Monday, March 21, 2005
Thanks Detroit News!
The MVP and the team captain, lifting their hands in the age-old language of exuberant victory. The Michigan flag about to be attached to the CCHA* Championship banner. The media closing in. The adoring crowds in good old Joe Louis Arena. The yellow jersies, in which Michigan has yet to lose a game this year. The championship hats, fresh out of the box with the tags still on them.
Nice picture, isn't it?
This year's hockey team has the largest senior class they've had in, well, a long time. So it's nice that they got this CCHA Championship, especially as they lost last year to the very same Ohio State Buckeyes that they beat out this weekend (ha ha, bite me Ohio State!). Of course, winning this means that Michigan has won the CCHA 7 times, 3 out of the last 4 years, which, hello, if we're looking in a Patriot direction, can you say Dynasty?
The names of the Michigan players are absolutely perfect hockey names. Just saying them makes you feel like you're in an arena somewhere, and if you scream them violently, like we were doing this weekend, all of us crammed into Trevor's apartment, wearing maize and blue even though there was no rational reason for us to be dressing in support of the team-- why, then you can practically feel the boards pound with a body check and the floor under your feet vibrate with the enthusiasm of the crowd. That's how perfect their names are. Just try it, recite the litany of Wolverine skates, and you'll see what I mean:
Assuming there actually is such a thing as the NHL at some point in the near future, you could build an NHL team on those names.
With all the seniors leaving, the team won't be the same next year, and might not be as overwhelmingly dominant. Then again, the incoming freshman class is supposed to be very strong, and there's an old saying in Michigan about Yost Ice Arena, where the Wolverines play-- in Yost, they don't rebuild.
So we're starting the NCAA tournament on Friday against Wisconsin, playing in it for an NCAA-record 15th consecutive time. And we could be knocked out in the first round, or we could go on to play whoever wins the Colorado College/Colgate game. Either way, we're the CCHA champs, and we beat the despicable Buckeyes to get there, and that's good enough for me.**
This weekend I also finally got the see the Tigers play live baseball that wasn't a tiny little square on my computer, as FSN aired their first spring training game of the season. Yes, the first. They will be broadcasting a grand total of 3 games before the regular season starts. It's hard for someone from Boston, who's so used to the near-blanket NESN coverage to comprehend this, but following the Tigs is a cat of another color. TV coverage is spotty, the local newspapers have tolerable sports reporting but pale in comparison to the Globe, especially when it comes to photos available online. And have I mentioned the sports radio?
I have only three words for you all: Stoney and Wojo.
Actually, I can add nine words to that: make me want to stab forks into my ears.
So, anyways, it was nice to see the Tigs play. It was a split-squad game, so I didn't get to see some guys I would've liked to see, like Brandon Inge and Carlos Pena (who doesn't appear to have played in either game? hmm), but there was Dmitri Young running over the catcher again (slidin'? I'm Dmitri Young, bitch, I don't need no stinkin' slidin'!), there was Jason Johnson struggling on the mound (a walk for you, an' a walk for you, an' a walk for you...), there was Omar Infante hitting a ball out of the park and making me feel a lot better about his slowly healing shoulder injury.
There was Craig Monroe overrunning balls in centerfield and using his opportunity as a 'miked up' player to leave us with valuable baseball insights along the lines of "Yessir, yessir, that's a long run," when Pudge ran into third base and perplexing verbal notes to himself, which included the timeless quotes, "Score. Score. Anything else would be uncivilized," (psyching himself up just before his own at-bat) and "Gonna shave my head tonight so I look sexy," (I only wish I was making this up).
It was great to get to see Magglio in a Tigers uniform, swinging away out there. He did some running in the field and some running on the bases and I saw nary a limp. I hate to say it before the season even starts, but as of right now his knee looks pretty good. Pretty good as in, not injured. Pretty good as in, Dombrowski mighta done good.
We were also treated the return of Pudge, or the catcher formerly known as Pudge, or whatever you're calling him these days. Let me tell you kids, he looked good, and I don't mean that in a 'hot catcher just asking to be molested' kind of way. OK, maybe I do mean that, but I also mean that he looked good as a baseball player. He was very alert and mobile behind the plate (Rod Allen termed it 'spunky', and I wanted to cry), going after balls with his body instead of just his glove, which was getting difficult for him at the end of last year, what with the hip flexor and all. He looked very easy going into and coming out of his crouch and moving around once he was in it.
It really does look like that lost weight is going to be helpful to his defense this season. Oh, I know he won the Gold Glove last year, but Pudge himself said that he felt he won that more on the strength of his reputation than his actual performance, and if Derek Jeter can win a Gold Glove at shortstop I think we can all see that reputation counts for more in those things than real, honest-to-gosh defensive execution. If he can be more comfortable behind the plate and react more readily this year, it will be Happy Fun Good Times in Tigerland.
It was just plain ol' good to watch them play.
Oh, and if you want to check out something neat, hop on over to Bleacher Guy. He's done a podcast, and it is ace. There's quite a bit about college basketball which I naturally glossed over, but the best bit is his voice-- he has the perfect voice for sports radio. It's like a WGBH voice. Rob, I want to trust what you are saying and also give you money. Seriously, I was shocked and amazed. Go listen.
As for Boston... erm... well, I was watching todays Dodgers/Red Sox spring training game on MLBTV just now, but it cut out on me so that they could do 'site updates'. Screw you, MLBTV, I'm stuck in the fibers studio until 9 tonight, I want to watch my goddamn baseball. Anyways, I saw that DLowe was pitching, which was weird and surprisingly uncomfortable. DLowe in blue and white shirtsleeves. Disturbing.
Then he walked Youks and I felt better.
*Central Collegiate Hockey Association
**Lies. I want to fucking win. But I don't think Friday's game is televised here, so I won't be able to tear my hair out over it properly.