Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Hour 05/31: A-Rod Somehow Keeps Being Hateable

[This was originally posted at Bless You Boys, but I thought it might fit well here, too.]

Since it seems like I've been talking about Alex Rodriguez's "Ha!" play at third base in last night's Yankees-Blue Jays game for most of the day (especially with my buddy Rob), I thought it might be worth bringing the discussion over to the blog.

If you're not familiar with the play, here's a brief recap. In the top of the ninth, Jorge Posada hit a pop-up to third base. A-Rod was running from second to third, and just before he got to the bag, he apparently yelled out something. Howie Clark, the Jays' third baseman, thought his shortstop, John McDonald, was calling for the ball and backed off. But McDonald wasn't, so the ball dropped to the turf and everyone was safe.

Was the distraction/deception the difference in the game? Well, the Yankees already had the lead, so you could argue it didn't. However, that would've been the third out in the inning, and the Jays would've been down by two runs in the bottom of the ninth instead of five.

But the larger question is whether or not A-Rod messing with Clark was a cheap play - or "bush league," as many of us like to say. Obviously, the Jays thought so, calling it "classless. McDonald was ready to throw down (and probably would've wanted to fight with closed fists, a preference we know doesn't suit A-Rod). His manager, John Gibbons, implied that it wasn't a tactic worthy of the Yankee's great history.

Rodriguez mustered a rather weak defense, claiming that he yelled "Ha!" not "Mine!" His third-base coach, Larry Bowa, corroborated the story, but what would you expect? Perhaps more telling is that A-Rod admitted it was a "desperate" play, an attempt to score a much-needed win. And if you look at his reaction when the Jays are protesting, it seems like he knew he was wrong. If he thought McDonald and Gibbons were just splitting hairs, he likely would've just stood on third base with his hands on his hips, shaking his head, or rolling his eyes. But instead, he tries to plead his case. "What? What did I do?"

I guess I'm just curious what other people think. When I first heard about the play this morning, my first reaction was surprise that this sort of thing doesn't happen all the time. In basketball, a defender might clap his hands, trying to fool an offensive player into passing the ball in that direction. Of course, a player wouldn't yell "Ha!" as someone was attempting a free throw. And in that situation, you're not talking about a baseball potentially smacking someone on the head.

Captain Obvious alert: I never played Major League Baseball. But John McDonald does. And if he says it was a "bush league" play, and so do his teammates and manager, then I'd tend to believe them. You might speculate that A-Rod's fellow New York Yankees feel the same way, since none of them came to his defense in any of the game stories I read.

Since Rob played baseball at a higher level than I ever did, I wanted to get his opinion on this. He said it was a play you wouldn't even see in softball. Now that I can confirm. I usually play third base, and no one's ever tried that on me. But I'm already bad enough at catching pop-ups, so maybe the other team figures they don't have to bother.

Baseball's "unwritten rules" are such murky waters. What's "fair" and what isn't? What's actually considered a rule? As Rob said to me, why is it (somewhat) acceptable for a runner on second base to steal signs and relay them to the batter, yet the batter can't sneak a peek at the catcher making those same signs?

If you want to stick to the letter of the law, however, A-Rod did break a rule. Again, this comes from Rob, via the MLB rulebook:


(a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter- runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference.

I'd love to know what you guys think about this. I used to think A-Rod kind of got a bad rap, but especially since he went to New York, it's become pretty clear just how blatantly he attempts to contrive his image. Disingenuous incidents such as this one just make that all the more apparent.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Beat Detroit? The Pistons Did It Themselves

I never thought I'd take ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan seriously again, after his embarrassing attempt to create a sensationalized story with Rasheed Wallace and Flip Saunders back in January. But the guy had it right when he wrote this sentence before Game 4 of the Pistons-Cavaliers series:

Mr. Big Shot is blowing his money.

And last night, Chauncey Billups blew the game for Detroit. That's an overly simplified way of explaining what happened in Game 4. But if LeBron James had to take crap after Games 1 and 2 for not making the plays expected of a superstar, then Billups deserves to be criticized for not being the Pistons' best player when they needed him the most.

