Formerly Felines for Anarchistic Green Democracies

A Bostonian at the University of Michigan.

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Spelling rant
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How bad is Keith Foulke really?
Harry Potter and the Boston Red Sox
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Monday, November 28, 2005  

So, right, Thanksgiving Day football.

The first thing I saw when we got out of the car in the parking lot in Detroit (after wiping away the reflexive tears from the shock of the excruciating cold that day) was this magnificent bit of graffiti. I should have known right then that it was a sign which would presage the entire game: Hang the Ds! Bring hate! EGGS (and the fact that this game would suck them). I don't know about loving Jen, but sure, throw it in there if you like.

We had the traditional Thanksgiving Day lunch at Plaka's in Greektown (greasealicious!) and then skittered, frozenly, down to the stadium. It was well below freezing walking in, and much colder on the way back after the game, both because it was later and the sun was starting to go down, and because we no longer had anything like the hope of a Lions victory to bring us fuzzy internal warmth. My fingers actually started to burn inside my gloves on the way back, and I had to clench them into fists to try to keep them from getting frostbitten, that's how cold it was after the game. Insult to injury, and all that.

But anyways, we got to the stadium, blissfully ignoring the portent of the EGGS. Every year we get some bit of Lions-themed cheaply produced joy at the gates... for a long time it was a printed towel, which I quite liked, and last year it was a car flag, which I don't much like, because it's really only good for whacking people with. This year we got pennants.

After we got to our seats, I handed my pennant off to my mother so I could more freely operate The Awesometastical Camera Which Equals Love. My mother poked at the end of the pennant, and remarked that when she was a kid, they used to give you a stick with the pennant, so you could stick it in the sleeve on the end and wave it about (presumably this was at Dolphins games, that being my mother's upbringing), but they don't give out sticks these days, because people would poke each other with them and it would be a liability issue. Let me just say that if anyone had been poking eyes out with pennant sticks during this game, it would have been an act of great mercy.

I'll admit it: I thought we were going to lose from the outset. Now, obviously I hoped we were going to win, but I've started to think Michael Vick was overrated so many times, only to have him completely obliterate any such thoughts with a disgustingly impressive performance directly thereafter, that I just can't doubt him on a regular basis anymore. Can't do it. We had a shred of hope, because he had been banged up a bit in the previous game, and everyone was on short rest, so maybe he wouldn't be in top form.

He was in top form. He was very much in top form, alas. It seemed like every time we actually, miracle of miracles, managed to cover all his receivers, he would just take a little hopskip and be 5 or 10 yards down the field under his own power.

Which is what Michael Vick does, pretty much, but on TV it somehow looks more normal, perhaps because the camera's usually in on him close, and you can see him check down and scramble out. From the upper deck of Ford Field it was more like, hey, great view of the entire field, can really see the play spread out and develop, OK, everyone's lined up, here we go, look at the receivers break, where's the ball, oh, uh, wow, Vick just went out of bounds with enough yardage for a first down. Again.

Very early in the game someone (I'm pretty sure it was TJ Duckett; I would look it up and check but really I don't think I could stomach looking at the cold hard stats from this game, even briefly) on the Falcons scored a touchdown. The few Falcons fans in the upper deck stood up and whooped, and all the Lions fans grumbled darkly and settled into their head-holding positions for the day, all except for one gentleman in Lions gear in the front row of the upper deck, who leapt up, hands in the air, and screamed, "Yeeeeeaaaahhh! ALRIGHT! Duckett's on my fantasy team!"

That was about all the joy a Lions fan was going to get out of this game.

The quarterback situation... ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Look, Joey should not have been taken out as early as he was. He threw one interception and Mooch pulls him, because Mooch has grown from a man who wanted his QB to take the mold of his favorite pet offensive scheme into a man who realizes that his QB will never be perfectly suited for his pet offensive scheme, and from that it was a natural progression into a man who has a deep and irrational hatred of one Joey Harrington, which of course leads to Joey getting taken out of games he has no business being taken out of.

One interception, and it wasn't even his fault. Roy Williams misjudged (or forgot, whichever) the proper route. I'm not even kidding, after the play Roy chased down Joey on the sidelines to try to apologize to him. Sorry for the slight and immensely annoying lack of focus... but it's not bad for a shot from the upper deck, of the opposite sideline, for a camera with no telephoto lens, I reckon.

Jeff Garcia was terrible. Simply terrible. He had that one pass where the ball went straight up into the air, and everyone on the face of the earth just assumed it had been tipped, because that's the only way a ball flies out of a quarterbacks hand like that, you know? Only apparently TV replays showed that no one touched him. He just threw the ball straight up towards the ceiling all on his own. Holy freaking cats, to put it mildly.

And then he had that pass to the Falcons defensive player... that bomb down the field where the Falcon actually stopped in his route, turned around, and took the ball in his numbers exactly like he had been a properly positioned Lion receiver. It was one of those plays where you just sit there with your mouth hanging open a little bit, because you literally are incapable of believing what you just saw.

At the very end of the game, Dan Orlovsky got into the action, drawing what was by far the loudest cheer of the day from the crowd. He would go on to fumble the ball, but at that point most the stadium was empty anyways, and those left were in that happy state of mind where things like fumbles just don't matter anymore, and are indeed things to be giggled manically at.

The halftime show sucked, as every United Way Halftime Show in the history of the universe has done. Mariah Carey was the 'entertainment', and she was carted up to the stage on an absurdly large divan chair thing, borne by a bunch of guys in Lions jerseys. At the time, unable to see that far, I half thought that they were actual Lions players who, having nothing better to do with their lives during this game, had offered to be part of the Mariah carrying crew. Closer perusal after loading in the photos showed that they were all wearing #88 jerseys, and so were unlikely to be actual players. It does beg the question of why they were all wearing Mike Williams' jersey, though. Is Mariah an especially big fan of his or something?

