Monday, June 25, 2007

The Not-So-Cowardly Lion (But in a Bad Way)

Jon Kitna thinks the Lions will win 10 games in 2007, and more than that after checking the schedule. Rest of the NFL, your rebuttal?


Yes, I thought so.

I suppose you've got to give Kitna credit for...uh...trying to inspire his team and...uh...attempting to change the culture of losing that Matt Millen's worked so hard to instill. Still, if I were him, I wouldn't be checking my team's schedule as hard as I'd be checking the NFLPA health insurance policy for mental illness coverage. Yes, the NFL has had some crazy turnarounds in recent years for previously moribund franchises. Yes, the Lions did add Calvin Johnson and Tatum Bell to an offense that already showed promise in 2006 under Mad Mike Martz. Offense wasn't the problem nearly as much as that 27th-ranked defense was, though, and while Kitna seems impressed with new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, if the man doesn't have the horses, who cares? And I didn't see the Lions pick up anyone of note on defense this past offseason, unless Millen finally realized he's of more use to the team as a 49-year-old linebacker than he is in the front office. I lived in Detroit for two years and, believe me, stranger things have happened with that team...

By the way, who says "after looking at the schedule, I think we'll win more games", anyway? Does Kitna not realize that he's just become the first NFL player in history to instantaneously provide 16 WEEKS' WORTH OF BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL?!?! I mean, seriously, doesn't every NFL team hold mandatory meetings telling players not to do this sort of stuff? It's not as much of a moral issue as, say, "don't take steroids" or "try not to commit a crime", but it's just as basic from a common sense standpoint, is it not? And Kitna's even a veteran, for crying out loud! He must have gotten knocked around more than I thought last year.

I thought about also saying something about Kitna's "Calvin Johnson is going to do the same things for the Lions that Reggie Bush did for the Saints" comment, but at this point, that would just be piling on, don't you think? I'll leave poor Jonny alone with his illusions of grandeur, although I would like to point out that Mike Martz is, in fact, a genius. Apparently, he's found a way to make egomaniacal insanity communicable. Kudos to Mad Mike!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Kid Makes Good

Well, the local sports radio guys in Seattle asked for it a month or so ago, and today they got it. Ken Griffey Jr., in the final game of his "homecoming" series in Seattle, passed Mark McGwire on the all-time homerun list. I have to say, I've been touched to see the outpouring of appreciation for Junior during this entire weekend. As jaded as the relationship between players and fans has become, it's so refreshing to see an entire city embrace a superstar like that, and especially surprising in Griffey's case since he actually asked to be traded out of Seattle 8 years ago. Still, his star power in the 11 years prior to that is credited with helping Safeco Field get built and as a result keeping the Mariners in town, and for that he apparently will always be loved here. No smart aleck comments here; this is simply the best sports story I've heard in quite a while. Hurry up and get to 600, Junior...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Response to KG Wanting to be a Sun


What, that's not intelligent enough for you? Fine. Here goes....

The first thing that comes to mind is that everyone's thought process seems to make sense here. This is, of course, utterly shocking due to the involvement of Kevin McHale, who has brought you the Botched Joe Smith Signing as well as putting together a group of teams so putrid that Kevin Freaking Garnett couldn't get out of the first round with them more than once. And yes, I know all about the "he should have put his team on his back" argument, and even agree with it to a point. But the fact of the matter is, everybody and their brother has known that Garnett has needed a running mate capable of easing the scoring load and willing to take the last shot for years now. The closest they've come to fulfilling that in a dozen seasons is Latrell Sprewell. I'll let that sink in for a moment.

This time, however, McHale seems to be getting it right, holding out for the moment for Amare Stoudamire in any KG deal with Phoenix. Of course, the flip side of it is that McHale would have the potential to take another young freak of nature-style power forward and mire him in mediocrity for a decade or more. Great times all around!

I guess if there's one thing I don't understand in all of this, it's why KG is so unwilling to even entertain the thought of going to Boston. Granted, they wouldn't have much else, but I've got to believe that with the declining of the Pistons and the aging of Shaq, a KG-Paul Pierce tandem by itself would run roughshod over anyone in the East except for the Bulls. And if the Bulls do consummate a deal for Kobe Bryant, they'd be pretty similar in composition to the Celtics, assuming Mitch Kupchak swings any sort of reasonable know, on second thought, I'm starting to see Garnett's point...

Monday, June 18, 2007

What in the Name of Don Majkowski is Going On Out There?

What's up with NFC North quarterbacking these days? Apparently, we've got Bears DE Tommie Harris making "Hopefully we get Donovan" comments and subsequently tripping over himself to retract those comments. After all, it just wouldn't do to have one more guy saying that Rex Grossman isn't an upper-echelon quarterback. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a player/coach/front office guy in any sport feels the need to take back a statement of the "breath of fresh air" variety. I mean, really, show of hands, who wouldn't take Donovan McNabb over Rex Grossman? I think even Grossman would, if you were ever able to get a straight answer out of him. Of course, he works for a professional sports team, so straight answers aren't part of the deal. Whatever. At least I know who Tommie Harris is now, so that's good, I guess.