He made three awful decisions late in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. With just over one minute left, Billups left his feet with nowhere to go and dished off a panicked pass right to Drew Gooden. The play-by-play boxscore of the game described the play perfectly: "Chauncey Billups bad pass." He compounded the problem by immediately fouling Gooden, which put the Pistons in the penalty, giving the Cavs free throws on every foul thereafter.

But the three-pointer Billups attempted with 45 seconds left might have been an even worse play. I understand what he was thinking: Take a quick shot, so if it's missed, the Pistons can still get the ball at the end of the game. But he didn't have to take that shot. A leaning, twisting prayer of a shot, while desperately trying to draw a foul when no Cleveland defender was really near him. (Sasha Pavlovic didn't run into Billups; Billups tried to lean into Pavlovic.) Of course, it didn't go in. The Pistons still had a chance to tie the game after that, but it was essentially over after Billups threw up that shot.

Does Billups deserve the benefit of the doubt, given his past heroics for Detroit? Sure. But with that comes the weight of expectations, as well. Why come down so hard on him? Because he's expected to do better. Yet Billups has been outplayed by a rookie, one I hadn't even heard of before this series. (I'll admit, however, that I don't follow the NBA as closely as I used to. 15 years ago, I knew every player on every roster.)

Who is Daniel Gibson? Last night, he's the guy that kicked Chauncey Billups' ass. Okay, Billups outscored him by two points. But he needed almost three times as many shots to do it. One guy's expected to be the best player for his team. The other is a rookie who's just supposed to contribute to the cause.

But maybe it's unfair to come down so hard on Billups because there's plenty of blame that can be spread around. Okay, fine - Rasheed Wallace is an emotional player who often feeds off the perception that the referees are against him. But that technical foul he drew for throwing his headband was totally #@$%ing stupid. What did that accomplish? If you say he was trying to fire up himself and his teammates, then you're just highlighting how desperate he was at that point.

'Sheed just has to be smarter than that. And he's been through far too much not to know that by now. Remind me: Which team is the veteran, playoff-tested one?

And when Chris Webber signed with the Pistons, he may have given the Pistons a new offensive dimension with his passing skills, and helped out with rebounding and defense near the basket. But he is giving Detroit nothing right now. Two points in 20 minutes? Yes, part of that was because Antonio McDyess was playing so well. But he and Jason Maxiell are providing energy, effort, and low-post presence that Webber isn't able to match. He looks tired and slow, and on the verge of being done.

I still think the Pistons will win this series. But I agree that it's going to take seven games now. Detroit is still a better team than Cleveland. But they'd better start playing like it.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You Know, That Voice Sounded Familiar...

Did you catch "Outside the Lines" on Sunday, with a "confidential source" saying that Michael Vick has been a regular on the dog-fighting scene? (Here's more from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Falcoholic.)

(That footage of the dog fights, by the way, was some brutal $#!+. I think I can still hear those squeals of pain when I close my eyes.)

I don't know how the hell we're supposed to figure out who that guy is with his face shadowed and his voice distorted. But I have my theory as to who that was talking to Kelly Naqi.

Joey Harrington.

C'mon, doesn't that make sense? Dude wants to be a starting quarterback again, and needs to clear the way before he can get quality time with his newest alleged QB guru, Bobby Petrino.

"Harrington Awaits Chance"? Yeah, I bet he does. (You have to read the lead on that article. It's hilarious. Maybe all of us Lions fans should see a sports psychologist.) Oh, if Joey only had that kind of dirt on Jeff Garcia when they were playing musical quarterbacks for Steve Mariucci in Detroit...

(via Deadspin)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Comfortably Uncomfortable: Just the Way the Pistons Need It

Uncomfortably close? Maybe. But it's probably what we should've expected, given the recent history between the Pistons and the Cleveland LeBrons. I was actually thrilled Game 1 was so tight - though I obviously wouldn't be too joyful about it had Donyell Marshall made that last three-pointer, or if LeBron had seized the step he had and tied the score.

But I certainly don't think it's a bad thing that the Cavaliers got into the Pistons' face, and gave them one or two smacks in the mouth to get their attention. It just might force this Detroit team out of its more frustrating tendencies. Had Detroit won this first game easily, and worked up a decent amount of disrespect for the LeBrons, we know what likely would've happened next. We've seen it too many times over the past two or three seasons.