After the hilarious divan-carrying, the show frittered away into its usual banality, with the usual flag choreography, and the usual annoyingly high-backed stage that only half the stadium can see, and the usual ill-advised pyrotechnics that fill the stadium with smoke and make everyone cough a little for a quarter, until it thins out. They do this every year, you would think someone would have cottoned onto the fact that it's a really bad idea by this point, but apparently not. Oh, and don't ask me what the giant floating ball bearings are, I haven't a clue.

The second half was as unremarkable as the first. We did score one single solitary touchdown, saving us from the utter ignominy of a shutout, but that one touchdown was on a ball that was bobbled, then tipped directly and accidentally back into Roy Williams' hands in the endzone. In other words, we didn't even really earn the one bloody touchdown we got, and by the time we scored it the Falcons had already put up so many points that it was more an 'Ah well, at least we won't be shut out' sort of thing than a 'Yaaaay touchdown!' sort of thing.

Things heard in the crowd:

-"Put in the Burger King guy!" (from those ads, you know. It certainly couldn't have hurt)
-"We've had it, we're leaving and spending the rest of the afternoon in the casino." (heard by our friends, who were sitting several rows in front of us. This was what the people behind them said as they were leaving)
-"You suck, Mooch!" (screamed numerous times, by my dad. The guy in front of him clapped every time my dad yelled it)
-"If that was a bag of pot he woulda caught it!" (after Charles Rogers dropped a pass)

I'm sure there was more, but it's about that time of night right now where I can barely remember how to type, let alone what people were screaming at the sad product on the field several days ago.

Best moment of the game, other than Orlovsky's sparse but definitely standing O, was something that I only saw in highlights on TV after the fact. Apparently at one point Rory, the Lions mascot, was lying prostrate on the ground, the only way he could display his sadness and woe with his immovable facial features. A play happened near him, and Casey Fitzsimmons took exception to Rory's depression. So he chucked the ball at Rory's head. Where it bounced off of Rory's snout. Which is, pretty much, awesome.

Let us see, what else. There was this fine moment, where Mooch challenged a Falcons touchdown and got it taken back, only to have the Falcons incontrovertibly score on the very next play.

There was Joey looking really sad on the sidelines, making me dislike Mooch even more.

There was the usual Michael Vick/Jim Mora Jr. love affair. However, there were also stretchy Falcons, which brought out the 5 year old bit of my brain and was a welcome momentary distraction from the pain.

There's really not much else to say. You can see all the photos here, which I encourage you to do, because it's about the only thing I got out of that game. Well, that and the pennant.

At least, last year, Peyton Manning was 'signing our melons' as soon as he thrust his fat audibiling head onto the field. This game was almost (almost) worse, because we really did have chances, if we hadn't had such utter shit play calling and if our guys had been able to do simple things like throw the ball straight, or catch the ball, or hit the opposing players. Plus, I hate Manning, while I have a respect for Vick and usually quite like him (i.e. when we're not playing him).

Oh, and did I mention the black jerseys? Because that was really just the icing on the cake.

4:09 AM

Friday, November 25, 2005  
I'll be back in Ann Arbor at some point tomorrow, at which point I will be able to fully cover the sheer horror that was the Detroit Lions' Thanksgiving Day Extravaganza. Let me tell you kids, it was a special time. There were screaming fans (screaming obscenities at the field, mostly), there was song (bad), there was variety (all three Lions quarterbacks used!), there was, um, well, there was Michael Vick.

Your illustrated photo journal of the event will be up either Saturday or Sunday. The photos are OK... not great, as our seats this year were in the upper deck, which is fantastic for watching the game in person (you can see plays develop quite well; we were on about the 25 yard line, so we really had a commanding view of the field) but not so hot for taking photos of players. I tried though. Cause I'm a gamer. Like Joey Harrington.

Um, and I hear the Sox somehow got Guillermo Mota in this Beckett deal? How did that happen? Why did that happen? I mean, blimey, I'm not complaining, but are the Marlins really that desperate to sell off their entire team? Is this something that they just have to do every so often, like a snake shedding its skin? And if so, shouldn't the team doing that be the Diamondbacks?

These burning questions and more addressed when I'm back in the ol' AA. You're all quivering with anticipation, I can tell.

10:42 PM

Wednesday, November 23, 2005  

So, Josh Beckett.

I almost don't want to write about this until it's a 110% done deal and Beckett is smoothing a Boston hat over his rotund noggin. I mean, a little part of me is still in that happy land where I woke up extra early so I could go online real quick before my morning classes and see that Theo's contract had been re-upped, and that we were headed for another several years of intelligent leadership, and I skipped off to class* with a smile on my face, because the Globe doesn't lie, you know? and gosh darn it, it was good to have Theo back...

No, I won't go there. That's the Special Happy Magical Fantasy Land, and I should save my mileage for when I'll actually need it, like, say, on Thursday at Ford Field.

I like that the majority of the stathead community is high on Sir Beckett. It's hard to trust someone who says they saw a dude pitch, and he looked pretty good out there, man, but in the insane and relatively tightly-knit world of internet sports bloggers and their ilk (yes, you readers count as 'ilk'), someone can only spout completely inaccurate numbers (or interpretations thereof) before someone else calls him or her on it (or, more likely, 1000 people call them on it, and insult their team and/or parentage while they're at it). And we've got a majority here, from what I've been reading, saying Beckett is salivary-froth worthy.

