their effect on a pitcher overrated?

▪▪ This might be the only time auto racing gets mentioned on this blog (The Wayne Fontes Experience isn't afraid to embrace his inner NASCAR fan), but here's something else worth asking on the fifth anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death at the Daytona 500: How many lives have been saved because of that tragedy? With the safety measures that were implemented following that accident, here's the number of NASCAR drivers that have been killed in crashes since Earnhardt died: Zero.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Warm and toasty

With only two Pistons games this past week, all of the analysis and argument about the Darko Milicic trade seemed to momentarily overshadow the success of the team so far this season. That's how I feel I've been looking at it, anyway. So I'm going to sit back, chant "Ding dong, Darko's gone" four times, and take a deep breath of appreciation for the amazing basketball we've been able to watch during the past three-and-a-half months.

What reminded me to chill out was this photo of the Pistons' four All-Stars, along with their All-Star coach. All season long, Pistons fans have been shouting to be heard, pointing out the obvious: that this team deserved some long-overdue All-Star recognition. Chauncey Billups had to be on that team. Rip Hamilton should be there, too. And since Ben Wallace has been been on the last three All-Star teams, he might as well stay there. Hey, don't forget about Rasheed Wallace. The Pistons wouldn't be champions without him. Hell, send the whole starting lineup to Houston.

Okay, Tayshaun Prince didn't make it. But since the Pistons have the best record in the Eastern Conference, Flip Saunders is the head coach of its All-Star team. Pistons fans are always demanding respect for their team. And now we've all been served a great heaping scoop of it. Take a look and savor it before you dig in.

(Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/ NBAE)

And this happened a couple of days ago, but I told myself I wouldn't get too excited about Mike Martz joining the Lions until the official press conference announcing his hiring. I'd also need some photo evidence of this announcement to really let myself go.

Now we have it. I've seen a picture of Mike Martz talking to the media, wearing a Detroit Lions jacket-pullover-thing. So now I'm getting excited. No analysis, no commentary, no deliberating. Today, I'm just a fan enjoying something I spent most of the past three seasons hoping for. Mike Martz will be running the Detroit Lions offense. That is pretty damn cool.

Is this keeping you warm on a frigid Saturday, here in Michigan? It's working for me. At least for right now. No outrage or pointing and laughing from me today. Enjoy your weekend.

(Photo by David Guralnick/ Detroit News)

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Oh, I'll definitely tune in tonight

If you don't already have plans for your Friday night, watching the Winter Olympics might not be a bad idea. If you'd prefer to go into your nightly Olympic viewing completely fresh, you probably won't want to read this rest of this post.

But if you haven't heard already, snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis committed what could be one of the all-time bonehead moves in Olympic (and sports) history earlier today when she decided her big lead in the women's snowboardcross entitled her to a bit of showboating.

Oops. Turns out grabbing her snowboard in mid-air was a bad idea. That little move caused her to fall, allowing Switzerland's Tanja Frieden to speed past her for the victory, and sent her coach to fall to the ground like he'd been shot.

Oh, if only Lindsey thought of that gold medal like she did her Visa check card.

However, Jacobellis insists she wasn't showing off, explaining that grabbing the board while in the air provides stability. Considering that I never have and probably never will step onto a snowboard, let alone launch myself into the air while I'm on it, I should probably take her at her word.

Before judging, the very least I could do is watch the Olympic coverage tonight to see it for myself. Hey, I don't just tune in for figure skating, man.

Oh, and you have to stop by Deadspin for their take on the story, complete with hilarious Photoshopped image.

Stop me if you heard this one before

What happens when you send an aspiring magazine writer into a hockey arena, looking for a Zamboni?

(Well, besides a future magazine article.)

The punchline's over at the mother ship, Fried Rice Thoughts. Stop by and say hi.

Day late Haterade

I'm a day late on this, but after seeing that Paul Pierce scored 50 points in Wednesday's 113-109 loss to the Cleveland LeBrons, one thought came to mind: Man, I still can't stand Kobe Bryant.

Wait, wait, wait - what does one have to do with the other? Pierce plays for the Celtics, Kobe for the Lakers. And Pierce's team lost! Kobe's team won when he scored 31 more points!

Hey, who said hatin' was rational? By the way, the phenomenon known as Kobe Hatin' has found its way to the comics page.

Okay, you got me - that's the only reason I brought Kobe up. I just wanted to run the strip.

(Image from "Housebroken" ©2006 Steve Watkins)

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

What's Serbian for "see ya"?

Well, it has to be official if Darko's NBA profile already lists him with his new team, right? It looks like Joe Dumars wanted a Darko-free All-Star break because the rumored trade that has hijacked Detroit sports blogs this week was finally completed last night. Darko is off to the magical land of Orlando, with Carlos Arroyo in the passenger seat, and we can start placing bets on how long Kelvin Cato remains on the Pistons' roster. (Shall we start the pool at one week or one day? After the All-Star break?)

