Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Knee Jerks: WTF with Eno and Al - Episode 2: Let's talk about GOOD teams

It's Thursday, you know what that means? No, it's not time to watch The Office. No, not time to watch Louisville or Colorado State play their game weekly night game on ESPN. 

If it's Thursday, it means it's time for The Knee Jerks, a weekly chat I have with Greg Eno, the man who blogs incessantly at Out of Bounds, Where Have You Gone, Johnny Grubb?, and Spoiled Sports.

During today's chat, we touch on the good teams in Detroit, the Red Wings, Pistons and even the Shock. I do squeeze in a Lions rant as well...

Eno: Welcome to Episode Two of The Knee Jerks! How long did it take you to recover from Episode 1?

Big Al: I'm still not fully recovered, to be honest. I'm an emotional dude, you know?

Eno: Ya think? I thought you were gonna blow out an aorta over the Lions. Why do you do that to yourself? They're really not worth it, are they?

Big Al: First off, I appreciate everyone's concern. I was actually getting emails and comments from readers of TWFE worried about my health! Every year I tell myself I'm not going to get sucked in, then it all goes out the window when the season starts. I know they aren't worth it, but it's FOOTBALL!

Eno: Yeah, yeah – half of it is, anyway. The half played by the Lions' opponents. OK, where do you want to go first? Stay with the Lions or do you have other rants in mind?

Big Al: How about we talk a little Red Wings, as they are totally worth it. The Lions have a team that's barely semi-pro, and the Wings are sending players to Grand Rapids who would be playing big minutes on most NHL teams! Talk about a contrast. The Wings have an embarrassment of riches, while the Lions are just an embarrassment.

Eno: Yeah, I was in a conference call with Mike Babcock and Kenny Holland Tuesday, and the two of them are like peanut butter and jelly; they work so well together. Babcock sounded literally awestruck by the quality of players he had to "demote" to Grand Rapids.

Big Al: The Red Wings are the best run team in pro sports, bar none. From scouting, to coaching, to ownership, the Red Wings do everything the right way. First class and with smarts.

Eno: Holland started as a scout, you know. And so did Jimmy Devellano. Now they're even "grooming" scouts. Mark Howe and Patty Verbeek in the pros, and Hakkan Andersson's European staff is without peer. It's almost boring to talk about them. Can't you think of anything to complain about? That's our job, isn't it?

Big Al: Exactly. There's only so much you can say about a championship team that actually IMPROVED over the off season. It's going to make for a boring regular season, to be honest. The Wings are going to steamroll the rest of the NHL.

Eno: Holland said something interesting. He said out of 82 games, he figures the Wings will play about 70 "playoff" games, because of the bulls' eye and the parity in the league. And he says to look out for Chicago.

Big Al: The Blackhawks signing away the smartest man in hockey, Scotty Bowman, was the only downside to this past off season. Add his brilliance to the 'Hawks seemingly having the Wings number in the regular season, and their meetings will be highlights of the NHL season!

Eno: There's been speculation – and I threw fuel on the fire in Out of Bounds – that Scotty's not going over there to just be a consultant. In other words, he might have the itch to coach again. You believe any of that?

Big Al: If Bowman was 10 years younger, I would. He's not getting any younger, though. He could pass for a man 15 years his junior.

Eno: Yeah, he looks great for 75. OK, so how about the new NHL schedule, which allows for more inter-conference games this season? No longer will teams play eight games per divisional opponent.

Big Al: THANK GOD! I missed seeing the Original Six teams. The schedule isn't perfect, but it's a start. Don't get me going on the scheduling though. The Eastern time zone teams playing in the Western Conference is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves in all of sports.

Eno: I've said it many times before: put the Original Six in one division and the hell with everyone else. Can you imagine such a thing? At least put the Red Wings in the East, for God's sakes. Remember when they were gonna move the Penguins? Of course, that was pre-Sidney Crosby.

Big Al: I love the idea of an Original Six division! Too bad it'll never happen, but we can dream. As for Pittsburgh, I would have felt bad for Pens fans...for about 60 seconds.

Eno: OK, all of us want to know: will the Red Wings follow that "steamrolling" season with another Cup? Yes or no, and why or why not?