I've got a couple concerns, though.

1. BLISTERS. Recurring little fuckers, and they can dick about with your ability to throw properly quite a great deal. Sir Beckett's got 'em. I know he allegedly found some magical elixir to help him with them, enticingly called "Stan's Rodeo Cream" (via El Gammo, in an article far more important, in my view, for detailing the Bondo vs. Assholes in Oakland situation, and for outlining A Thousand More Reasons to Want to Give Jeremy Bonderman a Hug and Tell Him He's Awesome), but of course I find the whole thing a bit worrying. It would be easier in a way if he was like The Chinless Wonder** and peed on his own hands... nastier, perhaps, but everyone understands pee a lot better than some mystery cream.

2. OBLIQUES. He's got one (we've all got one!), and he's strained it. The thing with the oblique is, it's so easy to strain for a pitcher, because of the pitching motion... and it can really, as they say, fuck you up. See: Harden, Rich; Hudson, Tim.

3. BROODING. He does it, allegedly. The word on the electronic street is that he tends to hold onto things like losses and runs given up, and he'll go into deep and dark Moods about them, which, well, if he was doing that in Miami, where people probably are not even sure they have a baseball team much of the time... imagine how nicely that will fit in with the Boston media. Shaughnasty is wetting his curls with the drool of joy already.

4. CONSISTENCY. Much the same as the injuries bit. Can he do it? He's yet to throw 200 innings in a season, and he's still plenty young, so he could certainly be headed that way. But there's no proof yet, you know. I don't want his arm falling off while he's still young, of course, but still.

5. MIKE LOWELL. He comes with, sort of like when you want to ask the really cute guy in your lecture out on a date, but the only way he'll go is if you get one of your friends to take his roommate out on a date the same night, and his roommate is kind of big and slow and has greasy hair and smells like BO, really badly, you know, he's always that one kid in the class who sits in the corner and just emanates. Only instead of your friend having to take him out on a date, it's you who's got to, because the Red Sox can't necessarily just pass Lowell off to another team (although they may try), they have to take him along with Beckett.

Oh, and the friend of the cute guy? Won't pay for anything, the big lug of a smelly cheapskate. He also can't get it up (or, you know, bat .300), so you haven't even got that to fall back on.

Anyways, I guess all that I have to say about this trade so far can be summed up by viewing these fine, fine artworks of Beckett and Lowell (signed by the great men themselves!!!). Oh Debbie, my cherished fellow artist. Are you striving for realism or stylization here? Because it's hard to tell. And when it's hard to tell that, my friends, it is not artsy, it instead straddles an uncomfortable line and everyone comes away with the impression that realism was sought after, but not quite achieved due to a lack of, dare I say it, skill. If you're going to stylize, go all out.

Where is your light source, Debbie? I understand that you probably were working from photos, but could you not have invented a directional light source in the name of Art?

Why are the aforementioned 'realistic' portraits placed on backgrounds that look, quite frankly, like the stuff I was doing with crayons at age 5? Do you *heart* Jackson Pollock? Do you believe that the poetry of Mr. Beckett's pitching motion is in reality a curious homage to abstract expressionism? And if so, why not paint the entire thing in such a fashion?

Truly your rejection of accepted artistic movements awes me.

Her clients (presumably either people who bought paintings or commissioned them) include Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown, and Ramiro Mendoza, which I think really says it all. Do you trust Kevin Brown's opinion of fine art? Do you really?

EDIT: The Jeff Conine chair! Bless her soul. For reals. Bless her.

From her bio: "Self-taught and with only 1 year of private lessons in oil paints when I was only 8, I have educated and challenged myself with new mediums and subjects." I'll give her this-- her grasp of anatomy, even if copied from photos, is pretty good for someone who is self-taught***. There's a lot of stuff that's very hard to get right with anatomy if you never take a class in it, stuff that it's human nature to exaggerate (like eyes) or draw too small (like feet or hands). But for color sense and sheer painterly style... oh Debbie, honey, self-taught? We never would have guessed.

EDIT2: The man speaks! John Henry answers questions on SoSH, and they leave it up for the public, which is just shocking for them these days. Anyways, worth a read, because what other sort of team owner goes onto fan internet forums and chats with them? Other than Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban doesn't count.

(PS: John Henry says 'LOL'. The Internet Revolution is complete.)

*Lies. I never skip off to class. I always freak out because I think I'm going to be late, and charge through the streets like a half-awake, deranged yak on a rampage.

I never actually am late, curiously enough.

**Jorge Posada. See?

***I won't say a word about facial features. Not a word.

3:11 AM

Monday, November 21, 2005  

So, yeah, The Game.


Saturday started off well enough. I managed to find my friend (and seatmate, and fellow art student-- yes, an art student who enjoys going to the football games. It's miraculous, really) Rachel's house with only one instance of going down the wrong road and getting confused. We donned temporary tattoos and face paint and many varied layers of Michigan-themed cold weather gear, and headed down to Dante's house, where we found a small group of people playing beer pong* in the front yard and chucking water balloons (and I think eggs) at the occasional red-clad passerby. Luckily, they were all so extraordinarily drunk that they had not a chance of actually hitting anyone.

We wandered down to the stadium, about half an hour earlier than we usually show up, because I'm paranoid. We went up through the parking lot around Crisler Arena, which I generally don't do, but it was fun because that's where lots of the crazy alumni tailgaters are. There was also a large double van with signage on the sides proclaiming it to be the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad Laboratory, which caused Rachel some concern.