We've been batting the pros and cons of this deal around Detroit Blog Nation for the past three days, so there's probably nothing more to say on that subject. However, it really bothers me that Detroit won't be receiving Orlando's 2006 1st-round pick. And if the Magic's selection is among the top five next year, Detroit won't see that 1st-round pick until 2008. At least Detroit won't have to wait as long as they did for Vancouver's pick in the Otis Thorpe deal (which was used to select - hey! - Darko Milicic). That took seven years. Hell, the Grizzlies weren't even in the same city by then.

And if you're worried over the back-up point guard situation, the Detroit News' Chris McCosky says the Pistons prefer to turn Cato around in a trade for a point guard, rather than waive him. I'd say "good luck with that, Joe," but probably shouldn't underestimate the market for a $8.5 million expiring contract. Teams love making salary cap room. (Look how well it's worked for the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks.)

Feel like some links this morning? I like 'em better than the patties.

▪▪ ESPN.com's Chad Ford reminds you that he likes Darko - he really, really likes him - during his SportsCentury-esque retrospective of our favorite human victory cigar's career. (If you don't have an ESPN Insider login, just imagine a sepia-toned Ken Burns-like documentary in which Ford tells you where he first saw Darko, and recounts how it didn't work out in Detroit.)

▪▪ Staying with ESPN.com, if you're wondering what Will Perdue thinks of the deal, now you can find out.

▪▪ And John Hollinger reminds Joe D of what The Wayne Fontes Experience has said all along: You better make another deal, 'cuz Lindsey Hunter as back-up point guard ain't gettin' it done.

▪▪ Mickey Tettleton Memorial Overpass follows the Darko-in-Detroit timeline, while also recapping Chad Ford's infatuation with the master of many hairdos.

▪▪ Detroit Bad Boys points out the inherit irony in trading Darko to Orlando, while reminding us that the Pistons probably wouldn't have won the 2004 NBA championship had they drafted another player instead.

▪▪ Hey, Mitch Albom wrote about the Darko trade! So you know it's a big story here.

▪▪ Does this mean that your "Free Darko" t-shirt is now a novelty collectible? (And will Free Darko have to change its name?)

▪▪ Need4Sheed has a touching goodbye photo of Darko and Carlos Arroyo. They're going to Disney World, y'all!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Darko done in Detroit?

Detroit Bad Boys and Beyond the Arc have already posted on this, but if you haven't read it yet, ESPN.com's Marc Stein is reporting that the rumored trade between Detroit and Orlando (Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo for Kelvin Cato and a first-round draft pick) is close to being done.

The deal is tangled up by negotiations over the first-round pick that would be shipped to the Pistons. Will it be "lottery protected"? And if so, how far into the draft would that protection reach? Among the top 3 picks? Top 5? Top 10? Obviously, Detroit wants a higher pick this year, while Orlando would prefer to give them either a lower selection or next year's first-round pick.

A. Sherrod Blakely
, the Pistons beat writer for Booth Newspapers, said on WXYT's morning show that the Pistons may also be reluctant to part with Carlos Arroyo, concerned about the depth at guard behind Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton. He went on to say that if a deal was done, it would probably happen after the NBA All-Star Break.

So much for that

Okay, what's next? This week's Lions topic du jour was whether or not the team should pursue free agent quarterback Kurt Warner. (And that led into the next discussion point: Should Warner start over Harrington?) Unfortunately, we'll have to move onto something else. It's now a moot point.

Yesterday, after liking what he heard from the Arizona Cardinals' front office, Warner signed a three-year, $18 millon deal to stay with the team. His agent told the Arizona Republic that if Warner can play as well as he did last season and stays healthy through the duration of the contract, he'll likely fulfill incentives that could raise the deal's value to $22 or $23 million. The agreement will be officially announced at a press conference today.

So who's next on the Lions' QB shopping list? Is there anyone else Mike Martz has in mind? Who do Matt Millen and Rod Marinelli have an eye on? Matt Schaub? Billy Volek? Jay Cutler?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Darko... Cato... Darko... Cato... ?

Oh, if only I had written a blog entry about the rumored Darko trade yesterday, instead of slipping it in the comments yesterday. (Great discussion, though.)

As Big Al said, it's probably more pertinent to discuss scenarios that could actually happen and could impact this year's team, rather than drive yourself crazy over "what ifs." So here we go: Would you trade Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo to Orlando for Kelvin Cato and a first-round pick in this year's draft?

My first thought was, "Absolutely not!" How does that make the Pistons better? In fact, it weakens the team because, as Big Al also mentioned, they'd be short a back-up point guard. They already have Cato on their roster. His name's Dale Davis. And if you wouldn't trade Arroyo for Cato straight up, or Darko for a first-round pick, why would you make this deal? Orlando gets the better players. It looks even worse when you consider that the selection would be "lottery protected," meaning if it was among the top five or seven picks, the Magic would keep it.