Big Al: Yes, and just because. What? "just because” isn't a good enough reason? The Wings will win because they have the most talented roster, the best head coach in the NHL (Babcock is criminally underrated; he doesn't get near enough credit), and Nick Lidstrom.

Eno: Ahh, yes, but you know as well as anyone that, believe it or not, that's not always enough to win in those zany NHL playoffs. The Wings were a fluke goal away from beating Anaheim in '07, as far as I'm concerned. They would have beaten Ottawa, too. So in my mind the Wings are going for their third straight Cup – which they WILL get, by the way. I'm loathe to say that now, but the '09 Cup will make up for the '07 thing and they'll be back-to-back champs one way or another. Make sense?

Big Al: Total sense. But then again, I'm taking lots of drugs...prescribed by my doctor!

Eno: At least they're prescribed. OK, so we both agree that there'll be another Cup in Detroit. Fine. But switching gears to the court, is Michael Curry the right man for the Pistons at this time?

Big Al: If he's not, I'm sure the Pistons themselves will let us know. They have had a great time in camp throwing Flip Saunders under the proverbial bus. Curry is already scoring points in my book by moving Antonio McDyess back to the sixth man role, and putting the baby-eating man-child known as Amir Johnson into the starting lineup.

Eno: It's funny with NBA coaches. First you hire a nice guy (George Irvine) then you hire a not-so-nice guy (Rick Carlisle) then you hire a tactician (Larry Brown) then you hire another nice guy (Flip Saunders) then you hire a not-so-nice guy (Michael Curry). Then, when Curry gets the ziggy, they'll need a nice guy again. And on and on.

Big Al: Win 50 games, get the ziggy! A Pistons head coach has the life expectancy of a fruit fly, so I wish Curry luck. He's going to need it when dealing with the forceful personalities/head cases on the Detroit roster.

Eno: You got that right. Joe Dumars has a fetish for canning them after 2-3 years, on schedule. Where's Chuck Daly, the master of dealing with Type A personalities? I thought it was kinda funny how the players, especially Rip Hamilton, trashed Flip. Didn't hear that when they were going 35-5 in his first year, or after winning Game 2 in Boston. Hmmm..... Anyhow, your surprise team in the NBA this year? Or do you not care enough to give me one?

Big Al: Huh? What sport are we talking about? Oh yeah, the NBA. Surprise team? Toronto. Why? I LOVE Chris Bosh. Damn you DARKO (Milicic)! Bosh could have been a Piston! *shakes fist at sky*

Eno: That's not bad. Mine may not be a surprise, but I say look for New Orleans in the NBA Finals. They added James Posey. What else ya got on your agenda?


Eno: Aha! I KNEW you'd work a Lions rant in there sooner or later! OK, smarty pants, where? For what? What's he worth anymore? Even Roy says he's good for a third rounder and that's about it. And wouldn't it be JUST LIKE the Lions to trade from a position of weakness?

Big Al: At this point, I'd be happy with a first day draft pick and a six-pack of Gatorade. Williams isn't coming back in '09, and he's not worth a franchise tag. If I'm (Lions GM) Martin Mayhew, I'm calling Jerry Jones in Dallas every five minutes.

Eno: Do they NEED a WR in Dallas?

Big Al: Not really. And I know Jones told the media he wasn't making any trades. But you put Williams on a good team, where he wouldn't have to be the number 1 receiver? Roy would blow up – when he wasn't dropping passes, that is.

Eno: OK, we gotta wrap this up. I might open up a can of worms here, but...can you muster up a little shout out for the Detroit Shock, oh Mr. “I Hate Womens Sports” Guy?

Big Al: I felt bad for them. Really! The Shock had to play at EMU, about 500 people showed up for their celebration, and most of Detroit didn't even know they were playing in the WNBA Finals. If their title proved one thing, it's that Bill Laimbeer is ready for an NBA job. But good for the Shock. Congrats from this misogynistic blogger.

Eno: Wow! The Upset of the Century! OK, Big the words of Groucho Marx: "I've had a lovely evening. But this wasn't it." No, seriously – had a great time and I'll see ya next week.

Big Al: As Groucho says, "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana!" It's been real, Eno! See ya next week; same bat time, same bat channel!

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