In case you aren't intimately familiar with the Big House, coming from that direction means that we were around the opposite corner of the stadium from the student section, and had to walk around past several gates before we got to our own. We got a lot of amused looks from alumni/OSU fans/random old people who happen to like Michigan football, probably either because we were obviously students in a high state of excitement**, or because I had huge stripes of blue and yellow across my face, a giant maize and blue fuzzy scarf trailing to my knees, and maize and blue striped high socks on with my jeans rolled up. The older alumni like to see that sort of thing, it makes them all misty and nostalgic for their glorious collegiate past. "Gosh darn, in ye olden days, I used to get my friends to paint up my face all maizedly for the big game as well. Golly gee, how these kids do take me back to them halcyon times," etc. etc.

We made it to our gate without incident and got our rally towels, which concerned me. We've been getting those yellow pompom things all year long, I'm not sure why they switched to the towels for this one game. But the reason they concerned me is that they were bright yellow, with the blue block M on them. Yellow towels. Intended to be waved about, presumably.


I stuck the towel in my pocket and let it dangle there all game. No way was I terrible towelling it up. 'Sides which, camera, you know.

The gentlemen sitting behind us were quite loud even when we got there, about 40 minutes before game time. As there were no OSU players on the field yet, they contented themselves with berating the OSU fans sitting near us, of which there were a large number, because they had managed to get themselves a long stripe of seats right in the student section.

Shouted by the kids sitting behind us:

--"Oh my god, what have you done to that child? Stop torturing children!" To some OSU fans with relatively little kids.
--"Buck the Fuckeyes!"
--"Go back to Ohio! Maybe you can vote for Bush again, you assholes!"
--"Red states suck! Red states suck!"
--"Ohio sucks! Michigan values civil liberties!" This was my favorite. If you can drink yourself right up to the cusp of sodden unconsciousness and, in that state of mind, scream about civil liberties, you are pretty much an awesome human being.

Nothing particularly creative was shouted during the actual game, except for one kid behind us (different group) who kept screaming at the Michigan players to "Break his leg!! Break his leg!!" after every. single. play. It went from being unremarkable to annoying to actually sort of funny. And the one kid who kept yelling at Ted Ginnzynski, which I suppose was to be expected.

Oh, and there was the same kid who always reacts to every unfortunate lateral-style pass for short gain by saying, "Chad Henne, Chad Henne," in a voice similar to what one would imagine a Michigan fan stricken with Down Syndrome would have. I'm not really sure how to describe it over the internet. Sort of "Chad Hen-nay" all nasal and... yeah, the best I do is 'Down Syndrome voice'. Thousand apologies.

One of the kids in our section kept screaming praise for 'Stevie Tits', and I swear it took me at least half the game to work out why he was calling Steve Breaston that. Sigh.

Ah yes, and while fighting my way out of the stadium after the game, I came across an older (gray-haired) OSU fan going in the opposite direction, with a bunch of chestnuts (buckeyes?) strung together in a massive string around his neck. A girl right behind me screamed at him, "Hey! What's with those anal beads around your neck?" which absolutely stunned the OSU fan and sent the surrounding Wolverines into fits of depressed giggles.

So, the game. It being the last home game of the season, the parents of the seniors were on the field to greet their sons, which I always think is adorable. I'm gonna miss Jason Avant. It was also the last home game for drum major Dennis Lee which, well, I haven't got any idea what sort of drum major he is, not being in the band, but he seemed quite good from the spectator's point of view, and it's all very sad and such.

Mike Hart was announced as a starter, leading to probably the loudest cheer of the roster announcements. He came out, had a couple of runs, and... went to the sideline. And stayed there. For the rest of the game. Now, Kevin Grady did his level best, but let us be frank here. He's a good stumpy sort of running back, very tough, sort of like The Bus in a larval state. But he ain't Mike Hart. Mike Hart, if he ever got a hole, which he never does because the offensive line is incapable of creating things like holes, but anyways, if he did, he would be off like a shot through that thing.

The holes our offensive line can create, though, are kind of like wormholes on Star Trek or, I don't know, Farscape. They're unstable. You can see them and head for them and by the time you get there they've collapsed shut, or you can be halfway through one only to have it close up around you, trapping you in a floaty limbo zone of sparking electrical computer effects and fat sweaty defensive linemen. Grady, though he was certainly trying very very hard, just could not make it to the holes in the nanosecond they existed.

Meaning that we completely failed to establish anything even vaguely like a running game. And without a running game, obviously, our passing game was not going to be that successful. Of course, we helped it along some, because, laterals? Really? Shouldn't we be trying to move the ball downfield? No? Alrighty, carry on then.

Moderate-to-high risk (to the receiver) passes, with low-to-zero potential gain... ugh, it was like watching the Lions.

As for defense... well. Ohio State was driving downfield pretty much at will, and the fact that they didn't score as often as they could have done was merely some fortuitous combination of OSU ineptitude and UofM flashes of brilliance.

And then at the very end, when the ball got run back into the center of the field instead of to the sideline... when we had no other way to stop the clock... with scant few seconds left... well, I don't know. There's no sense in even naming the player, is there? He probably feels shitty enough as it is. Maybe he thought he saw a hole that wasn't there, maybe he just got really confused. Whatever, it ended the game and the regular season, and the disgust of the student section was, shall we say, strident.


Walking back after the game, I at one point found myself strolling dejectedly along behind a girl on the phone with a friend or something. She was talking about the game, and kept saying, "Well, they won, but I don't know how, because we totally played better than them, it doesn't make any sense, they totally didn't deserve to win." I wanted to shake her and scream, "EXCUSE ME DID YOU WATCH THIS GAME? DID YOU NOT SEE HOW THEY HAD BASICALLY TWICE AS MANY OVERALL OFFENSIVE YARDS AS US? Did you not see how freely they were controlling the ball?? Could you not see that the surprise was keeping it so damn close right up until the very end, not that they won it in the end??"