And that's not even addressing the fact that you'd be giving up on the second overall pick in the 2003 draft over only three seasons.

Then it was pointed out to me that I was missing the true reason for the deal. No, it doesn't help this year's team. But it could help down the line by creating space under the Pistons' salary cap. $8.5 million of space, to be exact, in the form of Cato's expiring contract. And that money would help Detroit re-sign free agent to-be Ben Wallace, as well as help pick up more free agent help next season.

So is the deal worth making under that context? I'm no salary cap expert, so I don't know if Detroit will already have enough salary cap room to re-sign Wallace. I believe they would, based on what I found. But that depends on whether or not Ben wants a "max" contract. (And there are rumors Chicago might be willing to give him that kind of deal.) Then the Pistons have to ask themselves if Wallace is worth that kind of money. (That argument is a whole other blog entry.)

I still say it's not a good trade. Detroit's giving up assets and receiving none in return. If Joe D has other trades worked out to supplement this deal, then it looks better. (Anyone giving up a point guard? How about you, Toronto? Would you trade Mike James, even though he's your best player right now?) And I think it's now become clear that there are enough questions about this season that they have to be addressed before the Pistons can look at next season and beyond. Of course, that could be why I'm typing this instead of working as a NBA GM.

Nine days and counting until the NBA trade deadline...

▪▪ Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything in the Orlando newspapers about this deal. They're more curious about Steve Francis possibly getting traded.


Monday, February 13, 2006

You could've had him, Joe D

Friends and family have told me that I sometimes dwell too much on the past. Mulling over the "what ifs" and "could've beens" of events that passed long ago is a sure ticket to Crazytown, they've warned. And I've gotten better with that. Really.

But after watching Dwyane Wade score 37 points (and hit the game-winning shot) against the Pistons, leading the Miami Heat to a 100-98 victory, I found myself wishing I had paid more attention and tried harder in my high school and college science classes. If I had, maybe I'd be capable of creating the time machine needed to fling me back to 2003, right before the moment Joe Dumars turned in the draft card with the name "Darko Milicic" on it. It could be one of those slow-motion "NOOOOO!!!!" moments. Or if that's a little too melodramatic, maybe I could just stop time. Then while Joe D was frozen in time, I could just switch the cards in his hand without him knowing.

(Photo by Luis M. Alvarez/ AP)

Of course, if Detroit wins another NBA championship this season, that little fantasy will probably be pushed back in the dusty corner of my mind with other past delusions, such as playing third base for the Tigers, dating Ashley Judd, and becoming Batman.

But if Miami somehow knocks Detroit out of this year's playoffs, or the Heat go on to become a perennial Eastern Conference power after the Pistons' window of championship opportunity has closed, I'll be trying to read Stephen Hawking books and looking up "flux capacitors" on Google again.

During last year's Eastern Conference finals, Evan kept me out of a padded room by convincing me that Wade wouldn't be a good fit on the Pistons, as presently constructed. And it's true, he might be the team's sixth man, rather than America's Next Top NBA Superstar. But oh, can you imagine if Flip Saunders could bring him off the bench right now to spell Chauncey Billups or Rip Hamilton? Or what if Wade was a starter, and Rip came in for instant offense, a la Vinnie Johnson? No second-string guard in the NBA could run with him. And what if the Pistons had Wade in last year's Finals vs. San Antonio?

I know, I know. Check back in May and June, and see if Wade can do that against Detroit in a seven-game series. And even with Wade's superstar effort, Miami only won by two points. If Tayshaun Prince hit his shot at the end of the game, Detroit would've won. The Pistons still have the best record in the NBA (though not by much). They have four All-Stars.

But if they'd drafted Chris Bosh instead of Darko, they might've had five All-Stars. And think about how good Detroit would be if they brought Bosh off the bench to spell Ben or Rasheed Wallace. What if the Pistons could've thrown Bosh at Tim Duncan in last year's Finals...

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Are you sure? How about now?

Okay, it's official. No, seriously - it's in the paper today. Former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz has signed a three-year agreement to be the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions football club. (In accordance with this hiring, and its supposed officialness, I will retire all Honolulu Blue ball jokes until, well, the NFL draft.)

Many of my blogging brethren have spoken (or written) on the end of Lions fans' long national nightmare. Here's a gift bag of opinions for you to sample. Some are suspicious, such as Beyond Boxscores:

Conversely, we all realize that Martz brings baggage. He was serious ill most of this past off-season. We know he really covets the title of head coach, not offensive coordinator. Like most supposed geniuses, Martz lets his concepts get in the way of common sense from time to time. Martz' quirkiness (is that a word?) was revealed to all during this on again, off again negotiation process. These are all things that make you wonder why the Lions pursued Martz so hard.