They'd lose focus. 'Sheed would start taking more three-pointers instead of fighting in the paint for baskets and rebounds. (To me, there was no more encouraging number from last night's box score than Wallace's 12 boards. I could've almost guessed the final score based on that.) They'd figure they could turn it on when winning time came around.

However, if these guys know that they're in for a fight, if Cleveland shows that they're not going to make it easy, then there shouldn't be a lapse. That's not to say the Pistons won't lose a game or two (or three). Even if it looks like Detroit has the match-up advantage at virtually every position and should win this series relatively easily, some teams simply have a rough time with certain opponents. And I think the Cavaliers are one of those irritants.

But what's everyone talking about today? LeBron should've taken that last shot. That's what superstars who get entire shoe ad campaigns built around them do. He shouldn't have passed the ball, even if the guy was horrifyingly wide open. Or he did the right thing because that's the play that's supposed to be made every time. (Matt at Detroit Bad Boys analyzes this whole thing so well that I wasn't even sure if I should bring it up here.)

Kornheiser and Wilbon will surely discuss whether or not LeBron is one of those superstars who can take over a game on "PTI" this afternoon, and I hope Wilbon raises an excellent point he's made before. Players who leave for the NBA right out of high school might not be as well schooled in the rhythms and demands of a game than a college player who's been through big conference and tournament match-ups. If a star player has never learned how and when to take over a game, what happens when just such an opportunity is thrust upon him?

Do I think LeBron should've taken the shot? Like Matt at DBB, my opinions changed after I saw the replay. As the play was happening, it looked like LeBron made the right decision because Marshall was so wide open. On a second and third viewing, however, you see that he actually had a step on his defender(s), which means he could've taken the ball to the rim and either have drawn a foul or laid in the tying basket. But we don't know what the plan was. Maybe the play called for exactly the pass that LeBron made. Maybe the sentiment on the Cavs' bench was to go for the win, rather than slog through an overtime period.

As a Pistons fan, I think all of this is awesome. Let LeBron, his teammates, and coaches answer those questions over the next two days. Let that thought influence LeBron the next time he's in such a situation, and it just might cause the kind of hesitation that can cause a player to seize up in key moments. Maybe he decides to force the issue and run into a double-team, rather than kick it out to the wing - because he's sick of hearing about this stuff. This stuff is in LeBron's head now - and the Pistons didn't even have anything to do with it.

But wait a minute - what if this fires LeBron up to become the unstoppable force many of us fear? Is this a case of "Be careful what you wish for"? Ah, let's worry about that on Thursday...

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Pistons Need to Stop This Bull[excrement] Tonight

As natural as the impulse might be, I usually try to avoid comparisons between this current Pistons team and the championship teams of the "Bad Boys" era. Different players, different era, different style of play in the league, etc. But as I've watched these Detroit Pistons fall into a familiar (arrogant) trap of getting bored and losing focus until the situation requires them to sharpen their resolve, I can't help but think of the team that originally showed us how to put away an opponent and efficiently (ruthlessly) progress toward the NBA Finals.

There's no way in hell Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer would've allowed the Chicago Bulls to come back and make this series competitive. If their team knew an opponent was beaten, they wasted no time in finishing the job. They had no time for folly or irrelevance. They never let up.

Even if you say the Bulls would've kept Games 1 and 2 close had they made more shots, I'd find it hard to believe that you didn't think that was an absolutely defeated and dejected team. Especially after suffering a completely demoralizing loss in Game 3. And this Pistons team should've made sure things stayed that way. Don't assume the enemy is finished. Check for a body. Don't even allow for the possibility of a comeback. Unfortunately, that flatline now has some beats to it, and there's no reason for the Bulls to think they can't push this thing to a seventh game. And once that happens... well, you know all the cliches.

Of course, the Pistons could stop this charade and conserve needed energy by ending this series tonight (at least two games after it should've been). And it helps that their likely Eastern Conference Finals opponent, the Cleveland LeBrons, is also currently having trouble sealing their own deal. (If you're truly optimistic - and you had every right to be so before last Sunday - you could say that their potential NBA Finals opponent is locked in a fight to the finish, as well.) I realize the Bulls deserve credit for not checking out for their off-season plans after facing a seemingly insurmountable 0-3 deficit. But there is no excuse for the Pistons not to have matched their passion and intensity.