So, right, yeah, anyways. Thisaway for photos of the game and other such related things. Fun stuff. I mean, Big House football is Big House football, win or lose.

Because I'm absolutely mad I ended up going to a protest rally after the game, which was big and fun and a little nuts, but that is a tale for another time, as it is nearly 3 am and dear holy cats I've got french tomorrow morning.

I would also just like to state for the record that;

-Today's Lions game was not Joey's fault. Joey played well. Everyone else decided that penalties were the new black. Don't do that on Thanksgiving, boys, please. I'll be there. Be nice for the blogger, yeah?

-Jim Tressel, apparently, likes fat chicks.

EDIT: Finally updated Chicks Talk Football. We've been lax, I know, I know... I've been busy with ze school, as you've probably noticed, and everyone else I assume has been busy with actual, paying work. I'll make an effort to poke them into regularity, though. And go check out this latest installment, I did the posting this time 'round, and with that monumental power I placed a photo of Roy Williams being all sex-ay at the top. Because that's what blogging power is meant for, natch.

*Unrelated, but one of the best moments of the year in my wood class came when one of the sorority-ish girls came to class wearing a 'Michigan Beer Pong' tshirt. The professor, who, mind you, is not that old a guy, asked what beer pong was. Cue slightly uncomfortable pause, with the (almost wholly underaged) class trying to work out how appropriate explaining alcohol-related games to a professor would be. They ended up trying to explain the rules to him and drawing little diagrams of how you set up the cups while those of us who were not freshman sat at our table and snickered.

**Sober excitement, though. I never understand how people survive the games completely drunk. Actually, they sometimes don't... a kid sitting next to us fell over before the game even started and had to spend the entire time sitting on the bench holding his head. Sad. Who wants to go to a football game like that? Who wants to get so drunk you can't even remember the football later? Plus, I need all my faculties about me to wield the camera.

2:52 AM

Wednesday, November 16, 2005  

That's right, ladies and mustelids! This Saturday, for the the MICHIGAN/OHIO STATE BIGGEST RIVALRY EVAR OMFG ETC. game, it's Blue Out time! Very simple, really. If you're a Michigan fan who's going to be at the game (or an Ohio State fan who wants to fly under the radar, I guess), wear blue! We tried a Maize Out for the Penn State game, and it went off OK... not everyone got the message, of course, and some people just don't own anything maize, although lord knows why you wouldn't. Freaks.

But this should be easy. Everyone has something blue in their closet, and I suppose people are more likely to have blue jackets than maize jackets, and since it's supposed to possibly snow on Saturday... yeah. Of course you can wear maize also, but it would be pretty awesome if the majority of people in the Big House could wear blue. This is not just students, mind, we want every damn person in there blued out.

So I was watching the game on Monday night, and I was wondering something I'm quite sure we've all wondered at some point or another since this season started. What, exactly, did we do to deserve the halftime... show? Event? Broadcast? I'm not even sure what you would properly call it. The Tim McGraw monstrosity that occurs between the two halves of Monday Night Football games.

I was racking my brain, trying to think what I could have possibly done to merit this cruel, cruel abomination. I haven't killed anything lately... hell, just the other day I took a bug off the wall and brought him outside the print studio so that he could fly free, and so that my classmates would stop freaking the fuck out for no good reason. I haven't done anyone massive physical injury lately, I haven't skipped any classes, I've gotten all my projects/papers in on time and the like.

I mean, are we not sufficiently punished by being forced to sit there and listen to John Madden say things like, "I remember seeing Mike McMahon in Lions camp and thinking this kid had the potential to be a starting quarterback somewhere in the league," while his cheeks slowly implode and take the rest of his face with them? Is that not quite enough horror to be going on?

But no. We must also be subject to a truly annoying country tune, rumbling on about liking and loving the ponderous crash of tightly-pantsed man against tightly-pantsed man.

Don't know what it is 'bout the pushin' and the shovin'
But I like it
I love it
I want some more of it.

Is it just me, or does this sound like the promising start for a gay anthem to anyone else?

Tim McGraw also looks disturbingly like a slightly more metro version of Tim Wakefield. A Tim Wakefield who took the advice of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy dudes a little more seriously, if you will.

Last night I was watching that Best Damn Sports Show that is Nearly Unwatchable But I Put it On Because the College Football Game I Had Been Watching Was Delayed on Account of Tornado Warnings and the Only Other Alternatives Were Poker and College Basketball Both of Which I Detest... thing. And they had Braylon Edwards on. Oh, Braylon.

Braylon on the playing time he gets as a Brown: "I just envisioned it bein' somethin' different... the biggest shock to me is that I kinda... got redshirted, like I'm in college still. I mean, when plays need to be made and you draft a guy to make plays... well, 1 plus 1 equals 2, not 1 plus 1 equals 5." I'm glad he learned these basic mathematical skills. It speaks well of Michigan's student-athlete programs. I'm not kidding, either. That's a calculation which would puzzle and confuse a Miami guy.

Braylon on being a Michigan guy in Ohio: "It's actually interestin' man, I constantly get bothered, hassled... it's gettin' to the point where I'm thinkin'... where I'm gonna get brass knuckles and a night stick." [said jokingly]

"I had a Michigan flag outside my house, like two weeks ago, and my house got egged... got TPed and egged the night I put it up, so the Michigan flag came down." [said seriously]


11:56 AM

Monday, November 14, 2005  

I'm sorry that I haven't got time for a proper post right now... and I don't have photos from Saturday's glorious victory over Indiana either, because I was in Detroit (the Cass Corridor and Greektown, don't ask) on Thursday night and completely forgot to recharge my camera batteries. Fear not, readers, for next week is the Michigan/Ohio State game, and I will have my camera there with 110% of certitude. And then it's Thanksgiving, and I'll have it for the Lions game, so you miss out on football photos this week but next week you have a veritable plethora of football photos to look forward to.