Greg Eno is cautiously optimistic:

Mike Martz is the Lions' employee today, but we don't know for how long or with how much success. The official introduction hasn't even occurred yet, and already there are whispers that Martz is merely using this gig as a springboard to another head coaching job -- which could come as early as 2007. That gives Martz one season to take the Lions' offense from the dregs of the league to somewhere near respectable.

The Wayne Fontes Experience is succinctly relieved:

We can FINALLY move on with all our lives...

House of 21 Thieves seems unhealthily (though understandably) optimistic:

Has there ever been a more talented but consistently underperforming group than Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Marcus Pollard, and Kevin Jones? On paper, that team should KILL ANYONE THAT COMES NEAR IT. Hopefully Martz can give their talent an outlet and Marinelli can give their spirit a lift.

And Kevin Antcliff keeps it all in perspective:

Who gives a crap about me making a life change to extend my time on this earth and with my family when there is FINALLY some REAL news to report out of Allen Park??

Just as soon as I decided to stop caring, what do the Lions go and do? Yup, they hire Mike Martz to be the offensive coordinator.

What more can I add? I'm kind of a modest guy, so I don't want to toot my own horn, but, well, okay:

Until the Lions hire someone else to be their offensive coordinator... I wouldn't say this deal is dead. Negotiations have fallen through and come back together before. (Hell, it happened with Matt Millen.)

-- Sweaty Men Endeavors 02/03/06

Oh, c'mon. I was lucky. Broken clock right twice a day. Sun shining on a dog's butt. That sort of thing. Call it a hunch. Or maybe just too much familiarity with the dysfunctional hiring practices of the Matt Millen regime. Or maybe I have a little too much experience with high-maintenance personalities.

It's certainly notable how much enthusiasm was dampened by the will-they-or-won't-they soap opera between the Lions and Martz. Had this deal been sealed last week, while Detroit was flush with Super Bowl excitement, it would've seemed perfect. But maybe it's good that this wasn't handled perfectly.

The Lions now realize that Martz is, well, probably a little looney. And maybe a bit of a drama queen. So Sgt. Marinelli will probably be wearing his steel-toed combat boots around the team's headquarters - just in case. And by backloading the deal, the Lions have presumably given Martz a reason to reconsider doing the one-and-done thing in Detroit.

So now we can get down to some serious fantasizing. And hey, that's normal. Martz has been having the same thoughts, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Lions job "was really the only coordinator's job out there that I thought would be very exciting for me." For me, I know I'll be alternating dreams of the woman from those Mercury car commercials feeding me fried chicken with visions of the Lions lined up in three-receiver sets with Kevin Jones motioning out of the backfield and Joey Harrington throwing downfield on 1st-and-10.

And that brings us to the next big question surrounding the Lions: Is Joey staying or going? Some, such as the Detroit Lions Weblog, think Martz's wide-open system, in which protecting the quarterback seems an afterthought, means the end of Joey in Detroit. But did Joey throw quickly to avoid a sack because that's the way Marty Mornhinweg and Steve Mariucci coached him? Or does he really have a fear of getting hit? The Sports Inferno's Mike Valenti believes Martz's hiring means that Joey's staying. And others, such as the Sports Dude, have pointed out that sheer economics will likely keep Joey in Honolulu Blue (with black accents).

If you read Sweaty Men Endeavors during this past Lions season, or have had the misfortune of asking me about it in person, you know how I feel. I still believe there's an NFL quarterback in Joey Harrington, but he was repressed by Mariucci's horribly restrictive coaching. And I'm guessing that Matt Millen feels the same way. Despite saying otherwise, I think he hired a coach that was willing to work with the talent he'd already collected. In turn, Rod Marinelli hired an offensive coordinator who could make the most of the quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers on the roster. I don't think Martz would've been hired if he believed Harrington couldn't play in his system. Now, Marinelli can leave Martz alone to work his magic on the Lions' offense, while he and Donnie Henderson retool the defense.

So what are the chances I'll follow my own advice and detox from the Lions until the NFL Draft? I need a break from the Ford Field Follies. You guys probably need (or want) one, too. There's good basketball and hockey to watch around here. And pretty soon, catchers' mitts will start popping in Florida and Arizona. I'll try to let my mind drift to other sports over the next couple of months. It's best for my mental health. But it won't be easy.

Man, I wish I knew how to quit the Lions.

(Photo by Tom Pidgeon/ Getty Images)

Okay, it's not a slump

You can come down from the roof. Tell the women and children they're safe. We don't have to live off canned food and bottled water. The Detroit Pistons' two-game losing streak is over.

And it's a good thing for Ben Wallace. The poor guy probably needed lots of ice and ointment for all the welts he received, thanks to Mike Dunleavy's intricate hack-the-other-team's-suckiest-free-throw-shooter strategy. In a fine example of a man realizing his limitations, Ben deferred to Antonio McDyess, whose scoring ability forced the Clippers to try some other form of defense.