As much as I admire this current Detroit team, one of its most infuriating traits is its arrogance. The Bulls are playing like a team fighting for its playoff life, fueled by the "sometimes, you just gotta say, 'What the #@$%'" abandon that comes with nothing more to lose. Meanwhile, the Pistons look like they're checking their watch or fingernails, as if they're a boyfriend waiting for his girlfriend to finish trying on another outfit, but really looking forward to going to the bar or a movie afterwards. Deep down, they know that better things are likely to come, but it might be more enjoyable (and productive) for everyone involved if they just concentrate on the matter at hand and give their full attention.

Quit messing around. Finish this off. Do what you should've done almost a week ago. At the very least, you'll give yourself a weekend of rest and relaxation. Isn't that what we all want?


Sticking To the Rules? Since When?

I've been nose-deep in baseball lately, but came up for air to watch Game 5 in the Suns-Spurs Western Conference semi-final. Unless I went into sports talk radio and TV silence, I couldn't have avoided all the chatter about Robert Horry body-checking Steve Nash into the scorer's table, which brought two of Nash's Suns teammates up from the bench and onto the floor. I wasn't watching at the moment in question, so I had to depend on recaps and opinion.

But when I heard the names "Amare Stoudemire" and "Boris Diaw," the news was deflating. I can only imagine how a die-hard Phoenix Suns or NBA fan felt, either in the moment or afterwards. Because you knew what this meant: Leave the bench during an altercation, and you're getting suspended. It was meant to take the "bench-clearing" part out of brawls, which were a problem in what became a thuggish NBA, and in 1997, the enforcement of that rule cost the New York Knicks a playoff series against the Miami Heat.

Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, John Starks, and Larry Johnson all left the Knicks' bench after P.J. Brown tossed Charlie Ward to the floor. And the NBA came down hard. The only reason all four weren't suspended for the next game was because the Knicks had to field an actual team to play. So Ewing and Houston sat out Game 6, while Starks and Johnson couldn't play Game 7.

If that was the precedent, Stoudemire - even if he's Phoenix's best player and didn't actually engage anyone when he jumped up from the bench - had no chance of playing the next game. The rule and the penalty were clear, and have been so for 10 years. Does David Stern strike you as a guy who has a tolerance for the term "wiggle room" when it comes to handing out punishment?

So the Suns were essentially screwed going into last night's Game 6. They wouldn't just miss two players; they'd miss two of their best players. Meanwhile, the Spurs were short a role player who might take a big shot at the end of the game. The Suns ended up making it a much closer contest than you might have expected, which is a testament to their depth and their offensive system (which didn't have Stoudemire throughout much of last season). It's an overly simplistic way of looking at the final score, but when a team loses by three points and didn't have its leading scorer, I think you can safely say Stoudemire's suspension cost the Phoenix Suns the game - and possibly the series.

And I'm a day late on this, but the question of whether or not fair punishment was actually handed out in this instance is still causing a hell of a lot of noise. Yes, the NBA stuck to the rule, and maybe that's exactly what they should do. I heard Stern argue loudly and sarcastically with Dan Patrick on the radio, and saw him give weary, monosyllabic answers on "Pardon the Interruption" hours later. He bristled at the suggestion that Horry decided a seven-game series with a hip-check. And he stuck to his conviction that superstars don't get any favorable treatment when it comes to enforcing the rules.

Oh, really? Isn't this the same league that lets its superstars take four steps after picking up their dribble? How many of them are allowed to use their hand to push and check an opponent off balance to gain leverage on defense? How often can they hook a defender with an elbow (or an entire arm) as they pivot around a defender near the basket? How many of those star players get to cradle the basketball in their palm while stutter-stepping or switching hands while dribbling? How often is an offensive player allowed to just clear a defender out of the way with his arm?

Well, you might say, that's not the same thing. But isn't it really? You might be talking about preventing fights, about keeping the game clean, about making sure no one gets hurt. That other stuff, meanwhile, happens within the rhythm of the game. You can't call everything. It slows the game down.

But don't tell me superstar players don't get exceptions in the NBA. It happens all the time. And maybe this is one time, for the benefit of the game in general, that such an interpretation should've been made.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Remembering the Bad Ol' Days

With the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls once again crossing playoff swords, it's only natural to look back at what made this such a fierce rivalry in the first place. Of course, since the 2007 edition of Pistons-Bulls has been something of a dud thus far, memories of better, more competitive times might be all we're left with.