And, yeah, I have an evolutionary biology paper due tomorrow... it's riding up on 2 am right now, and I ought to have about 3-4 more pages than I've currently got. And then I'll have to go downstairs to print it and hope the dorm computer room is open all night (I think it is), because my printer is on the fritz. Bollocks, etc.

However, it must be said:

Forward down the field!
A charging team that will not yield!
When the Blue and Silver wave,
Stand and cheer the brave!
Rah! Rah! Rah!

Go hard, win the game!
With honor you will keep your fame!
Down the field and gain
A Lions Victory!

You will all notice that Joey Harrington has been let out of the corner for the past couple of games. He did quite poorly in his previous outing (and was accordingly beaten with the Lions car flag), but this week, ah, Joey! He threw the ball in such a way as to connect with his receivers. He scrambled, kidlings, an amazing feat and one I like to think I had a hand in teaching him... scrambling to get away from the horrors of a plastic car flag enthusiastically wielded will teach you all sorts of fancy foot movement, I reckon.

Roy Williams, possibly fired up from everyone and their tiny infant kittens saying that he wasn't as injured as he was making himself out to be and he could've played last week and he was basically being a big fat weenie, well, Roy went out and had a career high 3 touchdown catches on the day. On one play, along the sideline, he caught the ball, and went to shake it out of his hand... it stuck there. To his open palm. I only saw the highlight a couple of times (during the postgame), because god forbid Sportscenter should show Lions highlights, so I can't say if it was a bit of intentional jokery or unintentional stickage, but either way, it was bloody hilarious.

Paper. Right. The Cambrian Explosion, kids. It happened. Because of stuff. And I have to write about the stuff. Which, apparently, is oxygen, but you can't have a whole paper with just that one sentence fragment. No, that's what blogs are for.

Oh, I nearly forgot, but before I go (as I slowly give up on the idea of 'sleep' tonight... what a strange, foreign concept, no?) I need to relate this magical tale which is related to sports, sort of, honestly. See, every Thursday the art school has a guest artist lecture, where the University trucks in some guest artist and we all go sit in the Michigan Theater and listen to them. We're required to go, but anyone can show up, and I encourage anyone in the area to do so as they're often quite interesting, when we get a good artist. The last few have been spectacular. 5:00-6:30 pm at the Michigan Theater. Come be cultured.

But I digress. This last lecturer does all this mad stuff with the visualization of subatomic particles, in conjunction with a bunch of physicists, and oh, I loved it, because he was talking about quarks and muons and everyone around me was squinting at the stage in confusion and I was wriggling in my seat in dorky glee because hey, I'm not the only art student who reads books on superstring theory for fun, right? I mean, right?

The artist (Jan-Henrik Andersen) was talking about how most of the particles he was working with had a form, and an anti-form... a proton and a corresponding anti-proton, a lepton and an anti-lepton, etc. And color is one of the characteristics of these things. So he and the physicist were trying to figure out what colors to assign them for their visual models. They tried the standard colorwheel approach, with red being opposed by green, blue by orange, purple by yellow, but for some reason or other which I promptly forgot that didn't work. So they went with a different system, where the colors worked out as follows:

red/antired (cyan)
green/antigreen (magenta)
blue/antiblue (yellow)

Look at that last one.



Blue and Maize! It is SUBELEMENTARY!

I died about five ways from excitement right there in the theater, proving once and for all to all my art school friends that I am, in fact, an enormous loser.

Back to the oxygen concentrations in the Cambrian period. Have a lovely Monday, kidlings. If A-Rod wins the MVP, I'm sticking my hand down the acid bath in the print studio.

edit: Bugger it all, it appears that the MVP announcement is coming at around 2 pm, which means that I will be in the print studio already and therefore will not know whether or not I need to stick my hand into the acid bath. Maybe I will take a break around 3 and sneak into the computer lab with my inky fingers and check to be sure the proper action is taken.

Also, I got the paper done, if you wondered. And made it to both my morning classes, on time and all, even. The scariest bit is that when I went downstairs to print out the paper at 4 in the am, there were other people down there tooling around on the computers. College: No one Sleeps, Not Ever.

I also have to say that I know nothing of basketball, and in fact I hate basketball, and turn it off in favor of tennis when I see it is on TV, but my god, please read WizzNutzz. I don't even... I can't even describe it. I don't give a shit about the entire sport, and I give even less of a shit about the Wizards, but for the love of all that's holy just go read the site.

2:05 AM

Wednesday, November 09, 2005  
I would just like to point out that Brett Favre's reaction to the whole TO saga is to talk about how good a player he is, and to hem and haw about his lockerroom presence, while Rodney Harrison's reaction is to say he doesn't want TO "anywhere near my team" and to say that he's obsessed with money and a bad team player and so on.

That, my friends, is the Patriots way. And even if they're losing (remember always The Lost Season in that '3 out of the last 4 Superbowls'), I trust that the Patriots way will remain the same.

I don't really have anything else to say, except that me and my friend Val pushed through a motion to have our debate in French class tomorrow be about the use of instant replay in sports. Otherwise it was going to be about something like hurricane responses or celebrity rights to privacy. I love French debates, because fully two thirds of the class can't actually speak French, despite the fact that one would assume they've studied the language at some point of their lives before this. I look forward to watching people stumble awkwardly while trying to convert "American League Championship Series" and "Sun Belt Conference" into French on the fly.