After hitting two key three-pointers that probably put the game away, Rasheed Wallace gave the stink-eye to his former coach in Portland, which was very likely related to his opinion of Dunleavy's defensive philosophy (which worked so well for the Blazers against the Shaq-led Lakers, you might remember). What did #36 say to the Clippers' coach?

"Obscenities," according to Chris McCosky's game story in the Detroit News. Welcome to yet another episode of "Why We Love 'Sheed."

And now, with a little All-Star break thrown in for needed rest, the Pistons can focus on the Charles Bronson portion of their schedule. It's time for some revenge. After Orlando and Miami, Detroit can look for a little payback against New Jersey, Atlanta, and Indiana. And what's that you say? Each of those games are at the Palace? Ooooh, I like revenge flicks.

Speaking of that All-Star break, have you heard the latest rumors? Both Detroit newspapers cite a New York Daily News report that Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Ben Wallace have been named to the All-Star roster, the remainder of which will be announced tonight on TNT (They know drama!). And a fourth Piston could be on his way to Houston if David Stern decides to name 'Sheed or Tayshaun Prince (who's scored 51 points in his last two games, by the way) as a replacement for the injured Jermaine O'Neal.

What does all this mean? We're going to be fine, people. Spend time with your significant other. It's okay to open up, to give and receive love as you used to. Treat yourself to a nice meal tonight. Your food will surely taste good now. Have a glass of wine, while you're at it. Those tannins are breathing again. Sit back and relax, because all is right with the world once more. The Pistons two-game losing streak is over.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Slump or not a slump?

So are the Pistons already in a slump, or is it officially a slump if they lose to the Clippers tonight at home? A three-game losing streak would definitely raise an eyebrow, wouldn't it? Two losses in a row is already enough of a curiosity, considering they hadn't done so in almost a year. Chalk the loss to Indiana up to the recent rivalry, and a team motivated to prove it's still a factor in the Eastern Conference. But a loss to the Hawks? The second-worst team in the NBA? Okay, it was only a one-point loss.

But how about the timing of this little drag? Now we're ready to devote our full attention to this team (or at least I am), and they're hitting a run of fatigue (and maybe boredom) that was probably inevitable, despite all the noise about winning 70 games. (Maybe this will finally scotch that talk.)

So what's the deal? Tayshaun Prince thinks they may be tired. Ben Wallace says they didn't execute. Coach Flip Saunders was already worried, noticing a lack of energy in the team's last few games, and plans to give more minutes to the reserves in upcoming games. The return of Lindsey Hunter could help with that, although he's still not ready to play big minutes. (Do you think there was any talk between Flip and Joe Dumars about putting Darko Milicic on the injured reserve list, instead of Jason Maxiell?)

The most amazing thing about the Pistons' 39-8 start is that they'd managed to avoid the usual potholes that typically afflict a team during the NBA season, such as fatigue in back-to-back games or proper motivation against clearly inferior teams. But now they're experiencing just such a stretch. They probably are tired. Maintaining such a high level of play with three months to go on the schedule was likely impossible. Maybe the players and coaches realize they need to dial back a bit, in order to have what they need for the playoffs.

Or they could just beat the Clippers - who have the fourth-best record in the Western Conference - tonight and everything will be okay again.

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/ Getty Images)


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Not cool, Joe

Is it true? Did Joe Montana really skip out on the Super Bowl pre-game celebration that honored the game's 39 previous MVPs because the NFL wouldn't pay him $100,000? Was Terry Bradshaw a no-show for the same reason?

To me, the MVPs coming out on the field before the game was one of the highlights of Super Bowl XL. (Did the Steelers fans show a lack of class by booing those who beat their team? Well, maybe. But I thought it was funny.) How many sports can march its history onto the field for everyone to see? (As Blue Cats and Red Sox pointed out, probably none.) But who wasn't there was just as - if not more - noticeable than who was.

Where's Joe Montana? Where's Terry Bradshaw? Didn't they both win two Super Bowl MVP awards? (Actually, Montana won three.) Weren't we all wondering that during the ceremony? As cool as the whole thing was, the absence of Montana and Bradshaw - two of the NFL's greatest stars - cast a huge shadow over the proceedings. And if it happened over money, that stinks. More than that, it's revolting.

How could Bradshaw not be there when his Steelers were playing for the championship? Well, he says he wanted to watch the Super Bowl with his family. Apparently, his family didn't stop him from trolling around "Radio Row" all week to promote his new movie in which he plays Matthew McConaughey's daddy.

What about Montana? Well, speculation runs rampant. Was he absent because he wanted to attend his daughter's basketball game? Did he want that $100,000 so he could donate it to charity? Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News jokingly wondered if Montana stayed away because he still holds a grudge toward Steve Young. Deadspin is worried that Joe really needs the money.