Late last week, Matt Watson of Detroit Bad Boys asked various Detroit and Chicago bloggers for their most lasting memory of the Pistons-Bulls rivalry, which has now resumed after almost two decades. (Sweet Jeebus, was it that long ago?) I was flattered to be asked, and more than willing to oblige.

Thefirst thing that came to mind was Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer leading the Pistons off the floor with four seconds left in Game 4 of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. At the time, I loved that Detroit ended its championship run on its own terms. Laimbeer hugging a tearful Jack McCloskey in the tunnel is an image I'll never forget. And in the process, the Pistons gave a big middle finger to an opponent that hadn't respected their accomplishments.

Now, however, I look back on that and think the Pistons came off as sore losers. History hasn't looked back very kindly on that last display of defiance, especially since it was beginning of the Chicago Bulls' championship dynasty. So I chose instead to focus on a more pleasant memory, something that brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

If you get a chance, stop by DBB and check out what I and several other bloggers remember about those good ol' Bad Boys days. Chicago memories will soon follow (I'm betting this series won't be among them). And thanks to Matt for asking me to participate.


The Detroit Pistons Are Excellent Matadors

You know, I'd love to write something about this Pistons-Bulls series, but after the first two games, there's just not much interesting to say. I'm sure I could come up with various descriptions of what an ass-kicking the Bulls have been subjected to. You can't say this series is over when a game hasn't been played in Chicago yet, but I certainly can't remember when the Pistons have looked more dominating in the first two games of a series. We've seen them come out strong in Game 1 before, only to watch the other team pick themselves up for the remaining five or six games.

(Here are your recaps from Detroit Bad Boys and Need4Sheed.)

But this time, Detroit is kicking the opponent down, and keeping them on the floor. It's been like watching a kickoff return in football, when a linebacker zeroes in on a smaller wide receiver and keeps blocking, shoving, and pummeling him to the turf until the play is over. Perhaps even more demoralizing for the Bulls is that there's not even a respite when Flip Saunders empties the bench. Jason Maxiell, Lindsey Hunter, and Carlos Delfino have been almost equally as relentless as the starters. Getting back into the game just hasn't been an option for Chicago.

As fun as it's been to see the Pistons play as well as they ever have - with the ball moving around the floor, players working to get open, and everything coming together for an open look at the basket - I derived some sadistic enjoyment from the forlorn faces on the Chicago bench as the game moved toward its merciful end. Kirk Heinrich looked completely overwhelmed, as if he had no idea what he'd just run into. Luol Deng bit down on his lower lip, like he was just waiting for the pain to end. Ben Gordon hid underneath a towel, seemingly cowering in embarrassment.

But one guy had a knowing smile on his face. I'm not sure if Ben Wallace was thinking that his new teammates now realize just how difficult this playoff thing is, and maybe they'd listen to him and Scott Skiles more intently, or if he was reminiscing over just how good his old teammates can really be when they're focused on winning.

Tercio de varas. The Pistons have won the first stage of this bullfight.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Happy Hour 05/07: New York's Cutest Couple

One of the frequent complaints I've read about Spider-Man 3 is that there's too much goopy romance between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. People just want to see some comic book action. But to me, that relationship gives the story its heart. And that sentiment can also be applied to sports.

In Detroit, the bond between Steve Mariucci and Jeff Garcia was one that transcended geography and football logic. Garcia couldn't throw and Mooch couldn't coach. But that didn't stop them from getting back together and renewing their partnership. That's how it is when you've met your soul mate.

You know who else understands that? Roger Clemens and his best friend forever, Andy Pettitte. Distance was merely an obstacle for these two. From New York to Houston and back to the Bronx again, they have maintained their life partnership. The miles between the two cities were just orange cones to be run over by a truck of genuine affection.

And nothing gives a romance more of a storybook quality than a grand gesture. You want a tale you can eventually share with your grandchildren. Think of John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler holding that boombox over his head outside Diane Court's house in Say Anything. Or Sam carrying Frodo up the mountain in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Wasn't Clemens announcing his return to the Yankees from George Steinbrenner's luxury suite equally as memorable?

