Word Association! Jerk of the Week! Those are the two newest features installed in time for this week’s webisode of “The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al”, my weekly foray into the sometimes inane world of sports with Big Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience.

This Thursday, Al and I tackle the new-look Pistons; the utter incompetence of anything Detroit Lion; U’M’s chances to win another football game; and the Tigers’ never-ending search for a reliable closer. Plus, of course, Word Association and you’ll see who our Jerks of the Week are. (Hint: they’re in the MSM, and are likely to be regular JOTWs).

So put your trays in the upright position, and there’ll be no moving about in the cabin…..

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Eno: Good grief! It’s Thursday AGAIN? Time for another webisode of “The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al.” I’m Eno, aka The Journalist, and he’s Big Al, aka The MVP of the MVN. How goes it, Al?

Big Al: I’m just a little ole blogger trying to make it in the big, bad blogosphere. I’m doing just fine and kinda dandy! I’m digging towards the light!

Eno: Nice! OK, on today’s docket will be the new features: Word Association and Jerk of the Week. But for now…how ’bout those “0-2 with Allen Iverson Detroit Pistons” [ed. Note: as of Tuesday morning]

Big Al: What? I’m sorry, I’m digging with my sharp shovel… Oh, yeah, the Pistons. Nothing to be worried about yet. It’s going to take time for Iverson to get in tune with the Pistons’ offense. I’m more concerned with the big men. They miss Antonio McDyess on the 2nd unit.

Eno: Does your gut tell you that Dice will be a Piston again some 30 days hence? Or will the Big, Bad Celtics or Cavs snatch him up?

Big Al: That’s my concern, and if I were a contender, I’d love to have Dice coming off of my bench. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if someone other than the Pistons made a big time run at Dice. The Pistons and Joe Dumars have to be, at the very least, concerned.

Eno: But here’s the rub: Dice LOVES it in Detroit. Loves Joe D, loves the organization. Might he tell everyone else, “Thanks but no thanks”, and return to Detroit anyway? Or is that just me being wishful in my thinking?

Big Al: Not at all. McDyess owes the Pistons big time, essentially rescuing him off of the NBA’s scrap heap. Dumars gave McDyess a multi-year deal when the rest of the NBA thought he, and his rickety knees, were done. But the NBA is a business, and loyalty often takes a back seat to money and/or playing time.

Eno: True that. I think Iverson is in a good place as far as the Pistons are concerned. There’s often nothing more dangerous than a superstar hungry for a championship. Hunger seems to be what has propelled teams past the Pistons in recent Final Fours.

Big Al: Considering the Pistons have played the past few seasons like they were NBA royalty, when they were actually pretenders to the throne, A.I. can only help in that regard. But will it be enough? I’m not sure.

Eno: I kinda think it will be, strangely enough. This is the most talent that Iverson has been surrounded with, and I think he knows that. He’s 33, which isn’t ancient, but isn’t young, either. Look for Pistons over Celts in the Final Four!

Big Al: I’ve thought the Pistons should have won the East the past three seasons. And they managed to flame out spectacularly. When it comes to the Pistons, I’m just going to say, “Prove it.”

Eno: Fair enough. I’m cranky about the Lions, btw. I know that goes against my grain, but I’m just frustrated with not even being competitive. [Head coach] Rod Marinelli must go, but it’s almost like, why do it NOW? Unless it’s just another signal that ownership is committed to change. But these scores aren’t even funny. They’re unacceptable and humiliating. And Marinelli is so robotic in his Monday pressers it’s disgusting. And if I hear one more player or coach say how good they practice….arrggh!!

Big Al: With Marinelli’s story about being in a tunnel, seeing “the light” and digging towards it with his sharp shovel, he just had his Bobby Ross “Abandon ship, WHOOMP WHOOMP WHOOMP!” moment. He’s out of answers and running out of time.

Eno: Yeah, I don’t know WHAT the hell THAT was about. The man is 1-16 in his past 17 games. And here’s something. Some caller on 97.1 Sunday said, “Well, [former Lion] TJ Duckett says Marinelli is a good coach.” OK, what is Duckett’s definition of a “good coach”? Here’s the deal: maybe Rod is a decent position coach. Maybe. But 1-16 is 1-16. Everywhere else in the league, you lose, you get fired. Reminds me of another Lions coach quote: “What does it take to get fired around here?”