Do these guys really care so little about the sport to which they owe all of their success? Sure, they'll participate in a special moment for the NFL and its fans, but only if you meet their price? Please, you must be kidding. If it's true, that's so disappointing. But maybe it shouldn't be surprising, either. Maybe we don't realize that football was just a job to some of these guys.

Having said that, I'd like to see Howie Long smash Bradshaw's head like a watermelon for being so greedy. As for Montana, I wish Jerry Rice would dance a foxtrot on his face. But Joe already seems lonely enough playing with his football-on-a-string.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Got that wrong

I wasn't sure there would be a post today, as I strongly believe that the Monday after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday. But some thoughts are beating on the inside of my head, ready to get out, so I must type.

What can I say? After giving it some thought, I think my pick was based on my admiration for the coaching genius of Mike Holmgren. C'mon, any guy who encourages his wife to go to the Congo during a week he'll be in a city where parties by Playboy, Maxim, and Jenna Jameson are being thrown is a brilliant man.

I hope the coach found some consolation somewhere in Detroit last night, because his team's mistakes cost them the game. I've read some squawking about the officiating (via Deadspin), but if Seattle hadn't committed costly penalties, missed field goals, and been afflicted with some of the worst dropped passes ever seen, they could've won the Super Bowl.

(Photo by Chuck Burton/ AP)

I forget whether I heard it on TV or radio yesterday, but someone said you can't have those moments when a guy claps his hands, shakes his head, beats himself up for not making a play, and expect to win the Super Bowl. There's no going back. But Jerramy Stevens had four of those moments last night. His performance was so bad it made me question whether he was shaving points. Not since Neil O'Donnell threw two passes right to Larry Brown (more on him later) had such a thought occurred to me.

(Photo by Paul Sancya/ AP)

You cannot drop balls placed right into your hands - especially in this game. Stevie Wonder could've caught some of those passes. And every one of those drops would've been a big play for the Seahawks. Was Stevens still wondering why Joey Porter was picking on him all week? Where the #@$% was his head?

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh didn't play a great game. They could've been beaten. But when the Steelers had to make a play, they did so. And one of the great playoff runs in NFL history got the storybook ending many of us wanted to see. It really does seem fitting that the Steelers won the Super Bowl in Detroit, as they represent the type of team I think we'd like to see here. Not just a championship team, of course, but one that plays tough, physical football, with a coaching staff creative enough to design offenses and defenses suited to its talent, and athletes who play hard and do what's necessary to win.

[Editor's Note: Please excuse Mr. Casselberry while he wallows in his annual post-Super Bowl "How far the Lions are from a championship team" realization. We've given him some vodka and now return you to your regular sports blog.]

▪▪ Speaking of officiating, aren't you getting really tired of watching bad calls ruin big football games? This entire postseason, whether in college or pro football, has been stained by the referees. Again, I'm not saying Seattle lost because of bad pass interference, holding, or personal foul calls. But they were a factor. Maybe football has reached the point where the referees are just going to miss their share of calls, due to the speed of the game. And maybe we're more aware of it because of advances in television coverage. But it would be nice to see an important football game played without officiating questions and complaints hanging over it.

▪▪ Had you almost forgotten Willie Parker even played for the Steelers? Kudos to the Detroit News' Bob Wojnowski for writing about him yesterday. I'm beginning to wonder if the past two weeks, with the "Everybody Loves Jerome" show was something of a smoke screen to throw off the media and the Seahawks' game plan. Oh, you know Bettis will get a bunch of carries in Detroit. And then on game day, "Fast Willie" rips off the longest run in Super Bowl history.

▪▪ Has there ever been a Super Bowl in which the crowd weighed so heavily in favor of one team? Maybe when the 49ers played in Palo Alto, but that game was in California. I knew Detroit would be Pittsburgh West this week, but it was still amazing to see all those Terrible Towels twirling around. (And how hilarious was it to hear the crowd boo Larry Brown when he was introduced with the Super Bowl MVPs? I love fans who never let go of a grudge, man.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The game!

Today sort of feels like Christmas around here (and not just because of the fresh snow on the ground). All of the anticipation, excitement, and anxiety leads up to that one day, the one event that we're brought together to celebrate. But I'll argue that the Super Bowl is even better. No annoying relatives to tolerate, no spoiled children opening too many gifts, no overbearing plans and schedules to follow. We can just sit back, enjoy food and drink with friends, and watch football.

Before I get to our unacknowledged national holiday, however, I'd like to point your way to a few sites that have done a fine job of recording the moment and providing some insight and flavor for anyone not fortunate enough to experience what's been a great week for Detroit.