Did you see the smile on Pettitte's face from the Yankees' dugout? He may as well have held his hands to his chest, swooning while cartoon hearts danced around his head. Together with the Yankees, together with the Astros, and together yet again in pinstripes. How so very touching.

I can only imagine that plenty of other men in the Yankee Stadium stands were inspired to ask for their significant other's hand in marriage or at least give a warm, firm hug to their ballgame buddy. That kind of sharing doesn't have to be restricted to the Bronx, either. Call up your best friend tonight and tell him how you feel. If you want to do it while you're watching a sporting event together, that's fine. We understand.

Of course, acknowledging true love can also leave some broken hearts. And they're watching romantic comedies with pints of ice cream today in Boston and Houston. I'm not sure if Curt Schilling is more jealous over Clemens signing with the Yankees or creating more of an attention-grabbing media spectacle for himself.

"It would've been nice to have him, but we didn't need him. We don't need him," Schilling told The Associated Press in Minneapolis yesterday. "I feel we're a legitimate World Series contender without him.

This is what we men do. We mask our pain with bravado. It's okay, Curt. Yes, Clemens spurned your team and virtually monopolized ESPN's coverage last night and this morning. But hey, he doesn't have a blog like you do. Use the outlet you've given yourself. You can get through this, even if it takes you 2.800 words to do so. Some of us might not read them all because we only have so many hours in the day to devote to your narcissism, but if that's what you need, we're here for you.

And it's not just fellow players and potential teammates that are dealing the hurt of rejection. Members of the media who fell for Clemens' charms are also nursing wounded souls today. Check out the Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice slicing open a vein and pouring his blood all over his blog for his beloved Rocket:

I kissed the guy's feet every time he walked into a room. I wrote time and again that it was an honor to have him pitching for the hometown team.

In other words, I did my part. I even put up with his obnoxious agent, Randy Hendricks. If this deal includes a one-way ticket out of town for that guy, it may end up being worth it.

I believed all that stuff, too. Roger Clemens is an amazing competitor. He no longer has great stuff, but he stills wins because he has guts and poise and smarts and astonishing control.

Wow. Somebody make sure that man isn't spending tonight alone. Take him out to dinner. Buy him something nice to make him feel good about himself. Just sit and listen. He doesn't need to hear you talk. He needs you to let him say what he's feeling. Give the poor guy the "Five Good Minutes" slot on "PTI" tonight, so Kornheiser and Wilbon can help him sort out his feelings. We all need friends at times like these.

Regardless, we should all be happy that two people on this earth, in this life, have found such bliss together. It's like they say: When you know, you just know. And even if we haven't found such a partnership for ourselves, at least this gives us hope to keep trying. We can be like Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. Just don't give up. Never give up.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Hour 05/04: The Worst Idea I've Heard All Week

Leading up to last weekend's NFL Draft, I often thought about how grossly overstuffed the coverage has become. The hype kicked into overdrive at least a month before the actual event, with ESPN devoting several weekday prime time hours, in addition to what was on NFL Live and SportsCenter, to rumor and speculation surrounding which names would be called out in New York. Who was rising up, falling down, calling about a trade, smoking pot, healing from injuries, etc.?

Of course, I can't get too indignant about it all. It's not like I wasn't watching enough of that stuff for terms like "ball recognition," "high motor," and "smooth hips" to almost become a regular part of my vocabulary.

But eventually, the line has to be drawn somewhere. And if the latest rumors are true, it's time to get out that chalk or tape and start making some of those lines. According to a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (via AOL Fanhouse), the ratings for last Saturday's coverage were so good that the NFL is looking into possibly moving the first round to the Friday night of its draft weekend.

My first thought was this: The NFL realizes this year's first round took six #@$%ing hours to complete, right? How many of you are keen on watching five guys sitting at a desk, assorted football highlights, and draft selection crawls going across, up, and down the screen until 2 a.m. after you just finished the work week?

To me, the NFL Draft already has an undercurrent of depression, in that you're staying inside to watch this stuff on what's often the first Saturday of the year with gorgeous Spring weather. I don't know about you, but I don't usually ask other people what they did that weekend because I don't want to respond to "Man, I did a lot of yard work; the house looks great," "We went to the beach," "I went bicycling," "We picnicked and played frisbee at the park," or "We went to a ballgame and sat in the bleachers," with "I wasted the entire day, until the sun went down, with the shades drawn and a 12-pack of beer beside me, waiting to see which pro team drafted Drew Stanton."