Big Al: Ah, yes. The infamous Darryl Rogers quote while he was wandering the halls at the Silverdome. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorites, Marty Moronwhig’s “We are officially eliminated from the playoffs” after his 0-9 start. Brings a tear to the eye. I’m with you on the “Marinelli’s a good coach” mantra. The local MSM continually tells us Marinelli would be a good coach “in a different situation.” Personally, I don’t see it. It’s been apparent since his first season that Marinelli is in over his head. His game management, in-game decision making, personnel moves, all point towards a man who has reached his level of incompetence.

Eno: Well, look at what Bill Parcells did in Miami. Mr. Reclamation Project Guy. He hired Tony Sparano (how many people thought he hired Tony Soprano?) and look at the Dolphins: 5-4 a year after 1-15. Do you know that my sources tell me that Parcells reached out to Bill Ford Sr. last year but was rebuffed? THEN he went to the Dolphins.

Big Al: I was waiting to hear Sparano hiring Pauly Walnuts as his defensive coordinator. The Fords haven’t been known for their sterling decision making. Jerry Vainisi, who was instrumental in building the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl team, was hired by the Lions, but lost a front office power struggle with Chuck Schmidt. Wasn’t Chuck Knox interested in returning to the Lions at one point? Even when having a gift horse looking them straight in the face, the Lions never take advantage.

Eno: Yes…Chuck Knox absolutely wanted to coach here. And how did the Lions get outsmarted by the Vikings for Anthony Carter’s services? That’s another mystery I’d like solved!

Big Al: Or deciding against Warren Moon, and signing Scott Mitchell. Or all the draft picks, like Fred Biletnikoff, the Lions lost to the AFL. Or the Ron Jessie free agency fiasco. Where’s Robert Stack? He could have done an entire episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” with only stories involving the Lions.

Eno: Ron Jessie!! LOVE it! Yes, that WAS a fiasco! Don’t forget a smart, young secondary coach they let get away when Ford bought the team. Some ne’er-do-well named Don Shula.

Big Al: But Shula wasn’t good enough for the Fords! They hired immortals like Tommy Hudspeth, Rick Forzano, Rod Marinelli, and of course, Wayne Fontes instead. God, it’s depressing to think about the opportunities the Lions have wasted over the years.

Eno: Which is why I’m going to beg you to change the subject. What’s on your mind?

Big Al: Shovels, tunnels and lights in the distance. OK, I’ll move on. Rich Rodriguez and his Michigan Wolverines actually won a game this past weekend. It was just like old times! But with Northwestern and The University of Ohio State still on the schedule, beating the Minnesota Gophers may have been the last hurrah for the 2008 season. Any chance RichRod can pull another upset, especially against tUOS?

Eno: You know, I don’t think U-M will get blown out at Columbus, strangely. I don’t know why. I just have a feeling Michigan will give them a good game – but lose. Northwestern is winnable. Still, 4-8? Yikes. I think they’ll just burn these records and erase this season from the books in Ann Arbor. Never happened, or in Harry Potter-like terms: That Which We Will Not Discuss.

Big Al: Or “Season of Infinite Pain,” to steal from the indispensable MGoBlog. Beating the Buckeyes would be the “signature” win all Wolverines fans would love to see, much like Bo Schembechler’s upsetting what may have been Woody Hayes’s best team in 1969. Obviously, beating the 2008 Bucknuts would not be anywhere near that level, but it would go a very long way in soothing the Wolverines’ angry fan base. If Steven Threet is healthy, Michigan may have a puncher’s chance in winning.

Eno: Well, we’ll see; I think it’ll be a good game – better than last season’s debacle. OK, ready for some Word Association?

Big Al: Fire away.

WORD ASSOCIATION TIME! WORD ASSOCIATION TIME!

Eno: BCS

Big Al: SHOVEL! OK, I’ll stop. BCS = BS.

Eno: Amir Johnson.

Big Al: Unproven.

Eno: Arizona Cardinals.

Big Al: Contenders.

Eno: Marian Hossa.

Big Al: Superstar.