Girl in the D and DetroitWonk have posted many words and photos about events, stories, and scenery surrounding the Super Bowl, and their excitement over something good and fun happening in the city has made for some compelling reading. (whatevs [dot org] also chimed in with an entertaining tour of the Super Bowl scene. Oh, Uncle Grambo, you crazy!) So have Terry Foster and the Detroit News. Beyond Boxscores has some terrific photos from the downtown area that made me wish I'd have taken a camera to Detroit. Billfer, of Detroit Tigers Weblog fame, was a Super Bowl XL volunteer. Jason Muhme, an engineer for WXYT-AM, posted several pictures from Radio Row at the Renaissance Center. And Josh Bartlett's been writing like mad this week, exploring elements from both fan and media viewpoints, and providing some perspective from the party scene, as well.

And now, the game. I figured I'd try to sneak a Super Bowl pick in here, though I don't know how many people stop by on Sundays. Maybe the two-week break has caused me to overthink this match-up a bit. Had this game been played last Sunday, I'm sure I would've hopped on the popular pick wagon and gone with the Steelers. It would be fun to see them win. Pittsburgh fans remind me of Detroit fans, and I'd love to see that passionate following rewarded. And of course, it would be great to see the storyline of this Super Bowl get a happy ending, with Jerome Bettis winning a championship in his final game, played in his hometown.

But I can't help but think about the Patriots team that won the Super Bowl they were supposed to badly lose. And weren't the Pistons going to get stomped by the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals? So I'm wondering if all this talk about a sure Pittsburgh win is rather hasty.

The Steelers are getting all the headlines, but the Seahawks look like they're all business to me. While Joey Porter is talking WWE-style trash about Jerramy Stevens to anyone with a microphone and/or camera, the Seahawks seem to be rolling their eyes. Jerome Bettis has been a wonderful host and ambassador for Detroit, and this city has become Pittsburgh West, while Shawn Alexander and his Seattle teammates are quietly simmering over the lack of attention and waiting for the game to start. Mike Holmgren has won a Super Bowl before and knows exactly how to plan for the big game, but Bill Cowher might be wondering if he'll get it right this time. The Steelers' defense attacks ferociously and creatively, bringing blitzers from every part of the field. Yet no offense blocks better than the Seahawks.

It sounds strange for such a blue-collar city, but a Pittsburgh win would give this game a Hollywood type of ending. Those can be fun to watch, but I often find the other endings more interesting and compelling. Maybe I'm influenced by having three Seahawks - Shawn Alexander, Joe Jurevicius, and Jerramy Stevens - help my fantasy football team to a league championship (stop groaning!), but I think Seattle will join the list of Super Bowl winners tonight.

Seahawks 30, Steelers 24.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Another case of Honolulu Blue balls

So how do you go from done to none in just a couple of hours? By the time reports of Mike Martz signing a contract with the Lions hit the airwaves, rumblings began to circulate that it wasn't a done deal. Very soon after that, the negotiations fell apart and Martz walked away to spend a year with his wife.

Apparently, the dispute was over money. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Martz wanted a minimum salary of $1.5 million a year. It's not clear what the Lions offered in return. Maybe we can blame Daniel Snyder and the Washington Redskins for setting the market for top assistants so high. Both Al Saunders and Gregg Williams will be paid at least $2 million per season to run the Redskins' offense and defense, respectively.

Was it an issue of control or power? Probably not. According to ESPN's John Clayton, the Lions had agreed to let Martz bring on three of his assistants from St. Louis. (And maybe one of those coaches would have taken over the offense had Martz only been in Detroit for one season.) But who knows, maybe Martz was intimidated once he saw how Rod Marinelli planned to clean up the team, and figured he wouldn't have the authority he wanted.

If there's any good to be taken from this, I suppose Lions fans could try to console themselves with the sky-high praise that Martz gave Marinelli on his way out the door. Martz called his dealings with Marinelli "exceptional" and said he and the Lions' head coach would've worked well together.

"I think he's going to be a superstar," Martz said to the Associated Press. "Everybody's got talent, nice facilities and all those kinds of things, but who you work with is critical and that was a big plus."

It's difficult to say the Lions might be better off. Martz playing with this team's offensive toys could've been a beautiful marriage. This was the "what if" that so many of us had dreamed about after suffering through Steve Mariucci's sideways offense. Joey Harrington and Charles Rogers might have experienced career revivals in Martz's system.

But if he was going to bolt after one year and leave Detroit looking for someone else to run the offense, that wouldn't provide the stability and consistency the Lions really need right now. You can't establish an identity if the guy who helped create it leaves before the job might be truly finished.

Until the Lions hire someone else to be their offensive coordinator, however, (Hue Jackson, Cincinnati's wide receiver coach, is a name that's been thrown around the last week or so) I wouldn't say this deal is dead. Negotiations have fallen through and come back together before. (Hell, it happened with Matt Millen.)

Maybe the Lions felt too much pressure to hire Martz during Super Bowl week, while all of the national football media was in Detroit. And after walking away and giving it some thought, Millen and the Fords might decide Martz's price is worth meeting. Or maybe the Lions really did botch this.