What can I say about the Sox? I don't understand the chatter about Theo maybe coming back... I'm sure John Henry is trying to be a good dude here, but I somehow doubt that things are going to change enough to lure Theo back into what would essentially be the same situation he just left. Manny, Damon, all that, I got nothin'.

Aw, Cincinnati just got their black-clad asses handed to them by West Virginia. Yes, I watched the whole game. It was on, so sue me. Plus, Kevin Youkilis. Poor Youks, his Bearcats are inept.

So, basically, sorry it's been a bit slow 'round here lately, but classes... well, I won't get into it. Suffice it to say that it's been busy, and if I try to take this many credits again next semester, someone will need to give me a good solid whack upside the head.

10:53 PM

Monday, November 07, 2005  

Scottie Vines.

Three first-round picks and the best bloody receiver on the Detroit Lions is... Scottie Vines.

That is pretty much all that I want to say about that, except to point out that it is not all Joey's fault... the O-line was shaky at best, as usual. Mike Williams dropped a few passes he definitely should have gotten his hands on. I won't pretend to know much about it, being a mere blogger, but people are saying that Roy Williams is milking his injury a bit too much. Charles Rogers is... well, if he's not cracked in two, he's smoking like a chimney, and if he's not doing either one of those things he's dogging it in practice and getting his State-grad ass sat for the game. Leaving us with, yes, Scottie Vines, who had a career game today.

Of course it's not too hard to have a career game when you're the sort of guy who was an undrafted free agent, and who was cut out of training camp by a team as dismal as the Lions. Still, you can't deny that he has now got the most yards in a game of any Lions receiver this year, and that he made some sick catches today... notably that one near the end of the first half where he hauled one in near the endzone, with Ralph Brown covering. That was a lovely grab, that was.

He wasn't too excited about his great day, though, because he's a team player, yo. Or, as he put it himself after the game, "When the team lose, I feel they pain."

He feels they pain, guys. He feels they pain.

Joey Harrington, postgame, on throwing to Scottie Vines and Glen Martinez (who?) instead of his trio of alleged star-potential receivers: "Like I always said, you dance with the girl that brung ya."

I am not making that up, either. The word 'brung' was actually used.

I just.... yeah, I don't really have anything else to say about that game. Urgh.

But, baseball!

In my evolutionary biology discussion tomorrow (relevant, honest, stick with me here kids) we're talking about handedness, in humans and in the scale-eating cichlid fish species Perissodus microlepis (as seen here). The stuff with the fish is interesting, but I won't bore you with it, except to say that they exhibit 'handedness' in which way their jaw leans, so some of them have their mouth opening more to the left, and some more to the right, and it's all very neat.

The paper on handedness in humans (you can read it right here if you're as dorky as me... it's not very long) goes through a whole logical proof trying to explain why left handedness, which seems like a detrimental trait, has persisted at about the same rate in the global human population over the years. They decide that left handedness, while reducing fitness in general, is sometimes selected for because it confers an advantage in fights. They go on to declare that competitive sports are today's equivalent of the combats of primitive times (a premise I'm not totally convinced of, but whatever), and that therefore there should be a higher percentage of left handers in competitive sports than in the general population. They say that about 10% of the general male population throws left handed.

It's a British journal that they're published in, so they talk about crazy things like fencing and cricket and Danish boxing. But they also talk about handedness in baseball, and you all heave a sigh of relief as you sense something resembling an actual point creeping up upon you.

In 1994, they say, 40.6% of first basemen were left handed, 29% of outfielders were left handed, and 0% of infielders and catchers were left handed.

Wha? Really? Zero percent of all infielders aside from first basemen are left handed? It cannot be! Not a single one?

Being the insane individual that I am, I went through and had a look at the starting second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops for all 30 major league teams. I didn't look at catchers, because I started getting a whanging big headache, and because one of my hallmates came in to talk about housing and how much looking for it sucked (ALOT OF SUCK, I assure you), and I ran out of time and initiative.

I'm also not sure that all these guys were actually starters... I just went off of the top names on the depth charts. I mean, blimey, the Royals weren't really starting Donnie Murphy at second base by the end of the season, were they? Because, uh, that would be insane. Because, uh, Donnie Murphy. His batting average for the year was .156 which is, well, I think it speaks for itself, doesn't it? But for the guys I checked out, here's how it broke down:

Second basemen who bat left handed: Adam Kennedy, Todd Walkah (meeeeeeemories...), Chase Utley, Rob Mackowiak, Robinson Cano
Second basemen who are switch hitters: Orlando Hudson (Florida NewYork), Ray Durham, Luis Castillo, Jose Vidro, Brian Roberts, Little Nicky Punto
The remaining 19 second basemen bat right handed.

Third basemen who bat left handed: Gold Glove Whore Eric Chavez, Corey Koskie, Russell Branyan, Hank Blalock, Mark Teahen
Third basemen who are switch hitters: Chipper Jones, Jose Macias, Willy Aybar, Bill Mueller (come back Billy!)
The remaining 21 third basemen bat right handed.

Shortstops who bat left handed: Russ Adams, all by his Blue Jay lonesome
Shortstops who are switch hitters: Rafael Furcal, Cesar Izturis, Omar Vizquel, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Felipe Lopez, Carlos Guillen (and his Surgically Repaired Knee)
The remaining 22 shortstops bat right handed.

So of infielders, 12.2% bat lefty, 18.9% are switch hitters, and 68.9% bat righty.