Actually, that's a reason they should have the draft on Friday night, isn't it?

But doesn't the whole thing just work better when you can work the rest of your day around the draft? Maybe your significant other shows you how much she loves you by planning to do something else while you sit home and watch TV. Maybe you get that yard work or those errands done before or after your favorite team picks. Can any of those scenarios easily occur on a Friday night? Shouldn't you be out trying to forget the work week while having dinner or seeing a movie? Or blowing off steam watching some live music or a ballgame? If you stay home, shouldn't you be spending time with your family? Or having sex with someone - even if it's yourself?

And I could be wrong, but this isn't something that you sit in a sports bar to watch, is it? There's no flow, no rhythm, no rise and fall to watching the NFL Draft. There aren't any great moments like a home run, a 60-yard touchdown pass, a shot from the blue line, or a buzzer-beating three pointer. What makes you high-five your friends or the people sitting near you? Sure, there's some drama to it, but it's really slow-developing stuff, like watching Brady Quinn and his family flee to Roger Goodell's private suite after 10 teams have passed on him. I'm sure sports bars would be fine with you adding to your bar tab as you sit and wait for hours, though.

This would be messing too much with the world order, NFL. Don't get too greedy. You already get enough of our time, attention, and energy. You're talking about upsetting the balance of life. And that's something we should be able to #@$% up on our own, without your help.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

I Wonder If Danny Glover Is a Hockey Fan?

Despite my previous resolve to be one at the start of the NHL playoffs, I haven't been a very good Red Wings fan thus far. Most of my interest and emotion has come from looking at the scores the next day and saying something like "The Wings lost?" or "Oh $#!+, the series is tied?" and "I should really watch the next game."

I haven't watched many of the games. I don't think I'd even watched an entire game. That is, until last night. The Tigers weren't on. The Pistons - while the NBA kneels before the mistress television - don't begin the renewal of their blood rivalry with the Chicago Bulls (hmm, I may write about that tomorrow) until Saturday. And for the most part, Wednesday's a crap TV night (though I find that woman on Bones quite attractive). So, despite the fact that I knew I'd probably be paying for it, I stayed up to watch Game 4 of Red Wings-Sharks.

And once the game went into overtime, Danny Glover/Roger Murtaugh were echoing loudly in my brain. Maybe that was the sleep deprivation talking. Or the weird combination of an adult beverage with a late Chinese food dinner, followed by a few cups of tea. Whatever the reason, I was up at 1 a.m. to see if the Wings could tie up this series.

I'm gettin' too old for this shit.

24-year-old Ian called. He's asking when 34-year-old Ian became such a lame-o geezer. If I had the energy right now, I'd try to punch 24-year-old Ian in the face. Also, I'd tell him to date more women and graduate college sooner.

I can't quite describe the emotion I felt when San Jose's Craig Rivet was whistled for a penalty at 14:52 of overtime. I wouldn't call it happy because I was too tired to get that amped up. I'm sure I'll be much happier when/if my first child is born. Maybe it's comparable to the feeling I have when I haven't eaten a cheese steak hoagie for a long time, and I take that first bite. I know it's bad for me, but damn, I like it. And it just felt like the Wings were going to win the game on that power play. Again, maybe that was the sleep deprivation talking.

But when Mathieu Schneider rocketed a slap shot under the crossbar to win the game, I raised my arms in triumph. Not necessarily because the Wings won, but because I knew sweet slumber would soon follow. Very shortly after I saw the replay which showed that the angle on Schneider's shot changed when it deflected off of Scott Hannan, I think I turned off the TV while my head hit the pillow all in one motion. Zzzzzz.

A natural question would be, "Well, why didn't you just go to sleep?" (A better one might be, "Why didn't you plan better and take a nap early in the evening?") C'mon, I couldn't just turn the game off after sticking with it that long. Anyone who's endured a marathon overtime NHL playoff game (and, really, this wasn't one of those) has surely thought the same thing.

But to answer the title of this post, even if Danny Glover was a hockey fan, isn't he already on the west coast? So he wouldn't have to deal with these 10 p.m. EST start times. That has to keep him young. At least younger than I'm feeling right now.