What a roller coaster. Who needs Cedar Point when the Lions give you all the wicked twister you need during the winter?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mikey likes us! (Or Honolulu Blue balls)

Hey, when news breaks, I break in... if I happen to be listening to the radio, and am at the computer. Detroit's WXYT-AM (1270) is reporting what many outlets said would soon be a done deal: Mike Martz will be the Detroit Lions' offensive coordinator.

And in an obvious attempt to placate Kevin Antcliff, Martz's contract is reportedly a three-year deal.

Surely, there will be more later. But until further details are available, check out (former Detroit News columnist) Bryan Burwell's column in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in which he says Martz needs Detroit as much as the Lions need him.

Update (3 p.m.): XYT's Tony Ortiz was just on the air and said the deal isn't official, as the Lions are denying that any agreement has been reached. Apparently, a report by ESPNEWS was a bit hasty.

See, this is why I didn't want to post anything about Martz. But I couldn't resist, since this was "official." So someone apparently has an itchy trigger finger on leaking to the press.

Really? I thought he was just a huge prick

Now this is a feud. So much for keeping the NFL spotlight on the teams playing in the Super Bowl. You can keep that Jerramy Stevens vs. Joey Porter catfight that wasted time on all the sportscasts yesterday. This is a story, man.

Did you see Donovan McNabb's interview on ESPN last night? (No? You were watching State of the Union recaps on the nightly news?) He finally took a step down from the high road and gave his version of the Terrell Owens drama with the Philadelphia Eagles. For example, what was the reaction in the Eagles' locker room when T.O. said the team would be better with Brett Favre at quarterback?

But McNabb wasn't just chapped at T.O. for saying he wanted another quarterback. No, this was much worse because T.O. named a white quarterback. Here's an excerpt:

"It was definitely a slap in the face to me. Because as deep as people won't go into it, it was [a] black-on-black crime. I mean, you have a guy that has been criticized just about all his career and now the last criticism is that I'm selling out because I don't run anymore...

"And to say if we had Brett Favre, that could mean that if you had another quarterback of a different descent or ethnic background, we could be winning. That's something I thought about and said, 'Wow.' It's different to say if we had Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, Steve McNair, Aaron Brooks, Byron Leftwich. But to go straight to Brett Favre, that slapped me in the face..."

Whoa! "Black-on-black crime"? And all this time, I just thought T.O. was an @$$hole; a selfish, self-centered diva who loves to destroy winning teams from within because he doesn't realize how good he has it. No, it turns out T.O. might have been propagating white racism, too. Yikes!
(And that's probably about as far as I want to delve into that particular topic. Yep.)

We have to get a response on this from T.O. or Drew Rosenhaus, right? They can't just let such an attack go without retaliation. T.O. and Drew are probably setting up microphones in front of T.O.'s house as I write this. ("Testing... testing... are those crickets chirping?") Wait - maybe it'll happen here in Detroit! We know T.O's throwing a party in town on Saturday night. Maybe they'll throw a presser in front of the Joe Louis fist! All of the football press is here, anyway. How many "next questions" would Rosenhaus have to fire off to a Super Bowl-sized press corps?

C'mon guys, the game isn't for another three days. The biggest news so far has been Joey Porter saying Jerramy Stevens plays mostly on special teams, and comparing himself to the vampire from Underworld, along with concrete security barriers attacking vans full of Seattle Seahawks. Give us a little more, while we're trying to figure out ways to get into parties where celebrities may or may not be.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Welcome to Detroit - but we must tax you

So who made up that big mass of people inside Ford Field yesterday? Was that crowd made up of print, radio, and TV reporters? Or were there a bunch of accountants and taxmen waiting to talk to the Seahawks and Steelers?

See, Michigan has a "jock tax" which takes 3.4% of the money professional athletes earn while working here. The Seahawks, for example, will contribute approximately $300,000 to the economy. Even worse, Detroit throws in an additional city tax (1.275%), which shakes around $200,000 from the pockets of the two football teams.

(Maybe it sort of evens out. When the Lions played Pittsburgh at the end of the NFL season, Pennsylvania taxed three percent of their earnings. California, by the way, is the most expensive place to play, tacking on a nine percent surcharge.)

This could be why pro athletes need entourages. They're probably full of accountants. According to an AP article (via the Washington Post), Matt Hasselbeck will have to file taxes in eight states where he played this season. (Insert Hasselbeck lost hair joke here.) Then the accountants do their thing, taking into account the number of "active duty days" in each of those states, sliding tax scales, along with daily salaries. I don't think TurboTax covers that stuff.

So accountants need to get a head start. It's almost tax time. Are you sure at least a few of them weren't asking their clients for a minute of their time yesterday? That wasn't someone from H&R Block next to ESPN's Andrea Kramer?

But hey, thanks for playing here, guys. Don't forget to pay your taxes on the way out.

(Thanks to Sweaty Men Endeavors' southwest correspondent, DiscoPete, for the heads-up.)