When it comes to throwing, however, 0% throw left handed, and 100% throw right handed.

Let me repeat that.

100% of starting second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops throw right handed.

Why why why did this never occur to me before???? I am sorry I have resorted to multiple punctuation marks but that's how astounded I am. Not one exception! Not one terrible fielder who throws awkwardly across his body with his left hand but is kept on by the team because he can hit or something! Not a single one! 100% right handers!

I feel immensely stupid for having somehow never noticed this before about baseball.

Science wins again. I bow down before its mighty statistical prowess.

Oh, and congrats to Jason Varitek for winning his first Gold Glove. You all know I love 'Tek with all my stony little Bostonian heart, and I'll stand right up and say that he was the best overall catcher in the AL this season, but he was not the best defensive catcher. Period. You can't argue it. Regardless of what he did with the bat, Pudge was the best catcher in the AL, by far. He threw out over 50% of baserunners who tried to steal off of him. Not that many people even tried, because the fear of his arm is so great, but over 50% is just ridiculously good.

'Tek is a great leader, and a good hitter, and very good with the pitching staff, but when it comes to pure defense, sorry, Pudge has the edge. Sickening as it is to Boston fans, you just have to admit that he won this Gold Glove in much the same way that Calm Eyes Jeter habitually wins his... not by being the best pure defensive player at his position, but by being the best all-round guy with the prettiest 'intangibles'.

Still, it's not like Pudge needed another Gold Glove to jam up on a shelf with his 11 (!!) others, so good for 'Tek. But people shouldn't go about getting confused about who has the best arm from behind the plate in the AL. Just so we're all clear.

1:36 AM

Tuesday, November 01, 2005  
Please feel free to keep commenting on the post below, as it's probably a better place to vent and express angered bewilderment, which I think is where we're all at right now, but if I didn't write about this I would just be fuming over it during my evening class tonight.

Normally I agree with Bill Simmons about a lot of stuff. He's a funny guy-- some of his articles have made me laugh about games I never thought I'd laugh about. He's pretty smart, and if I don't get 2/3rds of his pop culture references, well, that's probably because a) he's older than me, and you old fogeys have such crrrrrrazy pop culture bits and b) I pay little or no attention to TV shows that aren't broadcasting sports or news. But generally I read his columns and end up thinking to myself, "Right on, Bill."


I can see what he's trying to do here... everyone is lining up along the Tobin Bridge, so he's trying to both calm people down and set his writing apart by being a voice of reason, telling us that losing Theo is bad, but by golly kids, it ain't that bad. Which is admirable. I guess.

There are just a couple things that he says with which I have a problem.

He brings up the old 'well a lot of Theo's good moves were pure dumb luck' arguement... dangling Manny on waivers and no one picking him up, trying to get A-Rod and ending up trading Nomar away for Cabby and Roberts and Mienky instead, etc. All well and good, I don't think anyone would argue that those moves didn't have at least a hefty helping of luck involved.

But then he goes on to say that Theo missed the boat this year by "not making any of those Shawn Chacon/Aaron Small-type moves to keep the team rolling (with the exception of the Tony Graffanino trade)." Does he really, honestly believe that these moves were anything other than that exact same kind of pure dumb luck, only for the Yankees? They didn't have any pitching! They were getting ready to throw a jersey on single-A kids and toss them out there. They needed arms, period, and it didn't matter what the hell kind of arms they got, so long as the boys were big enough to wear the pinstriped britches without needing too much alteration, and they could get the ball from the mound to the catcher without skipping it.

The fact that Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon both ended up having what amounted to career years was not anything the Yankees expected. Were they hoping for it? You bet. But they had no way, no way at all of knowing that those guys would perform half as well as they did. They were stopgap measures to keep the team from piddling away down the drain because of a lack of warm-blooded personnel they could trot out to the mound. Luck, Bill. Maybe a little bit of brains in there too, but lots and lots of luck.


Then Simmons goes on to say this:

"So did Theo really perform that much better than anyone else who had such a huge payroll to work with? I don't know. Heading into 2006, the team is in worse shape (both financially and from a talent standpoint) than it was heading into 2005. Doesn't he deserve some semblance of blame for that?"

First off, we're not heading into 2006, not yet. We've got a whole bloody offseason to hash out first, and who knows what chips will fall where. Secondly, do I think the major league squad is in rougher shape? Maybe. Do I think the entire team is in worse shape? No. Most assuredly not.

Later in the article Simmons dedicates a short paragraph to saying how he thinks Theo's treatment of the minor league kids was good, how he didn't trade them off in a firesale to get quickfix talent, etc. What he completely ignores is the fact that Theo had a large hand in building up the whole bloody system itself. The Red Sox used to have a farm system that was surpassingly lackluster. Are they at the top of the heap yet? I wouldn't say so. But did they move up in the ranks during Theo's tenure, and as the kids in the system mature will they probably continue to do so? Yeah. Probably they will.

And I do give Theo credit for that, a lot of credit. So maybe our big league squad is looking shakier than it has in a while... the organization as a whole is much, much stronger for his involvement, and hopefully will continue to get stronger still as the years go on. How, exactly, is it not a disaster that the man who made that possible is gone?

Simmons talks about the big free agent moves, the big up-front moves, the Schillings and Foulkes and Nomars. Not once does he mention Jon(athan) Papelbon, or Craig Hansen, or Dustin Pedroia, or any of the kids next in line.

Remember, guys. If we had never had Theo, Oakland would have had Kevin Youkilis long ago.

I'll say this is a bloody fucking disaster if I want to, and thanks for trying Bill, but there's no way you're calming me down.

5:54 PM

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