Big Al: My turn. Chris Osgood.

Eno: Hall of Famer.

Big Al: Whoa! Michael Curry.

Eno: Prepared.

Big Al: SHOVEL!

Eno: Marinelli!!

Big Al: Threw you a softball, and you hit it out of the park!

Big Al: One more. Tigers 2009 catcher.

Eno: UNKNOWN!

Big Al: I’m with you there, as I don’t think the Tigers have a clue who will be joining Dusty Ryan in wearing the tools of ignorance either.

Eno: MUST be someone not with the team currently. OK, there’s some talk that Tigers coach Lloyd McClendon might be a contender for the Seattle managerial job. Thoughts?

Big Al: When you think of how many old, white, retread managers MLB owners have rehired over the decades, someone like McClendon, who never had a chance in Hell of succeeding in Pittsburgh, deserves another shot. Another quick Tigers question. Do you think they’ll have any interest in [closer] Trevor Hoffman? He was told by the Padres to look for another job today.

Eno: First, I agree with you about Lloyd, but does he have a chance in Hell of succeeding in Seattle? Now, about Hoffman: my “knee jerk” reaction was to say the Tigers should take a look at him – a good look. Just think: we need Randy Smith now! Wasn’t he the “go to” guy when it came to the Padres?

Big Al: Radar Randy Smith, the genius talent evaluator! My only concern with Hoffman, or any of the other rumored relievers I’ve seen associated with the Tigers (Juan Cruz, Brandon Lyon, to name two), is that they all seem to be variations of Todd Jones. Soft tossers, nibblers, guys who depend upon their defense. I’m not very enthused about any of the closers the Tigers are rumored to be targeting.

Eno: Yeah, you need a guy to blow people away. This “pitching to contact” thing can be heart-stopping. One more subject before we get to Jerk of the Week: your take on Cleveland Browns players suspecting teammates of quitting in last Thursday’s game vs. Denver?

Big Al: Talk about a team in disarray. It tells me that [head coach] Romeo Crennel has lost control of his locker room. That team is a mess. From their QB controversy, the Kellen Winslow suspension/non-suspension, to the team now pointing fingers at each other, Crennel is not long for his job. I wonder if the trade for known locker room cancer Shaun Rogers hasn’t exacerbated tensions in the room.

Eno: Right, and so much for the Patriots pedigree that Crennel boasts. I guess not all of Bill Belichik’s guys make good head coaches. I thought it was odd that such a charge came after a close game. Usually the “quitting” accusation comes after blowouts. How do you “quit” when you’re leading going into the fourth quarter? Am I missing something here?

Big Al: The whole situation is Lions-esque. Which is why I brought Big Baby into the equation. This had to have been brewing for quite some time, and the pressure cooker finally exploded after losing thanks to a fourth quarter collapse. It’s what happens on losing teams. We’ve seen it plenty often with the Lions.

JERK OF THE WEEK

Eno: Yeah, we’re experts on the subject. OK….without further ado – drum roll, please……..Our very first edition of Jerk of the Week! Al, tell the readers what this entails.

Big Al: Any doofus we think is deserving of the moniker over the past week. Could be an athlete, a columnist, you or me, anyone we think needs to be called out! As this was your brilliant idea, Eno, why don’t you go first?

Eno: Well, this didn’t technically happen last week, but to start things off and give people a flavor for what this is all about, my nomination is Detroit News columnist Rob Parker for inaccurately reporting the name of an MSU football player who was supposedly at a party where bad stuff happened – without, apparently, double-checking his sources!

Big Al: Couldn’t happen to a worse columnist! Super Genius, indeed! My pick is a columnist as well: the Detroit Free Press‘ Drew Sharp for two of his ridiculous columns last week. The first was a ludicrous comparison between the Pistons and the Lions, and the second was trashing fans of Wolverines football: “No, actually, it was everybody else who basically stopped caring.” No one has stopped caring about Michigan. Both columns, as Peter Griffin would say, “Grinds my gears!”

Eno: Why do I think these two guys are gonna be JOTW regulars? OK, my friend – great chatting with you, as usual. See ya next Thoisday!

Big Al: SHOVEL!

Eno: Nice.

Big Al: I can’t help myself.

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