Elsewhere in the former Black and Blue Division, Daunte Culpepper recently said that he'd like to end up in Green Bay when the Dolphins trade/release him. Ostensibly, he thinks he can get a starting gig after Brett Favre retires. Because, you know, the Pack would just love to go from a 38-year-old vaguely mobile, mistake-prone quarterback who takes too many risks and whose arm isn't quite what it used to be to a 30-year-old vaguely mobile, mistake-prone quarterback who takes too many risks and whose arm isn't quite what it used to be. The only reason Green Bay fans put up with Favre's up-and-down play is that he's built up so much goodwill with all of his accomplishments there. What does Daunte think will happen to him the first time he throws a floater over the middle of Lambeau Field into some random DB's waiting arms? And that's not even considering the possibility (actually, I'd say likelihood) that Favre could conceivably continue his hijack-the-team-each-offseason act for another 3 or 4 years.

At some point Daunte is going to have to realize that he's not going to get any NFL team to turn the reins over to him until he does something to show them that he's over his injury and decision-making woes. What's more (as someone who saw the first several years of his career from a close vantage point I feel knowledgeable on the subject), I think that Daunte is far too mentally fragile to handle the fallout of even the slightest mistake in a football-crazy environment like Green Bay. In fact, given the current quarterbacking landscape, he may have to put things back together in the CFL for a year or two if he wants to be assured of playing time. Despite the nightmarish end to his stint with the Vikes, I remember enough of the good times that it actually pains me to say that. I'm even still on a first-name basis with the guy, for crying out loud! How did that happen? Oh well. Anyway, Daunte, just say "nay" to Green Bay; it's not the right fit for you. Rehab, spend some time learning how to throw the ball to the guys in the right color of jersey, and with a little luck we might see you back in the saddle in a year or two.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

OK, Everybody Look At Kobe Now...

I suppose my lifelong allegiance to the Lakers forces me to comment on the inanity that is taking place in La-La Land, despite the fact that just writing this gives that egomaniacal self-dubbed "Black Mamba" exactly what he wants: more attention. Still, I feel honor-bound to put my two cents in, especially since I've been exceedingly lazy with the blog lately.

As much as it pains me to agree with the man on anything right now, I will grant that Kobe does have two good points:

1. This ship has been positively rudderless since Jerry West traded Hollywood for Graceland.
2. The above has caused 3 years of the prime of one of the top 20 players ever to be utterly wasted.

Of course, the obvious retort to any of Kobe's complaints about the team is that he set its demise as a championship caliber squad in motion with his childish feud with Shaq. As someone who grew up watching Magic become the team leader while Kareem willingly turned into a role player, I would have hoped to see something similar with those two. And of course, the obvious reason it did not happen is that while Magic took every opportunity to respect "the Big Fella," Kobe worships only at the Altar of Kobe. We have all the evidence we need that Shaq would have played the circa 1987 Kareem role had Kobe been the type of guy that, for instance, Sir Charles keeps on speed dial. However, #8/24/whatever number might best serve his "legacy" next year decided that he wanted to be The Next Michael Jordan and win a championship as the unquestioned lead guy. And now that his cap-crippling contract is preventing the team from getting more than 3-4 players that could be in the rotation for an upper-echelon team, he wants to leave? Michael Jordan may have also abandoned his team while in his prime, but only because David Stern ordered him to let the gambling allegations die down (or to chase a lifelong dream, if you believe the official story). I don't see Stern anywhere ordering Bryant to avoid cleaning up the mess he created.

You know, I didn't anticipate going here, but isn't it kind of funny how all of the Next Michael Jordans, while certainly talented, are looking like disappointments right now? Kobe was the first in the wave, but his leadership skills are clearly nonexistent. Vince Carter is the only current NBA star whose penchant for quitting on his team rivals Kobe's (I can't wait to see what he does if the Nets, say, ever do trade Kidd). T-Mac can't get out of the first round of the playoffs. The jury's still out on the "Global Icon," but he didn't offer up much to recommend himself during his first Finals appearance. Thinking about all the Jordan wannabes out there (and by the way, we're now 9 years removed from his last memorable season, for those scoring at home) makes me think wistfully about one of my favorite Steve Prefontaine quotes. Shortly after getting to Oregon, Pre said of then mile record-holder Jim Ryun, "Forget Ryun; he's done. I want to be the first Steve Prefontaine." Whoever decides to take that mentality is going to be the dominant player of this generation. At the moment, your leader in the clubhouse is the previously referenced Dwayne Wade, although if he really wants to do something impressive, he could try winning a championship where he doesn't get foul shots for being breathed upon.

Oh shoot, I didn't talk about Kobe for most of the last paragraph. There, there, Kobe, we haven't forgotten about you; don't cry...